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Daily Habits for Health & Longevity.

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Two brilliant blue eyes looked back at me. They surrounded by a broad open face and framed with bright fire red hair. They hid a smart, intelligent, fast-thinking mind a mind I would rely on for the next few years to breakdown my barriers to healing. The large brown desk had seen many years of service before the brilliant blue eyes had become the owner. The office was large with high ceilings and at one point would have been the rectory for the orthodox church that it sat behind. I would spend many hours in that office.

I have always found it amusing that a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, a skilled qi gong and karate practitioner, homeopath, and non-Christian thinker and Buddhist leanings, would find their home and practice in such a location. But they did seem to fit together.

Tracy was the first person who with confidence, said she could help me recover my health and live a meaningful life. On that initial interview, it was suggested it might take 18 -24 months; however, as she got to know me and my body, she moved that out to 3 – 4 years. I was fragile; it was a significant effort some days for me to walk to the end of the street – it was a short street.

I learnt that my health reflected who I was. The life I had led, both conscious and unconscious decisions, my genetic makeup, my upbringing, its beliefs and how that had led me to make individual choices. It reflected the events that had happened to me, the choices I had as a result. If they happened young in life, they may have been strategies for survival and may have been come daily habits that no longer served me. If they happened in developmental years, part of me might have remained underdeveloped and created imbalances in how I lived that more than likely had accentuated the problems.

In 1993 Michael Jordan retired from basketball to play baseball. In the Netflix series “The Last Dance” Jordan’s personal fitness coach outlined that he would have to build a different body to play successfully. Jordan’s body had been “built” over the years for basketball; it would have to be changed and “rebuilt” to play baseball successfully.

That day sitting in the rectory office, Tracy outlined, in essence, the same way ahead for me. I would have to rebuild my body, mind, and spirit to be healthy again; To bring balance back into my life. Balance that would lead me to be a different version of myself. There would be strengths that I would learn not to use in the short term as I had become overly dependent on them and worn them out. I would have to go slowly and with patience and look for small wins to build my confidence.

Tracy took out one double-sided A4 page and proceeded to highlight all the foods she wanted me to eat and the ones to avoid. I learn that food is medicine if used correctly and in harmony with my bodies needs. There were daily practices that recommended and lifestyle considerations to introduced. I took those on board. Some I instigated right away, others it took me time to understand and integrate.

I still have that A4 page and practice those same daily recommendations. I have added a few over the years, as my knowledge and experience as grown. I have included them at the end of this article.

I hope you find them useful and perhaps include some of them in your own life. You will be glad you did.

So what are My Daily Ten?

