by Joyce & Barry Vissell
There has been much in the news about the tragedies affecting millions of people. In my life, I hardly remember a time when so much has been happening to so many people in such a short period of time. There have been major fires in Oregon, Montana, Washington and Northern California, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, category 5 hurricane in Florida affecting Georgia and North Carolina, Cuba Puerto Rico, and Barbuda Island, and two devastating earthquakes in Mexico. Wow, that is a lot!! I was listening to a news reporter in Texas listing all of the destruction, and then he started talking about all of the volunteers who have showed up to help, and he started to cry. Through tears, he said that he has never seen humanity show up in such beautiful ways to be of service and help others in need. Without these volunteer helpers, it would have been a much worse tragedy.
Twenty seven years ago, our family experienced a 7.1 earthquake that totally destroyed our home while we were all in it. It was a blessing that both Barry and I, our two young girls, and infant son survived. After struggling to get out of the house, we stood on our country dirt road when, within minutes, a motorcycle roared up the road, and the man asked if we were OK. I could tell that he would have done anything to help us. We sent him down the road to an elderly couple who needed the help more than we did.
Within 48 hours, word got out about our homeless situation, and a friend found a house for us to rent. Another friend got a moving truck and thirty people showed up to help us. Most of our possessions were destroyed by the earthquake, but some things could be found and saved, like our clothes, pots, some furniture and books. Those thirty people helped to move us to the new house. I was still in shock and had to carry full-time my infant son who was traumatized by the earthquake. So I could not help. But those volunteers, many of whom I did not even know, did everything, provided food for us, and helped our daughters to feel safe by sifting through the rubble to find treasured toys and dolls.
Our oldest daughter’s middle school made an announcement for help. A teacher volunteered to come each morning and pick up Rami at our new home which was now forty minutes from the school. And the parents in Rami’s school raised $2,000 for us which helped tremendously as the new rent was four times the cost of our destroyed home.
I often think of the earthquake and, yes, it was a terrible experience, but I also think of the helpers and how much they gave. Many of these people also sustained damage to their homes, but since ours was so much worse, they concentrated on helping us first.
Nineteen years ago, we were traveling in British Columbia with our nine-year-old son. We were having a wonderful time exploring in our truck camper. We were way out in the wilderness going down a steep hill with a sharp hairpin turn when we noticed a large camper upside down on the side of the road. Even though we were rushing to get to a booked glacier tour, we stopped immediately. There in the upside-down camper, still buckled into their seats and hanging upside-down, was an older couple who were in shock. Standing next to this destroyed camper was another older couple who were part of the caravan. They told us that their friends’ brakes had failed and the camper had flipped. We were the first on the scene.
Barry, being a medical doctor, quickly assessed that the couple had no serious injuries, but were in shock and disbelief. He helped them out of the camper. Another couple stopped and said they would quickly drive to the nearest town two hours away and call for help. We stayed with these people for hours, helping them to get out of their camper to the safety of the other camper. All four of these elderly people needed help and support. None of them were doing well emotionally. We talked with them, held their hands, and comforted them. We reminded them again and again that they were all unharmed and that it was just the camper that was now gone. It seemed like we didn’t do that much, but they kept saying over and over again that we were like angels to them. Even our young son was being so reassuring to them. No one else stopped even though many passed.
We missed the paid-for adventure, but we got something so much more. Our hearts felt full as we finally drove off. Our son remarked, “I know we missed going out on the glacier, but this was a better experience. My heart feels happy that we were able to comfort those people.”
I feel that we always need to be ready to stop and help when we see a need. There is always the temptation to follow your schedule and feel you do not have the time or that you probably could not do that much. But the love and support of others means so much. And even if you are far away from the disaster, giving money and sending prayers also help so much. The amount we receive back within our hearts from helping is much more than the time or money that we give.
On my Facebook, I saw a short video of Mr. Rogers giving advice to children in case they are ever in a scary situation. He said, “If you look for the helpers, you will know there is hope. The helpers will always be there.” How beautiful if we could be one of those helpers.
Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell:
Oct 11-17 — Assisi Retreat, Italy
Feb 4-11, 2018 — Hawaii Couples Retreat on the Big Island
Jul 22-27, 2018 — Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR
About the authors:
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift.
Call 831-684-2299 for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.
By J. Powdermaker
Recently a beloved, former teacher of mine did a major reversal; not quite a complete 180° but close, this teacher felt called; in her words, to another spiritual path which on its face should be fine especially in the New Age community; however this particular ‘new path’ is an old path, the path of traditional dogma, the path of excluding women from all mention and inclusion in the Divine, the path of throwing in with the bloody company of Patriarchal religion.
This teacher’s conversion has caused quite a stir in the Spiritual community as one might expect. The fact that this teacher has been a world famous leader in the community for decades makes the reversal all the more grating. The fact that this teacher is a woman who has been teaching women to reclaim their usurped power, to find an equal place in the Divine as our male counterparts, that she has been teaching women to heal what has been broken by a society erected on the blood, sweat & tears of subjugated women makes this reversal all the more galling. The fact that she’s walking back years of; supposedly, Divinely channeled teachings while continuing to make money off of the many, many books, courses & certifications is quite telling.
Observing the upset, the angst, the anger & betrayal set loose by this teacher’s about-face I can’t help but notice the loudest voices are worried most about their money and their ability to continue to make money off of this teacher’s reputation and certifications. The ones doing the most damage control; including her world famous publisher, are worried about their money, their ability to continue to sell this teacher’s books and courses.
It reveals the rotten center the New Age Spiritual movement shares with the bad old boys of traditional religion; money. Religion has always had at its core money & Patriarchy dressed up in holy robes. The Spiritual movement professes to be an evolution in human consciousness yet it is as money centered as any of the gilded halls of Rome. We feel outrage when ‘one of our own’ goes back to the other side… revealing our own hypocrisy.
It seems that we’re actually not as different from bad old religion as we thought. We want to lay claim on a person’s spiritual path in self-congratulatory confidence and if one of our own; one who is so notable and so successful, can jump the track and take up with traditional religion so easily it calls into question our position of knowing that we know the right way and we hate that. It throws into the spotlight our own fixation on money and the worldly pleasures (as the Christians would say). It forces us to examine our own spiritual laziness. If our practice is built on the conviction of a teacher or guru or sainted Savior instead of the more frightening, arduous work of self-reflection then our practice is hollow at best.
What many of her followers are feeling; and spewing across the internet, however is not righteous anger at this teacher for her (apparent) betrayal; it is the very real and alarming knowledge that there are no leaders, no teachers, no gurus, no saints, no saviors coming to save us. It is the fear that no one is really trustworthy in this mad house of a world. That there is no absolute moral center. There is no right path. There is no religion or movement or community insulated from the twin influences of greed and ego. There is no white bearded man sitting on a cloud dealing a stacked deck for the amusement of the angels.
There is only us, only our paltry efforts to quantify the Infinite and our bloody rage at anyone who dares shed light on our insecurities.
I cannot, will not follow my beloved former teacher down this retrograde path AND I will not allow her personal choices to validate or invalidate my practice. The Buddha instructs us to NOT take his word for it on his teachings but to test them, in the real world and if the teachings do not hold up, if the teachings do not prove themselves to be true then abandon them and seek answers elsewhere.
The Buddha demonstrates the finale step of mastery with this admonition; there is no external authority, there is no external morality, there is no ‘there’ out there, the only source; Source, of truth, of morality and authority comes from within.
I am deeply saddened by my teacher’s reversal. I’m feeling the sting of betrayal as one might when a trusted friend decides not to be the person she claimed to be for decades but if I’m really being honest here my sadness revels a deeper truth about my own spiritual laziness, my own unhealed abandonment issues, my need to dig deeper, go farther and become unshakable in my own center, this is perhaps the last lesson I will take from my beloved former teacher, the hardest lesson of all; betrayal is the gift that sets us free.
