Since I started embracing a professional and a personal “Holistic Lifestyle” around 2009, I have struggled trying to explain what it means to live a holistic lifestyle and what my take on it is. Following description is based primarily from my own personal experience on how to interpret its meaning mixed with my professional education and skills within the area.
Holistic Lifestyle or Alternative lifestyle? – The trendy expression “Holistic lifestyle”allows for us to look at the whole picture, to take everything into account. We or many of us are and feel ready to take on more responsibility and all-encompassing approach to our way of life. “Alternative lifestyle” is based on certain mainstreams deriving habits like having special nutritional habits, little or no interest in television or mainstream media, not being overly engaged in social activities or having opinions differentiating from the greater masses. It allows us to live and think “Outside the box”. Whereas a holistic lifestyle is a complete and comprehensive philosophy of life. Alternative lifestyle is thus based on certain acts or mainstream deriving habits, whereas a holistic lifestyle is a complete and comprehensive philosophy of life.
Alternative lifestyle – I have in the recent years realized that I have always lived this way by not adhering to the set standards of the major population. Yet I have not being fully engaged in a holistic lifestyle as I was lacking the practical knowledge and insights of the meaning of living life this way. I was being too serious in order to get healthier and not addressing happiness cultivating or healthy indulging aspects of life. Most of my time was spent studying, meditating, physical & mental exercising or embracing inner silence in order to increase my energy levels. I rarely took vacations or let myself have a relaxing time from my then very productive lifestyle, which created an internal conflict and a feeling of filling unsatisfied no matter what I did.
A Holistic Lifestyle – Involves every and any area of that specific lifestyle. It addresses your general lifestyle philosophy on a mental, physical and spiritual level. Living a holistic lifestyle means that we are paying attention to various areas of our life and take full responsibility for the choices we make and redefining our current core values in the same process. It also indicates to cultivate awareness in areas like restorative habits, circadian rhythms, nutritional habits, happiness cultivation and our general physical activity expression levels on a daily basis.
Core values – Are the fundamental beliefs of a person or Organization. These guiding principles dictate behaviour and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong. Core values also help companies to determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their goals by creating an unwavering guide. The origin and outspoken narrative off your core values will also be a big part in understanding why we act the way we do in life. The construct of your reality is many times based on the core values, regarding topics like: Should I enter & stay in this relationship? Change my job? Move to another location? Start a university education? Embark in a holistic lifestyle remodelling journey? Core values is a fundamental basic tool used as a decision-making orientation compass on a daily basis. Your core values are the very roots of how life is chosen to perceive and what your purpose is all about in the first place.
Ask yourself: “Is my Mind-FULL? Or am I being Mindful?”
Mindfulness – Is a commonly used word for describing habitual acts of mediation, yoga and calmer daily cultivating habits. My take on it is that it surrounds the topic awareness and reaches far beyond the specific practice you engage in. To actively draw every breath with 100% consciousness of every part in it. To be engaged in every bite we chew when we eat our food, to stay fully present in our own sensory units of our own body without losing focus when we are engaging in any acts throughout our days. Paying attention to ourselves and our surroundings in a relaxed and harmonized way.
Mind-FULL – A mind that is full of thoughts and ideas is very to hard to inspire a change. Is is similar to the act of continue filling up a cup that is full of water, it will not stay in the glass. Yet this is something I was used to do, I believed that “more is always better”. I tend ed to add more tasks into a already satiated space, whereas the key is rather “Less is more”. If we do less of what is stressing us out, we will have more energy over to fully engage in the most productive, happy and restorative activities throughout our days. The sudden urge to explore the art of mindfulness is deeply rooted in the general populations current stress levels that are experienced in our modern way of life today. It gives us a second chance to make clear boundaries and practical tools to cope with a fast-paced society. And we become aware of the choices we make and how they affect us in the long term.
Paying attention to others – It is always easier to distinguish behaviors in other because we are unbiased by their explanatory story of origin, we simply state what we perceive without being attached to it. If we start to pay attention, become more mindful in our life, add a holistic perspective in our way of life. Chances are high that we can become that person that sees the necessary needs for changes in order to raise the quality and vitality levels for us.
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change” – Eckhart Tolle.
The art of awareness – Awareness is the term we use to describe how “connected” we are to our senses, mind, breathing, body tension, thoughts, emotions, energies, intuition etc. It has to do with knowing and being able to stay in-tune to our internal environment and what we are experiencing from moment to moment. Yet also being able to read our external environment and others in our vicinity. Awareness is the first step in any given holistic lifestyle path. Here are some practical advices to cultivate mindful awareness:
1. Pay attention to your breathing patterns – If it gets disrupted or you cannot breathe naturally you are most likely pushing your body to hard, you might have an emotional response to a situation, a spoken word, an act from someone in your surrounding environment, you might be thinking a lot of unnecessary thoughts and over analyzing a situation etc. Return to your breathing pattern. Do not try to solve or analyze why it is responding the way it is doing. Simply get it back to a natural state and pay attention to every breath you take. This a way of “grounding” yourself by connecting to the most basic of bodily functions we have.
2. Quiet your mind – This is easiest done by staying quiet for a while. By not engaging in social interactions more than necessary to make means. Being in a quiet area and engaging in relaxing activities like meditation, yoga, walking in a nature setting, having a massage treatment, taking a hot bath, light up incenses to or aromatic oils to create a calm and peaceful environment. Remember:” You are not the voice in your head”. Realise that the voice in your head is a part of your existence but that is not your entire constitution. When we revert our mind and body back to silence, we can more easily connect to how we are feeling, the tensions in our body, emotional surges, bodily responses, sensory inputs. We become more aware of what we are actually doing in this exact movement.This is crucial if you are dealing with stress or recovering from any kind of traumatic experiences.
3. Observe your own behavior – Allow yourself to be an observer of your own patterns, behaviors, attitude, your habits in eating, sleeping, physical & mental exercising, your mental attitudes, the daily rhythm you chose, social interactions and everything that makes an impact on some level of yourself. Do not take anything for granted, yet do not analyze it or judge it as good or bad. Simply observe yourself as you go about your day. Much like you are watching a movie about yourself and how you fare throughout your day. This is an important key to realize that we create our own surroundings and situations every moment of our lives.
By addressing our breathing patterns, staying quiet and observing our own behavior. We become much more aware of what is actually going on in our lives, and we can easier address whatever kind of situation we wish to in order to create a more sustainable and healthier holistic lifestyle.
Heart work pays off! /Simba