Bringing Self-care to Dentistry: 7 Steps to Returning to Love

by Dr Rachel Mascord BDS, Sydney 

As a student dentist I geared myself up with hope that upon final graduation I would become confident and secure within myself. I believed that success and ease would be the natural outcomes of all the hard work I’d done. I had achieved great success as a student by pushing and driving myself: what I did not grasp was that my developed patterns of self-neglect and anxious drive had become an entrenched and normal way of operating.

The picture of ‘perfection’ I had formulated was so narrow it would hurt me for many years to come. I made life about getting everything ‘right’. Without that, I did not feel like a worthy member of the profession, or indeed a worthy human being.

My picture of a ‘life of success’ did not eventuate, and every day at work was in the dullness of just getting by and coping with the fear that I never felt ‘good enough’. I existed in this state for 17 years…

UNIVERSAL MEDICINE AND MY CONNECTION TO LOVE

In 2007 I attended a Heart Chakra 1 workshop (now known as The Livingness 1), and when the presenter, Serge Benhayon from Universal Medicine spoke, his words brought a moment of clarity for me: I felt something deep within me begin to respond to the simplicity and love that Serge presented, and also lived himself.

There was no over-elated, hyped-up excitement. What was offered was a deeper truth to life; a truth to be explored and connected to, and that the source of this truth was held inside the physical body – the body I had ignored for so long.

This moment of clarity was a challenge to the picture of ‘perfection’ that I had created and held over myself for so many years. I began to understand there was a different way; one that offered quality, care and commitment, without the self-harming drive of constant self-criticism and anxiousness.

I have steadily developed this awareness that I gained during the Universal Medicine workshops through self-care, self-nurturing and love. I used to think love was about self-sacrifice and doing for others with no regard for myself. I learned, through steady commitment to myself, that love is a way of being, and that it starts with how I treat myself; and from treating myself lovingly, it naturally extends to others, no trying necessary!

My body, my emotional state and my mental state were a crucial part of the complete picture of my life. I had been neglecting them and putting all my focus on doing for others and pleasing others. My work had been suffering the consequences too, for how can you truly care for another when you do not care for yourself?

7 STEPS TO RETURN TO LOVE

  1. Listening and responding to my body – my digestion improved and the asthma (with me from age 4) and sinus problems I experienced vanished without a trace when I gave up gluten and dairy.
  1. Choosing to go to bed earlier, consistently.
  1. Bringing more tenderness to work – a self-loving ritual has now evolved from the simple washing and drying of my hands in between each patient, for it allows a moment to stop and re-collect myself from what I have just done; to let go and make the choice back towards gentleness and tenderness.
  1. Learning to walk with awareness and presence. This made a huge difference to my day as I walk to collect each patient. My walk is now tender, aware, and a chance to re-connect to myself through my feet.
  1. Learning to sit with respect for my body. The hard, twisting and bending is no longer something I put up with to get the job done. I stop when my body is uncomfortable and take a moment to adjust my posture accordingly.
  1. Changing my pace at work, understanding that I have my timing, my way of working. I used to think that I had an absolute obligation to squeeze people in, even as my body groaned under the weight of nervous system pressure this created. Now I do what I can, and no more.
  1. Learning to rest – at lunchtime I used to run away and escape by shopping, and eating too much. Now I rest, lying on my dental chair with warm eye pillows on my body, feeling my breath… or I go for a walk in the park.

Having actively chosen to heal, my body now feels clearer and lighter and I have a natural effervescence once lost that’s now starting to re-emerge…

I now continue my own healing together with the loving support of Esoteric Healing sessions. The Esoteric Healing Practitioners I see have assisted me to feel the anxiousness, the emotional and physical pain I thought I had so successfully buried. This process has been hard at times and deeply challenging as I’ve had to face up to the false principles that gave me the drive to keep going.

BEING A WOMAN FIRST – then a dentist

I have also been greatly supported by the Esoteric Women’s Presentations, presented by Natalie Benhayon, and the Our Cycles App. Both the presentations and the App have supported my connection to my monthly period cycle. Using the ‘Our Cycles App’ has supported me in making a consistent commitment to observing my state of being and nurturing myself from this observation. It has supported me to connect to the cycles my body goes through every month. I could not feel or respond to these cycles when life was frantic, and lived in the drive to get too much done. Life develops a lovely flow when you live and act from how you are feeling, right now.