About the author:
Jennifer Powdermaker is the founder and CEO of Indigo Vision Coaching ™; she is a professional speaker, coach, writer, Angel Channel and intuitive healer. She has been published in print and online in notable magazines and authored three books. Jennifer has coached and spoken on stage in front of thousands of people in the U.S., Canada and Europe; personally she has overcome the inheritance of addiction, healed her own childhood obesity, channeled healing(s) to walk again after a car accident left her severely disabled and helped many others on the path of recovery. She utilizes an integrative healing approach, focusing on the personal needs of each client to facilitate real world results. Jennifer is available for individual & group coaching sessions, public speaking and industry events as her schedule permits.
by Diana Raab, PhD
When working on my first memoir in graduate school, my mentor told me to put a sticky on my computer which said, “Get down to your emotional truth.” While at first I thought it was a corny thing to do, those six words were my guiding light during my two years of writing. What my mentor was asking me to do was to write from my heart, rather than from my mind, in a way that my words will resonate with the reader—they feel embody what I’m going through. In fact, the emotional truth of a story is the truth of how you feel about the story. Each person has their own emotional truth. Your emotional truth might be different altogether from that of another person, even if that person lived through the same kind of experience you did.
When writing or telling a story, verbally or in the form of journaling, an essay, a memoir, or a poem, it’s important to say what you want to say without thinking what you think others want to hear. While writing, say to yourself, “Here is how I see it,” or “Here is how it happened to me,” or “This is my take on the story.” The focus should be on the story and the details connected to it. Sometimes, small details must be added to liven up a story, but the important thing is that the emotional truth is present.
The point is that the story you are writing should remain true to the way you lived through your experience. Writer Pat Conroy, who died a couple of years ago of pancreatic cancer, said that truth is relative and that he didn’t worry too much about it when writing his memoirs. He said that if you get wrapped up in what the absolute truth in a story is, then your story will not be told, and the silence around not telling your story is what can deplete an individual of bliss. In fact, he brilliantly said that it is the silence associated with untold stories that can get people into trouble. In other words, what is not said can be more harmful than what is actually said.
One thing we know is that over time, details about our lived experiences become blurred or distorted. When recalling events from our past we might discover things about ourselves and our experiences. One way to tell if you’re writing your emotional truth is that you are carefully writing and thinking about your readers and who you might offend. This type of writing will not benefit either the reader or the writer.
Also, writing or stories that don’t represent emotional truth does not have energy or vitality. Basically, the writing becomes journalistic reportage, which is often not compelling. For your best writing to emerge, you must be willing to take risks, and that involves telling your inner truth. As writer and diarist Anaïs Nin says, “The closer a writer keeps to emotional reality, the more alive the writing will be.”
Think about an emotional experience from your childhood. Write about it truthfully from your own perspective. Refrain from thinking about what you “should” write; instead, write about what you need to write.
Finding Your Authentic Voice
The truth is that when you find your authentic voice in writing you will know it, and you will also be on your way to finding your bliss. You will know it because the writing just feels right, and your words flow rather easily. You can always tell when someone is writing in their authentic voice because what they are saying rings true. Last year, I met with memoirist Mary Karr. When speaking about voice in memoir she shared that great memoirs can live or die based 100 percent on the voice of the writer. She said that all the great memoirists she knows sound on the page like they do in person and that their voices make you feel close to them, almost as if you are inside them.
Writing your emotional truth means being honest about your feelings. It is about allowing your inner voice to take charge. In other words, you are writing from your heart, not your head.
When I was in graduate school for writing, one of my mentors suggested that when writing I should make believe that I am seated across the table from my best friend. The writing, like the talking, should be personal and intimate. He also suggested that as part of my editing, I should read my work out loud. He advised that this is the best way to identify an authentic voice.
“I want to write like Mary Karr,” a woman in one of my memoir-writing workshops once told me. When I asked her what it was about Karr’s writing that she loved, she said, “It just flows so beautifully and poetically. It has such a nice rhythm. I can’t put her books down.” She went on to ask, “How can I do that?” I told her that she should start by rereading all of Karr’s books and study what was specifically compelling. Then, she should read her favorite sections out loud and write or type them. Copying is one way to imbue us with the writer’s style.
