Tag Archives: Self Development

Stay Young ~ Eat Walnuts

A dog, a wife, and a walnut tree, they more you beat them the better they be.

It looks like a simple change to our diet, like eating a few walnuts a day, boosts our health in some amazing ways.

I’ve long thought that eating nuts was a good idea, and now some scientists at the Louisiana State University agree with me.  After some experiments they say that eating a couple of ounces of walnuts a day improves your digestive health.  Seems it’s all to do with prebiotics again, and that walnuts have their beneficial effects by nourishing the friendly bacteria in our gut, helping them to thrive and multiply.

These good bacteria have anti-inflammatory properties, and chronic inflammation is now thought to be central to the onset of arthritis, various cancers including prostate and breast cancer, depression, early aging, various heart / circulatory diseases, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

It’s better to get the nutrients for healthy skin from food, not supplements.  Salmon, walnuts, blueberries, spinach…  lots of my favorite foods happen to be amazing for skin too.  ~  Gail Simmons

Scientists and nutritionists say that the health of our digestive tract is central to the health of our whole body.  Walnuts act as a prebiotic, meaning that eating these nuts helps keep our digestive system healthy.

Gut health is an emerging research area, but we are seeing greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes, whereas low diversity has been linked to conditions such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.  ~  Professor Lauri Byerley.

Walnuts and hazelnuts are just about the oldest tree foods known to man; their importance going at least at far back as 7,000 BC.  Walnuts in particular;

  1. Help with weight loss.
  2. Improve good sleep if eaten late at night~ walnuts contain lots of melatonin.
  3. Are good for your hair, in fact eating walnuts may help prevent hair loss.
  4. Are very good for your heart and circulation.
  5. Help to lower your bad cholesterol.
  6. Help to prevent type 2 diabetes.
  7. Makes your skin healthier.
  8. Can keep senile dementia at bay.
  9. Help to prevent various cancers, especially breast and pancreatic cancers.
  10. Will help you to live a longer, healthier, and less stressful life.

Personally, I firmly believe that eating almost any type of nuts and seeds is a beneficial addition to one’s diet, but walnuts may be better than most as they are the only nut that contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acid.  And, as we already know, omega-3 fatty acids are good for us.  Walnuts also have a lot of protein, fibre, phytochemicals, and antioxidants in them.

Walnuts are a tree nut, along with Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, pine nuts and pistachios ~ each of these has it’s own nutritional properties, (I can’t abide macadamia nuts and I hate pecan pie).

Walnuts have the vitally important amino acid l-arginine, which give loads of benefits to people with heart diseases, or who may become prone to suffering from heart and circulatory problems.

These almost magical nuts also contain neuroprotective compounds, such as vitamin E, folate, and melatonin.  Research shows that eating a half a cup of walnuts a day may stave off senile dementia.

Allegedly, walnuts also make men more sexually potent, and are good for pregnant women…..

There is one nut which is not generally thought to be quite so healthy; peanuts.  These are legumes anyhow, and basically legumes are either peas or cattle food.  The main reason that early farmers grew legumes is that they improve the soil, and not because they’re good to eat.

Nevertheless, there are health benefits to be found from the humble peanut; they’re full of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, the anti-aging molecule resveratrol, and phytosterols that help reduce bad cholesterol.

Nuts and seeds are a far better snack than the other disgusting crap many people munch on, especially late at night.  So don’t snack on potato chips, crackers, popcorn, blue cheese, ice cream, doughnuts, pretzels, candy, chocolate, cookies, cake, s’mores…  have some walnuts instead, or almonds, or hazelnuts, (or any nuts and seeds).

The good news is, that glass of red wine you like late at night is good for you too.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

always buy organic walnuts

Coffee Is Good For You

Three cups of coffee a day could extend your life.

Coffee is one of the worlds most commonly consumed drinks, with something like 2.25 billion cups drunk around the world every day.  Coffee contains lots of complex chemical compounds including; caffeine, diterpenes,and antioxidants.

Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as sin.  ~ Talleyrand

It seems coffee is healthy and good for you.  New research, published in peer-reviewed scientific journals,  shows that the antioxidant plant compounds in coffee are highly beneficial in reducing liver disease and liver cancers, help prevent type 2 diabetes, reduce the risk of circulatory problems, ward off Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis, and helps to fight diseases of the digestive tract.  As all of those diseases can kill you, drinking moderate amounts of coffee may even prevent you from suffering an early death.

There are lots of good reasons to drink coffee.  Including the fact that coffee may also be good for your sex drive, (particularly a woman’s sex drive).  Drinking coffee increases the plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin that controls testosterone and oestrogen.  That may well be why coffee reduces depression and suicide risk.  Who knew that coffee was a female aphrodisiac?

It isn’t the caffeine that does you good, because people who drink decaffeinated coffee accrue most / some of the same benefits.  However, it seems obvious that proper strong fresh-made ground coffee with all the caffeine in it will give you the most benefits.  A typical cup of coffee has more antioxidants than a glass of grape, blackberry, blueberry, and / or orange juices.  A typical American gets more antioxidants from coffee than from anything else.  What you get from a cup of coffee is; improved liver function, reduced inflammation in the body, better glucose control, and coffee also boosts the immune system.

If you are a regular drinker of the falling down water, if you really like your booze, if you sometimes drink a little too much, if you are a practicing alcoholic ~ then you should really drink fresh coffee on a regular basis.  Just one cup of real coffee a day can reduce your chances of suffering cirrhosis of the liver by 20%.  Coffee will also help prevent you from getting fatty liver disease, whether you’re a boozer or not.

Cigarettes and coffee:  an alcoholic’s best friends!  ~  Gerard Way.

Don’t think you can get the same benefits from other caffeinated drinks that you can get from coffee, because you can’t.  For example, coffee generally makes people feel happier, whereas Coca Cola will give you a caffeine high, but Coke will also make you feel depressed.  Especially any diet caffeinated drink will make you feel really depressed.  In general soda is bad for you, and diet sodas are bad for you in spades.  So your very strong Cuba Libre is doing you no good at all.

The way you prepare your coffee has a big impact on how much benefit you get from all the good complex chemicals present in coffee beans.  For example, if you use a regular coffee maker, and you also use filter papers, then you’re missing out on a lot of the good diterpenes because they are absorbed by the paper.  In general the less there is between the ground coffee and your cup the better.  Possibly a cafetiere / French press using a good dark roast will make you the most beneficial cup of coffee, whereas a cheap instant decaffeinated is probably next to useless in terms of health benefits and taste.

Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.  ~  David Lynch

These findings are based European study led by Imperial College, London, and the UN International Agency for Research on Cancer ~ which looked at half-a-million people over the age of 35.  They found that people who drink three cups of coffee a day live longer than non-coffee drinkers.  There is also an US study led by the University of Southern California ~ which looked at 186,000 people.

We cannot say that drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association.  ~ Veronica W. Setiawan, USC

In conclusion, real coffee is good for you, pod coffee is pretty bad, cheap instant coffee is nasty and probably causes cancer, and Coca Cola is very nasty.  Drinking coffee is cool, often sociable, and a nice woman is more likely to have an afternoon cup of coffee with a guy than she is to agree to meet him in a pub.

Coffee and smoking are the last great addictions.  ~  Lara Flynn Boyle

Statistically, women who drink a lot of coffee are also likely to be drinkers of booze and cigarette smokers ~ strange but true.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

buy a French press

prebiotics for health

With good digestion all can be turned to health.

Most people know about probiotics ~ which are ‘good’ bacteria mostly found in dairy products such as live yogurt.  Many of us buy products containing probiotics in order to improve our health.  The snag is, which among all the myriads of bacteria in the probiotics we buy are actually ‘good’ for our own unique body and gastrointestinal tract?  When we take probiotics we are taking on trust that whatever is in the live yogurt we’ve just bought will benefit us ~ and it might not.  Most probiotics in products such as yogurt are proprietary strains of bacteria created in a laboratory, and yet they are not subject to regulation.

