Ancient philosophies spoke about how important the flow of energy and vitality is to achieving good health and happiness. To develop a healthy free-flow of energy it often takes years of embracing a mind-body-spirit practice. However, we can become more aware of the actions that cause our energy to be depleted and embrace simple strategies to preserve and generate healthy energy, or what the Taoist call ch’i. In this blog, you will learn 10 steps to cultivating more energy and vitality you can start doing today that will change your life for the better.
- Be Cheerful
Mother Teresa said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” In today’s world, especially in a big city centre, we are often so caught up in our business and problems that we don’t even look others in the eye as they pass by. We often don’t know our neighbours, let alone greet them as we see them come out the door. Even when we offer someone a smile, they will scowl at us and wonder what we want from them.
I used to be like this; never really wanting to look at or converse with others. I often had a short temper with people I thought we taking too long or didn’t get what I was trying to say to them right away. However, as I have grown personally and spiritually, I have made a conscious effort to smile more. I now practice looking people in the eye and giving them a warm smile sending them love and blessings silently. In my yoga classes, I will sometimes offer a short head and neck massage while my students relax in savasana pose and while I do this I smile and send them blessings. They often say that was the best part of the class. I believe part of that is the energy I send to them during this practice.
Developing a practice of cheerfulness doesn’t always have to be you giving to others. It may simply be that you take a few moments each day, sit in silence and smile to yourself as you send love and blessings to your body for giving you the strength and health to do the things you love. Experts say that an inner smile relaxes and revitalizes the areas of the body to which this positive, cheerful energy is directed. A positive attitude, gratitude and pure enjoyment of has been recognized as playing an important role in optimal health and vitality.
The yogis teach that breath is our life force energy. Breath is life. Human beings can live for weeks without food, days without water but only a few minutes without air. Proper deep belly breathing increases oxygen levels in the body and energy. Where taking short, incomplete breaths will reduce mental performance, increases anxiety, places stress on the heart and cardiovascular system as a whole. There are many breathing techniques taught by experts; however, if you simply take a moment to take in deep breaths, specifically in and out of the nose, at any time during the day or night you will notice the body relaxes and your energy will increase.
3) Eat Well
Many experts agree that the foundation of health, strength and vitality is in direct relation to the quality of food we eat. For optimal health it has been shown that whole grains, legumes and vegetables should comprise the bulk of our diet. To gain optimal ch’i, or energetic flow, it is best to eliminate all foods, beverages and substances that are hard for the body to breakdown and digest. This includes all animal products, chemically laden and processed foods, fried foods, excessive fat and sodium, sugar, coffee, alcohol and tobacco. For optimal health and vitality, it is essential to drink adequate amounts of fresh, pure water and eat organic, whole and plant-based foods whenever possible.
4) Move Your Body
The benefits of physical activity and movement are well studied and documented. The many benefits of exercise include increased circulation, improved respiration, balance hormones, reduce stress, enhance mood, tone muscles, improve posture, lower blood pressure, increase vitality and stamina, improve immune response, reduce weight and deepen sleep.
Even though numerous benefits of exercise exist, studies from Statistics Canada show that only 15% of Canadians meet the minimum recommended standard of exercise each week, which is 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week. The problem is that we live sedentary lives in our professional lives that activity is something that we must take on ourselves to do in our personal lives. Many people seem unwilling to do this for various reasons.
To get more active we all must determine “why” it is important for us. I know many people who don’t eat properly and who never so much as get out and go for a walk on regular basis, let alone exercises regularly, who wonder why they are sick. Yet, our bodies were meant to move. So many of our physical, mental and emotional issues would be reduced with the addition of regular exercise. All it takes it to get outside and go for a simple walk for 20 to 30 minutes each day then increase the time and change the type of activity as you get stronger and feel ready. If you are unsure how to get started on a healthy exercise program contact a professional.
If we want to gain and maintain good healthy, vitality and happiness in our lives it’s essential to get enough rest, both for the mind and body, and deep restful sleep. The natural rhythm of the body is to wake up with the sun and retire to sleep when the sun goes down. In today’s world we use unnatural light to keep us going outside the natural rhythm of the sun, which often causes problems.
