Nurture yourself

I’ve been writing about self compassion recently in terms of our emotional and intellectual processes. And one of the yummiest ways to stay in touch with respect and kindness to ourselves is to nurture our physical bodies. It’s so satisfying to get our muscles moving with activity, to linger in a quiet bath, to enjoy a deep tissue massage.

There are great natural and environmentally-sound ways to pamper yourself, using fresh fruit. Recently I’ve been exploring how these super-foods can enrich our wellbeing, inside and out. Papaya, for instance, can be used from rind to seed, not simply chopped up in a fruit dish.

When we eat papaya, we’re consuming a variety of antioxidant nutrients – carotenes, flavonoids, plus Vitamins B & C – as well as fiber and minerals. But the fruit is probably most famous for papain, its digestive super enzyme. The properties of papain work internally to improve digestion and cleanse the digestive tract, and are effective topically to kill dead cells and purify the skin. Blending up chunks of ripe papaya for use alone, or with honey or pineapple, makes a lovely natural face mask to soften and brighten the skin. I’ve found I can get the same results by simply rubbing the flesh side of papaya rinds on my face, neck and hands and rinsing off about 15 minutes later. And then I still have all edible the papaya fruit to enjoy in a smoothie or salad!

Even papaya seeds are edible and make for a superdose of digestive enzymes, great to take before eating a large meal. Scoop them out of the fruit, dry them off, and grind into a teaspoon. With a sharp, peppery flavor, the seeds also work well in a pepper mill to be ground over savory dishes.

Eating well, moving regularly, making time to relax and pamper your body – these are all wonderful ways to practice self compassion. Whatever it is that connects you to the beauty of your physical being, take some time every day to do it. It’s important!

A few things to keep in mind – papaya is rich in latex, especially when green, so anyone with a latex allergy should proceed carefully to determine whether papaya is right for his body. Latex also causes uterine contractions, so pregnant women should avoid the raw fruit. Also, greater quantities of papaya have a laxative effect, so get to know the amounts that are comfortable for your intestinal system. Finally, the seeds contain traces of the enzyme carpine, which is a potentially toxic substance in high doses.