As a holistic health practitioner, seeking to live a joyful, balanced, fulfilled, and healthy life, and with a dharma to guide others to do the same, I live with this question:
- Why do people not consistently take care of themselves (body and soul) when it clearly ultimately creates the foundation for the happiness they deeply want?
While learning to take care of your precious self and your wonderful body is an ongoing process that is unfolding perfectly, I can’t help but ask and reflect on how to make this process as elegant and fluid as possible. It seems to me that there is an abundant amount of information on how to take care of the body and soul today. And yet often, I hear friends, clients and students say that they can’t find the time or energy or motivation to make food from scratch, meditate, go for walks, go to bed early, and otherwise take care of their body and soul. They say that they know they should, that they feel more balance and connected when they do, but somehow ‘life’ gets in the way.
We are all creating our lives on a moment to moment basis and the way that we spend our time depends on our values. Many of us are driven by external values: money, accomplishment, getting things done, immediate pleasure and comfort, external recognition, pleasing others and rigid definitions of beauty. These external values have to a great extent been programmed into us since birth by the societies that we have been born in to. In other words, we are conditioned by our upbringing, education, experiences, and what our society values.
I’m discovering that there are other values that can drive our choices. I call them internal values: authenticity, inner peace, joy, connection, compassion, fairness, freedom, truth. Many of us do tap into these more or less regularly but in times of stress, it seems that external values often trump the internal ones.
How do we shift from a place of primarily external values to internal ones? My experience is that life will often force us to… when our health is failing, when we’re struggling financially, or conversely have all money we need and still don’t feel fulfilled, when we no longer have the energy to drive ourselves to achieve, or conversely have achieved much but still feel empty, when we are tired of pushing ourselves to check off things on a to do list, when our addictions (immediate pleasure) are clearly costing us more than they are giving us, when external recognition isn’t sustaining us, when the people around us seem to disapprove of us or be unhappy no matter what we do … these are challenges that can be stepping off points for inquiry into what really matters to us, and the discovery of the more sustaining internal values.
Internal values can also be tapped into on a consistent basis by taking time to be still enough to sink beneath the conditioned self and its values, into our true nature which is always aligned with the internal values – authenticity, inner peace, joy, connection, compassion, fairness, freedom, and truth are quite simply qualities of spirit. In other words, we don’t need to figure out how to create them – they are integral to who we are but have been veiled by our conditioning.
When our awareness is tethered to these internal values on a consistent basis we find that our choices and the way we spend our time transforms, often quite dramatically. We connect to a deep longing to touch into inner stillness, to spend time in the sweet presence of our soul and to experience the exhilaration of living in a healthy body. From this place we can live in the magic of the creative unfolding of our most beautiful life.