Putting probiotics into foods that don’t naturally have the beneficial bacteria might not make these products healthier, higher quality, or worthwhile additions to the diet.  ~  Dr. Patricia Hibberd

In any event, some of us can’t abide yogurt and most other dairy products that might contain probiotics.  Milk makes me feel sick.

So what’s the alternative?  Turns out it’s prebiotics which act as a fertiliser for the ‘good’ bacteria that’s already in our gastrointestinal tract.  Prebiotics help your own ‘good’ bacteria to grow and stay healthy.  Prebiotics have many benefits that makes them a better idea than probiotics.

Why should I care one iota about the bacteria I’m carrying around in my intestines?  It seems that the bacteria in our gut has a major influence on our health and general well-being.  Some of the smart people in white coats aver that the bacteria in our intestines are even more important than that ~ allegedly our bacteria even affects our moods and behaviours.  Some say that our gut bacteria is our body’s second brain.  And, that the way people think is linked to the bacteria in their gut.  All I know is that if I eat the wrong stuff I feel slow, lethargic, and miserable.

All disease begins in the gut.  ~  Hippocrates

It’s the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut that actually digests most of the food we eat, looks after our immune system, and protects us from seriously harmful bacteria.  Our ‘good’ bacteria are essential for our good health.  Without these ‘good’ bacteria we can become prone to nasty illnesses such as; acne, early aging, autism, asthma, allergies, cancers, cardiovascular problems, colitis, anxiety and depression, diabetes, obesity, stress, ulcers, vitamin deficiency…

I need to look after my ‘good’ bacteria, and one way to do this is to eat high-fibre foods rich in the prebiotics that act as a fertiliser for the ‘good’ bacteria already in my gut.  There’s a long list, but mostly these prebiotics are raw vegetables which are quite indigestible; raw Jerusalem artichoke, raw dandelion greens, raw leeks, under-ripe banana, raw garlic, raw asparagus, raw chicory root, raw wheat bran, and onions any way you like them.  (Thank the Gods for the onions and banana ~ the rest of that list looks yuck.)  Also honey is a very potent prebiotic, as is unpasteurised apple cider vinegar, (such as Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar).

Turns out that sushi containing cooked and cooled rice is a rich source of prebiotics.  I hate sushi.

Almost nothing influences our gut bacteria as much as the food we eat.  Prebiotics are the most powerful tool at our disposal if we want to support our good bacteria ~ that is, those that are already there and are there to stay.  ~  Giulia Enders.

Prebiotics have several well-documented health benefits;

  • Improved digestion.
  • Enhanced immune system.
  • Better uptake of dietary calcium and magnesium.
  • Stronger bones, increased bone density.
  • Cancer prevention.
  • Reduced risk of dementia and other neurological disorders.
  • Reduced risk of high blood pressure and strokes.
  • Reduced risk of diabetes.
  • Better controlled weight and appetite.
  • Improved bowel regularity.
  • Better balanced hormones.
  • Reduced propensity to anxiety and depression.
  • More energy and better concentration.

Your body is colonized by a vast array of microorganisms that modulate every aspect of your health and physiology, moment to moment, and you can optimize your health by nourishing and protecting these microbes.  ~  Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr. Mercola

If you want to make the most of an increased intake of prebiotics, then under no circumstances drink diet soda, eat anything made with wheat flour, have too much refined sugar, drink too much booze, eat pasteurised flavoured yogurt, buy cereal bars or breakfast cereals, eat chips, (crisps), of any kind, and especially never have anything with high fructose corn syrup in it.  High fructose corn syrup is highly addictive and extremely bad for you.

In fact, whether you’re eating more prebiotics or not, don’t have anything listed in the preceding paragraph ~ all of those things are very bad for you.

