As you begin reading this article, what position is your body in? Are you sitting down, standing up, lying down, or walking down the street perhaps? Whatever position you are in, stop and observe your posture. Would you consider this position “good posture”? If not, what would you change and how?
Chances are after reading these questions, you made an adjustment to your posture or at the very least thought about it. Here are two more questions for you.
As a health professional working in the industry for 20 years, I am stunned by the countless people suffering from the posture they are placing themselves in day after day. Of course, though, “bad posture” does not occur overnight, it takes time. Our bodies are built with protective mechanisms that help us unconsciously compensate through postural adjustment for injuries that make it difficult to place our bodies in certain static positions or move through normal ranges of motion. These mechanisms become learned responses that, if the injury requires a longer healing time, move towards becoming an unknown habit.
Take this patient, for example: Jennifer is a typical middle-aged office worker who spends the majority of her work week in a chair staring at a computer screen and sitting in back-to-back meetings. She decided to visit me for neck pain that comes and goes and ranges in severity from a 2 to an 8 out of 10. When she first arrived, I noticed that her head shifted off to one side just slightly, but I did not bring it to her attention right away. Interestingly, the direction her head shifted was towards the same side she was experiencing the neck pain. Later in our conversation, I brought this observation to her attention and she didn’t believe me, until I asked her to look in the mirror. She was absolutely shocked that she never noticed it before and even more shocked that all of the health practitioners she had been to for the pain had not seen it either. It was obviously too subtle for her to notice, and furthermore, it didn’t feel out of the ordinary.
What was the cause? It turns out, while using her computer at work for long periods of time, she would often get tired quickly and lean to the right side onto her desk while she maneuvered the computer mouse with her right hand. Over time, this change in position, due simply to lassitude, unconsciously formed into a debilitating habit. Aside from this, there was no other indication, past or present, that pointed to an event that might have led to the neck pain. Furthermore, she had been at the same job for nearly 15 years. She is lucky that all she had was neck pain!
Our posture determines not only what types of aches and pains develop, it also affects specific aspects of our physical and mental well-being, such as our breathing, our digestion, our balance, and not to mention, our mood. Emotionally, if you feel constantly depressed or upset, your posture will change to reflect this. And by holding on to this emotional stressor, you will find yourself letting go of “good posture”.
In Oriental Medicine, posture will determine the quality of Qi and Blood circulation throughout the body. In the example above, Jennifer experienced one-sided neck pain that began to radiate to other areas like her upper back and affected the big picture of her overall posture forcing her to reposition her body more so to one side rather than being balanced in the center. She allowed for weakness to develop on one side and severe regional tension on the other. Needless to say, the quality of Qi and Blood circulation easily transformed into stagnation and excess on one side with a deficiency on the opposite side. Had we not addressed it when we had, it might have reached the point of stasis or an even worse condition.
As an acupuncturist, I am always analyzing my patients’ posture every time they come for treatment. If something stands out, I tell them directly, and we work on it from head to toe. We look together at how they stand, how they sit, and how they walk. When they lie down on the treatment table, I observe what position they place themselves and also where they end up (on the table) by the end of the session, if the tools being used are not forcing them to remain in one position.
Understanding one’s posture is the key to understanding one’s health. And healthy posture is the gateway to good health in addition to providing you with more energy. Here are a few basic tips for examining posture from head to toe. You can easily do these yourself or prescribe them to your patients.
How do you feel? If you feel slightly uncomfortable, that sounds about right. You probably need a little more practice to help your body adjust to this new “normal”. But over time, you will notice a significant difference in how you feel, the amount of energy you have, and maybe even how you look!
Don’t believe me? Go look in the mirror.
Today over fifteen million Americans regularly practice yoga. It is easy to find a yoga class to fit your needs and your schedule. Why go an extra mile and see a yoga therapist? Who might benefit from that?
Yoga therapy is the application of yogic tools such as physical postures, breathing, chanting and meditation to the specific needs of an individual. In our minds yoga is firmly connected to the class format, but a yoga class is, in fact, a fairly recent phenomenon, dating back to the early 20th century. During that time the yoga of the physical postures (asanas) was gaining popularity in India, partly under the influence of emerging western interest in physical fitness. From India, Yoga was transported to the West, where the class format became the most popular way of practicing yoga.
