4. Practical Aspects Involved In Making A Lifestyle Change—Part II
4.1 Rule #1: See the truth
The truth is all around you, free for the taking. Open your eyes and you will see that people are destroyed in their prime by wrongful living habits. The more they indulge and consume, the more vital energy is lost and dissipated.
4.2 Rule #2: Live by the truth
How many times have we heard the old saying "actions speak louder than words?" Or thought one thing and done another? Once we know the truth, we're only halfway home. We must teach our sometimes reluctant ego (our smaller self) the true meaning of freedom, that of being as strong as our dreams, that of really being the most evolved, radiant soul possible. Why settle for second best?
Why, indeed? For that is what many people, possessing full free will and freedom of choice, end up doing.
The split second between desire and fulfillment of the desire is very crucial. The two can blend together into one before you know it. This is why it's been said that the best way to deal with temptation is to cast it out before even beginning to think about it, because once you give a thought "an audience" by letting it assert itself, you've given your emotional self the go-ahead. You'll need a will of iron now, for this is where some people give in, sometimes out of sheer frustration or irritation (and usually accompanied by some excuse to their higher selves).
When people have jaded taste buds, it becomes tricky to see the fine line between stimulation and enervation in foods. Some of them are so used to altering their moods that they may not remember what a "normal" mood is like, what it's like to be centered.
It all sounds so logical, so why are we tempted? Is it because we're not really sure whether we should eat something? No, it is because we are sure deep down that we shouldn't, but we are still arguing with our physical self.
The mental self and the subconscious self have already accepted the truth. Why do we sometimes refuse to listen to our inner voices? Only we ourselves know the answer to this question. We know how far we will go to follow truth. Either we will compromise and bend our principles (knowing full well that nature does not bend hers) or we'll choose freedom. We all choose our level of awareness and level of being.
Knowledge comes to those who should have it, those that seek it, those that see. Some people put as much energy into not changing by not doing it yet, doing it halfway or thinking of changing, as they could just as easily put into changing, and getting it over with!
I remember a Chinese expression saying "much noise on the stairway, but no one comes through the door." Somewhere between the dreamers and the cynics are the actual doers. There is a quotation in Composition of Foods that says:
The truth may not seem easy at first glance, but it is simple. Change is easy when you want it. You have to love yourself enough to change. (No one else will do it for you).
Self-discipline is a positive force. Discipline does not diminish life—it increases it. When we decide to become true to our biological heritage, we are backed up by all the forces of nature and by life itself. We learn how to channel our energy flow and conserve our vital energy.
Those who are undisciplined waste their vital life force and spread themselves too thin. They drain their energy, making life harder for themselves. Life can be easier and the choice is ours.
"He who has a firm will molds the world to himself..."
"People do not lack strength, they lack will..."
Some say that 5% of the people in the world think for themselves and the other 95% don't.
When you get rid of a bad habit, feel glad. If you kick the drinking habit, don't think "now I can't drink anymore." Think "now I don't have to drink," or "now I am a free person." (Now I am saving money, now I am saving energy, etc.). True freedom is freedom from need. The less you need, the more free you are. You aren't denying yourself anything. You are giving yourself the greatest gift of all: life and freedom. You have chosen enlightenment.
"When you can control your tastes and appetites, you will be master of your self."
"You will be a soul in a body, not just a body with a soul."
Poets, philosophers and seers have written about this lofty state of being for centuries!
When you increase your willpower, you increase your self-confidence. You strengthen yourself to your highest potential.
Don't just break bad habits—cultivate good ones. Don't see your life as full of "restrictions." See that you are gaining all your power and energy, all your beauty and all your strength. You'll soon find that abstinence is easier than "moderation," and that it's easier to give something up than to indulge in it "just this once." More energy is saved. We should live with nature, not against it.
If we are tempted to "make exceptions," we must ask ourselves if we want to start the chain of habits again, giving reality anew to all the memories and obsessive compulsions attendant to them. We can't be on both sides of the fence. Once we give up a habit, its memory and hold will fade with time.
When we truly see that what we eat today walks and talks tomorrow, we may feel that we are one of a "chosen few." Once upon a time there lived a man who thought that the sun was the center of our solar system and everyone knew he was crazy. They knew that the earth was the center, and it was flat!
