Updated: Jul 9, 2019
Treat your body like the sacred temple that it is, and move from surviving in this life, to thriving!
We live in a society that prides itself on achieving. In which we impress one another with our busy-ness. Rushing around from here to there, doing all the things, leaving no time really for ourselves. There is no time or energy left at the end of the day to care for the body who is supposed to be doing all the doing. The body that carries on no matter how little sleep you get, no matter how little nutrients you ingest, no matter how little movement you get in. The body that continues business as usual even when you don't drink nearly enough water, or get enough natural sunlight on your skin. The body that works hard under the critical pressure you subject it to and the negative self-talk you indulge in. The body that still performs even though you eat for pleasure or convenience than for nourishment and sustenance. And it's true, we are surviving regardless of our poor diet & lifestyle choices. But what if we were made for more than just survival? What if we could move from surviving, to thriving?
When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to acquire wealth. And then he sacrifices his wealth to regain his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or in the future, he lives as if he is never going to die and then dies having never really lived.”
The truth is, we don't really know what health and vibrancy feel like. We watch the energy levels of children dissipate as they get older. We watch their enthusiasm for life diminish as times presses on. And we accept this fate quite readily under the notion that it's "all downhill from here", which is supposed to symbolize things getting easier, but instead it's taken on the meaning that things only get worse; health, physique, marriage, sex life, energy levels, memory, etc. We have come to believe that our 20's and 30's are our prime, and things just get worse from there and we adjust our expectations somewhat accordingly. We let ourselves go, so to speak, relaxing into our own inevitable demise. But what if we were actually designed to feel incredible in this life. What if the lifestyles of the modern world are literally sucking the life out of us. What if all of the things that have been woven into the fabric of our society are actually robbing us of the vibrancy that we are supposed to be experiencing?
Perhaps it would be difficult for us humans to consider that we are not very different from animals at the zoo; taken out of our natural habitat and forced to live and eat and survive in these super unconventional ways. We were never designed to cope with the amount of stress that we are living with in the modern world, nor were we designed to eat, drink, and breathe copious amounts of chemi-kills, or be constantly exposed to the low-grade radiation of wifi. (Yes, for anyone who didn't know - wifi is a form of low-grade radiation.) Our species comes from a lineage of people who belonged to the Earth, understanding its unique anomalies, and passing the wisdom of the elders down through spoken word. These people used plants and herbs as medicine. They knew what they should take from the land, and what they should leave behind. They lived at peace with the Earth and all beings. When they hunted for food, they thanked and blessed the animal that would now provide food for the tribe. And then came the white man, forcefully driving our species forward with their not so hidden agenda of a new and better world.
So how can we even begin to achieve a more natural way of living? In order to move towards this concept of thriving in your health & well-being, we must first strip away all of the things that are weighing us down. The food we eat, the lifestyle we live, the stress we have grown accustomed to - all of it needs to be examined so that we can discover where we are losing our energy and ultimately our power. I've heard the modern life described like this, which I think explains things perfectly:
"Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to the job that you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day just so that you can afford to live in it." -Ellen Goodman
We all know a few basic things when it comes to health & nutrition. We know that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, and move our bodies. We know this, yet we often struggle with taking action on this for a variety of reasons summarized by the quote above. This life is not set up to serve our best interests. We load up on stimulants; caffeine to energize, alcohol to relax. Both of which disrupt our health. We eat fast and refined foods because we never have the time it takes to prepare healthy meals, and with low energy we crave the foods that will provide us with the biggest sugar rush. We don't move our bodies enough in a healthy way because we are so damn exhausted from all of the work we do both at our jobs and in our households.
While we cannot change the external circumstances we have come to find ourselves in, we can commit to making small, sustainable, healthy changes every single day. You see, health and wellness is a practice. That's what a lifestyle is; a way of living that you are consistently practicing. Take that into consideration and contemplate what type of a lifestyle you currently have. Most of the time we make the mistake of trying to implement many large changes all at once, which is not the most suitable approach for people as a whole. For some reason, we are impatient and we expect immediate results as if one week of inconveniencing ourselves with healthy lifestyle practices is going to make a dramatic difference. Healthy living is a daily practice, and one that we must come to enjoy in order for it to come naturally to us.
First we must contemplate our "why" - the reason we think we want to be healthier. It has got to have more depth than the superficial body image obsession that our society is so addicted to. If you need more inspiration, go spend some time with elderly who are sick or immobile. Imagine how you want to spend your last 20 years. I don't know about you, but I want to enjoy life to it's fullest which means making choices today that set me up for success tomorrow. What I know, is that when I am the healthiest, my energy levels are high, my mind is clear, I am calm, focused, and grounded. I have the ability to stay connected to my higher self and make calculated decisions vs. off handed reactions. When my health is balanced I am a better friend and wife. I listen better. I laugh more. I sleep well. I feel less stress and more peace because I am creating every single day from a place of purpose.
Whatever your motivation, it's got to become a regular part of your thought patterns. It's got to start to make it's way to the forefront of your mind, becoming a commitment that you make to yourself. And unlike your job, there is absolutely no one but yourself to hold you accountable. If what you say you want for yourself is not in alignment with your actions, then you don't really want it that bad. We can entertain all kinds of self-sabotaging excuses, but the truth is that you don't need anything more than you have right now to get started. It all starts at the level of the mind. Once you've decided to put yourself first, you must then weigh all of your actions by this commitment. Is what I am about to eat/drink/do/say/think going to support my commitment to my best health & well-being? If not, don't do it. I know what you're thinking, easier said than done. And you're right. This is where the practice part comes into play.
I personally love yoga as a practice to clear my mind, strengthen & lengthen my body, and cultivate the right internal environment for mindfulness and meditation. And while yoga may not be everyone's cup of tea, there are many other ways to achieve the same results. When we are able to focus and direct the mind on one point, we become magnetically aligned in that moment with the object or experience that we are seeking. The idea is to align with our goals, dreams, and desires often through our thoughts, speech, and actions. This could mean talking about your dreams with someone, diving into self-development programs, or using tools like visualization or positive thinking. It is one of the most important parts of your practice as the mind is what informs the actions that we take. In the beginning, it can feel exhausting trying to override all of the self-sabotage that we didn't realize we were practicing, but it is well worth it in the end.
You can begin anywhere with developing a healthy lifestyle. From drinking more water everyday until it becomes the norm. Like eating more vegetables with every meal, or cutting back on processed & refined foods. Reducing coffee & alcohol intake or trying a 30 day cleanse or healthy eating program. Start small and implement new habits that you can continue to build on. Once you have implemented healthier habits, the momentum builds and it becomes easier and easier as you go because you start noticing how amazing you feel. The idea is to create a bit of space between feeling amazing, and the way you used to feel so that you can use this new found vibrancy to motivate you to stay on course. The more that you continue to honor and support your body, mind, and spirit - the more that you will feel supported by these parts of you. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.