Before her passing in 2009, writer Barbara Moss Robinette shared with me that even though her MFA was in art, she had taught an MFA-in-writing program. She called herself a “self-taught writer.” When I asked how she had taught herself to write, she said that after choosing her favorite books, she copied sections longhand in her journal. She believed that that was the best way to learn how to write. She said that it was her way to infuse herself with the voice of her favorite writers.
When you are in tune with your authentic or inner voice, you have a greater chance of tapping into your intuition and thus can become more alert to messages from the universe. Your inner, authentic voice gives you affirmation and advice. It might also arrive during altered states of consciousness, relaxation, or self-hypnosis. During difficult times, your authentic voice may become even louder.
Some creative individuals—such as authors, poets, musicians, and healers—are often thought of as people who are in touch with their intuition and inner voice. Gandhi admitted that he heard an inner voice that shared this message with him: “You are on the right track; move neither to the left nor the right, but keep to the straight and narrow.” The more we trust our inner voice, the more quickly we will be led to our bliss.
One thing I learned in graduate school is that sometimes it takes a while to find your authentic voice. It also takes being confident about your subject matter. It is a good idea to write about what you know. When writing for bliss, chances are that you are writing about yourself, and there is no one who knows you better than you do. Some people find their authentic voice more easily than others do. When teaching my students, I speak about the “throat-clearing” sessions of writing. That is, when you sit down to write you might begin by rambling; you start to write about one subject and then the trajectory of your writing ends up somewhere else. This process is perfectly fine and sometimes essential for writing. What you may find is that your story actually begins on the third or fourth page. I call those first few pages “throat-clearing pages.” In the final drafts of the manuscript revisions, these pages are sometimes discarded because they often do not move the story forward; however, they are nevertheless a vital part of the writing process. When you are “in your voice” you will speak from your heart. Your true voice emerges only after the throat clearing or false voice has been allowed to emerge.
For most people, it is difficult to write in their authentic voice and edit at the same time. Two different sides of the brain are involved in each of these tasks. Writing with your authentic voice is the voice coming from your body and not your mind. When you are in the practice of writing from your body, you will reap the rewards of a happy and blissful journey.
Thaisa Frank (1994) offers a number of suggestions and rituals to help cultivate the most natural voice for you. Some of the things she suggests include surrounding yourself with your favorite objects, writing when you are angry, humming as you write, and writing with the hand opposite to the one with which you normally write. She also suggests writing only fragments of a story or dialogue, writing in the dark, or dressing all in one color as a way to be different from the way you usually dress.
If you are writing about someone dear to you and you have a piece of their clothing, you might try having their clothing nearby when writing. Some years ago I was fortunate enough to receive a purple cape from a deceased writer whom I admire and whose essence inspires me. Instead of keeping the item hanging in my closet, my spiritual guide suggested that I wear it while writing. When doing so, I found that my creativity flourished and my voice became extremely authentic. It was as if words flowed more easily when I wore the writer’s cape; perhaps in some ways, they might even have been flowing from her.
Think of someone whom you view as either intuitive or a visionary. Write about this person and why you think they are intuitive. What personal experiences have you had with them to make you view them in this way? How do you think that you can learn from their intuitive powers?
Write about what you believe your authentic voice is. Who is the person who wants to come through in your writing? Give examples of writers whom you want to emulate and what it is about their voices that you admire.
About the author:
Diana Raab, PhD is an award-winning memoirist, poet, blogger, and speaker. She blogs for Psychology Today, Thrive Global, and Elephant Journal. Her latest book is “Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.” Her website is dianaraab.com.
by Dean Fraser
Our human body is the chosen vehicle we use to travel around this bluey green planet of ours. It is a bit of a no brainer then to take the best possible care of it and give our body the best chance to serve us well until the time to leave.
This section is written from the perspective of more than three decades of direct experience thinking and researching how what I eat affects me; plus, a whole lot of networking with other more qualified dietary experts than myself.
It makes sense that the fewer stresses we put on our physical body and digestive system, by choosing carefully what is taken into it, the easier time it is going to have.
