“A mind is a terrible thing to waste” — such a profound and inspirational statement that speaks to us all.
And yet all too often we do just that, waste it, by cluttering it with thoughts of fear, anxiety, worry, resentment, anger, and expectations. The list goes on. This state of mind soon causes us to neglect our bodies; and, in a sad turn of events, we essentially waste both.
For the past nine years, I have been helping people “break up” with their minds and “make up” with their body and soul.
Fitness and nutrition have been my trusted allies on this journey, coupled with an innate ability to make people feel comfortable being who they “truly” are. Aligning these three aspects of life ultimately leads to a deeper connection with ones own intuition, which is the blueprint to our happiness.
A key element in my success with clients is that I understand their struggles firsthand. For years my mind controlled me, with obsessive, self-destructive, dreadful and downright ridiculous thoughts that rained in my head like endless confetti. It felt like I was dealing with a mental bully from which there was no escape.
One event that stands out as a major catalyst in my adopting such a worry-filled mindset is the abrupt death of my mother at age of 37. I was 9, my brother 18. With no father in the picture, we both moved in with our grandparents. Her death is the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my life thus far. I felt abandoned and betrayed. It drove me inward. I found it hard to open up and trust anyone. “They’re just gonna leave anyway” was my rational.
This carried into my early adult life, manifesting itself as dysfunctional relationships, abuse of alcohol and nicotine, sleeplessness, and eating everything on my body’s “please don’t feed me that” list. And although regular exercise was always a part of my life, I felt horrible.
Then one day it dawned on me that I was the sole proprietor of my mind and body. I was in control.
Sometimes we have “Aha” moments and other times we have “Duh!” moments. This was the latter. I began to reprogram my mind by honoring and listening to my body. I stopped overeating, I exercised more, cut out alcohol, slept more, read every book and health-related article that I could find, and surrounded myself with like-minded people.
The changes were immediately noticeable. That voice in my head got less and less audible, and I began to look and feel younger and younger. It wasn’t easy, but to me, the alternative was a thousand times harder.
Here are some tips that have proven valuable to me in my journey out of my head back into my body. I hope you will find them useful.
FEED YOUR BODY WHAT “IT” WANTS NOT WHAT YOUR “HEAD” WANTS
Filling our bodies with large amounts of foods that it doesn’t want is like filling our car with diesel fuel when it takes premium and continuing to pour gas in it even when the tank is full. Insane right!? I know. I’ve been there! Try this. Eliminate fast and processed foods from your diet. Drastically cut your sugar and salt intake. And stick to eating organic fruits, veggies, fish, chicken, and lean beef, and lots of water. Cut portions by a third, cook at home more, and be creative with your food. The possibilities are limitless!
FELLOWSHIP WITH NATURE
The shear scale and power of the natural world snaps us out of our over-stimulated minds, forcing us to become more aware of our surroundings and how our body interacts with it. Hikes are great for this reason. Hiking challenges the body and gets you up close and personal with nature. Be sure to pay attention to the plant life, the sounds and smells. If you go with a friend, try not talking to one another for long periods. Allow your mind to take a back seat. Planting a small veggie garden is helpful and falls in line with the first tip. Create a place of natural serenity where you live, even if it’s just a corner of a room. The photo above is where I go to sit, meditate, calm my mind and get out of my head.
BE MORE AFFECTIONATE
How many times has a warm hug snapped us out of a bad mood? I don’t have an exact number either, but I can recall many such occassions! A hug is such a simple, yet highly affective action. Yet many of us can go weeks, even months, without a loving hug or touch, but endure traffic and watch TV on a daily basis. No wonder our minds have taken over! Change this by hugging at least three people a day. Make one of them a stranger. This might sound strange but if you come from a place of sincerity and love people are surprisingly responsive. Also, get regular massages. Mental stress hides in our bodies, massage helps in the cleaning process. Couples, you can start by giving each other five minute neck massages daily.
I can’t stress this enough. Yoga changed my life. I was a skeptic at first. But a chance meeting with a yogi in Washington Square Park in New York changed that. I was stretching after a run. She came over and said, “Do you really wanna be flexible?” I said yes. She took me through an hour long, one on one yoga class. I left her feeling electric! Colors were vibrant, sounds were crystal clear, my spine was loose and nimble. I was hooked! The focus on breathing, the meditation, and the confronting physicality of it opens the door to a deeper, richer relationship with your mind, body and spirit. And it keeps you long and lean as a bonus.
GET UP…AND GET DOWN
In other words…DANCE! As kids we all loved to do it, and we didn’t care if we were shirtless in a pamper while everyone looked. When and why did we loose that freedom? I find it to be such a fun way to stay fit and let go. So stop worrying about who’s looking and be the first one on dance floor this holiday season. After the first five minutes, you’ll forget who’s looking anyway.
It really all boils down to LOVE. If we are to affect positive change in this world we must give LOVE. That giving starts within.
Love is an action word: the more we love and honor our body and mind, the more we will love and honor others.
Watch how it grows.