Every now and again I come across someone who I feel so connected with on various aspects like career and spirituality. Kathy Freston is one of those people. She is a New York Times bestselling author and spiritual growth specialist. Her new book, called “Quantum Wellness,” is a practical and spiritual guide to health and happiness. In it, she explains that our wellness is contingent upon our service to others and also our effect on the world. Freston says how important it is that we hold ourselves accountable for holding up the weakest links in order to move humanity forward, and I could not agree with her more. In “Quantum Wellness,” she mentions that she had a few breakthrough moments in her life where, if she did not make any big changes, things were going to do go down a bad path. She had some health issues and relationship troubles and, while they were challenges at the time, she learned from them and became a more aware human being because of them.
Another idea that Kathy commends is that others’ misery is our miser – if we do not tend to the negatives in the world, we cannot grow as individuals. We need to extend our awareness past ourselves, beyond our own families, friends and communities. She mentions that it is really hard to make changes and willingly open our eyes because we often do not want to know the miseries that someone else is experiencing. It is also hard to admit to ourselves when the practices we thought were good for so long are actually harmful to other beings. One example she uses to drive this point home is the idea of eating turkey on Thanksgiving. That used to seem like a harmless act of love and tradition, but as we gain more knowledge of the food industry, we now know that we should be taking the animal who suffered for that meal into account. She notes that it is not always comfortable to push ourselves to change. We do not want to admit these difficult things to ourselves – ignorance is bliss, after all. But it is one of our responsibilities as awakened human beings to keep pushing ourselves to look forward to see how our choices play out. In her book, Freston discusses the eight pillars of health and how we can use them to become more enlightened and happier individuals.
So many people think that when you meditate you need to be extremely disciplined, sitting straight in your chair with your back long and feet flat on the ground. But Freston highlights the fact that meditation is mostly about being silent and present. She notes that presence will bring you exactly where you want to be and that is something I can definitely attest to. Sometimes when I am meditating, I realize that I have uncovered various answers to issues that I did not even know I was struggling with. Freston also says that meditation can be as simple as setting a mantra like “I am here now” or “I am peace,” so every time your mind wanders, you bring it back to your mantra. For the people who think “yeah, but I meditate and nothing happens,” you are not lost. Sometimes nothing does happen, but we must continue practicing. If you go to the gym one time, you are not going to notice a new muscle popping up. With physical exercise, you must practice to see results and it is the same with meditation. In meditation, when you are ready to receive, you will. When you are sitting there meditating and your brain says, “Oh no, I need to get back to work” or “I should be grocery shopping right now,” that is your ego talking. The part of your mind that is fearful does not want you to get quiet, because that is where a big change may happen and that can be intimidating.
As you can imagine, this pillar is the one I believe to be the most significant as the nutrients that we bring into our body fuel everything else that we do. Conscious eating is the most important pillar for Freston as well. She says that it is the most elemental, fundamental thing that we do every day, and I certainly agree with her. Therefore, we should really work to be more aware of what we are eating: where it comes from, what goes into it, and who makes it. A big part of this is whether cruelty and abuse is involved in the creation of the food we are consuming. Another important aspect to keep in mind is whether farmers are overworked and taken advantage of for our food. Further still, we should be curious about whether chemicals, fertilizers and other toxins were involved in the growing of the ingredients that we put into our bodies. Freston makes it clear that everything in “Quantum Wellness” appeals to the body, mind and spirit. So if something is good for our physical health, it is also good for our soul. If it is good for us as individuals, it is good for every being on the planet. I find this to be a really moving point.
People often conquer their weight issues when they begin conscious eating. There have been people who have tried everything in the book: trend diets, meal plans, etc. and once they really thought about the animals and what they go through to get on our plates, something shifted. The food issue is no longer about deprivation; it is about eating from a place of spiritual integrity. If you get to a place of awakening, you realize that you want what is best for you, but also what is best for everyone else – including the animals. Freston recalls various spiritual principles: compassion, mercy, kindness and empathy. If we are going to adhere to these principles, we must consider the food aspect of our lives too. If we think about what these animals go through to be slaughtered for our food, it is deeply heart breaking. Thus, we should start making changes to transition away from our part of that suffering.
Freston does not say you must stop eating all meat right away. But she mentions that most people have really good hearts, so once they decide to open their eyes to the truths, they decide to move beyond eating animals. If we truly want to be people who go out in the world and alleviate suffering and promote spirituality, this is apart of wellness that we must acknowledge. This spiritual integrity of eating lends itself to health too. If you look at the health aspect of it, it is widely proven that eating a plant-based diet is healthier than a diet that consists of meat.
Visualization simply means setting up your mind to be able to imagine how you want to live your life. It is picturing it exactly how you want it to be. Visualization can be very basic. After you imagine the life you truly want, you may end up holding yourself differently. You respond to food differently and relationships differently. One thing Freston notes in her book is that visualization does not have to be a 30-minute exercise. You can do it very briefly. In a flash, imagine what you want your ideal life to be. You may envision yourself smiling,healthy and surrounded by love. Visualizing this life for yourself will help to attract aspects of it towards you. Which brings me to Freston’s next pillar of health …
Some people need to remind themselves to have fun. I am definitely one of those people. I find myself caught up in the craziness of day-to-day activities and often end up forgetting to laugh along the way! Freston discusses the fact that fun brings levity to your life, which has been proven to be true. You need to be able to let some things go and enjoy life. It is as important, if not more important, for balance as the other pillars. This pillar might be the easiest one to let slip since often times people, like me, do not feel that they deserve to have fun unless their to-do lists have been completed. I am just now starting to learn that that mentality could not be further from the truth. Do your mind, body and soul a favor by including more fun activities in your life and practice resisting the guilt that sometimes comes along with allowing yourself to have fun.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This essentially means that you need to constantly look inside and see what needs upgrading. What can you be doing to get unstuck and keep moving forward? For anyone who read my recent post on relying too heavily on energy healers, you know how strongly I agree with Freston on the idea that tuning into yourself is crucial. We are afraid to do that because we fear having to make immense changes. But it is so important to have faith in yourself because you most likely have the answer somewhere inside of you. Trust in yourself and your self-worth will continue to grow.
The part of Freston’s philosophy that I appreciate the most is that you do not need to radically change everything that you do all at once. It is about leaning into transitions and changing things slowly over time. Maybe try one minute of meditation per day, or cut out one animal for a week. Just keep adding these little alterations one at a time, as if you are adding ingredients to a soup, and all of a sudden, you will have made a remarkable shift.