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Written by Tera on May 5, 2012 – -
- by HeatherAround here we can spend a lot of time talking about what we eat and how our food affects our general health and well-being. In today’s article, Heather discusses why sometimes the problem has nothing to do with what you’re eating, but what’s eating you!
In my previous posts, I mentioned my poor digestive state and my road to recovery. One of the major learning lessons in my journey was that I could make all the changes to my diet that I wanted, but I also had to assess if there were any deeper issues.
Digestive issues can arise when we’re stuffing down emotions (that’s right, it’s not just what food we’re stuffing down). When I met with the Ayurvedic nutritionist, she started asking me questions about everything digestion related. What the meal practices were, the relationships to food I had, my past experiences, and the relationship I had with those around me. It was really interesting for me, as certain questions would make me very emotional. I wasn’t exactly sure why at the time. The question now became “What’s eating me?” instead of “What am I eating?”
I had to figure out if there were emotions that I had stuffed down in the past, rather than effectively dealing with (and digesting) them. To do this, I started two practices. The first was journaling. I made a commitment to myself that I would write in my journal every day. At first I wasn’t really sure what to say, but as time went on, I found the most effective journaling sessions were when I didn’t think about what I was going to write and just wrote as fast as I could and as much as I could. My thoughts were all over the place but it helped to get them out on paper. For me, journaling was freeing. After writing, my mind feels clear and it’s as though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
Certainly, the job of the mind is to have thoughts and analyse things, however, in our world, with so much focus on efficiency and how much you can get done in a work day, many people have a lot of difficulty shutting the mind off (or at least turn it down a few notches!). As time passed, my relaxed state of mind after writing was addicting, that I sometimes started and ended my day with journaling. Although I struggled with setting enough time aside in the beginning, I found that my day was much more manageable because I was operating in a different state of mind. Do you feel like your mind is always on a treadmill? If so, journaling may be for you!
The second practice that I incorporated was a daily meditation practice. I had practiced in the past, but mostly in yoga classes. A personal meditation practice seemed daunting. However, after seeing the benefits from journaling, I was up for the challenge. I started small. I set my timer for five minutes, when the timer was done so was I. Five minutes sounds really fast, but when you’re not used to sitting quietly, it can seem like an eternity! After a few weeks, I craved more time and slowly increased the timer. If I had a frazzled day, I would sit quietly again before going to bed. This helped to signal to my brain that it was time to let the thoughts fade away to prepare myself for sleep. I found that journaling before meditation is really helpful with quieting the mind (less to think about while you’re sitting there!).
I know you’re probably thinking, how do I add one more thing into my day? But if you think you don’t have time for it, or if you’re scared of exploring your emotions, it’s likely what you need the most. Try setting aside 5-10 minutes a day and write down some of your thoughts, then sit quietly for a few moments, and come back to your breath. Focusing on deep, slow, rhythmic breathing, will change your outlook….I can guarantee it!
Find a comfortable position where physical discomfort will not distract you. Possible positions may include: sitting cross legged on the floor (sitting up tall, shoulders stacked over the hips to allow the breath to move freely), lying on your back with legs up the wall (additional benefit of bringing the blood flow towards the heart from the legs), or lying flat on the back. If you’re sitting cross-legged, you may want to elevate your sit bones by sitting on a pillow so your knees are below your hips (this will reduce any strain on your knees). Your hands can rest in your lap, on your knees, or on your belly. Most importantly, make sure your physical body is comfortable. Gently close your eyes, and allow yourself to relax.
Connect with your breath. Listen to your breath flowing in and flowing out, feel the rise and fall of your belly, your chest, and your ribs expanding and contracting in all four directions, front to back, side to side. As you inhale, breathe in feelings of peace, love, kindness and grace. As you exhale, feel yourself letting go. Letting go of your day, letting go of the mental chatter, letting go of any feelings of stress, or feelings of being unsettled. You may even say to yourself “I let go, I let go, I let go”.
When you are finished your meditation practice, you may close by saying a prayer (if that fits for you) or you may wish to end with what you are grateful for in life. Anything that makes the practice feel complete for you is absolutely perfect.
Are you ready to make time for the most important person in your life? Who? Yes YOU! You are worth it! What do you do to connect with your inner wise self, find the answers and stillness you need when you need it? We’ve love you to share your comments below!
Going for a walk and meditating get me back into communication with myself. This article makes me want to try journaling again! I struggled with it in the beginning because I didn’t know what to write or what to do with my writings. I think I can succeed with journaling if I view it as an outlet to get thoughts out of my brain and nothing more. Once I start to make it anything more than that, I feel pressure. I might start journaling tonight so thanks for the post