Before yoga classes gained popularity, yoga was often transmitted one-on-one, from teacher to student. The practice was adapted to the individual, made to address whatever issues the student was dealing with. With most yoga classes around nowadays being highly athletic and physically demanding, there is a movement towards making yoga more accessible. Yoga therapy is part of this movement to make yoga responsive to the needs of the individual, and bring it into the field of integrative healthcare. Here are some of the reasons you may want to see a yoga therapist:
Listen to our "Ask The Expert" Interview with Asya Haikin
Even if you are just dealing with everyday stresses and with life cycle events like pregnancy, or natural effects of aging, yoga therapy can be a great way to support yourself through those life transitions. To find a qualified yoga therapist near you go to: www.yogatherapy.health
About the Author
Asya Haikin is the Owner of Peaceful Mind Yoga Therapy in Falls Church, Virginia. She is a Certified Yoga Therapist working with people with persistent pain to improve wellbeing and quality of life. Her mission is to make yoga safe and accessible, and to raise awareness about the benefits of yoga therapy. Asya has been using mindful movement, breath and body awareness to help individuals move beyond pain for over fifteen years. She has a private yoga therapy practice in Falls Church, VA, and also teaches several public yoga classes in Arlington and Falls Church. Asya is also a Reiki Master, a Tibetan Tones (vibrational sound healing) practitioner, and has an MA from University of Pennsylvania.
To learn more about Asya, visit her website at www.peacefulmindyogatherapy.com
If you’ve ever had an injury or aches and pains that just wouldn’t go away, (and who hasn’t, really?!), you know how much that can affect your life. You’re trying to be healthy, you’re eating better, and trying to go out for a run or to that yoga class you love, but the pain is so distracting and makes it hard to be present with what you’re doing. You used to love tying your shoes to go for a run or stepping into class, or even just getting down on the floor and playing with your kids. But now it’s not even fun anymore because all you’re thinking about is how to get into a position that doesn’t hurt.
You don’t have anything ‘major’ going on. It’s just the nagging knee pain or the pain in your heel every time you put your foot down. You feel like it’s not so serious that you need to go see someone for it. And really, who would you even see for such a thing? It’s just something you have to live with, right? I mean, you are getting older and that just goes along with it, doesn’t it?
As a holistic health physical therapist, I can tell you that the answer is No. More than likely, you don’t have to "just live with it!" These types of things are what we specialize in. If you are having a problem that has lasted more than a couple days, that isn’t going away on its own with rest, ice, heat, or exercises that you may have learned on Google, then you should schedule an appointment with a physical therapist.
(Pain) You don't have to "just live with it!"
More than likely, you have some soft tissue or joint restrictions going on that require specific manual therapy to fix the issue and start the healing process. You probably also need some help figuring out better ways to move your body or little tweaks to improve your posture. You could also benefit from a program of the right exercises for your specific problem, instead of just basic ones found on the internet. It’s commendable that you’ve tried so many things to help yourself, but sometimes those things just aren’t enough and require a little more specialized treatment.
When you work with a holistic physical therapist, no problem is too small. If it is bothering you and keeping you from doing what you love to do or causing pain or discomfort while you do it, then it’s worth looking into. We will do a comprehensive evaluation to look at what’s going on, see how your joints are moving, what the muscles, tendons, and ligaments feel like. We will check your strength, your range-of-motion, and see how you do with specialized movement tests. We’ll chat about how long it has been going on, if you’ve had other problems before, and what other areas of your body are feeling like. We’ll talk about what else is going on in your life, such as are there any stressful events or are you having trouble falling and/or staying asleep? We’ll figure out how this problem has been affecting your life and what it has been keeping you from doing and why it is causing you to feel pain while you do it. Together we’ll create a treatment plan that takes all of those things into account, with a goal of getting back to doing whatever it is that you need or want to do as quickly as possible.