In habit and thought you are different from the crowd, but follow your instincts and do what you know to be right.
4.3 Rule #3: Visualize the positive
Please read the section on affirmations, Lesson 16, page 381. We must be aware of the subtle messages we may be giving our subconscious minds. Sometimes we don't realize we are expressing our positive hopes in a negative way:
There is a certain power in the written and spoken mind, and there is a certain power in the way we formulate our thoughts. People with a strong will to live and a positive attitude live longer, other conditions being equal.
Smiling and laughing are healthy, both on the giving and on the receiving end.
When we want to encourage the body's natural healing process when fasting or otherwise, we should not visualize the illness and the symptoms, which are a manifestation of the healing that is taking place. Instead, the body is to be imagined in its healthy state, visualized in the positive light, seen as we want it to be. Some people even speak of visualizing healing white light surrounding the sensitive area, protecting it. The idea is to focus positive energy on the body. This is vastly different from focusing negative energy on it; when we worry about symptoms we literally reinforce our "sick" state by lending strength to it with our thoughts.
A quick glance at the following two ways of life, the negative and the positive, will convince us at once to go with the life force, the positive!
4.3.1 "Mirror, mirror on the wall... who's the fairest of them all?"
The key to rule #3 is the positive image of ourselves that we keep in our minds. When we see this image, we will see that improper, compulsive eating in the past distorted our bodies and our minds and revealed a lack of love for ourselves, as well as an escapist lifestyle. We experience what we believe, so we must believe ourselves to be deserving, attractive, desirable, and lovable. We must create the image of our highest self. If we do, we will then become our highest selves.
If you look at anyone who is "successful," you will see their absolute faith in their ability to succeed. You must have faith in your inherent powers. You are not just a "victim of fate." Remember that what passes to the subconscious mind can be translated into action. As we said, negative thoughts build upon themselves. If you entertain thoughts of failure and if you doubt your ability to succeed, you will generate negative energy. Many of your anxieties become self-fulfilling. "As you thinketh, so shall ye be."
Let's not think negatively. Instead, let's cultivate positive thoughts, and create a constant flow of positive energy. We decide what mood will color our thoughts. It is best to choose friends, books, movies and thoughts that nourish our minds and aspirations. When we look at any food or drink and cannot answer the simple question "what good will this do?" then we should let go at once. Old habits and crutches only stand in our way of our liberation. Soon the good, positive lifestyle will be habit, as strong a practice as the lifestyle it replaced.
4.4 Rule #4: Eat the optimum diet and live according to your natural mandate
We have discussed the diet of fresh, raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and getting plenty of exercise, fresh air and sunshine, in earlier lessons.
4.5 Rule #5: Remember the Simple Joys of Life
Not only are they free, they're fun. In a positive lifestyle we will find an abundance of joy. Singing, dancing, music, artistic and creative expression of all kinds, gardening—these are but a few of the simple joys of life. When we sing and dance, we join with the universe in its larger song, the eternal fountain of life.
4.6 Rule #6: Give of Yourself
In a television documentary on the life of Mother Teresa in India, it was said that she sent new volunteers to work in her homes for the dying, where they received their first dose of reality. One such volunteer came to her, a middle aged man given up to die of a heart condition by his physician. He'd apparently decided to put in some service to mankind before departing, but after working more and more with other people, and forgetting himself, his heart condition changed and he became well. (We know the role of diet in heart conditions, but some literature has also linked heart problems to people obsessed with themselves and with time, both of which will add stress to their lives.)
A person who doesn't give readily of himself suffers from a sort of poor sluggish disposition too. Giving of oneself is sometimes harder than giving of one's possessions. Either way, most people usually give to the persons of their choice, who are "worthy" to receive their generosity. We should give with the same readiness to strangers, since they are the same as every living being.
Kahlil Gibran says of giving:
"It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
4.6.1 Living in Excess of One's Needs
Wealth—who hasn't wondered what they'd do with a million dollars? In our search for "security" we should stop and reflect a moment. The easier it becomes for us, the more we should look to see what we can do for others.
