The media engines are ramping up hard around this swine flu thing, can you hear the hum? Having worked on assignment desks in TV newsrooms, I can tell you first hand, this is exactly the kind of story the media loves because it creates the perfect reason for people to tune in: fear.
That’s why it’s SO important to stay grounded in the truth. Granted, I’m not booking tickets to Cabo any time soon, nor am I planning any trips to the Baja petting zoo. But it’s important to keep our heads here, and a focused perspective on the truth: YOU control your health, and no body else.
In the words of the immortal Public Enemy, Don’t believe the Hype.
It doesn’t matter what’s going on ‘out there,’ because your mind controls your body, and your spirit controls your mind. What does that really mean? It means your spirit, the part of you that holds your mind and body together, the essense of who you are, the driving force behind your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, is what really controls your mind. And if you think you are going to get sick, guess what? You already are.
If the spirit falls into fear, the mind becomes erratic and over active, causing the body to lose its sense of well being and balance. When the mind is strong and clear, the body can function perfectly to serve as the machinery that puts into actions your thoughts.
Because what you think becomes your reality. Thought precedes form. That is why it is SO important to be aware of what you are thinking.
There are three ways I know of to increase your awareness: yoga, meditation and journaling. Through these three activities I am able to become the observer of my thoughts. By observing my thoughts I can eliminate the ones that do not serve me and replace them with thoughts that reflect my desires. That is called being your own alchemist: converting your ‘lead,’ (undesired thoughts) into ‘gold’ (desired thoughts).
Did you know that we have an average of 60,000 thoughts a day? And, check this, did you know that 99% of the 60,000 thoughts we have today are the same thoughts we had yesterday? The mind gets into a mental groove. Unless we consciously pick the wheels up and set them on a new groove we are destined to re-drill the same thoughts over and over.
Habitual thought becomes more frequent as we age. That’s why it is important to cultivate grounding habits while we are younger. Those habits will keep us vital if we allow them to follow us into old age. Here are a few guidelines on how you can start your own practice of observing and then learning how to control and choose your thoughts wisely, which is the best way for the body to stay healthy.
Find yourself a timer, could be a kitchen timer or even a watch, something that will allow you to set a boundary for how long you are going to sit. A timer is helpful because by setting it to ring, it unhooks you from the concept of time and gives your mind that much more freedom. If you are just starting to practice, five minutes is a good place to start.
Choose a comfortable place to sit in a quiet space, no TV or radio. Turn off the telephone, or make the commitment not to answer if it rings. Set your timer for your desired time frame, and close your eyes and take a deep breath. Start by focusing on your breath, and try not to think about anything. Now, it’s impossible not to think about anything and as soon as you try to, a bizillion thoughts will emerge! When this happens, don’t criticize or judge, gently observe the thought and then let it go, watch it pop like a bubble or maybe floating like a leaf down a stream — and then go back to focusing on your breath.
Let your mind start to feel the inner peace you carry, and let that peace remind you that your mind is powerful beyond your own understanding. This exercise will help your mind remember that it controls your body, and eventually it will create a wonderful place for you tap into your spirit, which is what controls the mind.
The practice of yoga is actually designed to bring about a state of meditation. If you practice yoga you will start to experience this feeling right away. The asanas (or yoga poses), were documented by yogic teachers (sutras and vedas) many thousands of years ago by observing what the animals did when they became ill. That’s right, the animals gave us yoga, because all sentient beings inherintly know how to heal themselves.
We are no different.
We just have to get still and quiet long enough to become conscious of the information.
The best way to practice yoga if you are just starting out is with a skilled teacher. If you feel your immune system is weak or that you may be on the edge of coming down with something, you can practice the restorative poses, which have been shown scientifically to increase T cell count — your fighter cells.
Journaling is such a great way to free yourself from judgment. Simply sit quietly someplace with paper and pen, and let your self go. You may at first become aware of your audience (yourself), or who may find the book and read it. But try to free yourself from other’s eyes and allow yourself to just ‘spew.’ After you finish (you will feel a sense of elation and freedom once you’ve let something go on paper), you may want to put it down and return to it later to observe what you wrote.
It’s in the obersvation phase that you can then start to practice your alcehmy: what is here that i don’t want? What do I want to change in terms of any hidden beliefs, thoughts or feelings that I may be carrying? Give yourself permission to write in your journal whenever you want to — it doesn’t have to be every day. You will be amazed at what you learn about yourself, and what you are carrying. It is a wonderful tool for self-awareness.