When we think of school we tend to think of kids going back to school, whether it’s elementary, middle, high school or even college, the phrase. “Back to School” provokes images of backpacks, yellow school buses and red apples for teachers. Although I’ve never really know a teacher who wanted an apple…
But why not make back to school season something for all of us? There’s not a person alive who couldn’t benefit from a bit of learning or education in at least something! Whether it’s cooking or car repair, computer programming or finances, there’s always something we can learn! And as I’ve talked about in previous blog posts, learning is good for us! It keeps our brains young, it increases our self-confidence and self-worth, it keeps us engaged in the world, and it makes us more relevant as human beings.
Learning is Good for Our Brain, Our Health and Our Self-Esteem
Here’s why: If we want to stay healthy, happy and feel good about ourselves and our place in the world, we need to stay connected. Connected to other people individually, but also connected to society collectively, as a whole. It makes no difference what we think of the people around us, or what’s going on the world, whether we love it or hate it, unless we have updated knowledge and skills, we have zero chance of impacting or world or the people in it.
Additionally, whether we want to impact our world or not, if we want to stay happy, connected to our families and friends, we need to continue to update our knowledge. For instance, none of the population who is currently over 50, grew up with computers, cell phones or the internet. Although many of the people in the 50-70 age category are still working and have adapted to the use of computers and cell phones, many of the people in their 80s and 90s have not.
While you might be thinking, “Who cares? They don’t need to stress themselves out learning how to use cell phones or paying for expensive internet plans!” think how this population could benefit from things like Uber, Lyft or other ride sharing apps. People unable to drive would no longer be home-bound if they could use their smartphones. What advances might happen when you are in your 80s that you might want to take advantage of? Do you think it would be easier to learn how to use the tools slowly along the way, or to suddenly have to learn them when you have a need? I find slow learning over time to be much less stressful!
It Doesn’t Matter What we Learn… So Have Some FUN!
It doesn’t matter if it’s learning how to use a smart phone, learning a new computer program or learning a new skill, it behooves us all to continue to learn. Learning positively stimulates our brain, it makes us feel good about ourselves, and it makes our lives easier!
While the focus so far has been on technology, learning new things is not exclusive to technology! Cooking, crafts, knitting, crocheting, needle point or sewing are all new skills that can be learned. Card games such as bridge, learning to play chess, picking up a musical instrument or learning a foreign language all stimulate the brain in new and important ways.
And then there is the wide variety of interpersonal skills that we can all benefit from, such as learning how to actively listen, or to validate someone without agreeing with their position. And then there is all the personal stuff that we can learn! There is so much that we can learn about ourselves, our personalities, the way we think or process new information. We can literally learn so much, all the time!
And with such endless possibilities, why would we not continue learning, throughout our whole lives? It’s good for our brains, for our self-esteem, for our interpersonal relationships, for our professional relationships, and for the entire society in which we live.
So with that, what are you going to learn this back to school season?
FREE BONUS LEARNING MEDITATION:
Regardless of what you choose to learn this school year, I have a challenge for you! Actually, I have three challenges, and those three challenges all have to do with your best year in school. So, take a moment to remember your best school year, no matter if it was preschool or grad school. OK, now that you have that memory, begin, by tuning into the excitement of that year. Whether it was a new outfit, new shoes, the smell of new school supplies or a lunch box with your favorite super hero on it, take a moment and tune into all the possibilities that that year held. Endless possibilities of friends, food, field trips and learning.
I want you to see if you can bring back that sense of possibility into your life right now. What are you looking forward to? What exciting things might you expect? Who might you meet? What might you learn? If you are financially able, what small thing might you treat yourself to? If you don’t want to spend money, what fun, free thing can you treat yourself to? A movie on TV, a book at the library, a walk around the lake? What free groups are in your area that you might join? The world is filled with people, places and things, all for you to take advantage of and enjoy! Embrace the possibilities!
Second, tune into your favorite teacher and what he or she did to make you feel special. Was it the way he or she smiled at you? Gave you personalized attention, really heard you and understood your needs? What was it about this person that made them so special? What can you do emulate these qualities, or what qualities that you have that could make others feel like you did about your teacher? How can you be someone’s hero? Today is the day to be that superhero, to truly touch someone else’s life!
