Our socialized directive to constantly buy more, do more, and eat more doesn’t work with our bodies (either.) You can’t just get a new one that is faster, shiner, and with more features. Your body already has impeccable built-in self-repair features (healing) and a feedback system for letting you know what it needs at any moment. You have to let it be part of your management team and give it the right conditions. In other words, lead with your heart and guts as often as with your mind.
In our busy, over-full lives, it can be hard to find anything to eliminate as we look for ways to slow down, consume and do less. But eliminate and balance we must. Sometimes the hard choice is to not help that organization or not put in that overtime because we need to spend time with our kids. Our kids and loved ones want us to take care of ourselves. They want us to model what good self-care looks like so they can do it, too. Filing everyone else’s tank without replenishing our own is not sustainable. As my favorite Buddhist proverb says, “The mother of a starving family feeds herself first.”
Bio-diversity is just as critical for us as it is for farming and bees and plants. Eating a variety of clean foods according to the seasons keeps you in touch with the ebb and flow of natural availability. Take time to cook from scratch. Vary your exercise routine. It may be more efficient to exercising exclusively on a treadmill, for example, but that overtrains certain muscles at the expense of others. For the long-haul, you want to mix it up: hiking, surfing, running, or paddling, with non-aerobic exercise like yoga or qi gong.
- Am I replenishing the energy I expend in my work and care giving by spending time in nature, eating good food, and balancing work with play?
- Did my week include time for adequate Exercise? Rest? Sleep? Time with loved ones?
- Do I see the big picture of my Life? Health? Relationships?
- Do I need a change of perspective?
- Do I put myself at the bottom of the list and care for everyone else first?
(Pay attention to the “no”s.) And finally, “What adjustments do I need to make next week to balance myself better?” One step at a time. Moving from overwork and over-consumption simply requires an attitude adjustment to where we see less as desirable because it is generous, appropriate, and ultimately, feels better.
 Unless you call this “death.”
*This article will appear in the Sept/Oct 2014 issue of Living Aloha magazine.