As I have developed myself as a woman, my self-nurturing ways have started to flow naturally to others. Equal gentleness for me as well as for my patients is now part of the equation. Everything I do is infused with the quality I am in when that task is being done. This means that if I am being rough with myself, and disregarding in how I treat myself, then my patient and my dental nurse get that quality too.

I now take responsibility for the quality of my being through:

  • The breath I choose to breathe,
  • The movement of my hands and arms,
  • The tenderness of my fingertips,
  • The way I sit in my chair and hold my body, and
  • My conscious connection to my body and the task I am performing, equally.  

THE TRUE SUCCESS

As I have deepened my awareness of and connection to my body, I have come to appreciate my womanliness. I feel as though I have experienced a second puberty, at the age of 45; a second chance to embrace what it means to be a woman in this world. My tenderness and innate delicacy are my greatest strengths, not weaknesses to be overcome and ignored. I have come to feel the quality of being that we, as women, bring to the world. Just being with people allows them to open up. They feel that there is no agenda, no urge to get on and ‘do’. By being myself I’ve been blessed by people who’ve opened up and shared with me about their lives. What an honour it is to be loved in that way as a dentist!

The most wonderful thing I have learned to say is “I don’t know” when I don’t have the answer, understanding that this is not a sign of failure or inadequacy.

The picture of ‘perfect’ dentistry has started to dissolve away. As this perfection drops away, the first inklings of truth begin to emerge, and I am sensing that there is a harmonious timing in which to do things.

The stillness I bring creates space and eliminates the frantic urgency that used to permeate my work.

  • I have learned to say “no” to the things that cause me stress.
  • I have learned that I am responsible for my state of being (the quality I bring), but not the choices of others.

Consequently, I have started to now enjoy my work. I love the opportunity it brings for deep connection to people. I no longer feel crushed under the load of perfection I cannot ever achieve.

THE TRUE WOMAN IN DENTISTRY

The tenderness I have developed for myself has extended to the women in my life – I have opened my heart to the women I work with, and it’s a delight to be with my dental nurses all day. They are all beautiful women who support me to an extraordinary degree. We work together, as partners and friends, and that is beautiful. We all learn self-nurturing from each other, and support each other to make work lovely, light, fun and dedicated in equal measure.

At university I learned that I was never enough, and perfection in what was done was the only way to be enough. Now, no matter what the situation at work, I can bring my full presence, care and nurturing

Through Universal Medicine I learned that everything that is needed is ALREADY INSIDE ME. This inspired me to make self-care and self-love my way, to liberate the lovely, tender, and innately wise woman that was ALREADY THERE.

Today I bring that woman, in full, to the practice of dentistry.

Inspired by the work of Universal Medicine and Serge Benhayon

Further related reading:
Dentistry: When a Woman Chooses Her Profession Over and Above Herself

336 thoughts on “Bringing Self-care to Dentistry: 7 Steps to Returning to Love

  1. Consistently going to bed early, rituals that allow space to re-connect with the body, how we walk and sit and the way we set up the daily rhythm to not push the body beyond capacity, the tenderness of the fingertips, choosing the quality of the breath and equal conscious connection to the body and the task being performed – this is all so accessible, what can also be felt between your words is also the dedication you bring Rachel to how you are throughout the day.

  2. Inspirational blog Rachel that shows how it is so possible to let go of perfectionism however deeply ingrained and choose to care for ourselves and how that then opens us up to truly care for others. What stands out for me in all you have written is the consistency in your commitment to loving yourself. Thank you for sharing and demonstrating how simple and possible it is for anyone to choose this path and how they can start by making simple changes and then build on those.

  3. Rachel your transformation has shown others that there is a simplicity behind all that we do when we stop and put care in every action. I loved reading your 7 steps to return to love and can feel how supportive these are. I’m going to revisit mine and begin to nominate more in my work place. Thank you.

    1. Yes likewise Natasa. After reading Rachel’s words I can see that it’s time for me to revisit how I am living in my workplace as it seems that the busyness has been swallowing me up again lately.

