Remember the old saying "When the student is ready, the teacher appears?" ...
I feel like I'm constantly being reminded of that saying over the past couple years in my own personal deep health. As I continue to learn more about health and wellbeing, that quote really has hit home. It's become a real part of my days over the past couple years let me tell ya!
We hear it often; "Health is a journey, not a destination." I'm a firm believer in that, and this year has brought that into the forefront a few times for me personally. Just when you think you're making progress, feeling good, coming out of some struggles... You're reminded you're not quite there yet -keep learning, keep taking action, keep trying.
As I continue to struggle internally after just over two decades of doing what I do, I find myself not only coming back to basics in regards to daily health practices, but also seeing the power in things that I (somewhat) overlooked in the past. Why did I overlook these things then? Well, because it wasn't the right time for me to have an "ah ha moment". In hindsight, life hadn't given me enough internal and external experiences to actually warrant that at that point.
I'm talking about the power and act of slowing down.
As our world continues to speed up, us humans continue to lose the ability to SLOW DOWN. We also forget about it's powerful effects when we do actually slow down. My own stressors, struggles (physically, mentally and emotionally) and down right feeling lost over the past couple years, when I look back, has not been helped by the fact that I (by that I mean mentally and emotionally, in addition to physically) have been in overdrive.
Wives (usually) know best
Yep. I said it. And I have no shame in admitting it. Heck, my wife knows me better than I know ME most of the time! Recently she recognized my NEED to focus inward. She booked me a reiki session with her. I hadn't had one since I'm pretty sure, pre
"COVID world chaos". So it's been a while.
That session was amazingly powerful for me personally. It really brought my hyperdrive mind and emotions to an intense calm and satisfaction to just be present. I felt mentally, physically and emotionally mellow like I hadn't felt in a long long time. I needed help to begin to get grounded again and slow down.
*For those unfamiliar with reiki, I won't go too deep here. Essentially it's an alternative Japense therapy involving energy work; working with the energy of the receiver (client), giver (practitioner) and the body's chakras (energy centres). Whether you're open to it or not, one thing I always say is; at the very least it's very relaxing! My wife (and I) are both level II certified Reiki practitioners although I haven't practiced in several years. She however, is utilizing not only reiki in her sessions, but other forms of alternative healing methods as well. It's a very cool "Zenergy-fusion" of modalities if I do say so myself.
Cue the "History Buff"
Ok, I would never call myself that. BUT I 100% love history. I'm a firm believer in learning history (big and small) and using those stories, facts and experiences and learning from them. In my case here, I went back into some "historic" readings.
By historic I mean "all the way back" to 2004. "Ah the good ol' days" eh? Fairly fresh out of college, a few years into the fitness and health industry and beginning to learn from both good and bad experiences as I grew as a professional. ALSO in that year, Paul Chek (holistic practitioner) wrote the book "How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy".
I've read this several times over my career and followed various pieces of advice for different lengths of time. Never forgetting it's teachings, but never sticking to anything for too long. I now know that it's because it wasn't the right time for me personally. Now when I read it, there are several things coming into play very strongly in my own personal health struggles and success. And they're making a whole lot more sense as well!
What I have always admired about Paul Chek is that since writing this book (now 19-years ago...) he STILL refers back to it's teachings. How many times do you see that? How often do you see updated versions of books from authors/experts? 2nd editions, 3rd editions and beyond... Not Paul Chek. This was his key book that covers ALOT and it's still relevant. He's one of the smartest people in the industry without question (sometimes too much for what I want/need), but he's an amazingly smart (and healthy) person.
Where are you going with this coach?
I'm glad you asked!
When I dove back into this book I was now noticing OTHER things I've learned, studied and put into action over the past handful of years. The power of simplicity, patience, working on "the long game", focusing inward, not destroying yourself physically, mentally or emotionally ... and so on. These are things Paul Chek was preaching 19 years ago. If you study this stuff and it's history (health, fitness, nutrition, wellness) much of what we think of as new or unique ideas have been around and recycled for decades and even centuries.
In the case of my reiki experience I dove back into Paul Chek's "zone exercises". These deal with promoting healthy flowing "chi" (life force energy) throughout the body and chakras.
Now before you stop reading - let me ask you this?? When was the last time you INTENTIONALLY did something SLOWLY and PRESENT? I bet for many people they can't even think of a time they did this. Our modern society doesn't work that way does it? When discussing "Chi" within the body, the lifeforce energy that flows within us, SLOWER movements means faster/better flowing chi throughout the body. FASTER movements means slower/blocked chi throughout the body.
