“Work. Live. Learn. Play.” Hot City!
“You’re trying to describe an elephant to someone who has never seen an elephant before.”
“You are significant!” “Cross the line. It costs you nothing, and you gain everything.” It’s just a choice. Think about the end…how do you want to be remembered? What do you want to be said at your funeral?
Instead of thinking about achieving a goal, think about solving a problem.
Connect the Dots! Food Systems. Spiritual Health. Oral Health. Health.
“I believe food is a basic human right.” “I see seekers of truth.”
Stop. Breathe. Reflect. What do you remember?
The above is something like the tidbits deemed worthy of remembering by whatever it is that does the remembering…be it brain or mind or consciousness or cuticle. Alas…
I love the idea of Integral Health. That is, a standard of health that permeates every aspect of the individual: physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual. And I think when one achieves optimum health in each one of those areas, you have what might be called Perfect Health. And what does that look like manifest in physical form? It depends…but generally I associate it with a being radiating an energy of joy, kindness, warmth, gratitude, loving acceptance, compassion, and enthusiasm towards each and every moment of life. This being is also likely very quick to laugh, play, have fun, as well as listen to another deeply from the heart, giving their attention fully and completely without any sense of receiving anything in return. This being gives out of abundance with no thought of return, trusting completely in the significance of being present in the moment, come what may.
So then…when thinking of this elephant that I’m trying to describe to someone whose never seen an elephant before, perhaps this experience of Perfect Health might be that elephant. Although I don’t consider myself a perpetual embodiment of Perfect Health, I think I’ve experienced moments of Perfect Health when everything is perfectly aligned, cared for, and the Moment is beautifully recognized as All That Is, right Here and right Now, and that’s always a good feeling 🙂 And in addition to having experienced glimpses of ‘Perfect Health,’ which could also be called Harmony, Bliss, Transcendence, Presence, Self-Actualization, etc., I think I’ve also experienced people in that state of being as well. With the examples I’m thinking of, it’s often evident by the smile on someone’s face or the tone in the voice, as well as in the freedom of expression and ever-readiness to light up with warmth and enthusiasm towards another.
Now I wonder, what steps can one take to move towards Perfect Health? Let’s pretend it’s as simple as developing one habit for each of the dimensions of health. What follows is a list of potential activities to optimize health in each category, although ultimately I think there are likely many different habits one could practice in each of the dimensions of health, just so long as one practices whatever one chooses with an intention that the practice will optimize health in that specific area. For example, so long as one chooses to physically exercise and move the body for 60 minutes a day, I think there are a variety of different practices that would successfully optimize that facet of health. And what I realize now is that improving any one dimension of health improves all dimensions, as our lives are integrated experiences, so Hallelujah for that 🙂
1. Optimizing physical health. I’ve heard it said that 80% of physical health comes from the choice of foods you put into the body, and the remaining 20% comes from physical exercise. That’s somewhat inspiring, eh? To think you can be 80% perfectly physically healthy just by optimizing your choice of foods you decide to consume. From personal experience, I’ve found energy levels to be highest with a green smoothie loaded with kale and spinach and banana and all kinds of goodness…and essentially I think that 80% of health basically comes down to the refrain our parents loved to brainwash us with…’Eat your fruits and vegetables!” And that ‘law,’ the law of eating your fruits and vegetables, might be one of the few ways of being on the planet that is not subject to the law of diminishing marginal returns. Almost without end, the more fruits and vegetables, the better! Of course organic is probably better than produce sprayed with pesticides…but who knows? Rather than organic vs. non-organic foods being the big issue, I think primarily the keys to food are praying over it, being grateful for it, and enjoying it! A mindful meal, enjoyed slowly, is also nearly always preferable to a rushed meal. And, like meditation and prayer, it’s just when you think you don’t have the time to do that it’s most vital that you realize you always have the time to do it 🙂 You are always free to enjoy.
Well that was a fun food talk…now let’s take care of the 20% remaining for physical health…exercise! Or hatha yoga. Or just simply walking. Or climbing steps. Essentially, I’m pretty sure that anything you do with the intention to improve the physical health and flourishing of the body will do the trick, within the time frame of 30 – 90 minutes. Of course, activities like yoga and walking ripple strongly out to optimizing the health of the other facets of health as well, so perhaps you can spend even more time doing those. Although I have yet to practice it fully, I hear that 10,000 steps is a life-hacking key to happiness, and some philosopher definitely claimed that walking was the best exercise. Moving the body…ah movement…what a holy activity. And yet, I think consciously sitting is holy too. Heck, let’s let it all be holy! Additional awesome exercises for physical health…well really just one amazing one…dancing! Dancing also ripples out into probably all the other facets of health too.
2. Emotional Health. Talk with people 🙂 Communicate in some way to someone! And I suppose, if you’re living in isolation, this can be taken care of with a strong relationship with God and the Universe and the Present Moment. Also, cultivate a wonderful relationship with the physical body you experience much of life in. And speak wonderful, positive, loving thoughts to the body. Let it know you care for it and want what’s best for it and that you are so grateful for it. Hugging trees and acknowledging the life in plants and grass is also probably great for your emotional health. Walking, too, always a win – especially in nature!
