I invite you to consider the qualities of spirit as the most important of your dietary guidelines.
Peace is not a synonym for agreement. Peace is a quality of stillness and acceptance. When we can stop placing our mind’s conditions of peace onto the world, then we can be at peace. When we can let go of the grip we have on our own agenda and find a deeper trust in our lives that is bigger than anything we could have imagined, then we are entertaining peace. We don’t “fight” for peace. In peace, there is no againstness. Peace does not exist when something else stops existing. Peace is in the stillness that is already here. Are you listening for it? Are you able to let go when things don’t go the way you want? It’s hard, I know. We get so invested in our plans and our hopes for ourselves and for others. We get confused and we think that we are being loving. What if loving was much simpler? What if there was no effort in loving, as loving just…..is? Peace.
Orienting ourselves towards peace and loving helps us navigate from an empowered and uplifted state. Imagine, every morning, taking a moment to refocus on your loving nature. Imagine taking a breath, or two, or ten, that was only devoted to peace, to stillness. How might this small activity shift things for you? How might you choose differently in your morning routine? What would stay the same?
It’s simple. Not easy. There are many distractions. And the distractions are not going anywhere, and likely will become more compelling. Bringing down inflammation is very much about choosing healthy foods, and it is also about soothing what is inflamed within us. When we attend to the fight within than we are really making progress for our own wellness. So how do you do that?
We have to give up the luxury of thinking the problem lies outside of us. Catch yourself when you blame them, or him, or her, or anything external for being the problem. Instead, turn your gaze inward. The answer to your discontent does not lie outside of you. Peace is not about managing your reality into a fragile harmony. It is about soothing the conflict within.
Where is your inner conflict?
Where are you judging yourself?
Where are you pressuring yourself?
Where are you suppressing your feelings?
When are you telling yourself you are unsafe, unlovable, no good, a failure? How are you hard on yourself?
The willingness to explore this terrain is critical.
What is also critical is the willingness to let go of the inner conflict.The idea that letting go of all the ways you control and manage yourself with judgments, criticism and fear will most certainly lead to you being out of control and worse off than you are now is how fear maintains its grip on you. We must challenge this kind of thinking, and start to consider what it might be like to trust in yourself.
Trust is essential and many of us early on had reasons not to trust. I get it. Me too. And so the journey back into trust becomes all the more worthwhile. It is possible to stop living in fear. Fear of messing up, saying the wrong thing, getting fat, being rejected or abandoned. Yup, all that is there. For most of us. And it does not have to rule you. It does not have to be your boss. Consider that everything so far in your life has brought you right to this very moment. Right to the place where you are starting to consider that you are worth more than you thought you were. Consider that every hardship has been in service to your own awakening into a deeper understanding of yourself. You can trust yourself and you can trust your life.
Everything in your life, on the micro and macro levels, is working for you.Every disturbance, irritant, discontent, is grist for the mill. It is a stepping stone for you to reach deeper into yourself than ever before, past all the pressuring and judging and attachments. The world is for your own liberation. Liberation is the opposite of control. Beyond liberation lies peace.
Use your lifetime to find your own liberation. I believe this is what deeply serves the world. More so than our anger and our cynicism ever could. It is exciting to me to think of where your liberation might lead you. What might you create? How might you treat yourself and others? Ultimately we each have the opportunity to genuinely love our lives and love ourselves. So cultivate peace from the inside out. Do whatever it takes and then observe the changes in yourself and the world. Then tell us all about it.
You may have heard the term “adrenal fatigue” or “adrenal burnout.”
These terms are meant to describe a physiological situation in which the systems designed to help us respond and deal with stress become compromised. The adrenal glands, which sit atop our kidneys, secrete a hormone called cortisol when we are experiencing any form of stress. Cortisol helps shift things physiologically (such as suppressing digestion, fertility and blood circulation and turning on fight, flight and flee mechanisms) to that we can “survive” the stress at hand. This is an incredible system for us surviving acute stressful situations. However, chronic stress over time is not conducive to long-term health. When cortisol is chronically high, or even chronically low (which can happen after too much output over too long of a time) we suffer for it.
