How can we blend our bodies, hearts, and minds into building a life that lifts our spirits, soothes negative emotions, and improves physical health? Today, as I am homebound in this coastal blizzard that is fiercely striking at my windows with wind and snow, I have a few suggestions to share. They are karaoke, good food (not surprising), dance, sharing, and gathering. Let me explain:
1. Karaoke: Well, it does not have to be Karaoke. Just something that does what this form of entertainment manages to do: get us to laugh at our selves and each other, be playful and have a little fun. What might do that in your life?
2. Good Food: Of course! Everyone loves good food. Lately I have been enjoying being creative with it: coming up with some new recipes, shopping for ingredients, preparing and enjoying as we gather around the table. Eating with family, neighbors, and/or friends is nourishing not only for the body, but for the soul as well.
3. Dance: This one is a lot like the karaoke one. You do not have to actually dance, only find a way to move that makes you feel better. Some suggestions: tai chi, swimming, hiking, walking, pickle ball, working with weights. Currently I am teaching two qigong classes (and taking one myself). I am grateful when students tell me they feel more relaxed and energized after class, but this is not always the case. Sometimes it takes practice before getting a sense of wellbeing. This can be uncomfortable at first, but well worth the wait. Keep that in mind when starting any new exercise regime.
4. Sharing: I never volunteered until my son started school. Once I did, I realized that I received just as much, if not more, from giving to others. Share your gifts. Share your time. Share your treasure (money) with a cause that is close to your heart. I have a friend who, when our kids were in grade school, was inspired to help kids in Africa get an education. She started a non-profit, went to visit, then began motivating others to share in her dream. She would send young children school supplies and money to pay for school. She visited regularly and got to know the kids. Today many of the young people have been accepted into college—giving them a way out of the poverty that their parents and grandparents lived with. We don’t have to do anything so dramatic. Just start small, and let it grow naturally.
5. Gathering: Have you ever gathered to pray with others? It can be quite powerful, the focused intentions of two or more minds and hearts working together. If you are so inclined, give it a try.
As always, I encourage you to be creative in gently replacing negativity in your life with positive thoughts, words, and action. Together they can be an elixir for health. And don’t forget to smile as you think about handcrafting your life into days, weeks, months, and years that have deep meaning.