Personally, I have found over the course of the last couple of decades that my own body reacts better to mostly unprocessed food. The more natural my chosen food stuff is, the smaller the list of ingredients listed on any kind of label gracing the packaging, the healthier and happier my body is.
Eating food free from artificial colours, flavour enhancers, e-numbers and preservatives means our digestive system is going to have an easier time coping with it.
Further along the same principal – artificial sugars or indeed too many natural yet highly refined sugars are asking a lot from our bodies to absorb and process these alien intruders that have only really become a part of our daily diet to the extent they are today in the last fifty years or so.
Over-burdening our body and this applies equally to even the healthiest food or drink if we over eat, is putting unnecessary stresses and burdens on our finely tuned digestive system.
Take on heavy fuel – chances are you’re going to get heavy!
I am vegan, occasionally raw vegan (which is eating only uncooked fruits/nuts) and have found it works wonderfully well for me, although I equally accept this lifestyle choice may be considered a little too extreme for some. I have weighed seventy-two kilos, give or take a kilo, for the last two decades and my general health is excellent. I never over-eat; having partaken of a reasonable lunch, I follow it later with a light evening meal. If I snack at all it is going to be on fruit or nuts. I drink plenty of water (but not too much) and get plenty of exercise. If I can’t get out and take a walk (my favourite form of exercise) I enjoy a swim, I also ensure that I take the time to have a 15-20-minute work-out with weights at home every day.
We all have easy access to just about every and any type of possible vitamin, mineral or supplement conceived of or imagined. All we need to do is hit the high street or click a mouse. Yet how many of these vits do we genuinely need to be taking and how many are simply passing through our bodies serving little useful purpose?
During the last twenty years or so I confess, as a health aware vegan, I must have sampled at one time or another pretty much all the myriad of different vitamin and mineral concoctions; the promised goal being to replace the essential elements vegans apparently miss out on through avoiding meat, dairy and fish. Last year deciding it was about time I truly found out where my body was in terms of vits, off I went to my chosen health professional for a complete medical. The pleasing reality was I lacked only vitamin B2, she recommended I take this short term in the form of a high potency supplement and add extra almonds, mushrooms and sesame seeds into my diet for the long-term fix.
The message here is vits are easily obtainable and we can all self-diagnose. If you do genuinely feel you could use some extra vitamins over and above your usual diet, take the time to go and get checked out by a health professional. That way you are going to ensure you are supplementing with something you need short term. Look at what can be added into your diet for the long-term fix.
If you are veggie or vegan, it is almost mandatory to have your B vits checked periodically as a matter of course and for peace of mind. A nicely balanced diet might well leave further supplementation obsolete. The other point to bear in mind here is that our needs are more than likely going to be entirely different during the summer months as opposed to winter; again, if your instinct is suggesting you would benefit from supplementation, a visit to your GP or choice of healthcare professional allows you to know for sure. Facts when it comes to our wellbeing are always preferable to guesswork.
Five a day have become the watchwords when it comes to our intake of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is a generally recognised standard in order to maintain a natural balance in our diet, although more is always preferable to less and why reach only the bare minimum recommended amount?
Juicing fresh fruit and vegetables is an excellent way of increasing our valuable intake of their beneficial vits and minerals. Pre-packed cartons we can pick up from the supermarket are okay, if there is no other option. To truly get a good balance of nutrients, juicing for ourselves is the way to go. Perfectly serviceable juicers have dropped in price recently, becoming accessible for most budgets and the wonderful thing about juicing for ourselves is we don’t need to add extra preservatives or any of the other stuff commercially produced juice often contains.
For more information about starting out with juicing combinations I recommend the book Juicing for Health by Caroline Wheater or something similar. Or finding a juicing website you can trust the validity of information from.
There’s organic produced food and then there is ethically produced organic food.
Some of the animal waste based organic fertilizers, such as chicken pellet manure, commercially used by growers and directly available to us via garden stores, has been produced as a by-product of factory farming in one form or another. This might be okay for many people; however, with the broader picture of ethics taken into consideration, feeding our plants with the by-product of a brutally “efficient” system of farming can hardly help us to grow happy botanical specimens.
