The first step towards finding happiness was to change my thought patterns. I had decided to only allow positive thoughts into my mind and I was determined to block out all negative thoughts. At first I found it difficult to do but the more I tried, the easier it became. Before long I started to feel more in control of my mind. My thoughts weren’t wandering to dark places anymore and the panic attacks ceased.
The philosophy of ‘healthy mind, healthy body’ really resonated with me and led me to research about health and nutrition. Through this I discovered that physical health and mental wellbeing is directly related. I joined a boxing gym and started to eat more healthily. I always considered my diet to be resonably healthy but after researching, I realised it could be a lot better. My life from my late teens up until my early 30’s had been pretty hedonistic. That probably contributed to my mental downfall. I was determined to turn my life around and through making changes I achieved just that. In fact, my mind and body is stronger now than it has ever been and I attribute it to various practices and methods. This is how it is achieved:
Change thought patterns
Negative thoughts are destructive to the mind. If your mind is constantly taken over with bad thoughts and you expect terrible things to happen, then you are more likely to experience failure. If you stop thinking about worst case scenarios and concentrate on things you love, who you want to be and people who inspire you, it will have a profound effect on your life. I always look to people like Aung San Suu Kyi and Ghandi for inspiration. Who inspires you?
Cutting down on sugar, alcohol, wheat and processed foods were the first dietary decisions I implemented. I also made a conscious effort to include more fruit and vegetables to my daily intake. You don’t have to eliminate all the foods you enjoy but by slowly cutting down on the bad stuff it will make vast improvements to your health!
Like I said before I joined a boxing gym. I enjoy boxing and the training but if you’re not into punching pads, bags and sometimes sparring partners then find some activity that you do enjoy. It is much easier to get fit by doing something you like and you’re more likely to stick with it so it becomes a regular routine. It could be running, walking, cycling, rock climbing or sky diving. It doesn’t matter as long as you are having fun and being active. What activity excites you?
When I used to hear the word ‘meditation’ I would automatically dismiss the idea as some weird hippy stuff. It wasn’t until I realized that many great martial artists regularly practiced the art of meditation. It was then that I started to look differently apon the subject. In fact I try to include at least one session into my daily routine. Why? Because it de-clutters my mind and makes me feel amazing. There’s a lot of scientific evidence to support the many benefits of meditation. I know that when I meditate I will be less stressed throughout the day and also I find it brings clarity of thought.
How to meditate? There are countless books on the subject and plenty of guided meditations on YouTube. All these can be useful and whatever works for the individual is fantastic. I like to experiment but I normally find somewhere quiet. It could be outdoors in a field, or on the beach, or inside somewhere at home, work or car, it doesn’t matter. Just close your eyes and relax. Breathe slowly in through your nose and out of your mouth. Try to imagine relaxing scenarios, for example sitting by a desert oasis or a mountain top or anything else that helps you to relax. If your mind starts to wander, which it will, then come back to your breathing and really focus on your breaths. I don’t believe that you can totally clear your mind of all thoughts and I don’t think you should fight your thoughts either but if a negative thought enters your mind, try to imagine a stream that these thoughts can flow away, down the river and out of your mind!
There aren’t any rules to meditation and no time limits. You can meditate for 5 minutes or 5 hours and it will still be beneficial.
I believe that anyone can improve their life with these simple practices but the important thing is to be open minded and you will become the person you want to be.
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