Life is ever changing. We are dynamic and rarely static, yet having a life of routine might help you live longer.
How is that possible?
My grandfather lived a very structured life.
He ate an egg on toast, two pieces of bacon, and three pieces of cantaloupe for breakfast, every day.
He ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time, every day.
He walked after each meal, every day.
He went to bed at 11:30 pm and woke up at 7 am, every day.
His patterned behavior is what he attributed to his healthy life, and I have to agree.
There is so much about life that we are unable to control. We can’t control the storms that come our way, the job layoffs, the broken relationships, but we can control the simple things in life that keep us going.
The Big 3 that keeps us going are:
Oh wait, did you think by the Big 3 I meant:
Rock and Roll
Sorry about that.
If we can get a grip on performing those three life tasks consistently (sleeping, eating, and exercising) we have a chance of having a smoother and potentially longer life.
My grandfather, Poppop, lived to be 92, and he lived fully up until the last 3 months.
During the last 3 months of his life, he was in the hospital. He had some discomfort, mostly from all the tests the hospital put him through. The last 3 days of his life were difficult for him, and then he died. Because I was in agony watching him die, it seemed like he lay dying for a long time. Looking back though, it was a very short period of time.
So many people I know seem to be slowly dying from the time they turn 40, and they continue this slow decent for decades. Decades. Many of my friends, neighbors, and family members (No, I’m not talking about you.) struggle with weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, whacky hormones, and the list goes on.
Most of us have not found that peace that a life of consistency brings.
Our bodies need a healthy routine of the Big 3.
We need a sensible pattern to help us exist.
You feel that, don’t you?
When you stay out too late, isn’t the next day really difficult?
When you eat that piece of birthday cake at 9 pm at night, don’t you have trouble sleeping?
When you miss your daily workout session, don’t you feel sluggish?
When you try and compensate with an extra cup of coffee, don’t you feel all bothered and jittery?
We need the Big 3 to remain constant in our lives.
My Poppop grew up during the Great Depression. There was a reason for him to ration his food and eat the same foods for each meal. There was also a reason for him to wake up at the same time each day to go to work.
Luckily, we are not experiencing an economic turn like that of the Great Depression. Today, many of us can eat whatever we want with the ability to choose between the multitudes of fast food and grocery stores. Many of us can sleep when we want to with the ability to work in virtual offices from home.
That isn’t helping us as a nation to stay healthy, though. As we vary our sleep patterns, we lessen our ability to heal from the emotional and physical wear and tear life puts on our bodies. As we vary our food intake, we alter our metabolism. As we vary our exercise, our bodies become injured more easily.
Consistency in life is important, but don’t get me wrong. Spontaneity has its importance in life as well. I will never pass up birthday cake at 9 pm, and I don’t think Poppop would have either. You’ve got to always leave room in life for adventures. Go watch those shooting stars, and hike those canyons, but for the normal days, stay consistent.
While you don’t have to be as exact as my grandfather, I challenge you to try being routined with the Big 3 for six weeks and see how you feel.
Wake up every day at the same time.
Endeavor to eat a protein, fruit, vegetable, and grain for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You don’t have to eat the same thing for every meal like Poppop did. Just make sure you have the same nutrition ratio, and eat as close to the same time each day as you can.
Walk, stretch, practice yoga each day. If you can only exercise in the mornings, then do it! If it has got to be after lunch, then do your exercise at that time. Pick a time and stick to it.
Being consistent with the Big 3 helped my grandfather with his overall health, but it also helped create space in his life for happiness and peace.
A friend of mine has told me on numerous occasions that she doesn’t want to live past 80. She’s currently in her 50’s, so that doesn’t leave her with a whole lot of time. (No, this isn’t about you. Just, kidding, it’s totally about you!) She has predetermined that she will have a life of medical hardships that 80-year-olds often face, and I find that so sad.
My grandfather had such a great outlook on life. Even as he lay dying during that 3-day time span, he held my hand and smiled as he told me he was planning on living until he was 110.
Stay consistent with the Big 3, and may you create so much room in your life for peace and happiness that you find yourself striving to live to be 130!
There is a hurricane coming, and the fireball on the TV screen that represents Hurricane Florence appears to be coming right for the town I live in.
Or, it might totally miss us.