Lastly, take a moment to focus on content. This might sound silly, but I want you to think about some of the things you learned that year. Whether it was learning to multiply, divide, read music or diagram a sentence, what was some of the content that you enjoyed learning, and why? The world is literally filled with content! You can learn from books, from TV, from movies, from other people, from on-line classes, you name it, you can learn it. Craft stores have classes, community centers have classes, and nursing homes are filled with people who have skills they’d love to teach someone like you! Delve into the magical, never ending world of content, and see what lights you up. Music, language, board games, strategy, history, arts, crafts, movement, dance, what kind of content are you interested in learning? Seek something out today!
This blog post was picked up by Elephant Journal! Please visit Elephant Journal in order to read this post!
Every couple of months my friends and I head to a local steam bath. And no, I don’t mean spa. This particular steam bath was built in 1927 as a Jewish ritual bath, and pretty much nothing has changed since then. Even though swim suits are technically allowed, one would look, and feel, far more awkward wearing a swim suit than spending the day naked with twenty or so strange women. Women who have converged upon the steam bath like pilgrims seeking the holy land, experiencing healing that only nudity can provide.
For eons women have shared a sacred, naked sisterhood with each other. And unless we return to our ancient, unclothed roots, until we collectively embrace nudity, our culture will remain tormented and sick. We will stay rooted in the bonds of racism, sexism, ageism and intolerance. Paradoxically, we suffer from body-shame, eating disorders and depression, yet the obesity epidemic runs rampant. All because of our propensity to stay covered up, to hide, and to hold ourselves out as separate from each other.
Unity through Nudity
I am handed a small hand towel, a sheet and a locker key. Winding my way into the modest locker room, I feel my pretenses begin to drop. Women, either stark naked or wrapped toga-style in their sheets, lounge everywhere. Shoes off, phone off, jewelry off, clothes off, I feel more at ease, more myself, with every layer that I shed and my healing begins.
Entering the baths requires a shower, as all oils, lotions and makeup must washed off in order to keep the water clean. Long hair needs to be clipped up and pulled out of the face. Grabbing my small, white hand towel, I walk gingerly across the slippery floor, towards the shower, and into what feels like another dimension. Steam from the connecting steam room, the nearby hot-tub and the community-style showers fills the air and collects by the ceiling, which is painted light blue with fake clouds.
A sea of naked women surrounds me. They are old, young, thin, fat, short, tall, tattooed, scarred, powerful and frail. They speak in hushes tones and carry the same, simple, white hand towel. Free of makeup, hair, jewelry or accessories, everyone is equal. Women of every shape, size, color and description imaginable, quietly mill around in the haze. And it takes my breath away.
Nobody is rich or poor, married or single, gay or straight, conservative or liberal, stylish or simple. We are simply just human; honest and humble in our vulnerability. I am just another naked body with a white hand towel, wet hair clipped unflatteringly to my head. And it’s a beautiful thing. I no longer worry if my hair is falling or my mascara is streaking. Pulling my stomach in is pointless. The last remnants of the identity I have created around myself fall away and I become part of the naked mass. With nothing covering me, I have nothing to hide or to fear. I’m already naked; there’s nothing left to be taken. I am simply a part of the whole.
The Naked Maiden, Mother, and Crone
Sitting there, resting my head against the wall, watching the women in front of me, I am overcome with the great beauty of the aging process. All of us age. Yet we are not given access to the beauty of the process. We do not have the opportunity to look upon old bodies. We don’t even have the opportunity to look upon real, regular, raw bodies. In our culture, every time bodies are shown, they are either edited or sexualized. We are never given the opportunity to see bodies as they really are.
There is a woman who has had a mastectomy, whose chest looks like a molded, plastic baby doll. There are young women with firm, tight skin and tattoos. Some women’s stomachs are so stretched out from pregnancy that the skin on their bellies looks incongruous with the rest of their bodies. There are the heavy women who fill out their bodies, in beautiful, round curves and there are women who have folds of squishy, fat hanging from their bodies. The variety of breasts and nipples is indescribable. The array of pubic hair is astounding. The steam bath is where I learned that even pubic hair turns gray with age.
