Holistic Health Overview

Introduction

If you are someone looking for a healthier lifestyle, but don't know where to start, this hub is for you.The intention behind this hub is to layout different techniques and strategies that may aid those who wish to become healthy and get in touch with their bodies. I will offer many links to different hubs, websites and products that will start you off in the right direction. If you are already on good terms with your body, keep reading, you may still find something of interest in the next few paragraphs!

The Mind

If we are truly serious about becoming healthy and creating wellness in our bodies, we must first, as Curtis Mayfield once said, "check out your mind." The mind is a very powerful tool, and it is constantly creating, even if we are not aware of it. The images and thoughts that we hold in our minds and keep repeating, eventually become physically manifested in our lives. (For more information on how our minds create our lives, check out my hub: Choosing Your Thoughts in the link below this capsule.)

If you are currently unhealthy, overweight or suffering from some disease, you must first realize that your thoughts are such that you have created it as a reality in your life. I know it may seem a little harsh, and I know that no one would willingly "create" a disease for themselves. Yet, if dis-ease is present it is because it is believed to be real, a solid entity which one has no control over. A belief in a certain, current state is nothing more than a thought that has been focused on for long enough. So if you want health, you first must set the tone with your thoughts. Identify those "unhealthy" thoughts and let them go because they will keep you in that residual state of sickness.

So, the first step is to stop focusing on the current state of dis-ease that you may be experiencing. The second is to start seeing yourself as a healthy and happy person, with an efficient, fully functioning body that radiates wellness. Imagine how good it feels to be healthy and happy! Believe in the benefits that treating your body with respect and care brings, such as:joy, happiness, increased energy, increased attractiveness, and a more positive attitude. Get clear in your mind that you want health, and focus your attention on feeling healthy in the moment and don't look back. Once the mind is clear of those negative thoughts, then the body can be cleared as well.

The Breath

Breath is the most essential substance we consume. Think about it. We can live perhaps a month without food, maybe a week without water, but if we stop breathing for a few minutes , we die! This may sound silly, but one of the most important steps anyone can take when trying to become more healthy is by breathing deeper. Over 70% of our waste is eliminated through the breath, most harmful bacteria and all virus' cannot live in a highly oxygenated body. Proper breath is what gives the body energy and it promotes healthy function of all the mechanisms in the body, all the way down to the cellular level. When we were children our breathing patterns were much deeper than they are now. We naturally cycled the breath much more efficiently and effectively when we were young because our worries and cares were less, giving us more room to breathe, so to speak. As time passed and we went through the schooling system and acquired jobs, stresses and responsibilities, our breathing became much more shallow. Consequently, it was not circulating enough blood to parts of the body that needed it. Not enough blood flow means stagnation, stagnation means disease and disease means a myriad of negativity: medical bills, another stress, another worry, a hindrance to doing what we want- the list goes on and on. The whole cumbersome process of healing a disease or a pain through modern medical care, could have been circumvented if only our breathing was correct.

Here are some time tested techniques to become more intimate with your breath, which will in turn produce an overall healthier lifestyle.

Meditation

Really, meditation could have been discussed in The Mind capsule because of its powerful effects in showing us what we are thinking about. However, I decided to save it for The Breath because that is what is focused on in meditation. In meditation we take a deep breath in, all the way down just below our abdomen, being very watchful of it the whole way. Then we pause and breathe out, thoroughly, completely aware of its journey out through our nostrils. Meditation is best done sitting down with a straight spine, alone or with other like-minded meditators. However, meditation can literally be done anywhere at any moment. There seems to be a bit of mystique surrounding the concept of meditation- that it is only for those who wish a contemplative life of solitude away from society, seeking enlightenment in some remote cave. This is not true. As I said anyone, anywhere, at any moment in this universe can meditate and benefit from it. All that is required is conscious awareness of the breath. How often do we pay attention to our breath? Would we survive if we had to rely on our mind to control our breathing? Probably not. Becoming aware of the breath is the first step in manifesting the healthy effects of deep breathing.

Yoga

Yoga is a cleansing practice that not only benefits the body, but can open the mind to a wider awareness as well. Its poses (called asanas) make the practitioner very aware of the breath as it sweeps throughout the body. Some of its physical benefits include: increased flexibility, increased joint, tendon, and ligament lubrication, weight loss, relaxation, massaging of the internal organs (some of which would never get massaged), relieves stress, detoxifies the body, and tones the muscles. These physical benefits are reason enough to enjoy a yoga session, but are really just the tip of the iceberg when speaking of a long term practice. The mind and the emotions become much more at ease and balanced, reducing the stress of everyday struggle. You will be surprised at how strong and obvious the breath-mind-body connection becomes after just one yoga session.

Tai Chi

Also known as the "Supreme Ultimate", Tai Chi is an ancient system that aligns the breath with a series of movements called forms. Each form smoothly flows into the next creating a synergistic exercise that improves balance and awareness and ensures that the body is always in motion. Have you ever seen a group of people slowly taking steps and moving their hands in sync with one another in a park? You probably witnessed a Tai Chi class. Tai chi's slow and gentle movements actually burn more calories than surfing and have shown to improve cardiovascular health. Tai chi is much like a moving meditation in that the breath is followed with the mind and only then does the body make deliberate movements. The tai chi forms are not as intense or intimidating as the yoga asanas. Since tai chi emphasizes technique over force, it is suitable for anyone at any age, which may be why so many older adults are practitioners. For more information visit these websites.

