I could not end the month of January without talking about diet! But let’s think about our diet in a different way.
Dr. Alane Daugherty in From Mindfulness to Heartfulness asks the question, “What is your energy diet?” She explains that everything we expose ourselves to either takes us away from or adds to our feeling that we can move to a calm and centered space. So, we have people in our lives, experiences, and emotions that empower us to live from our center and then we have people, experiences and emotions that completely undo us. She writes that life generating emotions are gratitude, joy and peace. Life depleting emotions are worry, fear, anxiety. Are you feeding on things that will build you up or tear you down?
I am pretty sure the Christian sacred text speaks to this energy diet.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Paul encourages us in his letter to the Philippians to think about how to engage in following the path of Christ in daily living. In v. 6, he writes that we should counter anxiety with thankfulness and prayer. He says that this way of living will lead to a peace that will guard our hearts and minds. Then, he gives us the list of things to focus our wandering minds on: truth, honor, justice, purity, loveliness, excellence and anything worthy of celebration. He knew that in talking to the people of Philippi about their daily practice that he would need to address their thought life!
He ends this section with “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things! Practice. We come back to our practice. The greatest part of his encouragement is understanding that this group of followers were practicing together. They were sharing their struggles with the daily practices. They were commenting on where their minds were wandering and what worked to bring them back to thinking on these things.
Dr. Alane Daugherty offers us this encouragement: each moment holds an opportunity to follow the old pattern or embrace the new.
Here is what you can do:
(1) Become aware of your energy diet. Get out a journal or a small spiral notebook that can fit in your pocket and write down what you think about throughout the day. How much of your energy diet is life giving and how much of your energy diet is depleting? We have to know our starting point and we have to practice awareness!
(2) What cue can you give yourself throughout the day to help direct your mind back to things that are healthy? For example, in my yoga class, I set the theme that each day is a gift. The tendency during the holidays is to rush to get everything done so that we are ready for the big celebration. We miss enjoying so many of our days because we are looking forward to the party at the end of the month! I wanted to encourage them during the busy holiday season to experience and unwrap each day, so I gave all my students a bow with a sticky backing. They could place it on their alarm clock or bathroom mirror or in their car to remind them to live in the present moment. What cue would work for you?
(3) What is your reward? As you are changing your habit, what healthy rewards can you put into place to encourage your practice? For example: saving an hour at night for coloring, puzzling, movie or game night, girls night out on the weekend, a glass of wine, a soak in the hot tub, calling a friend. Notice, I only mentioned a food item once. Food is for nourishing your body and for pleasure, but too often sugary sweets become our only reward system. Let’s think outside of that box/trap.
To be successful in this diet takes awareness of what we are “feeding” on, establishing a cue or reminder, and giving a meaningful reward. Here is what I am doing to help encourage my meditation practice each morning:
Cue: I have my sacred stone by my bed, so that when I wake up, I grab my stone and begin my meditation.
Reward: I have coffee when I am finished with my meditation!!! This is my favorite moment of the day, so I used what I love i.e. coffee to support my practice!
Let me know what you are doing to help support your energy diet!