One of the most important tools we have to help us maintain well-being is ourselves. More importantly, ourselves learning, to live in a state of appreciation. What does this state of appreciation mean and how does one get to this point?

We develop this state of appreciation by learning to focus on an attitude of gratitude. You have a choice of what you focus your attention on. What your Attention is focused on is what is manifested into reality in your environment. Each moment we choose our focus and therefore build our attitude.

How does one achieve this well-being and, what does well being mean today? How is this defined individually and translated into our personal lifestyles?

S – STOP and become aware of all that is around you seen and unseen.
T – THINK of what it is you are about to say and it must be truth.
O – OBSERVE all the circumstances and oversee yourself.
P – PROCEED consciously aware of your intentions and desired outcome.

BREATH
Breath is life; it affects every aspect of our being. Breath is what we share with the trees. We breathe in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. The trees breathe carbon dioxide and release oxygen. To see the delicate balance of nature is to see how the tree and mankind actually depend on each other for survival. Without breath life does not exist. We begin life with our first breath. By the age of 7 to 10 we have altered the natural breathing pattern as a result of fears, insecurities, and anxieties and have become shallow breathers. A child who has not been taught fear uses abdominal breathing.

Many diseases are a result of poor circulation and lack of oxygen in the body. Heart disease, respiratory disease and, stomach ulcers result from improper breathing techniques developed out of fear. Because of the importance of our breathing patterns and the way they affect our health, we as individuals need to do personal assessments of our breathing patterns so that we might bring them into proper balance.

In order to do a self-evaluation, the following assessment may be done on your own. :

Lay flat on your back with your hands on your belly button. Breathe in a normal fashion for a minute or two, observing whether or not your hands are rising up on the inhalation. This would determine the degree of abdominal breathing.

Full abdominal breathing helps to activate and utilize the lower lobes of the lungs. The following exercise would facilitate achieving this pattern.

FULL BREATH:
Get in a comfortable position, lying or sitting. Begin inhaling slowly through the nose to the count of 5, hold to the count of 5, and exhale through the mouth, to the count of 5. As you breathe in, feel the stomach/abdomen rise. Fill the lungs completely. This extends the lungs capacity to bring oxygen in and release impurities. You may increase count as you progress. This will relax and alleviate stress in the body.

DIET

Diet and nutrition are critical in maintaining our natural good health and well being. Today we are bombarded with numerous theories about eating and diet. No matter what our diet is, an important part of it is the way we think about it. Eating with an attitude of gratitude helps us to better assimilate and utilize the food we do eat. Each of us as individuals has personal nutritional needs, some basic to all and, other very specific to us as individuals.

What we eat. How we eat. How much we eat and when we eat all contribute to the overall health practice. Being conscious of our eating habits helps us to evaluate their effectiveness.

The following questions have been designed to assist in becoming aware of our diet habits.

1. WHEN DO YOU EAT?
2. HOW LARGE ARE YOUR MEALS?
3. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR YOU TO EAT A MEAL?
4. HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU CHEW YOUR FOOD?
5. HOW MUCH PROTEIN IS IN YOUR DIET?
6. DO YOU INCLUDE GRAINS IN YOUR DIET?
7. HOW MUCH FRUITS IN YOUR DIET?
8. HOW MUCH VEGETABLES ARE IN YOUR DIET?
9. HOW MANY GLASSES OF WATER DO YOU DRINK?
10. HOW MUCH ALCOHOL/TOBACCO DO YOU CONSUME?

Research has proven that the time of day determines the complete digestion and assimilation process. When the sun is up, the body is more active and, therefore better able to assimilate food more adequately. Digestive processes are slower as the sun goes down.
Smaller meals in the morning with lots of raw foods help get the digestive process started.

In countries with hotter climates, the larger meal of the day is eaten at midday when the sun is high. Eating lighter meals after the sun goes down benefits our digestive process, thus a light meal in the evening would be recommended to aid in our digestion prior to sleep. Within this country, the high incidence of heart disease is correlated with the amount of fat consummation in our diets. The fact that we tend to eat our heavy meal in the evening allows little time for digestion leading to such things as hardening of the arteries. The size of our stomachs is about the size of a grapefruit. With this is mind it would stand to reason that the amount of food consumed in one sitting should not be more than a cup and half. Anything over that tends to back up and prevent proper breakdown and assimilation of nutrients. This would be particularly important for those who experience low blood sugar throughout the day.

Food is a guest if we treat it in a gracious manner different interaction results. To appreciate the gifts the earth’s foods bring can only benefit our attitude and daily lifestyle. Many of us have a tendency to gulp our food or eat on the run without adequate chewing. This inhibits proper initiation of the digestive process. By chewing we masticate food more adequately and allow the introduction of the enzymes to begin the digestive process. Enzymes are the chemicals provided by the body as agents to help break down the food for digestion and assimilation. A good rule of thumb is to chew each mouthful of food 30 times or until liquefied.

