It was a week into the COVID19 lockdown and I was not feeling good. I found myself eating excessive amounts of breads and baked goods, coffees, beers, being on the computer and binge watching movies for way too many hours. Some friends I knew had to move back to other states since they could no longer support themselves here in California and make the month’s rent. The future seemed uncertain - for many of us it still is a big fat question mark. My community acupuncture job was closed. I felt lost, confused, depressed and anxious about what would happen to our society at large. But even before COVID19 happened I saw were I was in terms of my diet and life style and where I wanted to be in order to consistently feel healthy and good within my body, mind, emotions and spirit and to be able to show up for others to the best of my ability. I continually avoided facing up to my meat, sugar and carbohydrate addictions even as I was becoming more aware of them. Fast forward back to COVID19 with so much fear surrounding this virus and humanity as a whole having to come to terms with their mortality & psychosis’s - I finally decided that the best way to respond to this situation was to empower myself and others as much as I could to stay healthy - by strengthening our immune system and nervous system’s response to stress, balancing our emotions and reassuring each other that no matter what happens - we can overcome it.
Thus, I created a 21 day challenge to Healing Yourself. I invited my friends and family members to join me and together we set out on a 21 day journey to let go of foods and habits that weighed us down and replace them with those that would lift us up! And in that process discover what true health and wellbeing is & the source from which that springs from within us.
These were our group guidelines for the next 21 days:
-In general a mostly plant-based diet
-Eat Fruits, Vegetables & Salads
-Drink Water, preferably warmed and with lemon!
-No Alcohol, Caffeine or other miscellaneous drugs
-No refined sugars & limited carbohydrates - no breads, baked goods or chips.
-Mashed or Baked potatoes and quinoa is ok
-Gluten Free granola is ok
-No Dairy or Cheese
-No Fried Food
-Practice Intermittent Fasting, only eating during 10am-6pm or 12pm-8pm
-Nuts are great!
-Vegetable Soups are great!
-Bone broth is super!
-1 Innercise and 1 Exercise per day! Ex. Meditation, Yoga, Qi gong, Tai Chi, Journaling, Morning Mindset practice or ritual and Running, Nature walks, Cardio Classes, Ab workouts etc...
-Limit entertainment such as movies, TV, news etc.. to 1 hour per day. Instead read that book you've been wanting to start or finish, learn a new language, play an instrument, watch educational classes or videos, play some board/card games, or learn a new food recipe!
“These next 21 days I will attempt to live by these guidelines but by all means please customize this list (add or subtract) so that it is in your own way do-able for YOU!”
So the first week I decided to do a core workout routine, yoga, nature walk and run each day. I ended up eating a little bit of meat the 3rd day but stayed committed to my low to no carb and sugar diet. The first 4 days went great but then came day 5 and 6! By the end of Day 5 I was feeling really tired and put off my daily run. On Day 6 I felt like I was hit by a train - I felt really sick - I thought my body was either going through the Detox hump or fighting off COVID19 for all I knew. I spent all day in bed with extreme pain running through my entire body. The only two things that got me up from my bed was to drink water, take my Chinese herbal formula and relieve myself of my bowels! I prayed and did lots of energy work and positive thought affirmations while in bed. Finally somewhere in between the delirium of it all, I had a major breakthrough and could feel my body go into recovery and rejuvenation mode. The next day I felt like a new human being!
Learning new food recipes was also a huge highlight of this 21 day healing yourself experience. I got to experiment with multiple ways of making yummy salads, sautéing veggies and even making my own fresh almond milk to go with my non-caffeinated rooibos chai tea! I started to practice the piano again and perfect a song I’d been wanting to learn from the past year. I also created a daily schedule to try to follow as best as I could:
• Meditate and drink water or herbal tea
• Ab exercise and yoga
• Take my supplements
• Walk my puppy
• Juice Greens
• Play with Business & Ta Dah's List 12pm: • Nature Walk • Eat Salad 3pm: • Either watch educational videos, read, learn a language, play the piano or flute, nap or finish Ta Dah's list. 5pm: • Cook Dinner 7pm: • Walk puppy • Watch Movie or read book • Yin yoga and herbal tea 10pm: • Be in Bed • Meditate, Read or Journal • Sleep! As I came up on week 2 of this challenge, the message of death and letting go came through very strongly and clearly for me. I asked the group, “What is your relationship around death, endings and letting go? Do you remember any past situations in your life, physical illnesses, certain behaviors, a loss of a friend, family member, pet or lover? Have you allowed yourself to fully experience what letting go means for you? Have you allowed yourself to fully grieve a relationship that has been lost - especially when it is a relationship to a part of yourself?” During this time, everything in our lives seemed to be put on hold for most of us. A disintegration moment within our daily life, a “little death” if you will. A big PAUSE, a litmus test for humanity that asked, “Where are you in your life right now, who are you and how are you relating to others? And what things do you need to let go of in your life? What things do you need to safeguard?” I was not just talking about material things but your own thoughts, emotions and the direct awareness of what is going on inside of you during these times.
