It’s been a while since I posted a blog, and this might be my most exciting blog ever! I know I’ve never felt so motivated and excited to share something out of my world that I hope will also help others.
It’s a personal story of moving from the “dark night of the soul” toward light and healing…of transformation…of what happens when we realize at a heart level the need to make a change, face our fears of “doing it,” and then jump in!
I want to start out by saying, life puts many boulders in our path. Learning how to “climb” those boulders, taking actions to change the patterns of your life, is where healing resides and creates a purpose for yoga.
As many of you know, my world imploded almost seven years ago when my son passed from this earth. And in the following years a series of events kept knocking me down – my husband’s heart attack, more loved ones dying, more health scares. My sister’s passing this spring shook me to my core. It was unexpected and heartbreaking, for my sister was the glue in our family.
Through all this, what healed my heart more than anything was (and is) two things: my grandsons, and the work I do (thank you, beautiful students).
Even so, it was a lot to get through. As a result, over the years I became 40 pounds heavier and climbing. I knew I needed something to help me – not only to heal from my sister’s passing, but to get me, once and for all, out of an “I really don’t care” attitude.
Use the Obstacles in your life as Stepping Stones to Transformation
So, at the end of May I made a reservation at TrueNorth Health in Santa Rosa, California. The idea was that I would use the time at this acclaimed health center to draw my energy inward and heal – just for me. And I would do this through a water-only fast!
You heard me right. Water fasting is the basis for TrueNorth’s program – and those who know me know I’ve been against water fasting my whole life.
So why did I suddenly decide to do it?
The answer is I needed something to awaken me, big time! I knew I was lacking the oomph to truly care about my health and what I was eating. The good news is that it worked!
I am so excited to say that as my stay at TrueNorth unfolded, I felt a shift toward brightness and lightness like I haven’t felt in YEARS. It felt as if the fog in my life had finally lifted. I found a little space to practice my yoga out in the garden court yard. Being a yoga teacher and owning a yoga teacher training school and all… I had to share my love for yoga with others. I kept it super simple – after all, I was just drinking water. The beautiful part was that I felt absolutely no hunger or pain – only lightness of my being and brightness of my soul.
Others began to join me in my courtyard yoga practice, and our days turned into mini yoga-therapy sessions. Together we healed ourselves and each other. And isn’t this really what life is all about?
We all came to TrueNorth to heal something. For some it was a simple reset on health. Others were dealing with diabetes, cancer, heart conditions, obesity, stress, digestive issues, etc. The more I got to know these people, the more I realized, once again, that we all are healing in this beautiful world.
TrueNorth is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been. From my very first day I really did feel the love, and by my last day that love grew into the same warmth in my heart I feel for my students in teacher trainings.
It all reminded me of what I already know, and what I continue to teach: we all must dig down and do this work for ourselves. Deep internal healing begins when you decide to take action, to change your patterns of living, to change your energy and create something new.
A Nutritional Plan for Healing
Out of this beautiful experience, I’m inspired to start sharing what I learned during my time away. It’s nothing short of a new way of living each and every beautiful day.
For starters, TrueNorth Health gifted me with a diet plan I never considered before. Plant-Based Whole Food, yes, I eat this way. But here’s the big one- S.O.S. Free Lifestyle.
Let’s break all that down. “Plant-based” is self-explanatory, and whole foods means not processed. S.O.S. means – hold onto your hat – NO SALT, OIL, or SUGAR.
Of course I already knew about plant-based and whole foods, but no oil! This seemed hard to accept, but my ten days at TrueNorth taught me the importance of omitting oil from my life. The three parts of this diet plan help heal the most common health issues today: inflammation, gut-related problems, a whole slew of autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, anxiety/depression, and the list really does go on and on.
It’s suffice to say, I’m now a believer in this approach to nutrition. And as it deals with the physical part of our nature, I’m also reminded that nutrition for the whole self goes even deeper.
And as a yoga teacher and being part of the yoga school alliance, I already know this. My approach to training yoga teachers has always been holistic – which means it addresses all aspects of the person, not just the physical. And because of that approach, I want to do a shift in what I share here on my blog. Those who have followed it know that I’ve had a category called “Mindful Mouthfuls” for years. Today I want to re-orient what I mean by that phrase.
Let’s look at some mindful practices to apply to mealtime and to living your best life. Your digestion will thank you. And all of your other body parts will too. Your mind will thank you. And you will feel at peace, satisfied, and content.
1. Practice gratitude. Whatever you conceive of as a higher power, say a prayer of thanks before you eat. Remember where the food came from and how many people worked to bring it to your table. Many pray with their eyes closed. Take your first bites with your eyes closed.
2. Practice oneness. This begins with the practice of doing one thing at a time. Eat in a calm environment, in nature, or looking into nature.
3. Be present. Eat in silence, without music, books, TV, etc. It’s really okay to do this (I tell people all the time to go away and let me eat mindfully!).
4. Put your fork down between small bites. Oh, and are you sitting at a table and eating from a plate? Sit down, use real dishes. No more eating out of bags or boxes.
5. Chew, chew, chew. Pay attention to the food in your mouth. Really savor all the flavors, textures, and sensations.
These are five good tips, right? You’ve probably heard them all before, again and again. The real question is: how are you going to make a change – a big change deep down inside? What will shake you to your core and inspire you to live healthy once and for all?
Once again, it’s more than what you put in your mouth, it’s also about what you put in your mind!
So, let me know what you think. Let’s bring the wholeness back into yoga, and true nutrition back into healthy living!
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