The following section addresses diet and nutrition as a means to heal the body. Ultimately, as the ego becomes dissolved, your body and intuition will guide you on how to nourish your body and bring about healing. More powerful than any specific diet or supplement, is the wisdom that is within your body. Your body will guide you to the foods, in their proper quantities, that will heal your body.
However, because it can take some time to develop a strong enough connection with your intuition and body, the diet and regiment in this module are designed to point you in the right direction. While diet is absolutely individual for each person’s unique constitution, there may be some universal truths to healing through nutrition, such as the health benefits of limiting (or completely eliminating) sugar, dairy, and gluten from your diet, reducing meat consumption, eating a largely raw and plant-based diet, removing toxic build up from the body through detoxification processes, and healthy breathing and exercise practices. Before beginning to make any dietary changes, however, it can be very helpful to implement a few simple techniques in your life that can provide you with a strong foundation during the process of change.
One of the most healing practices that you can cultivate in your life is the practice of meditation. There are unique physiological changes that occur in the brain and body during meditation, all of which support healing the body. Cortisol levels decrease, endorphin levels increase, and inflammation in the body decreases, all which occurs within the first ten minutes of meditation. Begin with a practice of 10 minutes, twice a day. Either sit cross-legged on the floor, on a cushion, or in a chair (whatever is most comfortable for you). As you sit, continually bring your attention back to your breath, taking deep, slow, and natural breaths into your belly. Allow your breathing to become slower as you sit, relaxing your body with every exhalation. As a thought arises, bring your attention back to your breath. When another thought arises, bring your attention back to your breath, relaxing the body, and allowing your belly to fill with air. It may help to set a timer, allowing you to sink more deeply into the practice. As you progress, increase the time you sit to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and even an hour.
As I’ve already mentioned numerous times throughout this book, our breath is the doorway to vitality, peace, and happiness. This cannot be overstated, as proper breathing is foundational to good health, and is a profound part of regulating so many functions in the body, including energy levels, hormonal levels, serotonin production, immune functioning, inflammation, mental functioning, cardiovascular health, sleep patterns, cortisol levels, thyroid functioning, and circulation. Many people have developed patterns of shallow breathing from the chest, which restricts energy flow in the body. Belly breathing, on the other hand, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, releases endorphins in the brain, and calms an overactive mind. Take the time to master belly breathing by following the steps below.
1. Place your hand on your belly, sit up straight, and take a slow, deep, natural breath, allowing your belly to expand outward with each breath.
2. As you exhale, allow all of the oxygen to be released from your lungs, contracting your belly back towards your core. The breath should be relaxed, natural, and slow. Consciously slow down your breathing, taking deeper breaths. Allow your body to take in slightly more oxygen than you are accustomed to. This doesn’t need to be forced in any way, but rather, a conscious allowance to take deeper breaths.
3. Practice makes perfect! This may seem simple, but really pay attention to how you are breathing, and continually bring your attention back to the flow of breath in your body, being sure to breath from your belly. Throughout your day notice your breath. Any time you find yourself tense or anxious, or notice that you are breathing from your chest, take the time to straighten your spine and take a deep and relaxed belly breath.
It is amazing how simple and effective exercise is in keeping the body healthy and toxin free. You have probably heard it a thousand times, and yet most people still do not get enough daily exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes to an hour of exercise each day. The quality of exercise you perform is equally as important as duration. When exercising, be sure to stick mostly to aerobic exercise. What this term means is that you are taking in enough oxygen in every moment to supply your body with adequate oxygen for all the functions of the body.
The key to making sure that you are doing aerobic exercise (versus anaerobic exercise), is belly breathing. Try to maintain belly breathing throughout the duration of your workout. As soon as your breathing primarily moves up into the chest (in the form of gasping for air), your body begins burning oxygen faster than you can inhale it into your lungs, depleting your energy reserves. This puts stress and strain on the body, releases cortisol, and can contribute to burnout, rather than a build-up of your energy reserves.
This technique of maintaining belly breathing (even during strenuous activity) is commonly used among marathon runners (including the well known marathon runner, Stu Middleman), who reported having plenty of energy even after running a 100 mile marathon. In order to work up to a 100 mile marathon, however, you need to increase your exercise level gradually, never pushing yourself beyond what is comfortable to breath from your belly. All of these techniques will increase your overall holistic health.