It has been three-weeks-and-five-days since my graduation from Ann Wigmore Natural Health Institute, and a three weeks since I have returned home. In spite of 25 days away, and all that I experienced and learned, I am amazed at how quickly the beat of life has come right back into play – in good and not-so-good ways.
Honestly, I had a moment when I arrived back in New York, standing at the luggage claim carousel, where I felt like I had never left. It was, as if, the entire reset-my-life experience was a dream. It is hard for me to comprehend that our brains work that way; so accustomed to patterns that we click into the same-same-sameness all over again, almost immediatly.
I find this lesson – we are creatures of habit, pattern, sameness, familiarity, the devil-you-know or whatever you want to call it – both intimidating and empowering.
When I was planning my health retreat trip, I approached it with the purpose of changing my habits. Over and over again, I have read that it takes 21 days for the body and the mind to adjust to new patterns (search “21 day habit” and you’ll find almost a million hits) so I set out with the idea that I had to be enacting intense change for a minimum of 21 days. After 25 days away, it was daunting that I felt, in that instant in the airport waiting for my suitcase, that nothing had really happened. A feeling washed over me that life is so long that we merely blink our eyes and we’re on to the next thing.
Is it really possible that I spent time, money, emotions, effort, and intellect on something that could evaporate so quickly?
I, honestly, do think this is not only possible, but, in some cases, probable. And, it is not for lack of good intention. Why? Because we tend to drift to what is easy and not, necessarily, what is right or what it best. Easy may be good, bad, or neutral, but it is the path of little effort; we can be sharks riding the currents to conserve energy. Our intent may be to change, but we are not willing to do the work involved to enact that change, or, we can do the work under the optimal conditions, but not when we have to make a larger effort. Hence the proverb: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
I also think many of us tend to be past- and future-focused, and we struggle with living in the moment.
Think about how many times you have planned and paid for a vacation, and it has taken you days to unplug your brain from thoughts of your job (past-focused.) And, when you’re trip is almost over, instead of spending your final moments in pleasure, you are distracted by the idea of the work you have waiting for you when you return (future-focused.) When are you really experiencing you trip? Most often when you look at the photos and videos – which is bringing you to the past, again. Would (or could) Buddhists qualify this as a “fail?”
Change means work on body, mind, spirit, lifestyle, and attitude. There is no magic solution. Change means work.
The exciting/encouraging/empowering part of my experience, however, is that stuff does begin to stick when you do it over and over and over, again, and you find a place for it in the pattern of your life that makes sense to you. (See Dr. BJ Fogg’s Three Tiny Habits.)
Off the top of my head, here are some of the things that have stayed with me from my health retreat, which I have been able to adopt and continue:
- consuming organic, raw vegetables to get the enzymes needed to continue my detoxification and healing process.
- skin brushing to keep the lymph moving through my system.
- eating fermented foods to increase the probiotics in my digestive system.
- good food combining to keep my digestion calm.
- breathing, breathing, breathing.
- consciousness and working to be present, in the moment, as I move about my day.
- using natural products on my skin, my hair, and for bathing.
- keeping connected with nature – the sun, the earth, the water, the air, the moon.
- drinking water at appropriate times to optimize the digestive process.
- setting intentions at the start of my day, and keeping those intentions as a focus, throughout the day.
I have a strong sense of being grounded, and of approaching my days at my own pace. I feel connected to a community of folks in Puerto Rico, and in the many locations where my fellow graduates reside. I have energy. I feel whole. I don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed or filled with anxiety, anymore.
My desire is that the beauty of my experience never leave me, in spite of that feeling I had at the airport.
The hard parts remain the hard parts, even though I did a 25-day kick-start. Those intense areas of change still need to be changed, in me. They are:
- a daily exercise plan – As I did in Puerto Rico, I intended to swim in the ocean every day. When I returned, Long Island Sound was too cold. I have been swimming some days, walking others, but I have not made ‘daily’ happen, yet.
- more green – Although I have salads every day, I need more green in my diet. I have only made energy soup and green juices a handful of times, and I need to get them into my body every day. Last night, I had dinner with friends in a restaurant. I ate a salad. I also ate the green parsley garnish from the table’s appetizer – it tasted like heaven. I need to make more green happen.
- expanded intentions, greater action – There are so many things I would like to accomplish to get my life in order and continue my reconstruction. I have been so mellow, and so peaceful that my actions are lacking. I need to expand my intentions, increase my actions, and develop a balance that moves me forward.
Change means work, and my greatest job, right now, is to stay focused and keep on reconstructing pino.