Vitality: Mind and Body

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by Amber Callahan

The Mind

For Week 2 of the 40 Day Revolution at Awakened Yoga, our focus is vitality. Baron Baptiste defines vitality as "an energy that comes from living a life of enlightened knowledge and action." He also goes on to say, that when we "do what we know to be right and true, we are revitalized and renewed right where we live."  Our focus this week is to reveal our vitality right where we are through yoga, meditation and the integration of more whole foods to nourish our bodies.

During meditation this week, we are supposed to notice and release the tapes that run in our heads. These are tapes that come from our past and block our energy and vitality.  These tapes were the focus in our weekly meeting and we were asked to write statements  that regularly play in our minds. We wrote those statements on sticky notes and then stuck them on the wall for the world to see.  Mind you, our names weren't on them, but it still felt very public and fear of judgement by others immediately crept in ("monkey mind").

I didn't write the very first thought that came into my head, though, and post it to the wall because I hate that I think it about myself regularly.  I chickened out because it's somewhat embarrassing how mean I can be to myself while telling everyone else in my life to be kind to themselves.

So, I wrote "safer" (yet still true and difficult) statements: 

1. I don't spend enough time with my kids (i.e. I'm a bad mom). I carry a lot guilt most days about this.  I am working hard to be more present when I am with my kids since I only get to see them part time (shared custody).  I especially appreciated Baron Baptiste's reflections and struggles here even as a dad in the week one reading.  He has his kids call him out when he's not present with them.  I may do the same! (Note:  This was one statement that several of us wrote, so many moms share this same thought.)

I'm spread too thin.  I do feel tired, overwhelmed, and exhausted much of the time, but I am in total control of my schedule.  I'm working on finding balance (that is one of my biggest goals for this Revolution).  This is something I have control over and have to be mindful of when planning my schedule.

3. I'm frustrated with my life.  This is particularly hard to write because I am so lucky to be able to live life on my own terms, so I feel ungrateful even saying it.  I am building a business of my own that I genuinely love (and feel grateful for daily), I have beautiful children, I have amazing people in my life that love me and support me, I am healthy and my body is strong.  When I look at everything I have, I should be happy and satisfied, yet I have the constant feeling of unrest within me like I'm fighting myself.  My mind continues to tell me that I'm not enough, I'm not working hard enough, I am not successful enough , I'm a bad mom (number 1 on my list) and more.  With that reel playing in my head I find myself frustrated many days when I should just be present and thankful.  The reading this week (Law 2) talks about this struggle so many of us have with ourselves. Baptiste says we must be get to the point where we give up control so that we can experience the healing we need.  I know I try to force things in my life and it only leaves me feeling frustrated.  I like control and I like order, so accepting, really accepting, that there are so many things I can't control is very difficult.

Honest Truth

But, honestly, the first thought that came to my head that I really wanted to write was, "I'm an a**hole."  That statement runs through my head on an almost daily basis.  It's based around some decisions I have made in the last 8  months or so. Decisions that hurt people around me and that I know brought a lot of disappointment.  I also think I'm an a**hole for other reasons, but that's a whole other story.  However, hanging on to that statement wears me down.  Yes, I hurt people in my life, and I own all of my choices.  Yes, I will continue to disappoint and possibly hurt others, but deep down I know that really doesn't justify me calling myself an a**hole on a daily basis.

The Body

The other piece this week was to focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods as the nutritional equivalent to vitality.  Food has the power to heal us or harm us and if we're feeding it artificial ingredients, sugar, and other inflammatory foods, it absolutely effects our energy.

I have eaten a plant based, whole foods diet (vegan) for about 4 years now, so this is an area I am very comfortable with. That's not to say I eat perfectly 100% of the time, but I have definitely benefited from eating this way for an extended period of time.

The biggest obstacle I hear from people, though, is that they don't have time to prepare fresh meals or prep veggies.  Simplify it.  Meals don't have to be elaborate and I have found that cooking is actually so much simpler because I am not using a ton of ingredients and am eating very, very simply.  The key is to be prepared and pick a day or two where you can prep multiple meals. Being prepared and planning meals will ensure your success.

Check out some of these recipes (favorites of mine) for some easy, simple, delicious ideas:

1. 5 Superfood Recipes that you will love (and can afford):  This is honestly how I eat much of my food:  smoothies, salads, bowls make up my meals most days.  I'm very simple in my choices and rely on the natural flavors of foods instead of sauces and dressings and cheese.

2. Roasted Buddha Bowl:  This is one of my favorite combinations.  I also roast a variety of other veggies and keep them on hand during the week to eat. I literally walk through the produce section each week and pick out veggies that look appetizing to me that week.

3. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili: Soups, stews and chilis are also another really easy way to get a variety of veggies, beans and grains in your daily meals (and they last for days so you have several meals).

4. Quinoa Red Lentil Stew:  This is a high protein meal!  Quinoa is actually a complete protein (like an animal protein but less inflammatory).

The Best Thing?

Do you know the best thing about eating a diet of whole, unprocessed foods (and even if you eat animal products, the majority of your diet should still be plants)?  You don't have to count calories, especially with plants.  Plants provide huge nutritional value in exchange for low calories.  So you can eat a high volume of food!  Doesn't that sound fantastic!?  And check out my website for more recipes, as well.

Ask Yourself

The Mind:
 What tapes do you play in your head?  What are you saying to yourself?  What are you holding on to from the past and need to release?

The Body: 
 What fuel are feeding your body?  Does your food nourish you or drain your energy?  What small changes can you make today to incorporate more whole, unprocessed foods into your daily meals?

Amber Callahan