By Celeste Smucker
Holistic living requires that you create balance in all aspects of your life, from your body to your emotions and your mind.
And as a healthy body is the foundation for balanced emotions and mind, it’s a perfect place to start.
After all, if you’re not feeling your best, it’s tough to have the energy and vitality you need to do much else.
On the other hand, when your body is healthy, your energy soars and your ability to also balance your emotional and mental dimensions increases dramatically.
Let’s take a look at how to achieve this all important physical balance.
How to Find Physical Balance In an Up & Down World
Did you ever notice that life has lots of ups and downs?
In the physical dimension this could look like being full of energy one morning and feeling great as you look forward to a new day. But then life happens.
You have a mid-morning crash because you were running late and didn’t take time for breakfast. So you drink some coffee to perk you up until lunch.
If lunch is a quick sandwich while you keep working you may be looking at a mid-afternoon slump and another trip to the coffee machine.
If the stress and caffeine keep you up at night, you may feel tired, even have difficulty getting out of bed the next day. But chances are you get up, grit your teeth and go to work anyway.
And it starts all over again.
This scenario with all of its ups and downs describes what life can be like when your physical body is out of balance.
And how do you know it's imbalanced? You don’t feel focused, vital and alive.
How to Harness Physical Balance for More Energy
We all experience life in a relative field, a continuum that runs from positive (the energy of love) to negative (the energy of fear). When you feel joyful, ecstatic and enthusiastic, you are at the positive end of the spectrum.
At the negative end you may feel exhausted, overwhelmed, lethargic or depressed.
And if you are like most of us, you often swing from one pole to the other depending on what’s happening in your life at the moment.
You likely feel healthy, energetic and awake when things go in a direction you consider to be “right,” or “good.”
But when something doesn’t go as planned, you may swing to the opposite pole and feel defeated and drained, with all of your energy going to anger and frustration.
Where is balance in the midst of this?
Balance is that place in between the positive and negative polarities where you enjoy life but no longer experience the big swings.
Rather, you have a completely different perspective.
One that allows you to watch and experience your life events from a state of acceptance.
In this place, you recognize that whatever happens, all is as it should be. And instead of being unhappy and resistant, you enjoy feeling calm, peaceful and relaxed.
Now you have energy to spare that you can harness and use for things that uplift you and keep you balanced.
How to Maintain Physical Balance
To consistently enjoy exceptional health and wellness, it helps to find this place of balance and maintain it.
To get started, understand that in the relative field we tend to lean (either consciously or unconsciously) towards the negative, fear-based end of things.
A glance at your newsfeed confirms this.
How much of the news you read or watch is positive?
Or, when it comes to your health, how often do you talk about how vibrant and energetic you feel? Instead, most of us talk about what is off about our health but don’t remember to share how great we feel on a good day.
Since our default position is towards the negative end of the spectrum, to achieve balance we must focus our energy on ways to emphasize the positive.
As an example, let’s take a look at how we make food choices.
Our decisions about what and how much to eat may also be (unconsciously) fear based.
For example, we may choose to overeat out of fear of not having enough food to eat, even when that’s unlikely. Or maybe we eat too little or go on crash diets out of fear of being criticized for not having a perfect body.
How do we make the shift to the love based positive side of eating? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
* When you sit down to eat, and before you pick up your fork, express gratitude for the food on your plate, the people who prepared it and the lunch hour that gives you a break from your other responsibilities.
* As you eat, notice how your food tastes, feels and smells, relishing every bite.
* Consider how you feel when you swallow. Nourished and cared for? If so, take a minute to express gratitude once again.
With practice, expressing gratitude will keep you focused in the present moment and help you balance the old, worn out, negative thoughts you have about food and eating.
You may find you enjoy your food more and, if you're overweight, start losing some extra pounds.
Best of all, now you are on your way to achieving the balance you seek in your physical dimension.
The same concepts can apply to exercise. For example, if you take a walk, rather than thinking about your day ahead or issues that upset you, focus on the sights, sounds, smells and feel of being outdoors.
If you are indoors, focus on your breath or on how good your muscles feel as you move them.
The key is to stay focused on what’s happening in the moment and enjoy the process.
Now let’s look at how to create a personal strategy for creating physical balance.
How to Balance Your Unique Constitution
Finding physical balance starts by reflecting on your current state of health as well as the diet and lifestyle choices you have made in the past, and your willingness to make changes.
As your constitution is unique, it is important to understand that a good diet for you may be very different from what brings balance to your friends or relatives.
