“All great changes are preceded by chaos.”
– Deepak Chopra, author, public speaker and alternative medicine advocate
Wow! Chopra’s comment about change was definitely directed toward me this past month. After 20 years, I recently moved my practice to two new locations, Denton and North Dallas. While this is a positive change that brings a wealth of opportunity and provides great benefits to my clients, inevitably there is a certain level of chaos involved in the process.
Change and chaos. Chaos and change.
In my practice when I see families that are in challenging situations, it is often about CHANGE. Perhaps the end of a marriage and the beginning of a new relationship has changed the landscape of the family: two homes instead of one; greater need with divided income; children relocating to different schools; new schedules for child/parent time. At the same time, parents are trying to maintain their own sanity, keep their jobs going, deal with the stress of divorce and address their own and their children’s physical, social and emotional needs. It can be overwhelming!
How can we cope in the midst of life-altering change? There are many books on the subject of coping under duress. I have a few strategies listed below from Alternative Medicine Advocate Deepak Chopra that may prove helpful in sailing the chaotic seas of change.
7 Steps to Radical Wellbeing: Grow Younger and Live Longer
Excerpted from www.chopra.com
Step 1: CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTIONS OF YOUR BODY AND AGING
Every day in every way, I am increasing my mental and physical capacity. I am reversing my biological age by changing my perception of my body, its aging and time.
Kildebeck: Take note of the way you talk about yourself. “I’m too old to go rafting.” “My knees are going bad.” “I can’t figure out this darn phone!”. Make an effort to change your perspective. Chopra says that your “cells are eavesdropping on what you say”. So, don’t plant those negative thoughts in your subconscious.
Step 2: MANAGE YOUR STRESS WITH MEDITATION
I prioritize self-care by meditating regularly, allowing myself to rest in the sacred space of silent connection so I may be calm and centered.
Kildebeck: Meditating regularly leads to less hypertension, heart disease, anxiety and other stress-related illnesses, research has shown. It has been documented that eight weeks of meditation helped keep people calmer and changed sections of the brain, including growth in areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self and stress regulation. More and more research is revealing the brain’s vast power to grow and change at any age. Meditation can aid in this, says Chopra.
Step 3: GET ABUNDANT RESTFUL SLEEP
I honor my body’s need for rest by prioritizing deep, revitalizing, undisturbed sleep.
Kildebeck: Do you feel rested when you wake up in the morning? Most people need between six to eight hours of restful sleep every night. Not enough sleep interrupts the body’s innate balance, lessens our resistance to illness and makes us age more quickly. To keep with the “rhythm of the universe” as Chopra says, you should go to bed around 10 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m.; eat a light meal before 7:30 p.m., if possible; and download your thoughts into a journal before bedtime to ensure that thoughts aren’t racing through your head keeping you awake.
Step 4: NURTURE YOUR BODY WITH HEALTHY FOOD
I lovingly nurture my body by listening to its needs and responding proportionately with healthy, alive, vibrant foods and lots of water.
Kildebeck: Chopra says there are “dead” foods that accelerate aging and entropy and others that renew and revitalize the body. Focus on eating a variety of fresh and freshly prepared food. The way Chopra suggests achieving a balanced diet is to include the six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent) in each meal. Sweet, sour and salty tastes dominate the typical American diet, and these have been found to lower metabolism, especially if eaten in excess. The other tastes (pungent, bitter and astringent) are anti-inflammatory and increase metabolism. Radishes, ginger, mustard, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, tea, lentils and lettuce contain these tastes. Also, Chopra suggests filling out your plate with foods the “colors of the rainbow”, to attain a long and healthy life:
- Red: Red tomatoes (particularly cooked), red peppers, red/pink grapefruit, watermelon, red grapes, beets, red cabbage, apples, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, cranberries
- Orange/yellow: Squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin, cantaloupe, mangoes, papaya, nectarines
- Green: Broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, peas, avocado, collard greens
- Deep blue/purple: Plums, blueberries, black raspberries, blackberries, purple grapes, eggplant (with skin)
Step 5: MOVE YOUR BODY EVERY DAY
I rejoice in the miracle of my body by moving, stretching and strengthening it every day.
Kildebeck: Regular exercise is one of the most important factors in living longer and growing younger. Researchers have documented exercise’s amazing effect on muscle mass, strength, aerobic capacity, bone density and cholesterol. In creating a fitness program, Chopra suggests including exercises targeted to flexibility, cardiovascular conditioning and strength training. He says to find an aerobic activity that can be done regularly – three to four sessions weekly, for 20 to 30 minutes, which is usually enough to yield substantial benefits.
Step 6: CULTIVATE LOVING RELATIONSHIPS
I openly give and receive love to those around me.
Kildebeck: Loneliness creates conditions for rapid aging. The emotional value of social bonding is huge, yet in some countries, including the United States, we have moved away from social interaction toward increasing isolation. Social bonding keeps declining as people continually relocate, and spend more and more time working and watching television. This will only be compounded as those 80 years and older, the fastest growing segment of the population, continue to move into retirement homes. It is important to stay connected and open to new relationships. As Chopra says, no amount of reading and television substitute for human contact that nourishes on the level of love and caring. Stay involved!
Step 7: MAINTAIN A YOUTHFUL MIND
I make time to play and explore each day, approaching new experiences with the curiosity and openness of a child.
Kildebeck: We can renew ourselves in every moment and reverse the aging process by cultivating flexibility. Chopra uses children as an example. They play and laugh freely and take delight in the smallest things. Children are infinitely creative because they have not yet built up the layers of conditioning that create limitations and restrictions, he explains. Try the following suggestion to maintain a youthful mind: Write down two or three things to do that are totally childlike, for example, swinging, coloring or playing hopscotch. Choose something that will bring back a sense of fun. Now, choose one of these activities and do it today. By re-experiencing our childlike nature, Chopra concludes, we cultivate a youthful mind and connect to a part of us “that is never born and never dies – our eternal spiritual essence.”
I hope this excerpt from Chopra’s essay has been enlightening and that you will consider the methods that might work for you in coping with the stress of life’s many changes.