Even when we feel the pinch financially, there's always room to stretch, and there's always someone with less.
Anyone living in excess of their basic needs is being self-indulgent if s/he doesn't share. Just as the body with excess food becomes saturated or bloated or toxic, the spirit of a person becomes cloudy when s/he has more than s/he needs to get by. If one has health, happiness comes naturally. Beyond these, what will money buy? It can't really even buy these, and this has been said in so many different ways by now that it seems we'd take it for granted. Yet we often lose sight of our perspective in the search for security.
Some of the most generous people I met travelling in foreign countries were people who had almost nothing.
If you can learn to be happy with nothing, think what you can do if something comes along!
4.8 Rule #7—Relax
If you want to keep pace with a world that is moving faster than ever, the best thing to do is relax. The younger generation is instinctively more open-minded and active because it has to keep up with constant change and expansion. We should be as fluid, tolerant and easy-going as possible at all times, and let go of our attachments. We don't hold our breath if we want to live, and must let go of one breath and flow into the next one. We should be this fluid in our deeper selves. We don't want our physical body or our minds to be rigid, contained or tied to one idea, rather they should be as changing, evolving and ongoing as life itself.
Negative emotions are only useful insofar as they can trigger us into positive action. A brief moment of anxiety makes us alert to something that needs attention. Adrenalin stimulates the body to action. Or negative emotions may serve as a release of pent-up feelings, a cleansing. Whatever their purpose, whenever they linger on and stretch into minutes and hours, we begin to drain our energy and enervate the body needlessly. The anxiety (or whatever) alone, without action, is futile once its initial purpose, that of "warning," is fulfilled.
As long as we ignore stress, we are not in a state of mental well-being. Constant pressure injures us by interrupting the natural flow on a physical and mental level. Our brain becomes distracted and enervated. The autonomic nervous system gets out of control. We can feel the grip of stress in our necks, shoulders, facial muscles, feet, hands—we must break its grip.
The fear of failure can feel as threatening to us as an approaching train in whose path we stand. Your body can't tell the difference—it just feels the stress. In a chronic stress pattern there is sometimes a crisis that arises to break the cycle. For example, illness will force the person to rest, for he'll have an excuse to stay in bed or do nothing.
If only doing nothing were that easy. Some people are afraid that it means they're apathetic or lazy. They've forgotten that one can creatively do "nothing." Clearing the mind space and letting the universe inside for a moment can hardly be called nothing! People should remember to relax simply.
The simple repetition of a sound can relax the body and the mind. In meditation, breathing slows. Heart rate diminishes. The sensation is calming and relaxing. Relaxation response is the result. We know that we must change to good dietary habits for health, but it is worth noting that meditation has been seen to effect changes on the physical level as well as the mental level. Studies have shown that it diminishes irregular cardiac contraction, particularly ventricular tachyarrhythmias, and that it can reduce the number and intensity of anxiety attacks. Insomnia, tension and migraine headaches, and certain other kinds of pain may be reduced. Meditation helps lower blood pressure in hypertensive people, and has helped drug, alcohol and cigarette abusers too. It has been effective in treating speech problems such as stuttering. One study showed a significant reduction in serum cholesterol levels after eleven months of daily meditation. Yogis and serious meditators can learn to control their pulse, brain waves, blood pressure, heart rate, skin conductance, muscle tension, peripheral circulation and respiratory pattern and rate.
My purpose in mentioning this is certainly not to suggest that meditation should be a replacement for correction of dietary habits, but through meditation we may learn more about the powers of the mind, and this can help us on any level. We will be well-rewarded if we reach for both physical health and mental growth, for they go hand in hand. Meditation is a wonderful tool to employ in realizing self-knowledge.
Choose a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and get comfortable sitting or lying down. Close your eyes and let your mind drift. Let each thought go and quiet your mind. You'll be amazed at first how often your conscious mind will insist on asserting itself, accustomed as it is in preoccupying your normal waking state. But continue to let each thought go. Try to do this for fifteen to twenty minutes, twice a day, as a minimum. You may do it as often or as long as you like. With time you will see more and more changes in the quality of your meditative state. Some people read volumes on "psychic awareness," but these books can only describe various dimensions of thought and cannot of themselves bring the awareness to a person. Not all people gifted with sensitive minds are book-educated. Some of them are merely wise in their simplicity. Just as a fast (with temporary elimination of food) renews and revitalizes the entire organism, so too does meditation (temporary elimination of conscious thought) refresh the mind and elevate the spirit to new heights.