The same applies with pesticides; rather than drenching our food in chemicals, there are more natural ways of doing things. Permaculture is one example, the planting of sympathetic plants to protect one another from likely pests. Using essential oils such as citronella as a repellent to avoid crops being eaten by insects or lavender to discourage weeds are becoming more widespread. There is a wealth of reliable information on the internet from organizations such as The Soil Association and a version of the Organic Consumers Networks exists in one form or another in most countries.
If you are buying most of your foodstuffs in from grocery stores, a little investigation into where their products come from and how they are grown can pay dividends. Alternatively, growing your own fruit and vegetables puts you in control of what products go onto them and happily there is a wealth of ethical organic options out there, either for fertilizing or pest control. We are what we eat…
Many people pay small fortunes in order to self-inflict pollution upon their bodies.
These come in many forms:
1. Smoking, I am a bit of a non-smoker, well okay, I have never felt inclined to even try it. I am all for freedom of choice, mine has been to avoid tobacco. It has been known for certainly all my lifetime that smoking is hardly beneficial to health in any way. On the contrary it can create, as a by-product, its own range of serious problems and issues with the ingested carcinogens. It would be highly presumptuous for me to suggest to every reader of this book they ought to stop smoking, but it would be wise if they did. I believe we are all responsible for our own actions and in the times we live, everyone is aware of the health risks involved in choosing to smoke. If you are doing everything else right and still smoking you are making your body work so much harder to clear the associated toxins
2. Alcohol is often considered fine in moderation, some health experts even going so far as to suggest that a glass of excellent quality organic red wine or pure organic beer is actually beneficial. A rule of thumb is if we avoid overburdening our body with anything that requires a recovery time from eating or drinking we are going to be pretty much on the right track
3. Sugars we have already talked a little about. Sugar has been officially recognized in some countries as being more addictive than some Class A drugs. A typical bottle of some well-known brands of fruit flavoured water can contain the equivalent of up to four and half teaspoons of sugar! It’s not always the obvious places sugars can be found, for example many breakfast cereals have a high sugar content; even a high fruit diet is also a high sugar diet. If we consciously avoid too many sugars and keep this in the forefront of our mind when buying groceries in, we are doing great
4. Junk food isn’t called junk for nothing! An occasional junky indulgence our bodies can cope with. Living off the stuff constantly is, needless to say, pretty self-damaging
5. Deep fried food is recognised by health experts as increasing the likelihood of heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. Again, moderation or avoidance must be the sensible option for all of us
6. Recreational drugs offer a false form of escapism. Far better to live the kind of life where you get high from living your dreams and feel excited to get out bed in the morning to see what the day brings
7. Caffeine, I recently had a detailed conversation with a brain surgeon who stated that neither he or any of his colleagues choose to drink coffee or caffeine rich drinks. Enough said, I would suggest!
I started this section stating people pay small fortunes in order to self-inflict pollution; of course, they pay in far more important, life changing ways, than only spending a little cash. What is the point in thinking big and living success if you are unhealthy or unfit?
EXERCISE IS VITAL FOR ALL
It cannot be overstated how important it is to be fit and healthy in parallel to creating your ideal life. You are clearly going to want to be around to enjoy the fruits of your labours and be fit enough to see your plans through to completion. Comfort Zones will be left behind and there will be days when stress makes itself known…the healthier you are, the easier you will find it to cope and ideally then enjoy the ride!
BODY BREAKDOWN REVERSAL
As your body matures it is usual for it to start losing muscle mass, it being replaced with fat or muscle wastage, resulting in less strength and suppleness.
It doesn’t have to be this way, not at all.
The only reason for this loss of muscle mass is due to a lack of aerobic exercise or put another way – our brain receives the message that we aren’t using our muscles in the way we once did and concludes we must no longer require them. Kick-starting the beginning of the transformational changes in our bodies commonly held to be signs of “old age”.
Yet paradoxically there are many examples of lean and mean octogenarians who are hugely fit and leading the kind of active lives that would put many of their grandchildren to shame.
What is the difference here, what can possibly be their miraculous secret?