  4. “I have learned to say “no” to the things that cause me stress.
    I have learned that I am responsible for my state of being (the quality I bring), but not the choices of others.”
    I can relate to this Rachel and how the sense of enjoyment of everything in life returns when I apply these principles.

  5. ‘Now I do what I can, and no more’. I hear these words verbalised a lot by others and sometimes I feel they are said with a giving up mentality that is founded on an ‘I don’t really care’ attitude, but if I say these words, although they sound good, they kind of are also a cop out that gets me out of my responsibilities. When I feel it said in this way I must be honest and admit I react but as I read these same words in your blog Rachel I can feel your quality and commitment to all that you do and I know that you actually do all that you can and no more. This example also reminds me how all words can either be said from an emptiness or fullness that we are all sensitive enough to feel the intention of.

  6. Rachel I just love how you share ‘I feel as though I have experienced a second puberty, at the age of 45; a second chance to embrace what it means to be a woman in this world. My tenderness and innate delicacy are my greatest strengths, not weaknesses to be overcome and ignored’. With the support of Esoteric Women’s Health this is indeed a realisation many many women have made and many more will follow as when we reignite the true women within us it inspires all others to do the same… It is never too late for any women to reconnect to themselves no matter their age and no matter their history.

  7. Definitely a piece of writing and sharing that brings the future into the present as the flow of experience and offerings about reclaiming the natural woman inside are just a pertinent as they were over 2 1/2 years ago when the blog was written. Indeed all the practical tips pretty much for me spell out everything that needs to be worked with to bring greatness to our lives – a greatness in the quality of every moment rather than the picture of greatness that Rachel has dissembled.

  8. An inspirational account of overcoming the burden of perfectionism through discovering the power of connecting to our true quality within. Life’s success isn’t down to how much we know but how much of the truth of who we are we choose to live.

    1. What a wonderful definition of success Cathy – “Life’s success isn’t down to how much we know but how much of the truth of who we are we choose to live.” This ought to be taught in schools, as it is fundamental.

  9. Beautiful Rachel. There are so many bits that I can take from this blog but something that stands out in particular is the reminder that we are each enough just as we are. We can dance around this concept and play small at times but these are just games of hide and seek and distraction. However, the reality is that we are all grand in our own way and if we are prepared to let self love in, we will sparkle and shine regardless of anything else.

  10. A redefinition of what is true success is presented here, and this is what the world need now, because success is definitely not what has been presented to us.

  11. A beautiful sharing, Rachel. Being tender with ourselves in everything we do and then everyone feels this. I can feel your expansion as a woman and also the expansion in your practice. This is magic for everyone you connect to in your day.

  12. Wow Rachel this blog is full of such deep wisdom and practical advice on how to self-care it would be great to see this published in magazines and internet for others to be inspired by. Especially those in professions such as yours where putting others first is common instead of caring for self first and developing a quality within that supports you in your workplace and beyond and where others are touched and inspired by the loving choices you have made.

  13. Thank you for sharing your 7 self-care steps that have supported you to return to love and that inner knowing of what is needed in any moment. The perfect antidote to the bane of perfectionism and so needed in our current society with the ever increasing pressure to do more thus leading to our rising disease and mental health problems that are placing an intolerable burden on our health services.

  14. There was a distinct understanding from your blog Rachel how the enormous, amazing changes you have chosen in your life and profession, came though a shift of awareness of a narrow relationship with life through work, expanding to a relationship with yourself. It did feel tangibly like letting go of one energy or consciousness or driving force that keeps us trying reach some unattainable goal and committing to another based on love and arriving back home to yourself. It was truly lovely to read and very relatable as having been one of your patients for years now and feeling how you treat your staff and patients, that you have chosen a way to live what you have discovered even amidst a super busy profession such as dentistry.

  15. I love what you have presented Rachel. So much wisdom in your sharing. Love is at the heart of who we are and when we return it to what we do, life is transformed.

  16. That Universities and indeed the whole education systems everywhere imbue us with the consciousness that perfection must be strived for, demonstrates that these organisations have no truth as their foundation. There can be no perfection on this plane of life and any seeking of perfection is simply setting us up to fail.

