As the healthy eating revolution continues to take root in London and beyond, a question I often get asked is what vitality means to me. There are so many words and concepts used (and thrown upon us and all around us) to define what a “healthy” life is in the twenty first century – clean eating, whole food, raw, plant based, free from, balanced, seasonal… all grace our instagram and blog feeds all day (I am no less guilty than the next). And yet in so many ways, much of what is put out there as the best way to achieve optimal balance and wellness misses what is for me the fundamental point: true vitality starts within. Spiritual practice and a mindful way of living is the absolute foundation for the way we eat, drink, buy, wash, move, share, communicate, choose and nourish. I wanted to share my thoughts around this as it seems like a topic that needs some exploring as imbalances like orthorexia, nutrient deficiencies and over exercising creep increasingly into our collective consciousness.
Meditation as the source of wellness
The three pillars of my blog and life are whole foods, natural skincare and meditation, and as my journey continues it becomes ever more apparent that when the last of these three falls by the wayside, the other two quickly seem to lose their purpose and definition. I can eat well, and I can make beautiful homemade beauty products, but as the little cracks of disconnection, of the noisy mind and ungroundedness gain traction, I inevitably lose my centre and end up simply going through the motions with diminishing awareness, gratitude and intention. And we all know how easily meditation slips out of our schedules… first one or two sleepy rushed mornings without it, and before we know it we haven’t sat down and checked in with ourselves for over a month.
And, you may say – and I often do – but who cares?
Eating well – and using natural products – is so important for optimal health, disease prevention and full vitality: what we eat literally builds our cells, our DNA, it becomes us. And what we put on our skin, our biggest organ, is absorbed into our pores and our bloodstream – our nutrient transport system. Here, too, our choices have a huge impact on our overall wellbeing. Choosing balanced, nutritious wholefoods and avoiding harsh chemicals and toxins keeps our bodily systems well fuelled, well balanced and working at their full potential.
However, it is not the whole story. There is a spiritual system at work too. The mind and our emotional state has such a profound and direct impact on our physiology and if we are stressed, worried and distracted by the workings of the mind it is not only our mood that is affected: our digestion, hormones, blood sugar, bowels, skin, and so much more, fall into disarray as well. For me, this fundmental link between body and mind is at the core of vitality (literally, our life force).
When we meditate, dive inside and connect to our breath and life source, we begin to nurture a sense of oneness, both within the self and as an organism existing within the wider context of the universe. We practise self-love. Not having a bubble bath and a massage self love, but a profound, compassionate knowledge and acceptance of who we are at our core. This sense of love, awareness and connection is key to vitality: it is tapping in to the vast web of life force from which we all spring. We find when we arrive there that we do not need to be thinner, taller, prettier: we are perfect.
In meditation and we also get know ourselves on a profound level and in this meeting with the whole self we are able to explore and purge stagnant emotion and energy that no kale, green juice or workout can expel. We find anger, joy, passion, jealousy, sadness… the whole rainbow of human emotions that can be so easily repressed in everyday life populating our internal landscape. Without an expressive outlet they can all too easily begin to block our energy, our chakras, our life force from flowing freely. Stagnant emotions manifest as physical imbalances and vitality hits a short circuit. Then it is not only our own wellbeing that suffers; it is that of those around us as well. I believe that each action we make ripples out to those we are closest to, and theirs to the next, and on and on the vibration goes. In meditation, we recognise them, acknowledge them and make space for them to pass through.
I write this not from an ivory tower of enlightenment but from a very real place of struggle along the road of spiritual self discipline that complements my nutritional studies. That is why this blog exists… But each day, each moment, is a new opportunity; with each new breath we can try to take our focus away from the outside world and into our own inner realm. And so cultivating mindfulness, in whatever way you choose to do it, is the first step to true vitality. It may be in a quiet spot for fifteen minutes each morning; it may be on a retreat surrounded by nature and nourishing food; it may be screaming out all your emotional crap in a forest at the top of the lungs: whatever meditation and spiritual enquiry mean to you, nurturing that awareness of your inner self is the spiritual gardening that allows the seeds of the food we eat and the physical health we strive for to properly take root.