Diet and exercise: mind, body, & spirit

Luna moths in June are a wonder of nature

Luna moths in June

Does it really matter what we eat and whether we exercise?  From one point of view, we’re here to have an experience in the physical world.  Does it really matter what that experience is?  In a way, I think not, with no qualifiers.  There are as many ways to perceive reality as there are beings to perceive.  It is not for me to say you should eat this or get up and walk every day so you’ll be ‘healthy’.  Maybe you don’t want to eat mostly plants and no chemicals and would rather sit around all day watching crap TV, or reading or playing games or whatever.  It’s all ok.

But. The reality is that there are lots and lots of people who aren’t happy, and more than that, are depressed or anxious or filled with fear.  That doesn’t seem like fun to me but they continue to be depressed and unhappy and fearful even when taking so-called anti-depressants.  These drugs don’t really work because they don’t change the underlying situation.

Thoughts have power.  We imagine, we think, we become what we believe.  This is a world of free will.  We  don’t have lots of control because there are so many others with their own input but we do have control of how we feel about things.  The problem is that if we are used to thinking and feeling down and fearful those patterns will continue unless we interrupt them.  I learned in my hypnotherapy studies and related readings that neurons that fire together wire together.  Thought patterns and habits that are repeated become habitual.  The opposite is also true: use it or lose it.  In other words, when you stop thinking a certain way, you can really change the kind of neural connections that you have.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fear, anxiety and depression.  I have a friend who is struggling in some murky waters of fear and anxiety.  Anxiety can be crippling and support can be hard to find since the symptoms are so ambiguous.  While talking with my friend it has occurred to me that anxiety and fear are a form of pain.  In hypnotherapy we learn that as much as 75-80% of experienced pain is actually remembered pain, not current.  The expectation of what pain will feel like magnifies the pain.  That’s why pain meds don’t really work long-term and why hypnotherapy can be so effective for pain management.  With several techniques the remembered pain is peeled away until a much smaller and manageable pain is left.

The view from Healy Pass on the BC/ Alberta border.  Love of the world can lighten heavy spirits.

The view from Healy Pass on the BC/ Alberta border. Love of the world can lighten heavy spirits.

So fear and anxiety are sort of soul pain with life and those fearful and anxious pathways become worn in and familiar and at the same time dreaded  so that each subsequent anxiety event is made greater with the anticipation and remembered feelings of fear.  A person might resist but I wonder if resisting might just create more fear and anxiousness with the buildup.  The hard part is that most of us identify so closely with our mind that we can’t separate enough to see/know/perceive that we are the rider, not the ride.  One moment of noticing the negative pathway can make a difference.  Interrupt the thought and reframe.  Subsequent interruptions will be faster until the pattern has changed.

Most of the inner dialog started when we were children.  I know that we all learned, ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.’ but that is not true.  Words have power.  Negative words repeated and repeated to young impressionable children sink in and become core values that limit that person.  It takes work, but those erroneous values can change.

I was fortunate in my childhood because I had a godmother who loved me unconditionally.  I knew that she thought I was fabulous.  I would not have survived my miserable teens without her in my life.  I felt understood and loved and accepted for myself.  To this day my godmother Mary is the single most important person in my life.  I would hope that everyone has at least one person that shows that kind of acceptance.   It is the basis of self-esteem, so important for healthy navigating of a life.

Ultimately the goal for everyone is to enjoy being themselves and to be interesting to themselves.  Being creative or helping others is a way of getting out of oneself but eventually everyone needs to love and care for themselves.

Returning to diet and exercise, it’s my experience that all dis-ease has an emotional and spiritual (invisible) component as well as a physical one.  We are beings of energy and all our cells have a consciousness.  It makes sense to me that the energy of the food going in will directly impact the cells that receive the food. Organic, life-sustaining food that produces viable seeds for the next season is the only choice when you look at the universe in a soulful way.

In the years since the development of low-fat foods and diet this and that, there is an obesity epidemic.  I read recently that diet foods actually cause weight gain (!!!??) and eating good fats  helps metabolism  and targeting healthy weight.  There is more heart disease and diabetes than ever even with all the new drugs.  The cholesterol lowering drugs, statins, have not helped heart disease because cholesterol isn’t the major cause of heart disease, lifestyle and diet are.

I recommend drcate.com for some interesting and not widely known things about cholesterol, statins and heart disease.  Also, listen to her interviewed by Sean Croxton of undergroundwellness.com  for  clear information about diet and cholesterol.  Cholesterol is the body’s delivery system, how we get fats and nutrients to various parts of our bodies, especially our brains.  Statins don’t just block receptors, they instigate a metabolic change and we are only now learning the full effects.  Some of those effects can be so subtle at first that they are attributed to aging and some of those changes are irreversible.

It’s the responsibility of the individual to attend to her own health and well-being.  I learned when I had cancer that I could control what I ate, I could learn  about my condition and so make informed decisions, and I could chose a fabulous team of health care people to help me journey through cancer to health.  I addressed the spiritual and emotional components as well as the physical.  It all INTERESTS me.

The scent of roses is heartening and can lighten and uplift a somber mood.

The scent of roses is heartening and can lighten and uplift a somber mood.

In his book, Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, Martín Prechtel tells about the Mayans of Santiago Atitlán who believe that we are obligated to the Gods to be sweet and tasty so that they can appreciate life through us and continue to send us life.  I think that, as well, we are obligated to be sweet and tasty to ourselves, creative and interesting.  In our creativity we joyfully honour the creative source and love the World and create it anew each day.

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