We often find ourselves talking about much more than nutrition and detox on our retreats.
I would go so far as to say it is impossible to have a healthy body without a healthy mind and a healthy heart.
Our emotional world has its biological counterpart in the hormonal secretions of the body, and again in the chemistry that governs the mind. They are inextricably linked. To affect one is to affect them all.
Thus, the most important step is in providing the body with all the nutrients it needs to make all that chemistry - so I started my journey with food.
But what use is all of that nutrient-dense, cleansing food, if the system is too stressed to make us of it. Ambient anxiety is the greatest threat to good digestion and nutrient flow, so food is only part of the picture.
And the brain cannot make use of those high-end, feel-good neurotransmitters if it is busy stressing about a terrible interpretation of the world around it. Whether that is in making up stories about things that may never happen, or obsessing about what it feels did happen ? Usually under these circumstances, a scared mind and a fried nervous system will have us reach for the nearest food to suppress these emotions anyway, so the loop goes round and round.
But fear not, sweet mind, there is an escape
In fact there are many. History is laced with them. The further back we look in the written word - in our culture and in all cultures, the more sanity we find.
Following our trail of words back through the eons history, we find less and less stories of whimsical wars, loaded ego battles, and descriptions of fashion. It becomes less about individual accounts, and more about family, then community, passing quietly through humanity, and eventually arriving at unity.
The common denominator of all the ancient scriptures (religious, spiritual, mystical, or otherwise) is their description and endorsement of practices that calm the mind, sooth it, quieten it, and essentially get it out of the driving seat.
In fact, you could say that prehistory is almost defined by these practices.
Time spent fasting (which is one of the practices written about at length in those scripts) is an excellent way of reaching back through the eons, before the mind heralded itself as 'the reason the whole universe exists'... A calming sense of peaceful quiet descends within a few days - well snatches of at least.
And then back in the busy world, it can difficult to even recall such a state, with telephones ringing and children hanging off your elbows and the tax man poking us in the back.
But it is possible and magnificently beneficial to engineer these moments of calm during your day. Whether that be through meditation, yoga, dance, song, profound rest, prayer, or walks in nature, they all count. And they each go a long way to resting the nervous system, switching it back from agitation to digestion, something we can all do with.
I have written before about the incredible, health-bringing impact of gratitude practices, and I'd like to add a little detail of the form this is taking for Nikki and I lately.
Essentially, it is about taking a moment, first thing in the morning, before all the busyness of the day takes over. A moment to reflect, take stock, acknowledge and give thanks for the bigger picture of our lives.
Like, the really bigger picture...
This is how it runs for us lately...
Upon arising, I pour a glass of water, and take it outside - just out on the door step, or out into the garden (depends on the weather - even a window would do) - just to be able to see a little further than my four walls.
I settle myself, and feel the earth below my feet. Feel this magnificent, massive, gorgeous planet support me. It pushes back against my feet as I press down.
Everything I have ever known, all the food, all the clothes, all the buildings, all the technology, all the animals, all the people, and the whole of body is made from this bounty.
She is indeed mother to all things.
And she is always, always there.
I look up to the sky. I see its magnificence, its ever-changing beauty, feel its wind upon my skin, and breath it deep into my lungs.
I am where the sky meets the earth. And in all life, this is happening. All the time.
The sky is shaped by our bodies, as much as it is by the mountains and the horizon.
And it is always, always there.
I find the sun. Feel its heat on my skin, its light in my eyes, and appreciate how different this world would be without it. All that it reveals to us about our existence.
How it fuels all life, through the miracles of the Earth and her plants and animals.
None of this life would be possible without its endless heat and light.
And he is always, always there.
And finally the water in my hand, which I have yet to taste in this new day. This perfect expression of fluid power. Crystal clear, and yet capable of carrying all things.
Its endless cycles of cloud, rain, river, and ocean, shaping the world.
And its collusion with the other elements to make life possible.
And it is always, always there.
These ancient forces are as responsible for the lives of the dinosaurs as they are for ours.
And if all of that sounds a bit hippy or obvious for you, then you just haven't thought about it for long enough. Or more importantly, 'felt' it deep enough. I challenge you to do so...
This is not to diminish our problems, or solve them in any way. But to loosen the grip that they have over us.
We chose where we put our attention. And no one else can help us with that.
Whether you focus upon the dismal picture presented by someone in a news office, or the exquisite beauty of a cobweb in the mist - the choice is yours. And the effect upon your mind, your heart, and your digestion are immediate.
If you want to take responsibility for your health, make decisions about what you eat on all levels - with your eyes, your ears, your hands and your mouth.
You will be changed by it.
You are writing the story of your life, so write the story you want to write.
You are the author.