I hope today finds you enjoying the sun, with feet in the grass or sand, your favorite drink in your hand, and a smile on your face.
The ebb and flow of life. The night always brightens with each sunrise and morning continues to fade with the dusk and bring out the stars. And back on itself it goes. This is the meaning behind the symbol of Yin and Yang. We are always changing and life is always turning but it is about finding the balance between opposites. One cannot exist without the other. The universe continues to circle but always finds a balance. If you spend anytime in nature you will know it as perfect. May we find the same balance in our own lives.
Most of us are continually exploring the correct path to happiness, purpose, and health. We can search on Google, in a book store, use YouTube, and the library. We search out experts. We can talk to a nutritionist, psychotherapist, naturopath, Buddhist, Taoist, or priest. All the expert advice is out there. There are lists of things we should and should not do in order to obtain our goals. Instead of using the lists as defined rules I think it is better to use them as an outline. Every quest and new thing is just an experiment. I encourage myself and others to have flexibility on their search.
There was a year of my life when I never took a sip of alcohol, only ate the healthiest organic food, went to bed at a decent hour, didn’t buy any new clothing, and meditated. I followed strict guidelines made by the experts on how to become my healthiest and most “enlightened.” At the time I thought I was doing all the right things and that all these things would eventually lead to something good. However, the only thing that rigid path was leading me down was a path of isolation and I like people way too much for that to ever work out for me. Quite simply, living that way wasn’t any fun and it didn’t get me anywhere.
Health and happiness have mostly been about doing the things for my body and mind that feel good. Some of the things that make me feel good include toasting with real champagne to a friends marriage at their wedding. Or dancing all night even if the rules say to fall asleep before 11. I love new clothes and feeling pretty for an evening out and don’t get me started on the crispy french fries they serve with pecorino cheese and rosemary at one of my favorite restaurants! I smile much more now than I ever did following anyone else’s rules. Indulgence can feel so amazing!
Alcohol, late nights, materialism and fried foods are not the keys to health. So here’s the thing… We all need to find our own balance while using the rules as helpful guidelines. Extremes on either end don’t work for most. Eat well, sleep, and exercise but live your life to the fullest. The magical moments in my life have been at times when I am free from the constraints of thinking about the way I should be living. It isn’t about the joy of breaking rules, it is about listening to myself, knowing my limits, and knowing myself.
Advice I Give Myself: Don’t take everything so seriously. Make your own rules, if you must, but break them anyway. AND… Who cares if the berries on the birthday cake are organic?
Just enjoy it.
One of the first questions people ask me when I tell them I am an acupuncturist is “Does that really work?” The question used to baffle me. Why would I ever pursue a career or do something I didn’t believe in or that didn’t work? Of course I believe in acupuncture and of course it works!
Today I have a different perspective on their question. Many people are in fields they think don’t really work. Many people work for companies they don’t believe in. How did we get here? When did so many of us give up our dreams? The fear of not having enough has paralyzed many as they cling to cash while stomping down their passion. The world is full of possibility and everyone deserves to be working somewhere or doing something they believe in. I understand the responsibilities of life but for all our progress the idea that we have to live miserable work days in exchange for a possible release for one and at best two weeks a year is archaic. The paradigm is not something I will believe. No thank you and no way!
So today I turn around the question that so many people have asked me back on you. What do you do? Do you believe in it? Is it working for you?
I try to remember everyday how lucky I am to be doing something that brings me so much joy. I get to help people, what could be cooler than that? I pursued something that I believed in and not only is it working for others… it working for me.
There are people who continue to inspire me. They inspire me to follow my dreams, let go of fear, let go of anger, and continue to hope. They move me to change and to let go of all the useless thoughts that swirl around in my brain. I would like to share one particular professional whose work with the way we think has changed and shaped so many lives for the better. I share with you a link to a talk by Wayne Dyer, titled Excuses Begone. He talks about the things we say to ourselves that hold us back from pursuing that which is what we really want. Wayne Dyer’s talks, lectures, and books continually have me open up my mind to different ways of looking at myself and the world. I always want to change and grow and Mr. Dyer has a knack for pointing me in new directions.
Heart disease tops the list for causes of death in this country. We have associations, surgeons, and specialists focused on the condition. The most prescribed drugs in this country are aimed at preventing heart attacks. We talk about diet and exercise for prevention but I want to talk about the importance of love.
We have all heard of circumstances in which someone loses a loved one and dies of a broken heart. However, what if the loss isn’t sudden but gradual? What if we go our whole lives not feeling loved because other things become a priority? What happens to the heart then? How connected is the emotional heart to the physical heart? When you feel love, don’t you feel it in the center of your chest? An outward expansion of warmth that fills your body with joy? What happens to our body when that feeling isn’t present?The symbol for love is a heart. We have been drawing them with arrows through them, names across them and initials for centuries. The symbol is not purely coincidental.
A recent study linked this question to heart disease: “Do you feel like your spouse truly loves you?” Those who answered no were more likely to have a heart attack than those who felt loved. In today’s world, many times money is valued over people. Money is valued over love. This goes against the nature of the heart and after a while it will break. When we value money over humans, the heart wants out. Why would a spirit want to stay in an unhappy, unloving body?
We are constantly trying to protect our heart, but by doing that, we usually close ourselves off. If you put up a steel wall, how do you expect to receive love? If you never open to another how can you expect to receive anything of value? That wall has to shatter before you can love or be loved again.
All of this was brought up while I was attending a face reading class with Lillian Bridges. Face reading is a subtle art but if you know even a little you realize your face gives away a lot about a person. Your face will actually tell you if you have your heart on the right path. Have a look in the mirror, if your nose is a little pinched at the end you are trying to close yourself off. If it is slightly puffy and purple at the tip you are headed down a dangerous path. Don’t worry if you have either of these. Just starting having as much fun and experiencing as much love as possible. Share your feelings and share yourself.
More and more of us pursue things such as meditation, yoga, and other spiritual health practices. The trend for the expansion of the mind and body is in full swing. It is one of the best fads I have seen hit the U.S. I’d put it right up there with big hair, glitter, color blocking, and leg warmers. Pain and suffering no longer have to be facts of life and we have begun to explore our way out. We are going out into the world to conquer ourselves.
But then I hear statements such as the following: … “I can meditate for five hours, how long can you do it for?”or “I have mastered the pose where you stand upside down on the tip of the pinky finger!…oh…you mean you can’t even do a shoulder stand yet?” or “You went on a hike without Tivas? How’d you ever manage?” People are turning it into a competition, which is the exact opposite of what these practices preach. Be careful where your thoughts and words lead you the next time you get together with your friends to talk about your time sitting in lotus. We have to learn to let go of what others think. We need to stop trying to prove something to ourselves or others. Realize your process is your own, no better or worse than anyone elses.
We have designer yoga clothes now! Yippee! A new added pressure to look good on the mat! How cool can you look as you do your downward dog, really? Even if I love every single thing that lululemon decides to stock, which I do, I have to let go because I really can’t justify $250 stretchy pants. Spirituality is about the enjoyment of life, not how you look doing it. I’d still love the pants, but that isn’t what it is about. What we get out of the meditation, the yoga, and the nature walks is what matters. The boxes we are checking off on our “look what I can do and for how long” list does not. None of these practices, although wonderful and highly recomended, are primary or a guarantee for enlightenment. However, non-judgement of yourself and others is essential to get to your true path.
Advice: Remember it is who I am that matters, not what I do or have.
Note: This entry was inspired by the headline statement “Spirituality is not a hierarchy” which was made by the wonderful and amazing Lillian Bridges.