In virtually all the cases these individuals have always led active lives and saw no reason to slow down or stop doing what they have always done simply because another birthday passed on by. In other words, they have kept a good high percentage of their muscle mass throughout their life.
GETTING OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN
Exercise is vitally important for maintaining a healthy body and strengthening the immune system’s ability to fend off disease and decay. As I mentioned earlier, your body is the vehicle used to travel around and experience all the wonders of this planet we live upon. Investing in ourselves in terms of eating healthily and partaking of regular exercise is going to be more than worth the investment later down our timeline when we can still run up the stairs and live life to the full.
If you are already pretty fit keep on doing what you do and never be tempted to slacken off just because of another birthday passing by. I have always taken exercise in one form or another. As I mentioned earlier, I decided a short while ago to have a complete medical to ascertain where exactly my body was in terms of my level of overall fitness. Imagine my delight upon being told my results were of the level expected to be achievable had I been a fit twenty-five years old (I am not twenty-five, by the way) and this is not down to any kind of luck, happy coincidence or my genes…it is because I work every day at maintaining my body through sensibly eating combined with plenty of exercise. And you can do precisely the same!
I have spent my time in gyms back in the day and for sure they can be an excellent starting place when venturing into getting fit for perhaps the first time in years. They’ll have qualified instructors to advise you on taking those first steps. It’s vitally important to start gently at first. If you realistically know you are extremely unfit it is definitely wise to consult a health professional before beginning to make changes. Regular gentle exercise is always better than nothing at all and you can always step it up once you start to feel more able. Small steps towards our goals are preferable to none at all every single time!
Many of those who live in urban environments have become completely disassociated from nature. The only nature being encountered is the green blur seen from car or train windows as they rush on by.
Us humans have a deep, you could almost call it primeval, connection to nature that exists right there in our DNA. If we become too disconnected from nature we end up living a kind of zombie-like existence. Wild areas are often regarded as somewhere to fear.
Living 24/7 in completely artificial environments stifles creativity and deadens our intuition. Then the need, if nature is encountered, to take some of this artificial comfort zone out there as well…
I have personally witnessed people walking deep within an ancient tranquil forest, climbing high upon a mountain or even canoeing on a river, while plugged into music through their headphones. Surely part of the point of being in a forest, on a mountain or indeed in a river, is to experience the sounds as well as the sights? It is rather like going to a gig by your favourite band or a classical music concert wearing a motorbike crash helmet; whatever happens, for sure you are only going to get half of the experience! Maybe I am the one missing out here by not taking my music collection with me for a walk, yet I somehow doubt it.
If you live in an urban environment, allow me to make a suggestion and I ask you to at least give it a go.
If you are one of those people who doesn’t usually have the time for nature or perhaps even finds the prospect of exploring wilderness areas scary; how about you take half an hour a couple of times a week to visit your local park? Simply sit and observe. Leave aside the headphones and no sneaky talking or texting on the phone! Look at the trees, the grass and then listen. Hear birdsong? Do the trees make a noise? Rustling poplars or creaking old oaks. Breathe in the scents. How are they different since last time you visited? Soak up the sights, sounds and smells; really feel what it is like to be there.
Slowly, but absolutely surely, your connection to nature will grow stronger and you will find yourself looking forward to these visits to the park. At some point maybe venturing a little further outside your town or city to explore some more untamed nature.
Perhaps you are already very connected to nature and can’t relate in any way to this section so far?
You already live in the country or on the edge of wilderness?
Oh, you can help so many people!
Invite your town or city family and friends to come over to stay with you, as often as possible. Show them your reality and allow them to learn to appreciate the joy of nature through your eyes. Be their guide and show them how beautiful nature is in all her manifestations.
Exercise in nature is my first choice every time. Walking, running or tai chi within a natural setting is far from only taking exercise; it’s wonderfully inspirational. Some of my best ideas have popped into my head way out in the wilderness or in the middle of a deserted ancient Neolithic site; and very rarely in the middle of a busy city!
Extracted from “YOU But Happier, Healthier and More Successful: A guide to making the right choices in life” by Dean Fraser
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