What we put into the body is just as important as how. Starting your day with fresh fruits alone jump starts the digestive system by allowing the enzymes to work without competition. It is also important to take into consideration food combining. For example melon and citrus should never be combined with each other or any other food. There has been a proliferation of information written on nutrition and food combining. For more information, such books as ‘The Fit for Life Program’ by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond or ‘Back to Eden’ BY Jonathan Kloss are excellent references and would be highly suggested.

Fresh raw fruits and vegetables in season provide us with a good source of vitamins and minerals that our body needs for normal functioning. A good diet consists of 70% raw fruits and vegetables.
Because of the extensive use of preservatives and pesticide, it is wise to consider using organically grown fruits and vegetables. Consuming preservatives in fruits can cause our organ to look like they are in formaldehyde.

Dried fruits e.g. raisins, figs, and apricots are good midday for minerals, but some are heavily sprayed and contain saltpeter (potassium nitrate) which desensitizes organs and can cause prostate cancer and cysts on the uterus. It is preferable to dehydrate your own organic fruits. Pick organic fruit and know if a worm can not live in it, neither can you. While organically grown foods are usually more expensive, we have the choice of spending money on good food or to die early.

The amount of protein in our diets is a subject that has been highly discussed throughout the years. One of the most frequently asked questions is “Am I getting enough protein?” When in fact it should be “Am I getting to much protein?” One of the leading diseases in North America today is osteoporosis. Research has discovered that there is insufficient calcium in the metabolism to digest the large quantities of protein in the body. The body compensates by taking the calcium it needs from the bones to assimilate this overage. As a result, this creates a weaker structure.
It takes four days to digest 1 OZ of red meat. So if meat is a mainstay in your diet chewing can not be stressed enough. Cold water is also recommended at the end of your meal to assist the body in burning calories.

In America the average diet is overloaded with processed and refined carbohydrates therefore it is important to choose the kinds of grains which not only provide us with the quick fuel we need but have a higher fiber, vitamin, and protein content for proper digestion and elimination such as brown rice, whole grain wheat, Kamut, spelt, and millet.

Water is essential for life. Our bodies are comprised of 70 % water and a proper intake of water aids and maintain all bodily functions. Four to eight glasses of water daily lubricates the body and helps with our eliminatory functions. Drinking water at the end of meals has many benefits. Five to seven minutes after a meal take four to five mouth fulls of water and swish and swallow. This not only cleans the enzymes out of the mouth it helps to prevent gum and tooth decay and helps prevent indigestion. Also, try to prevent sucking on mints until at least 1/2 hour after meals for this same reason.

One of the key principles in healthy eating is in moderation. If we treat our bodies kindly and with great respect we will surely reap the rewards.

MOVEMENT AND EXERCISE
It is well documented that exercise is essential in helping us maintain our balanced good health. It tones and strengthens our muscles strengthens our cardiovascular system, increases our oxygen intake and enhances the circulation. Everyone is capable of some type of exercise. Even a person confined to bed can exercise by simple movements of the extremities. It behooves each of us to find a place to start and continue from there. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Attitude is critical in establishing a desire to take that first step. What can we do to change our attitude about exercise so that we may begin a program that benefits our whole being? It is suggested to find a partner of like mind who would enjoy working out. Choosing the right activity for you will help to ensure that you continue your program.

A necessary beginning to exercising is stretching. Even the more advanced exerciser begins their program with stretching. Remember over-doing is just as detrimental as not doing. Move at a comfortable pace for yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other people; maintain the focus on yourself and your program.

Walking is a very effective mode of exercise. Keep in mind that there will be some level of discomfort as you progress. Don’t give up.

The following are good for energizing the body and stretching. Those with epilepsy are cautioned in using this stretching program.

FIRST MOVEMENT
This maybe a game you use to play, as a child. Let there be plenty of space around you so you can outstretch your arms. Stand straight, erect. Close your eyes. Lift your arms from your side horizontal to your shoulders. Standing erect, arms outstretched, begin to turn left and spin around until you become slightly dizzy. Do not do more than that, sit down or lie down if you want and breath till the dizziness passes. When you first begin this, you may only do a couple turns and that is fine. Keep increasing the turns as you go until you are doing 28 complete turns. Stop at 28 and stand or sit with your hands on your waist. Breathe and then begin the second movement.

SECOND MOVEMENT
On a rug or blanket lie down head in the North, feet in the South. Arms straight at your side. Hand and fingers tucked slightly under your body pointing inward toward each other. Close your eyes. Raise your feet until your legs are straight up, if possible try to let the feet extend a bit over the body or until they are over the face, do not bend the knees. Then lower the feet to the floor. Relax all muscles before you do it again. Do as many as you can to start. When you are completed sit or kneel and place your hands on your waist and breathe normally. This one is also done 28 times. Your breath is normal and easy. If you can not lift your feet at first, then lift your thighs and let your knees bend until you can do it all.

