Bedtime Reading: Strengthening the Mind

How Methodically Strengthening Your Mind Will Transform Your Body, Health and Life

Today's blog is one of the hardest I've had to write in a while.
Because it is so important a message and I am just starting my personal journey uncovering its significance. So I feel a bit inexperienced and words don't come as easily.

It is like knowing something is fundamentally true, yet because you have not experienced it completely for long enough you cannot yet explain it clearly. Makes sense?

This new knowledge and large scale personal experiment is also going to be an additional dimension in my Feeding Success coaching toolbox because I would like to embark you with me on this adventure of a lifetime. The last Chapter of my Feeding Success book touched upon it but since I wrote the book, I underwent a yoga teacher training in India and my understanding of this concept deepened.

It is the concept that Swami Rama described as:
"the whole body is in the mind but the whole mind is not in the body".

Exactly! When I first heard this in India, it went over my head. I did not get it. Then last Monday, a year and a half later, as I was reading my Indian philosophy book I got it. It hit me hard. I finally got it.

I am a health and nutrition coach and people seek my help to change their bodies. Make it stronger, thinner, healthier, more energetic, disease-free, etc. We experiment with a new diet, exercise regimen, sleep patterns, learn how to rest and relax, etc. YET, there is a lot of struggle. There is resistance, fall back into old habits, then make some more progress, and the journey while rewarding is difficult. And that's because, to get back to Swami Rama's words, while the whole body is in the mind, the whole mind is not in the body: The body may influence the behaviors of our mind but it is the mind that controls the body.

When thinking about it in the context of happiness, self-realization, self-mastery and health it means that only part of the mind is dependent on physical comfort and pleasures for its happiness, whereas our entire body is totally dependent on the mind for its health and well-being. The mind transcends the body and can heal the body. In the context of weight loss, it means that only part of the journey is about the physical body and those dietary and exercise changes, the greater work is about strengthening the mind, expanding the mind power over the body. If you strengthen your mind using specific methods, some of which I learned in India and started practicing on myself, your entire body will heal.

It is the only way I can explain how against old odds I am functioning normally despite my debilitating back injuries and repeated fractures; why I am not feeling any pain and am medication free; how I healed my thyroid auto-immune disease which my doctors said was incurable; how I am feeling joyful and peaceful as a small entrepreneur dealing with risk and an economy crisis in the making. My mind is really keeping me happy and fearless/anxiety free in life and healthy in my body.

If you look at human civilization, you will find that technology has made great progress, but human beings have not progressed at all. In terms of inner development, we're standing at the same place where forefathers stood in the Stone Age. A product of modern Western society, I spent my childhood and college years studying hard and examining things in the "external" world. I was not taught how to know myself, I was taught how to stay current with the world matters, develop a critical mind towards the past and understand trends, make intelligent decisions in the present and anticipate/plan for future events. I was focused on accumulating wealth, security, getting "established" in the world. In fact, this focus on the external/outside world intensified when I entered the workforce as a consultant, keeping up with cutting edge science, technology and industry knowledge. My attention was completely externalized and keeping up with the latest whatever. The education system and business environment reinforced the idea that the more I knew about the external world, the wiser and smarter I'd become. It even led me, us, as a society to believe that all this technology and advance in science would make us healthier. Has it really? I argue not.

The amount of professional certifications I have is just ridiculous. I recall a PwC director and partner meeting of a hundred plus people, where I won the challenge of "Who has the most certifications?". I was just 35... and just recovering from Graves Disease trying to figure out a way to balance work and life. Still looking at the external world of fitness and nutrition for answers.

Focus on the material word also expended outside of work to the acquisition of "worldly objects" that were supposed to make me feel happy or "accomplished". Clothes, a house, my professional title as a director of prestigious firm, etc. lots of stuff. Many identify or depend on these objects like status symbol which leads to fear, anxiety, stress (what if I loose my job and my house? what if I don't meet expectations from external people?) and alienates us further from our inner self.

"The whole body is in the mind but the whole mind is not in the body". It is the internal world that holds the keys to our success in life. in business. In love. Financially. With our health and physically radiant body. With sticking to our New Year Health Goals.

For the past five years I have been on an exploration of the internal world on and off, without method and structure. I know remember when and how it started. It accelerated 3 years ago when I became an entrepreneur and finally in India I gained the tools I needed to get on a structure path. This past week I adopted a new habit to slow down and use methods to strengthen my mind.

The reason why people struggle with weight loss, healing the body, sticking to exercise, quit sugar, smoking, achieving perfect health is simply because their mind is not strong enough. A strong mind, is not a mind filled with knowledge of the external world. A strong mind is that which has the power to transform your life, because, disciplined and sharpened with specific methods, then turned inward, it enables you to discover who you are and your purpose in life. Once you know, you cannot sabotage yourself, get lost in the competitive grind, alienate yourself and others.

Now I know this is a strange newsletter. No recipes or workout PDFs to download today. You may not quite be ready for that talk. But I promise you that happiness is achieved when you can be a citizen of the world within and the world outside in a balanced way. Achieving health and happiness will come from this balance. To achieve balance, you may need to take a remedial class in "how to strengthen my mind and turn its immense inquisitive and learning power internally".

This is exactly the path I am on. I've been on remedial evening classes for a year but 2017 is the year when I intend to help you get started on that path. It is incredibly stress reducing, it brings me so much joy, it increases self-reliance and independence from the outside world. Eventually you need less, buy less, worry less, eat less, sleep better, exercise daily, feel peaceful. Your actions, thoughts, speech are coherent and aligned with your life's purpose. I have felt so happy since I've started this practice. Happiness has really powered my self-motivation to be the best person I can be and it has disarmed sabotage.

I'll conclude with this beautiful text by Swami Rama which I read to my Broga Yoga students last night:
"A happy mind is the source of all healing powers. A person with a happy mind is full of enthusiasm, courage and self-motivation. A person with a happy mind is free from all complaints. Cultivating a joyful mind is the greatest of all spiritual practices. All human beings [...] are equally in need of happiness. According to the yogis, happiness is always preceded by peace. A quiet mind is the foundation for cultivating a joyful mind. Mental quietude depends on one of the greatest virtues: inner purity. Without inner purity, we suffer inner poverty".

I am looking forward to discussing this with you further. You can email me with any questions.

Take care and warm regards,
PS: Strengthening the mind, in parallel to dietary and lifestyle changes will be an additional dimension in my private health coaching and my Feeding Success Lab virtual group coaching starting Feb 1. Stay tuned for more info.