  1. Walking.  I generally walk between 20 – 40 mins sometimes twice a day. It helps refresh my mind, lubricate my body and allow me to plan or reflect on my day.
  2. Stretching or in my case yoga. I love yoga. I like the fact that it has routines that work the entire body. It has an understanding of how the body and mind work together and how different parts of our body reflect separate area’s of consciousness and personal development. Yoga’s philosophy may be challenging to you so concentrated on  20 -30 of stretching every day, and it will keep your mind and body flexible – One that can carry you right through to the end of life. There are plenty of stretching exercises around – any gym or physio can come up with a program to suit your needs.
  3. Journaling – now this was one the hardest for me to implement. I first heard about journaling from James Rohn in “Seven Strategies for Wealth and Happiness”. However, I didn’t act on them. I would start to journal after reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. One of her steps to higher creativity was what she called “The Daily Pages”. Three handwritten streams of consciousness pages written each morning on rising. I use a computer program “The Journal” program spasmodically but most days. It wasn’t until I ran across “The Five Minute Journal” that journaling has become a daily part of life. It is easy and straightforward to do. It has helped me create a great habit; one I can build on.
  4. Reading – I love it, it’s a window to a bigger world. I do not know how long I spend reading every day. If I count audios books, it would be a lot.  But I do know it started with 15 minutes a day; Fifteen minutes of books that could influence my life and provide knowledge I can build on. Some people find reading problematic to introduce to their lives. Anything new generally is. But start with Fifteen minutes, or if that is too much try five. Pick something easy, and perhaps with a story. Choose something that interests you, not anyone else. The reading habit is for YOU. I like at the moment “The Daily Stoic”, it is one page per day on a subject to improve life. I think anyone can manage one page a day.
  5. Flossing. I became a genuine flosser after watching Dr Oz. The health of our mouth can affect everything else, even heart disease. Flossing will help keep you out of the dental chair and let’s face it all of us want to stay away from that. There are pages all over the internet dedicated to flossing here’s one, but start – it is easy to do, easy not to do – but will bring big rewards.
  6. Staying Hydrated –  A Big word for drinking water. I consume 2 – 3 litres a day. I like to start the day with two glasses. I prefer warm to hot water, but you work out what’s excellent for you. I find my body likes it better and is not a shock to the system. It gets everything working – you know what I mean. I have a jug of 2 litres on the kitchen bench and is a quick way to see how much I have consumed. I carry flasks in the car. You get the idea. If you need to be motivated to drink more water – read “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water – You’re Not Sick; You’re Thirsty: Don’t Treat Thirst with Medications” by F Batmangheldij
  7. Oil Pulling – This is another one of those dental things. And this one took me a long time to introduce to my life. Oil pulling is an ancient practice that involves swishing oil in your mouth to remove bacteria and promote oral hygiene. It is often associated with Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system from India. And you think flossing is hard to get started, and you are supposed to do this up to 20 minutes a day. It took a while for me. Traditional Sesame oil is used, but people also use coconut oil and olive oil. The thought of swishing oil around my mouth for 20 minutes was just too much. I was afraid of the taste, that I could not talk, thought I would look stupid – it was all only resistance to a new idea. Eventually, I decided to try it just once – to see how it felt – and for just 2 minutes. The taste was not that bad – I remembered I do eat oil on a whole lot of stuff – so I do not know what I was expecting. I repeated it the next day. Now years on I put a timer on, so I do not go over 20 minutes I forget I’m doing it, Oil pulling is so much part of my morning routine. I prefer coconut oil as I find it has a whitening effect on my teeth. On those mornings where I am really in a rush, I just put the timer on for 5 minutes. For me, the habit is the most important thing. Again, there are oodles of YouTube videos and blog articles written about oil pulling – here is one. But look around for one that you like. Go on have a go – its just oil!
  8. Hot Water Foot Bath. I was first introduced to this activity by one of my later acupuncturists – Amanda. It is recommended to be done twice a day, once before breakfast and later in the evening before bed. It can help with headaches, high blood pressure, strokes, insomnia, and poor circulation. I find it grounds me, and if I find if I’m feeling tired, it can boost and calm my energy. Some people include various herbs in the water to treat other health concerns or to increase their protective and preventative health strategies. It is best to be done twice a day. I find I managed once day on most days, generally in the evening. Check out one of the many blogs here.
  9. Meditation. Mindfulness or mediation has become part of the widespread discussion over the last 20 years.  You can get apps, attend classes, church groups even have it.  I have found it has allowed aspects of my unconscious to come to the surface to be discovered, discarded or embraced. I find it to help support me in difficult times and bring extra intensity for those joyous occasions. I generally practice about 30 – 60 minutes a day up to twice a day. I have found the Holosync program by Centerpointe an excellent backbone for the rest of my health practices.
  10. Oil Massage or Abhyanga. Warm Oil Massage is another daily routine that comes out of Ayurvedic Health Traditions. Like Chinese Medicine, its practices and health philosophy dates back thousands of years. They share a common ancestry. A Daily Oil Massage can help with the following –
  • Musculoskeletal and nervous system health
  • Proper circulation and lymph drainage
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Softer, stronger skin
  • Healthy vision
  • Graceful aging
  • Lustrous hair
  • Firm, strong limbs
  • Tone and vigour for the body’s tissues
  • Increased longevity
  • Nourishment for the whole body

Sounds lovely – but a whole lot of drama every day – a 20-minute personal massage every day. I must admit it took a while for me to introduce this practice. I first heard about this from Deepak Chopra early on – I didn’t understand how to do it and after a few months gave up. However, I was to be reintroduced by Dr Pankaj Naram on his tour through Australia. Again, after a year, I gave up.