After doing the tests in his book (not for the first time over all those years), everything regarding my zones/chakras made sense in regards to how my whole body feels. I began to implement my zone exercises most days of the week and it's brought a nice refreshing feel to my body inside and out when I do. If you don't believe or want to believe in chakras or chi, think of these exercises / movements as a moving meditation (they actually are). Think Tai Chi, Qi Gong... Moving slowly, controlled and mindfully. That alone is powerful stuff irregardless of whether you believe in Eastern holistic practices.
What have I done to implement SLOW into my days
Since my reiki session two weeks ago, THIS has been my prime focus. I will never get my body and mind to where I want it to be if both are constantly being pushed to and beyond their limits. I need to embrace MORE slow in my days. I need to get myself feeling good from the inside first and foremost. Here are some practices I've been (slowly) adding into my days/weeks as I recognize the need for SLOW and SIMPLE in order to improve my deep health...
1) Daily Zone Exercises.
Most days of the week, I do my zone exercises at least once per day. To give you context; based on the test in Paul Chek's book, my primary focus needs to be on 4-different zones/chakras. For each zone Paul has 3-5 exercises available to choose from. You experiment with each and choose one or two that allow you to feel the best. I run through one exercise for each of my zones each day. This doesn't have to be at the same time, although I like when I can do that. These can also be used at times when you feel low energy, brain fog, before bed, a way to wake up gently in the morning... Again, think 'moving meditation'.
2) I've been journaling / logging again.
This came at the suggestion of my wife following my reiki session; what did I experience, feel etc.. before, during and after the session. I took that further and rather than journaling / logging my exercise each day (although some of that is recorded still but in more general terms), it's more notes about how I'm doing internally. How's my energy? How's my vibe? What things am I doing to help these things and work from the inside out? In addition, whenever I get to my journaling (typically mid-late afternoon) I also record what I call my "Gratitude-3" (three things I'm grateful for - today). I'm no exception to this. Like most of us I'm caught in the trap of "what I don't have" rather than what I DO have. That's an "emotional" and even "spiritual" slow down in my books.
3) I'm getting back to my 'zen' hobbies (as my wife calls them).
My board games, drawing, reading... anything that makes me feel good inside first and foremost. I was doing these types of things for quite a while until a couple months ago where I found myself NOT doing them as often. Letting life, busy-ness and stress get in the way which leads to staring at a screen and sacrificing sleep/recovery.
4) Getting back to my daily walks and/or runs.
This I had truly in place for much of the past year. However between our two big trips this year and the ridiculous humidity Mother Nature brought us for too many consecutive days/weeks this summer, they were cut back. But they feel SO GOOD. There's rarely an intention to them; just GO is the only intention...
-When I see something interesting I stop to look, take it in, maybe take a pic so I can learn what I just saw/found in nature. I found a katydid sunning himself on the road today for example, so I stopped to say hello and take a picture. (His name is "Charles K." by the way).
-Sometimes I plan to walk my 7km loop, but change my mind and do 4km instead.
-Sometimes I plan to walk my 4km route and think "no way, lets keep going"
-Sometimes I listen to my podcasts
-Sometimes I listen to music
-Sometimes I have no headphones and listen to the nature around me
-Sometimes I'll stop and bird watch (there's a great couple fields along my usual route with so many different types of birds often)
-Sometimes I start out in a jog and finish with a walk
-Sometimes I start with the intent to walk, and end up running more than not.
5) Exploring more forms of meditation.
Slowly, I'm bringing back meditation into my days as well as part of this process/practice. In addition to my usual mindfulness meditation, I want to play with other forms such as;
-Moving and walking meditations
The Need for SLOWING is GROWING
Maybe it's just where I am in my life and career.
Maybe I'm just more aware of the need for it now in myself and others.
Maybe it's both these things.
I want to help, myself and others (especially YOU who stuck through this post with me right to the end!) learn how to include more moments of slow and simple into their every day practices to promote deep health.
Check out this picture below...
This is on my walk today. It's on a usual route of mine that I love because there's plenty of nature to see (always different), rarely any people and minimal cars / traffic. After taking this picture, I just stood for a couple minutes listening and watching the birds, breathing in the fresh air... all with a little smile on my face AND inside my soul.
Imagine if we GAVE ourselves these moments / times on a regular basis.