Listen to our "Ask The Expert" Interview with Dr. Snow
Going to physical therapy doesn’t have to be a big event! It’s just something you do when something isn’t feeling quite right and you know you just need a little assistance with feeling better and getting back to the important things in your life. An expert physical therapist can show you how to take your health back, put the pain behind you, and learn ways to prevent it from happening again in the future!
About the Author
Dr. Stacy Snow is the Owner of Tranquil Place Physical Therapy & Wellness in Falls Church, Virginia. She holds a Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy and is a holistic health physical therapist who focuses on helping her clients feel better and get back to doing what they love to do. To schedule a complimentary 30-minute in-office Discovery Session to see if physical therapy is the right solution for you, you can reach Stacy at Dr.Snow@tranquilplacept.com or by scheduling here. Your health is your greatest asset. Stacy can help you create a plan to take the best care of it, and you!
We complain often that we’re living in an age of information overload. It seems everywhere you look there are experts telling you how to improve yourself—Lose weight! Eat better! Exercise more! Magazines, newspapers, and TV programming are loaded with ads pushing the next best thing to help you sleep better, earn more, get the perfect job, choose the coolest clothes. Each day a new self-help book appears on the must-read list, claiming to have a foolproof method for clearing out clutter, finding the perfect mate, getting the raise you deserve. Oh, did I mention, there’s an app to help you track your cardio workouts, count your calories, budget your money wisely?
Yet, four out of five of us continue to live with levels of stress that affect our physical health and emotional well-being. Why do you suppose that is?
The truth is, old, harmful habits are hard to break, and it takes time to replace them with habits that are helpful. Not many of us can go it alone successfully. That’s where a life coach can help.
Five Ways a Life Coach Can Help You Achieve Lasting Change
Identifying what needs to change. Most of us have a feeling that our lives can be more satisfying, but we sometimes find it hard to decide why that is, or what we can do about it. A life coach listens closely to hear what’s going on with you, asks questions to help you explore your feelings, and gives you honest feedback.
Casting a vision. It’s easier to make the decision to change, and to actually take action, if you’re clear about where you want to go. A life coach helps you explore your values, creates a safe space where you can imagine what’s possible, and encourages you to dream with no judgment.
Formulating a plan. It’s said a dream isn’t a goal until you make a workable plan to make it happen. That’s where a life coach comes in, to help you “put the pedal to the metal,” by working with you to identify steps you can take to make your dream a reality, and challenging you to dig deeper for answers instead of being satisfied with the obvious.
Helping you stick to it. Change can make us uncomfortable, even when we desire it, which is why it’s so hard to stay the course. A life coach will hold you accountable for doing what you say, cheer you on as you take baby steps in the right direction, and challenge you to keep going when you falter.
Dealing with what gets in the way. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy, able to devise clever ways to sabotage our own best intentions, and sometimes the people closest to us become uncomfortable when we try to make changes. Your life coach knows this, and will help you to avoid self-sabotage, overcome obstacles that others might put in your path, and keep you moving toward the goal of having the life you want.
The experts are right—you can have a life that’s happier, more meaningful, and more satisfying! And a life coach can help you make it a reality.
Listen to the Podcast of Joanne's ASK THE EXPERT Interview
Watch Joanne's LIVE Interview Here!
About the Author
Joanne Creary is the Owner of Well Woman Coaching based out of Northern Virginia. She is an associate member of the International Coach Federation, holds a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology, and is a member of the Christian Coaches Network. As a professional life coach, Joanne uses a variety of coaching techniques tailored to meet your unique needs, to help you identify your calling and the steps you can take right now to live with passion and purpose.
Contact Joanne today to schedule your first coaching session!
It has been an interesting 2018 so far. Hasn't it? And the year is still just getting started it feels like. Especially now that spring has finally arrived. So, as you begin getting more active, I hope you remember the lessons from our podcasts and blogs this year that will guide you to a year of fulfillment and a year of doing what you absolutely love most. One word of caution though. Be aware of your expectations you have for yourself.
