The Low-down on Feeling Great!
It’s everywhere. How wellness, meditation and mindfulness can completely transform our lives into this wonderful state of peace and tranquility. Eliminate the daily stresses we endure, the frustrations, the anger and disappointments with ourselves. But is it REALLY all that we’re promised?
In today’s fast-paced, digital and performance obsessed world, we are constantly putting ourselves under microscopic pressure. Unnecessary pressure. We wake up tired, there’s so much to remember, so many things to get done and with one eye checking emails on your phone whilst eating breakfast (if you have time) and ordering the kids to hurry up ‘we’re leaving in five minutes’, we’re already powering ourselves under unnecessary strain. There’s the traffic holding us up, the kids are squabbling and now you can’t find a parking place near the school, so ‘quick, jump out. I’ll see you at tea time.’ The day continues at a similar pace and that ‘wine o’clock’ can not come soon enough as the pile of ironing catches you eye in the distance.
I envied them. Yes, those people with nothing…
I was travelling through the Amazon many years ago during my time in the merchant navy. I remember seeing this wooden house on the banks, with a husband and wife sat outside and four children running around and playing. And although they had nothing but the clothes on their backs, no gadgets, no luxuries…they were the most peaceful and content people I had ever come across. They were smiling, talking, engaging with each other and they waved at me as I passed them. I went over and gave their children the two pieces of fruit I had in my bag and their faces lit up, as though I had just given them the biggest box of chocolates ever. Their world had a much slower pace and they were better people for it. I envied them. Yes, those people with nothing….how I longed to feel that kind of peace and tranquility.
That’s the secret, really. That’s where we have all been going wrong for years. Our greed has made our lives unpleasant and stressful. Our desire to ‘be the best’ at work, at school and in the neighborhood has caused us disappointment. Our vanity to be the ‘prettiest’ and match those airbrushed media Barbies has made us ugly on the inside. And our obsessive need to be attached to our phone has lost us our ability to effectively communicate with the real world. We are our own worst enemy and we are responsible for our own self-destruction.
It was easier to jump into a virtual world
This was recognized years ago, but many were reluctant to change and pull themselves away from reality TV and play stations. It was easier to jump into a virtual world, with hundreds of virtual friends and be in unrealistic online relationships. Why was is so scary and unappleaing outside the front door? Did we not trust or appreciate who we were? Or did we feel inadequate in this media fueled world?
Let’s step into another world. A real world, where we love ourselves and our faults. Where friendships are real, communication is spoken and laughter is heard. A world where we breathe in the fresh air and feel grateful for all we have…..here, we have the new age of ‘wellbeing.’
Wellbeing is now a thriving business in its many areas. But this is a good thing and more and more people are adopting this new approach into their lives and are much happier for it. I began to make these positive changes several years ago after a shock ‘spiritual awakening’ which had a profound effect on me and made me question many things. I’d lived a life in a very fast-paced environment onboard a ship where you worked long hours, 7-days a week. It’s was a cut-throat business to step over people in the promotion chain, feeling the knife in your back from colleagues you thought were friends and so you worked hard and played hard. My mind and body felt constantly alert and on guard and looking back, I can see I was a very different person. I lacked empathy, was sarcastic and quite selfish. I didn’t realize that negative comments were so easily slipping off my tongue without giving it a second thought. But I now see that those were just survival tactics. That wasn’t me. That was the person my environment turned me into.
I wasn’t just existing and surviving anymore, but I was living
As my new life into wellness evolved, I researched many different areas, becoming fascinated with it, attending festivals and workshops and trawling through books. I began meditation and practiced gratitude and that’s when I REALLY noticed the changes in me. And so did others. My best friend said to me “You’re different. You seem so peaceful. You look different. What did you do? Are you in love??” Yes I was. I had fallen back in love with life itself. Finally, I wasn’t just existing and surviving anymore, but I was living and reaching my potential in so many areas.
It wasn’t a miracle cure. It took me years to incorporate this as a permanent fixture into my life. I noticed that if I didn’t meditate, the irritability would quickly come back. Meditation was a way of releasing ‘clutter’ in my brain and making way for new ideas to seep through. Practicing ‘gratitude’ was a massive break though for me. I was able to completely change my perception of thought. I could quickly recognize and stop negative thoughts before they were spoken, smiled more, laughed more, gave positive compliments and used the words ‘thank you’ freely. And it worked. I wish I’d known about this years ago. Through these new and simple practices, I re-trained my brain to always look at the ‘best’ in a situation or a person, to see failure as way of learning and problems as challenges. After all, failure is a process of learning and improvement. It helps us reflect, get better and to not give up.
Although this often feels like ‘magic’ to me, there is a science to this whole new process. The more we practice the art of gratitude, the more the left pre-frontal cortex in the brain gets exercised and strengthened. This is the ‘happy’ part of our brain. By using it more, we can train our brain to bypass depression responses, fear and anxiety. But it takes commitment every single day to eventually create those new neuro pathways. The magic happens afterwards…This new positive way of thinking and speaking attracts positive responses and that in turn can create many more opportunities.
And yet, wellness is a circle of goods. It’s far more than the meditation and gratitude that I favor. It incorporates several elements which work together in order for our lives to become a success and have a state of happiness: Charity, socializing, appreciation, kindness, meditation, mindfulness, gratitude, learning, diet, exercise, leisure, showing respect, feeling safe and taking responsibility. Each one is vital in working towards this end goal. After all, our mind and body is an exquisite machine and deserves to be looked after, valued and constantly maintained.
Are you ready to change?
By Catherine Smith