As I reflected on my well-being journey, it was pretty obvious to identify the six biggest well-being influencers. I hope some will resonate with you, and you’ll share feedback on what you are currently doing or want to try.
Pranayama | Breathing
It’s the first thing we do when we enter the world and the last when we leave. It’s the most basic biological function – the breath. Breath is life. If I’m completely honest, breathing techniques are something I come back to time and time again when I think about the techniques I use the most to enhance my well-being. Why? They are easy, and you always have the breath. When I’m stressed. When I can’t sleep. When I need to focus. The breath is always there, and it’s the connection between the body and the mind. So I pull on it regularly, if nothing else, than to center myself and tune into my body.
The breath was something before I started my health journey, I took for granted. It wasn’t until going through training and yoga that I realized just how much the breath impacts the body and mind. If you are questioning this one, do me a favor. Next time you are in the middle of a project or something you are intensely focused on, and this can even be intently looking at emails and responding to texts, stop for a moment and take note of your breath. If you are like I was and about 80% of the rest of the population, you’re likely holding your breath when you are concentrating. It’s usually very subtle, and we don’t do it for long, but it is long enough to affect the oxygen flow in our system, and guess what that does? It kicks our stress response into gear. I have no shortage of stories where breathwork has helped me. Including a now funny, but not at the time, story of how I used my breath to fix a scuba diving incident gone wrong at 30 feet under on my honeymoon.
In The Restore Roadmap, a signature course I offer, there’s a whole module on the different kinds of breaths you can use to bring balance to your life. Ones to pump you up before you are giving a presentation or need to be on your toes. Breaths to neutralize and bring you into the present moment when you are stressed. And breaths to bring you down when you need to settle in and relax or even go to sleep.
Breathing techniques are so powerful. They can profoundly impact your blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels in just a few minutes. I believe so deeply in mastering the breath that I became a Certified YogaBody Breathing Coach.
If you are curious about the breath, a go-to resource is the book Breath – The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. You can also enjoy the Breathing Breathwork class complimentary within The Clarity Club membership. But let me give you the cliff notes, adding a daily breath practice is easy to do because you can do it anywhere, and literally, 2 minutes a day can help you master your nervous system.
Removing Friction- Creating Opportunities for Success
Ok, habit number two.
Ladies with frizzy hair, you’ll know what a big difference adding texturizing spray makes. No, this well-being habit isn’t about hair, but it’s the same concept. Adding the texturizing spray creates a little friction as the brush goes through to smooth things out. Sometimes we need a little friction in our life to smooth out the rough edges. So well, being tip number two allows just the right amount of friction to create opportunities.
I say just the right amount because too much friction with your hair will take you from smooth with nice body to straight and flat like a piece of straw. LOL. The same is true in life. Let me explain. Not enough friction and life is too easy; it’s not challenging enough to grow us and make us feel like we are doing something.
On the other end of the spectrum, since friction is the unnecessary steps that take extra time and mental or physical energy to expend every time you want to do something and friction creates drag and makes things difficult when they don’t need to be -if you have too much friction, it depletes you, wears you down, and slows you down.
So when it comes to well-being, a big needle move for me was removing friction and taking out the extra steps that were depleting me. In doing so, I created opportunities for my success. This showed up in a few different ways.
As many of you may know, I’m a big proponent of juicing. I did a juice retreat with Cherie Calbom, the Juice Lady in Arizona, for a week of juicing. I love juicing and how it makes me feel. Talk about a burst of energy. Well, juicing requires cleaning, cutting, and prepping veggies which can be time-consuming and the last thing you want to do when you are trying to get out the door in the morning.
I purchased the organic peeled baby carrots to remove friction when I made carrot juice. Literally, all you have to do is open the bag and dump it in the juicer. By the way, that juice makes the best carrot soup when you add avocado and blend it afterward. If you want the recipe reach out to me or check out, Cherie’s book Souping is the New Juicing.
When it comes to juicing a recipe with multiple ingredients that involve washing and cutting, I reduced friction by prepping everything ahead of time and storing it in a gallon zip lock bag. So when I fancied juice, I wasn’t deterred by the effort it would take to get things ready. I then made the routine easier and reduced friction by investing in a Nama Juicer. That eliminated the need for me to stand there and feed the juicer. I just dumped the bag of ingredients in, turned it on, and continued with the other morning tasks. The law of least effort at its finest!
For you removing friction might be stacking your self-care appointments on a single day – the Day of You so you don’t feel constant interruption throughout the week trying to fit individual appointments in. Removing friction may be removing things or people from your life that cause unnecessary friction. To figure out what friction is to you and where you can create opportunities for success and reduced stress, ask yourself what makes my world feel hard, then incorporate the three B’s as my mentor Martha Beck says – Bag it, Barter It, or Better it.
Life is easier when it is simple because simple is sustainable. So, ask yourself, how can I remove friction and simplify things?
Positive Self Talk.
Ok. You get the point. Next habit I’ll lead with this- You are your own best cheerleader. Can you give me an “M”? I’ll cheer myself on any day. The old Micah would focus on I’m tired, I’m stressed, or whatever negative emotion I was feeling at the moment. There’s a verse in the bible, Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death .” So that brings me to well-being habit number three. Positive self-talk.
I’ve become very cognizant of what I say to myself. I’ve become kinder, and that kindness is almost like a little voice in my head that’s pushing me on, telling me everything is going to be ok. That I’m exactly where I need to be.