For some people, a diet featuring meat, dairy products and root vegetables could promote tiredness, lethargy and weight gain. But these same folks may flourish if they choose lighter fare and add bitter greens to their salads or some spices to the food they cook.
On the other hand, if you are recovering from an illness, are underweight or have a digestive tract that is dry from overeating chips, crackers and raw foods, a positive focus could mean choosing chicken noodle soup, a baked sweet potato with melted butter and some sauteed greens.
So rather than adopt the latest “healthy” diet plan that works great for someone else you know, start by evaluating your personal imbalances. Then make the food choices that suit you best.
Whatever you choose, take it slow. Don’t try to change everything at once or come up with an eating plan you’ll never follow.
You will know you made the right decisions if you feel healthy and vital after you eat. If not, reevaluate and change course until you do.
The more balanced you become, the more energetic and alive you will feel.
The same can be said for exercise. For some individuals a vigorous workout is just what they need to get their blood moving and bring more oxygen to their cells. For others, who may be stressed from overwork or overwhelm, a calming routine like yoga could be more balancing.
More Holistic Lifestyle Tips for Your Wellness Journey
While healthy eating and exercise are critical for people who want to balance their physical dimension, there are a number of other steps you can take to reach your goals.
1. Start with meditation, the most powerful balancing tool of all.
Meditation brings balance by taking your focus into a calm, peaceful place and away from the stress and tension of daily life so you can relax.
Take a moment, right now, to check in with your body.
Are your muscles tight? Where are your shoulders? Are they relaxed or are they up around your ears? How about your jaw or your back? Are you breathing calmly and deeply or with short rapid breaths?
Regardless of where you hold stress in your body, it robs you of energy and contributes to poor health.
Fortunately you can count on meditation to relax you and immediately reduce your stress.
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2. Try breathwork. You probably don’t pay attention to your breathing even though every moment you live, you breathe.
Unfortunately, that can mean your breathing patterns unconsciously reflect your current imbalances, which can keep you stuck in old familiar ways.
This is why meditation teachers have always taught the importance of conscious breathing.
Enlightened teachers from yogic pranayama to Zen confirm the importance of simple, powerful techniques for unlocking balance and serenity through breath.
3. Get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping well is key to achieving balance in your physical dimension.
If sleep is a challenge for you try establishing a nightly sleep routine.
Start by setting a regular bedtime and sticking to it. Over time your body will know to prepare you for a restful night’s sleep at that time.
A recent study found consistent sleep and wake times to be more important than the number of hours a person sleeps for predicting their risk of mortality from a variety of causes including cancer.
Calming breathwork like the “4-7-8” technique may be helpful as well, as is writing in a gratitude journal.
A study of 401 adults (some of whom suffered from impaired sleep) examined the connection between daily expressions of gratitude and sleep.
Results showed expressing gratitude was associated with better sleep quality and duration. Participants also fell asleep more quickly and suffered less dysfunction during the day.
Turning off electronics an hour before bedtime is important since blue light interferes with your body’s natural ability to fall asleep.
4. Stay hydrated. Having sufficient fluid in your body can assist in all kinds of ways.
For example, a study based on a national sample looked at the connection between water intake and health. Results showed that just a 1 percent increase in daily water consumption was associated with decreased intake of sugar sweetened beverages, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
Other studies have found fluid loss associated with decreased athletic performance, increased headaches and reduced memory and ability to concentrate. Fluid loss may also increase anxiety and fatigue.
5. Mindful eating. To practice eating mindfully, focus your thoughts and emotions solely on the experience of eating the food in front of you, enjoying every bite and chewing thoroughly.
This practice slows you down so you can relax and release stress. And eating slowly and chewing thoroughly help facilitate better digestion.
When you eat mindfully, you will find you are more tuned into your body. This includes awareness of your stomach so you are more likely to stop eating when it is full.
Consistently practicing mindful eating may also motivate you to make healthier food choices.
6. Cultivate relationships with holistic practitioners. Having practitioners who share your commitment to a holistic lifestyle will support your focus on balancing your physical dimension. And of course they can answer your questions as they arise and give you useful feedback.
Your Pathway to Fulfillment
The first step to greater fulfillment in your life is to bring balance to your physical dimension. The firm foundation that comes with that achievement makes it easier to balance your emotional and mental dimensions as well.
And when you find balance in all three three primary dimensions, physical, emotional and mental, you can enter the subtle dimension, the gateway to a more fulfilling life.
In the subtle dimension, you can transcend the limitations of human experience and consistently access the power of your intuition.
And when that happens, you will participate in the joyful experience of Aware Presence, the unified consciousness that underlies everything.