The memory of how good it felt stayed with me, and finally a couple of years later, I did some more research into how to do it successfully and took it up again. I have now been practising this lovely regime for nearly ten years. I even travel with a bottle of oil.

Sesame oil is the most common oil used and recommended but depending on your body type and needs other oils or oils infused with herbs can be used. Do I do it every day – no – but most weeks I will do it five days out of 7 and sometimes more. I look forward to it, and I know my body loves it.

Find out more here.

Bonus Habit – Feet up The Wall.  

Feet up the wall is one of the most straightforward practices and habits to introduce to your life. Yet for me, it was the one that has taken me the longest to undertake. Why? Maybe because it is so simple – I have been aware of it for years but have only been practicing it for eight months. I do it every night before bed. I have my yoga teacher Michelle to thank for continually reminding me of its benefits. We all need a good community of people around us to bring out our best.

I found this website useful on how to do it.

What are the benefits – of this simple habit – it helps:

  1. Regulates blood flow
  2. Alleviates menstrual cramps
  3. Relieves swollen ankles and varicose veins
  4. Supports testicular, semen, and ovarian problems in men and women respectively
  5. Improves digestion
  6. Restores tired feet or legs
  7. Stretches the back of the neck, front torso, and back of the legs
  8. Improves issues of the eyes and ears
  9. Relieves mild backache
  10. Provides migraine and headache relief, especially when done with a bandage wrapped tightly around the forehead and back of the skull
  11. Help keep you young and vital
  12. Calms anxiety
  13. Relieves symptoms of mild depression and insomnia

Implementation – Yeah Right…

These all sound exceptionally good you may say – that is a heck of a lot to be doing every day. It seems like a lot, but as they get put into your day over time, you barely notice it. I have never felt short of time as a result. You no doubt are already doing somethings to support your life and health some of these you may like to include. The trick in implementation is to not do it all at once – its all too hard.

I suggest picking one and trying that out for yourself. You are not committing to do it for the rest of your life – you are just trying it for a day, or a week, or whatever you work out might be the best for you. You may indeed like none of the above but have other things that you may like to introduce to your life regularly. Again, try them for day or week. Just see how you go. Now if your health was as low as mine, you may be motivated a little more, but let’s hope it doesn’t get to that.

I would suggest you do not wait that long.

I wrote about the idea of Minimum Standards of Performance in a recent article – “How to Be Happier & Get More Done.” – you might find it useful to review. My Minimum Standard of Performance for any of the above – is at least five days in every week. It is what we consistently do in our lives that over the long term makes the difference.

Are any the above in your daily routine?

And which one, if any of the above would you like to give a try?

Here’s to your success.

Below are photo’s of the first introduction I received to a new way of living and being. I hope you find your journey just as interesting.

Enjoy.

Resources:

“Seven Strategies for Wealth & Happiness” – E. James Rohn

“Radical Healing: Integrating the World’s Great Therapeutic Traditions to Create a New Transformative Medicine” – Rudolph Ballentine, MD

“The Artist’s Way” – by Julia Cameron

The Daily Stoic” – Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman

“Your Body’s Many Cries for Water – You’re Not Sick; You’re Thirsty: Don’t Treat Thirst with Medications” by F Batmangheldij

Ancient Secrets of a Master Healer: A Western Skeptic, An Eastern Master, And Life’s Greatest Secrets Clint G. Rogers

Centerpointe – Tools for Meditation.

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

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Written By Owen Thomas

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