The old saying goes "expectations breed pain". This doesn't mean that you should have ZERO expectations. It simply means you should focus on raising your standards rather than your expectations. Your standards define who you are in life and are the foundation for all decisions that you make. Standards are completely in your control. Expectations, on the other hand, are typically in relation to other people and are not entirely under your control because of this. For example, you expect that your child will pick up after him or herself, or you expect your boss will give you enough time to complete a project on top of all the other work you have piling up on your desk. If you are familiar with either of these, then join me in saying good luck with these expectations!
Your standards define who you are in life and are the foundation for all decisions that you make.
Standards on the other hand, define you on the inside and are the root of every action you take. Standards build morality; they strengthen character; they control your thoughts and your emotions; and they instill in you the qualities of the type of person you envision yourself becoming in this world. Your standards are the foundation for your entire life and determine how far you will go and how much impact you will have on the world. Think of it this way: When you get excited about something, and jump high into the air screaming with joy, there are a few things you need. You need something under your feet to push off of; enough space to jump as high as you can; and the ability to express yourself freely in the biggest and loudest way possible. In this example, your standards are like the ground beneath your feet. They provide you with a solid base to push off from. And when combined with your internal drive to seek fulfillment in your life (this being your expression of your excitement in the previous example), you will have the potential to reach as high into the air as possible and feel totally uninhibited and larger than life.
Make the choice to depend on yourself first, just like when putting on your oxygen mask on the airplane. Go on a journey and explore what you love most in life and what you believe you are or capable of. Discover what fuels your fire to live and search for more of it. These are the key components of your personal standards that will help them to grow and thrive. Standards that no one can create for you. We on the outside can only see your potential when you have forgotten what it looks and feels like. We cannot see the standards you create for yourself. However, we most certainly CAN see the standards you choose NOT to live up to.
Your next decision after raising your standards should be to lower all of your expectations to a level that you know will not impact your mission in life and your life's purpose. If expectations breed pain, you will either have too many of them or you will invest yourself too much in the few you do have. Redirect this energy NOW into developing your standards so that you can sculpt your own Sistine Chapel of inner confidence and self-understanding.
These powerful instructions should give you the boost your need to achieve what some people refer to as happiness, others refer to as fulfillment, and we all experience as a sense of satisfaction. If we can learn to raise our standards and lower our expectations, we could all walk out into the world each day knowing who we are.
In a world where we spend the majority of our money paying our bills and a significant amount of time organizing our finances, we somehow manage to find ourselves with a clean bill of health. Strangely though, it is believed by many that the United States provides some of the best healthcare in the world even though we soar past everyone in terms of healthcare expenditure. It is also believed that we Americans are some of the unhealthiest people in the world even though we are a nation of immigrants which means that it is not one group of people who are the unhealthiest, it is the lifestyle of every person who lives here.
The phrase "a clean bill of health" is usually provided to someone who is recovering from an illness or injury and is finally able to function on their own without assistance or any apparent risks to his or her well-being. It is a phrase that has been adapted to fit every aspect of our society. Vehicles are given clean bills of health. Buildings are given clean bills of health. Even technology is given a clean bill of health. And, of course, humans are as well.
This process of routine inspection is often done by an outside professional, e.g. primary care physician, who is skilled in searching for potential problem areas that could place an entire system at risk. Essentially, they are on a mission to find what is wrong. But has anyone been hired to search for what is right or functioning well? Why is it that we don't spend time highlighting these parts and, as a result, take them for granted?
Think about it. What phrases do you most often hear in a workplace? Do any of these sound familiar?
"There's a crisis at work."
"I have too much on my plate right now."
"What issues [problems] should we focus on?"
"Come up with a resolution by the end of the week."
"We've been fighting with this for a long time now."
And then there is the frightening word "deadline", which connotates something different altogether.
A "clean bill of health" is more than the erasure of harmful elements from one's physiology. It is a realization of one's individual responsibility to his or her state of being.
It is very easy to see a system that is functioning well and put it aside until it reaches a state of dysfunction. By doing so, we can then put on our perfectionist glasses and work towards adding to this well-functioning system by diagnosing, and ultimately correcting, what is imperfect. Over the course of time, humans have successfully created a culture of fix-it mentalities. We are trained to look for problems, and we are just as determined to solve them. This approach has formed the idea that a "clean bill of health" is dependent upon the absence of negative influences and little to no risk to well-being.