No wonder we are miserable. No wonder we have such shame in our bodies, our age and our size. What’s wrong with me? Why am I so ugly/fat/thin/tall/sort? is the constant refrain from women everywhere. But being at the steam bath, being naked with my friends, I know that the answer to all of these questions is quite simply, nothing. Nothing is wrong with any of us. At any age, at any weight or size, we are all OK. We just don’t see it, because we stay covered up.
Peace, Love and Nudity
Being naked is what makes us OK. Lounging in this vast mix of bodies, where nobody is remotely the same, allows me to gauge exactly who I am. Exactly where I need to be. I begin to appreciate my own folds, bulges and contours. I see how I used to be when I was younger, and where I’ll be in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. And I’m grateful for that. I understand the process. My own body is interesting and beautiful in it’s it distinction. But covered up, I lose the opportunity to see or to know that. It is the ritual of being naked with others that allows this understanding of oneness.
At the end of the day we head back towards the locker rooms, towards our identities and lives. Back towards separation and covering up. Except that we can no longer be completely separate or hidden from each other. We have spent the day naked together, in sacred, communal space, and because of this, we understand that we are all one. We are all the maiden, the mother and the crone, all at the same time. And it is from this place of unclothed understanding that we can begin to heal.
The ABC’s of Holiday Health and Fitness can be found here:
The Fall Clean Eating Crock Pot Recipes can be found here:
Our bodies and our minds are endlessly adaptable. There is quite literally an endless variety of adaptations that our bodies and our minds can make, allowing us to survive in even the harshest of mental or physical circumstances. Although this ability is useful in a wide variety of circumstances, it also the reason that emotions can get stuck in our bodies, negatively impacting our health as well as our mental well-being.
Physical and Emotional Traumas Both Have Physical Manifestations
When we break a leg, and are in a full leg cast for an extended period of time, our bodies adapt to the gait and manner of walking with one leg straight. Remove the cast, and for the first several days it’s difficult to walk normally again. Our physical body adapted. Without mirrors, physical therapy or the conscious desire to return to a normal gait, our limp might remain permanent, even though there is no physical reason to maintain the straight-legged gait.
The same is true with physical patterning with regard to emotion. Different emotions result in different physical posturing, and our body language changes depending on the emotions we are experiencing. Unlike a limp however, emotions are not tangible. We cannot simply look in a mirror and see where we are holding emotion in our bodies. Therefore, it can be difficult to identify and release the emotions that are unnecessarily being held in our bodies.
But just like the resulting limp from a broken leg, unnecessarily holding emotions in the body can be just as debilitating. Whether we call it baggage, triggers or psychological damage, emotional experiences impact our physical bodies. Since emotions cannot exist outside of the body, the only way to hold or express emotions, is through the body!
How Emotions Get Stuck in the Body
Think about your own body posturing when you are trying not to be noticed. Have you ever worn the wrong type of clothing to an event? Been awkwardly taller than those around you? Had a blouse that kept gaping open or a zipper that kept sliding down? Chances are, in an attempt to not be noticed, your body posturing changed. Perhaps you slouched, pulled your shoulders up and forward or hung and head. Maybe you presented the side of your body instead of meeting people head on, kept your arms crossed over your chest or literally tried to make your body compact, and smaller than it was.
Our feelings of embarrassment, nervousness, or our desire not to be noticed manifested in our bodies, in the form of tension in the shoulders, neck or chest, due to slouching, or pain in the knees, ankles or feet, due to slight squatting and keeping the body turned sideways. Our physicality reflected what was happening on an emotional level.
Over time, our bodies can get stuck in a variety of emotional holding patterns. Just like the limp from wearing as cast too long, we can slump, slouch, squat or protect out of habit, even when there is no longer an emotional reason to do so.
Emotional Holding Patterns That Cause Physical Symptoms
Take the case of long-time caregivers, who often have the tendency to slouch. Whether it’s from holding babies or from leaning over beds to check on patients, the emotions of nurturing, protecting, care and concern become synonymous with stooped posture. Over time, whenever those caregiver feel the same emotions they feel when checking on patients or children, the physical patterning of slouching follows suit. The emotions literally get stuck in the body’s muscles.
Although the caregiver might have enough strength and flexibility to physically stand up straight, on an emotional level, standing up straight is as emotionally threatening as asking that caregiver to stop feeling emotions of nurturing, care or concern.
