Our bodies are naturally designed for health. Training for wellness is a way to empower your whole life in body, mind and spirit. Like any healthy fitness program it requires positive choices, discipline and a zest for life. Following a few common-sense rules can cause you to feel at least 75% better in a short time.
For wellness to exist The Four Pillars of Life need to be harmonized. The pillars are Food, Sleep, Energy Expense, and Breath. When we understand these concepts then appropriate lifestyle modifications can be made.
Food is the first pillar and refers to what we take in through our mouth, our mind and our senses. Are we eating wholesome life-giving or life-taking away foods? We are what we eat, how we eat, where we eat and why we eat. We are the quality of how we digest what we've taken in through our five senses; taste, touch, sight, smell and sound.
"Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are”
-Jean Antheime Brillat-Saravin
The next important Pillar to consider is Sleep. How we rest and when we rest are just as important as the quality of sleep we get. Sleep is like gold in this modern world. We are bombarded with many toxins that inhibit good rest. Human beings are out of touch with natural circadian rhythms and have hormonal imbalances which inhibit sleep. Without the proper sleep cycles, concentration can suffer and behavior can be unstable. Conversely if an individual gets too much sleep they may experience, weight gain, lethargy and stagnation. Apathy is another factor inhibiting human potential and a life of true wellness. A poor diet and lack of exercise can cause feelings of stagnation, depression and heaviness. All these are byproducts of an unnatural relationship to sleep.
Energy is your every thought, action and deed. Someone told me a long time ago that I was holding on to an emotion and thinking about it too much. In fact it was taking up real estate in my mind. Many people are running toward things that do not serve them and then hiding it from the people around them, this takes a lot of energy. Money and Love are two of the most powerful forms of energy. Where do you spend your money? How do you spend your money? Is there a sacred exchange with money or are you angry at where you spend money? How do you feel about Love? Love is a healing energy. How do you relay love to the people around you? What kind of sexual exchanges do you have and are they fulfilling or depleting.
The quality of Breath represents the quality of aliveness. How deeply you breathe and the quality of air you breathe impacts the quality of your life. Did you know that your breathing and your thinking mirror each other. When the brain- respiratory system are in sync, thoughts and emotions are in alignment. Listening to the breath is like hearing a personal lullaby. It is soothing. More oxygen in the bloodstream means a healthier immune system, radiant skin and bright eyes. We can hold our breath and feel a suspension of time. We can feel immense fear when we hold it too long. Just as our breath can speed up with fear; control of the breath can slow it down and create peace.
Waking up to healthy and wholesome habits takes discipline and commitment. In the beginning maintaining balance with the Four Pillars of Life can be challenging but eventually the benefits to feeling good out-way the difficulties and it becomes a way of life, a daily habit like brushing your teeth. Are you ready to flex this muscle of “Being Awake”? Are you ready to strengthen this muscle and train yourself into wellness? Are you ready to live in sync with nature and to become more natural.
Tamas; a word from Ayurveda meaning dark, dead, stuck, stagnant, or a poor attitude. Sattva, its opposite, means light, life giving, clean and conscious with a peaceful attitude. In Ayurveda these concepts pertain to all aspects of life. For a happy, healthy and whole life Sattva must be a stabilizing force. One way to bring the positive attributes of Sattva out in a person is through food.
Some examples of life-giving foods are; fresh fruit and veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds, wholefoods, non GMO and gluten free, Ghee, fermented foods and clean water not to mention beautiful environments, enjoyable music and soft colors. Life-taking away foods would be processed foods and food-like substances as well as meat, dead-food, canned food, condiments and tap water. Hard core music, dull or overstimulating environments as well as complaining are life-taking away food.
By eliminating life-taking foods and adding more life-giving foods the body, mind and spirit will find its way into balance. Our bodies are designed to live with nature, to be filters for natural products. Our modern world is full of synthetic products and people are more removed from nature. The Sattvic path is a journey over time that requires one conscious step, then another, then another and another all while experiencing fulfillment, satisfaction and more peace along the way.
Karen Barbarick-Collins is a Certified Ayurvedic Technician and Registered Yoga Alliance Teacher. She is the founder of Bending Blade Healing Arts.