Updated: May 26
Feeling down and disconnected? Our series, Actions for Selfless Care, will feature prompts to help spark joy for yourself, others and exercise your muscles for human compassion.
What is self-care?
At Sometimes Art House, we like to think of self-care like a jigsaw puzzle (similar to our own unique personalities). There are several required components that make one whole, satisfied person and #selfcare practices make up maybe 350 pieces of the 1000 piece puzzle. While activated charcoal face masks and vacations are valid practices of self-preservation and pleasure (both valid forms of self-care), a human can't be whole without an expansive capacity for empathy.
Selfless-care is not the antithesis of self-care, it's more of a sub-category. It's a play on words that reminds seekers of self-improvement of the golden foundation all Gods, Goddess and religions stem from. Expanding human potential for compassion and sacrifice.
I learned the term while auditing a class taught by artist jacquelyn summell, called the Radical Art Practice of Self Care. This class changed my life, but in the thick of it, I struggled to complete her exercises designed around selfless service. Me? Un-empathetic? How could that be when I make concerted efforts to compliment people's style, writing, art? Or the countless times I've offered car rides to friends who live outside of my regular commute?
The answer is pretty simple actually: None of those actions are truly for others. I often do nice things for people silently hoping they will return the favor. Sometimes I literally offer to help people as a test of friendship. As I reflected on this, I discovered the irony of having been confronted about my lack of reciprocity by someone, and it's hurt our relationship ever since.
Leading me to a very important disclaimer about this series of actions: Do not expect the gestures to be returned. When Ms. jackie lectured on the philosophy behind selfless service, also known as seva, she emphasized that true magic lies in the sacrifice.
What is Seva?
The origins of this practice date back to the 15th century Northern India (Punjabi), when guru Nanak Dev Ji cultivated a new religion called Sikhism. The goal of seva, or selfless service, is to become self-conciousless. In my understanding of conciousless, it's to abandon what you have come to know about yourself in relation to others so your true purpose may shine through. In a conciousless society, there would be no outcasts, criminals or violent manipulators. Instead, I'd imagine there would just be those in need and the self-empowered, whose job is to serve those in need with their time, education and infectious joy.
The Actions for Self-Care series will include small ways to help yourself and others find alternatives to finding happiness through possessions (or sukha in Sanskrit) in order to restore balance in our chaotic world. Fuel your desire to nurture others through daily acts of kindness instead of toxic relationships. Find purpose in your day by being uncomfortable to make someone else laugh. And most of all, be patient with yourself — we all have years of unlearning to do.
Stay tuned for the next blog post where we will share prompts for self-less care. When you complete an action, tell us how it went! We'd also love to see your take on the prompts, so feel free to tag us @sometimesarthouse.