Have you ever heard the term “holistic lifestyle”? I have heard it many times. It isn’t a subject I know a ton about. When this came up in the course of an email discussion, Ben sent me his simple explanation of the term, which I am sharing with you with permission. I had heard a good portion of it but was able to take away one or two new things. Take a look.
A Simple Guide To A More Holistic Lifestyle
Holistic living is a bit of a mystery for most people. It’s not because the concept is strange, but because it’s unfamiliar. In essence, holistic living means living as a whole person and following natural habits to enjoy greater health and well-being. Someone who lives holistically is living the way that nature intended, or at least as close to nature as they can manage.
There are many ways to live holistically. It could mean keeping the mind calm through practices like meditation, contemplation, or mindfulness; and it could mean keeping the body healthy through exercises that reduce stress. It can also mean preferring organic foods over processed foods, for example eating gluten free grains instead of traditional grains high in gluten.
Let’s take a closer look at how to cultivate a more holistic mind and body:
1. Cultivating a holistic mind.
What happens in your mind affects your life. If you watch television news, discuss how things are getting worse with family and friends, and fret over your bills or the latest downturn in the economy, you are overstimulating your mind in a negative way. You are exposing it to ideas that stir up agitation and despair. Since it’s not possible to completely separate yourself from all the strife and turmoil in the world, it’s necessary to include countermeasures to mitigate the natural stress that arises from everyday experiences.
Three techniques that have proved helpful in cultivating a holistic mind are meditation, contemplation, and mindfulness.
- Meditation is sitting upright and focusing on something to slow a busy mind. It could be the image of a flower or a candle. It could be a mantra, a word or phrase you repeat over and over again. It could be focusing on your inhale and exhale. By focusing the mind on one thing alone, your brain waves drop from a busy beta state to a calm alpha or theta state.
- Contemplation is reading something spiritual or philosophical and then thinking deeply about its meaning. Just sitting in silence and contemplating a profound idea creates insights about how to improve the quality of your life.
- Mindfulness is simply observing your thoughts as you move through the day, without attaching to thoughts or getting engaged in what you’re paying attention to in the moment.
2. Cultivating a holistic body.
There are three main practices for cultivating a healthy body: exercise, diet, and rest.
- Exercise. There are many forms of exercise, and the best way to stay healthy is to do exercises that increase flexibility, improve cardiovascular health, and build muscle while burning fat. You can pursue different exercises for each, like stretching, running, and weight lifting, or you can pursue a practice like yoga that will enhance flexibility, improve stamina, and increase muscle tone.
- Diet. A healthy diet should include a good source of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. However, what is most important in diet is eating as close to nature as possible. This means eating organic foods rather than packaged foods, and staying away from foods with preservatives and artificial ingredients. So, a good diet might include vegetables like spinach, kale, and tomatoes; fruits, like berries, apples, and oranges; raw nuts and seeds; and oils like olive, avocado, and cocoa. Additionally, you should see a naturopathic doctor to see if you have any allergies. For instance, many people suffer from gluten allergies and should research gluten free recipes.
According to Stefano Guandalini, MD, director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, you should go on a gluten free diet “if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, a condition that doctors once dismissed but now recognize as legitimate.”
- Rest. Rest basically means getting enough sleep every night rather than suffering from sleep deprivation because you went to bed too late and got up too early.
Taking Care of Yourself
The reason most people don’t follow a holistic lifestyle is because they have forgotten the simple practice of taking better care of themselves. In our fast paced lives, it’s only too easy to get caught up in rushing to work and back, grabbing junk food, and being too tired to exercise and then too overstimulated in the evenings to go to bed early enough to enjoy a full nights rest.