So whose responsibility is it to determine and maintain this "clean bill of health"? Well, of course it is up to us all individually. So then, what if we started looking at our own "bills of health" from a different perspective? What would happen if we highlighted the accomplishments of our health and focused on enhancing them on a routine basis that would effectively remind us of the positive changes constantly occurring in our lives? Might this eventually reverse the negativity programmed into the standard approach to care; the constant need to fix things?
A "clean bill of health" is more than the erasure of harmful elements from one's physiology. It is a realization of one's individual responsibility to his or her state of being. It is a bill that needs neither paid no passed. It simply requires your attention one day at a time to remind you how to thrive rather than just survive.
A whole note is, according to the almighty Google, "a note having the time value of two half notes or four quarter notes, represented by a ring with no stem. It is the longest note now in common use."
For those of you who don't know me that well, I have a strong music background. I've played numerous instruments, written music, and practically made it my life by deciding to go to college and play piano professionally. During that last one though, my life took a sharp turn in a different direction, and to this day, I wonder what my life would have been like had I continued on that musical journey. Would I have become a professional musician? Would I have become a famous artist? Would I have become a music and song-writer like I had once dreamed of at a young age? Frequently, I ponder this alternate universe that I chose to leave behind nearly 20 years ago.
This does not mean though that my fingers don't hunger for the smooth glide across the steel strings of a guitar or yearn to fly up and down the ivory steps of a piano in an emotionally-driven whirlwind. I could not survive without immersing myself in the freeing experiences that music has blessed me with. It is an escape from all sense of time. Perhaps, even, it might be why I enjoy using my fingers to type this very blog; because my fingers yearn to dance again on the musical instruments they befriended many years ago.
Music has always been the easiest metaphor for understanding my life.
Regardless of where I once was though, I understand my life is here and now. My life is just as magnificent as it could have ever been had I continued my journey with music two decades ago. I firmly believe that. Just as I have always believed that life will guide you through your choices and will leave breadcrumbs along the way to remind you of where you came from. My life in music has defined who I am as an individual. Every person has experienced the joys of music at one time or another. For music is an opportunity to step beyond the boundaries of a confined lifestyle and live freely once again, even if it's only for the length of a short song playing through your headphones.
I find it interesting that the whole note is partially defined as "the longest note now in common use". It seems synonymous with life itself. Our lives are meant to be whole, just as this particular note is meant to be whole. It is the longest note in common use just as life should be lived as a continuous process following the rhythm of everything that has come before it. And the whole note is what leads and flows into the rhythm of the entire piece after it.
A whole life does just the same. It is complete; it is filled; it is never-ending; it is whole. The rhythm of your life is set by all of the experiences that come from the moment you are created. The rhythm you set in your life will also determine the rhythm that is set for the lives that follow yours. So your life is meant to be played like one glorious song. One WHOLE glorious song, to be exact.
Music has always been the easiest metaphor for understanding my life. Anytime I struggle or meet a new challenge, music frees me. It empties my mind by stirring my emotions and preventing them from stagnating inside of me ultimately leading me away from pain and towards movement, towards freedom, towards wholeness. A whole note to some may simply be the addition to all the other notes and viewed as a part of music that can be broken down into parts or counted as a sum of a particular number of beats. To me though, a whole note is not just a black empty circle hanging randomly from a line on a funny looking sheet of paper. It is an extended moment filled with a magnificent story driven by emotion, driven by the past that carries onward for as long as one chooses. This whole note becomes a whole vibration once the hammers strike the metal strings within signaling a whole resonance that invades and heals every space of your whole body. The only question left is, are you living whole enough to hear it?
For centuries, wars have plagued our world and wreaked havoc on its economies pushing them to the brink of collapse and forcing societies and cultures to transform in order to meet the needs of the struggling people. Ways of life have morphed into forms that no longer resemble living. The concept of "being" has been overshadowed by the practice of "doing". We are never not on the move. We are chasing life, running from death, rushing to the next thing, or running from the last thing. We constantly live in the past or in the future. Then, before we know it, we have ticked our last tock. Long life or not, our time has run out.
