Food First is the title of this column because I firmly believe food is the foundation of health. Yet like all generalizations, it’s never that simple. Over the years, I have clearly seen the role our mind set plays in our health and wellbeing. Habitual patterns of behavior and mind states that do not serve us can be detrimental to our health. Most of the time, we aren’t aware how our mind set sabotages our efforts to be healthy.
Just as everyone needs to exercise regularly, everyone needs a regular routine to keep their mindset in shape.
I am a big fan of daily mindfulness meditation or centering prayer practice. Both methods cultivate the ability to clearly see what is going on in the body and the mind, that is, identify the habitual patterns and mind states that do not serve us and cultivate the ones that do. Both practices calm the body and mind. If there is one organ that characterizes Western culture is it the adrenal glands. However a body and mind running on adrenaline can’t restore and repair themselves or be introspective. They also eventually wear themselves out. These practices rest adrenals, giving our body and mind the space it need to heal and to see ourselves and our world more clearly. Try the Plum Village App to get started with mindfulness.
I also recommend yoga, Tai Chi or Chi Gong. I think of them as meditation or prayer in motion. Because of their emphasis on breathing, they too calm our tendency toward adrenal overdrive.
Hubby and I sit in mindfulness meditation for 30 minutes every morning. I add in 15 to 30 minutes of yoga. The fact that many CEOs meditate regularly is secret that’s recently getting out. It helps them more skillfully handle the challenges of their position, stay well and even manage chronic health problems. Watch this video interview of Mark Bertolini, former CEO of Aetna, about how his daily mindfulness and yoga practice helps him manage chronic pain after a ski accident, and how it’s changed the way he leads Aetna.
We also meditate with a group once a week. A synergy arises in group meditation that makes the practice easier and more powerful. We also discuss what is coming up for us in our practice and share how we have worked with similar situations in our own lives.
Once you clearly see patterns that aren’t working for you, how do you change them? The good news is usually awareness is enough. They change by themselves, all at once or in layers as deeper insight arises. However, if a pattern won’t budge, I recommend a process called Resonance Repatterning. It helps clear blockages and aligns you with more healthful patterns.