This post is Part 27 of a series of posts on the psychological and practical benefits of daily practice. In this series, I’ll explore the elements of daily practice, varieties of daily practice, challenges to daily practice, and strategies for meeting those challenges. Please join me in learning more about this important subject! Complete information can be found in The Power of Daily Practice.
A daily health practice might look like any of the following. It might look like making time every day to exercise. It might look like making time every day to rehab an injury. It might look like making time every day for relaxation. It might look like making time every day for a ceremonial cup of herbal tea. It might look like making time every day to research an impending medical treatment choice. These are clear, easy-to-understand practices, at least on the surface.
But often deciding on the exact nature of our health practice isn’t a neat or straightforward matter, because our health is ultimately a complicated mind/body affair. Even adding a daily cup of herbal tea can come with unintended consequences, if, for example, we end up adding too much ginger or turmeric to our system over time. It isn’t so easy to discern what our body really wants, needs, or can tolerate or to tease apart the exact relationship between our mind and our body.
Such was the case with Erika. Erika had the kind of chronic stomach problems that brought with them all sorts of diagnoses, including psychological ones, all sorts of treatment plans, many flat-out contradictory, and the powerful sense that no one really knew what was going on. This led her to feel betrayed by western medicine, leery of every new diagnosis and every new treatment plan, and completely confused as to how to proceed.
“Given exactly where you’re at and given exactly what you know, what might a daily health practice look like for you?” I wondered.
Erika thought about that. “I need the right diagnosis,” she said. “But that isn’t in my hands. Maybe researching how to get that right diagnosis is in my hands but I’ve been down that road a hundred times. So ‘research’ isn’t the practice, I don’t think. I mean, I do have to keep at the researching, but my practice needs to be different from that. It needs to be … more mental.”
She thought about that. “While I figure out what’s going on with my body, I want to take better charge of my mind. I’m not saying that the way I think makes my stomach hurt, because that makes it sound like it’s all ‘in my head.’ And I don’t buy that. I have physical issues. But being anxious and bad-mouthing myself and getting down on everything can’t help. How could any of that possibly help my body? So, for right now, I need my ‘body’ practice to be a ‘mind’ practice.”
We fleshed that out a bit. Erika and I co-created a simple three-part health practice that included a calming ritual, a thought-stopping technique, and a short series of affirming incantations. Two weeks later she reported on her progress.
“I’m actually feeling better,” she reported. “I still have lots of pain and I still need some kind of genuine medical help, whether that’s Eastern, Western, or from Mars. But it’s absolutely the case that I feel lighter, less anxious, and more optimistic. That’s not nothing!”
“Absolutely!” I agreed. “That is not nothing!”
I’m regularly surprised by how many of my creative and performing artist clients are troubled by chronic physical problems. It seems that just about all of them are. I have no idea why this might be the case and maybe what’s really up is that virtually everyone is suffering from one chronic ailment or another, especially in our modern times where it’s so common to be pre-this and pre-that (for example, pre-diabetic) and so common to be on one or another psychiatric medication with its powerful side effects.
Given what may be nearly ubiquitous health concerns, it follows that almost everyone might benefit from a daily health practice. This might look like a certain designated time each day when you exercise, relax, cook a healthy meal, rehab an injury, reduce your pestering self-talk, or take a nap. Your health is certainly worth a daily practice of this sort, isn’t it?
In addition to any other daily practice you may have initiated, like a daily creativity practice or a daily life purposes practice, you might want to add a daily health practice. This could be as simple as spending an hour each day on a daily walk or as complicated as spending hours each day learning the principles of a health system like Ayurvedic medicine or Chinese medicine. It could be as “easy” as mindfully taking some hydration breaks at the same time each day or as difficult as spending a full couple of hours daily rehabbing an injury.
It’s almost certainly the case that a daily health practice would serve you. Of course, it would be lovely to behave in healthy ways all around the clock, not just for a certain designated period of time each day, and indeed that intention might well go on your list of life purposes. If, say, you want to stop smoking cigarettes, that’s an around-the-clock affair, not a 15-minutes-here-and-there sort of thing. Your health matters all day long—and a robust daily health practice will help remind you of that.
Follow all of Eric Maisel’s posts here: authory.com/EricMaisel
In this series, I intend to explain the elements of daily practice, the varieties of daily practice available to you, and what to can deal with the challenges to daily practice that inevitably arise. If you’d like to learn more about the psychological and practical benefits of daily practice and better understand the great power of daily practice, I invite you to get acquainted with The Power of Daily Practice. It is available now.
This post was previously published on Psychologytoday.com.
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