I have recently finished grading papers for the college course I teach. I always look forward to reading what the students have to say around patterns they have discovered about themselves, along with how it is that the techniques we have been practicing are making a difference in their lives. They always surprise me. Sometimes it is because I get to see a side of a student that I did not see in class. At other times I am awed by their desire to change, and by how committed and creative they can be when given a little guidance.
At the beginning of each semester, I tell them that what we will be doing together, more often than not, will be both simple, and incredibly obvious. So simple and obvious, in fact, that it is easy to miss or discount its power. Based on their initial responses, I have sometimes gotten the sense that there are those who believe me to be the village idiot; some naive fool believing that we can be healthy, connected and expressed in this lifetime. Some of them even outright admit to as much.
But I will tell you that after more than a decade of working with students in this way, I am more convinced than ever that what it takes for us to live our lives well is indeed quite simple, and extraordinarily obvious. Not easy, but absolutely available to each and every one of us. However, because we as a culture have become so accustomed to making things more complicated than they need to be, along with our proclivity to believe that the fix exists outside of ourselves, what I am proposing here can feel anywhere from naive to downright dangerous. It is neither.
You would be astonished by the number of students who shift or resolve longstanding mental, emotional and physical conditions and issues through the simple tending to obvious and straightforward needs in body, mind and spirit. It is inspiring to read of changes in anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic attacks, digestive disorders, self-esteem issues, relational problems and more. And over the years of working and re-working what I offer and what I have witnessed and experienced myself, I have come to know that until the following conditions are met, not only will health and happiness elude us, but we will not know what we are dealing with when out of balance and will, therefore, be left pursuing the wrong “fix.” The following is what I know to be true.
Every day you must:
Breathe fully and deeply.
Eat whole, clean, fresh foods that have been prepared and eaten in a loving and stress-free way in a relaxed environment.
Get all the sleep and rest your body needs. Every day.
Move in ways that feel great to you, letting go of the numbers, the gadgets, the “shoulds” and the experts.
Find ways to recognize, challenge and re-work negative, habitual and conditioned thinking.
Associate with those people who have your best interests at heart, who are doing interesting things, and who lift you up.
Do work that is meaningful to you and that allows you to express your reason for being here.
Consider more than yourself and your own life.
Sense into, align with and live by your Connection to Something More than yourself.
Slow down. Sit down. Listen.
Profoundly simple and profoundly challenging to get to, but get to we must if we wish to fully live.