by Nicholas E Stratas
This from my article, Inner Peace:
“To reclaim inner peace requires balanced self management – self-awareness of personal flow, personal knowledge and self awareness, appropriate nutrition including medications and supplements, regular vigorous activity, relaxation, centering, meditation, prayer.”
We are wired with tools to monitor ourselves. As you read this column, you can also feel the physical experience of your body, the position of your body, your eyelids blinking, your face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, legs and feet. This wiring permits complicated experience, a small example being the connection of your left ear to your right foot, through your neck, torso, down your leg. At the same time you can experience this connection you are also aware of your surroundings, and more.
We are a system of interconnected subsystems, interdependent, interacting and including self monitoring feedback of which we may or may not choose to be aware. Over time through repetitive unawareness there are those who “do not feel” themselves or aspects thereof unfortunately until they get hurt or have an acute panic or other extreme event. Unawareness increases chances of accidents or exaggerated experiences.
We are wired to feel everything in ourselves, our being, physicality, movements, feelings, emotions and intuition. Feelings and emotions have primacy. These I will address in another article. These are happy, sad, angry, usually one word. If more than one word then these are usually thoughts. See also my article The Human GPS.
As you experience these feelings and you continue to read you are also aware of your cognition, which at present if you are focused and concentrating is following the words and phrases herein contained. We are wired to track our thoughts with the capability to recognize associated thoughts, make note of them or simply entertain them momentarily allowing continued reading. Were our thoughts to begin to race they may well interfere with continued reading. We can be aware of this speeding. Ordinarily we want our thoughts orderly, structured, proactive. When we want to be creative we loosen up the structure and free associate or “brainstorm”. More speed and/or intensely loose associations interfere with this self awareness.
Over time cognitive awareness provides us with information about ourselves, our behavior, our thoughts and what we feel, providing self knowledge.
For those who wish to increase and improve their self-awareness,
Repetitive meditation or formal relaxation procedures such as Jacobsen’s are useful.
Another useful tool is autogenic training, mentally warming the skin of the hand and feet also useful in treating headaches.
Paying attention to one’s breathing is another tool –even as you read you can be aware of your breath bringing air into your nostrils at room temperature and going out of your nostrils 20 degrees warmer. Additionally useful is paying attention to breathing with the diaphragm – feeling the abdomen go out as the breath comes in and feeling the abdomen come back in as we breathe out.
Other techniques include meditation, yoga, visualization, self-hypnosis, biofeedback and prayer.
Passive activities include massage, transcutaneous nerve stimulation and acupuncture.
Regular activity-vigorous at least 3 times a week, 20 to 30 minutes of a cardiovascular nature is essential to the maintenance not only of our heart and blood vessels but also of many other functions of our body, not the least of which is the maintenance of an appropriate body weight. And stretching such as in yoga.
Letting go activities such as finishing unfinished business, tying up loose ends minimizes noise in our system. Centering and focusing provide for stabilization, integrity and presence. Relaxation and other techniques mentioned above permit the management of our “speed”, the anxiety which accompanies the living of our life so that it is mostly appropriate to our journey at any given time.
Personal planning is necessary including clarifying goals so as to focus our actions in the present. Scheduling allows promptness and fulfillment of commitments. Budgeting our assets permits moving to zero debt as soon as possible and the maintenance of positive economic balance. Prioritization is essential to provide direction and focus.
Self management calls for balancing our states of awareness – sleeping, waking, and trancing. For most of us 7-8 hours, more or less, of sleep is important to provide for the kind of rest which allows for feeling energetic and alive. Waking, we must pace ourselves with a variety of activities and speeds. Trancing is something we all do intermittently during waking hours. Conscious formal use of trance (meditation, yoga, prayer) can facilitate our present, prepare us for the future and help clean up the past.
Balanced nutrition is integral to self management with a diet providing for essentials. Supplementing when there is question about adequacy may be appropriate. Multi or specific vitamin supplements or others may be indicated. Salt needs to be limited as its relationship to increased blood pressure is well known. Stimulants such as caffeine need to be minimized – research shows 3 cups of coffee trigger twice as much production of adrenaline by the body over a 24 hour period. Tobacco products need to be avoided as much literature attests and increasingly social actions support this. Alcohol needs to be minimized. As an ancient Hellenic cousin of mine Aristotle said -“everything in moderation”. Chemicals, medications, need to be prescribed and monitored by professionals trained to do so. Pharmaceuticals can aid in self management in specific instances, as thyroid for hypothyroidism, aspirin for fever, and others.
Balanced self management as the first leg of personal management provides a platform for developing a strong adult which I address in another article another time.