How to Release Stuck Emotions From the Body
A good way to begin untangling the emotions from the body is to start noticing your body in a variety of situations. At home, at work, with friends or while you are alone. Notice how your body feels when you experience different emotions. Begin to see the correlation between your body’s posturing and your emotional state.
Notice what you feeling and where. Is it tension in the neck, back or shoulders? Is it a holding in your stomach or a gripping with your thighs? Do you have a pain in your foot, difficulty breathing, or clenching in your jaw or fists? Is there an obvious physical posture that is causing this tightness or sensation, such as slouching, leaning, gripping or holding?
Identifying both the emotion as well as the posture is the key. After identifying the emotion, analyze whether this emotion is currently present in your world today, possibly necessitating the physical posturing, or whether this patterning is a holdover from a past situation.
Sometimes simply recognizing holdover behavior is enough to release it. Other times, deeper psychological work may be necessary. In either event, one of the most effective ways to deal with physical patterning that is the result of an emotional issue, is to do this 30 second meditation.
Take a few deep breaths. As you are breathing, focus on feeling your body both physically as well as emotionally. Focus on aligning, straightening, expanding and opening your body. Feel like you are stacking your bones, one on top of the other, and that they are so perfectly balanced, you no longer need any muscular tension in order to keep your bones in place. Relax your muscles and breathe.
Focus on your emotional state. Gently let any stressful or negative emotions either float up, and out your body, or drain down, and out of your body. If you know the emotional trigger that caused your tension, affirm to yourself that that situation is in the past, and can no longer impacts you, or your body any longer. If you are not aware of your trigger, affirm for yourself that even though you are not aware of the root cause of your tension, you still unconditionally love and accept yourself. Affirm that from this point forward, you are no longer impacted by that, which in the past, caused you to hold tension or emotion in your physical body.
Take one more breath, imagining, visualizing or pretending that both your physical body and your emotions are uniting in a place of unity, peace, resilience and healthy harmony.
And so it is!
The Science of Cellular Renewal
Here are the facts: In the 1950‘s we learned that 98% of our atoms are replaced annually. We learned that these new atoms come directly from the air we breathe, the food we eat and the liquids we drink. A decade later we learned that the individual cells of our bodies are replaced every 7-10 years. Some cells, like our skin cells, turn over even more rapidly than that, and some cells, like certain brain cells, never turn over, but on average we get an entirely new body every 7-10 years. Combine this knowledge with the power of our beliefs, and suddenly we can change the way that we choose to age.
The Mental Aspects of Aging
What does your culture tell you about people “of your generation?” How much of the baby boomer’s retained youthfulness is due to their healthy lifestyle and how much of it is due to the fact that for the past 20 years they have been hearing, and believing, that their generation is not aging, and they are breaking a multitude of age-related boundaries. Are baby boomers able to stay younger longer simply because they believe they can, and because they are consciously creating “younger” cells?
Will Gen X-ers all die young, of obesity related causes because of the terrible food they’re ingesting in mass quantities, or because they have been told since age 15 that they were going to be the first generation to die younger than the previous generation? Or will they eat poorly because they believe that they are going to die anyway, so it doesn’t matter? Would they consciously take better care of their bodies if they believed that they would live for a much longer time?
What do your family and friends tell you about people “your age?” If you are being told to slow down and take it easy, that you “aren’t as young as you once were,” then you will probably age more, and suffer more age related maladies than those who are constantly being told of their youthful vitality and strength. What do you tell yourself about your own age and quality of life?
The Interplay of Biology and Belief
Of course we have DNA that does not change. We all suffer illness and injury and we will all die at some point, but the fact remains that no matter how old we get, we are still constantly being renewed. No, we cannot increase the rate of cellular turnover, or instantly change the quality of our new cells, but we can work to create the kind of healthy and strong cells that we desire.
First, and most obviously, we can create healthier cells by breathing clean air, eating real food, and drinking pure water and other liquids. Nutrition and exercise matter, and quality nutrition provides quality building blocks of our cells. There is no way to get around this. Secondly, remember the power of your beliefs and consciously decide what kind of cells to create. Your intention matters, and as long as you are creating new cells anyway, you might as well create exactly the kind of cells that you want!
