Your Health is equal to your Happiness
In today's time, many of us are living busy lives, we have so much going on that it seems as if we forget to prioritize ourselves. So much time is spent working hard to support our lifestyle and our families because they bring us joy, so we then distract ourselves by running away from pain rather than going towards healing our pain. I don't doubt the necessity to provide for our families or bring an abundance to feed our passionate lifestyle, but if your looking for happiness then you should prioritize your health - because it's the foundation in which everything else in your life is built upon. Healing takes time and you have to put in the time in order to heal, in the past, I tried waiting for my body to heal on its own like when it used to when I was younger, but because your body is constantly fluctuating towards a state of equilibrium it sort of slows down once it finds a balance between your past and present injuries including the energy it needs to handle the random daily challenges within our environment. I know from experience that acupuncture works wonders and if you haven't tried it, then I highly recommend it, yet the more time you go without it, the more healing time/ sessions your body requires in order to heal. Why is that? It's because as an acupuncturist we know that back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, or digestion problems are related to everything else going on with our bodies such as immune system imbalance, adrenal fatigue, fatty liver symptoms, anxiety, so we need to treat the WHOLE body, not just a single section, and because of this, the result is phenomenal healing. I noticed that I have the luxury of performing acupuncture on myself mostly any day, but the average person does not, so this message goes out to you, the person who has been putting off their healing time. Speaking from past experiences, I use to spend time putting off acupuncture for another day, or the next day, but when I started being consistent with my acupuncture treatment I noticed that my body needed it a long time ago so then I realized the more time I spent putting off my healing sessions the more patterns of pain or issues that your body developed along the way. I understand the necessity for a majority of the population needs to work and relax, however, if you're not healing your wounds then the joy found in these activities will only be as equal to your health.
Why I love Acupuncture
Dear acupuncture thank you for coming into my life. Before I met you I had a lot of physical pain in different areas of my body for years which didn't respond to conventional treatment. My body was strong because I like to be strong, but being chiseled didn't mean the pain would go away at night, but now I don't suffer. Rich with history - after thousands of years, it still thrives for a reason, from its origin in China, through its movement in Europe, North and South America, and perhaps all continents except Antarctica - it will continue to thrive in the hands of the people who heard its calling. Its limitation for healing seems to apply only to those who don't put effort into it and after thousands of years of being around, I am optimistic that the word it will continue to grow. You can use it with moxa to bring heat and circulation into deep tissue, combine it with e-stim in order to combat infections, and release natural hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, you can combine it with massage therapy, chiropractic, and physical therapy care in order to optimize orthopedic healing techniques, or even add collagen for facial rejuvenation treatments. Am I missing anything? (most certainly). It can relieve digestive problems, stimulate motor neurons, relieve headaches, fight the "jones" feeling for people going through withdrawals and relax the fight or flight reflex for PTSD victims. What else? Am I missing anything? (yes again most certainly there is more!) Acupuncture is not without controversy for people who love drama because there are still humans around that will twitch and lie on video to keep its truth hidden and keep people doped up in order to drive a benzo. It's all good though, things can and will be better, but for now, it is around to help people (and our furry friends too), and that is why I love acupuncture.
5 foundations to a Good Meditation Practice
"Meditation is the foundation of all true martial arts." That was the message that I internalized training in the Martial Arts world. There's more to it though, obviously. For at least as long as recorded human history, the practice of meditation has been advised by the wise. Traditions throughout the world have some form of meditation, regardless of their beliefs. It truly is a non-sectarian practice. It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Muslim, Agnostic, or even an Atheist – meditation can change your life. I acknowledge that there are different kinds of meditation practices, through my experience I've learned that true meditation is to empty the mind, as in “no-mind” or “no thoughts”. Here is some information based on my experience and training in this topic with a small story on how I got started.
Let us rewind about a decade ago when I was a young man in love with a beautiful nurse, back into time when I use to work in a nursing home as a physical therapist assistant. I'll cut to the chase, I got my heart broken AND then also completely tore my acromioclavicular ligament in my left shoulder from a snowboarding accident. To add fire to the flame my family fell on some real hard times both financially and health-wise, so within a few weeks after undergoing surgery to repair the ligaments in my shoulder, I made a difficult decision and decided to move out of my apartment and return home so that I could help my family in whichever way I could. So, at that time the combined major stressors in my life were: nonstop sharp nagging pain on my left shoulder, being denied coverage for my surgery by my health insurance plan, working and lifting heavy patients while one arm was recuperating in a sling, managing a broken heart, moving back home, redirected all my earnings towards my family home, in addition, I was also helping my family recover from their own injuries (in hindsight it seems like we were helping each other).
