BOX TWO - ONE BODY. ONE MIND. ONE LIFE.
SELF THERAPY SESSION
LISTEN TO SELF THERAPY SESSION BOX TWO
When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest,
strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.
It would seem to go without saying that we only have one body, no replacement. For better or worse we are wedded to this one body.
Over the holidays I was having a conversation with my young niece. She’s about to graduate from high school and dreaming about what’s next for her. Right now that means a road trip to California with her sister.
She and I and a few other family members stayed up late into the evening on Christmas Eve talking about life, the past and the future.
To say my niece has had a hard life would be an understatement. Among other things, when she was 3 or 4 years old a table fell on her breaking her leg and injuring her back. Now at 17 years old she has limited mobility as well as constant aches and pains.
Her current attitude toward her injury as well as her health is, “I don’t really care much. It is what it is.”
Oh, the ignorance of youth. We talked about health insurance (which she doesn’t have), body work (which she’s never heard of) and how food is medicine (she eats mostly fast food or junk food).
This young lady is falling into a terrible trap. When you are young your body can take a pretty hard beating from poor diet and lack of exercise. But at some point youth fades and she’ll be left with brittle bones, stiff back and an inability to exercise. We all know this creates an inevitable cascade of negative side effects when you can’t exercise. The body atrophies. The mind becomes depressed. Life begins to pass you by.
As noted by Herophilus in 300 B. C. there is a strong, undeniable bond between the health of your body, the health of your mind and the quality of your life.
Everything you think, believe, feel, like, hate, enjoy must make its way through one path before all others. You filter everything, EVERYTHING in life through your mind. Every decision. Every success. Every heartbreaking loss. They all enter the mind then you attach meaning to them which dictates your decisions which become your life.
At the risk of sounding dense: You only know what you know and you don't know what you don't know. If no one ever taught you and you don’t know how to take care of your mind then how can you take care of your mind?
If you don’t know how to be disciplined because no one ever taught you how to suffer through the pain then how can you be disciplined?
The answer to these two questions is shockingly simple, often fun but not easy: BE CURIOUS ALL THE TIME. Experiment. Try new things. Ask good questions. Always be willing to challenge your beliefs. Be disciplined. Congratulations, by the way, for trying this box. That is a perfect example of your curiosity in action. You didn’t really know what this box was going to be or if/how it could help you but you tried something new.
Curiosity is one of the cornerstones to a “woke” life - the new term for being awake and aware of what’s going on around you.
Your day-to-day choices are the playing field upon which the game of your life is decided.
Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”
Try this thought exercise. Read through this once, then go back and read it again.
LIFE & DEATH
Close your eyes and relax.
See yourself as an elderly person
propped up in a hospital bed.
There are tubes in your arms
and machines beeping.
Notice the figure in the bed
slowly being pulled away from
you into a great, black void.
Urgency fills the face of the
elderly person as they call
out to you:
“There’s no time! Go! Live your life!
Time is so short! You are
only one that can save us.
It must happen today!”
Now open your eyes.
Could it be that thinking about death doesn’t scare you, but actually has the opposite? Could it be possible that thinking about the limited time you have left be the impetus you need to go after all those things you’ve been putting off?
Yes. Yes, it can.
Repeat this exercise every day over the next 30 days as an experiment.
The future YOU knows all too well that you don’t have time to waste. It all goes by so fast. Gretchen Rubin summed it up achingly well, “The days are long but the years are short.”
Here we are at the beginning of a new year. It is the quintessential time for making resolutions to exercise, eat better, make amends, pursue those dreams that have been on the shelf for a while.
It’s also the time for many of us to eschew the ritual of goal-setting either because we’ve failed miserably in the past or we know that we will most likely not follow through with them anyway. Maybe it’s both.
How do you want to be different?
By thinking about death every day. Your death. By honoring that elder person pleading with you from their deathbed you will constantly have the reality of your inevitable fate before you.