It depends what time of day I look at the Weather Channel.
It might head straight for us. It might go north of us. It might go south of us. It might hug the coast.
“This storm will cause destruction like we have never seen,” is the message I’ve heard all week long from the local and national media.
Our town, that may or may not get hit by the storm, has begun to close down. Businesses are closing. Schools have closed. We will all sit by the TV, watching the Weather Channel, glancing from the TV screen to the window for a view of the sky.
And, we will all wait.
I’ve been through a hurricane that was a category 4 before, and it was terrifying. I was living 3 hours inland from the coast, so my area was only supposed to get tropical storm-like symptoms from Hurricane Hugo. Hugo didn’t slow down like it was supposed to. Instead, it kept its strength and came barreling through leaving a path of destruction.
What storms are supposed to do and what they end up doing differ greatly.
Even the best weather forecasters in the world get it wrong now and then, so I wonder, will they get it right with this hurricane? Will it go south? Will it go north? We truly don’t know, and we truly have no control over where and what the hurricane decides to go and do.
What I’ve learned from the past is this, while a hurricane can bring out the worst in some people, for most people it brings out their best.
Yes, a few days ago there was a fist fight that broke out in the parking lot of Harris Teeter – two grown men fighting over bottled water.
Yes, there was a man who nearly ran over a runner in his rush to pick up his kid at the neighborhood middle school, and yes, this man got out of his car and kicked the car of the person behind him who took a picture of his license plate and called the cops.
Yes, there is no more bread on the shelves at the grocery store, even though many in our town claim gluten intolerance.
Yes, people I know are short tempered.
Maybe it’s because they have been staring at their hurricane preparedness snack supply for too long wondering when…when can I begin to eat that box of Oreos? Maybe it’s because their weekend at the beach had to be postponed? Maybe it’s the barometric pressure messing with their sinuses? I know it’s giving me a headache! (Yes, peppermint and lemon oils are currently in my essential oil diffuser)
But, when the hurricane hits, and it will hit soon, all that will fade away.
We will all collectively come together and help one another.
I’ve seen it many times, and it’s beautiful.
Fallen trees will be removed, homes will be repaired, food will be shared, people will laugh and possibly cry – together.
For the majority of us, this hurricane will bring out the best in us.
As we sit and wait and watch, knowing that we have no control over the direction or intensity of the storm, we deeply affirm the knowledge that while we can’t control the storm, we can control ourselves.
Here’s to the best in all of us!
Bring on the storm!
I am opening the box of Oreos, and I am ready!
Technology has given us a constant circle of friends. From Facebook to Instagram, we are connected to a world where we can learn about Sally’s son’s graduation and Bob’s broken toe. We are woven together by social media. Chained as one by our cell phones, computers, and even our TVs, we live in a technology-driven world where it’s hard to find a time when we are truly alone.
Yet, it’s amazing how many people are lonely.
Now, I’m not talking about depression or insecurity here. I’m talking about loneliness: without friends, alone. Loneliness can certainly bring out insecurity or depression, but let’s talk about what we can do to fix feeling lonely before it crashes into depression.
Human’s are social beings.
You know that.
I know that.
The founders of social media know that.
Because we are social beings, we like to interact with the world around us. Sometimes our lives don’t work out the way we plan, and we find ourselves sitting on a bench, alone and feeling lonely.
Here are two fixes to help when lonesome comes to call.
1- Live in the Present Moment
That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not that easy, which is why we often unknowingly open the door for lonely.
It’s so easy to let our minds drift back to the past. Too often when we do that, we aren’t remembering the good old days, but we are stuck on an event involving trauma or sadness. It consumes our minds to the extent that we are unable to focus on the here and now.
It’s not just the past that plagues our minds but also the future. We can become consumed by anticipating events that may or may not happen. All the “what ifs” that clutter our minds keep us away from what is going on right in front of us.
Letting go or moving on from past and future events doesn’t diminish the significance of the events. It allows us to live in the now and live more fully.
How do we let go?
The best way I have found is by calming my mind down through meditation and breathing exercises. Sometimes, a good long run also helps me because I am focused on my breathing and the steady cadence of my feet. If I can’t run, I often meditate or practice breathing exercises.
You can find meditations on the Sattva app and breathing exercises (also known as pranayamas) here.
