“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
This is your wake up call. We are in a health crisis in America and as you count down to 2016 with your cocktails and moistened lips ready to profess your new years resolutions…Take a moment to reflect on how crazy this all is—and we all are—as we watch the ball drop!
There is no resolution “out there” that can be achieved.
Learn from my mistakes. I have tried every health and wellness gimmick over the past 23 years. I started food combining at 16 (still a fan, but it’s too extreme for a 16-year-old), then developed an eating disorder, read every fad food book. Went from low carb, to vegan, to the problems with GMO, Gluten-Free, Sugar Free, eating for your blood type, having some nutritionist hook me up to a machine that “NASA uses” to tell me what supplements I needed, and what I was allergic too…everything.
And so, back to starving myself.
I also tried expanding my mind with drugs and sculpting my body with every new workout video. Then I got on the self help bandwagon improving my mind with books, degrees, certifications, etc…
I never found anything out there that made me skinner, happier, nicer, smarter, better lover, a better friend, more financially secure, more compassionate, more admired, more connected to people, or led me to God. No-Thing.
Note to self: Transformation cannot magically happen on January 1st simply by stating what you desire. Which is why everyone who makes a resolution will fail. Maybe in one month, maybe in 10 years, but you will fail. And who will love you then? More important than making a resolve is discovering what your story is.
Mine has been: Nobody will love me, everyone will leave me.
I will give you some methods by the end of this article that are useful for making change, getting on with the trip, but change cannot happen unless you know what obstacles you are placing in your own way. What is in your way of being happy now! If you are not happy at the starting line, you will not be happy at the finish line. If you can accept yourself and be happy today the whole practice becomes an offering of thanks, when you are full.
What happens in your daily life?
Most of us wake up tired, kill time during the day-because we are bored, distract ourself on mindless activity- because we are busy, and then lay awake all night because we are too distracted by our endless lists of “to-dos” and “worries.”
We are disconnected with our bodies, our communities, our relationships, our natural cycles, and our higher-selves.
Here are some common resolutions and how we can change them into life-giving sankalpas.
Addiction: Stop (Drinking, Smoking, Spending, Working, etc.) “too much.”
Start here: Ask better questions.
What is it we really desire, on a deep level? Connection? Love?
Not a question you can answer at a casual luncheon with friends, unless you have been contemplating it for awhile. What will you do when you fail? What does failure mean to you? These questions can give you much better insight into who you are, what your story has been on repeat, and what you are to do about it in the present, rather than what you want to plan for New Year’s Day.
In the Yoga tradition we welcome the new year with a sankalpa practice. This is an intention-setting practice that works through constant autosuggestion, planting a deep seed of something we hope to ripen throughout the year, through daily practice, devotion, and ritual. It is not something that will be complete on January 1st or even December 31st of next year.
Yoga begins with a positive self-image, stating that we are all just right where we are, a deep trust and message that our true nature is one of peace and joy. How many of us have grown up with this message? Even if we did grow up with these messages, did our parents really act as if they trusted this?
Media tells us that we are not ok. Media states that we need to buy x,y,z, and then we will be okay.
When we practice a sankalpa we practice it all ways, our actions moisten the shell of the seed we plant through the year until the information inside is downloaded and embodied.
If you really believed that you were enough, would you need to crave anything else?
Realize that you really are not as bad as you think you are!
There is someone somewhere, on this planet or another, living or dead, loving you and admiring you no matter how bad off you think you have allowed yourself to become, so stand next to them, in thought or in body.
Like the quote at the beginning. “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Comparing is insanity, in any culture, because it is an illusion. We can never actually compare ourselves with other individuals, because we cannot witness the totality of their life or know the internal workings of someone else’s mind.
How many of us are even aware of our own?
Lose weight and get fit.
The body is your temple, but we have to move beyond.
The body is just the vehicle with very little intelligence of it’s own. We can mimick the butts and arms of our ancestors by the exercises we do at the gym, that give us a an appearance of being healthy are very different than the full body communication that our ancestors had to have, and most of our “fit friends” even athletes that we admire have complaints of injury, tight muscles and being uncomfortable in their skin!
Our idea of fit booties are completely different on a cellular level than the glutes our ancestors had achieved from walking several miles and squatting into a low malasana several times per day. We think we can fix our pelvic floor and glutes from three reps of thirty leg lifts at the gym and doing kegels at stop lights.
This is doing nothing for our happiness or even our pelvic floors because we are lacking the full body communication that the nervous system requires.
Not to mention the havoc those New Year’s Eve high heels do on your pelvic floor and pelvis. And guys, even your tennis shoes have heals and ankle support now allowing your lower body extremities to communicate with the pelvis and spine. Do you want to have a “Kardashian booty”? Or would a better goal be to feel amazing in your body and be ready for an adventure when someone calls spontaneously to invite you on one?
I realized I was happily healthy when I could travel comfortably, face my fears, try hiking, mountain climbing, surfing…all for the first time in my 30s, and never was tired or sore the next day.
Forget the number on the scale and bring on the adventure.
Use your hands for some movement love. Our upper bodies get very little weight bearing and the curves of our cervical spines tell the story, as we age.
Maybe this year, the focus could be on healthy movement rather than big biceps and buns.
Let us prevent head, neck and low back pain instead!
Walk and Practice Yoga
…or just walk, squat, and bear weight on your upper body several times per day. Anyone can do this. (no handstands or pushups necessary-however I would keep working toward it-you never know!) Even leaning in an L shape on the wall is upper body weight bearing.
Bend the elbows a couple of times while you are there and you just did a push up.
Make your body healthy enough to do what you need/want to do without aches and pains.
Ditch the scale
There is no magic number to happiness. One huge landmark of turning from eating disorder to foodie was standing at the scale, getting ready to slide the winning numbers into place.
I was 6 months pregnant with my daughter, and my wiser self said, “If you see a number that is higher, you will beat yourself up, and if you the number is lower, then what? You will be happy? And that is sick because you are pregnant!” It was the last time I stepped on the scale, and I never did slide the weight over, because not knowing was better than telling myself that story. I gave up.
Our vital energy and breath govern the physical body, and the mind governs the thoughts. If you want to make change this year, you must focus on the mind so that you can tune in to those wiser voices.
—it is a lack of concentration.
Awareness practices allow us to focus our attention on the areas of life that we want to make change in. Our vital energy and life force often gets wasted on the things we can’t control, or the addictive dance we do, until we are too exhausted or down on ourselves to make the changes we could have. Meditate.
Spend more time with family and community! Get a purpose partner.
Join a community with your family and friends that are ready to make change and support your change. Let’s face it, we are never going to be worthy enough to do it on our own, besides I really love it when people call me out on my shit. That is what family and friends are best for, being the mirrors to reflect what we can’t see or chose to ignore.
Hire someone who knows more than you.
This has never let me down! I have appreciated, every teacher, bodyworker, fitness trainer, nutrition counselor, therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, financial advisor, that I have every hired. Even those that didn’t necessarily know more than me taught me something, even if it was to surrender and be humble, the place that transformation begins.
More than anything, remember that happiness can never be achieved from anything external.
Make peace with yourself, right now. Don’t wait!
Know that you are already perfect, and have fun getting in a rhythm with your own nature so that you can wake up refreshed, be excited about your day, sleep at night, and be ready for an adventure at any time!
And the times you fail? So what?!
Failure is often a great teacher, while success can be a great obstacle; and either way, I will still love you.
Author: Dani McGuire
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Wiki Commons