by Tehya SkyNovember 18, 2016 5:47 AM
So often we think of spirituality as purely related to the soul. But the mind and body are also part of the trifecta that makes us whole. Spiritual teachers often give us wonderful tips on how to get through the trials and tribulations of life, but because the body can have a huge impact on the mind, we need some guidance there as well.
As a student of life, I notice over and over again how big an impact my physical state has on my mind and spirit. When my gut is off, so is my mood. When my neck is out of alignment, so is my mind. If I've burdened my liver with certain foods, I feel irritated and anger-prone. If I haven't gotten enough sleep, it's harder for me to listen and connect. For all of these reasons and more, treating my body well has become part of my spiritual practice, and I think it could help yours, too.
Here are 15 habits that, when practiced regularly, massively contribute to my sense of clarity, presence, and well-being. Remember, the more relaxed and at ease your body is, the more relaxed and at ease your mind will be, too.
1. Eat chocolate.Raw cacao is a powerful antioxidant that was referred to as "heart blood" by the Aztecs. Spiritually, it helps to open the heart, and physically, it is very supportive of the cardiovascular system.
2. Drink warm lemon water in the morning.Let the first thing you consume be a tall glass of warm lemon water. It is so alkalizing, and after sleeping, it helps flush the digestive system and rehydrate the body.
3. Let go of the coffee and sugar.Both coffee and sugar can contribute to moodiness, anxiousness, stress, difficulty focusing, and instability. Without both, you are bound to feel more stable and calm.
4. Breathe deeply.Most of us are shallow breathers. And when we're thinking (which is often) and when we're tense, we often restrict our breath even more. However, when we breathe deeply, we anchor our sense of presence in our bodies; we bring our attention to the present moment; and we support ourselves in opening to and facing whatever is happening here and now. Physically, deep breathing also helps to relax our muscles, improve our sleep, stabilize blood pressure, and more. Breathe deep by taking long, slow inhalations into your belly, and then exhale at the same pace.
5. Move your body.However you like to move your body, move it. Dance, do yoga, hike, walk, make love—get active. When we move our bodies, our soul moves with them. Indeed, when we liberate stuck energy and allow the old energy cycle to end, we create more room within ourselves to receive the new.
6. Cook with love.When you eat, you absorb not just your nutrients but also the energy with which your food was prepared. So if you're thinking about something that pissed you off while you cook, that energy will wind up in the food. However, if you choose to appreciate your time in the kitchen as an opportunity for ritual and prayer, and you then cook with love and gratitude, you'll be welcoming all of that healing energy back into your body through the food you make.
7. Get a good night's sleep.Seven to nine hours is the general recommendation. Good sleep leads to a better mood, clearer mind, stronger immunity, improved listening, and much more.
8. Walk barefoot on the earth.Relax in nature to reconnect with the natural rhythms of the earth. This connection is so healing. It helps us to calm down and simplify. When we make barefoot contact with the ground, we boost our microbiome, support our immune system, and help ourselves to feel better. Not to mention that nature is one of the greatest teachers, too.
9. Love yourself.Yes, self-love is a total health hack. Salves, good creams, loving touch—give yourself the luxury you deserve. One of my favorite daily rituals is massaging herb-infused salve onto my breasts when I get out of the shower. So nourishing, revitalizing, cleansing, and healing on all levels.
10. Get your digestive system moving.Our emotional and energetic body often mirrors what is happening in our digestive system. If, for example, our bowels are blocked, it's likely that there's also something we're not letting go of emotionally or energetically. Indeed, proper elimination is a vital part of maintaining the full spectrum of wellness. Doing a six-week cleanse a few of years ago (replete with colonics, a strict diet, ThetaHealing sessions, and supportive supplements) completely transformed my digestive health, my emotional body, and my life in truly amazing ways.
11. Let it out.Cry if you need to, get in the car and scream, pound your fists on the Earth—whatever you need to do to let the energy out of your system, just let it happen. Your being will show you what you need; the only thing you need to do is not resist. Allow it to happen, however it must. (Responsibly, of course.)
12. Meditate.Meditation is not just for the mind and soul. A daily practice of meditation also does wonders for the body. Because it reorients us into the direction of relaxation, our nervous system has a chance to unwind, regroup, and recharge. I recommend meditating daily first thing in the morning or before bed for at least 30 minutes to receive the full benefits.
13. Drink herbal tea.Drinking herbal teas throughout the day is an easy way to bring nourishment and balance into our bodies and minds. Mixing my own herbal blends is one of my favorite daily rituals, though you could just as easily grab some tea bags if alchemy isn't your thing. Tip: Determine what you wish to support (such as hormonal balance, digestion, a particular organ or feeling, like calmness or joy), and drink a corresponding tea as a means of bringing resolution, love, and strength into that area. If this is a new concept for you, or if you feel uncertain about it, consult a health practitioner for more guidance.
