What is the best way to live?
It’s probably obvious that being congruent is an optimal way of being, but I have found that it can be difficult to be authentic myself when surrounded by so many differing ideals, all of which seem reasonable. The experience of health and wellbeing is both my passion and my chosen profession, and yet I too can feel the pressures of following the ‘best’ path.
Is a strictly plant-based approach the healthiest or is the Paleo style more natural? When meditating, is looking within and being mindful of my every response to my environment preferable, or is expanding outwards feeling my connection to the cosmos experiencing the bigger picture?
Do you top up with supplements or get all your nutrition from food? So many choices and all have reasonable applications and staunch advocates. Who is correct? Perhaps they all are in their own way because they have found what suits them.
We each have to find our path
In my personal journey and through my many years of formal and informal education, I have discovered many paths to wellbeing. The art is in finding the one that is optimal for each person, including myself, and that can change over time. What I have found through trial and error and trying again is that it can also be a slow journey.
The answer does not lie in following anyone else’s path dogmatically, though there may be a lot that can be learnt by being guided by others’ paths for a period of time to try it out for yourself — then see if you can make it your own. What I have found is that the ideal path for each person is one they have shaped and moulded to their own way of being — that satisfies what they need to live optimally.
The key to finding your path is to be honest with yourself and learn to listen to what really feels good — what gives you energy and a feeling of vitality. This includes how you feel physically, as well as mentally and emotionally, even spiritually, because we are complex multi-layered beings and all aspects of ourselves require attention to be really well.
In contrast, you must listen to what depletes you and question why this is so and why you would persist in doing something that moves you away from a sense of wellbeing.
Some things apply to everyone
It is true that there are some tried and tested ideas that are beneficial to most, if not all, people — for example, the vast majority of people should consume a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables, and remove most if not all processed, refined foods from their diet.
I would add that most people would benefit from learning to meditate, in whichever style suits them. However, as with all things, there may need to be some modification before there is a good fit.
Amongst the sometimes rigid teachings surrounding health there lies the art of adapting the remedy to the person. I have found this to be true for myself and my clients and therefore know it is likely to be true for others. Most important to me is knowing I am endeavouring to ‘walk the talk’ as much as possible by continuing to learn and modify my ways to improve my wellbeing as the months and years flow by.
Making the best choices I can at any given moment in time. And recognising that I am not a purist — that there have been moments when chocolate and red wine were my preferred option and did make me feel better!
Finding the way takes trial and error
After years of trying different things, I have learned that a plant-based wholefoods (vegan-friendly) diet suits me, yet eating too many grains or pulses in one go does not. I have many styles of meditation at my disposal, but the expansive styles often suit me better. I prefer to walk to exercise, and I love how I feel after a physical yoga practice, even though it’s often challenging. Because my physical yoga practice helps keeps me strong and is one of the few times in the day when I’m not thinking, but simply present on the mat. That’s priceless and something I never want to change. I know that nature is always healing for me, so weekly hikes (or at least walks) are something I have to prioritise — even if some other commitment needs to be sacrificed to do so. I also need my sleep.
Invest in your wellbeing
At the end of the day, achieving a sense of wellbeing is about putting the effort in so you can feel good — energetic and vital. The most effortless way to achieve this is to find what works for you and then aim to be authentic, and the very best you can be at any given moment in time, whatever that may mean to you.
Just remember that there is nearly always room to finetune, and a sense of wellbeing is something that can be built upon and continue to evolve, just as you too change over the years.
So, ask questions of yourself along the way. Are you doing all you can to experience the best version of yourself and your feeling of wellbeing right now? If not, take a step to create the change that will get you there.