Present Moment Wellness

As I sit here writing this post, I would like to model an approach to wellness in the present moment. I am not looking back at 2016 and I am not looking forward at 2017. I am sitting in my office chair writing a message of wellness to all those who take the time to read my posts. It is so easy to be distracted by the past or the future. These distractions reduce the energy we have available in the present moment to engage in whatever wellness practice that we may choose. I consider writing these blog posts as a form of wellness practice. I am here in the present moment writing a post.

For those of you who want more information about specific wellness ideas and practices, I suggest you browse through the posts on my website archives. There are many topics to explore and many thoughts and ideas that I have shared that you may find useful on your wellness journey.

Today, in this present moment, I focus my awareness on the power of gratitude and acceptance. When I hold the realization of forgiveness in the here and now, I can release any distraction of past or future. The choice to stay connected with the positive energy flow that is a universal constant is my most potent spiritual practice. Some might use a term like “God’s Love” for this positive energy. Others prefer terms like Universal Mind, or the like. It makes no difference which terminology you use to describe the positive energy that exists in the universe. Staying connected to it is the important thing.

How to stay connected is a matter of personal preference. I like to use creative visualization and affirmation. I also like to use “mindfulness” practices in the form of different styles of meditation. And a little bit of prayer never hurt anyone. The bottom line is to step into the positive energy flow and keep awareness of the connection. In the 12 Step tradition, this is one way to practice the 11th Step. Whichever way you want to approach this concept is fine. The important thing is to make the choice to connect.

When we think about the concept of the “present moment” we are actually separating from the actual experience of the present moment. Anytime we think about anything, it is in an after-the-fact type of process. Our conscious mind is not fast enough to think about the present without a gap or delay. We can only think of anything with our mind after it happens, not while it is happening. There is a distinct difference between thinking about something and experiencing something. I suggest that these is something very powerful about developing the skill for experiencing in the present moment.

Present moment wellness practice is one way to keep a strong grounding in acceptance and gratitude. Developing the skills to experience rather than think about the present moment is essential to this practice. The tools for developing this skill can be defined as the forms of meditation and prayer that are available. It is less important to name the tools than it is to use them. If you do not understand the value of acceptance and gratitude, I suggest you explore the concepts fully. All other wellness practices, including choosing physical activity, choosing food and drink, choosing relationships, and choosing in all the domains of life that we exist within, are going to be more powerful if they are taken within the awareness of and experience in the present moment.

Any questions or comments? Please send me a note in the comments or feel free to email. Thanks for reading.


 

Wellness and a Sense of Humor

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I know I have commented on the importance of humor and laughter over the past couple years as I have written this blog. I am inspired to reiterate what I hope is obvious to many. Human culture has been grounded in drama and comedy from the beginning of recorded history. Though it is difficult to appreciate the larger perspective on many events while we are in the middle of the experience, it is incredibly beneficial to have a practice whereby we take a step away and look from a larger and higher vantage.

I am continuously reminded of the importance of my sense of humor throughout my daily work life, my daily home life, and as I absorb the information that streams in from the world around me. It would be possible to become grounded in distress in reaction to so many triggers that take place with regular frequency. Whether it is due to obstacles in accomplishing tasks at work, or due to challenges in working out bugs in transportation or apartment maintenance issues, there is always something to become distressed about; if I choose to become distressed.

A recent example that I can share was when I was riding my “brand new” motor scooter to work one morning last week. The engine failed while I was around half way to work. I had to call and have the scooter towed to the shop where I made the purchase. It turned out to be a blocked fuel line and I was simply running out of gas, though my tank was not empty. I ended up taking the day off from work, and had to pay for the towing expense. The rest of the repair was covered by warranty. As I sat waiting for the tow truck, I simply opened my perspective to take in the cool morning air and the trees that lined the street. I walked over to a coffee shop and sat with a drink and a pastry to pass the time while I waited for the tow truck. Almost like a holiday.

When the tow truck driver arrived, I was in good spirits and we were able to joke about the situation. He told me a few stories from his experiences as a driver, and I continued to let him know how much I appreciated his help. We enjoyed the drive over to the shop, and when he charged me the fee, I was surprised to find that it was half of what I was expecting. I am not sure if my positive attitude made a difference in how he charged me for the tow, yet our ride together was pleasant and we enjoyed each other’s company.

By taking the position that I was open and accepting of the experience, I was able to keep a balanced view and appreciate the finer qualities of the morning, in spite of what could be considered an inconvenience, or even a catastrophe by some. At the end of the day, I had a working motor scooter, an afternoon off from work to enjoy as I wished, and though I did incur an unexpected expense; I was able to afford it without major discomfort. I found the blessings in the experience and savored them as much as possible, regardless of what was not working at that moment. The whole “finding a silver lining” process is truly exceptional.

This example of “keeping a sense of humor” about a situation is one of many that I could describe from experiences that have taken place in just the past few weeks. There is always some event that takes place that could be seen as a crisis. The practice of viewing the event as an opportunity to appreciate the positive aspect, regardless of the outcome, is one of the most important wellness techniques that I use. This is not to say that there are not certain events that are tragic or catastrophic. The death of a loved one can be very hard to see in a positive light. Yet, there are aspects of even the most difficult experiences that can be appreciated in how they are blessings, though the blessings in these events are much harder to interpret in the moment.

My wish for all is that you can develop a wellness practice that allows you to create a positive appreciation of life events, even when they are difficult and challenging. Keeping a sense of humor about the events that are moderately distressing will tip the scales toward a more balanced wellness lifestyle. Just working to move these responses to events in the direction of laughter and humor will reduce stress in the short term, and increase a state of peace and happiness in the long term.