    1. Brilliantly expressed Doug, we miss the point in education and work systems, perhaps even in society in general, that the only “perfection” we ever can have is what we are already born with – the gorgeous essence of the person. This is what we truly need to value, foster, nurture and celebrate. Let this be our true foundation, and see society flourish.

  17. A beautiful example that there always is a way to bring about a change in how we experience life. That we are a woman/man before whatever the role we assign ourselves to at home/work is super important. We often complain about how stressful our job is and how much there to be done and there’s nothing we can do to change because we need money/security/comfort it brings and the job needs us s – and make that the ultimate reason for the way we feel, and we hardly ever give ourselves enough consideration to go ‘hey, I am worth looking after’.

  18. When we live from the most sacred and innermost place we cannot help to live first as the gorgeous women we are rather than being driven by the tasks we have to do. I am still perfecting this!

    1. I am also learning to connect to my sacredness and innermost, without perfection but with more consistency and joy.

  19. Very revealing that in letting go of the drive to be the ‘perfect’ dentist has resulted in offering so much more with what is offered while working as a dentist.

  20. The dental profession sees high rates of depression and suicide, so the steps of self-care you offer, particularly seeing yourself as a woman first and dentist second are extremely important for any dentist to be able to continue to offer the highly valuable service for society, and at the same time enjoy your life.

  21. I love your 7 steps to returning to love. You inspire me to bring this same level of quality and love to all that I do. I am learning to let go of perfection and appreciate what I bring to my every day, and reminding myself that everything I need is already within me. This supports me to trust what I feel and not be easily influenced by what I think people expect of me, but to simply be myself in full, embracing my natural confidence as a woman.

  22. How strong is it in our culture, to put others first? Especially as women? To self-sacrifice to the point of personal toll and harm, and yet, still be held in some crazy notion of esteem and worth by ‘virtue’ of such actions and way of being?
    Thank-you for bringing your powerful revelations to the table here Rachel Mascord. Such Judeo-Christian dominant mythology (also existing elsewhere…) deserves to be broken down, and true self-devotion, love and care restored to the picture, and our way of being. And look then, at the qualities we may truly offer to others, as you yourself are doing – just amazing.

  23. This is worth shouting from the rooftops: “My tenderness and innate delicacy are my greatest strengths, not weaknesses to be overcome and ignored.”
    There is so much to celebrate in the transformation you have described Rachel – for all women, and all of society. We have allowed ourselves to be ‘crushed’, as you say, by ridiculous notions of ‘perfection’ and expectation, for far, far too long – and it clearly aint’ workin’…

    1. I absolutely agree Victoria, striving to obtain ‘perfection’ simply leads to exhaustion because there is no such thing as perfection. So, chasing something that is unobtainable would only lead us astray and feeling fully exhausted and even lost. Also setting up expectations closes our hearts and our potential to deepen our evolution and relationships, be it with work, people or goals.

  24. What Universal Medicine teaches about self care is so simple, yet it’s so completely transformative. Great to read your story about how this translated in your work life – so many benefits for you, your staff and clients.

  25. Love your seven steps Rachel, all practical and can be worked with every day and obviously will make a huge difference to quality of life.

  26. Brilliant honest, candid blog by Rachel Mascord​ – about how we can choose a profession over and above ourselves, in this case dentistry. This is an article that would do well as part of all healthcare professionals study and training.

  27. Just reading this Rachel, there has been some great reminders, some inspiration and loved the honesty in which you have shared. The 7 Steps to Return to Love is super clear and a great support in which to return to and read over again and again. There is so much in those steps, each being super powerful.

  28. Wow Rachel! – this is a hugely inspiring before and after story that covers so many areas that affects each and every one of us in varying degrees. There is no way anyone who reads your story could do so without feeling truly inspired.

  29. I love your 7 steps to return to love, they are brilliant, very supportive and inspiring. ‘I used to think love was about self-sacrifice and doing for others with no regard for myself.’ I can so relate to this as I too used to think this was how I could express love, to always put others first. Now, I realised I had it back to front and no wonder I was feeling exhausted. Letting go of this has been great, I am now more able to be supportive to others and my expression of love is energising not at all exhausting but about not leaving anyone out including myself.