Possible symptoms of adrenal fatigue, or what is more accurately termed hypothalamic pituitary axis (HPA) dysfunction, can mimic other symptoms of chronic illness. HPA dysfunction, turns out is not simply about fatigued adrenals, but about a delicate interplay of hormones and feedback systems within the brain that becomes maladaptive. It is highly recommended to work with a skilled practitioner and get accurate testing done in order to identify any issues with your HPA axis. However, it can be reasonably assumed that if you suffer from any kind of chronic illness, addressing the health and functioning of your HPA axis is a critical must for regaining your health.
In addition to testing, if you suffer from any of the following, it may indicate as well an HPA dysfunction:
You may find this resource on HPA dysfunction helpful for exploring the above in more depth.)
There are multiple causes for HPA dysfunction and some of those we have control over and others we do not. One huge factor is disrupted circadian rhythms, and disrupted sleep. Therefore, a powerful step one can take to address HPA dysfunction and begin reducing symptoms is to start prioritizing sleep by getting enough sleep and getting good quality sleep.
Lets look at some ways you can start to make small changes that will have big impacts on your quality of sleep, which in turn will support your overall health.
(Read more about healthy sleep and why it is important here.)
Not only can adequate sleep help resolve any dysfunction in your HPA (your stress response) but it can also be restorative in areas you wouldn’t think about.
When our bodies perceive chronic stress and have a lowered resilience to stress (due to HPA dysfunction) it will shut down, or limit its resources in areas of the body not necessary for immediate survival. This includes the digestive system, reproductive system, and detox systems. Circulation of life giving blood gets limited and rationed. Getting enough quality sleep, regularly, can not only provide you with more energy and brain function during the day but can also improve your ability to absorb essential vitamins and nutrients (which in turn help you look and feel your best), can increase your libido and nourish your intimate relationships (good sex is good for you!), and also supports you getting out toxins which we are exposed to every single day (additives in foods, chemicals in our buildings, furniture, water and air). All in all, supporting our critical need for sleep lays a powerfully strong foundation for health and wellness that will positively inform the quality of your life.
Food is a basic, primal, essential component of our lives.
It plays a role in our personal and cultural history. It informs our biology and genetic expression. It triggers powerful memories and holds negative and positive associations. It has a strong place in the rituals of our seasons, and our day to day lives. Food provides us with a wealth of sensation, pleasure, creativity, nutrients, health, energy, and metaphor.
The choices we make around food are powerful indicators of our relationship to self, namely our attunement with our own needs, our sense of self-worth, our sense of lack and security, our experience of empowerment or disempowerment, and even our relationship with our mothers!
Our behaviors around food can highlight the inner experiences, beliefs, or feelings that are driving us. Most of the time, these are unconscious to us. Food is primal and has been apart of our lives from the beginning. Literally as our bodies were forming within our mothers’ wombs we are being nourished by the foods she ate and those flavors and nutrients and even smells were coming in through the placenta and building a foundation for our own relationship with food. Breastmilk by mom is mutable and shifting to meet baby’s needs from morning to night and throughout the months of nursing. Formula is not mutable, but static in its composition, only the amount given changes for baby.
Solid foods are introduced in the container of our relationship to our caregivers and family of origin. Are meal times pleasurable for baby? Or stressful? Is baby given appropriate foods at the appropriate developmental stage? The stress of a meal can be internal (too much food, too complex, too soon; or not enough food) or it can be external (is there tension in the family? Does it feel safe to baby to explore food with mouth and fingers?)
Family meals can lay additional foundations as children grow up. Is there enough food? Is poverty an issue? Do family members get along? How is food viewed in the family? Is the family mindlessly eating in front of the television and not talking to one another directly? Is there a shared meal from which everyone partakes? Is the children’s food separate from the adults? Is the food beautiful? Tasty? A celebration? A chore?
The culture has its role as well. Eat more of this, less of that. This food will kill you, this food will save you. Lose weight. Gain weight. Try and attain an ever shifting and impossible ideal by controlling your relationship with food and your body. Women and men are subjected to this onslaught. We are all told to be beautiful according to media’s standards, which have nothing to do with being healthy, or culturally diverse.
As we grow up we experience life and as a result of our experiences we make decisions. We decide whether we are lovable or not, whether we are safe, whether we are worthy of love and kindness by others, whether to hide our bodies or exploit them to get what we need, whether we belong or don’t belong and how we feel about all of it. This is normal, to make such decisions. We are human. Life is messy and we are all doing the very best we can.
