Sunday, September 12, 2010

Days of Awe: Your Optimal Health

It's officially the Jewish High Holidays. In fact, today is Day 5.  

For me, there is nothing quite as fruitful and nourishing as the deep scouring on the agenda during the Days of Awe for Jews, from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. It just thrills me, and it's NOT just for Jews. Here's why.

A little background: after being raised Catholic (including parochial school for most of my lower school years with Mass twice/week), I converted to Judaism at age 33.  Along the way, I've studied Yoga, Mindfulness, Buddhism, Non-dualism, 12-Step and many other traditions. I'm a yoga teacher. My spiritual practice is rather similar to those of my neighbors here in Berkeley -- I take what really works for me and opens my channel grace.

Teshuvah is our main job during the 10 Days of Awe from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur. My fave translation of this Hebrew term? Returning to your True Self. Reflecting on ways in which we've missed the mark of serving our Highest Self, our Highest Purpose, our alignment or congruence with the quiet voice internally that knows the next right action.

This is not about religion; I'm actually interested today in taking this concept and applying it to your health. Teshuvah your health, my friends. I’m talking about deeply relevant issues such as your daily energy, your alignment daily with your higher purpose, how you nourish yourself with food as medicine. Can you inventory the ways over the past year that you've perhaps missed the mark and hurt your body, metabolism, spirit, emotional balance?

Another way to look at this (and break out of the Judeo-Christian form) is to ask: what if I were in charge of the Buddha's physical health? Or HHH The Dalai Lama? Meryl Streep? Any enlightened being would do. Say you're to provide the dosage of thyroid medication each morning - what would that look like? What would I prepare for him or her for dinner today? If I were in charge of the best exercise and stress management for optimal aging, what would I schedule today for the Enlightened One?

Me? If I were HHH's thyroid boss, I would never miss a dose (BTW, I missed my Armour thyroid pill yesterday - can you tell?). I'd have HHH meditate while the Armour took it's sweet time to absorb fully for 60 minutes before any food or drink. Meanwhile, I'd cook HHH a lovely organic meal that didn't harm the planet or animals. Brown rice, kale from my garden and soaked nuts for breakfast? And I'd mindfully prepare the oolong tea or yerba mate as a sadhana (spirital practice or ritual).

My morning now doesn't resemble this idealized version even remotely. Armour in, guzzle oolong tea, breakfast for the fam - check, lunches for the kids - check, nag kids to hurry up and brush their teeth - checkety check check. Race out door, hustling kids, pulse and blood pressure rising in response to my kids' slower and movements, their "Buddha nature." Oy. There's so much that's wrong with this picture.

For the Days of Awe, here's your homework: what is YOUR PART in the harm you've done to your body? Not the part contributed by your partner or boss or kids or parents but your part? What can you do differently with nourishing food, mindfully eaten, with movement, with your connection to Higher Self, with supplements, with assessing why your energy is lousy? How about sleep - if it sucks, are you on it, seeking help and have an attitude that invites change? Are you devoting your full energy to your healing and optimal health?
If you're interested in more resources and guiding questions, here's a favorite.
Shanah Tovah (Happy New Year in the Jewish Calendar). Time for a fresh start to your most vibrant year ever, but we all know measurement begets change. Start measuring, my friends.

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I'm an organic gynecologist, yoga teacher + writer. I earn a living partnering with women to get them vital and self-realized again. We're born that way, but often fall off the path. Let's take your lousy mood and fatigue, and transform it into something sacred and useful.