My goal with this blog from the beginning has been about being healthy for my daughter and my wife. I want to be able to do all the things my parents did with my brother and me. I want to be able to chase my little girl around the yard, coach whatever sport she is into, scoop her up when she gets a bad boo-boo, put her on my shoulders and show her the world. Generally, I want to be the best dad I can possibly be. When you are young you can do all of those things more easily and your body bounces back a lot more quickly. because we chose to have kids later in life, I need to work harder to maintain my health.
Health isn’t just about the physical because you can’t separate mind from body. It runs on the same foods, requires the same blood, and needs exercise. In order for my body and mind to perform better, I had to start by changing the foods I eat. When I started this blog, my main focus was on exercise that would prepare me for our little one. I wasn’t eating badly at the time, but I wasn’t eating all the well either. After finishing the Whole30 I realized that what I eat needed to change as well. Having completed Whole30, I now have not only a better understanding of, but a better plan for eating. My wife and I are committed to that change. It’s still a journey, but it’s a journey we are on together. And better food leads to better cognition.
Stress is putting a demand on your body or mind. Excess stress puts you out of balance because your body and/or mind have to work harder to compensate. Eating bad food stresses your body because it has to pull in more resources to deal with it. Eating unhealthy for too long eventually weakens the body’s ability to protect itself and keep itself up and running (pun intended). Physical stress in the right amounts can be beneficial. It’s how we build muscle, cardiovascular endurance, etc. But too much and the body has to work hard to recover from it. Too little and the body has to work harder to meet everyday physical demands (having to use the stairs when the elevator is out).
And then there is mental stress. Our minds are powerful things. We can think our bodies into the fight or flight response. Mental stress can come from any number of demands on us. Even good things can cause stress. And while we can’t go through life stress free, it is bad when we don’t take some time to chill out, in a healthy way. Hence, Meditation May.
What is Balance?
So far I have briefly described this technique of Balanced Breathing. It is called many other names as well, but ultimately it is training your nervous system to balance itself out. Equal parts fight or flight and equal parts rest and digest (Balancing your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems respectively). Meditation, mindfulness, and yoga all kind of get at the same thing. The goal is bringing balance to your mind and body. There is another aspect of balance though that I believe is crucial to good health, and that is faith. Without it I can get lost in the struggles and stress of day-to-day life. Without God orienting me I can try to do too much in my own power and that will get me out of balance.
As I have mentioned before I listen to the Daily Audio Bible every day. Brian Hardin reads and guides listeners through the scripture. This year’s theme to which he relates scripture to is about being healthy. And in order to be healthy, we all need to remain in balance. I encourage you to consider taking the meditation challenge with me. Try just 5 minutes a day of balanced breathing.
“Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.”
I PETER 5:8 (AMPLIFIED)