With the passing of each moment, we no longer live in the past. The point of time where we rushed out of bed to rush and make our morning coffee to rush to work to rush home, all the while rushing to retirement and running away from death as fast as humanly possible, we are always on the move. Never stopping...always going. Never being...always doing. Life is meant to be lived and this requires action. But when one moment has passed and another is yet to come, should you fight to run from or towards either of them? Should you let your history define your present? Or should you let your history guide you to your present?
We, and all of existence, are born to live in the "now"; to live in the present. When your day at work has finished and it's time to go home, that day of work no longer exists. It is time for you to go home; to the home where you live physically, to the home where you live mentally, and to the home where you live spiritually.
A long life is by no means symbolic of a good life. Ancient texts that preserve the secret methods of longevity may have been testing the limits of time to see how far they could push them. We will never know their true purpose of this quest, nor what they were afraid of, if anything, that led them to desire the need for longevity. So I can only question their potential desire by asking, what's the point? Why focus on the need to live a lengthened number of days? Why not focus on the most effective ways to live a "good life", a happy life, and a life that exists in the present and nowhere else?
Making the choice to live a "good life" is to make a choice to ignore all distractions in your life; eliminate all stressors in your life; erase all dissatisfaction from your life; and ultimately, dismiss all sense of time in your life. Choose "now", and nothing else exists. Not even time, a concept created by humans. The fact that we only get one life to live should be enough reason for us all to make the right choice: the choice to live a "good life" versus a "long life". Enjoy the moment you are in now and I guarantee you that you will forget all about your desire for a long life.
That, my friend, is a "good life". And it will win every single time.
Yesterday evening I hosted our monthly Ask The Expert live interview with Jamie Gallagher, founder of Origin Fitness Fairfax and CrossFit Burke. (Listen to the Live Interview Here) At the end of a great interview, I asked him one final question, the same question I close every interview with each month:
"What gets you out of bed every morning?"
His response? "The pursuit of excellence." Knowing Jamie for some time now, I couldn't agree more with him that this is truly what he looks for each day. But what exactly is the pursuit of excellence? What actually does excellence mean? To answer this question, first ask yourself the same question I asked Jamie during his interview: "What gets you out of bed every morning?" More specifically, what is your purpose in life you are so passionate about that drives you to get up everyday and live every moment to its fullest?
The pursuit of excellence is ALWAYS exhilarating!
Excellence is built upon the standards you set for yourself because they are the blueprint of your life. If your accomplishments in life do not match your overall blueprint, then how could you possibly achieve excellence? From this blueprint, this innate schematic leading you towards fulfillment, you are driven to use your body in a certain way. You mind is flooded with only certain kinds of thoughts. Your spiritual beliefs tie them all together with what you see as your higher purpose in life. Without these connections, we are just an empty, lifeless shell following the robotic actions of what we were taught that society "needs" from us.
By allowing yourself to not just move against the current, but step out of the water altogether, you allow a transition towards personal freedom. From this moment onward, you understand the power of choice. For in every moment lies a new choice in life; one that can create opportunities no matter what lies before you. Be it negativity, pessimism, or doubt, you know that you can step away from that current and walk in the direction of excellence every single time. Your ability to hold the light as you walk to the end of the tunnel rather that walk towards the light that someone else is holding sets you apart from every other human being. However, the light you hold is actually a light shining from within you that is now so strong it has begun to illuminate outward and requires no holding at all. It is a self-generated luminescence that comes from your heart, your soul, and your newfound ability to unlock your personal potential.
I want to warn you though. This is not something I read in an inspiring book or heard on some podcast similar to mine. This is real and this is powerful. How do I know? Because, through experience, this is my life every single day. This is also Jamie's life every single day. Now, do we both stumble? Do we both have our days full of doubts and find ourselves questioning our purpose in life? Darn right we do! But do we ever veer away from the direction we believe to be "right"? Never. No matter the obstacle that appears before us, even if it's in our minds, we look forward to the challenge. Some might even say that I love the game more than the result myself. I might agree with this. That is because the pursuit of excellence is ALWAYS exhilarating!
