01/14/2013 04:33 pm ET Updated Mar 16, 2013

Wake Up to Health


It's a new year, literally a new age... So let's wake up to health in a totally new way! Why not change perspective? Just because it's the new year, here we are again trying to have intentions, a usual pattern. Every new year, we resolve, resolve, and with gritted teeth, resolve that we will (for example) lose weight, fight the bulge due to holiday eating, squeeze in gym time to get that body back in shape. Now here's what I say: What if we made a real shift? Look back instead to the same issue -- same pattern -- that you haven't been able to resolve all this time. Let's focus instead on the issue that it's the "will" we need to develop to see things from a different perspective. Here are some suggestions how...

Changing the Way We See Health
By this, we mean that it's not all about the body, but that the body is just one part of ourselves that we need to "oil," clean up, check-up and nourish almost daily. Instead, let's connect to our many bodies. The yogic perspective identifies five bodies, or "koshas" or "sheaths." From the most gross to the lightest are the physical body, astral body, emotional body, mental body and spirit body. Each one has its own specific character, and its own specific nourishment.

Every time we take a mouthful of food, we are refueling the most complex and clever chemical mechanism, which is the physical body. This should be nourished by healthy, life-giving food, with a choice of more fruits and vegetables (five servings on a daily basis is recommended); protein from fish, chicken and other protein alternatives like soy (at least twice a week); dairy foods in moderations (and low-fat, please); and whole grains and complex carbohydrates in breads and cereals and red, brown or wild rice. "Balance" is the operative word as we bring in the unrefined and complex starches and whole grains like cereals, breads and rice. Pump it up with vitamins and minerals that can be obtained from whole and life-giving foods that are grilled, stewed or steamed. Eating less red meat also "lightens the body" and keeps away a lot of diseases.

The astral body is nourished by the life force, so try to keep away from negative and heavy people and places, stressful events and situations. Nourish this by breath that is aware and positive. The astral body is also affected by the space around it, so let's check our living or work spaces to see that there are no pockets of "old" angry or sad energy. To cleanse, light a white candle, burn some sandalwood (this has the highest vibratory level of energy) incense, draw the curtains and open the windows to let fresh air and light in. The emotional body is nourished by keeping a joyful positive spirit and of looking at the world from a positive perspective. It speaks to us through the emotions that arise. It would be wise to see from what part of the physical body is the emotion arising, as this would give insight to the deeper issue being felt.

The mental body is nourished by quieting the mind, and by reflecting or meditating. We reap long-term benefits by taking time off daily to unplug from technology and the busy stream of information, noise and activity. Learn to befriend silence. Meditation helps cultivates a witness who can watch what's happening in your life with a bit of emotional distance. With the way technology and the information age are upon us, our minds are running on overdrive and stress -- always thinking of the next best thing, the next desire, the next thought. With no nourishment, the mental body and the mind become the source of lower thoughts of victimization, depression and loneliness, which in turn affects the emotional body, which can create sickness in the physical body.

The spirit body is nourished by going beyond the noisy monkey mind, by immersing ourselves in sun, sea, and sky, for nature heals. The spirit body is the hardest to understand, which is why we need to break through the mind through a daily practice of silence, inner work and reflection. By understanding the five bodies, health-related behavior changes and we approach health in a more holistic, integrated, interconnected way.

Let's give an example: Physical body's hands reach out for the chocolate cake (packed with sugar, enriched flour and cocoa, with oxidized cholesterol, carbohydrates, some GMO seeded-grains that made the flour, trans fat or fat from cows with growth hormones, artificial flavoring, etc. etc. etc.). The mind knows it will satisfy a mouth hunger for the moment, even as the mind wars against knowing the cake has no nutritional value. Astral body has been receiving all the stress in the office, or perhaps has taken in all the fatigue of the traffic trying to get home. Emotional body has been carrying low self-esteem or nursing a heartache due to a rejection, and shuts off the mental part that is saying, "Don't eat that cake, it really isnt good for you." Spirit body is totally shut off. The chocolate cake will provide a boost of happy energy (sugar rush) with a crash into heaviness (low sugar), followed by depression, then lethargy the next day.

We Are What We Eat
We need to be smart and conscious with food choices. This is because it's a warzone of pollutants that we ingest through food: chemicals and pesticides on fruits and veggies grown in the earth, steroids injected into meats and poultry, preservatives added into almost everything, ultra-pasteurization of dairy that in the end of the food chain in our bodies can create scarred arteries and put major strain on our digestion processes; let's not even talk about the garbage in our seas that is home to our seafood. Just reading up and learning more about food processes today challenges all that we know about nutrition. We need to be more conscious of where our food comes from, who grows it, how it is prepared -- aside from the nutritional values. Life is a tragedy of nutrition. Once we have shut off the spirit-mental-emotional bodies' connection, we reach out for food wherein lies 99 percent of all the causes and diseases of imperfect physical body health. We are not losing weight, we are losing vitality. We need to choose foods that are alive, or are filled with the life force, which inevitably are those that are fresh and clean, cultivated with care and prepared with love.

Our fantastic physical body is the vessel, the machine in which our spirit is expressed as we live out our lives. We are designed to move, with awareness. So identify exercise programs that not only make us move, but move with awareness so that the movements connect us to our other bodies. Exercise programs change as age and limitations arise. What is important is that we have some form of physical exercise a minimum of 15 minutes daily -- more, if possible -- to move the life force to awaken vitality. To wake up to health means to approach health in a holistic and integrated manner, to see it from the perspective that we are not just the physical body but much more, and to consciously develop the will to nurture and nourish all of them.

For more by Jeannie E. Javelosa, click here.

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