Friday, February 21, 2014

"Take Care"

A few years ago, I wrote this post about automatic language, the phenomenon by which we speak certain scripted statements and responses with little thought. It happens everywhere, when we say "I'm sorry" after bumping into a stranger, when we say Namasté at the end of yoga class, when we say "I'm good" when we are really not. I noticed myself using automatic language frequently, but one phrase has jumped out at me recently: "take care" (used as a salutation when parting with patients and friends).  Maybe I have even uttered the words to you personally.

Although I've noticed myself automatically spouting "take care," it actually has a lot of meaning for me. Because the problem with this phenomenon is not the use of words like "have a nice day" and "take care." The problem is when we do so mindlessly without being present in the moment and without being intentional about what we're communicating. So I'm calling myself out and taking this opportunity to fully explore this phrase and share it with you.

When I say take care, I truly mean it as a invitation for my communication partner to take care of themselves. Take care of yourself by not slipping in an icy parking lot after you leave, by making sure to eat a healthful meal that evening for dinner, or by asking for a hug or some quiet time if you need it later that day. I hope that true meaning comes through when it leaves my lips, I am asking you to please take care your mind body and spirit. Because after you leave my care and company, the rest is up to you.

I also say take care as an instruction. Inviting you to take care of the people around you, the small animals in under your charge, and the earth. Treat the living things around you with love and compassion. Listen mindfully. Spread health and security. Because as the Buddha said, "Happiness never decreases when shared"

I also mean "take care" as a sort of blessing. I am asking the universe take care of you after you leave my company. We can be met with so much out there in the world including physical and mental obstacles. I send you away with this tiny prayer for the universe to look after you.

I hope the salutation works on many levels. I hope you hear it and think to yourself "yes, I will take care of myself tonight in whatever way I need". I hope that the universe hears my prayer and makes an extra effort to put a cushion of care around you. Whatever comes your way. And I hope that you hear it as an invitation to also take care of the ones around you. Because we all need to do that for each other with love and compassion.

So time I say next time you speak or hear "take care" consider all of the many meanings of this phrase. I invite you to explore the phrases you use automatically, ponder the multilayered meanings, and breathe greater intention into your speech today.

And... Take Care. 

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