It’s like they say during the air safety instructions: parents, put your air mask on first. That’s because you can’t take care of others until you have taken care of yourself. That means physical, mental, and spiritual health. I decided that yoga and walking the dog were my favourite forms of physical exercise, but more fit people would probably gravitate towards more challenging activities such as mountain biking and rowing a kayak.
However, pretty much any effort counts for something. For me, getting a dog was the best step towards healthy living. We walk about five kilometres a day and the sunshine and fresh air does much to raise my spirits. Likewise, taking some time everyday to simply focus on brushing the dog serves as a mindfulness exercise and becomes both mental and spiritual therapy. For those with children, I suspect that to focus totally on the child such as reading with them or a long loving hug can do wonders for your well-being.
I figure the description of mental health for me is when I make choices based on what is good for me rather than out of habit. Conscious living is where I ask myself what influence a certain person brings to me. Is this friend someone who I can respect, admire, and trust? Someone who will lift my mood? Or, is this another person who does nothing but complain about others, who is so judgmental? What lesson can I learn from him/her before I dispatch them from my life? Is this encounter to teach me about my own issues? What about my spiritual duty to do unto others as I would like have done unto me? That’s a pretty tall order that I often fail at, but then again some effort is better than none. I always find that I am more generous when my life is going smoothly, but that I can also turn down requests for spare change when there are too many problems in my life.
A spirit of generosity is infectious. Before I arrived, the neighbours had a less than happy relationship. Now we take turns doing each other’s lawn and sidewalks, just because I did both of theirs when I first moved in. Through conversations I learned about the basis for their misunderstanding of each other. It’s so true that everyone gets to be who they are by honest means. Strife at home taught me to be independent, but sometimes a bit of a loner. We’re all a sum of our experiences. Conscious living means that we have to ask if the ways we have learned serve us well.
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.