How To Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes The Mind-Body Way
Coming from where I’m from…
There’s an outdated rap song that sheds light on the hardships of inner-city life, gangs, etc. The song is called, ‘Coming from where I’m from’. It’s about how difficult it is to do differently than what your environment portrays. The rapper is trying to better himself, but there’s obvious obstacles:
Sitting here, guess I didn’t make bail
Got time and a story to tell
Started when I was nine years old
Woke up and daddy was gone
I started hustling and they couldn’t tell me nothing
Fronting in the hood, trying to be somebody
My soul was on empty
I was searching for something
Tried to be good
Tried to keep from trouble
Living too fast
Trying to make good on a hustle
Sometimes it gets rough
Comin’ from where I’m from, I’m from
Times got hard
Comin’ from where I’m from, I’m from
I’m not trying to turn this post into a discussion on social issues, but there’s a lot of preaching in our society about how people can better themselves despite their environment and upbringing yet any one of us who has tried to make a lifestyle change knows deep down how difficult it truly is.
You may not understand the woman who stays in an abusive relationship, but it’s all she’s ever known. She was abused by her father and her mom’s boyfriend too. You can’t fathom why a 9yr old kid joins a gang, but that’s equivalent to survival in his environment. And both of his older brothers belong to the same gang.
No matter where you live, who you call your crew or how your circumstances unfold, the default way to be is constantly responding to your environment rather than the other way around.
Feeling powerless to your environment can also look like someone who wants to eat healthier but their spouse brings home donuts (true story) or you want to take care of yourself but there’s too many obligations calling your name and in the meantime you’ve lost the essence of who you are (been there, done that). Your job sucks the soul out of you…and you keep going (pretty sure I got the t-shirt, the mug, and the company pen for that one).
How do you rise above your environment?
You have to have a healthy mindset before you make healthy lifestyle changes, but where does that healthy mindset come from?
If your environment seems to get the better of you it’s time to put your intention and attention on a different “environment”. YOU! Your internal environment consists of your mind, body and spirit. This is the mindset shift you need!
The inner-city kid who chooses differently than his external environment imagined better opportunities for himself. He rose above. His environment didn’t change. He did because he focused inward.
Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to to create it.”
This is what it’s like to commit to a new lifestyle until the rest of your environment starts to take shape and reflect your desired changes.
In a way, it’s a relief. You’re off the hook!
No more orchestrating the world around you or everyone else for that matter; you only have to manage yourself. Do me a favor. Admit it right now, at some point you’ve tried controlling everything around you believing that will assist you with finally making the lifestyle changes you want.
Truth is, you can only control yourself, not other people, not your environment, and certainly not the world.
It may seem like everything else needs to change before you do. That’s a mind-trick.
In fact that’s what is most overwhelming about change. People believe they have to stress over changing and rearranging all these external uncontrollable details.
Ever been on a diet and the nutrition guru suggests throwing out all unhealthy food in your kitchen? That’s giving power over to your environment, because ummm…drive-thru’s. It’s very common for junk food to be offered anywhere at any time, especially in the U.S., is it not?
Just because it isn’t in your kitchen doesn’t mean it can’t be in your mouth in less than 5 minutes as you hop in your car and drive a mere two minutes away to your nearest junk food provider. Don’t wait around for this junky environment with alternating junk food and prescription med commercials to change.
And if you ARE someone who doesn’t eat junk food then no problem, it probably wouldn’t be in your house anyway, because that’s not who you are or are creating.
Focus on the environment which is you, within you!
You have an ENTIRE WORLD inside of you; mind, body, emotions, and spirit.
From there to here…
It took me years from crash and burn to learning another way of living. Since I’m an Empath , I recognized and responded to all the needs around me. I made it a habit to put everyone else first, to work like a horse with no name, to give my 210% even when I had little sleep and nothing in reserves.
I became low maintenance because the people around me were high maintenance…or as I now know, the people around me became high maintenance because I let it get to that point. I was putting myself last and making myself low maintenance. They were simply responding to the environment I created.
I became a lower version of myself.
The environment was my master.
My mind, body, and spirit were drained.
I realize you can’t just retreat to the hills for hardcore meditation, but if you are healing from major lifestyle blunders or ill health it does require a certain amount of “isolation”. The “isolation” I’m referring to is focusing on your inner world enough for you to begin making choices that are right for YOU without too much external input and regularly imagining alternate possibilities, which far surpass your environment now.
Out of balance:
There was a time when I was foolish enough to think “balance” only came in the form of the work/family type, which leads to exhaustion.
I thought working 50 hours/week, loving on my kids, fulfilling my husband’s needs, and getting food on the table was balance.
This idea of balance requires you to control and manage everything outside of you. You’re checking in with your external life to see if you’ve checked all the boxes…and this is balance?! Wrong!
Balance is not about how well you can control everything outside of you. It is the beginning of mastering “self” (mind-body-spirit) so that your perspective of your actions and environment change.
There is no work-family-life balance; there is only mind-body-spirit balance…and the rest works itself out.
How do you know if you are out of balance?
Chronic busy-ness. I’m not talking about being busy from time to time (life happens), but I’m referring to busy-ness as the norm. When everything has to be just right. You’ll surely go nuts if you don’t tend to those last little details, right?! Spoiler alert. There’ll be more details to stress about right before bed.
Busy-ness is what it looks like when you are responding to your environment.
If I were to redefine chronic busy-ness as being a task-hoarder, it might change your tune.
Perhaps one day you may discover your chronic busy-ness was a series of strategies in order to not deal with uncomfortable feelings and emotions. Puts a new spin on things right?!
