Happy New Year! May 2014 be blessed in health, happiness and harmony for you and your family. 明けましておめでとうございます。今年も どうぞ よろしく おねがえします。
This year, of all the resolutions I was thinking about making, I decided it should be the year for just one resolution, instead of the usual ten.
Here is the one: Increase Energy! That’s it!
The key question each of us should be asking ourselves is: What gives me energy?
Whatever your answer, is what you should be doing.
We all have different things that give us energy, but one thing for sure is that to have energy, we need to take good care of our health. When we’re young we tend to abuse our body in many ways. Because of our youth, it’s pretty resilient. Getting back on track to the daily routines doesn’t require too much effort. Now that I’m older, I found that it takes a lot longer to get back on track if I push my body too hard. Over-eating, too much wine, late nights, wrong foods, lack of exercise and sleep, all set me back quickly. Then I regret my poor decisions….
I have to keep reminding myself that our bodies are similar to any piece of machinery. If you don’t take good care, it will deteriorate more quickly. So, regardless of age, we have to give our bodies some respect and treat it with care so it will run well for a long time. After all, we are only given one body. I want to work on health using an Asian approach. Let’s do this together – please join me!
Are you healthy? When someone asks you to imagine a healthy person, what comes to mind? What do you think a healthy person should look like? I don’t know if I’ve been brainwashed by the media and all the marketing schemes with health and exercise products, but the image I have is one who is muscular, strong, and slim. But is that a true barometer of health? As my master Dr. Hsu always reiterates, our health is not the health of our outer physical appearance, in reality, it’s determined by the health of our organs. Ah yes, but one slight problem, we can’t see our organs.
Many of us rely on our vision as our main or the strongest of our five senses. If we can’t see it, most of us don’t know how to determine it’s condition. So, how are we to know how our organs are doing? We need to observe, listen, and be aware of our body’s signals. They show us signs in many different ways.
Once my girlfriend told me that no matter how much foundation she put on, her skin looked grey. And she was right. She had a grey undertone to her complexion. Later she went to the doctor and was told she had a growth in her uterus. Once it was removed, her pink coloring came back. I remember while I was back in school, my eyes started to twitch. It would bother me so much, I used to hold my hand over my eyes to make it stop. But obviously I couldn’t control it. I just had to accept that I was straining my eyes and they needed to rest. Our bodies don’t lie. If something is not right, it will manifest somewhere.
One of the most visible and easiest barometer to check on our general health condition is facial and skin coloring. A healthy glow has a pinkish undertone and few blemishes. The next easiest is posture. Standing erect, and straight also helps align the body. Both these things are pretty basic and straight forward, but it can tell us many things about our condition if we only take the time to observe.
Signs and signals are there. We just have to recognize them and be aware that something is out of sync. But when our days are filled with so many other things that need attention, it’s no wonder we don’t sense that our bodies are in need of help. So, how do we deal with a situation like this?
The first step to health: Meditate.
It seems like meditation is the trendy word of the moment. Many people are selling tapes on how to meditate and try to make it sound difficult. However, it’s really not something that should be intimidating. If you don’t want to call it meditation, just call it ‘quiet time’. Doesn’t matter, all you need to do is stop and shut the outside world off. Now, meditation is no cure all. It’s just simple quiet time for ourselves, to go back to finding our center.
Imagine shaking a glass of water with sand. It becomes very cloudy and opaque. However, if left still, over time the sand settles to the bottom of the glass and the water becomes clear. In a similar way, our minds are clogged and foggy too. Our days are filled with mental, emotional, visual and physical pollution. These things clog our thoughts. Meditation, is the quiet time to allow those things to settle, so that you can begin to see things more clearly.
Through meditation, we focus on our breathing. With every breath, imagine the ‘noise’ is slowly settling and you are clearing your thoughts. Now you can see more clearly because it’s not foggy and cluttered with all the unnecessary distractions that may have little importance. By doing this on a daily basis, you will begin to get a clearer picture of your life and will feel more grounded.
Like everyone, I have days when I feel frustrated, stuck, and confused. Why do these things have to happen? But, when I start to meditate and relax, I begin to remember that I must see life in its big picture. Then, all my troubles seem trivial and I wonder why I was so upset in the first place.
How to meditate.
Meditation can vary from person to person. Some people prefer sitting on the floor while others prefer sitting in a chair. Personally, I like to meditate lying down. Choose what suits you best. I like doing what makes me feel comfortable. Just make sure you’re relaxed.
If you’re sitting in a chair, keep the soles of your feet flat on the ground. This means you will probably be sitting on the front of the chair. Now, regardless of which position you take, sitting or lying down, remember the following:
- shoulders relaxed
- jaws relaxed
- hands relaxed
- chin tucked in
- back straight
Regardless of position, one thing I always make sure is to relax my jaw. You’d be surprised how much tension our jaw carries. Drop your jaw down several times, and you will get a feel on how it should feel when relaxed. Then breathe, focusing on your tummy. Let it expand, in and out. I like to put my hand on my belly, just so I know it’s moving and I am focusing on the right spot. Just let your mind focus on the breathing and listen to your breath, relaxing every muscle.
Just breathe. If meditating for the first time, start slow - 20 minutes. What I find that at some point I reach a state when my arms and hands don’t feel like they are connected to me anymore. Then I know I’m in the ‘zone’, and I like to just stay there for a while. Once you get used to it, keep extending the time. Bring it up to an hour or so, of course, time permitting. But, the key is to make time. Make time for yourself, because you deserve it. You need this time to balance your mental health, such that you can maintain your physical health. And yes, it’s because it’s all connected.
So, let’s begin the year of 2014 by meditating. It could be the first thing you do when you wake up, or in the middle of the day, or just before you go to bed. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you make the time to do this to clear your mind to take the first step to taking charge in your health. Here’s to 2014! A happy, healthier and energetic you!