A Compassionate Approach to Optimal Health
Copyright ©2018 Rosie Bank
One of the things I hear over and over from people with whom I work is their disappointment in themselves. They did not meditate as frequently as they thought they should, or wanted to. They spent two nights over the last week staying up too late and neglecting their sleep. Sure, they might have had mostly healthy meals, but they fell off twice that week and they are beating themselves up over a couple of non-healthy indulgences. Others know they should exercise more, but three times that week is not enough for them to feel good about their earnest attempt and intention to move their bodies consistently. And the list goes on. I would describe these self-evaluations as the opposite of a compassionate approach to optimal health.
Do you see yourself having any of these judgments, that you aren’t doing enough, that you aren’t consistent, and that you failed in your self-care practices? If so, read on. I think I found a compassionate approach to optimal health. Imagine a large, airy box, with ample openings. A box into which you can easily put items, see them and access them readily. Into this box, we are going to imagine those actions that you deem as not good enough, or not consistent enough. A meal that was too big, or didn’t have enough veggies can go into this imaginary box. Those diet sodas that you are drinking and that you are trying to kick can go in this box. A day when you were sedentary instead of active can go in this box. You can put in this box a time when you freaked out with stress-eating instead of calmly breathing and relaxing your way through a tough situation. Voila! You now have a container into which you can move (in your imagination) the things you did that, in the past, brought up self-judgement and self-recrimination. Outside of that box are the habits and behaviors that make you feel great about yourself. You are doing them sometimes, right? (If you hear yourself saying, “Yeah, but not enough” then this exercise is for you.) Although you did not meditate every day, truth be told, meditating three days out of the week makes you worthy of an “atta boy” or “atta girl.” Now that you have compartmentalized not meditating from meditating, you may feel freer to focus on, enjoy, and actually share with others how lovely it is meditating when you do it. Now that there is space in your mind between that meal that was too big and too unhealthy, you can turn your attention to the exquisite spinach salad you had for dinner, accompanied by some water with lemon. Now that you have put some space between feeling crummy about your unhealthy meal, you may find more energy to focus on how good it feels to eat your veggies and drink water. You are using what Abraham, through Esther Hicks, calls your point of focus. In this compassionate approach to optimal health, you eliminate the opportunity to berate yourself for your imperfections. Just move it to that box and let it go. There will be ample times during your days, weeks, and months when you do a splendid job of providing your body with excellent nourishment, refreshing exercise, restorative sleep, relaxing meditation, comfortable quantities of food, and gentle stretches. Share those experiences with your loved ones, and perhaps your coach, if you are working with one.
Slide your emotions over to feeling good about yourself when you take care of your body
and when you make lovely pro-health choices.
I love what author Geneen Roth says on this topic:
“What you pay attention to grows. Pay attention to your loveliness, your magnificent self. Begin now.”
Another thing to realize is that you really do not have to be perfect along with your wellness journey. If there was someone whose practices could be held up as a model or exemplary, even that person might step off her or his path on occasion. Maybe the difference between you and someone like that is a compassionate allowance for being normal, rather than a harsh rejection and criticism of the times when you don’t meet your own standards. Of course, there are certain habits that have no place in a wellness lifestyle. Ever. A clear example is if you make an error, and eat enormous amounts of food that you know compromises your health. Just put it in the box. Relegate it to the past and look ahead. Your next meal is your chance to get on track, look ahead, and change your point of focus. What I love about this oh-so-simple approach is that now you are free to enjoy your wellness lifestyle and practices. Spoiler alert: by focusing on the great job you do, you will naturally want to do more of those health-enhancing practices. When you dwell on that lovely meal of lentil soup and green tea – or whatever your pro-health preferences are – you put psychic and emotional distance between you and whatever you put in that handy imaginary box. The word my clients use spontaneously to describe this process is freedom. Have at it.
Rosie Bank is Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and the founder of Health Matters Coaching. She is the author of the book, Health Matters. Rosie is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is certified by The Center for Nutrition Studies (e-Cornell) in Plant Based Nutrition. Rosie is an international speaker, blogger, and the founder of Health Matters podcast. She is certified as a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant through the American Fitness Professional Association and as a Nutrition Advisor through Sanoviv Medical Institute. Rosie founded The Vitality Club in Brentwood, CA in 2018.
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