Your mind and body are also out of sync if you try to think positively but feel negatively.
Have you ever tried to have a positive thought and grunted all the way through it like the little train that could? When you commit to a mind-body lifestyle, you don’t have to ‘fake it to make it’!
A New Lifestyle
Yourself: While on a healthier journey, your life may not resemble the average person around you. That’s what I love about meditation- the constant reminder to not judge my experiences in or out of meditation. Your journey won’t look like my journey.
The other buzz kill is when we don’t feel right about the changes we’re making. Any new and different change can feel strange at first. What has felt right for years led to our distress or unhappiness.
It can get messy sometimes when you approach lifestyle changes from the inside out…clearing out the cobwebs in the attic.
Support: Friends, co-workers, and family might not support your new lifestyle. Society, in general isn’t exactly a picture of great health and happiness. It’s in a crisis of ill health; chronic busy-ness, chronic illness and a chronic loss of purpose and fulfillment. I’ve been aboard all of those trains. It all falls into the category of external environment and that won’t be the best gauge on how to live anyway. Luckily, it isn’t a gauge at all. You are!
Although, you’ll find that your environment will begin to shift when you do. As you discover with a mind-body-spirit lifestyle the best gauge is YOU and that brings me to the first step in implementing an improved lifestyle.
The First Step
The first two steps tie in together to produce one desired result. Clarity!
If you don’t have it, you’re lost and highly dependent on everyone and everything in your environment to give you feedback. Clarity helps you know why you’re doing what you’re doing or what to do next when you’re shifting your lifestyle.
Body: You can’t be clear if your diet is mucky and your thoughts are clouding your brain. I suggest simple, whole foods. I won’t suggest specific ones; only eliminating the fog by eliminating the ingredients that aren’t quite clear to you what the hell they are. The things cloud up your best thinking.
I don’t care if you want gluten or dairy or meat. All I suggest is discarding the preservatives, packaged, and processed junk that cloud your clarity. In addition, fatigue and brain fog is brought to you by sugar. Eliminate added sugar. Naturally occurring sugars such as honey and fruit are fine.
Mind and Spirit:
Hello! This is a meditation website so YES meditation unclogs your brain and frees your mind. It’s the #1 thing I recommend for getting your mind right! NO your thoughts won’t disappear or they’d sell it in stores next to pure gold 😉
If you’re a parent, I’ll use this analogy: You know better than your kids because you have insight and you have insight because you can predict consequences from all the experiences you’ve had and you also have the thinking and reasoning skills that come with age. Your constant thoughts are like your kids. You might have anxious thoughts- they are like monsters in the closet. As the parent, you know the monsters aren’t real. We have that insight while our kids may not. Kids believe all of their thoughts while parents know better.
Meditation helps you automatically develop a “parent” (mindfulness and a higher mind) for your “kids”(thoughts).
This allows you to chuckle a little at your unruly and disorderly thoughts that seem more like toddlers running naked across the lawn in broad daylight. We can correct the big stuff, but for the most part they’re just doing what they do best. Amusing isn’t it? Sit back and acknowledge those thoughts without being too disturbed.
This higher self also helps us discern between our environment and what is in our best interest.
How to develop your intuition:
Clarity opens the door to intuition and this is a must for lasting lifestyle changes. You can pay attention to your personal needs and wants much better when you engage your intuition.
Intuition is gained with regular check-in’s. Check in with yourself daily or weekly- cater it to your needs. I’ll bet you check in with others pretty consistently whether its a friend, your spouse or your boss.
You’ll be asking yourself mind-body-sprit questions daily so that you eventually build trust within yourself.
How is my body doing?
Do I have pain?
Am I experiencing aches somewhere?
Am I feeling rested or tired?
Energy? Recharged or drained?
What am I doing for self-care?
How is my mind doing?
Has my mood been level or unpredictable?
Am I experiencing more stress than usual?
Am I engaged in something or learning regularly?
Do I challenge myself or am I being mentally lazy?
How are my emotions?
How is my attitude?
Am I expressing myself?
Do I experience emotions regularly or suppress them?
How do I want to feel? (You can also write your answers in the form of affirmations)
How is my spirit doing?
Am I aware or living on autopilot?
Am I doing something interesting or creative enough to feel fulfilled?
Have I spent time alone? Solitude?
Do I belong somewhere? A sense of Community?
Am I being of service through my highest purpose?
Do I have spiritual rituals? Prayer? Meditation? Gratitude?
Do I need to forgive someone?
These questions will eventually become second nature and your compass/north star/gauge will be YOU, not your environment.
An exercise in balance:
The following exercise will involve evaluating the relationship between you and your environment currently- it will give you a closer look at how everything else has impacted you up until now, because now YOU impact your environment.
Make two columns…
Quick Tip: Be open to new things. There was a time when electricity was a reality in someone’s imagination and a joke to everyone else.
I’ve tried some new things that are out of place for someone who is a science major and science geek. However, nobody knows better than me how science has many shortcomings. Not everything has an explanation.
I’ve tried energy healing. I even took a course in it and loved it! Too long of a list to explain all the benefits it’s given me. I’ve learned about Chakras. I’ve been involved with hypnosis for many years. Sound therapy. Color therapy. Crystal therapy. Epigenetics. Transcendental meditation. There is valuable insight to be gained from many mind-body therapies.
Try not to judge your journey!
And finally…don’t view your internal world through the eyes of others. Sometimes we want to make internal changes only when they can be apparent to everyone else.
Don’t look for external gratification or feedback. It’s nice to receive it, and you will.
The ghetto doesn’t change, but the kids who choose wiser will never look back once they leave it for something better.
Peace and Be Well,