Connection to Self
Gratitude: Gratitude causes an internal shift toward giving thanks for something external to us. The study at UMass Dartmouth was so clear in showing that people who practiced gratitude had higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, energy, and sleep duration & quality. Grateful people report lower levels of depression and stress even though they don’t deny the negative aspects of life. You’re not sweeping anything under the rug. You’re just happier with where you’re at.
Mindfulness: Being mindful of our thoughts, our words, and our actions can help us connect to our true selves. As I touched on in the last article, mindfulness meditation can actually alter the brain via neural plasticity.
Health coach and author, Jessica Cassity said, “With meditation, your brain is effectively being rewired. As your feelings and thoughts morph toward a more pleasant outlook, your brain is also transforming, making this way of thought more of a default.” That’s what we’re trying to do with mindfulness and gratitude. We’re trying to set a new default. The more your brain changes from meditation, the more you react to everyday life with that same sense of calm, compassion, and awareness.
Meditation: There are many ways to meditate, not just the deep, seated chanting we’re so used to seeing in the media. Personally, I meditate by gardening. Being close to the earth is a meditation for me. Or, I might meditate at my sit spot. Or I’ll work on a basket because it keeps my hands busy but my mind free. I also find yoga to be meditative.
People who practice meditation on a regular basis have already taught their brains to be mindful, calm, at peace, and centered throughout the day, not just when they’re actively meditating. The side effect of taking that time for mindfulness and meditation will spill over into your entire life, and everything else becomes easier because your defaults have changed due to neural plasticity.
Exercise: We know that exercise releases physical and mental stress, stabilizes hormone levels, and decreases depression. Exercise outside is even better. I like to exercise by doing tasks around my property. There are always bushes to cut back, firewood to chop, something to repair, a spot to rake; there’s always something to work on. I frequently find myself working outside in the rain. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear, so I always make sure I have the right gear on hand to allow me to be outside to do my work and get my exercise. If you live in a city and the gym works for you, that’s a great way to get exercise too… But a walk around the nearest park is going to actually elevate your mood – I recommend giving it a try.
Once we’re creating and nurturing our connection to self, we can begin to seek out the bigger connection we all need in order to thrive, connection to community.
FOLLOW THIS BLOG SERIES TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF HOLISTIC HEALTH.
In the next article, we’ll explore the importance of fostering a connection to community and why this is one of the most important things you can do in establishing good holistic health.
To watch the video of this talk, visit my YouTube channel.