Times were relatively tough and I became an emotional wreck; (I tried to hide it, but I knew some of my coworkers could tell) up to that point in time I solved a lot of my problems with a military attitude of "keep marching forward", but at that time I felt so overwhelmed. I cannot explain to you what was going on in my head at that time, but believe me when I say I was hurting in many different areas of my life and I felt like I was losing some sense of control.
I don't remember how, but eventually, I came across a book called Awakening the Buddha Within Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya Das. A couple of months later I did not return to my "normal", but I definitely had a better grip on myself after I began practicing some of the learnings that were in the book. There was a section in that book that I still remember reading, more or less it mentioned that there is power in group meditation and so that became my next goal – a group meditation location. (Click on the link below if interested in purchasing the book, I highly recommend it )
*(A note to the reader - If you ever want to try to find a group to meditate with, please be careful with certain groups that advertise for group meditation classes and then try to sell you the secret of happiness for a low one-time fee of $600.)
I didn't fall for it and I'm glad I didn't stop looking for a group to meditate with because what I found after that incident was remarkable and even more life-changing. I found a martial arts school that provided free group meditation every Thursday at 8:30 pm. After one tryout I knew I was in the right place as they reflected what I've learned and from my own experiences, every fiber in my body felt like I was in the right place so, after that class, I decided to join their martial arts school. I loved it so much that I still practice to this day and the rest as they say is history. Although I learned a lot from reading that book, it was only the beginning, because nearly a decade after reading that book my meditation practice is still a part of my life. I m a much stronger version of myself emotionally, spiritually, and mentally and I believe the major changes in my life began when I adopted meditation into my life. Without further ado, here are a few tips that I’ve learned around the way:
These are 5 foundations to a good meditation practice:
1.) Find a safe place to practice (This can be your room or a secret place where you can be alone, because if you’re in a place where you feel you might be in some sort of danger or where you might get hit by a rock in the face, then it’s a waste of time, you’ll just keep thinking about what might hurt you)
2.) Keep a passive attitude (your mind is going to wander because that’s its nature, however when you eventually get enough experience, you’ll be able to catch it wandering and when it does simply bring it back to the breath – this is the practice)
3.) Practice in a dimly lit room (light causes our brain neurons to fire which will create more thoughts and that is the exact opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish which is "no-mind" or "no thoughts")
4.) Have a focal point (I use my breath, but it doesn’t have to be, it can also be a sound or even an image, your focal point is where you bring your attention back too whenever you realize that your mind has wandered off to a thought)
5.) Have a quiet place (limit distractions, because you can’t feel relaxed or focus if your brother or cousin is asking you a million questions or if your favorite song is playing in the background)
6.) Sit still with good posture (depending on your flexibility different sitting positions can put a strain on your low back or hips causing tension, or blocking circulation causing your feet to fall asleep. Great results can be achieved while sitting on a chair/ bench with your legs parallel to the floor which will put your spine in a comfortable position. Try not to rely leaning on a backrest unless you have some orthopedic spinal injury, so keep your back upright, not too erect or not slouched over.)
A few more tips from experience:
- Practice at least 3 times a week (that’s my magic number)
- Find time to practice some mental concentration exercises, ex: counting backward from 50 and visualizing each number without losing count or else starting over (it kind of strengthens the process and I've heard stories of master martial artists counting backward from 500 before meditating so 50 is definitely doable even for a brand spanking new beginner)
- For beginners start off with low increments like 5 minutes and then try adding 1 minute at a time.
- I've come to believe that group meditation is powerful because it encourages you to sit still for a longer period of time without moving than you will on your own.
- If you’re looking for fast results your best bet is to find a coach that can guide you. (I really recommend it)
- This is tip here will give you a great meditation experience! If you can’t seem to sit still because the mind is racing with a lot of different thoughts, then consider doing some cardiovascular exercises that will get your heart pumping and your body oxygenated first (kind of like you’re releasing some steam), afterward you’ll find it easier to sit still and focus on your focal point. Personally, I meditate at the end of my martial arts training)
- Be kind to yourself, we all have different life experiences and paths, so if you believe you are not doing it right, don’t be so hard on yourself - it's ok, practice just to practice. My former martial arts teacher will often ask his students: “what is the hardest thing we do?” and our answer was always the same – “meditation.”
- Training with a good upright posture helps with what us acupuncturist call your upright Qi.