THIRD MOVEMENT

Do this one immediately after the second movement. On your blanket kneel on your knees and close your eyes. Your hands on your thighs, back erect. First, lean forward as far as possible for you, head inclined so your chin rests on your chest. Then lean backward, lifting the head, lifting your chin up and head back as far as you can go. Bring the head up and continue doing this until you have completed as many as you can. Stand, place hands on waist and breath. You will want to do 28.

FORTH MOVEMENT
Sit down; you’re back to the West, facing east. Let your feet stretch out in front of you, arms and hands placed alongside your body. Close your eyes. Palms flat on the floor at your side, fingers toward feet. Chin on your chest, as you raise your body, drop your head backward as far as you can. Raise the body and bend the knees so that the legs, from the knees down, are straight up and down. Your arms will be straight up and down, and your body from the knees to the shoulders are horizontal, and your head is dropped backward. While the body is in a horizontal position, tense every muscle in your body. Return to sitting position and relax a moment, normal breath and do again as many times as you can. Work up to where you can do 28 times. Sit up when finished and then stand, hands on waist breath a few moments.

FIFTH MOVEMENT
Face east, lie down on tummy, and face downward. Close your eyes. Place your hands on the floor two feet apart, directly under your shoulders. Head dropped back as far as you can. Your legs stretched out behind you, feet about two feet apart, on your toes. Push your body and especially your buttocks up as far as you can, bringing your chin to your chest, tense your whole body, hold for a moment. Bring your buttocks down and let your stomach almost touch floor, the body is now sagging, head dropped backward, tense your whole body and hold a moment, repeat as much as you can. Get to where you can do 28 times a day.

For the first week, do each movement once, three times a day. The second week, do once a day at least, increase them by one, each day; until you are doing all of them 28 times each, a day. Do not strain yourself when doing these. If you cannot do them all at one time, do the ones you had to omit the first session later in the day, but do them all on the same day. If you can only do one movement at a session or you cannot do them 28 times, do whatever number you can and this still applies, do them all in a day. Give yourself a month or two to get up to 28 on each.

This movement performed daily, doing as many as you can is a key that can not be stressed. Your level of energy will depend on your commitment to the exercise. However many you can do will measure your results that are amazing. This can be done in ten minutes, morning, afternoon or night.

It is good to take a bath in tub or shower afterward; it must be warm or room temperature water. No cold showers. You may also rub yourself down with wet towels and then rub yourself with a dry one afterward. No cold water, room temperature or hot tea for one hour after this movement exercise.

REMEMBER TO ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR PROFESSIONAL IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS ON ANY PROGRAM YOU START.

BELIEFS

Research has documented that the relationship between our thoughts attitudes and therefore our outlook on life has a profound effect on our health. Many times we must take inventory of what is in our closets and begin to clean out and discard what no longer serves us.

Living in this world exposes us to positive and negative thoughts and events. It is not terrible to have a negative thought but holding on to it does affect our outlook on life. We are now just beginning to understand how powerful our thoughts affect the quality of our lives. By harboring unpleasant thoughts about ourselves and or others we end up creating a lot of stress, which can result in hurting ourselves. Dialoguing with negative thoughts diffuse them and overrides them. We do not give them power. The moment we challenge our reactions we break its impact.
Each time we resolve one of our immature interactions it has a positive effect on ourselves and others around us. This can be done on our own, and with the assistance of many selves-help books that are now available. Asking a friend or trusted the individual to assist you, or by seeking the help of professionals.

The following checklist is provided to initiate this process for you.

1. WHAT AM I FEELING AND WHERE IN MY BODY AM I FEELING IT?
2. AM I RESENTFUL TOWARDS ANYONE OR ANYTHING?
3. CAN I CHANGE THE SITUATION OR WOULD IT BE MORE PRODUCTIVE TO
CHANGE MY ATTITUDE ABOUT THE SITUATION.
4. WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT THIS SITUATION?
5. WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT THIS SITUATION?
6. HOW WILL IT MAKE ME GROW?
7. DO I EXPECT THE OTHER PERSON TO CHANGE IN ORDER TO MAKE THE
SITUATION RIGHT?
8. WHAT PART HAVE I PLAYED IN THIS CONFLICT AND WHAT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY.
9. WHAT DO I DO FOR FUN?

An enjoyable plan of action to help effect change in our life is using positive affirmations. They reinforce our hopes, dreams, and wishes.

EXAMPLES:
I can’t exercise.
-TO-
I am able and willing to exercise.

I’m unattractive.
-TO-
I am a beautiful person.

I guess I’m just doomed to poverty.
-TO-
I am willing and capable of achieving financial abundance.

There is a great abundance of sources for information and guidance on the power and use of affirmations. One such source is ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ BY Louise Hays.

Everything in life is an opportunity to grow, be grateful for this opportunity. In the end, it is ultimately our own responsibility to make the changes in our life necessary to bring back balance and harmony. Any kind of change is possible and get easier with practice and use. We train the mind just as we train the body. Freedom and responsibility walk hand in hand.