When we sit on that bench and our mind is in the present, we allow ourselves to experience life more richly.
We begin to notice the person who just walked by us, smiled and said hello as he walked his dog.
We notice the person who sat on the bench with us and talked for 15 minutes.
We notice the birds, butterflies, squirrels or myriad of life that just circled around us.
When we are in the present, we realize we aren’t alone.
Still not feeling connected enough to brush lonesome off? Then, move to fix-it number 2.
2- Go Do Something Nice for Someone.
Have you heard the old saying, “When you give to the well of life, you get from the well of life?”
Helping others is a way to give to the well of life.
When you help others, you certainly aren’t alone, you are helping people. Helping others can elevate your mood as well as the mood of those you are helping. When you help others, you are forced to interact with people in a positive way. Most of the time, positive interaction grows more positive interaction.
But what can I do, you may be asking right now?
Keep it simple, and help where help is needed.
Go help stock food at your local Food Donation Center.
Volunteer at your child’s school, or your local church, synagogue, or temple.
Did someone in front of you at the grocery store just drop her grocery bag? Then, stop, and help her.
Is someone facing a grave illness? Then, take time to lend your ear. Helping isn’t about giving money. Sometimes helping someone in crisis involves showing that there is another person in the world that cares.
When you lift someone else’s burden of emotional isolation that a grave illness can create you become stronger. When you offer help, you are letting that person know she is not alone, which in turn makes you realize, “Hey, I’m not alone either.”
Ultimately, we are all in this technology-crazed, (at times dysfunctional) yet always beautiful, world together. Kick lonesome to the curb by living in the moment and helping others.
I’d like to talk about something that doesn’t get a lot of action – sleep. I’m particularly interested in the art of napping these days. What makes these days different from those days? I’m not quite sure, other than the fact that these days I’m tired. Maybe it’s the heat of summer or my workout regimen, or the constant barrage of awful news?
I don’t know what it is, but to be honest, Mama needs a nap.
Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes the hardships of life can wear you down. Don’t get me started about all the nap shamers out there. The people who roll their eyes when they hear of someone getting a good ten-minute rest. The people who make snide comments like, “I gave up naps when I was 3.”
I’m a fan of the rapper Eminem. One of his songs, “Not Afraid,” sings about taking a stand, and I’d like to take a stand on lying down. In Eminem’s chorus, he sings:
I’m not afraid (I’m not afraid)
To take a stand (to take a stand)
Come take my hand (come take my hand) “Not Afraid”
Let’s stand together for naps!
Eminem’s chorus goes on to say:
We’ll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just lettin’ you know that you’re not alone
Holla if you feel like you’ve been down the same road “Not Afraid”
I’m here to “holla” that most days I take a nap, and here’s why you should too.
Naps help you reset your nervous system.
When a stressful day starts getting the best of you, a good 10 or 15-minute snooze will help calm you down. Set aside 10 or 15 minutes out of your lunch break, put on your shades, and pull your hat down. Rest sitting if you can’t lie down. Just rest.
Naps help you refresh your mind and body.
When I’m working on a project, it’s easy to get stuck. If I close my eyes and focus on my breathing for a while and fall asleep, often twenty minutes later I’m back on task with a fresh perspective. If you are afraid you’ll sleep past twenty minutes, set the alarm on your phone.
Naps help to refuel your mind and body.
Have you ever had those days when you’re so tired, and that extra cup of coffee only serves to make you twitchy yet still tired? Try taking a 45-minute nap. You’ll be amazed at how energized you feel when you wake up.
Don’t be afraid! It’s OK to take a nap when you need it. You’re not alone. Go on, close your office door, put your sweater on the desk in front of you to use as your pillow, set the timer on your phone, and get some much-needed rest.
If you’d like to hear the rest of Eminem’s song, click here. It probably won’t help you fall asleep for your nap, it does contain explicit lyrics, but it may help you find the courage to nap when you need to rest.
Life isn’t always easy. When you’re tired, go take a nap!
I have paddle boarded in lakes and oceans by the side of playful dolphins, a curious manatee, and a world of aquatic wonderment both seen and unseen.
Last summer, my daughter and I paddled near a school of feeding tarpon – to this day my daughter swears up and down they were sharks. They weren’t sharks, they were tarpon. Big tarpon, but tarpon!