Challenge yourself to come up with two or three beliefs you have about aging. Do you believe that you will get wrinkles and gray hair? Do you believe that your joints will ache and your body will get stiff and sore? Next, figure out what causes those problems and how you can counteract them. Conventional thinking is that thinning skin and flattened out cells contribute to wrinkles. Therefore, your job is to counteract this process by creating plump, round skin cells, like this:
Begin by checking into the skin’s renewal process. All day long you lose skin cells. Every night when you wash your face, you sluff off dead cells and new ones come up from the dermis to take their place. Next, consciously imagine, visualize or pretend that you “see” these new cells being created. In your mind’s eye, create round, plump, healthy cells that create smooth and healthy skin. “See” them deep within the skin’s dermis, and watch them as they slowly come to the surface and replace the old, thin and flat cells. Tune into everything that you are putting in your mouth as well. Are you ingesting things that promote the health and vitality of these new cells, or are you ingesting things that will create unhealthy, thin and flat cells? Garbage in, garbage out or are you giving your body the highest quality building materials available?
With or without your conscious effort, just about every cell in your body is in the process of being renewed. By 2023 you won’t even be you any more, as most every cell in your body will have been completely replaced. You will have a completely new body that can be almost anything that you want it to be. So, who are you going to be? What are you creating? The choice is up to you!
Posture, Pain and Personal Well-Being
I have a skeleton. Well, actually, I have two skeletons, my own personal skeleton and a big plastic skeleton that I bought at Costco at Halloween. My plastic skeleton from Costco lives in my fitness studio and he and I have developed a surprisingly important relationship. I named him Alejandro after the last scene in the Lady Gaga music video by the same name, and one look at him instantly reminds me of my own posture and how my posture directly impacts my personal pain level and well-being.
Skeletons and Load
Our skeletons are the foundation of our physical bodies and they are perfectly designed to bear the load of our bodies in motion as well as statically. Just like the foundation of a building, we need a firm and properly aligned structure before we can start adding things like walls, windows and doors. Without a skeleton we’d simply be an immobile pile of flesh. Ligaments and tendons hold the bones in place and hold the muscles to the bones. Muscles fire and cause our skeletons to move, but without a skeleton, nothing else could happen.
Our bodies are constantly put under stress. Everyday activities like walking, sitting, typing, driving and cooking all stress the body. Add things like overloaded backpacks thrown over one shoulder, beer bellies, pregnancy and carrying children on one hip and it’s amazing our poor bodies aren’t breaking down all the time!
Keeping our bodies in the best anatomical alignment possible keeps us safe and comfortable, preventing injuries and making our everyday activities more comfortable. Staying in correct anatomical alignment keeps our tendons and ligaments more comfortable, but it also helps our organs function better.
For example, look at a picture of the rib-cage. The rib-cage is a cage of bones that can bend and compress in all directions. Think of the rib cage as being like a mattress spring. When the mattress spring is healthy, it’s firmly open and able to take the compression of someone sitting on it. When the spring is worn out, it’s already compressed and it can’t take any further compression.
Every time we take a step we cause our ribs to compress a bit, just like the mattress spring. Holding our bones up, open and strong, keeps us healthy and comfortable.
Posture and Internal Organ Health
When we slouch we compress the front ribs together and stretch the back ribs apart. This over stretches the back muscles and weakens the muscles in the front that keep the chest elevated. Worse, it compromises the lungs and compromises our breathing. The lungs are like two balloons sitting in the rib cage and if the rib cage is compressed it’s impossible for the lungs to fill completely, meaning we are depriving our brains and our entire bodies of oxygen.
Same story with our digestive organs. If the rib cage is not held up off the pelvis, its entire weight rests on the stomach, liver and intestines and the functioning of those organs is compromised.
One look at Alejandro and it’s pretty obvious how I need to be standing! Knees over ankles, hips over knees, shoulders over hips and ears over shoulders, arm bones hanging straight down by my sides, keeping my collar bones straight and wide and my chest open, ribs opened evenly all the way around and not crunched together in front and handing open in back.
It’s pretty simple to make things easier on ourselves, to stay pain-free and keep our organs functioning optimally by opening our eyes to the structure and load of our bodies. Knees over ankles, hips over knees, shoulders over hips and ears over shoulders. Just ask Alejandro.
