The immune system is a topic receiving a great deal of attention lately. I realize COVID has a lot to do with this trend, but it helps put a spotlight on our wellness routine. A healthier body leads to a stronger immune system. The most powerful way to boost your immune system is to have a daily wellness practice.
There are three areas of our daily practices that need to be addressed: Mind, Body, and Spirit. I realize balance is not always attainable in each area, but if your focus is only on one or two of these, you're short-changing yourself on your possibilities.
Let's start with our minds. We've all heard of the “monkey mind”. But, if you haven't, I would define the monkey mind as the thoughts in our head are not intentional or staying in the present moment. An example of my monkey mind taking over is when I continue to re-run a conversation in my head that was confrontational. I will continue to replay it and analyze it. There are tools I use to help my monkey mind stay at bay.
- Practice mindfulness. I find myself practicing this when I'm exercising and when I'm having conversations with others. When I'm exercising, I focus on my posture and my breath instead of my to-do list. When I'm talking to someone else, I try hard to repeat what they are saying in my head, so I'm truly listening and not just thinking about what I'm going to say next. This exercise helps me stay present in the conversation and allows me to be a better listener.
- Meditation. There are many forms of meditation--moving meditation, still meditation, mantra meditations, and quiet meditations. Try each of these and find which one helps quiet your monkey mind.
- Gratefulness. Looking for daily gratitude is an essential part of quieting my monkey mind. If I start to recognize the conversation in my head has gotten negative, I first realize it, try to figure out what it stems from, and then I change it from a place of truth. Sometimes this leads to me saying over in my head, "All is well." Other times, I make a list of things I'm grateful for and conjure up the joy these bring me.
The most accessible daily practice for me is the body. However, I realize this is not for most people. My daily body exercise has evolved and grown over the years. I believe this change is due to age, but primarily to knowledge. In the past, I exercised to stay thin. I'm not saying that isn't still part of my intention because I believe our weight plays a factor in our bodily health. But now, my purpose behind exercise is expansive. I believe movement is medicine, and by moving our bodies, we can feel what's going on, and we can move stagnant energy around. Energy flow is vital to our life force. When doing daily exercise, I think there should be things you consider.
- Exercise should feel good. Exercise is a way of nurturing your body. A “no pain, no gain” mindset should be thrown out the window.
- There should be variety in our movement. If you choose to run regularly, you should also add yoga, pilates, or GYROTONIC type of movement to your routine. Doing just one type of exercise will limit your overall physical potential. Think of exercising not only your muscles but also your organs.
- Be mindful of what you are putting in and on your body. Not every diet or product is suitable for everyone. Pay attention to the effects different foods and products have on the way your body feels and responds. Let your body be your teacher and guide.
- Your posture should be considered in all of these. By maintaining space and alignment in your spine, you allow for more energy to flow and give the gut space to digest our food.
Last but not least is our spiritual practice. My idea of my spiritual practice has also evolved over the years. I used to believe I was only working on my spiritual practice if I attended church on Sunday and listened to the message, even though I had a daily prayer practice. Now I don't limit my spiritual practice to the church's four walls. I believe we can work on our spiritual health in many ways. Here are a few, but there are so many more.
Read and listen to someone who inspires you to be a better person. I recently wrote an article on my favorite audiobooks. Daily inspiration is part of my spiritual practice.
Daily prayer is still a big part of my and my family's spiritual practice. I started praying with my children as soon as they were born, and we continue to pray together each night. I use it as a time to settle down, address any struggles, and look for things to be grateful for. It's truly a gift I give myself.
Meditation. I realize I also put this in the mind section, but I want it to be here in our spiritual practice as well. I like to use meditation as the moment of my prayer when I'm not talking to God, but I'm listening to God. I find it much easier to hear and feel guidance when I can quiet my mind.
I hope these ideas inspire you to look at your wellness practice and see areas where it might benefit from a little extra attention.