In Ayurveda, the science of life, they say we must digest everything. Not only food but our thoughts and emotions. If you are beating up on yourself, all the other well-being activities will be for not because, as they say, we can turn nectar into poison with negativity.
I don’t know if any of you are familiar with Chris Wark. He is a cancer survivor and shares his story in the book Chris Beat Cancer. He said the tongue has two functions. It feeds the body and the soul. I remember him saying we can promote health and wellness or disease and death by what we put in our mouth. But what comes out of our mouth does the same thing.
Just like they propose in Ayurveda, your words can build you up or tear you down. So look at how you talk to yourself. What are you saying? Are you speaking words of hope and encouragement, or are you speaking words of discouragement and despair? The next time you look in the mirror, Tell yourself, “ I am worthy. I am healthy. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.” The more you say it, the more you believe it.
Choosing the Right Environment.
Ok. Number four.
If you’ve been following the podcast or are a member of The Clarity club, you know that our surroundings make all the difference. So, well-being habit number four is choosing the right environment. From Ayurveda, we know the colors, textures, scenery, scents – anything that impacts the senses all impact our mood.
My good friends joke with me about my hotel choices. There’s nothing I love more than a good luxury hotel. This was even before my time as a hotel broker in Atlanta. I think it goes back to my parents taking me to the Greenbrier Resort as a kid. Give me pretty interiors, music in the lobby, and tea time, and I’m in heaven.
We have a five-star hotel in Raleigh called The Umstead. Their lobby is gorgeous, and the atmosphere stimulates every sense. From the moment you walk through the door with the extravagant floral arrangements in the lobby to the colors of the furniture in the lounge. A subtle scent that I can’t quite describe, but it’s soothing, and there is live music in the evenings.
While I was taking well-being classes at Duke, I used the excuse of not wanting to drive home in the dark so that I had an excuse to stay at the hotel. It was such a treat to be in that energy. I just felt good. We all need those feel-good feelings in our life. Just thinking about it makes me want to plan something in Raleigh! Think about how you can bring some positive vibes into your personal environments and the places you go.
And environments also pertain to people too. If you want to improve your physical health joining a gym where you can be around people that value health would be a “right” environment. If you want to pick up a new skill, joining a group where you’ll be around others with the same interest again is a right environment. You get the idea. Choose environments that feed your soul and your senses.
Well-being tip number 5. The world is full of difficult people, and I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read about dealing with them. One of my favorites is Bullies, Tyrants, and Impossible People. I’ve come to realize that no matter how hard we try, we’ll never be able to control anyone else except for ourselves, so it’s crucial to become an expert in choosing your emotions. So tip 5 – Choose Your Emotions.
When it comes to emotions, two things have been extremely helpful. The first is learning to become a witness to what is being said and the initial feelings it produces in me. I then learned to remind myself that usually, people act out because they need something. If you have yet to listen to the podcast on the 4 A’s – go back, and that’ll catch you up to speed. The other thing is remembering that I completely control my response. Being offended, upset, angry, whatever the emotion might be, is my choice. Words and actions can’t harm me if I don’t let my emotions be ruled. So, Choosing emotions.
And the final habit that has profoundly impacted my well-being? You guessed it, Meditation. If you had told me ten years ago when I couldn’t sit still for a moment that meditation would be so helpful for my stress and overwhelm, I would have literally laughed. If you had told me I could lower my blood pressure by 20 points in 20 minutes, I would have said you are crazy.
I had no idea how impactful meditation would be in my life. I also didn’t realize that when my body started sitting still, my mind would follow suit and get used to sitting still. It’s crazy that now I crave quiet and stillness, and my higher self prompts me if I’ve missed a meditation. I can’t tell you how many times before leaving work I turn everything off, go to the office next to mine that has a single lowly comfy chair and sit and decompress before my 1-minute commute to the house. It’s a ritual before leaving the office to separate work from home. Try it one day. Take 5 minutes to center yourself before leaving your desk and starting the next part of the day, and let me know what you think.
There’s a story about a Zen master and his student. Sitting by the lake, the master told the student to get a glassful of lake water, put a handful of salt in a glass, stir it, and then taste it. As you might expect, the student said it tasted awful. The Zen master then instructed the student to put a handful of salt in the lake, then take a glassful of water from it and taste it. The student said no taste.
The story’s moral is that the amount of stress in life remains the same, but the amount of stress we taste depends on the container we put it into. When stressed or overwhelmed, you need to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being the glass. Be the lake.
One way to expand your sense of awareness is through meditation. I’d love to help you if you’d like to learn how to meditate or would even just like your primordial sound to enhance your current meditation routine. I’m always here for you, and you can reach out to me at truebasishealth.com.
So there you have it. The six biggest well-being builders for me: breathwork, removing friction, positive self-talk, choosing the right environments, and meditation. If you’d like mentoring or personalized guidance, reach out to me for 1:1 Coaching or join The Clarity Club membership, where we focus each month on different topics geared at helping you develop your sense of well-being.
As with all habits, slow and steady wins the race. Remember, action creates momentum, and if you haven’t listened to last week’s podcast about Getting On and Off Autopilot and using Habits to create well-being, take a look back.
Good habits can improve health, productivity, and overall well-being while breaking bad habits can help us overcome obstacles and achieve our goals. There is no “quick fix” for attaining well-being. It’s a commitment to striking balance in all areas of your life. It’s an ongoing, constantly fluctuating lifestyle and a personal journey. So join me each week as I continue to share tools and practices to support your mind, body, and spirit based on Ayurveda and Mindset.
This is Micah Hill, Signing Out.