Monday, May 25, 2015

Healing Rituals

Many people probably do not associate ritual or spiritual practices as part of their health.  I'd like to propose that those practices might carry as much power and importance to one's health as diet or exercise.  I'm not talking about a particular religiosity.  I am talking about the integral intentional inclusion of spiritual nurture in a daily rhythm of life.

Each of us have a spirit that connects us with the larger Source of life.  Many deny this connection, some even attempt to "unplug" from it.  Yet in spite of denial, this Source still surrounds and nurtures us in our very human needs for love, community, and the energy we call "life."   We are inescapably planted into families, communities, as well as the natural world.  Our interaction and connection with the ineffable Source of Life is a two-way give and take connection.  Rituals and spiritual practices, which draw our awareness and foster our emotions/virtues of gratitude, acceptance, compassion, and peace,.. feed a part of us that fosters and sustains very deep healing.  In addition, ritual supplies a more profound knowing than science or objective measure can provide.  Spirit draws us into a deeper, richer, more dynamic life stream that feeds one's soul.  Well nourished soul's know how to heal themselves and the bodies with which they coexist.  Spirit grounds us to the Essence of Life.

I was inspired to write this post this morning on Memorial Day because I remembered that this day was one when growing up my family would go up to the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of my uncles killed in WWII and my grandparents.  To this day this holiday causes me to appreciate the sacrifices and lives that feed mine.  Every day reflects our spiritual grounding and input from the past.  Memorial Day and the rituals I attach to it brings my past more to the conscious forefront.  Admittedly, the past also throws a bunch of negative garbage in, what Robert Bly refers to as our shadow.  A large part of our healing work spiritually involves connecting with our spirits to gain awareness of what feeds our soul and what hinders it.  Fostering what feeds our spirit, and eliminating or diminishing what hinders it will markedly improve physical health.  Where one's spirit leads, the body will follow.  This is especially true if your goal is better health and/or you have addiction demons with which you're perpetually wrestling.

So, do something daily for your spirit.  If you need ideas or help with this give me a call.

NatureWords for your life,
Dr. Mark

Friday, May 8, 2015

When Your Health Goals Aren't Getting Met

Nearly everyone sets some goals for themselves, especially around the turn of the new year.  We call them resolutions, but they can also be called goals.  What were your health goals this year?  Are you on track with them, or are you still procrastinating and saying, "Yeah, I need to get to that..."  (Key in the guilt and irritation with yourself.)

Having broad general goals such as, "I'm going to lose 15 pounds this year," or "I'm going to exercise more," or "I'm going to eat better," all leave a large question mark sitting in the middle of your brain.  It is immobilized by the question.  Its question is HOW is it supposed to proceed with that instruction?  You may well be stuck in achieving your goal because, in the midst of all the other things your brain is handling, it is waiting more precise directions on how you want to get to that new place.

In his book, Skinny Habits, the first habit Bob Harper shares is how to write more precisely defined baby-step goals that leave less struggle for your brain to bear.  While it is a book aimed at helping people lose weight, the habit of creating (and following) your step-by-step plans can apply to virtually any life ambition.

The heart of these step-by-step subgoals is making If-Then statements which will disarm your excuses.  So, the very first step is having an honest talk with yourself about what the exact obstacles are to you staying on track with your goal.  List as many problems, reasons, excuses, and emotions as you can that keep you from doing what you already know you should be doing to get healthier.  Then, for each one of those write an If-Then statement that addresses how you will side-step that issue when it happens.  For example, "If I come home too tired to cook a nutritious meal, then I will have cut up veggies in my refrigerator and a healthy snack box."  Or, "If I find myself in front of a fast food menu, then I will order water and a salad."

Something almost magical happens when you have written down - or put your brain on notice - of how you want to contend with all the distractions and health hurdles in your way.  Instead of just going with the flow like you have been, you have committed yourself in writing to what you want to do instead.