  30. At university we may learn a lot of facts and information that is needed but on what foundation if we come out feeling worn down, stressed, anxious, lacking in true self-worth? The practical steps that you share here Rachel on returning to the love we innately are and taking responsibility for our quality of living are a crucial foundation for our lives, we would do well if we brought this into universities and coupled the livingness of that love with the learning that we can do there.

  31. What a beautiful and amazing transformation you have described here Rachel and it is not to be underestimated how much more you now enjoy working with your patients and your staff which must surely show and benefit everyone you have contact with in the day. I have been through a very similar transformation with my Physiotherapy profession and I have also been greatly supported in this by Universal Medicine.

  32. An inspiring sharing Rachel ! What a difference you have made to yourself and your work situations and those your work with and no doubt your Patients receive a great healing from you!

  33. I love this sentence. “The most wonderful thing I have learned to say is “I don’t know” when I don’t have the answer, understanding that this is not a sign of failure or inadequacy.”
    The choice to accept I don’t know everything has been integral in healing the high level of anxiety that was my normal way of living for 40 of years.

  34. You’re 7 steps are stunning and clearly deeply powerful in the difference they have made to yourself and the way you practice. This could be adapted accordingly and applied to everyone as a beautiful way to live and work… and ultimately serve others through a much needed reflection of another way to move through life.

  35. ‘What was offered was a deeper truth to life; a truth to be explored and connected to, and that the source of this truth was held inside the physical body..’ This sentence alone is so incredibly healing to read and sums up (if that’s even possible!) the limitless wisdom that Serge Benhayon presents. Coming back to my body is changing how I see and interact with life because I now know the depths of love and knowledge that is held within it – as equal to all others.

  36. Rachel, reading this was a joy and a gift. I could feel the steadiness of you. And you write with such wisdom, delicacy, strength and authority. The changes that you have made are remarkable and I can feel how much you offer the world know and what a different offering that is from where you have come.

  37. So amazing Rachel, Thank you for offering the contrast of before and after. It’s insane that we are still choosing to educate under the same energy that has clearly not been working for eons. Thank god there are people like you out there showing/proving there is another way!

  38. The simple practise of observation without criticism, and moving and being gentle, slowly starts to dissolve old, hardened and protected ways of being and allows the gentleness and tenderness out – and is so much more of a freeing, open way of being in the world. No protection, no holding back and no hiding – just being who we naturally are.

  39. Rachel thank you for sharing this as I feel that for most people that have attended a workshop of Universal Medicine we have felt this too at some level.
    “There was no over-elated, hyped-up excitement. What was offered was a deeper truth to life; a truth to be explored and connected to, and that the source of this truth was held inside the physical body – the body I had ignored for so long.”
    I feel as a human race we have given up on ourselves and live our lives within a tread mill of our own making, work and home life meld into one as with modern technology we can be always on call. We don’t look up at the sky and more at night as our ancestors did and wonder about the universe and our role within it for mostly the sky is lit up with such light pollution we are unable to see it any more. We are loosing touch with nature as we see it as a commodity and not as something that can reconnect us back to a sense of the rhythm of life, we are totally out of kilter and Universal Medicine to me is a much needed wake up call to ask us a society what is really going on here? We need to ask these questions of ourselves, because if we lift our heads up just a little bit we will see that something is fundamentally wrong with the way we are living if we just take one example that cannot be ignored any longer and that is illness and disease amongst us is out of control and yet we are seemingly ignoring the facts and figures. How much worse will the statistics get before we sit up and take any notice. Humanity may not know it or appreciate it yet but as far as I can tell Universal Medicine is the only group of people prepared to stick their head above the parapet of life and ask the pertinent questions and actually have a truthful answer to our man made dilemmas.

  40. I wonder if the fact of many people not liking going to the dentist also comes from the fact that dentist are often under such a pressure physically and emotionally and therefor expressing this through their work.

  41. It is the little things in life, all that we know will do us real good, consistently applied step by step that will bring true change. It is simple but we tend to make things complex and then are not able to see the simplicity anymore.