Tell me what I want, what I Really, Really Want!
When we really want something we take the steps necessary to achieve it. If we want a bachelor’s degree in accounting, we find schools that offer bachelor’s degrees in accounting, we figure out what the admissions process looks like, we take the ACT or the SAT, we write essays, interview and submit transcripts. Once we are in college, we take the required courses, in the correct order, and in approximately four years we have the degree that we set out to acquire.
This is exactly the same process when we decide we want to get fit, right? Wrong! Most people fail at fitness because they had no idea what they wanted to achieve in the first place.
The most difficult part of training people is not coming up with innovative and exciting workout routines or menus. The most difficult part of training is getting clients to figure out what it is they want to accomplish from training.
What does “Get in Shape” mean to YOU?
Do you know what everyone tells to me? They tell me that they want to “get in shape.” This phrase has no meaning! What kind of shape, and for what purpose? Tell me what you want, and we can make that happen. Provide me with vague ideas and I promise you equally vague results.
What exactly do you want to be fit for?
Do you want to be fit enough to walk around your house, going upstairs and downstairs with ease? Do you want to be fit enough to get in and out of the bathtub? Do you want to be fit enough to take children to the park and get on and off the floor in order to play with them? Fit enough to golf? Fit enough to run or bike? Fit enough to do a triathlon or marathon? Fit enough to win a triathlon or marathon? Fit enough to play tennis, do gymnastics or ballroom dance? What do you want to be fit for?
The definition of fit includes; suited for, appropriate, prepared or ready. “What do you want to get fit for?” Once we figure that part out, then we figure out the steps necessary to achieve that result.
Preparing to Achieve Fitness
Which leads right into the second most difficult part of training; convincing clients that they have to follow the steps necessary in order to achieve the results.
Would you argue with the college about not taking the ACT or the SAT? Would you tell them that you wanted your accounting degree without taking math classes? Would you explain patiently that really it would be far more convenient to take classes at times they weren’t being offered? No, of course you wouldn’t.
So why do we believe that we can lose weight without suffering or trying, or inconveniencing ourselves? Why do we think that we don’t have to change our diet or our portions? Why do we think that taking little walks or hikes here and there will be enough to get us in shape?
Sorry to burst any bubbles, but getting in shape is very much like getting a college degree. Expect four years of consistent, dedicated work. College changes you for the better, leaving you with lifelong growth and benefits. So does “getting in shape.”
Whatever that means.
Basic Human Anatomy
We are given one body in this lifetime. We inhabit our body from birth until death, like it or not. Even though we are all built a little differently, all of our bodies function in the same way. Everyone’s circulatory system functions the same way. Everyone’s digestive system functions the same way, everyone’s joints work in the same fashion and everyone’s body responds to the same set of circumstances in roughly the same way.
Deprived of food, water or oxygen our bodies all shut down the same way. Some may shut down more quickly than others, but there is a predictable pattern that all bodies follow, because that is how we are made. Anatomy and biology explain the predictable and simple sets of rules that govern the workings of our bodies. Learn the rules and you know what will happen to your body when…
For some reason, our society doesn’t require us to learn about our own bodies. We probably know more about the cars that we drive or the homes that we live in than we do about our own bodies. How ironic, since cars and homes are temporary and easily replaceable.
Think of it like this: You go down stairs one morning and the sewer is backing up into the basement. Do you get mad at the sewage grate? Do you cover it up? Replace the grate? Pour drain-o over it? No! Sewers do not back up because the sewage grate is faulty.
Sewers back up because there is a block in the pipe from the home to the street, there are roots that have infiltrated the lines, or because of some major structural defect. We follow the pipes, figure out the cause of the problem, fix it, and the sewer grate ceases to over flow.
Postural Alignment is the Key
But when we have back pain, we assume that there is something wrong with our back. We take medicine for the pain, we brace our back, or we grab an ice pack. While this may treat the pain, our back is no more the problem than the sewer grate. If you fall down the steps and hit your back on the steps as you fall, your back is the problem, but that’s about the only time treating your back helps the cause of your back pain.
Most back pain is caused by a misaligned pelvis. The only way to treat and prevent that pain is to realign the pelvis. I’m sure you’ve heard about bulging discs or herniated discs. Guess what? Discs don’t randomly bulge and herniate. Discs bulge and herniate due to trauma or because of misalignment.
