More information than ever! Never a Greater Need for Wisdom and Mind Health!
We are in the midst of an unprecedented mental and physical health crisis The pace of life in the digital age and the pace of social and economic change are simply too great for an increasing number to cope without the use of stimulants, and other health destroying substances. Life, for many has become a fire hose of information, events, news, tragedies and life altering events.
The statistics are truly alarming! More were lost to opioid overdoses in 2017 alone than the combined wars of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq combined. The Center for Disease Control says that 4 out of 10 Americans now have a BMI (body mass index) that puts them in the obese category. Teen suicide attempts are on the rise.
In my new book, Yoga on the Yellow Brick Road, Exiting the A.S.A.P. Lane! Calm Your Mind, I describe the nature and scope of the problem, and the good news that there is an exit ramp from this anxious, stressed, addicted and pressured life.
When we speak of good health, we usually refer to physical metrics, including HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, Uric acid levels, triglycerides, blood pressure, BMI (body mass index), etc. These are all important, and for the vast majority who work at being “healthy”, do provide benchmarks to measure one’s progress against.
My adult life has been marked by two high-stress careers, first in elective politics and later as a global management consultant. Through it all, I maintained a very active physical exercise regimen, and my physical metrics were always in the good to excellent category. Yet, I never understood or appreciated the vital truth that “mind fitness” was of equal if not greater importance in the hyper-pace of life today.
I came to appreciate and rely on the endorphin high from the vigorous physical workouts. Only when I started a consistent practice of yoga and meditation did I experience the Eureka moment of what fitness of mind was really like and that I had been only half-way home all those years when I thought I was so fit.
We are blessed at birth with a “pharmacy in the brain”. The four “feel good chemicals”, endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin are available to all of us and can be accessed on a continuing basis through a consistent practice of mindful movement (yoga and meditation).
The Vagus nerve, the most important nerve in the body is stimulated and distributes the calming effect of these natural brain chemicals throughout every organ in the body. Conversely, when we are constantly stressed and anxious, our entire body is being carpet-bombed with cortisol, which has been called public health enemy number one. Some physicians are saying that up to 95% of physical illness is caused by undigested stress. These emotional knots and toxins, just like physical knots, are not only uncomfortable they are health destroying. Most alarming are the statistics showing an increasingly large number feeling that they can’t cope without more pills, alcohol, food, shopping and the like.
The good news message is that yoga and meditation are available to all. The biggest barrier is the stereotype that yoga is only for super-fit females who can do all the pretzel type contortions that others can’t do. Nothing is further from the truth.
Here’s the yoga gospel:
-If you can breathe, you can do yoga!
It’s the breath, not doing the pose correctly that counts
-Do only what you can do, go to your limit, never past it.
Pay no attention to what others in the class are doing
-Mindful breathing is the Yellow Brick Road
Your own path to a calm mind.
-The time is always just NOW!
Not ruminations about yesterday or tomorrow
-MAKE time for health now, or FIND time for illness later
Your body and organs can’t take a lifetime of constant stress
-Your own natural brain chemicals are your wizards
Pills, alcohol, food, shopping are false wizards, just as the Wizard of Oz turned out to be
-Fitness is mind, body and spirit, not just physical
-Commit to consistent practice, the “monkey brain” never takes a break
We’re all born with a ruminating brain
-First and foremost, seek a calm mind, then strength, balance and flexibility
-You are not your age!
Seniors, stop the limiting self-talk!
Bio: Alan Steelman, author of soon-to-be released book, Yoga on the Yellow Brick Road, Exiting the A.S.A.P. Lane! Calm Your Mind. He is a former member of the U. S. Congress, a global management consultant and a certified yoga instructor. Website: alansteelman.net