3. Social Health . This seems similar to emotional health. And what I’ve come to experience more recently is that there’s not always a need to talk about something serious. Really, being open and willing to talk about what interests someone else, regardless of whether or not it interests you, is possibly one of the most humbling and holy things you can do. I used to be totally against having conversations that weren’t about God or Serving the Highest Good of All or Personal Growth or Becoming More Conscious and Aware or Growing in Health and Happiness and Harmony…and of course I love those conversations and they light me up, yet meanwhile sometimes the greatest thing you can do for your personal growth and higher consciousness is to surrender your own will to whatever the present moment offers you and just choose to listen and enthusiastically engage no matter what is being offered. No need to resistance a conversation you deem ‘unholy,’ just love what is as a beautiful expression of life and a gift from God. Especially whenever you are getting annoyed or angry or frustrated…BOOM!!!…there is God totally offering you some awesome gift and opportunity to grow in Love and Harmony. Who are we to judge, anyway? Opening to communing with people regardless of their interests and just being there with them in the Present Moment is a tremendous gift, a very humbling process, and thus very healing too. As best you can, give your attention freely, assuring the person that they are significant and worthy of it. And coming to that space where you accept that nothing is below you is blissfully liberating. Remember too that if someone appears to be ranting to you about some problem, sometimes the best thing you can do is laugh. Let them know joy is still in the world, and this present moment is good. Of course, deep listening is also good. Whatever you do, when listening, keep your own awareness in that space of love and gratitude, and remember that God is Present in the Now, that Now is a holy moment, and that you are not ever asked to do anything other than just be. Be with God, and operating from that space you can only do wonderful things for everyone 🙂
4. Mental Health. So health is most definitely an integral thing, because one of the best things you can do for your mental health is move that body! Think about the connection between motion and emotion – and realize that when you’re couch-potatoeing away, feeling down and out, your lack of movement will likely only perpetuate the feeling. Instead, move! Walk. Ahh, walking. So wonderful. Additionally, for mental health, read! The brain loves books and new ideas. And while you’re at it, listen to some TEDtalks or other inspirational / educative talks on YouTube. Watch some clips from Oprah Super Soul Sundays – I love those! Thanks to this connected world we live in, we can experience all kinds of wonderful people via YouTube. I might never meet these people in person, but through YouTube I’ve gotten a taste of Thich Nhat Hanh, Deepak Chopra, Bob Proctor, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, Sean Stephenson, Pema Chodron, Wayne Dyer…all kinds of great people out there who you can experience. Let them lift you up! If you don’t know any people in physical form who you find inspiring, allowing yourself to bathe in the consciousness of inspiring people through books, audio, and videos. Remember, you just might be the average of the 5 people you spend the most time around – and that can include some crazy characters from television, or it can include St. Paul from the Bible. The choice is yours. So please, choose with the heart for your own highest good 🙂
5. Spiritual Health. Breathe. Any moment you stop to take a breathe, or two, or twenty, maybe more than you can count – those are good moments. Appreciate and connect with that intelligence that flows through you at all times and that operates beyond your conscious awareness. That Intelligence is from the Beginning and is part of you Now. Love it! Let yourself be mesmerized, awed, and fascinated with the wonder of the body, nature, at any and everything that is before you right now. Imagine all the human effort that went forth to producing the forms around you in this present moment. So much effort! And then imagine all the energy of the universe – from the sun and rain and who knows what else – that went forth to nourishing all the people who crafted all the forms before you now. Such a collaborative effort! So amazing!!! Look at any book and see the a genius and a tree and the sun and a potato and Guttenberg. Miraculous how the Universe is precisely as it is, Here and Now. Speak to the Universe. Speak to God. Just have a friendly conversation with What Is in the Now. Open up. Breathe in Love and exhale Peace. Focus on feeling the heart beat. Focus on anything! Move slowly. Practice mindfulness. Walk!!! Sing. Dance. Laugh. Observe Life. Particularly, if you can, watch a child play so blissfully, and allow yourself to play too.
So this elephant…it’s a pretty awesome elephant. I’ve seen it once or twice, but it’s still tough to describe. Ultimately, I think the way to see this elephant and even ride this elephant more and more often comes down to creating a lifestyle centered around the elephant. Kind of like a mystic wave, you’ve got to prepare yourself to ride it, and open up to the experience. So surf’s up! On the mystic rollercoaster you can ride, knowing that the experience will peak, while also remembering that each and every moment counts and is totally significant. It all adds up, and perhaps the most mystical experiences you can have are those that initially seem the furthest from a mystical experience possible. When you’re least healthy, that’s when you’re most healthy. Because in the pain and the suffering, that’s often our greatest opportunity to transcend and realize that we are Perfectly Health in the Here & Now. The Ideal is ultimately beyond form – it is a state of being – an awareness.
Lastly…as far as significance goes…
If you’re ever doubting your own significance, you might remember that someone once wrote a suicide letter saying something like, “I’m walking to the bridge today. If no one smiles at me or says hello, I’m jumping.” And he jumped. To think it’s just that simple to save a life – all you have to do is smile! So go on smiling, friend, knowing that your smile is saving lives left and right, because someone is always watching, and the smile ripples out in all kind of wonderful ways.