The conclusion is; taking probiotics is most likely a waste of time, and could possibly be doing you harm, especially if you take your probiotics as a yogurt drink.  Conversely, eating foods rich in prebiotics will most likely improve your health and help to stave off several nasty, or even life-threatening illnesses.  For fitness in body, mind, and spirit, as well as improved health overall, it’s worth fertilising the ‘good’ bacteria already in your gut with prebiotics.

Luckily for me a Paleo diet is supposed to good for giving you lots of prebiotics.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

click on the picture

to buy apple cider vinegar

Being Overweight

It’s simple, if it jiggles, it’s fat.

These past few weeks, I have been lacking a little in energy and bounce, and I decided that one reason for my lack of ‘get-up-and-go’ was that I’ve been putting on weight.  So, I decided to look into what being overweight really was, and if I was actually overweight, what it was doing to me.  Quite frankly, I was horrified at what I discovered.

I hate overweight, because it implies there is a weight standard I should be adhering to.  ~  Camryn Manheim.

You know what?  There is a weight standard, and we should all be adhering to it.

There are lots of health and fitness problems attached to being overweight ~ and the older you get the worse the health problems of being overweight become.

To begin with, are you overweight?  How does one know the difference between a little curvier and softer than we used to be, and truly overweight?  What is the difference between being overweight, obese, or morbidly obese.  Well, the chances are you’re overweight or obese ~ in the UK 68% of men and 58% of women are overweight or obese.  In the USA more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

One easy way to tell if we’re overweight is to forget the scales and just grab a tape-measure.  Measure you height, and your waist at your belly button, (without sucking in your gut).  Your waist should not be more than half your height.  If your waist measurement is more than half your height you’re overweight with the worst kind of fat ~ visceral fat, (which will kill you).  More scientifically you can calculate your Body Mass Index, (BMI), but that won’t tell you as much about visceral fat as will a tape-measure.

There’s also a cut-off point to assess the overall risks to health just by waist measurement.  In men it’s 40 inches, and in women it’s 35 inches.  So if your waist is bigger than that, you’re officially overweight / obese and in danger of suffering serious health and fitness problems.  Having love handles is another bad sign, presaging heart and liver disease in your future.

Medically defined, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9,  overweight is having a BMI of more than 25, obese is having a BMI of more than 30, while morbidly obese is having a BMI of more than 40, (or 35 if you also have something like diabetes or high blood pressure).  There are plenty of online BMI calculators.

There are a myriad of downsides to being overweight, and even more downsides to being obese.  Some of these are;

We know a great deal more about the causes of physical disease than we do about the causes of physical health.  ~  M. Scott Peck.

The above are the worst of the medical problems.  But look at it another way ~ just how fit are you?  Can you walk up three flights of stairs without getting out of breath?  Can you run for a bus?  Can you walk five miles without collapsing?  Can you easily find clothes that fit, or do you have to buy plus size?  Can you still play sports, or are you limited to gentler activities?  What’s your performance in bed like?  The chances are if you’re overweight, then you’re not happy with your honest answers to any of those questions, because you know you’re not as fit as you would like to be.  Maybe you should take an online test?

It turns out my BMI today, as I write this, is 25.7.  However, according to another set of criteria I’m quite fit ~ much fitter than my chronological age, by 25 years or so.  But do you know what?  I’m going to lose some weight, starting right now.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

I can do that yoga position, but I don’t look as good as that.

 

Yoga for Men

Yoga is a type of meditation ~ and done properly it’s difficult.

Calling this post Yoga for Men isn’t as sexist or as misogynistic as you may think.  When I was a much younger chap, far more cynical, and much less worldly-wise, I used to think yoga was a bit ‘strange’.  In my mind yoga was something that girls did, and perhaps men who were a bit metrosexual.  Now that I’ve grown up a bit I realise that yoga can be a strenuous and difficult workout ~ the kind of workout that hurts while you’re doing it and makes you ache afterwards.