By following this Life & Death exercise you are reminding yourself of the harsh reality that life doesn’t go on forever. Your mind is sharp now but it won’t always be. Your body has the potential to move but it won’t always. Take heed that whether you make new year’s resolutions or not the only way to get things done is to dream them up, write them down and allow your mind to create paths for them to become a reality.
When you start checking off that bucket list of things you said you wanted to do you’ll begin to experience what Ebenezer Scrooge felt on Christmas morning when he realized his soul had been saved, “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.”
Kelly Brogan writes in A Mind Of Your Own:
"Instead, when you have a symptom—when you feel cloudy, sad, sore, gassy, weepy, tired, or unnecessarily anxious—bring some wonder to it. Ask why and try to make the connections. Your body’s symptoms are telling you something about equilibrium. Your body is trying to tell you that it has lost balance. Stand back and appreciate the infinite complexity of your organism. Know that fear will only drive you to treat your body like a robotic machine that needs oil and gear changes. We are so much more than buttons and levers."
What Dr. Brogan is saying is that if we listen to our bodies it will tell us everything we need to know.
Here are just a few practical examples of what it means to “listen” to your body.
1. FINGERNAILS offer a lot of clues as to what might be going on in our body. For the first test just look at the nail beds and tips of your fingernails. Are the tips smooth, chipped or broken? Do you have white spots on your nail beds? If your nails aren’t smooth and clear then it may indicate you are deficient in vitamin B, iron or at risk for osteoporosis.
2. SPINE - This one might be more difficult to do because most people don’t own two scales. But if you do try putting one foot on one scale and another foot on the other one. If they don’t read the same you may have an imbalance in your hips or your head and spine are off center.
3. HYPERTHYROIDISM - You will need a piece of paper from your printer so grab that before we begin. Fully extend your arm in front of you with your palm facing down. Place the piece of paper on top of your hand. Now watch. It can be hard to detect tremors in your hand but if you notice the piece of paper shaking more than normal it may indicate you have an overactive thyroid.
These are just a few examples of how your body communicates with you.
I want to challenge you to mix things up and specifically in your morning routine. If you change your morning, you’ll change your life. Even small adjustments like waking up thirty minutes early to read, journal, stretch or just enjoy the day before the rush of activity begins can have a quieting effect on your mind the rest of the day.
Interested in my morning routine? Click here to read more: morning routine.
Working on your physical health will give you an advantage when we start the first of four pillars of the Self-Awareness Series next month.
If you already have a robust morning routine and are in great shape guess what? You can do even better. Your body acclimates to repetitive routines so mix up your morning game for 3 months. It will only serve to improve your health.
If your response to self-care is, “What’s that?” Don’t worry. You are not alone. Most people who are brave enough to make it to my office often chuckle when I ask them about their self-care routine.
It seems that when push comes to shove in our crammed daily schedule self-care is often one of the first casualties.
Here are two simple ideas to consider:
1. Take an Epson salt baths, a proven method for reducing stress. Soak for 20 minutes. You get extra credit if you turn out the lights and light a candle.
2. Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier. You can do this. If you plan to exercise I highly recommend putting out your exercise outfit the night before. Spending 10 minutes looking for a pair of socks is a real motivation buster.
We haven’t even touched on next level body work. Some examples include traditional massage, acupuncture, acupressure, reiki, sensory deprivation tanks, yoga, qigong, etc.
Here are three questions to ask yourself about your self-care plan:
- What do I currently do for self-care?
- What are my beliefs about the connection between my body’s health and my mental health?
- What changes to improve my health do I need to make but have been putting off (i.e. drinking less alcohol, eating less sugar, exercising more, stop smoking)?
In the next box we tackle Adult Attachment. Once you get this you will see every relationship in your life in a new light. You will understand why some combination of styles work and others don’t and what you can do to rescue yourself and others from needless suffering.
So off you go, to develop and sustain your body, mind, and life. You’ve got this!