One day, though, you can begin to take stock. You can begin to reflect and notice your behaviors and investigate what decisions you did make about yourself. And sure it may have seemed logical at the time. But those limiting beliefs are not serving you anymore. Believing you are unlovable, leads only to being unlovable. When we can forgive ourselves for believing that, with understanding and compassion for how we drew such a conclusion, then we are free to investigate being lovable. And if we are lovable, than it follows that we are also worthy of great care and consideration. The person who can best supply that care and consideration? It’s you.
Here are 8 key points when it comes to using food as a gateway:
It is so easy right now to look at the state of the world, or the current reality and see problems that need fixing.
Politics depends on this viewpoint; all the candidates rallying on the fact that things are terrible and will only be better if “I” am in charge. Now, I am all for being realistic and making practical changes. However, I’d like to invite us to look under the surface of action, at mindset. Our mindset refers to the state of our minds, or perspective, as we look, assess, or make sense of things. Mindset is how we approach a situation. It includes our biases, our personal filters, our cultural lens. Without digging too deep into this rich territory, let’s keep it somewhat simple and talk about a very common mindset, which is the mindset of judgment. When we judge we decide, often automatically, if something is right or wrong. Judgment is great friends with black and white thinking.
Now it gets confusing, when folks want to argue that some things definitely are wrong. Like child abuse for example, or animal cruelty, or poverty and homelessness. Again, I am for positive action and change to address such things. However, I am suggesting that we can be more productive in transforming reality, when we are willing to drop the judgment that things are not as they should be. Indeed, whenever we want anything to be different than it currently is, we create suffering for ourselves. This happens easily as we look at world affairs, but also at the state of our relationships, marriages, health, bank accounts, physical image, wardrobe, cars, homes, the list goes on and on. We are encouraged to compare and come up short on so many things, because then we get motivated to buy things, do things, vote in order to address our own needs for change. But what if change happened more readily when we first can simply accept what is? Accept the current reality, whatever it is. I’m not saying you have to be happy about it, or even love it, but just accept it. It’s what’s happening. First and foremost, when we engage with anything by first accepting, rather than immediately wanting to or trying to change it, we are first present, and able to connect more authentically with what is.
Coming from a place of always trying to change a thing is exhausting and limits our ability to see clearly from the get go.
Again, we are so encouraged to do this and to see deficits and deficiencies everywhere. We get a sense of identity from it, an identity that cares or achieves or advocates. It can be really scary to consider dropping the mindset of judgment, because we might be afraid of losing a battle, or losing ground, or being seen as apathetic, passive, or uncaring.
Consider that we can put all of our caring and education to work and make positive changes from a place of acceptance.
We can be at peace first with what is, and then move forward from there, from a place of inspiration and hope and loving, rather than anger and judgment. Our actions then become nourishing and fulfilling actions, rather than a depleting and ongoing fight. In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle puts it this way: “Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.”
It is a nourishing act for ourselves and all of those in our reality to choose into a loving approach, and let go of the fight.
Fighting begets more fighting. Loving begets change. Complex issues appear to need complex solutions, but I am going to suggest the opposite is true, that lasting change results from simple interventions. Taking a break before an argument escalates, doing what it takes to “cool down” from heated interactions, giving yourself the gift of a pause. Reminding yourself that you don’t have to convince anyone of anything. You can let go. You can let go and continue on doing what you know you need to do, following your inspirations and dreams.
Ultimately, you can just be yourself, and in that process discover how dynamic and evolving you can be. Freedom lies in change, not in rigidly holding onto our positions about things, but in cooperating with what life hands us, and using everything to grow and lift ourselves up. The disturbing things in life often provide us with the most momentum for our own growth. We just need to be willing to be present and accept our own reactions first, to better understand ourselves rather than trying to change something or someone else. That kind of self-reflection can make all the difference between feeling empowered and inspired, versus feeling like a victim and depressed. Consider that everything in your life is helping you to wake up to a new level of loving that is inside of you. Consider that there is more to what we see than we can possibly know. Consider that there is a greater process going on, and that process also includes you and your own growth.
Here are 5 steps that can take this deep process and make it something doable in our day to day.
