Five Essential Life Elements

Dr. Meggie Smith

While pondering the immense fun my baby and I were having in our three days of summer this past week, I was reminded of just how important having regular fun is in life!  I find myself often telling students and clients that we have five essential elements in our lives in order to balance the lifestyle and continue on as spiritual beings having a material world experience.  They are:  healthy eating habits, regular exercise, stress management practices, intellectual stimulation and FUN!  One important reminder is that as essential as these aspects of our living are, they are entirely subjective.  What one defines as intellectual stimulation or fun may be very different from someone else, your partner, your kids, etc.  Something to think about!

1) Healthy Eating Habits can be different for each person’s tastes, preferences, or even if they are using Ayurveda or Chinese Medicine understandings of how to balance health through food or moderate symptoms.  Healthy eating implies moderation in all foods and beverages, eating fresh not processed, avoiding super oily and fried foods, and eating to meet nutrient needs for body and mind.  This can be styled in so many different ways!

2) Regular Exercise means moving your body for 20-30 minutes at least three times a week.  Perhaps strength training, cardio, group fitness classes or dance are performed.  I don’t place yoga in this category because I believe a yoga practices is best applied in stress-management application and that aerobic exercise or strength training be left to body-science they represent.  I’m sure there are some who might disagree!

3) Stress-Management Techniques are a basic life skill that I believe should be taught early on in life.  Maybe even as 6 week old babies in Mom and Baby Yoga class!  In ancient times, there were more traditions alive who had practices in stress-management, mind-body health and more from Egypt, India, China, Tibet, & Africa to many Indigenous traditions of North and South America.  Nowadays, ancient practices that are readily available include Yoga and Tai Chi or Qi Gong.   Given our fast pace and immense digital stimuli, each day we must practice something that helps our neural system process our experiences and stresses in order to maintain our best health.  Without these practices, given our nature as storage vessels we will hold onto experiences instead.  This type of practices differs from a more exercisey or vinyasa approach to yoga because stress-management practices are slower.  Yes, exercise also reduces stress, and that’s why they are both on this list of five.  But, I see them as two separate practices.

4) Intellectual Stimulation speaks to lifelong learning.  We humans have a need to feel stimulated and challenged in our thought processes and without some time in our busy busy lives devoted to the study of something, this aspect of our intellect remains hungry.

5) FUN!!!  Probably the most subjective element on this list, fun may be wild abandon, solitude in nature, cooking a big feast for friends, a round of golf, CircusYoga, African dance, surfing, rock climbing,  puppet making, photography, a hobby, a passion, a small or big income stream…………..What does is mean to YOU?????

Ask yourself friends, how are you balancing these five essential life elements in your journey?  Where is your room for improvement??

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