Our Life Is In Our Own Hands
The big lesson this year for me has been just how much control I have over how I experience life. It’s entirely in my own hands.
I choose daily, through the small actions, habits and routines I create, the sort of physical, mental, emotional and relational experience I step into.
The days string together like beads on a necklace to create the sum of our life. Like an artist we design the necklace we end up with through our daily choices and actions. Whether these choices are conscious or unconscious, we’re creating something.
Taking Responsibility Means Increasing Your Ability-To-Respond
One of the key components of being on the yogic path is taking responsibility for ourselves, for our health and wellbeing and our experience in life.
Taking responsibility means awakening to and increasing our ability-to-respond. Not react, or be swept away with the prevailing winds of our culture, but to consciously respond to what we see showing up in our lives.
As an example, one practice I have as part of my daily routine is to examine my tongue as soon as I wake up.
Our tongues are wonderful informants. They reflect the state of our inner universe. By looking at our tongue in the morning we become aware of what’s going on inside.
At the moment I have a lot of ama. Ama is the ayurvedic term for toxin, it’s basically undigested ‘stuff’, often food that hasn’t been properly digested either because there was too much of it, or it was too heavy, or not right for our constitution, or maybe just eaten too late at night for our body to digest. Ama can also be emotional or mental.
According to ayurveda ama is the root cause of all disease. All of it! So when you see ama in the morning on your tongue (think white gunky coating) you want to PAY ATTENTION!
When I see ama on my tongue in the morning I have a choice. I can ignore it. Or I can choose to take responsibility for what’s going on within me and respond accordingly. I can alter the actions I take for the rest of the morning and the day to deal with the ama before it builds and leads to sickness or disease. It’s in my hands.
If You Don’t Steer Your Own Ship You’ll Be Swept Along By The Prevailing Winds of Our Culture
When you don’t take your health and wellbeing into your own hands, when you don’t sharpen your awareness to the signals of your own physiology, when you don’t take full responsibility for yourself, you get swept along by the momentum of the prevailing culture.
If we had a culture that supported optimum health that might be OK. But that’s not the reality we find ourselves in.
There are so many unexamined assumptions in our culture around health. That degeneration is a ‘normal’ part of aging. That sickness and disease are sometimes just random and inevitable. That our bodies become less intelligent as we age. That stiff and creaky joints are just what happens when you get on a bit. That our senses will let us down, eyesight will fail, hearing will go. That weight gain is just what happens around middle age.
There’s sometimes a recognition that these things aren’t entirely inevitable. But there’s almost a resignation under the weight of our current culture, a culture which makes it hard for us to function optimally. The momentum of our current culture doesn’t effortlessly lead to optimum health as the default outcome.
You Have To Choose Optimum Health
If you’re not making super conscious, counter-cultural choices, you’re probably on the standard track to accelerated aging and not on track to unlock the potential of your human physiology, the potential of your biochemistry to experience peace, bliss, and ease as you move through life enjoying vibrant health.
As an obvious example, we’re surrounded by junk food. It’s no surprise then that a survey for health care for England found that 25% of adults are obese. Not just overweight but obese. 17% of children are now also obese.
Our environment doesn’t support us in thriving. You have to choose thrive. You have to go against the grain. You have to take matters into your own hands.
Join/Create a Sub Culture
But it’s difficult to go against the grain, right?
I’ve been going against the grain a lot this year. One habit I’ve nailed this year is going to bed early.
The benefits are manifold. If you go to sleep before 10pm you experience a much deeper level of rest. The hours between 10pm-2am are the most rejuvenating. It’s when our body naturally detoxes. When we’re asleep during these hours, as nature intended for our physiology, our hormones work optimally. We feel well rested when we wake up, we experience a deeper energy, we’re better able to regulate our emotions and our weight. I could write a whole blog about the benefits of this. I did.
Many scientific studies have shown that people who go to bed after 10pm have a much harder time maintaining a healthy BMI (here and here and here). I don’t know about you but I for shizzle don’t want to make it harder for my body to do its job properly. It’s not efficient. It makes no sense. And so I go to bed early, I feel awesome. The sheer simplicity of what we really need to thrive is quite refreshing.
Yet making this sort of shift isn’t always easy. Our culture is geared around eating late in the evening and going to bed later. Only children or frail old people go to bed at 9pm, or so the underlying belief goes.
I’ve had more than one overweight person mock me for my bedtime. Basic self-care is practically a radical concept in our culture. Isn’t that bonkers?
But there is a solution, besides fighting upstream solo (a frankly thankless task). Join a subculture, build a tribe around the sort of life experience you know is possible. My lucky break this year has been finding such a tribe.
I got myself a yoga and ayurveda coach and joined her community of people who are gung-ho about feeling awesome. They’re willing to experiment, to change, to go against the grain, break out of existing patterns and set new patterns, better patterns, in motion. We have a culture around prioritizing self-care so we can show up for ourselves, and others, at our best.
Being part of this group has fueled my well-being journey this year about a million-fold. Yep, a million-fold.
Once you experience vibrant health, there’s no going back.
People can laugh at me all they want for going to bed early and waking up before dawn to take the best hours of the day for my self-care and personal evolution.
Once your body gets a taste of how good it can feel, a taste of what’s possible, given the right daily routine that supports your optimal functioning from the inside out, there ain’t no going back. Your body knows.
The suffering you previously experienced as ‘normal’ becomes acutely painful. You can’t ignore it anymore.
I know I’m not alone in my desire to evolve into better ways of being. There’s a huge sub-culture of people who are sick of their own excuses and ready to step forward, empowered to craft a better way of living, with their own hands.
If you’re interested in consciously crafting the life you want, consider joining our vibrant living community. Our next course starts January 15th.