Hello Beautiful Souls-Much to my surprise, when I started asking questions, when I trusted my heart and surrendered to my soul’s direction, I was presented with amazing information. Once I asked, it was if the universe pricked up its ears and heard me and in a very patient process delivered information for me in all different forms, nudging me to investigate each one. When I look back at my journey, it is nothing short of spectacular and hind sight offers a clear vision of the progress that led me toward what my soul had asked for- all I had to do was listen, get out the way and trust the direction.
My interests and changes were gradual. If someone would have told me ten years ago that I would be prescription –free, over the counter drug-free, following a plant based life style and well advanced in both my yoga and meditation practices, I would have highly doubted they were talking about me. If I were to make these changes all at once it would have been very difficult. I would not have been successful at mastering such a turn around, but because I accepted each change as a pleasant challenge, it was very manageable. At age 47, I made a promise to myself that by the time I turned 50 I was going to be the healthiest me yet. This time would be different and the focus would be on my health and well-being not a number on the scale or the size of my jeans. I craved balance. For a year with the guidance and support of my sons and husband I started a weight lifting and cardio routine. In that first year I lost 50 pounds and felt stronger and healthier than I ever had. Following that first year, I was ready to step out of my home environment so I joined a gym and started a group workout program. I soon learned that on Friday nights the gym offered a yoga class. I had always been interested so I gave it a shot. I thought it was the perfect relaxing end-of-the-work-week gift to myself, and it was. I really enjoyed it and was surprised to learn soon after the gym yoga classes that a yoga studio was opening near where I worked. I attended my first class at the new studio and fell in love with it. It was nothing like what I had done at the gym. It took a lot of concentration, balance and patience. At the end of that first class as I rested on the floor the teacher came around and gave a gentle back massage and when I rolled on to my back a cool lemon lavender cloth was placed firmly on my forehead. I was in heaven. I was hooked and I knew I wanted more of this. Over the years my yoga practice has taught me about the beautiful balance that comes from synching my breath to movement. Yoga allowed me to quiet my mind and introduce a mind, body, spirit connection. Yoga is a nurturing community of love and support and I am lucky enough to have access to a fantastic studio with a nurturing soul to guide me in my small home town. I will always have yoga in my life
Paying attention to my body in this new way opened my eyes to a deeper level of examining what I had been unconsciously allowing into my body and that meant I would be looking at the prescriptions and over the counter medications I had been using on a regular basis. I started reviewing what the doctor prescribed which included long term use of a prescription to ensure I wouldn’t get pregnant, a prescription to regulate my blood pressure, prescriptions to relieve lower back pain and sciatica flare-ups, over the counter medications to cope with the side effects from the occasional common cold, sore throats and a plethora of other ailments and a prescription for acid reflux since most everything I ate gave me heart burn. I numbingly went along with what I had done for so long. I never liked that I took some sort of pain reliever to conquer my daily headaches. But I did it anyway. I didn’t want to take birth control for an extended period of time fearing what the long term effects would be. But I took it anyway. I didn’t like that animals had to die or live in cages to feed me. But I consumed them anyway. I was confused when a doctor I had never seen before explained that my symptoms and family history confirmed a diagnosis of hypertension. He prescribed a maintenance drug and I wondered why he didn’t suggest a change in diet or in increase in physical activity before prescribing the medication, but I took it anyway.
Several years ago I was forced to make a decision about birth control. Surely menopause had to be right around the corner but from what I could remember in 6th grade health class I was still capable of getting pregnant. My current health care provider could no longer prescribe birth control unless it was deemed medically necessary. I did not fall into this category but I certainly didn’t want to make headline news as a fifty-something-year-old giving birth! It took some doing but I finally found a physician that would prescribe birth control in my network Problem solved or so I thought. My new physician wouldn’t prescribe the pill because I was taking a maintenance drug for hypertension. Feeling very discouraged, I left the office wondering what I was going to do. Long story short, I stopped taking birth control and managed to stay off the 5 O’clock news. This ordeal did make me start asking questions not only about “the pill” but all the other prescriptions I was taking. I took my experience which felt devastating at the time as a sign. A sign that my body didn’t need this anymore. A sign that I needed to make some new decisions based on my own research. It just so happened that the next week I went to a store I had never been to buy a present for a friend. As I walked through the door of this cute little shop, right in front of me on a table was a book that caught my eye about “Big Pharma” and how supplements could be used in place of prescription drugs. I thought that was quite a coincidence so I left the shop with a birthday gift for my friend and a book for me. As I read, I discovered a whole new world. I knew about supplements, but I was surprised to find out just how many ailments could be treated without the use of prescription drugs. The author suggested a more natural approach which is exactly what I was looking for.
