We all have that Aunt or Uncle who eats a horrible diet and yet lives to an old age. On the contrary, we may know someone who eats a 100% pure diet who is miserable and actually suffers from poor health. On of my teachers, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition founder Joshua Rosenthal, believes that one’s “primary food” is just as important as the food you put on your plate. Just like the food you digest you also “take in” experiences. Primary food is defined as your career, spirituality, relationships and physical activity. If your primary food suffers than so does your health. The better quality our primary food is the less we are likely to have poor “secondary” food. We become satisfied with our lives when we live “wholistically”.
One aspect of having good primary health is learning how to slow down. Our egos love the fast pace of a busy life. It makes us feel important and valued. We love to work hard. No one ever receives praise for working “softly”. Europeans take 4 weeks off a year. Americans are lucky to get 1 week off a year. It is no wonder we are so burnt out. If you find the idea of slowing down impossible take it a few steps at a time. See if any of these tips appeal to you:
- Try not to jump out of bed in the morning. Let your body adjust slowly, cup your eyes and then slowly move your hands away to let the natural light in. This is also a great anti-aging technique practiced by Kundalini yoga enthusiasts. Believe it or not, years of waking up squinting at the sun can actually cause wrinkles.
- Light incense or candles before dinner or while you are preparing dinner.
- Give yourself the gift of a short walk during the day.
- Savor your food. Eating slow is great for digestion and your waistline. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full.
- Eat real “fork and knife” meals instead of quick grab and go food.
- Once in a while take a bath instead of shower.
- Journal, especially in the morning as suggested by Julia Cameron, who wrote The Artist’s Way book series. By writing three whole pages each morning we begin to slow down and clear out our inner clutter.
- Can you cut out one thing this week out of your list of things to do?
- See how many times in a week you could turn off your phone.
- Can you exercise outside or somewhere beautiful?
- In our society we spend a lot of time staring at “glowing boxes” such as television sets and computer screens. See if you can spend some time away from both.
- Is there one thing you can delegate this week?
- Before you go to bed, think of five things you are grateful for.
- And lastly, the easiest way to be present and slow down is to practice breathing in and out for one full minute. If even this seems like a daunting task break it down, start with three good breathes and build from there.
I have a friend of mine who is a yoga instructor and she exudes sensual femininity. She never rushes but walks at a calm pace. Of course, she turns heads. Once I got a glimpse of myself in a reflection while I was walking like a crazy woman running errands. I looked stressed and anxious. What a good lesson that was for me to take my time and walk more glamorously.
If you need a little motivation think of yourself when you are calm. Is your posture better? Is your facial expression more serene? Honestly, we look a lot better and younger when we are calm. Have you ever made a poor decision while being in a hurry? What did this poor decision cost you? Did you have to spend more time to fix the problem? After all, we might as well enjoy the ride . . . slowly.