Nurturing Ourselves and the World
by Kathy Custren
Nurturing is one word for which many of us may have slightly different meanings, yet it is one that is crucial to our health and welfare, all around the world. No matter who we may be, rich or poor, connected or not, we all have a deeply spiritual and emotional relationship when it comes to nurturing. Nurturing transcends our physical realm in many ways we may not always recognize, and lack of it may also be an underlying factor for fear. Let's take a look and see.
From our first breath into this existence, our bodies yearn to experience. Beyond the primal urges of basic survival, such as breathing and heartbeat, comes the need to sustain our existence. We do this, as babies, by receiving sustenance from our mothers, and from other sources of nutrition, food, and care. As young babies fighting for survival until we can fend for ourselves, this dependence on having a nurturing childhood can make all the difference in the type of life we have, and how well we can cope, bottom line.
For many who we may consider to be happy and well-adjusted, the idea of having a steady and healthy dose of nurturing plays a key role in the development of our self, our psyche, and even our biological history. We learn quite a bit from the intrinsic, sensual experiences that come from being loved and nurtured, not just fed and watched. Our childhoods, filled with nurturing care, enable us to grow with a solid basis of love. This promotes a more solid foundation for how we venture forth into the world and interact with others. If we know we have a home base that is a solid resource or sanctuary of nurturing, then we may feel a bit braver and more willing to take chances and risks in our everyday lives. If we have a little setback or a small failure in some way, there is a nurturing home waiting for us.
Nurturing and Stress
So imagine the many, many children who do manage to grow despite some very difficult circumstances and still manage to make it. Consider how hard is must be to not have had a particularly nurturing beginning, and have to struggle from very early on to survive. The anxiety and nervousness nipping at their heels with every step they take, not knowing if what lies around the next corner is something that might spell disaster. Any of us may feel that type of tension from time to time, but managing that kind of stress on a daily basis takes its toll. How do people survive, especially when they do not have a nurturing home? Might this fear-based existence breed into extraordinary malice and terror as an adult? How do any of us manage to endure long-term stress in our lives without a bit of nurturing and self-care?
Importance of Time in Nurturing
Time can be a critical commodity when it comes to nurturing. Many people who really sense the stress in any given day may just chalk a lot of it up to feeling “under pressure” for a schedule or deadline of some sort. Whether that time frame is self-imposed or expected from someone else, how we manage time can possibly make or break the amount of nurturing we manage to achieve.
We find time to be an important element to “carve out” in order to fit everything. We sometimes fail to allow ourselves enough time for timeless reflection, for gathering thoughts, for checking (such as in biofeedback or meditation), and allowing ourselves to find the best ways to experience how we might find nurturing in our own healthy that works best. We turn to “fast food” to eat, drink and eat to excess in order to calm our nerves, spend very little time with family, hardly think upon the spiritual or cosmic aspects of what is 'out there,' beyond our little focus, and often lump 'vacation' into a tight schedule of travel and itinerary without freedom to explore. As long as we get that photo with Mickey Mouse, it's been fun; but are we any less stressed afterward?
Family and Nurturing
My brother and I were fortunate to have had our mother who was home with us as we grew, until we were around eight years old and family economics changed. We had trusted friends and neighbors who we saw every day growing up. We ate well and enjoyed very regular visits with our grandparents. Family, even extended family and friends, formed a substantial basis for the persons we grew into being. For those of us who still maintain some connection with those early days of our childhood, whether it is with regular family reunions with cousins, childhood friends, or old classmates, it forms a touchstone of nurturing that solidifies whatever past years have brought.
Nurturing as Adults
As adults, even those of us in committed relationships, it can be very difficult these day to devote time toward nurturing. One of the 'indulgences' that are popular today are coloring books that encourage some of that “old-time creativity” that many of us left behind years ago. Finding time to sit together with friends and color within the lines was often the beginning of other explorations outside of those lines. Thinking outside the box is one way we can nurture our innate senses of curiosity and creativity. These may feel less nurturing than, say, a home-cooked meal or a beautiful afghan that wraps us with warmth, but having the ability to nurture our inner-child is something many adults crave, deep down.
It is this sense of getting back to a childhood where we sense safety and security, and permit ourselves the freedom to explore and create, that gives us a springboard for also being able to provide a more nurturing environment to others, whether it is our children, our older and aging parents, or others in the world who seek a safe refuge from the many stressors out there. Indeed, our ability to be compassionate and feel for the needs of another, even attempt to fulfill some of them, is deeply tied to our nurturing—both the amount of nurturing we had as children, and the amount we feel we can give to some other being. Even without a personal history of nurturing, just knowing someone is close by, even on the phone, and who cares sincerely about you, can make a big difference between life and death, in many cases. One person's wrong decision as an adult growing in this world can make or break the next action they take.
Think about the amount of nurturing you have, right now, in your own life. How can it be improved? Do you provide enough time? Ignoring our primal role of nurturing is having devastating effects. How might you be able to reach out in a nurturing way to someone (or a group of someones) who may really need a giant boost in their life? Nurturing All begins with us. ~ Blessings!
Kathy Custren, OMTimes Senior Editor, is a mother of four, who strives for balance and has a deep respect for All. Interests include education, elements, nature, humanity's cosmic origins, philosophy, spirituality, and wellness. Connect with her community page "Consciousness Live" on Facebook.