With basic information about the bones, joints, muscles, discs, and axis of motion in our pelvis, we can prevent back pain from ever happening as well as fix it when it does. The mechanics of the pelvis are not complicated.
Nothing in our body is that complicated. It’s all a series of levers, pulleys and chemical reactions. We are amazing machines, but we are machines, not mysteries. It’s incredibly easy to find out about our bodies and the way they work. There is no excuse not to know your own body better than you know your house, your car, or your cell phone. After all, you can replace everything else!
Follow my blog, find me on Facebook at Flaunting Fitness or Pyramid Fusion. Listen to my radio show, FLAUNT! Build Your Dreams, Live Your Sparkle at http://dreamvisions7radio.com/flaunt/
Spring Cleaning Part Two – Cleansing/Loving our Bodies
Cleansing our Bodies
My last post was a short and sweet post on spring cleaning with a twist. The twist was to make your surroundings pleasant to you by keeping only that which made you happy, whether that was minimalistic and bare or comfortably full. My premise was that since we take care of what we love, the words cleaning and loving ware interchangeable, and spring cleaning really meant spring loving. This post takes that concept and applies it to cleansing our bodies by doing that which shows love for our bodies.
Like I said previously, I’m not going into the specifics of why it’s important to cleanse our bodies, nor am I providing you with details of what to eat, for how long or why. Volumes have been written about cleansing and there are many different theories and directions available on-line. What I want to do is provide you with a slightly different perspective about cleansing and loving our bodies.
We are what we Eat… and Breathe… and Surround Ourselves With…
Everything we eat, drink, breathe or put on our skin is absorbed in our bodies in some way. We are truly products of our environment and everything around us and everything we interact with literally becomes part of our bodies in some way. Unfortunately, we have little control over many aspects of our environment and it’s exhausting and expensive to monitor every cleaning product, personal care item, and food and beverage item we ingest. That’s why we need spring cleansing with a twist.
Spring cleansing/loving our body means doing what feels divine and wonderful and cutting out that which feels negative, bad or unhealthy. It’s not about some program to be followed for a prescribed period of time or cutting out anything in particular. Your personal preferences are your personal preferences and nothing is right or wrong. Take some time and notice what feels good to you and make changes based on that.
Green Cleaning the Intuitive Way
Do cleaning products make you feel ill? Do they make your hands dry and cracked or your lungs and eyes burn? Then get rid of them and find an organic line that you adore. Does eating meat make your stomach feel full and heavy? Then quit eating it or reduce the amount you eat until you figure out how much sits well with you. Does alcohol or soda make your mouth and sweat sticky? See how it feels to drink sparkly water with fruit instead. Does your soap, lotion or shampoo make you itch or feel clogged up? Invest in a line that doesn’t.
It doesn’t matter if you buy a water filter and improve the quality of your water, if you cut out meat, dairy, wheat, caffeine, sugar or alcohol or if you start using organic cleaners or personal care items. What matters is that you notice what feels bad and you stop doing it. Notice what feels good, healthy or what makes you happy and start doing that.
Make changes that make you happy and that honor your body, don’t worry about somebody else’s program.
Do what makes you feel good and stop eating/drinking/using/breathing anything that doesn’t. It’s that simple!
Follow my blog, find me on Facebook at Flaunting Fitness or Pyramid Fusion. Listen to my radio show, FLAUNT! Build Your Dreams, Live Your Sparkle at http://dreamvisions7radio.com/flaunt/
Why is Self-Care Important?
Taking good care of ourselves requires more than just an occasional mani-pedi or treating ourselves to new shoes, a massage or a girl’s night out. Taking good care of ourselves requires us to listen to ourselves and to really hear what our bodies, our minds and our spirits are asking for on a separate and intuitive level.
When we practice intuitive self-care and take care of our bodies, minds and spirits separately, we become a happier and healthier whole. There’s a lot of focus out there on integrating the body, the mind and the spirit, and while it’s true that we function best as fully integrated beings, in order to truly integrate all facets of our beings we need to begin by separating the three components of the self and learn to intuitively listen and respond to what each part needs.
