Your body is a vessel for producing and using energy. It works more efficiently & optimally when it is nourished with clean foods, well-hydrated, given exercise, and refueled with adequate rest. These pillars of self-care are not new concepts, but they are essential for physical health. They are necessary for using your subconscious to the best of its abilities. Self-care is a major part of playing big in your life. Why? Because playing big insists that you put yourself first and care for your body. Your body and brain are living biochemical organisms that require upkeep, fuel.
“Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners.”– William Shakespeare
Remember, the universe will give you more than you can imagine. But to access your desired goals, you need to embrace and prepare to perform at a top physical level. This starts with self-care.
1. Sleep Well
This is one of the prominent pillars in the self-care process. Your day begins with a good night’s sleep. If we don’t sleep well, we don’t think well. Poor sleep leaves us vulnerable to a host of diseases. It means we cannot be as productive during daylight hours. Think of sleep as the time when your body’s mechanics rush in to repair the damage of the day, whatever that is; healing the immune system, cellular repair, neurogenesis, memory consolidation, and more all take place when the body is at rest. Giving your body the necessary care so that it can repair itself is critical for both your short- and long-term health. Your subconscious is also very busy during sleep.
What if you’re struggling with disrupted sleep? Remember how the subconscious wakes you up at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. if you have an unfinished task? If you’re not sleeping well, keep a pen and paper next to your bed. If you find yourself awake, write down whatever comes to mind. Alternatively, if you are having trouble falling asleep, jot down the questions, doubts, and worries that are keeping you up—oftentimes upon waking, you’ll find that your subconscious has figured out solutions.
2. Eat Well
Think of your body as a high-performance car. You would give that car optimum fuel for optimum performance, and clean fuel works best. Similarly, we must ‘eat clean’ to have optimum performance.
What does it mean to “eat clean”? Clean foods are foods that occur in nature and are not altered.
Eating clean also means consuming as little sugar as possible and staying away from packaged, processed foods. Think whole, baked sweet potatoes rather than potato chips. Enjoy organically grown fruits in season. Always include green vegetables with your meals. Consciously include fibrous foods, such as legumes, brown or wild rice, and seeds and nuts. And drink lots of water. All this will keep your blood sugar balanced, help you maintain a healthy weight, and ward off illness and disease.
Stop keeping junk food groceries in your kitchen. And the best way for this is not to pick such items from the grocery store itself. If you do this 2-3 times then your subconscious power will help you to remember this rule next time onwards. When you assign meaning to things, especially the communion of taking in nutrients, you satisfy the subconscious while you feed our body, mind, and soul.
Ancient Food Practices to Adopt
Sitting on the floor while eating: In the good old days, when there were no dining tables, everyone sat on the floor while having food and very few suffered from lifestyle diseases that have become so widespread in our times. According to experts, sitting on the floor cross-legged while having food as practiced in India is typically a yogic posture called Sukhasan which is said to massage the abdominal muscles, boost circulation in the lower part of the body and increase flexibility. So discarding the dining table or couch while having food is not a bad idea!
Food contamination with saliva: Sharing drinks from a common glass, food from the same plate, and taking a bite from the same pizza slice appears to be quite a normal practice for many of us and rather impolite to refuse if a friend is offering it. Nowadays people have made a ritual to offer single pie of birthday cake to many peoples, which is not a good hygiene practice.
It was a taboo in ancient India and is still held suspended and considered forbidden in a number of traditional Indian families. The concept of contamination with saliva called uchchishtam (Sanskrit), “engili” (Telugu), “jutha” (in North India) is considered unholy and extremely unhygienic.
Eating food with hands: Even as a number of people proudly claim that they are not able to eat unless they have a spoon, the ancient shastras recommended eating with hands “which had to be cleaned thoroughly before and after the meal”. Eating with hands is neither uncivilized nor messy, but is extremely healthy. According to Ayurveda when we put food in our mouth through our hand, the five fingers together form a mudra (a yogic position) which activates the sensory organs that keep prana in balance. It also improves digestion because when the hand touches the food, the brain sends signals to the body releasing digestive juices. This is probably the reason why food tastes better when eaten with hands.
3. Move Well
Your body needs to be active in order to remain flexible, stave off illness, restore itself, and offset the inevitable stresses of our daily lives. And did you know that aerobic exercise is one of the best ways of growing new neurons (a process known as neurogenesis)? You get to decide on what type of exercise to do, because the bottom line is, whatever you enjoy, you will do! There is truly something for everyone, so go for what suits you and your lifestyle.
And by all means, utilize these principles to ramp up your self-care:
- Be accountable about where you are physical. Are you physically unfit? Are you somewhat fit, with room for improvement?
- Your higher self knows the fitness level perfect for your needs. Don’t push yourself to try an intense spin class if that doesn’t feel right. Maybe what you need is a long walk in nature instead. And vice versa.
- Do you move toward health and fitness or away from fatness and sickness? What is your internal motivator? Remember—it is easier and more powerful to move toward what’s positive than away from the negative.
- Do you have the support of friends and family to take on a healthier mindset and routine? Surround yourself with doers, not talkers, movers not sitters.
- You are going to give it your all (energy and commitment) in order to get your all (fitness and optimal health).
- Your fit and healthy body will be your vehicle for your time here. It will support your work and play, your desired lifestyle. You cannot play big unless your body is ready to play big.
We cannot be our best selves—body, mind, spirit—unless our vessel is strong, agile, energetic, and well-tended through this self-care regime. Taking good care of the bodies we inhabit on this earth is a must. We all know that we only really notice our good health after sickness. But daily care will keep you in your best performance. (Inspired from ‘Subconscious Power: Use Your Inner Mind to Create the Life You’ve Always Wanted’ by Kimberly Friedmutter).