Monday, June 23, 2008

InnerBliss: 8 Physical Changes for A Brighter Outlook

Our feet did a lot of walking in the woods this weekend.

Listening to: I loved to dance to this at clubs in college. (Yes, it ages me.)

Today's Bliss Formula: Being at home. Being with our cats and the rabbit. Frog has most of today and all of tomorrow off. The lily buds are starting to color. There are strawberries to pick. The yard is getting that overgrown, wild look that I love.

This weekend, as I mentioned before, we were out of town. We went here, so Frog could get level 1 and 2 Reiki training. It's a quiet and woodsy place so we got in a lot of walking.

But being away from home always means that I eat incorrectly, I don't do yoga, and I am just generally off my routine. And I am a major routine cat. But for very good reason.

Though I no longer suffer from bouts of depression, for most of my life, I have suffered from frequent and intense bouts. I have worked really hard to find health, and my mental health, it turns out, depends heavily on my physical health.

We often talk about how our mental attitude affects our physical bodies, but we forget, I think, that it goes the other way. When I talk to friends who are still suffering from depression and anxiety, I emphasize the need for exercise and healthy eating. Of course, when you're depressed you don't want to hear that a walk will make you feel better but it will, and you don't have the energy to walk but a walk would give you energy.

It's all very catch-22.

How we eat and the water we put into our bodies also matters. Good, whole, clean foods. Plenty of vegetables. In my case, good, organic meat is important for my outlook. And no gluten.

I advise these friends (who are asking, by the way) that perhaps the best place to start is with the concrete, the physical, baby step type stuff. And then from there, you work inward. It seems counter-intuitive but how will you ever have the strength to work through your baggage if you can't even sit up?

So for those of you who are still looking for that bliss, still trying to figure out your best life, your most authentic life, why not start with getting physically healthy? It will clear your mind, allow you to see what you need to do, and then when you know, you'll have the energy to do it. You'll also be increasing your will power and your determination.

A few suggestions:

1. Walking. I've written about this before in terms of impact on the environment, and it's a perfect example of how the microcosm and the macrocosm are intricately and intimately bound together. You walk to save some resources, and the planet, as well as you, gets healthier. Walking, too, is a great way to slow your mind. To clear your head. If I go on a walk with a problem in mind, it will inevitably be solved by the end of the walk. There was a famous author (can anyone remember who?) who would walk around twenty miles every single day. He was English, of course!

2. Yoga. Obviously, I'm an official yoga pusher! But I am not exaggerating when I say that I don't know how I would be where I am without yoga. I always tell people that you don't have to "believe" in it -- it will work on you regardless. It brings an equilibrium to your body that no other form of physical movement does. It teaches you to more fully inhabit your body. It brings you back into your body if you have been absent for any period of time. For a really wonderful and exhaustive yoga blog, check this out.

3. Get good sleeps. Which I wrote about here.

4. Play. We forget to have fun with our physical bodies. My bike really brought fun movement back into my life. And it's gentle and good for my hips -- which are wrought with problems from some congenital issues and some abuse (dancing, tennis, being too flexible for my own good). But do you remember what it's like to go down a hill, smiling and giggling the whole way? Depression is no challenge for joy like that!

5. Good food. Have you gone organic yet? If not, why not? Yes, it can be expensive but ill-health is more so. If it's truly a strain on your budget, pick out the most important things -- produce, by far, is where you and the planet will reap the most benefit. A great overview of the whole food puzzle is this book.

6. Food allergies. I think a lot of us suffer unnecessarily. It has taken me many years, but I now know I am highly allergic to soy -- especially soy lecithin. For a whole year, I felt like someone was strangling me. I had all sorts of tests done, and my partner, frog, kept saying "stop eating soy." I wouldn't listen. Then I finally did. The throat thing was completely gone within a week and now I can detect if I have eaten even trace amounts of soy because I start to cough. I have also recently discovered that when I don't have gluten in my diet, my brain fog -- which I just thought was something I had, period -- my brain fog just up and left the premises. I feel AWAKE. It is nothing short of a miracle in my eyes. I still cheat and then I pay. Eventually I will stop cheating. But it can take me a long time to learn. For a great gluten free site, go here. Her book is also awesome.

7. Supplements. I'm not a big one for supplements -- I try to get everything I need from my foods, but sometimes they are necessary. Just try to get good ones.

8. No more pain. If you have any pain at all in your body, get it taken care of. Pain changes who you are. I know from years of low back pain. Now whenever I am grumpy, I do a body check and usually my back is aching.

That's really the big point -- being aware. We are physical (and spiritual) beings having physical and sensual experiences. Your body is the conduit through which your life experiences flow. If anything at all is blocked in that conduit, you are pushed out of the experience.

What could you do to, literally, feel better?


Anonymous said...

You probably are grwoing weary of seeing my posts but I have a question for you to ponder please...What suggestions do you have when dealing with persons who,for lack of a better description, 'suck the energy right outta ya'[this is a description my sister came up with ]. She oft advises me to avaoid those among us who are negative and want everyone to join them in misery and griping. Look forward to your reply.
Peace and blessings

blisschick said...

There is no way I'll ever grow weary of your posts! I truly appreciate feedback and you are always so generous in yours. Okay, so onto your question. I have much the same experience around negative people. They can really get to me. But only because I am allowing them to. Let me explain. I do agree with your sister that you should avoid "emotional vampires" as much as you can. Friendship is supposed to be about give and take, and these people are all about take. But there is no way to completely avoid them -- mostly due to the fact that there are so many of them walking around in this world. So, you have to create what my partner has called a "teflon bubble." It allows you to see; it allows you to hear; but their "stuff" slides right off. Visualize it before you go out of the house. There are even yoga exercises you can do to strengthen it, though all yoga does this because it enforces your sense of self, thereby teaching you that your moods, etc. are your own and not borrowed or gotten from anyone else. Also, when around these people, watch your own facial features. I just learned that we naturally mimic people's expressions and we get our moods from our expressions, therefore, well, you get it. So keep your face neutral. And review your own mood before you're around them. Remind yourself what YOU feel and that it has nothing to do with them. And finally, the biggest thing -- know that you can't change them or help them; that's their work to do and you have plenty to do for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks! You are such a good soul. My sister calls that teflon bubble a "cloak of protection" "a shield of strength'. I have told her to check out your site. LOL.
So true that these poor souls are unavoidable especially if they are in your family circle!

Mike Foster said...

Wonderful post. All great suggestions for feeling better and living a more restful, fullfilled life. All things that I advocate at my sites.


Jacqueline said...

Christine, another great book about whole-food eating is "Real Food: What to Eat and Why," by Nina Planck. I read a lot about nutrition and this is my fave. Also, "Food and Healing" by Anne Marie Colbin, and "What to Eat" by Marion Nestle. Do you even get these comments from BlissChick anymore :)

Christine Claire Reed said...

Jacqueline...why yes! I DO still get the comments. :)