When I was in high school, my dad and I had this fun bonding ritual – I would watch stuff on TV, and he would pretend to be annoyed by it. I mean, he was annoyed by it, but I think he secretly enjoyed this time we spent together. He’d make funny or sarcastic comments, I would laugh, and a good time was had by all. Sometimes, we’d watch something that we both thought was a little goofy, and laugh at it together.
One of the things that we came across in those early mornings before school and work was a public access television program featuring an older woman in a leotard doing yoga.
Cue new age-y music, and this spectacle left itself wide open to our ridicule. At the time I knew nothing about mind-body connection, holistic health, alternatives to traditional medicine – or stress.
I’m not talking ‘who am I going to sit with at lunch?’ stress, I’m talking buying a house, getting married, going to work every day, having kids, being an adult kind of stress. Illness, death, road rage. You get the idea.
Fast forward several years to three key life experiences that have changed how I feel about these ‘wacky’ approaches to a healthier, happier life, that made me more open to trying things outside of my comfort zone …
- The Neti Pot. I’ve suffered – and I do think that is an accurate term – from sinus pain and pressure for as long as I can remember. A bad sinus headache can render me useless for an entire day. I used to treat these with sinus medications. They totally worked to eliminate the pain, but didn’t fix anything, and usually made my heart race. Then, one glorious day my wonderful fiancé (maybe he was my husband by this point, I can’t remember), encouraged (ok, peer pressured) me into trying this genie lamp looking thing called the neti-pot. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It comes from Eastern medicine, and it is a miracle. Although I was a bit squeamish about pouring salt water through my nasal cavity, which is basically the gist of how it works, I am so glad that in a moment of pure desperation, I gave it a whirl. Sure it was awkward, and felt a little funny, but man the results were nothing short of miraculous. The warm salt water literally washed out my sinuses, and helped with the inflammation that often led to debilitating headaches. I felt like a new woman, and started preaching the benefits of this very old, very naturalistic approach to my problem. The point – sometimes the most basic, ageless, from-the-earth remedies really are the best medicine. Don’t turn your nose up at them. Trust your body and the earth to have the innate ability to fix your *minor* complaints.
- Meditation Class. If I had told high school Kristin (or my dad) that I was going to take a meditation class in graduate school, she would have laughed her butt off. How ridiculous. I would never do such a thing. Until I did. As simple and as silly as it seems, the neti pot situation really opened up my eyes to the ability of the body to control and fix itself. I keep going back to this class as a turning point in my approach to life. You CAN control how you experience anything. Everything. Literally. Life is a series of sensations and perceptions, and thought and society place ‘good’ and ‘bad’ labels onto those sensations and perceptions. Taking the time to be in tune with yourself and acknowledge how you are reacting to external stimuli – then practicing how you want to react to it, can significantly impact your quality of life. Sure- bad, frustrating, hurtful things are going to happen – and you should feel those emotions, but you have absolute control over how long you stay with any particular perception. I could go on, but this post is already longer than I intended!!
- Un-medicated Childbirth. Oh man. High school Kristin would have flipped over this one. I always imagined that if I were going to have kids, I’d have scheduled C-sections. The thought of pushing a P-E-R-S-O-N out of MY body frightened the crap out of me. It still does. But after a little bit of life experience, and a little bit of education, and the realization that the human body has so much power and the mind so much control, I changed my view on the whole giving birth thing. I’ve even done a little bit of yoga to prepare for birthing my babies (sorry eccentric leotard lady). As annoying as it sounds when you are faced with getting said baby out of your body – your body really does know what to do. Sure, it is going to hurt like a mother (haha, see what I did there?), but you can absolutely learn to acknowledge the pain for what it is and work through it. If you want. Otherwise, I hear there are some amazing drugs to get you through.
So what was the point of this long post about my personal experience with branching out into more natural, holistic, and mindful approaches to life – well, the point is that there was a time in my life that I would never consider such things. But, I’m glad I opened myself up to new and different experiences, otherwise I’d still suffer with my sinuses, still stew over minor infractions throughout my day, and never would have had the birth experiences that I did.
Try something new. You won’t regret it. That’s the point.
For the record though, if I find myself watching TV with my dad, and we stumble across a lady in a leotard in downward facing dog, I’ll probably still laugh.
Head over and read about how my friend Liz Small over at Small Steps conquers new things!