It turns out that there are lots of reasons why more men should regularly practice yoga.  Some say that yoga strengthens your immune system and relieves stress.  And, that regular yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, agility, posture, stamina, and core strength.  All I know is that regular yoga exercises and nurtures my body, mind, and spirit.  Some also say that yoga will give you a better sex life.

Just in case you don’t know, yoga involves holding postures, and holding some of these postures for any length of time can be damn difficult.  Even the few, (simple), postures I use require a great deal of strength, balance, and concentration.  Because holding these postures take a lot of strength and stamina, your muscles become more toned and develop greater power and endurance.

Yoga also helps with proper breathing, better posture, better balance, better concentration, better digestion, and increased mindfulness and serenity.   Regular and difficult yoga improves the way you look, stand, walk, and talk.  I have been told, by a very close friend, that regular yoga also greatly improves one’s sex life, and increases the pleasure you can give to your partner.  Also, some yoga poses work as great sex positions and increase the intensity of the female orgasm.  Allegedly, it’s possible for women to have an orgasm just from doing yoga.  Who knew?

So, these are the yoga positions I use regularly, and if I have the names wrong… well I’m not a yoga instructor.

The Tree.  This classical, impressive, and elegant position promotes strength and balance in your feet, ankles, legs, and core.  Like all yoga positions I’ve tried it also aids concentration, calms your breathing, and improves your grasp of mindfulness.  Don’t worry too much if at first you keep losing your balance, what’s probably happening is that you’ve lost your mental focus.  The tree pose puts all your weight on one leg at a time, but the balance, poise, and elegance has to come from the whole body.

~

Downward Facing Dog.  Allegedly, this is one of those yoga poses that’s also a great sexual position ~ I can see that.  This position throws a lot of weight on the upper body, wrists, arms, shoulders, and chest.  It stretches the whole of the back of your legs and  body ~ your spine, arms, shoulders, ankles, calves, and hamstrings.  For me, unless I’m doing it wrong, it also strengthens my knees.

~

The Bridge.  This position is especially designed to strengthen your pelvic floor, (and backside), which is good for all kinds of reasons, up to and including sex.  The bridge position builds strength in your core and lower body ~ personally I can really feel this in my lower abdomen.  This is another of those yoga positions which is also a fabulous sexual position ~ or so I’m told.  When I do this, I keep my back straight and my belly flat ~ I have no idea if that’s a good idea or not.

~

The Plank.  I find this pose tremendously difficult, not because I don’t know how to do it, but because it calls for a tremendous amount of strength.  Done properly the entirety of one’s body weight is brought into play to build core body strength, exercise the arms and shoulders, and increase one’s fortitude.  There are three basic variations of the plank, and the easiest is to rest on your knees rather than stretch out your whole body and rest on your toes.  The second easiest is to support your upper body on your forearms, while the hardest of all is to be in a push-up position with all one’s weight on your toes and hands.  Right now, I can hold this position for one minute only ~ which is a bit pathetic really.

~

The Warrior.  This should be so easy, trust me, it isn’t.  The warrior pose stretches and strengthens the legs and core muscles of the body.  For me it also works the arms and shoulders.  More than that, this is the one position that should be so easy that I want to do it properly and elegantly.  Where that gets difficult is the whole being straight, having one’s belly and backside tight, steadiness and ease thing.  The lady in the picture looks a bit wimpy because her right arm is dropping.

Right now I only use these five positions, and the list above is in the order I do this stuff.  I hold each position for as long as I can, and that varies from 5 minutes per position, to less than a minute, depending on the pose and how I’m feeling that day.  And, again depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll probably run through all five positions a couple or maybe even three times.

However, there are stacks more great yoga positions, and if you really want to learn about yoga, then I should strongly suggest that you take a proper class, there will be one near you.  There are even a bunch of good online yoga classes.  (I took one actual class at my local gym, once, and never went back ~ but that’s just me).  Who knows, you may find yourself alongside some fit, supple, young women.  Who will probably make you feel totally inadequate.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Effective Time Management

Procrastination is the foundation of all disasters.