Exercise

If yoga, meditation and tai chi seem a little to out there for you, try some kind of physical activity that works the cardiovascular system. There are literally thousands of studies that correlate a decent amount of exercise with improved health. Simply start walking around your neighborhood for fifteen minutes after work. If you enjoy walking try disc golfing, it is very inexpensive and you will get a good walk out of it. Ready to take it to the next level? Try bicycling or jogging. Pick up basketball or soccer games will definitely get your blood flowing and your lungs pumping. The point is, if you have to, start small and as you discover the good feeling you get from exercise move on to more intense workouts. When the cardiovascular system is worked out, it flushes out toxins and improves blood flow resulting in a healthier body.

Tai Chi Demonstration

The Diet

Optimizing your diet is the final step in holistic wellness. Now, telling someone what they should and should not eat is really kind of crossing the line in terms of personal space and making a lot of assumptions. That being said, there are many paths to take on the journey to total health and wellness. From personal experience I can testify that when I became more in touch with my body from a few of the techniques listed above (particularly deep breathing), I became aware of the foods that were throwing me off balance or just downright making me feel sick. Although it may seem that achieving wellness all at once in all areas is the goal, that's not usually how it works out. Most of the time it comes in small steps or in ebbs and flows. So as you become more intimate with how your body is feeling, don't forget to be aware of how what you eat is effecting your overall happiness and wellness. Here are some suggestions when choosing food.

Eat your Veggies!

You've been told this since you were a kid! Now's the time to recognize that vegetables and fruits are never a bad idea when it comes to choosing what to eat. They pack the most nutrients out of any food and will never leave you feeling heavy. Cut back on the meat and dairy products too. Yes, I'm a vegetarian. No, I don't believe that everyone should be one. However, meat and dairy products are very dense and take a very long time to digest. They are also more likely to contain things like growth hormones. If you have to eat meat try staying away from red meat as it is more dense than fish and game. If you are wondering which foods are packing the most nutrients per calorie, check out my informative hub on Whole Foods and ANDI scores.

Raw Foods

Overall, it is a good idea to eat at least one meal a day of completely raw (uncooked) vegetables and fruits. Raw food passes through the body more quickly than does cooked food and retains more nutrients when uncooked. Raw food also keeps you clear of processed foods which can have many synthetic ingredients that are harmful to the body. Try a salad for lunch everyday and notice the difference in your energy level.

pH Balance

A body with a balanced pH is said to fight off disease much easier, eliminate waste faster, and have a higher energy level. By eating too much foods that cause the pH of the body to be acidic (highly processed foods, meat and dairy products, refined sugars) we make the body more inviting to harmful viruses and bacteria. By eating mostly alkaline forming foods (most fruits and vegetables) our bodies function at a much higher level and are more free from disease.

Drink Water

Water is actually more important than food in terms of keeping a body balanced and healthy. Even if you are the healthiest eater on the planet, you won't feel good unless you have your water. Somewhere around a half gallon to a whole gallon a day is ideal. If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so don't wait until your mouth is parched. Also try to buy gallons of bottled water, depending on where you live, your water may contain unwanted contaminants.

Eat Smaller Portions

This is a good way to start off changing a diet. This will gradually show you how much difference a few bites can make in terms of energy throughout the day. From experience I can say it is totally worth it to be more energized and alert, and maybe a little hungry, compared to being foggy and lethargic on a full belly. With discipline comes delight!

Organic: To be or not to be?

When it comes to buying organic, choose your battles. Just because it says organic on the box doesn't mean it's healthy for you. If you buy a bunch of organic cookies, breads, meat and dairy products, but still buy conventional berries, potatoes, spinach and carrots, you're really not doing yourself any favors. Try getting your root vegetables, berries, greens, and apples organic, as they easily retain the crop dusting chemicals if they are conventional. Tropical fruits generally are not treated with anything as they are grown in countries where production isn't as forced. Again, just be vigilant and notice the difference in taste and feeling between organic and conventional foods.

Processed Foods/What to Avoid/Advertising

Processed foods are easy, convenient, and satisfy your tastes buds, but if you want wellness, you must value your health over convenience. Many grocery stores do not have much in the way of real food. Most of the stuff is packaged and processed, robbing it of its original nutritive value. If you have to microwave it, don't buy it. If it has ingredients you cannot pronounce right away, don't buy it. If it has a commercial on TV, its probably not going to be healthy. The truth needs no defense, so don't buy into these commercials defending high fructose corn syrup or any other manufactured ingredient. They are nothing but ad campaigns to keep you unhealthy and you hankering for something more. When you eat something knowing it should satisfy you, and it doesn't, that should be a warning sign. If these foods are your staples, you cannot expect to avoid illness or function optimally. Gradually let them fade out of your diet as you become more in tune with your body.

Thank you for making the choice to lead a healthy life. Not only will it help you be more happy but it in turn helps the world. Thank you for taking the time to read this hub. I truly hope that it helps you in your quest to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Please rate this up if you found it helpful and informative and don't forget to check out my other hubs. :) Thanks again and may your life be happy, healthy and full of wonderful times!

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