Pure diet, fresh air, sunshine, warm baths, swimming, dancing, hiking, camping, gardening, exercise, laughter (and crying) and humor are all possible ways of dealing with stress. Mild massage can help. Care should be taken to avoid rigorous massage with extremes of vigorous thumping, molding and probing. This may result in over-stimulation, enervation and possible harm. In mild massage, touch and the human factor are at work. There is something magnetic and caring about another person's touch that can do wonders. Love is truly healing.
Exercise should include some form of aerobics to get the heart pumping and circulation going. There was an inter-sting note in a book on longevity that said in one area with many old people the men seemed to live about 20 years longer than the women, with all lifestyle factors seemingly equal. Upon closer scrutiny, one difference was found: the women tended to walk around in their homes? on a flat surface, whereas the men climbed up and down the long, steep mountain trails for much of their days. They had well-developed, strong calf muscles which pumped the blood up to their hearts more vigorously—their circulation was better. So even when we walk and do housework and gardening, getting plenty of "old-fashioned" exercise, we must also do something with a bit more spark to it.
When I don't run or swim, I find dancing at home a good way to get the heart going and get a variety of movements done. It's my personal opinion that people miss a lot of fun when they reserve dancing just for special events or parties, or just for when they can find a partner.
4.9 Rule #8—Take your time
Time does not exist as we define it in our human terms. In fact, it even differs from individual to individual, from a child to a peasant in a field to a businessman checking his watch.
Before we are a year old, we live in an eternal present. At about 2, "today" appears, at 2 1/2, "tomorrow." "Afternoon" and "yesterday" come at 4 and "days" at 5.
Kahlil Gibran says of time:
"You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable.
Quantum physics says that everything is one and time in not linear. Modern physics sees space and time existing together at once, as if they were a block, without separation in the block. It is we as individuals who divide it arbitrarily into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years, ad infinitum. While many people become more and more obsessed with and dominated by time, or bemoan their "lack" of it, it seems that children, primitive people, religious and mystical people all live in an eternal, continual present. When time ceases to flow in the fragments created by our words, we are enveloped by the stillness that all the great mystics have spoken about.
When you aren't living in the now, and you slip into the past or the future, you are alive in a time that is not the real time of the moment. Your focus changes, and you are no longer centered, on balance.
When you think of time, does it seem that the last year has gone faster than the one before it? Do you often rush to get things done and fear that you'll never have enough time? What is enough time? Be assured that each of us has all the time we need.
If you let your mind jump ahead to the year 3000 you will see in perspective how important it is that the vase be dusted, or whatever. When you watch ants, some will get lost up on a twig for what seems like ages, doing who knows what. We are like these ants at times, distracted off in our corners, filling our time with all sorts of busy activity that seems important to us. We must survive and find our priorities in life. But in our rush to survive, we must not forget to LIVE. Once a day at least (if not more!), remember just to live, only to live, not to do. Stop listening only to your constant stream of thoughts; it's like looking in a mirror at yourself all day long—certainly most of us wouldn't consider that a thrill. Get outside yourself and listen to the birds, the wind, the silence, and you will hear other voices speak.
Feel the life force within yourself. Remind yourself to slow down for a moment, long enough to enjoy the miracle, for truly your participation in life in this grand universe is a miracle. Don't let life trickle through your fingers like the sand in an hourglass, so that once it's gone, it's too late and you never realized it. Don't wait to live. Feel it. Stop wasting your time worrying about time. An 81-year-old friend told me at 31, when I was lamenting about not having enough time: "don't worry, you'll have all the time you need when you're dead." Likewise, we have all the time we need to live. So, we must live our lives fully, for quality, not quantity.
John Lennon said,
"Life is what happens while we're busy making other plans.
Home > Lesson 90 - Psychology And Practical Aspects Involved In Making A Change In Lifestyle
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