You can grasp the important essentials of effective time management in 20 minutes ~ living with it, really using your time wisely and to your own best advantage, well that takes a little more work.

So, just what is this time management thing?   Effective time management ~ it’s all about making a little go a long way.  It’s about improving the way in which you use the 86,400 seconds you get every single day.  Time management is about doing away with; displacement activities, delay, deviation, distractions, hesitation, indecision, indulgence, procrastination, repetition, sloth, stress, tardiness, and waste.

I am definitely going to take a course on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.  ~  Louis E. Boone.

Effective time management is all about doing the important things, at the right time, and spending the right amount of time on them.  Like everything good and important in life, effective time management is also about control, restraint, and self-discipline.  What time management is not about is making certain that you are doing the right things ~ that’s something else entirely, something we will talk about at a later date.

You already know the basic techniques for effective time management, it’s just that you never use them.  So here’s what you should do, from now on, every single damn day.

  1. Make a list.  Start with a to-do list.  These are the things you should / must / want to do today.  (Actually, tomorrow, because you should start writing your to-do list the night before.)  You can even buy a ready-made to-do list App, packed with colourful features and supposed benefits.  Don’t bother to waste your time and money.  Get a notebook, or just some sheets of paper, and write down what you need to do.  You can use different colours for different categories or importance of tasks if you like.  Personally, I merely number things, in order of importance.
  2. Cross tasks off your list only when they’re completely done and tangibly, measurably delivered, and then forget all about them and move onto the next task with a clear mind.
  3. Do the worst / most unpleasant / most important things first.  Getting the nasty stuff out-of-the-way early in the day makes the rest of the day both easier and much more enjoyable.
  4. Make more lists.  These extra lists are for sub-tasks.  For example your to-do list may say ‘do grocery shopping’ ~ so you need a shopping list, (never, never, ever go into a store without a list of what you want / need / would like to buy).
  5. Break big and unwieldy tasks down into smaller and more manageable bits.  This is called chunking, and it can be used in all kinds of situations.
  6. Keep a journal.  As well as writing down what has happened and how you feel about it, you can also use your journal as a detailed day planner, and as a place to plan and manage future events / tasks / projects.  Properly used a journal will stop you turning up for things unprepared / on the wrong day / without your passport.
  7. Avoid meaningless distractions.  These come in all kinds of shapes, but the most insidious and pointless time-wasting evil right now is social media.  If you use social media at work, or first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, or during your lunch break, then stop it.  You are just wasting time while turning your brain into mouldy dough.
  8. Take regular breaks.  Just sitting at your desk for 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 hours a day is not the way to be productive.  Worse than that, sitting at your desk for long periods is literally killing you.
  9. Get plenty of good quality sleep.  If you are tired and irritable you are also unfocused and unproductive.
  10. Develop good regular habits.  If you can run part of your day on auto-pilot, if doing some routine essential tasks becomes a habit, you are saving a hell of a lot of time and mental energy for the really difficult stuff.
  11. Learn how to say NO!  Agreeing to things that are unimportant / meaningless / we don’t want to do anyway, uses up a huge amount of our time, mental effort, and spiritual energies.  Along with that, drop people who waste your life and suck up your energies.
  12. Multi-task the routine stuff.  For example, prepare dinner while the bath is running, and let it cook while you’re soaking away the aches and pains of the day.  But be wary, multi-tasking doesn’t work for important stuff.

And then there is the tricky and oh so important number 13.

13. STOP DICKING AROUND.  There a billion things you could do instead of actually doing the stuff you really want to do, should do, need to do, absolutely must do.  Recently I read where a guy got sacked for spending all day at work looking at internet porn on his cell phone ~ if that’s not a definition of dicking around then I don’t know what is.

