Love your body
Conscious Living is the process of bringing mindful awareness to all areas of your being – Mind, Spirit…and Body. Your body is the temple that houses your spirit, so it is important to keep it healthy, strong and vibrant. Everyone knows that the keys to good health are regular exercise and eating right… but knowing this and actually doing it are two very different things. The good news is that blending healthy habits into your daily life can be a simple and easy process. The first step is to bring consciousness to how we eat by learning which foods are healthy and which are not.
Most people have some idea about nutrition, but their knowledge is often clouded by misinformation and misleading advertising. Many of the foods that we grew up thinking were good for us actually contribute to people being overweight and unhealthy. Chief among these are milk, cheese, bread and most of all sugar – particularly the high fructose corn syrup [HFCS] that is in so many processed foods. You also want to avoid artificial sweeteners as studies have shown that these are just as bad for you as sugar. On the positive side, we all pretty much know that the most healthy foods are fresh fruits and vegetables – preferably organic. The food expert Michael Pollan has a very simple formula for healthy eating: “Eat Real Food… Not too much… Mostly Plants”. “Real Food” excludes most of the packaged foods that you find in the supermarket which contain highly processed ingredients and unnatural chemicals. Learn to read the labels and you will see that if it’s in a package… and it’s not certified “organic”… then it’s probably not good for your body. “Not Too Much” means only eat when you are hungry – not when the clock tells you it is time to eat. “Mostly Plants” is not saying that you have to be a vegetarian, but perhaps to moderate the amount of meat that you consume.
Now that you are eating right it is time to look at exercise. Many people feel that they don’t have the time or energy to maintain a regular exercise practice, but it is easier and less time consuming than you think. The latest research into the way our bodies react to different types of exercise shows that you can achieve optimal fitness using short sessions of High Intensity Training. One example of this new type of exercise is called Peak 8 interval training. You simply run (or bike) at high speed for a short time until you are out of breath… then stop and walk until your breath returns to normal… then sprint again until you are spent… and repeat this 8 times. Of course when you are starting out you may do it only 2 or 3 times, eventually building up to 6 or 8 repetitions. High Intensity exercise not only burns the sugar and fat that is stored in your body, but it also increases your metabolism so that the burning continues for the next 36 hours. This is one of the main reasons why you get greater benefit from a short intense workout than from a long slow one… and it takes much less time.
It is also important to do some type of resistance training to keep your muscles toned and your bones strong. Once again, the High Intensity method makes this faster, easier and more beneficial. Instead of doing numerous boring repetitions of each exercise, you only need to do about 6 – 8 reps of each one… but you do them more intensely. Start by lifting the weight normally and then resist it as you slowly lower it back to the original position – hold it for a second – and then lift again. After just a few of these repetitions your muscle and bone cells will be activated in the most efficient way to build strength. It is also important to keep your body flexible, so gentle stretching before, during and after workouts is essential. Even better is a regular practice of yoga or Qi Gong either at home or in classes.
Finally, the single most important exercise that I can recommend is the powerful daily practice known as the Five Tibetan Rites. This consists of 5 yoga movements that are easy to learn and can be done anywhere. Once you learn the routine it will take you only about 10 – 12 minutes each day, and the results are amazing. These simple exercises provide numerous benefits which include increased strength, vitality, flexibility, metabolism and mental clarity. They are called “The Fountain of Youth” because many people have found that they slow down or even reverse the aging process, while encouraging your body to find and maintain its ideal weight. I have been doing these exercises for 15 years, and have taught them to many clients with excellent results.
Your body is a miracle. It has over 50 trillion cells working together tirelessly every minute of the day to perform the countless complex tasks that keep you alive and well. This cosmic dance is beautifully designed to maintain optimum health and overcome any form of illness. Bringing conscious awareness to how you eat and exercise strengthens this natural rhythm and allows it to flow freely. By creating the habits of a healthy lifestyle you are giving love to yourself, and to the incredible body that will carry you through this entire lifetime.