Personal growth is one of my favorite things to explore. Ever since I was I little girl, I would love to read, observe others, and try new things. However, I remember it taking me a very long time to see the value in the journey. I used to be impatient and only focused on the end goal, when I would finally be ‘good’ at whatever it was I happened to be working on in the moment. This cycle was my nature, and as I reflect upon it, I can see how it has shaped me both personally and professionally.
Because I established wellness as a personal value at a young age, I realize that I have been living a healthy lifestyle longer than I have not. My daily choices that support my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health are like second nature. Now, at least; it wasn’t always this beautiful whole-person approach. My definition of wellness has evolved exponentially. Life taught me in so many ways, that wellness is much more than my physical body. Over 25 years ago, as a young Personal Trainer and Nutrition Counselor, I did not realize that at first. It was only when I began to notice the pattern of self-sabotaging behavior in everyone, including myself, I hit the books to study the mind. Master’s degree in hand, I felt like I was ready to figure it all out! Until yet again, a lesson to be learned. And that is when I dove deep into the role of energy and emotions and the impact it has on our entire being. The final piece of the puzzle that has been truly life changing is learning how to nurture my spirit, and finally understanding with certainty that the human mind is not capable of comprehending our soul’s infinite potential.
So, while daily food choices and exercise felt as effortless as brushing my teeth, I realized that even though wellness is my highest priority, some of the newer practices took time and effort. Simply knowing intellectually that ‘this is good for me’ and actually being excited to incorporate new routines, was not enough. I had to remember how to be the student or client again. I had to remind myself that introducing my new habits (meditation) and breaking old ones (silencing the inner critic) takes time. I knew that with intention and consistency my new practice would soon feel like second nature. I had to trust the process.
While working with clients from all over the world, I noticed a common theme as I was trying to help serve as a guide on their own personal journey towards empowerment and vitality. We all experience the feelings of frustration, doubt, and uncertainty and we navigate through our own challenges. But adopting a lifestyle for your greatest good is never about willpower. Although everyone’s path is unique, I reflected upon my personal and professional experiences and identified three stages as we move from ‘where we are now’ and ‘where we would like to be’. I believe the recognition of this process is important:
1. Open to a New Perspective: This is when we lean into our self-awareness and self-reflection. We are open to a new way even if we are uncertain of what that is exactly. Sometime a life changing event provokes this awakening; sometimes it is a quiet nagging. We just know that change is needed, and we know we are willing to do the work. We become the seeker of new information and insights.
2. Integration of the New: Reading, studying, and observing will only get you so far. Research and preparation is important, but will not be the catalyst of real change. Your new knowledge needs to be applied. It’s time to practice. This is where self-love, self-compassion, and grace is crucial. This stage will not be perfect, and it may take a long time. That is why I call it a self-care ‘practice’. Simply continue putting one foot in front of the other to move forward. The light is at the end of the tunnel. You do not want to go back; you have been there, and you know the old way does not serve you well. That is exactly why you were led to a new path.
3. Embodiment: You have made it. Your intention and consistent practice has changed you on a cellular level. You know your work has paid off because not only does your practice become effortless, but it is because of your practice you see changes in your life. It is easy to feel calm and centered while meditating on our mat, but when life throws us a curve ball and we can access our inner peace- that is embodiment.
Take that first step, my Friend.