I decided that I was going to take myself off of my prescribed medications. This was a purely personal choice. I knew in my heart this is what I needed to do. I was a bit apprehensive but the scales tipped more toward the confidence in my choice. I discussed my decision with my husband and he was less than thrilled, more worried than anything. I assured him that I was going to take a supplement and monitor my blood pressure throughout the day. Next, I confided in my yoga teacher about the choice to quit taking prescriptions. She offered her knowledge as a health coach and experience in using supplements, so with her help, support and guidance, I was feeling even more confident. At this point I had enough folks aware of my decision that would look out for me in case this went sideways to move forward. Within 3 weeks, my blood pressure was better than it had ever been and continues to be to this day. Once I got past the three week mark, some of the strange feelings I experienced subsided and my blood pressure registered a perfect 118 over 78 consistently. I noticed while I was not taking my prescription for hypertension, I also was not experiencing heart burn. I researched and found that acid reflux was a common complaint amongst people taking the particular prescription I had been prescribed for high blood pressure. As an added bonus, after the first month of being prescription free, I also did not experience daily headaches, no acid reflux meds and no more ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Next, I started paying closer attention to what I was eating. Over the years I had made conscious decisions based on healthy eating habits but I felt there was something more. I watched all the documentaries available to me while researching different options for healthy eating and there was one in particular that made so much sense to me. It was about plant based foods. I believe we were not meant to consume animals and although I knew it would be difficult, I was up for the challenge. Admittedly after three weeks I wanted to quit, but I persevered and started to feel better and better. This March will mark my 3 year anniversary of leading a plant based life style and I don’t think I will ever return to my old way of eating.
On to my biggest challenge yet. I had dabbled in meditation trying at different times but found it very difficult. I didn’t look like the cute girl sitting on the edge of a mountain overlooking a beautiful body of water with hands in Anjali mudra. Nope! I was fidgety, my back hurt, my legs hurt and I couldn’t clear my mind of the chatter. I would sit and think about all the other stuff I should be doing. My dog would lick my face and my cat curled up on my lap and it was all very “un” meditative-like. I really wanted to learn and it finally clicked. Like all things, it is a practice; so practice it is. I attended a couple of workshops which helped and that’s when I learned that everyone battles the same problematic “hamster wheel thoughts.” From there I attended a group meditation where I was able to “really” meditate and eventually had some mystical experiences. There is something about the collective energy in a room to encourage the process. I soon was confident to try guided meditations at home which proved to be wonderful for me. I still was not able to sit for long periods, perhaps 30 minutes. I practiced until I was able to meditate on my own with music and this led to some beautiful meditations accompanied with meaningful messages and some very strange things which prompted me to investigate because I didn’t understand what was going on. (I will talk more about these experiences in another blog) I have recently added a daily meditation practice of an hour. I get up at 4 am to meditate. It’s early enough that I haven’t allowed the day to have its way with me and I have minimal to no outside distractions. It is the best way to start my day and it works with my schedule. I know meditation has changed me. I am more peaceful and calm. I have learned a great deal about myself through meditation and like the other practices I’ve adopted, I cannot imagine a day that I don’t want to experience meditation.
Pay attention, trust and surrender. I notice when I pay attention to what my body craves and I pay attention to what my heart needs, all I have to do is trust my inner compass, trust my instincts and follow the intuitive bread crumbs on my soul’s path. All I need to do is surrender and allow.
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