The third element we are exploring in this series is the Body...do your habits support your body's evolution into aligned, vibrant longevity? Do you nourish your body with healthy foods, movement, & massage? What messages are you sending your body through your inner voice?
B O D Y
~We are walking around in the most sophisticated technology available on this planet~
Our lungs breathe without our control, our hearts pump blood through every square inch of our bodies, our nervous system is a courier service capable of instantly transmitting information as well as a highly sensitive security system that can bring us from relaxed to alert in a moments notice when danger is near. When we include the brilliance of the human psyche and brain, the sophistication of the human form is mind blowing. Are you treating your body as such?
If you drove the most powerful performance car available, would you put sub-par fuel in it? The food we eat becomes our cells, our muscles and our skin, the food we eat becomes a part of us...it is our responsibility as possessors of the most sophisticated technology on the planet to provide ourselves with the foods most nourishing for our own unique selves. I have experimented with various different "diets" in the past and I've come to the conclusion that when we put ourselves into categories such as "vegetarian", "vegan", "paleo", etc. we are limiting our openness to hear our bodies subtle signals that it may need something other than what our "diet" allows for. You see, food is medicine; an injured body that is repairing nerves or muscle fibers may benefit from foods containing more B12, collagen & protein, whereas an over-stressed body may crave grounding foods like beets or sweet potatoes....or Grandma's mac & cheese ;) I began experimenting with my diet when I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism 11 years ago in an effort to control my thyroid levels. At that time medication alone wasn't working very well, so I discovered the wonders of eating clean and I've only had 2 instances where my thyroid tanked since. Both instances were when I let stress dictate my diet...here are my simple guidelines for fueling your body:
* Eat real, organic, non GMO food: ditch the processed pre-packaged & fast food in favor of real organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, & meats. Carry snacks & take the time to prep food at home for an easeful cooking experience.
* Listen to your body: eat when you're hungry & stop when you're full. If you're craving something sweet, reach for fruit. Craving salty? Roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious and a great source of iron. Listen carefully, your cravings are one of the ways your body speaks to you. By listening, you will discover not only what your body likes and wants, but also what it doesn't. You may uncover a food allergy or sensitivity has been causing your tiredness, your asthma, or your digestion problems.
* Drink filtered, water: our tap water may be deemed "safe" by governing agencies, but fluoride, chlorine, & fracking are reasons enough for me to avoid the stuff. I drink water all day everyday; it keeps my skin healthy, my mind fresh, & my body ready for whatever I want to do.
* Everything in Moderation: eat healthy fats, eat healthy carbs, eat chocolate, eat meat if that's your jam...don't demonize a food. Simply choose foods that serve your body well and avoid those that don't.
* Gratitude: I take time before each meal to honor the food that is about to nourish my body. Acknowledge all the energy that went into the food you are about to eat. Many forces were at play before your food made it's way to you....sunlight, water, soil, farmers, truck drivers & grocery store clerks. Our food can hold the power to connect us in profound ways!
How many times do you choose convenience over nutrition? How many glasses of water do you drink daily? Do you avoid foods because you perceive them as bad? How can you make mealtime sacred?
Movement is key to a healthy body. I have done it all throughout the years; 10 years ago I used to bike 60+ miles a week, practice yoga daily, hike 6 miles once a week, & lift weights. Now, I walk & practice yoga daily, & bike and/or hike weekly. The key is, again, to listen to what your body needs and ask yourself what you want to do; it doesn't matter what you are doing as long as you are doing it. You can dance, swim, bike, hike, walk, practice yoga, run, whirl like a dervish...the possibilities are limitless!
How often do you exercise? How does your body like to move? What is your favorite way to move your body?
We often think of meditation as being only for the mind, but it does help the body as well. When I was in the beginning throws of my nerve damage, the pain was nearly unbearable; the only respite I found was through my meditation practice. If the act of sitting brings stress into the body, then you can practice meditating lying down or even walking. Additionally, restorative yoga & yoga nidra are both deeply healing meditative practices that bridge the mind-body gap. Practices such as these help our bodies to release the tension they've been holding onto from the stresses of our lives.
Do you Meditate? Do you often find yourself with achy shoulders, neck, or lower back without a specific physical cause? How can you include a meditative practice into your life if you don't already have one?
4. Connection to Nature
When we are commuting to work, checking emails on our phones, & paying our bills online, we sometimes forget that we, as humans, are animals. We are animals with distinct natural needs just like every other animal has. One of these intrinsic needs is the need to connect with the natural world and we receive a great deal of energy from the Earth itself when we take the time to head to nature. Sit outside and feel the sun & air on your skin, smell the breeze. Head for the hills for the weekend and sleep in a tent with your body resting deeply into the Earth Herself. My favorite moments are the ones spent under the sky and the stars.
How often do you spend time outdoors? Do you notice a difference if you spend too much time indoors? Do you feel connected to nature? How can you bring more "wild" into your life?
Just as meditation often gets confused as being only for the mind, therapy does too. As beings we are made up of many layers...the physical body, the mental/emotional body, the energy body, etc...sometimes things can get tangled so to speak. Often times, especially in cases of trauma, an emotional experience gets trapped inside of the physical body. This can manifest as pain, extreme clenching or discomfort and can be extremely life altering for the person experiencing it. Somatic based therapies work to help unwind the tangles between the physical and emotional bodies. EMDR, Trauma Release Exercises, Somatic Experiencing, & Yoga are only some of the modalities that help in this process. I have found this type of work to be transformational for me as I overcome residue from past childhood traumas.
Do you have unexplained pain that may have an emotional root? Can you identify where inside of your body certain emotions "live"? Do you often find yourself "numb" while in a stressful situation?
6. Body Work
Our bodies do so much for us. They carry us throughout our day & they carry the weight of our worlds on their shoulders. What are you doing to help unwind the knots that are a result of all that carrying? I used to think that getting a massage was a luxury; now I know it is a necessity for maintaining healthy & supple fascia & muscle tissue. Some of my favorite modalities are Rolfing, Thai Yoga Therapy, & massage therapy.
Do you have regular body work? How do you view massage or bodywork? What type of body work does your body best respond to?
I was recently with a friend who said something negative about her body & her weight. I responded to her with "please don't talk about my friend that way". I think she was a little taken aback by my response at first, but then the recognition clicked. The way we think & speak about ourselves is sometimes harsher than we would think or speak about anyone else. I used to dislike and complain about the stretch marks and "saggy" skin on my belly from carrying 3 babies, I used to disown the little place where my butt cheek meets my upper thigh because it isn't as "tight" as other places, there have been days when the pain from my nerve damage has been so bad that I've cursed my body as inadequate and useless. When I began to look at my perceived "flaws" for what they really were I discovered badges of honor for birthing 3 babies, I saw areas for potential change and growth, & I also saw where I was disowning parts of myself. All of my negative self talk was guiding me to those places that I needed to reclaim and love again.
Do you love & respect your body as fully as you can? Can you stand in the mirror and claim your assests instead of picking out your "flaws"?
You are walking around inside of the most sophisticated technology on the planet. Your body is an amazing creation that allows you to live out your purpose and experience all of the pleasures life has to offer. Please share your experiences with me; I would love to hear both your challenges & your triumphs!