There is a dizzying abundance of health information, advice and resources – some of which seems to change just as you get your head around it. Where does mindfulness fit into all of this?
I feel anxious about all the healthy things I know about, but am not doing. I have limited time, money and attention to spend on my health. So I find myself having to prioritise my health interventions. I’ve narrowed it down to food, exercise and meditation, or FEM for short.
Food advice often focuses on what not to eat. However, I find that it’s not just about what you leave out; it’s also about what you add in. Sure, I’ve cut refined carbohydrates, red meat and saturated fat. Yet it is still a daily challenge to replace that with enough healthy food. One food type makes an exponential difference to my wellbeing: leafy green vegetables. So I challenge myself to eat 1 cup of greens every day, ideally organic. Get yours delivered weekly with Abundance Wholesome Foods’ organic produce service.
I prefer soft and stretchy over powerhouse and sweaty, so I choose yoga over running. Conversely, my colleague prefers deadlifting to pilates. While it’s great to indulge your natural preference, it is important to practice movements that you don’t like. This often indicates a counterbalance that your body really needs. So now I’ve cut down my yoga practice to practice running. Ironically, this is improving my yoga practice!
Mindfulness: just sit
Mindfulness meditation is one of the most powerful health interventions because, just like food and exercise, it has a multiplier effect on so many other aspects of life. For example, mindfulness leads to:
- Insight into what we are really hungry for, thus improving our food choices
- Grit to endure a challenging new exercise routine, thus balancing our physique
- Self-compassion to heal rejection, thus fuelling our creativity
- Generosity towards others, thus strengthening our psycho-social support systems
Yet, because mindfulness has such wide-reaching effects, its impact is the hardest to isolate. We struggle to see the goal posts – what exactly are we aiming for here? – which makes it difficult to practice. I’ll talk about striving in the next post, but for now, Nike said it best: just do it!
I doubt that mindfulness meditation, on its own, guarantees wellbeing. However, together with healthy food and exercise, it will transform your life.
Currently, my FEM practice is: 1 cup greens, 30min running or yoga and 30min vipassana every day. Yours may cover the same areas but differ in the detail – make it simple, specific and realistic. Comment below to share your FEM goals!
Yagesh is an actuary and yogini, devoted to building a wellbeing economy. Contact her for personalised lessons or corporate workshops.
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