“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle
It seems many people are striving to attain the elixir of life these days, that elusive quality of health and well-being. In the UK, the health and fitness industry is estimated to be worth approximately $7 billion dollars AUD annually. Australia’s industry is not far behind with approximately $2.2 billion AUD dollars. These are massive figures if you consider the percentage of products represented in that amount.
It’s no secret we are being marketed to in a staggering manner, much to the detriment of our hard earned dollars, our pride and sanity. I constantly receive messages from people protesting the misinformation and ambiguity of communication related to diets, nutrition, weight-loss and health.
The purpose of this blog post is to highlight the health aspect many businesses and health practitioners fail to address – good health begins at the level of the mind. What do I mean by this you may quip? Consider how often you may have sabotaged your best intentions to become healthy or lose weight? Besides the financial implication, what was the overriding factor which impeded your ability to succeed? Among willpower, hidden challenges and lack of know-how, the mental discipline remains the biggest obstacle preventing people from attaining lasting health.
In a recent comment to a reader, I suggested she be mindful and guard her conscious thoughts on a regular basis. The subconscious mind is responsible for our autonomic nervous system regulation and is continually listening in on your thoughts. The following points are ways in which you can take command of your thoughts to positively influence your health.
1. Be aware of your predominant thoughts:
What thoughts are you entertaining on a daily basis? What is the nature of your conversations with yourself? Are they self-empowering or self-defeating? Negative thoughts create negative emotions, which relay messages to every cell in your body. If you entertain these thoughts daily, consider the messages your body is receiving.
In order to attain a level of health, you needn’t waste money on potions, formulas and fad diets. Instead, we need to stop the negative, internal chatter and replace it with empowering thoughts. If you simply did this for one year, I assure you that all your health challenges would diminish. But therein lies the challenge – taming our thoughts remains one of the toughest hurdles and it seems no one is prepared to do the work.
2. Don’t create a dialogue around those thoughts:
As you notice disempowering thoughts, refuse to allow them energy by creating a dialogue around them. Many people believe since they are having a thought, it must be true. I mentioned in a previous article that we entertain approximately 70,000 – 80,000 thoughts per day. Approximately 77% of those thoughts are negative in nature. I alluded to this in a recent blog post, Accept Yourself As You Are.
That means if you entertain an average of 75,000 thoughts a day, at least 57,750 of those thoughts are bound to be negative! It is no surprise that we experience life challenges relating to ill-health, unhealthy relationships and poor finances. We are our worst enemy.
When you recognise a negative thought about your body, acknowledging it is the first step in drawing your awareness to it. Otherwise it may turn into a runaway thought which you accept as normal. Once you’ve identified the negative thought ask yourself, what do I want? List the qualities that you like about yourself and draw your attention toward feeling good about your body – I’ll say it again, your cells are always listening.
I do this on a regular basis, so I am aware of my thoughts and the emotions which drive them. My inner dialogue might be similar to the following: “Thank you legs for the amazing bike ride this morning and getting me over those big hills with ease. I love the feeling of having powerful and strong legs, especially when exercising. Thank you stomach for digesting the wonderful food which nourishes every cell in my body with life giving energy.”
3. Meditate or go into regular silence:
There are many reasons and benefits of meditation. The most important one is connected to silence allows the mind to rest. Instead of using valuable energy processing thoughts day in day out, a simple break of 10 -15 minutes daily is enough to allow the mind to take a mini vacation.
The more you allow your mind to rest, the more peace and joy will emanate from your being. You are peace and joy – this is your default setting at birth. Let go of those needless thoughts and simply relax into your own beingness. Your body has a wisdom of its own and knows what it needs to thrive and sustain life – create a conducive environment for it to do so and assuredly health will follow.
4. Be aware of your emotional constitution:
What is the nature of your emotions? Are you a worrier or someone who is overcome with anxiety and stress at times? What effects do these toxic emotions have on your body? Tension in the stomach, neck, upper back, headache, insomnia, irritability etc. These are all signs of thoughts and emotions out of balance with your inner nature.
Being attentive to your emotional constitution means you are aware (mindful) of your inner emotional landscape. This allows you to navigate the torrents of negative emotions as they arise, so they don’t envelop you. Knowing in advance that you are susceptible to anxiety attacks and being powerless to take action may be self-defeating. Having a plan to deal with them allows you to be in control so it doesn’t spiral out of control.