Four Ways for a Healthy Body and Mind

I walked into teach my Wednesday morning Vinyasa flow class. My students eased their way in, began to slowly stretch on their mats as I went over some announcements of the studio. We started our opening breath work, grounding, progressed into a gentle flow, and lastly they lay in final resting pose, shavasana. I led the group out of the final meditation, thanked my students, and as one of the women was leaving she replied with a smile, “the hardest part about yoga is getting there.” You can take the word, “yoga” and insert anything you like. I’ve heard sayings similar to this but this time it really stuck with me.

For me an exercise and a spiritual practice or regimen is one of my top priorities. My workouts also bring me outdoors, nature brings peace and an additional mental focus that I can’t get inside a gym. Before Monday morning my wife and I go over our weekly schedule, we make a plan for when we can make time for exercise and meditation. I’ve learned to make this more of a priority over networking events or booking myself solid with other activities. If I don’t take the time for mental and physical training my whole life suffers, I get irritable, frustrated and annoyed easily among other things. When plans change and things come up as they do, I know that if I have a plan and room in my schedule I can make adjustments, but it’s not enough to just focus on the physical aspect, I must take time for meditation as well.

In the book, “How to be Happy” by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, he writes on meditation, “You can not make your body flexible just by thinking about making it flexible. You can only do that by training it; the body has to make the body flexible. Just as the physical flexibility has to be created by our body, mental flexibility- which is another name for ultimate peace and happiness- has to be created by our mind, through mental training.”

We must use the mind and the body to work together to reach and seek our goals for physical and mental health. We cannot just think about our goals or visualize them, we cannot just constantly move our bodies in every direction, the words and descriptions below give you actionable steps to find peace, happiness, and a healthy life.

1. Analyze your current daily, weekly, monthly life — are the activities you attend benefitting your short or long term goals for a healthy life? What do you need to add or subtract to bring attention to this area?

2. Plan and prepare for mental and physical training by scheduling it out. Figure out what works for you, i.e., writing it down, digital calendar, accountability partner, workout/meditation app, etc?

3. Execute your schedule, test it and see how it works after 1–2 weeks. Note how you feel mentally, physically, and emotionally — assess if you need to make adjustments to your plan.

4. Reward yourself when you succeed with each milestone you overcome. You will find the benefits of feeling healthy outweigh many monetary items you could receive.

There’s a moment in time that I find when I am outside exercising, trees surrounding me as I make my way through the woods, or early morning when I’m sitting on my mat listening to my breath. Our world is moving faster and faster, but our body and mind can only go so fast until we fall. Finding mental and physical well-being, we must first show up in our own lives before we can begin to make a change for ourselves and the world.

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