Taking Care of our Bodies
The body itself is an organism. All organisms are biologically hard-wired to preserve themselves. Our bodies have a multitude of self-preserving reflexes, instincts and behaviors, and it’s completely natural and desirable for the body to preserve and protect itself.
odies can experience cravings when they are running low on various minerals, such as iron or other nutrients. Pica is the term given to pregnant women who are deficient in certain minerals and crave things such as mud, dirt, plaster, ashes or who have the compulsive need to lick the walls. Physical cravings help us eat the kind of foods that our bodies requires to sustain themselves. On the flip side, when we eat something toxic, our bodies react by vomiting and ridding themselves of the offending substance.
Our bodies also know how much and of what kind of food they can digest at a time. If we eat something that is difficult to digest, our bodies may tell us to stop by sending us an “I’m full” signal, but if we eat foods that are easy to digest, we may not feel full as quickly. Similarly, depending on our activity, hormonal, immune and stress levels, there will be times when we are more or less hungry.
The intuitive wisdom is there; it’s just that we lose touch with it. As children we may be told to “clean our plate,” or that we “don’t have to like it, we just have to eat it,” which teaches us to override our bodies intuitive wisdom. As adults, making decisions for ourselves for the first time, we waltz into life feeling like naughty little children whose parents are out-of-town. We make one bad choice after another simply because we can, and we are rarely encouraged to get back in touch with our intuitive wisdom. Add in the demands of a modern life with careers and families, where we are relegated to eating on an arbitrary schedule that had nothing to do with the needs of our body, and our body’s intuitive wisdom is quieted and ignored.
Taking Care of our Minds and Spirits
Our minds and our spirits have the same kind of intuitive wisdom that our bodies do, telling us exactly what they require in order to flourish. When we listen to and respond to these three, distinct voices, all parts or us remain healthy and fulfilled, but when we ignore our own intuitive self-care wisdom, illness, injury, depression and other problems manifest.
When we are not practiced at separating the needs of the body with the needs of the mind or the spirit, we misinterpret the signals we receive and we end up feeding the body what the mind and the spirit are asking for. The mind, just like the body, is a self-preserving organism that craves what it needs. Minds need stimulation, comfort, love, excitement, growth and development. When faced with a difficult or a sad time, the mind might crave sweetness, comfort and love.
What do we REALLY Need?
Instead of reaching out to people or situations that provide the mind with sweetness, comfort or love, we misinterpret these signals and we attempt to feed the body what the mind is asking for. We ingest sweetness, comfort and love in the form of mac and cheese and ice cream.
We don’t physically need mac and cheese or ice cream, what we need is a good dose of mothering and a time-out from adult responsibilities, but because we aren’t hearing and responding to that which our mind truly need, we attempt to fill ourselves up with as much sweetness, comfort and love as we can by ingesting mac and cheese (a symbol of comfort and love) followed by ice cream (sweetness personified).
Do we need a bit more spice or bite in our otherwise dull lives? We may crave spicy foods, salt and crunch. Feeling stifled at work, a lack of stimulation being home with toddlers or craving a project to sink our teeth into? When we don’t listen and respond to what our minds and spirits are telling us they need, we eventually start eating whatever it is our minds and spirits desire!
Are we craving those gooey cinnamon rolls because we have just run a marathon, our muscles no longer have any glycogen stores and we are on the verge of passing out, or are we craving them because we are unfulfilled in our current position at work and we want something juicy and gooey to sink our mind into? Are those licorice sticks giving us something to chew on because our mind has something to process that we are ignoring and refusing to process?
Our bodies, minds and spirits are filled with intuitive, self-care wisdom and when we are connected enough to listen and respond to what they tell us they need, will are happy and healthy on every level. But if we don’t listen, or if we misinterpret the signals, we set ourselves up for sub-par health and happiness.
This is intuitive self-care, and this is the ultimate goal. Separate the needs of the body from the needs of the mind and the needs of the spirit. Stay present in every moment and learn to listen and respond to the needs of the body, the mind and the spirit, remembering of course, that there’s always room for a mani-pedi, new shoes or a nice massage!
Follow my blog, find me on Facebook at Flaunting Fitness or Pyramid Fusion. Listen to my radio show, FLAUNT! Build Your Dreams, Live Your Sparkle at http://dreamvisions7radio.com/flaunt/