January & Ahimsa


Happy New Year!

Each year we spend a week or 2 wishing each other a Happy New Year, and then after that initial period, we stop and just get on with it. January though, provides us with a massive opportunity, that in my humble opinion, we should not miss.

My theme this month is Ahimsa, the yogic concept of No Harm. Which entreats us to practice, in the way we live, a personal commitment to limit the harm we do. Equally, this concept encompasses not only harm to others, and the wider world, it also confers on us a call to diminish the harm we do to ourselves.

I am sharing this as I have been studying to become a Yoga teacher. This year, I intend to incorporate this training with Vegetropolis in an all encompassing focus on what it means to be healthy & have a positive presence in the world!

Winter can be difficult! It is cold, dark, windy and wet, the threat of seasonal illness lurks, as we are indoors more, in close proximity with family & work colleagues. Potentially we also get outside less to exercise.

How much though, can we do to lay a strong base for the rest of the year, during this first and potentially foundational month?

This is, as you may know, traditionally, the month of many calls to action!

Veganuary: Offers us an opportunity to reduce our harm by attempting to follow a plant based diet for a month. Let's look at this. Leading global food expert Michael Pollan summed up his take on how to have a beneficial diet in just 7 words:

                                   "Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants"

Eat Food? Seems obvious! What he went on to say is that "Food Like Substances" should not be considered food.

What he proposes, is that we cook basic food (like our forebears did) at home, avoiding manufactured, adulterated, highly processed foodstuffs, containing additives and preservatives, and bulked out with sugars salts and fats.

These processed foods are designed for quick, emotional eating. Science is applied here to trigger feelgood receptors in the brain & block your natural ability to feel full. They are not going to provide us with foundational well being. They will harm us. Against our Ahimsa!

Not Too Much calls us to be disciplined, after all, scientifically we can only produce a certain amount of stomach acids to break down what we eat to use its nutrients. the rest is wasted and just adds strain to our system when we need to be at our optimum during this time.You may, in fact, thrive, on less!

Mostly Plants. Again, the science is there for eating plants, anti inflammatory, masses of available nutrients, fibre to aid the digestion and move quickly and efficiently through the body, not hanging around depleting that all important energy.

To summarize: A vegan diet, done properly can be massively healthy, varied and never dull! With regard to our Ahimsa, phenomenal! 

I would also entreat you, if you do not already, to always sit for a moment with your food, and feel gratitude for it before you eat. Focussed only, on your meal, no phones, no television, no laptop, positive conversation only.

Look out for a blog from me soon on how to eat well as a vegan!

Dry January: For those who aim to stop consuming alcohol for a month.

Something to be lauded of course, as the concept of harm to ourselves is at play here.

I'd like to offer a little helpful re framing here. If you intend to stop drinking alcohol for January. The use of the word dry, potentially, is unhelpful. Dryness is perhaps associated with a lacking, like being thirsty. The message being, that we are denying ourselves something for a month. Perhaps it would be better to think of it as Wet January!

You will in fact be more hydrated, therefore wetter! A win, not a loss. As, let's be honest, alcohol dehydrates us, again reducing that energy we need to thrive during Winter, increasing our bodies workload, potentially reducing our ability to resist illness.

Don't beat yourself up if you do find yourself drinking, just be kind to yourself, breathe deep and return to your equilibrium. Maybe you don't need that drink as much as you think you do, eh?

Red January: Sounds a clarion call to exercise for at least half an hour per day, perhaps raising money for a mental health charity too!

An app like this can be really helpful to give us focus so we can lay that foundation I have alluded to. We can have a better year, building up our fitness and resilience during the Winter.

I believe it is massively beneficial to calm our inner world through our breath, our diet, our actions.

Just as if we live in a small hamlet of peaceful quiet people & one of us starts to scream and wail continuously, the hamlet will be disturbed, so, I believe, it goes with the emanations of our hearts and minds, having an impact in the world, however subtle.

To conclude. If you are healthy, be thankful, breathe deep, exhale long, be kind to yourself and others. Eat well (Organic veg: From Vegetropolis, obviously!) exercise, maybe take up yoga! learn and grow. The world needs calm, resilient, wise, warriors! Now more than ever!

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