If 40 is the new 30 and 60 is the new 40, where will we be when we’re 90? Hopefully, we will be happy and healthy, but much of that depends on the choices we make today. One way we can categorize these choices for healthy living is: right movement, right food, right sleep, and right mind. We need to remind ourselves of the subtle ways to find our individual optimal balance because Mother Nature does not advertise her natural methods on TV.
Form follows function, and humans are meant to move. Movement used to be built into our day as we hunted and grew our own food, but many of us now need to seek it out. If we pick something we love (jogging, walking, swimming, bicycling, yoga), we will stick with it. The resting pulse rate is a pretty good indication of fitness, but we can feel the results of too much or not enough movement in our body and we can see it in the mirror. If we are in touch with ourselves and not focusing on the current cultural ideal of perfection, we will know what is right for our unique physical body.
Right movement requires right food to replace the nutrients we use each day. We all know junk food is not good for us, but it is addictive because our natural appetite control system only works on natural whole foods. There are innumerable diet plans involving counting this and measuring that, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. If we simply focus on plant-based rather than animal-based foods—including whole grains, vegetables, and fruit—and choose fresh rather than processed, frozen, or canned foods, we have a good basic plan. We don’t need a height/weight or body mass index chart to tell us what our healthy weight should be. As we reconnect to our natural appetite control system, we feel the effect of the food we eat in our own bodies.
Right mind involves a nourishing connection to our natural environment. At a time when modern conveniences give us daylight 24/7, a constant indoor temperature of our own choosing, and a continuous supply of foods that originally were available only seasonally, we can lose touch with the rhythms of nature. Rising with the sun to be active, winding down in the evening, and making use of the healing night for restful sleep—these steps align us with the rhythm of the day and give us balance between work and rest. Spending time outside with Mother Nature (without electronic devices) and focusing on food that is in season locally will also help us learn to sync our rhythm with the rhythm of the seasons. The ideal is to feel within our own bodies the truth of that poetic phrase: “To everything there is a season.”
Right mind also involves intuition. Because each of us is unique, there is no single ideal do-this-and-be-healthy regimen that works for every one. This plan of balance requires that we learn to sense what is right for us personally. If we can give ourselves some quiet time to let go of outer distractions, we can focus inward to hear the wisdom that comes from within. Sometimes we welcome outward distractions and don’t want to listen to the inward messages because they might be telling us we need to change a behavior we are attached to. It is not always comfortable to let go of the distractions and unhealthy behaviors, but good things do come from it.
Where do we find support as we learn to trust our intuition? One system that has been very helpful in guiding many, including myself, to make wise choices in line with Mother Nature is Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga and the science of daily living or longevity. This all-inclusive system encompasses all of the aspects of our lives. It gives profound yet practical suggestions to help us guide our unique individual self through life in the healthiest way possible. The power lies in our daily choices; they are the bricks in the foundation of our health.
Knowledge is something we hear or read from someone else. Wisdom comes from experiencing that knowledge working in our own lives. I believe the next “big thing” will be when people return to the little things that Mother Nature has been providing for us all along. Using our right mind to make those healthy daily choices of right movement, right food, right sleep, and right mind will help us to become our own experts in building our own happy and healthy future.
For more information on Ayurveda, visit www.ayurveda.com.
Kristie Abel is an artist and freelance editor.