Holistic Celebration of Health
Seasonal Insights by Sarah Giordano
Summer is a time for celebration. Let's celebrate! Celebrate the breaths we take. Celebrate coming together. Celebrate family, friends, and relationships. Celebrate our differences. Celebrate our strength and perseverance. Celebrate the lives of those we lost. Celebrate our perspective on life post-pandemic.
As we embrace the joy of summer and the freedom of our emergence we begin to cautiously take down our masks and enthusiastically open our arms. Sure enough our schedules are getting booked through September and every weekend is filled with activities and fun. This summer I want draw our attention to celebrating life holistically. Here is what you will find inside:
Discovering Awareness: a holistic approach
Becoming aware of the posture
Cooling through breath
Celebrating our truth
Recipe: Banana Ice Cream
I want to dedicate this season's periodical to my Uncle Vinny. A man who celebrated life, love and music. A man who lit up every room he entered. You are sorely missed and always remembered. May we all brighten each others lives as you did ours.
As a nurse I have learned from day one that all of our systems (physical, emotional, mental, social, and environmental) work together to create a whole person's health. This is called a holistic approach to health. Since I founded Discover Awareness in 2013 my goal has been to inspire my students, as well as myself, to explore health holistically by developing awareness of our bodies, our thoughts, our emotions, our aspirations, our relationships and the environment we surround ourselves in.
All the systems of our being are interconnected, creating what I call our health ecosystem. When one system "breaks" the others may start to have problems. Similarly, if we work on balancing one aspect of our being the other systems begin to shift into alignment. To begin I want to break down each of these systems and activate our curiosity about where we are right now.
Physical: This is the gateway to awareness. First we locate the actual physical material that makes up our bodies. This comprises of our skin, bones, muscles, our internal organs, blood, hormones, and all the bodily cells. The physical body also includes the movements we make such as breathing, digesting, walking. Ask yourself these questions throughout the day to gain a deeper awareness of the physical body:
What shape or position is my body in?
What is my level of mobility?
Do I have any chronic diseases or pains?
Mental: The mental body is our intellect, our thoughts, our judgements and perspectives. Our thoughts effect our health. What we spend our time thinking about is what we become. Notice your thoughts:
What am I thinking about?
How much of my time is spent thinking about this subject?
Are my thoughts, perspectives and judgements aligned with my beliefs, passions and actions?
Emotional: Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, regulate and manage our emotions. This process involves our nervous system, hormones, touch, and water regulation (think tears or bloating). The goal is to allow ourselves to recognize and experience our emotions rather than suppress, ignore or be simply unaware that they are occurring. Celebrate the natural occurrence of emotion by asking:
What am I feeling emotionally?
What caused this emotional response?
How is this emotion affecting me?
Energy: Also referred to as the Subtle Body, our energy consists of multiple layers and pathways which run through and around the physical being. For example Prana, which was discussed last season, or the chakra system. To gain a deeper understanding of our subtle body we can ask ourselves:
What is my energy level?
How does my energy level change throughout the day?
Does my left side feel energetically different than my right side?
Spiritual: Meditation and prayer are common forms of spiritual practice. There are many ways to create spiritual balance, whether it’s a form of artistic expression, journaling to release thoughts, repeating affirmations, connecting with nature by gardening or going on a walk, or getting lost in music.
Take a moment to celebrate our present experience.
What do I see? What do I hear? What do I taste? What do I feel? What do I smell?
Social: The relationships and communities we engage in support our health and longevity. A study of centenarians showed that communities with the highest populations of people living over the age of 100 maintain strong familial and community ties. That being said we do want to focus on creating relationships and communities that support us positively.
Who am I spending my time with?
Is this person/community bringing me joy?
Is this person/community supportive of my lifestyle and goals?
Environmental: This includes everything we surround ourselves with which in turn effects our health - where we live, what we eat, the air we breath, the noises we hear, and the sites we see. Checking in with what we are exposed to can help us understand what may be affecting our health.
Where am I?
What am I eating and drinking? What medications or supplements am I taking?
What am I putting on my skin or hair?
This line of questioning gets us thinking about our health ecosystem. In order to balance, or heal, ourselves we must first become aware of all the factors playing a role in keeping us imbalanced, or unhealthy. When we are able to find balance throughout these systems we live longer, happier, healthier lives.
Becoming Aware of Posture
Awareness of the physical body is often the first step in discovering our individual health ecosystem. In yoga we direct our attention first to the physicality of breathing . . . inhale . . . exhale. Once we connect to the breath we can explore our alignment and this begins by examining our posture.
At the heart of physical balance is posture. Posture is the proper use of supporting muscles to stack bones one on top of another in an anatomical position, like stacking ice cream scoops on a cone. When stacking scoops the ice cream must be placed directly on top of the last scoop or it will slide off the cone. Similarly, if our bodies become out of alignment we are setting ourselves up for a meltdown.
Exploring postural alignment can help us find areas of tension which could result from or contribute to imbalances in our health ecosystem. Here is a short sequence designed for daily practice to lengthen, support and balance posture.
This cooling breath, called Sitali Pranayama, is designed to lower the internal temperature of the body on hot summer days. This can cool us down physically or chill out our mental and emotional state when we feel fired up this season.
Celebrating Our Truth
Living in alignment throughout our health ecosystem means living in alignment with our beliefs and passions.
The messages we repeat to ourselves and share with others become our realities. If we treat each day as a celebration sure enough we will be in for a good time. My Uncle Vinny was a shining example. He had plenty of messages that he enjoyed repeating and no matter how many times I heard them before they continued to entertain and spread joy. "Sweet Motha"
What messages do you tell yourself? What messages are you giving others? What messages are you receiving?
In yoga we call these repeated messages mantras. Find a simple phrase that is in line with your true values and goals. Try repeating your mantra throughout the day reminding yourself of your true intentions.
Banana Ice Cream
Hot summer days and packed summer weekends bring the element of air. According to ayurveda, our pitta dosha—the subtle energy that controls metabolism and can cause us to overheat—tends to flare up when the temperatures rise. This recipe is super easy and great for cooling off on a sizzling summer night.
Ingredients 4 ripe bananas Optional toppings: cocao nibs chopped walnuts cinnamon pine nuts nut butter
Peel bananas. Place in freezer bag and freeze for at least 6 hours.
Place frozen bananas in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.
Top with toppings of your choice. Serve immediately.
I hope you have enjoyed this food for thought and utilize the actionable practices I have shared to promote health and vitality.
If you are interested in diving deeper into your health ecosystem together email me at email@example.com To receive this newsletter in your inbox each season fill out the form below.
I recently launched my Google My Business page. If you are enjoying the seasonal newsletters or have taken my classes and are looking for a way to support, I would truly appreciate a review.
Take this moment and thank yourself for dedicating time to the mind, body and spirit.
Enjoy this season of celebration.
- Sarah Giordano -