If you ever get the opportunity to stand up paddle board, you absolutely should. A lot of people call is SUP boarding. Oh, who am I kidding, I just made that up because it reminds me of Crush, the turtle in Finding Nemo.
Honestly, I have heard a few people call it that, so that’s what I’ll call it in this blog.
Here are three reasons why SUP boarding is worth a try (See important safety information at the end of this article please*):
1- There are many ways to SUP board
Unlike canoeing, kayaking, jet skiing, or other partaking in a sport on other water vessels, you can stand, sit or lie down on a SUP board.
Now you are probably thinking, but hey, wait a second, doesn’t the name of the board suggest that you have to stand up on the board. That’s part of the beauty of SUP boarding. You can rebel against the system and sit down. Dude, you can even lie down. Some boards have built-in chairs so you can fish off your SUP board.
The paddle is adjustable so you can shorten it for those times when you want to just be you and sit on your SUP board.
Stand up and paddle for a few miles if you prefer, and then lie down and take a nap.
It’s all good!
Don’t feel like sitting, lying, or standing? Then, dude, you can kneel in vajrasana. Speaking of vajrasana, you can even do yoga on your SUP board!
SUP boards maintain their balance so you can change your mind on what position you prefer. That creates a much more free feeling that you don’t get in, say, a kayak.
2- SUP boarding is virtually silent, leaving space for tranquility and peace.
There is no loud motor coughing up the air with a SUP board. The only sound is your paddle dipping quietly into the water.
Maybe there is an occasional curse word if you lose your balance while attempting a headstand on your board. Maybe.
Maybe there is an occasional, “Oh my GOD, MOM, THOSE ARE SHARKS,” coming from your paddle companion. Maybe.
For the most part, it’s just you and nature.
A few weeks back, I was out on the lake paddle boarding with my husband. A great blue heron flew by, and we were able to hear the woosh-woosh of his giant wings as he traveled over us. We breathed in the sound, feeling the energy of his flight.
3- When you are on your SUP board, you’re one with the water.
When you are standing, sitting, kneeling or lying down on your SUP board, there are only a few small inches between you and the water.
You might not be able to walk on water, but with a SUP board, you can stand on water.
When I had the lucky experience a few years ago of paddling beside five dolphins, I was so close to the water that I could feel their massive strength as they swam. Although I wasn’t swimming with them, I had the experience of being one with them.
Once, a manatee’s curiosity with me and my board allowed me to be one with his world. As I paddled, he’d peek his head out of the water and stare at me before submerging his head, body, then his giant tail.
I am pretty sure my daughter wished we were the height of an ocean liner when we encountered the tarpon on a feeding frenzy. Instead, we were inches from the water.
When you are on the water, there’s a whole world below you: a world of aquatic wonderment. Being so close to the water helps you feel connected to that amazing world.
The quiet of the SUP board helps increase your awareness in the present moment.
The ability to just be you on the board adds a sense of freedom to the overall experience.
Go on. Give it a try. Dude, SUP board!
* When possible, don’t SUP board alone. Always bring (or even better, wear) a life jacket. Always carry a bottle of water on your board. Wear sunscreen. Make sure you keep your cell phone and keys in a waterproof container that floats in case you fall while working on your hip hop moves (not that that has ever happened to me). Don’t mess with aquatic animals, just let them be.
With week one and week two under our belt, we moved into our final week of the Sri Sri Teacher Training Course in the mountains of Boone, North Carolina. During week three, our schedule remained the same, and our growth continued.
Tapping into the joys of childhood
At the beginning of the third week, everyone in class began to look younger. It doesn’t make sense, does it? After two weeks of lengthy yoga sessions, unpredictable weather, and long days, we should have looked haggard.
But, we didn’t.
We all have those memories of the unbounded joys of childhood. Remember those? Our class collectively began to tap into those old memories of happiness, and the contentment of self that young children have before life gets rough. Tapping into those feelings of happiness made us feel and look younger. That lost eye twinkle was back!
What could challenge that renewed youthful spirit? Well, I’ll tell you what – EXAMS!…
To continue reading, please click the link below to The Art of Living Retreat Center where the article was first published.
Thanks for reading!
Becoming a Yoga Instructor: The Sri Sri Yoga Teacher Training Course