Blog 4 - What can an orange tell us about self care?
Have you heard of the 'Orange Story'? Well neither had I until a few weeks ago!
I know, you know that we can only take care of others if we take care of ourselves first. So why do we feel guilty when caring for ourselves? and why is it so hard to be consistent with our self-care practice?
We are only two weeks into the Summer holidays and I have begun to feel unwell, more specifically I have a throat infection which this morning is spreading into my sinuses. At first, I was thinking metaphorically, what words am I swallowing down? What or who am I not speaking up for? What do I need to get off my chest?, (as my chest began to hurt from all the coughing), when I realised my stead fast rule of a minimum of two full yoga self practices has gone out of the window with the full on mindset of entertaining the kids, training the puppy, getting ready for holidays and the inevitable uniform buying, shoe shopping, name labelling ready to return to school in September.
Yesterday at 1.55pm, my mind was so busy and I'd not sat down since getting out of bed at 7am that I acknowledged to myself that I was simply exhausted and so lay down on my bed for a 10 minute savasana. It felt blissful. This was when reality struck and I realised I had stopped taking care of myself and I remembered a story I came across on the internet just before the kids broke up from school.
It was Wayne Dyer’s “Orange Story”.
I had never heard of such a story before and being a lover of story telling just the title 'Orange Story' made me curious. Having read and reflected upon it, it made me think more about self-care.
One time when giving a talk, Wayne brought an orange with him to the stage and opened a conversation with a bright young fellow of about twelve who was sitting in the front row.
“If I were to squeeze this orange as hard as I could, what would come out?” he asked him.
The boy looked at him, like he was a little crazy, and said, “Juice, of course.”
“Do you think apple juice could come out of it?”
“No!” he laughed.
“What about grapefruit juice?”
“What would come out of it?”
“Orange juice, of course.”
“Why? Why when you squeeze an orange does orange juice come out?”
“Well, it’s an orange and that’s what’s inside.”
Wayne nodded. “Let’s assume that this orange isn’t an orange, but it’s you. And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, or offends you. And out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, fear. Why? The answer, as our young friend has told us, is because that’s what’s inside.”
“It’s one of the great lessons of life,” says Wayne. “What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you? If anger, pain, and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. It doesn’t matter who does the squeezing—your mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you. It’s your choice.”
So what does Wayne Dyer’s 'Orange Story' have to do with self-care?
Just like orange juice and not grapefruit juice comes out of an orange, what’s inside of us comes out automatically when life pressures us.
When we feel pressured or stressed and what comes out of us is anything other than love, it’s an indication to us that something is off and it’s time for balance. When what comes out of us is anything other than love, it’s a message for us to remember self-care.
A few days ago, I was preparing to teach a class and things got a little hectic as there was a lot on my plate. I became impatient with my husband and allowed my over-achieving, over-creating personality to take over. The result was that I wasn’t the nicest person to be around. My husband called me on my attitude and I knew then, “I’m off centre, unbalanced!”
Do I love what I do? Yes, 100%. Do I tend to overdo and strive for perfection? Double Yes! That’s my tendency. And at times, this tendency takes over.
When we feel pressured or stressed and what comes out of us is anything other than love, it’s an indication to us that it is time for some self-care.
Realizing that I don’t always follow my own advice and I was over-stressing indicated that it was time to bring balance back. It was clear that self-care needed to move to a higher place on my priority list, so I'm planning to take some time for myself to restore, rejuvenate, and fill up my tank. Life offers challenges, and stress is a natural part of life. Giving ourselves permission to make self-care important allows us to change our perspective on stress.
Giving ourselves permission to make self-care important changes what’s inside to love, so that when stress squeezes what will come out will be a more loving response.
Going back to Wayne Dyer’s Orange Story, here is my point: When we make self-care a priority and release guilt around caring for ourselves, we are more rested, calm, and loving. The “juice” that will come out when we’re squeezed will reflect those loving and centred qualities.
Caring for ourselves is not selfish. Caring for ourselves is our sacred responsibility.
From now on every time you see an orange, imagine that if the orange could speak, it would say to you:
Caring for yourself is not selfish. Caring for yourself is your sacred responsibility.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments area, my fellow yogis and friends!