14. Get off your phone.Chill with the social media and all the phone time. We don't need any science experiment to prove to us how much these outlets drain our energy. Reorient your attention onto that which increases good energy in your life and boosts your sense of well-being. Not being addicted to your phone means a happier body, mind, and soul. My biggest thank-you of the year goes to the company that created the app that kills my Facebook newsfeed.
15. Do everything in moderation—including moderation.Strictness is a sickness! Loosen up and make sure you don't take it all too seriously.
""""One of the most mortifying moments I experienced in my theatrical career was when I was asked to bring the entirely African-American cast of a new musical we were workshopping, a new piece by an African-American librettist and composer, across the street to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and up into the plush boardroom so they could perform a song or two for the board of directors. I wanted to say something, but I didn't. For one thing, it would take an invaluable 45 minutes to an hour out of the creative team's limited time together. But... every year we had to do the same old song and dance for the board to remind them that yes, we did do new plays and musicals, so yes, it was sometimes a good idea to expose the board to new voices, to the vibrancy of an exciting work in progress.
You all know where this is going, don't you? I led the team in. The talent in that team! The writer/composer himself and the cast, lauded veterans of the stage and the most promising members of the next generation of acting giants. And there was our board. White, as white as can be, white white white white. And very comfortable. They'd just been served lunch, I believe. My theater spared no expense in pleasing our board and catering to their demands (oh my god, I'm feeling such rage right now! I'm pretty sure we had a staff member who was mostly dedicated to help our richest board members get house seats to shows on Broadway and the West End. But I digress...)
The only black face in the audience seated at the conference table? The only person of color? The head of our education department, of course. My heart went out to her.
The cast sang a song from the show. They did it. And they brought it. Because they were and are professionals. And the very pillars of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion reverberated down to the parking lot. It was breathtaking.
And I had just been complicit in the remaking of a scene for the millionth time: black bodies and voices entertaining white audiences, an institution raising money on the backs and voices of black bodies.
I was too mortified to apologize to our writer and to our cast, none of whom, I should add, expressed even an iota of discomfort. They were professionals, and they shone. And come to think of it, they'd probably all become accustomed to this scene. "It's just how theater works," they might have thought with a shrug of their shoulders. Or maybe they seethed inside, for the millionth time, when all they were trying to do is workshop a new musical.
Well, I apologize sincerely now to our writer and those actors. I wish I had had the courage to put my foot down. It is not how theater should work.
I quit the American theater on Valentine's Day 2016, so I've been out more than four years now. And honestly I don't plan to return, which is why I can write with such candor.
The heart of the problem, my friends, is with the non-profit structure, which is capitalism on steroids. Who are the bosses ultimately in an American institutional theater? The board of directors. Who are the board of directors? For the most part, those members of the community not with the strongest attachment to the art form but those with the deepest pockets. Often they're really not members of the community. They often just drop in. They are sometimes mere tourists.
It's no wonder that that board meeting was held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The theater, like most American theaters, had built its board of directors on the old opera model: You get the richest folks together, offer them galas and house seats and receptions and private recitals and showings (for which artists often don't get paid extra, mind you), you pamper them and make them feel more special and entitled than they already do, and then they'll write you big checks to support the kind of art they like, the kind of art they can bring their kids and grandkids to. AND they--not the artists, not the community--get to hire the institution's leadership.
It is a rotten model. Rotten to the core. How can any artistic institution claim to be working for and in the community with that model?
It's got to be torn down. It's got to be reinvented. And I have no idea what the next model will be. I really don't. And no, honestly I don't think government is the solution frankly. Some of the most bloated, self-satisfied, decadent theater I've ever seen was in Germany, where it was almost fully government-funded. Lots of bells and whistles and provocations and completely soul-dead.
I see amazing and galvanizing lists of demands recently being made and posted by theater artists of color. These are vital demands. But they don't address the central issue. As long as the ultimate bosses of an artistic institution remain the community's deepest pockets, nothing will change. Nothing. You'll be putting band-aids on a gaping wound. Sorry, but it's true.
So please figure something else out. Maybe for a few years you just avoid the institutions. You've already started. In the pandemic, so many of you are making amazing art without an institution. Find those who truly adore your work and ask them to fund it. Screw non-profit. Form a corporation and value your art art-making as a resource that profits you, your viewers/audience and your community. I have no idea.
But please don't return to a new version of the old. After the virus, after he's out of office, after police reform and nationwide conversations about race, after, after, after, begin something new. I can't wait to see what it is!”
Words: Pier Carlo Talenti
Video: Griffin Matthews
April Yvette Thompson