Illustration by JAYMEE L. AMORES

Awareness in a Bite
A SPIRITED SOUL - Jeannie E. Javelosa (The Philippine Star) - June 3, 2017 - 4:00pm

One item hot in the market today is energy. And its sister — vitality. They are both so hot that people are looking for them, and the demand so great that many are changing lifestyles just to capture them. With the amount of stress and toxins bombarding our bodies and minds, we seriously need to make clear changes and choices. These, or we get sick. Or suffer with low energy that affects our productivity. This anti-stress, healthy balanced lifestyle has been a personal journey for me as I have slowly seen my own energies so quickly depleted, with the physical body clearly unhealthy and needing detoxification as it continues to age. 

So I decided to take measures: I cut off my cable TV and took it out of the room. I have been traveling so much and when home, would rather relax. I began to consciously and actively choose the kind of content and information from my personal gadgets. Our news today is just too negative while the television’s hypnotic power to entertain, inform and amuse, takes away precious time from us to relate with loved ones, or move into our own inner space.

And I keep asking myself these questions: “What exactly are you doing that is bringing you stress?” and, “Is it worth it?” I find that this kind of second-person questioning actually allows me to stop and slow down, move outside myself and to see things objectively.  I believe we need to do this because a lot of our life choices today are often unconscious as we rush, pushed by the merry-go-round of life. In this unconscious state, it is so easy for outside forces of society to control us.

Controls can also come from paradigms of fixed mindsets to the omnipresence of technology at almost every waking moment of our daily lives. This active-male impulse of push-push-pushing in life is giving us more stress, and not making us any happier.

I have been in search for a more balanced body (meaning, holding down the wild menopausal hormonal fluctuations) for the past couple of years. My case is not unique as so men and women face this as we age, as our body changes while stress levels consistently rise to epidemic levels. 

At the start of the year, with such low physical energy and vitality, I decided I just couldn’t continue this way. So I went to doctors, sought traditional Chinese medicine and watched my exercise, yoga and inner work more closely. And while surfing online one night, I came upon this program called the WildFit Challenge. It’s not a diet but more of a learning process that uses psychology and educates about the evolution of our food and eating habits! Core to this online program are short daily videos plus a program to follow by taking certain food items off one’s intake for the duration of the 90-day challenge. It is not a diet but the practice of awareness in relation to what we put in our body. Of watching the mind’s conversations as we reach out for food and drink. We watch the devils like sugar cravings, emotional cravings, nutritional hunger cravings that tempt us to eat unhealthy and the reasons why.

I joined the online chat support group of people all going through the 90-day program with me. It’s not so much about weight loss (although this inevitably happens) as my priority was to get my vitality back. Each week, we are told to eliminate certain foods and watch our minds and watch the conversations inside, the cravings that arise, the need for choosing the certain kind of bad unhealthy food with roots in an emotional issue often stemming from childhood; and the unconscious programming done to us by multi-national food companies that re-engineer our food to products that have no nutritional values. What I love are the nutritional information about certain food, data research and truths about present day production processes that are part of the lessons.

Because of my busy schedule, this online “trainer” forces me to slow down and draw on all my powers of mindfulness and awareness. Eliminating all sugars, then dairy, then refined sugars including all carbohydrates, then processed food...and where I am now, coffee and alcohol for the time being. Meanwhile more fruits, organic veggies and water plus deeper breathing exercises are the key to better nutrition and balance. Interestingly, I noticed that when I started to be more aware of what I was eating, I started to see results. I had more energy! Vitality was coming back, and I could breathe deep, deep into my lungs.

The awareness of what we eat, how we eat, how our food supply chain is and the food we shop for has been part of our advocacy at ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle since we opened in 2008. Recently, at the opening of our eighth branch in Cagayan de Oro, we met a new friend named Angie who goes by the Instagram account @skye.loves.to.eat. What floored us is her story of growing up obese, and at midlife, decided to lose weight naturally. From 300 lbs., she lost 150 lbs. in six months by eating 700 calories a day and drinking lots of water. When I asked her what her secret was, her response: “I just watched what I ate and was more conscious of my food.” And she drank glasses upon glasses of water.

If we think of our bodies and minds as temples, or let’s say, Formula 1 cars…would we dump it with garbage or dirty fuel? The most precious thing I am finding in my experience now as I put awareness in every bite, is that I actually show up with myself. I am present…grateful for the quality food I am choosing to eat, aware of my own inner state and what arises with habits and subtle addictions, knowing that as I do this, I raise my energy levels and get closer to vibrant wellness.

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