All of this is pretty much common sense, actually you knew most of this already, so why aren’t you using these good practices?  Probably because you’ve been lazy, lacking in self-discipline, or you think that ordinary rules and good advice don’t apply to you.  Well, let me tell you, little sister, you’d better shape up if you want that good quality, rewarding, spiritual, healthy life you’ve been promising yourself.

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.  ~  Pablo Picasso

Procrastination doesn’t cut it.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Walking Meditation

Through meditation the higher self is experienced.

True health and fitness can only be experienced and enjoyed when the body, mind, and spirit are all in balance.  You cannot be healthy in one part of your being, if you are not healthy in all.

You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.  ~  Juvenal

To be truly fit and healthy one must exercise, take care of, and nurture all aspects of our being.  Although physical health is deeply connected to mental and emotional health, I believe there is little point in just ‘hitting the gym’ because all that is likely to do is strengthen our body at the expense of our mind and spirit.  I firmly believe that to balance our body, mind, and soul we need to incorporate an integrated health regime into the totality of our lives.

When people tell me they can’t afford to join a gym, I tell them to go outside; planet Earth is a gym and we’re already members.  Walk, run, climb, sweat, and enjoy all of the natural wonder that is available to you.  ~  Steve Maraboli.

One of the activities I use to balance the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of my being is to get out into the sunshine and fresh air for a couple of hours brisk walk every day.  Walking is excellent exercise, but more than that I can also practice walking meditation.

When I was much younger I thought that meditation was weird, nonsensical, even ‘girly’.  But back then I also thought that prayer, self-discovery, spirituality, and yoga were also distinctly odd.  These days I embrace all of these good practices ~ although I still don’t consciously pray to a ‘God’.  With maturity I have begun to understand that these are methods by which I can know myself and become an emotionally healthy man.  To be truly healthy we all need to get outdoors for at least an hour every day.  We all need to exercise our own mind and spirit if we are going to escape from the fortress prison we have built for ourselves.

If there was a mature and peaceful woodland nearby I would take my daily walks there, enjoying forest bathing, what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku.  This is a meditative and spiritual activity that is known to improve one’s mindfulness.  Trees are well-known to possess healing powers.

However, in the here and now of my life it is more appropriate that I take my daily walk by the sea, under the open and  ever-changing sky.  Both the sea and the clouds are peaceful, they help me to experience serenity and mindfulness.  The clouds fire my imagination.  The sea is a primeval and primordial force of nature, a part of the Mother Goddess to which all things return at the end of days.

Walking meditation is an easy thing to do ~ providing one is not distracted by everyday activities.  I don’t use my cell-phone on my meditative walks, I don’t use my camera when I’m in a meditative state, I walk alone, and I don’t talk with anyone ~ as a matter of fact I don’t even notice other people.  Walking meditation is a peaceful part of my life where I can be in touch with the more enlightened part of myself.  Time and space cease to exist in the normal way, the world becomes fully open for me to explore in my mind, I become open to appreciate all things with acceptance and understanding.

The secret to walking meditation is to get outside, on your own, and walk in nature for a while ~ an hour or more is good.  Empty your mind of all immediate concerns.  But most of all, walk.

Even if you have to walk fast for 30 minutes, five days a week, by all means do so.  Never make excuses to why you don’t have time to work out.  Your body deserves to enjoy the taste of a good health.  Never settle for less.  ~  Edmond Mbiaka.

Obviously, just taking a walk each day isn’t enough exercise to keep me fit and healthy.  Walking does little for strength and mobility.  For that I practice yoga.  I used to believe that yoga was the sole preserve of incredibly fit and supple young women, but then I learned that yoga is also for men like me.  Done properly, yoga will improve your health and fitness in body, mind, and spirit.  Done properly, yoga for men hurts a little bit.  If it feels right, you can incorporate yoga into your daily walk.

We can experience so much, appreciate so much, and understand so much, if we are brave enough to open our minds to the wonders of the Cosmos.

I enjoin you; get outside into the fresh air, and walk.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

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