The power of choice determines your understanding of your own potential and your own ability to empower yourself. This is not to be confused with destiny either. Your destiny points you in a certain direction, but it is your daily choice to get up an start your day with a specific mindset; a day that stems from a desire to pursue something. And the goal of this pursuit should be nothing less than the pursuit of excellence. THIS is personal power. THIS is inspiration. THIS is a life of fulfillment. I challenge you from this moment forward to join Jamie and me together in this pursuit; a pursuit of excellence.
In the wake of another tragic moment in history where innocent lives have been lost, we find ourselves again in the same position; on our knees both mourning and pleading for answers and change. Knees bloodied, voices strained, we feel lost and confused as to why we constantly find ourselves again and again in this submissive posture. We seek answers. We seek change. We seek safety.
The recent and horrific event at a Florida school has called us all to action. Consider this my small drop in the ocean moved by emotional waves of fear, confusion, and loss of life. This offering of a small drop is hopefully enough to temporarily quench our thirst for change. And within this drop is a small reminder of an ancient practice that will hopefully nourish an internal state of ease we all yearn for at this moment.
This unimaginable event in Florida has re-ignited an ongoing debate, which I will not continue here as my specialty is health rather than school safety or gun legislation. However, it reminds me of an important ancient practice that can begin to heal our society and potentially prevent events such as these from happening again by focusing internally on the one person we truly have the ability to change; ourselves.
The students of this school of thought were able to transform their ways of life and contributions to society in a way that sculpted their culture into a living work of art.
You might recall from ancient Chinese society a school of thought called Confucianism. Now, I am not an expert in this school of thought, but I am certainly curious about one specific objective that was the overarching goal in this ancient and wise way of life that has been practiced for more than two millenia. This practice is referred to that of being a Hao Ren (好人) or "good person". By regularly practicing the ethical and humanistic beliefs of Confucianism, the students of this school of thought were able to transform their ways of life and contributions to society in a way that sculpted their culture into a living work of art. In other words, they learned to become good people. Sadly though, these beliefs have slowly disappeared over time and are virtually absent altogether in modern society erasing away our overall sense of humanity.
It is time to resuscitate these practices once again and revisit the basics of humanism and the essentials of life. For in the presence of mass suffering, we are vividly reminded of the emotions that connect us to one another and those that separate us. Hence the reason for people joining together in solidarity aiming and hoping for a similar outcome; in this case, the protection of human life, which will eternally outweigh the desire to protect material belongings, e.g. weapons.
This is not an article of blame, nor is it a conversation leading to more pain or destruction. Think of it as an opportunity to expand our wherewithal by beginning with an internal, personal conversation. One leading to the development of self in a positive direction that will ultimately guide the development of others. By embodying the fundamental values of this ancient practice, we can relearn that which has been forgotten. This does not mean you must adopt a new religion and belief system altogether. It is simply a nudge in the direction of positive change and development starting with ourselves as individuals. The Five Constants and Four Virtues are the essential values needed to become a Hao Ren through the lens of Confucian philosophies. And if we were to instill these values within a modern mindset, we could virtually eradicate the suffering we constantly inflict upon ourselves and others.
The Five Constants are:
The Four Virtues are:
Of course there exist more values than these alone, but these Constants and Virtues are the essence of our humanity. Practice them religiously and your mind and body will transform. Embody them holistically and the people around you will transform. Exhibit them effortlessly and the world we live in will transform, allowing us to achieve an harmonious level of coexistence and that of a Hao Ren. The painful steps taken to achieve progress in difficult times like these are nurtured by nothing other than the quality of our learned beliefs together with our persistent effort towards living the life of a good person. And I pray that by coming together we can, for the sake of the lives that have been lost, discover our potential of becoming good people long enough that we remain as living examples for all the future generations to come.
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inspirational ideas on healthy living through eastern medicine, optimism, and possibility through empowerment.