To get more rest, sleep experts have shown that sleeping between 9:00 and 10:00pm is optimal to get the best sleep. Many believe that every hour of sleep we get before midnight is worth two hours after midnight. Sometimes a quick 20 minute nap, or just taking some time to just sit still and do nothing can be beneficial to rejuvenate the energy. This time to relax may be the most beneficial activity you can do for your health and happiness.
6) Master Your Emotions
Emerson said, “For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” Negative emotions such as fear, anger, jealousy and guilt literally suck the life right out of us. These emotions have been shown to alter respiration, heart rate, body chemistry and cause hormonal upset. These emotions not only negatively impact our health and steal the joy out of our lives but also limit out effectiveness. When we are upset, we do not think clearly or make good decisions. When we are consumed by anger and guilt, even the simplest tasks can feel overwhelming.
It’s natural for humans to feel an array of emotions positive and negative. However, when the negative emotions consume our lives it robs us of stepping into our true nature and enjoying good health and happiness in our lives. Do your best to release negative emotions when you can. It’s okay to feel these emotions as they come up but it’s not healthy to cling to these emotions and dwell on them for years to come. To help manage your emotions, take time to focus things you are grateful for, breath and go help someone else. Often being in service to others is one of the best things we can do to release us from a negative state.
Learning to meditate will transform your life. A regular practice of meditation will reduce blood pressure levels, increase your energy, bring you a sense of peace and deep relaxation and boost creativity.
To enhance your energy and gain the benefits of meditation, start by closing the eyes, and focusing on the “third eye” or area between the eye brows when the eyes are closed. This allows you to send your focus and attention inward to explore your inner self rather than sending this energy outward as we do when the eyes are open. Keep your body still and focus on your breath until your mind becomes quiet and your heart is at peace. This practice of stillness and silence will allow the energy of the Universe to fill your mind, body and soul resulting in better health and happiness.
Click the pictures below to listen to the guided meditations.
Today we are so focused on getting more and doing more. This constant pursuit of more material things causes us to be busier and takes us away from the things that really matter. The Taoists believe that for ultimate health and happiness we must “do only what is necessary and keep only what you need.” If we just take a moment to ask ourselves, “is this necessary?” We will be able to cut out a lot of what is not serving us and bring us joy in our lives.
Many people choose to purchase material things that end up giving them a few moments of joy but cost much money and specifically time. Lawrence Bolt states in his book, The Tao of Abundance, that “time is life and most precious. Don’t sell it cheap.” This is a profound statement that I think more of us need to take seriously. We often sell our time doing things we don’t want to be doing, or worse truly hate doing, for minimum wage or for a price that is much lower than our time is truly worth.
Take a moment to look at the “things” you have in your life and perhaps start to give things away, or sell them, to lighten the load. You may also find that as you simplify your life you will gain more time to do the things and be with the people that matter most to you.
9) Spend Time In Nature
I was lucky to have spent more of time living on acreage away form the city, playing in the yard, exploring nature and connecting to the living beings that shared our space. I also live close to Canmore and Banff, which are host to the most amazing mountains, forests and hiking spaces in the world. If you live in a city you might not get much opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature but when you can just get outside, breath the fresh air (if it’s available to you) and listen to and observe the wonders of nature. Just a few moments each day will energize the mind, body and spirit.
10 ) Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
Practicing awareness and staying in the present moment is important to recognizing what is around you so you can make decisions about what is serving and what is not serving you to your highest good. Staying present and cultivating an awareness of your surroundings is important in facilitating harmony and balance in your life and enhancing your health and happiness.
For example, if you are present in your life and take inventory on a regular basis about your current state of health and happiness, you can be aware when you’re in a relationship or have people in your life that are not that good for you. It’s important to keep company with people who are inspiring, lift you up and accept you for who you are without judgement.
It’s also important to keep a clean, inspiring environment in your home, which you can do by making your space a calming sanctuary that you love being in. Perhaps you can do this by clearing out any clutter that may be hanging around. Diffusing essential oils that help to uplift and energize the body, mind and soul. Or, playing calming music in the background when you are relaxing at home. All of these practices will enhance the energetic flow in your external and internal environment, which will support better health and happiness.
Bolt, Lawrence G. (1999). The Tao of Abundance. Eight Ancient Principles For Abundant Living. Penguin Group, New York, New York.
Until next time,
Namaste my friends!
Rachel Joy Olsen, BSc., MBA
Health & Wellness Coach