Hitting the Refresh Button for 2011- Part 2
We last discussed 10 Natural Detoxing Methods for the Body.
In discussing ways to jumpstart your New Year, the focus has been on cleansing, “refreshing”, starting over. The cornerstone of any holistic approach to good health and healthy living, is the acknowledgment of the mind/body connection. One of the very best ways, then, to begin cultivating this “new you”, is to really and truly understand what your own mind/body connection is, to begin viewing everything you do through this perspective.
The easiest place to begin is with the breath.
As mentioned in our Top 10 list above, learning how to deep breathe is a must for physical cleansing and health. But breathing exercises also form the foundation of many ancient practices that promote a deepening of consciousness—meditation, mindfulness, yoga, chi gong. In the Middle East the word for breath (ruach in Hebrew and ruhain Aramaic) also means spirit. The way in which we breathe is also the way in which we embody spirit. Deep flowing breath is a sign of health, balance, and fullness of spirit. Short shallow breath indicates stress. Breath is the simplest most direct way to focus one’s energy and to connect with the center of awareness. Breathing through a stressful time is an effective way to let go of the tension that accumulates in the body. A few long deep breaths at a difficult moment can completely change the way we handle a situation. By changing the way we breathe we can change emotional and physical states. Feelings and emotions can therefore be released and cleared out of the body by working with the breath.
Meditation is another way to achieve the same results. It clears the mind, puts everything in perspective, helps move your emotional center to a more non-reactive place, and trains the mind to “be in the present moment”. Stress comes from either dwelling in the past or projecting into the future. Problem solving, clear thinking and reasoning, and ability to be more flexible with life’s daily challenges can be directly related to present moment thinking. There are many ways to begin meditating, either on your own, or with a group. There is meditation with yoga, Zazen (seated formal Zen Buddhist meditation), walking meditation, Transcendental Meditation that trains one to meditate anytime, anywhere. As they like to joke in ye olde Buddhist monastery: “Don’t just do something, sit there!”
The practice of consciously unplugging, of finding how to take a step back from your daily life, through alone time, through stillness and quiet, is critical for living a healthier life. It’s been medically proven that mindful disengagement, when practiced on a regular basis, provides the link to mind/body health. This is truly what “hitting the refresh button” is all about.
The through line of this discussion is about finding a New Year’s ritual that not only serves the purpose of helping you to welcome the turning of the ‘08 to the ‘09 with good cheer and enthusiasm, but to give you encouragement to continue on for the whole rest of the year, and beyond. And nothing helps to set intention more than ritual. Mindful living really is nothing more than a series of rituals, big and small, that we create for ourselves on a daily basis, that help give structure and meaning to our story, the story of our life.
One of the components of mindful living is a connection with nature. Re-affirm your own personal connection to the natural world every day, in every way that you can. To me, this is spiritual health. Once one has an abiding relationship with nature, then all the dots become connected: it is pointless to care about what you eat and what you put on your body as being eco pure, if you have not directly related that to the state of the planet.
Getting zen and calm and yoga-ed out everyday merely becomes an act of trendy self absorption if those lessons aren’t put into action to help make the world a better place. Every choice every day hopefully enables you to understand the interconnectedness of all that you do, think, consume, recycle, create.
Here is a simple ceremony to help you re-affirm your spiritual connection to Nature, to engage in a ritual that helps you to bridge the year just completed, with the one still to come.
It’s based on the Native American ritual, The Blessing Tree Ceremony.
Go out into Nature and find a beautiful tree that speaks to you. Choose it for it’s solitary location (away from lots of people) Bring an offering of cornmeal and loose leaf tobacco (traditional Native offerings) and sprinkle around the base of the tree in a circle going clockwise after your ritual.
Sit on the East side of the tree, and ask yourself: What ideas have brought me Liberation?
On the South Side: What beliefs have I outgrown?
On the West Side: What things do I regret and now let go of?
On the North Side: What are my life’s achievements as well as unfulfilled desires?
You should take a small notebook and pen to at least have the questions so you don’t forget them, but to also provide yourself a journaling exercise to record your lists. I like to take mine out and look at them throughout the year, and to also compare my lists from year to year.
Mindful living is simple, honest and direct – just like the refresh button on your computer. Both contain what any new year always promises: potential. Here’s another thought that’s been around for a while, but ever so appropriate now, more than ever, and to help you in your preparations for 2009:
Watch your words: they become your thoughts.Watch your thoughts: they become your actions.Watch your actions: they become your habits.Watch your habits: they become your destiny.