  42. Thank you Rachel for sharing your 7 steps. They are all great but I particularly like step 7 where you rest at lunch time with an eye pillow. I relate to having held myself to ransom with a picture of what a successful life looked like. I still have expectations that I am discovering all the time, but fortunately for me I am discarding the pictures and allowing my life to have more of a flow.

  43. Life opens up in the most amazing ways when we begin to live a relationship with ourselves. And suddenly life is a whole new dimension, it becomes very simple and very enjoyable. There are no rules and we can feel a flow. Of course, this is not the way of living the world is familiar with, and therefore this reflection may not always be welcomed, but it is absolutely necessary as it is the truth that so many are looking to find.

  44. Women in the workplace can take note, be a woman first always. After that execute the role you are working in fully being the woman.

  45. “BEING A WOMAN FIRST – then a dentist” this is so powerful Rachel, to really state that first and foremost is not something we tend to do as women. To really know ourselves and that we are indeed a woman or man, before we are our job, or parent as another example. It is very empowering to re-learn that for ourselves and then live that.

    1. It’s a great point, we are taught that what we do comes first and then the role, like mother or dentist etc, but not to be the woman / ourselves first. There is such a focus on the doing in life and the functionality that comes with that (often with self sacrifice and disregard), instead of the focus on our being and how we feel t be ourselves and what that brings. We value what gets done and not so much the people doing it.

  46. This is a stunning post Rachel, with a super helpful guide to the steps you took to restore and heal yourself. How refreshing to read that most of those things involved the simplicity of movement and choices within each day, and not some expensive or comprehensive program someone had laid out for you. Very empowering and inspiring thank you.

    1. It is so simple isn’t it, to be aware of our body and take care of it by honouring it’s signals of discomfort and whatever other needs it has. As you say, no complicated program or “detox”, just super simple self honouring.

      1. Yes and not just super simple, but sustainable… what Rachel has described is a new way of life, and not just a measure to address a certain problem. That’s what makes it so empowering.

  47. Wow what a turn around, this is amazing Rachel. I am super inspired by the simple ways you have brought joy and vitality back to you.

  48. There is a wisdom in our body that is super supportive to connect with and honour in the way that we move, work and live our life. Thank you Rachel for sharing the simple ways that you have transformed your vitality and wellbeing.

  49. Rachel it is lovely to read how you are now taking care of your body and whole wellbeing. I have realised my body is delicate and precious and taking care of it is one of my new top priorities.

  50. What you describe in your first few paragraphs Rachel reminds me of how I used to live my life when I was training to practise Acupuncture almost 30 years ago, the drive and the perfectionism, ‘I made life about getting everything ‘right’’. Thank goodness I too attended some Universal Medicine courses and have let go of running my body in this loveless manner.

  51. How many of us have got caught up in this false belief of putting everyone else before ourselves is a loving way to be, so not true, ‘I used to think love was about self-sacrifice and doing for others with no regard for myself. I learned, through steady commitment to myself, that love is a way of being, and that it starts with how I treat myself; and from treating myself lovingly, it naturally extends to others, no trying necessary!’ Absolutely, it starts with bringing that love for self first.

  52. Rachel it was wonderful to read this again. A great line “I have learned that I am responsible for my state of being (the quality I bring), but not the choices of others.” I have noticed when we make another the focus, either because they have upset us or we are worried about them then the focus is now off our own quality of life and quality of energy we innately can bring. It’s a huge lesson to just let others be where they are, to know ourselves and not allow their abuse to affect us, and also allow others space to be with their choices with no expectations on where they “should” or “could” be.

  53. I loved these words Rachel ‘I have learned that I am responsible for my state of being (the quality I bring), but not the choices of others’. When we allow the choices of others to affect us, we lose the quality of ourselves.

  54. This is an inspiring testament to the power of self-care and the seven steps are very practical and applicable in any profession.

  55. Wow – so many people strive for a ‘better’ job with more flexibility or A job that pays more but I almost never hear people talking about changing the way they treat themselves so that they actually enjoy their work. What a revelation!

  56. ‘My work had been suffering the consequences too, for how can you truly care for another when you do not care for yourself?’ Such great point here Rachel – how we effect others when we disregard ourselves.

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