What is Health? (Part 1)

Maybe it’s because I’m down with a cold or maybe it’s because I’ve worked in “wellness” for a long time now, but recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be healthy. We all know how precious our health is, but what does it actually mean to be healthy?

For a long time, the only thing I knew about meditation was what I learned at Hindu camp as a kid. I learned from a really old, really out-of-touch yogi that you had to wake up SUPER early, sit quietly for an hour with a mala bead in hand, and repeat OM for each bead until all your thoughts disappeared into nothingness.

Pain is a tricky topic. The truth is, pain is confusing to even experts because not all pain is the same. And though we think we’re experiencing pain in a place in our body, most of the time, pain is the result of how our brain is interpreting a variety of factors, including stress, how connected we feel to other people, our mood, our diets, how much we move, etc.

This is a post about constipation. I’m writing this post because, like 8% of Americans, I’ve spent most of my life feeling bloated. I’m guessing many of you can relate to this.

Going to Botswana was one of the best things I’ve done in a really long time. I spent six fantastic days teaching chair yoga to seven incredible individuals at a hospital in the small city of Mahalapye. Of the seven, three of them were sweet, little old ladies that reminded me of my grandmother and the other four were younger folks who wanted to be able to teach yoga to community members who most need it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really care all that much about the royals. They are fascinating in a way…but I could take them or leave them. Which is why I wasn’t going to watch the royal wedding. I mean, why would I wake up that early on my day off just to give these people attention?

When I was a kid, my parents sent me to Hindu camp. It was about a week or so long program and everyday, we had to wake up at 6am for meditation. The meditation was lead by a very old, very flexible man who had no idea how to relate to children. He gave us all a string of mala beads; every time we touched a bead we had to say OM in our heads and move onto the next bead. We were to do this without having any other thoughts in our head except for OM. At the end, we were asked to sit quietly and “think of nothing.”

I think you know that worked out really well.

I’ve been going to my happy place a lot lately.

My happy place is that made-up place in my mind. The place that makes me feel relaxed and at one with the world. I first started going there in group yoga classes. Some of the teachers would ask us to visualize our happy place as part of the meditation at the end.

When I was in high school, I remember having to take the Presidential Fitness test. It was a nationwide physical fitness exam that required things like touching your toes, doing sit-ups and pull-ups and running the mile in a certain amount of time. Every year, I failed the mile test.

I had a meltdown on the side of a mountain. I went skiing in Utah and on the second run, I ended up on a slope that was way out of my league. I fell 4 or 5 times face first, and then I froze. I was exhausted and paralyzed with anxiety and I had no idea how to move forward. I wanted to give up. I wanted to lie there for the rest of my life and just be done.

I’m one of those people who has a never-ending to do list. I mean, an actual physical list that I write down. It’s been a running list for at least a year and I don’t think I’ve gotten to the bottom of it even once. There’s always a bit leftover and then I just end up transferring those items to a new list and a new one until I don’t remember where the first list started and the last list ended. Not to mention there are always things I didn’t event write down, because I figured I’d get to them later…you, know, when I have “free time.”

If you haven't heard of Tara Brach, she's a super well-known teacher who blends East & West. She has a PhD in clinical psychology and she has studied Buddhism extensively. She blends those things together to give talks and provide tons of resources like guided meditations, workshops, etc. Oh and she's FUNNY! A lot of her stuff can be found online.

The Hungry Ghost

Did you ever watch Pirates of the Caribbean? If you did, you might remember how in the original, the pirates were cursed. Even though they looked normal on the outside, they were actually just hollow skeletons roaming the seas without the ability to satisfy their hunger or thirst. This drove them completely nuts and the whole rest of the film, they kept chasing their ability to satisfy their needs/desires.