"what things do you need to let go of in your life?"
As I entered the last week of the challenge and continued to build a new body and mind with the power of my spirit - I was starting to feel more grounded, confident and alive throughout my day. I continued doing daily exercises, runs, walks, yoga, meditations, playing and listening to music, journaling and making green juices, salads, veggie soups. Some key lessons were coming through during this last week as I reflected on my journey thus far: 1. The strengthening of my spirit: Each day making the conscious choice of what exercise I’m going to do and what foods and nutrients I’m going to put into my body - created more consciousness and awareness within my day. It wasn’t just my meditation for 30 minutes a day but that my entire day became more meditative. Whatever I did became an opportunity for more awareness to enter through it. This was such a cool experience for me for never having done a detox or dietary challenge before. Having to bring a lot of intentionality and awareness into what foods I decided to eat each day brought a really amazing strengthening of my sprit. 2. Greater understanding my body and physiology: The relationship between the foods and nutrients I put into my body and its ability to utilize those foods and nutrients to nourish, rejuvenate & protect itself. 300 billion new cells are created in the body EACH DAY and 300 million old cells die EACH MINUTE! Our bodies are rebuilding our cells, tissues, organs and entire body throughout the year. So the big question is, “What type of fuel do you want to put into your body, for your body to burn and use? Do you want to put the cheap stuff in it and let toxins and inflammation build up in your circulatory system?” Of course not! By putting good clean burning fuel into my body, cutting out the refined sugars and carbohydrates and replacing them with lots of fruits and vegetables created a significant change in how I felt during my exercises. I could feel my body running on a cleaner energy source that gave me more stamina and “spring” in my step and my mind felt consistently more alert and clear. 3. Seeing clearly my negative or judgmental thoughts, behaviors and beliefs: I became more aware of the unconscious desires to automatically eat or drink something and the relationship between the thought & desire of those things. I also became more aware of the habitual desire to be on the computer, on social media or to watch a movie. “How much time am I actually spending doing the things I want to be doing, the things that make me feel good in my body and mind versus the things that make me feel lethargic, heavy and stagnant - the things that just don’t make me feel that embodied. Also, knowing that I have to manage my healing practice and do work on the computer, how can I segment my time better so that I could work as efficiently as possible for a set period of time and than, when I’m done I’m really done. The energetic behind my mind and the emotions that charge my thoughts became more apparent for me as well. I noticed more acutely, how many times I was not being completely present with myself and with others. How my mind would be elsewhere with it’s own thoughts and images instead of being with what was right in front of me. The emotions of paralysis from over-thinking and being too much in my “head” and the anxiety or fear around the future of our society surfaced many times during this time period. Anger and Sadness arose in me as well when I looked to see how society at large & some people I knew responded to COVID19 in a way that I saw was ridden with fear and hollow solutions. And so I made it to day 21! Synchronistically, it also happened to be Earth Day, April 22nd! It had been quite the journey. I had faced some of the old behaviors and addictions that kept me from showing up in the way I truly desired from day to day. I gave myself the chance to process the thoughts and emotions both within me and the collective - the mass negativity, hysteria and fear that was running rampant within our society - and then, all things said and done I could come back to myself. “The center of my center is where I enter” as a good friend of mine would say. The message I received by the end of these 21 days was clear, “Our bodies and minds are stronger than we’ve ever imagined and we can use our Consciousness to heal our bodies - to allow the innate healing power within our bodies to overcome any disease or obstacles we face in life.” The seed of this message is what inspired me to create this challenge, my experiences during the the past 21 days tested it and now by day 21, it’s message and power became crystal clear. Having a support group to help me stay accountable and to do this challenge with me made the success of it all that much sweeter. The ability to share our ups and downs, to be vulnerable with our emotions & to ask each other to consistently show up made all the difference!
“The center of my center is where I enter”
What this experience as a whole has shown me is that there is no greater force on earth than our spirit and the healing power we contain within ourselves to wake up each day and choose to be the healthiest version of ourselves. Through the choices that we make, the exercises we do, the foods we eat, the herbal and nutritional supplements we take, the introspective time we give ourselves to look within and figure out what we truly value in our lives - and to LIVE - to live from that point of view, that state of being, that vibrational point of energy! We can so often and so easily fall prey and become victims to external forces and circumstances but, to really just come back to our own innate power, to feel empowered and to trust in our highest self - to get us through a stressful day and to see the magic that is all around us - is the best possible gift we could give ourselves, to each other and all life on this planet. Thank you for listening I hope this post can inspire you or someone you know to take action for real change in their life! Check out my link to the next Healing Yourself Program starting in August 9th! Join us in this movement to become the healthiest version of yourself within your body, mind and spirit! AHO! https://www.acushaman.com/healing-yourself-a-21-day-journey-t
Dr. Jonathan Lenahan