These are things that I do to shift myself out of judgment and back into loving, back into acceptance so that I am doing my very best to live from that loving place and not perpetuating the “fight” inside of me, or out. Ultimately, when we talk about healing, this concept is very core. This is changing from the inside out. This is stress management. This is about creating positive change for yourself without having to make anyone or anything else different.
5 Step Loving Plan
Tuning in and listening to the way we relate to ourselves is a way to honor this relationship.
Responding to the messages of our mind, body, and emotions is a way to build trust and hope that we can meet our own needs and persevere through challenges with resilience. For the sake of this dialogue, let’s assume again that most of us have from time to time ignored the signals from ourself and continued with a behavior, or activity, or relationship that really wasn’t working for us.
Making the choice to become conscious and commit to our own wellness is making the choice to listen and do our best to respond appropriately to our own messages. As we do this more and more, we build the skill of listening and realize that the messages become subtler and subtler. The journey continues to evolve as we evolve. In other words, there is no static end or destination of finally getting it right. It is an ongoing practice of checking in with ourselves, taking the time to be in relationship with ourselves and being willing to hear our own feedback.
Sometimes this is difficult, I get it. Even as I am committed to listening to myself and do hear the feedback from my body and my moods, I don’t always necessarily want to hear it. Its at these times, when the temptation to override caring with wanting is strong, that we really have an opportunity to strengthen that inner muscle, so to speak, of choosing to value ourselves. Its when the idea of getting our way seems more important than our health, that we are most at risk of undermining our own worth. And this is the habit worth interrupting because no matter how delicious or “fun” or whatever, the thing or action is, let’s be honest, it comes with a price when it is not truly aligned with what we really need.
Another level of communication, or expression, is our feelings and emotions.
How do you respond to your feelings when you are feeling them?
Do you notice your feelings at all?
Can you name them?
Do they make sense to you?
Some feelings may be more comfortable to feel than others, such as happiness, or a feeling of love or being loved. I find it quite easy to feel content, for example. Other feelings, such as anger, sadness, or jealousy can often be harder to discern because we may believe that it isn’t ok to feel those things. This can lead to a more general sense of feeling “upset” and maybe not even knowing why. Paying attention to our feelings as they arise, by listening and honoring their message (their communication) to us can help guide us to getting to know ourselves better, from what we need, to what works for us, and what needs to be expressed.
The body has another level of communication that is more recently being understood and respected as a message of health.The aches and pains of our body can give us great insight into our physical needs. For example, if you spend a day traveling by air or car and sitting for a long period of time in one place, the next day you might notice feeling some aches and tightness in the body from that lack of mobility the day before. A natural response to this “information” would be to move around, maybe go for a walk or do some light stretching to give the body what it needs to feel good. Discomfort in the body is more often a sign to pay attention to something that needs tweaking, rather than a sign we need to take some pain relievers and continue doing what we’ve been doing.
While it is important to develop autonomy for wellness, it is a delicate construction, especially if we have been significantly hurt in the past.
It is easy to swing too far into a stoic independence, which can really be a masked rebellion towards an experience of authority in our past that wasn’t so kind or nurturing. It is critical to understand that true autonomy is free from rebellion, and will point us in the direction of relationships that reinforce what we are discussing here.
In other words, as much as we need autonomy in health, we also need each other. Others provide new insights, and can reflect to us areas in our self and our own lives that we might still be missing, or flat out ignoring. It would be contraindicated to promote the idea that anyone of us should be tackling our health needs and goals on our own. This is often a sure way to get lost in the “information” and develop new rules to live by to keep us safe, or right, or free from whatever it is that we fear. Truly, our relationships in all their joy and discomfort help guide us ever more into self-awareness.
Indeed, from birth, it is by being in relationship that we learn anything about who we are, and what the world is to us. Certainly be discerning about the relationships you choose, and remember most of all to always be in relationship with yourself foremost.
As we give attention to ourselves in this way, with our neutral curiosity and inquiry, we invite the self to emerge. As we get to know ourselves even more fully, and we merge this awareness with the growing and evolving knowledge regarding health and wellness, we reach exciting territory. We begin to design in a dynamic way, a lifestyle (including diet), and way of approaching life that is unique to our own individual make up. We participate fully in creating a reality that is for our benefit and actualization, and places our wellness at the heart of that reality, so that all of our creations flow from our health and thus sustain it.