 

How to Choose Foods That Promote Wellness

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Have you seen the articles pushing back and forth against the notion that sugar is good or bad for you? Or butter? Or bacon? Etc… This is the case with all food and dietary science reporting. You will never find information that is definitive in one direction or another as long as there are biased research studies that are paid for by the industry that supplies the product that is being studied. As a result, I always look to the wisdom of my body to answer questions about what I really need or do not need. Let me share an example:

My personal experience is clear that I feel better when I eat foods with less sugar added. Or no sugar added at all. I have already made the statement several times over the past couple of years that the best source of nutrition comes from foods that are in the closest to fresh picked state as possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whether cooked or eaten raw, are going to be some of the best sources of nutrition that can be found. Whole grains and legumes, whether steamed, sprouted, or cooked into soups and stews; will be another of the best source of nutrition that can be found. If you are going to include animal protein in your diet, the freshest and least processed sources are going to have the best nutritional value. And if you are interested in using organic sources, there are benefits there as well.

Notice that most of the foods that I am describing have a very simple list of ingredients. A bag of green lentils has one ingredient: green lentils. A bag of Fuji apples has one ingredient: Fuji apples. Can you see the pattern? Every time you shop for food, it can be an easy objective to purchase foods that have the least ingredients possible. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains/legumes are all single ingredient items. These are all unprocessed foods that are wholesome and provide the best nutritional value. Many of them do not even require cooking to enjoy.

Of course, eating this way is often easier said than done. There are many who do not have the best access to affordable fresh foods. Communities must become advocates for better access to these foods. Hopefully there will continue to be movements across the country that increases the access to nutritious foods. There are already many examples that you can find with a simple online search. Another obstacle to eating this way if lack of knowledge of how to prepare these foods in the simplest manner. Once again, I refer you to an online search for the many ways to prepare these simple foods.

The basic message that I am working with here, is that in order to increase the nutritional value of the foods that you eat; all you need to do is shop for the most foods with a single ingredient listed. Learn to cook these foods if you are unfamiliar with them to begin with, and you will have access to meals that are very nutritious and will boost your wellness potential. Another thing to point out here is that these foods are all similar in a very important way: they do not have added sugar, or other additives that replace the nutritional value with insubstantial elements that are designed to produce flavor or texture. If you want to create flavor in the foods that you cook, learn to use herbs and spices. You can even keep the salt content lower if you learn to combine herbs and spices for satisfying flavors.

There are so many ways to prepare natural and wholesome meals with fresh foods. You can look to all the cultures across the planet for examples of dishes prepared from fresh foods. If you do not consider yourself a capable cook, you can overcome that perception by trying new things and being willing to make mistakes. The learning process requires mistakes along the way. If you take the time to learn, you will increase the number of meals that you can prepare that are satisfying and do not have all the additives that are found in processed foods. You will be moving along the path to wellness and you will be the one that chooses the foods that are most healing for your personal needs.

I am no expert.

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Sharing ideas about wellness has become one of my favorite pastimes. Next to playing guitar. Over the last two and a half years I have written this blog to present information that I find valuable. Most of the time, I talk about what I know. These ideas and practices are just what I have found to work for me. The sharing is intended to suggest to anyone who is interested, that it is possible to develop and design a personal wellness practice. It is not intended to tell anyone else how to do anything. I am no expert.

When I see a lot of the writing that is posted on the web, I find that there are many valuable resources for good information. And then there are many kinds of marketing and advertising for products and services that are disguised as educational material. As is always the case, especially on the internet, “Buyer Beware!” If anyone has been paying attention, you notice that my blog does not have any advertising, nor does it have any products for sale. I did offer a couple of courses a while ago, yet I do not have time to do that kind of activity at this point. Maybe when I retire.

In the meantime, I enjoy sharing ideas with anyone who is interested. The most valuable part of this experience for me is when I hear back from readers who are inspired to explore wellness in their own lives. I tremendously respect and admire all of you who have responded to my posts and have let me know that you are on a wellness journey of your own. When I hear from any of the readers I am always inspired in my own journey.

So the topic for this month is “Thank you all for reading and responding when you do”

Gratitude! I very much appreciate that I have the ability to share something that someone else finds useful. We all have something that we can share with someone else. Each of our unique life experience has given us our own perspective in life. When we take time to openly share this perspective with others, in a kind, caring, and compassionate message, we are creating opportunity for personal growth. Though it is not the typical social convention to be open about our innermost thoughts, it is very healthy to share them with the right listener.

If you keep an eye open, you will find listeners in your life. You will be rewarded with the kind of gratitude that I mention above. Gratitude is one of the most important soul foods that I know. If you respond to me and tell me some of your story, I will be truly grateful. Here’s to your wellness!


 

Thought for the Day

I was sitting eating breakfast and I had decided to cut a grapefruit into sections, the way my mom used to do when I was a child. I hadn’t done this for who knows how long. It took me back into my young mind and I realized something. When I was a little boy, full of life, I came to an awareness of death and that all of this joy was impermanent. This really seemed totally unfair to me at the time. In a way, most of my life was spent seeking a way to resolve this injustice. I think part of my attraction to drugs was the impression that I was maximizing the “joy” of the moment in the face of that impermanence. Over the years I came to the understanding, mostly through what I have learned from so many sources like Buddhism and the like, is that the impermanence is illusion in the same way that permanence is illusion. When I am connected to the Source, as we have discussed frequently, I realize that the illusion of time and space are simply a kind of dream state. Once we are able to “awaken” from this dream, we can experience the true nature of this existence, which falls into the Tao or void that is found between the dark and the light.