If you’ve read my story you know that at some point I decided to cut off from the world almost completely for three years. That was the time of my spiritual awakening (until then I wanted nothing to do with religion or spirituality). I can honestly say that it changed me forever. But my transformation didn’t happen only on a mental level; in fact, it became more evident when I began taking care of my physical body.
Now, I was on a ‘personal retreat’ of sorts, spending most of my days alone in intense self-exploration and creative projects, very attentive and aware of any subtle changes within me. As the weeks and months went by, I became fully immersed in this process (with the support of a counselor I saw once a week) and witnessed my levels of energy, awareness, and self-love gradually change. However, at first I still carried many negative habits; one of them was smoking cigarettes, which I had done since high school.
Almost 30 years after, I’m still amazed at how I managed to quit. First, there was a shortage of meat in the city, so the prices started fluctuating and then soaring according to the demand. I was irritated by the obvious fact that the meat industry was manipulating consumers to raise their prices. In an act of rebelliousness, I decided I wasn’t going to eat meat anymore. Soon after this drastic choice I noticed how my energy and mood changed. I felt less feisty, more peaceful, with less angry energy inside.
This subtle transformation brought other changes as well. I didn’t have the usual external distractions, just my own emotional baggage to deal with (clearly, you can’t simply forget about it when you retreat, no matter where you are), and my concentration increased once I consciously chose to be more present in everything I did. My first glimpses of a meditative state actually happened while ironing some clothes, and from then on I turned my daily chores into an ongoing exercise in mindfulness.
I finished washing dishes one morning, feeling relaxed and at peace, before I lit up a cigarette to enjoy with a cup of coffee, which had become my daily routine to start the day. I immediately noticed a change in my nervous system. The peace I had just experienced doing dishes was suddenly replaced by this vibrating, jittery sensation invading me. The contrast was too obvious to ignore, and I didn’t like it one bit. Smoking was supposed to buffer anxious energy, but as it turned out, it was making it worse. I wanted to end this vicious circle of self-destruction.
Only Love Heals: Self-Love Transforms Your Life
I had tried and failed before, so this time I used a more loving approach to quitting: I wasn’t going to judge or pressure myself; I’d simply push my next cigarette for as long as I could, to maintain the peacefulness I enjoyed in meditation and the mindfulness of daily chores. Well, lo and behold, that was the last time I ever smoked and I never looked back! My addiction vanished, not out of will power, but out of self-love. It all unfolded organically, from within, which I believe is the best way to effect lasting change.
Change didn’t stop there. Once I quit smoking I suffered a week of bronchitis every month for the next six months. I knew my body was cleansing, so I surrendered to the healing process and took care of myself in the most natural way possible, with herbal teas and rest. I’ve never been one to rely on pharmaceutical drugs much, and I was certainly not going to hinder the healing power my body was displaying.
Cigarettes and stimulants like coffee speed up your metabolism, so mine required quite an overhaul after quitting both. My digestion got so sluggish I couldn’t eat anything without using up all my energy to digest it, feeling tired and foggy for hours, while also quickly gaining weight. I had neglected my body and now it needed a big change in diet and lifestyle to find balance again.
I understood that the transformation I was seeking, as my spiritual path was taking shape, required a true integration of body, mind, and spirit. From meditation to self-inquiry to yoga stretches to balanced vegetarian meals to walks and creative self-expression, I gradually discovered a new way of treating myself, and my body responded by giving me an awesome sense of well being and incredible amounts of mental, physical, emotional, and creative energy.
Back then it was challenging to find support for healthier, alternative lifestyles, especially in Mexico City, but today we have so many options there’s no excuse to deny your body the love and care it deserves! Your physical body is the vehicle of expression of your soul; you need to keep it strong and healthy to accomplish your goals, without getting overly attached to it, and to support you on the spiritual path.
If you’re like me, you probably grew up in a dysfunctional family where ‘benign neglect’ was the norm. That is, your basic needs were covered, but deeper emotional needs were neglected, leaving you without guidance to navigate a complex world. But now it’s time to stop following patterns of self-neglect and listen to your body and your inner voice. You know what your soul needs, what habits would be best to let go of and which new ones you should nurture, to be healthier and at peace.
So go out there and walk, jog, dance, or swim; do yoga, tai chi, or ki gong; choose organic foods and cook them with love; develop the discipline to meditate and carve creative times for yourself; take care of your physical ailments in the most natural way; and be mindful of why and how you do everything. Also, contact me today to get clarity and support, to shift your perception and develop greater emotional freedom, to live life from a place of deeper awareness and self-love!
I’d love for you to leave a comment below, to let me know how you’re taking care of yourself. :-)
© 2017 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.