There are ideals and there are realities when it comes to health. We almost all know how profoundly different our lives could be if we ate right, exercised regularly, and rested when required. But life happens. We have soaring, sparkling goals but our ability to follow-through can fall short – the realities of social gatherings, packed work schedules, and life-long less-than-ideal living habits make health a true hurdle.
So the question stands, how do we make health happen without making ourselves inflexible or insane in the process? How do we find balance between holding ourselves accountable for necessary growth and transformation, and simultaneously allow space for spontaneity and enjoyment. Our reality is that what we set out to do isn’t always as easy to accomplish as we might think. In effect, we must find balance in the search for balance itself. Let’s explore some simple steps to making health happen in your life!
1. Commit: Intentions & Accountability
How would you feel if you were to accomplish your health goals? What is it that you’d like to cultivate in life in general and what are the smaller goals you have to do to get there? Is it a sense of physical strength? Peace of mind? Focus and clarity? You create your reality. Let your mind dream of the beauty you yourself can create with right intention and focus. Draw, write, or confide in a safe person to help hold you accountable if you hit a rough patch down the road.
2. Organize: Get Detailed, Get Crafty
How many of you have run out eagerly for a new supplement, spice or herbal product only to find it unopened in the back of your cabinet months later? Our set-up for success is almost as vital a component as doing the practice or taking the product itself! Here are some simple execution tips to propel you towards your goals:
~ THE GAME PLAN
Decide on each component of your health plan and write it up! Even a detailed chart, specifying what time you plan to do each aspect of your health regimen can be vital when you start out. Committing to this kind of structure at first will make things easier later on. If art is your thing, let it be a craft project, and enjoy the practice of planning!
~ IN PLAIN SIGHT
Out of sight out of mind? It can be an unnecessary hurdle to achieve our health goals if our tools are hidden away. Keep your supplies at the ready! If it’s an awareness/meditation/breathing routine, carve out a small, quiet space to practice. If it’s an herbal protocol, keep a basket of your daily herbs/products out in plain sight! If you’re working with new ingredients and food choices keep those in immediate view in your cabinets, while your treats or junk food of the past get tossed or moved to the back! The power of suggestion is great – let the eyes feast on what the body needs.
~ IT’S ABOUT TIME
So many of our health imbalances originate from a simple lack of time given to our own care. Sit down with The Game Plan you or your practitioner have laid out and schedule in time to accomplish what you’ve set out to do. Does it take 15 minutes to do that brief yoga sequence? Or 10 to brew and sip your herbal tea in the morning? Make sure to factor this in to your morning routine. Set alarms, on your computer or phone for those tasks, especially the hard-to-remember ones.
3. Routine: Your Home Away From Home
In Ayurveda dinacharya, is one’s daily routine, and according to Dr. Vasant Lad of the Ayurvedic Institute is “absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind and consciousness.” Routine “regularizes a person’s biological clock, aids digestion, absorption and assimilation, and generates self-esteem, discipline, peace, happiness, and longevity.” Dinacharya creates a container in which you can factor in each of your new health routines – anything from herbal protocols, spiritual practices, and exercise to ‘free time’ or ‘creative time’. The best part? Our routine can travel with us anywhere, giving us the comfort of home in the encasement of ourselves.
4. What’s Flex? What’s Fluid?
When we embark on a new health journey it’s important to hold ourselves accountable to our most influential goals. Which of our tasks are NON-NEGOTIABLE for the rest of our objectives to fall into place? Start simple. Is it that 10pm bedtime? Taking our herbal formula first thing in the morning? Can you be flexible about your diet on the weekends if you’ve remained committed during the week? Decide what is absolute and what is fluid. When you’ve paved a firm foundation, you can always layer on additional goals.
5. Clean Body, Clear Focus
Sometimes the mere thought of change is enough to send us into a panic. “What if we fail?”, “I’m not ready”,”It’s too hard.” Doubt prevails. The truth is that the mentality itself can be quickly shifted with a few basic cleansing measures. Our tools? Triphala. Nasya. Journaling. Hydration. Sleep.
Triphala is a detox herb in Ayurveda that can be used safely for nearly anyone – it promotes regularity in elimination, supports healthy digestion, and is a natural antioxidant. It’s a gentle detoxification measure that can create a profound shift in our everyday energy and clarity. More info on triphala here.
Nasya is the nasal administration of medicated oils. It delivers its mind cleansing and rejuvenating properties directly across the blood-brain barrier to nourish the brain. Taking a nasya oil in the morning helps open and clear the mind, allowing for the successful follow-through of your health goals. Learn more about nasya options here.
Journaling helps expose your hopes, fears, hesitations, excitements and miscellaneous thoughts on paper. Simply “detoxing” our minds through the written word can be a fantastic way to understand ourselves and move our mental road blocks aside. Sometimes the simple expression of thought through writing can be enough to rid them from our reality. After writing, rip it up and throw it away.
Hydration. There’s no simpler way to detox than drinking the appropriate amount of water. Depending on your body-type, activity level and environment you should be sipping anywhere from 6-10 cups of water/day.
Sleep. Rest is our most neglected path to health and rejuvenation. Are you sleeping during the hours that most help your body to reset? Ayurveda says that Pitta (the fire element of our constitution or metabolic capacity) is most active from the hours of 10pm-2am. If we don’t rest during this period we risk blowing out that fire. So get to bed! Commit to at least 7 hours of sleep/night and shift those hours to the earlier evening.
According to a 2007 NHIS survey, 83 million U.S. adults spent $33.9 billion on out-of-pocket visits to Complementary and Alternative Medicine practitioners and purchases(citation), each with a simple question in their hearts: How do I find health? As we’ve explored, the question is mosaicked in execution yet unified in its singular answer.
We must ask ourselves, outside our newly birthed health routines: Who am I? It is a question one we can only hope to answer through delving deeply, slowly, and quietly within ourselves. Allow for space, reflection, and solitude and our answers cannot help but surface under still waters.