In life—in love and grief and all the moments in between—the best thing we can do is regularly affirm that we’re doing the best we can. But that’s a habit few of us develop until we desperately need it. Caring for ourselves can feel self-indulgent. Checking in with the body and mind, listening to what each needs to feel warm and nourished—these aren’t things we always give ourselves permission to do, especially when we’re wrapped up in adulting.

And so, our connection to body and mind may have wilted a bit while we were busy taking care of everyone else.

Trust me, I know how long that beat-yourself-up list can be, because I’ve made plenty of my own.

Simply losing the diurnal rhythms that once drove our lives leaves us feeling ungrounded and overwhelmed. I get it.

But separating also offers you a tremendous gift. You are now free to set your own rhythm, one that could include more purposeful self-care. Build that into your life now, and you will have it forever more.

Elizabeth Rowan cautions that no yoga posture or soothing music or asana sequence could have fully supported her through the experience: “None of that can replace time, process, and sitting with ourselves in our darkness and light.” One way she now helps clients in these moments of massive transition is by working with them to create a traveling altar, a collection of personally meaningful objects that can serve as a meditative aid. “Meditation is a beautiful technique because it is grounding,” she says. “Wherever I was—I changed cities, houses, jobs—meditation became a constant.” It’s easy to lose sight of the divine and the Self when you’re in the day-to-day survival mode, she says. Creating a traveling altar that’s not space-specific provides a steady, grounding visual path and connection to the Self and something greater. During times of upheaval, its mobility is a reminder that we’re always moving and growing.

q|Throughout time, people from all cultures have carried personal altars, from pocket shrines dating back to the Middle Ages (carried by pilgrims) to the bag of mystical objects, called a mesa, that Peruvian shamans bring with them to channel the divine when healing others.

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