Most of us have heard the good news: A landslide of research studies keeps piling on the evidence for the good effect of simple changes - things that are in our power to control. It seems that the top killers of our time - heart disease, diabetes, cancer - have a direct relationship to choices we make about food, exercise, smoking, and stress reduction. To favor a large difference in our longevity, our heart health, our brain health, our likelihood of getting cancer or diabetes, our mood and satisfaction in life, we need to make favorable changes in what we eat and take into our bodies, how we move our bodies, and how we manage the stresses in our lives.
But it’s not as easy as you’d think it might be! "I’m too tired to exercise." "Smoking calms me down." "When I’m hungry, I don’t have time to cook a bunch of veggies, I need to eat now, something quick and easy." How do we start making the changes that we think would benefit ourselves and the people we love, including our children? Once started, how can we continue? What do we need?
Most of the time, it’s the vision of how life could be better that moves us forward, not the prediction of dire consequences. List to yourself or to a friend the ways a change would benefit you. When you feel the urge to help someone else change, try - instead of lectures - asking interested questions, and listening respectfully to their answers. It’s our own reasons for change that move us, not someone else’s - and we hear those reasons best when we ourselves are talking about them.
We’re social animals, and friendly exchanges help to keep us in our habits - for better or worse! We can set a new habit in motion more easily when others support us - friends, family, professionals, exercise or diet buddies, support groups. Set yourself up with the support you need to succeed! And don’t forget to support yourself - you can do it!
3. Compassionate Persistence.
People don’t usually change suddenly and dramatically. We start out ambivalent, thinking about why we might want to change and how we might do it. We try out a few changes, starting with steps that seem most possible. We move on to a real intention to change, mapping out realistic steps. We get to the point where we have a new pattern established. At any point along the way, we can backslide. Backsliding is an opportunity to strengthen our commitment to change. Have compassion for yourself when you start to engage with a change process. And when you slip up, fine tune your strategies, and try again!
In a Nutshell: What Research Shows About Living a Long and Healthy Life -
1. If you smoke nicotine cigarettes - quit!
2. Eat a high vitality diet: eat a lot of fruits and veggies (5-13 servings a day, the more the better!); eat whole grains and cut out (or cut down on) the refined sugars and white flour stuff. Substitute good fats (seeds and nuts, fish oils) for empty and harmful fats.
3. Exercise regularly. For more details, check out my handout "What Kind of Exercise and How Much?" online - or ask me and I’ll email it to you.
4. Calm down. Notice the things that "set you off" - especially those chronic stressors. Find what works for you to get you back to a state of inner calm - whether it’s chopping wood, taking a walk or a run, talking to a friend or counselor, enjoying a hot bath, doing yoga, prayer and meditation. You name it - what works for you? Figure it out, and then put it into your daily practice.
Jumpstarting Change With Energetic Treatment
Sometimes it’s hard to forge ahead on a new path when you’re running on empty. And even with a lot of energy, we can’t always un-stick ourselves when we’re stuck in a rut - the wheels just spin! For example, how can you build up your vitality if you can’t sleep well? How can you exercise to dispel your feelings of gloom and apathy if you’re too depressed to exercise? When you’re hopping mad - at a boss, a partner, at the greedy oil companies - how can you calm yourself when everything continues to be so very wrong? Here is where energetic therapies - homeopathy, acupuncture, reiki, counseling, and so forth - shine!
Energetic therapies don’t introduce chemicals from the outside into your body. They rely on methods that stimulate your own systems to come back into harmony and correct their own imbalances. Our adrenaline-based stress responses run amuck when they take on a chronic character. We end up damaging ourselves with the very responses that are designed to improve our chances of survival. In this situation we need a boost - a message from outside of ourselves - that reminds us of more skillful means to respond to our challenges, that invokes our own profound inner wisdom and healing.
In homeopathy, this "message" comes in the form of a remedy that communicates the corrective energy of a plant, animal or mineral substance. Our bodies and minds express the nature of our imbalance in a variety of symptoms. Our specific symptoms, including our state of mind, point to the healing remedy. The quiet listening of the homeopathic interview permits the picture of that remedy to come forward. When we take the precisely targeted remedy, our own inner healing response awakens.
Gail Eastwood, DIHom, practices at Dancing Cranes Healing Arts, 754 Locust #4 in Garberville, California. She offers phone consultations for acute illnesses; office hours for acute and chronic problems are by appointment. Call for more information, 707-923-9109.