Redefining Immunity and Expanding into Sustainable Wellbeing
Exploring deep listening, empowered nourishment, and giving to self so that we can give back to others.
This content was developed in partnership with Conscious City Guide.
The pressure to clean and purify our environments has never been so apparent. While the pungent smell of disinfectant may put our germ-focused minds at ease, it really is about time that we expand our understanding of what it means to support our immune systems through practices that are both sustainable and make us feel fully alive and well.
This pandemic offers us the opportunity to reframe the way that we have been taking care of our bodies. This isn’t just about getting by unscathed during this wild time, it’s an opportunity for us all to examine and create consistent rituals of care that allow our beings to expand into true wellbeing.
Being “healthy” isn’t only about “fighting off disease”. It means creating a lifestyle that supports a thriving body and mind. True immunity arises when we consistently take the time to rebuild and replenish our systems. Let’s begin to shift away from fear, so that we can create foundations for our beings to flourish.
The allopathic medical system has been built on a vocabulary that often positions our bodies against the external world. We hear over and over of the need to “fight” against diseases and the ever-impending threat of infection. But what is disease, really? Quite literally, it's a state of being that is absent of ease, a falling out of alignment. In order to prevent or heal from disease, it’s important for us to identify practices that bring us back to that place of balance.
Let’s reimagine the way we look at immunity, and reframe the relationship we’re building with both ourselves and with the future of our earth. We can do this by making new choices every single day. Here’s how to begin:
1. Deep listening and ritual
This is where it all starts. We can’t truly care for ourselves without being in tune with what we need. It’s the only way we’ll know how to respond to what our body is telling us. In pausing, we can sense where we’ve been looking outward for answers to feel better that really exist within. This is where ritual comes in. You probably have countless daily rituals you haven’t put a name to yet, so it helps to get intentional about it. Bringing awareness around consciously creating a space to listen to our bodies welcomes a powerful shift in our lives. Whether it’s in meditation, movement or writing, carve out a space through daily ritual to listen deeply.
Our emotions and stress levels are deeply correlated with our body’s ability to regulate our immune response and suppress disease. Ritual creates space to notice and reflect on what in your day makes you feel connected, lifted and inspired. It allows us to notice equally what or who brings a sense of feeling drained or zapped. Taking stock of how we feel allows us to make better choices for our bodies from that place of awareness. The growing body of research around emotional wellbeing – coupled with our own body’s capacity to heal – is just another reason why a daily ritual of deep listening is part of anchoring ourselves upon a strong foundation, leading to immunity-building behaviors.
2. Food as preventative care
From the foundation of deep listening, we can begin to approach our food with the same consciousness. What makes us feel the most alive is usually what is best for our health. Finding out this answer is a process of trial and error that will be unique to each body. As general guidance – natural, whole, and local and/or organic foods fuel our bodies in ways that refined sugars or processed carbohydrates just can’t. As MD and author of Conscious Eating Gabriel Cousens shares, “Food, plant food specifically, is a condensation of the sun’s energy...[so] in the process of eating food, the cosmic, solar, stellar, lunar and other universal energies stored in the food are released to be absorbed directly into our bodies. We can experience the whole universe in each bite of our food.” Who wouldn’t want that?
We cannot wait until our systems burn out in order to pay attention. And we don’t have to. Preventative medicine exists within the food we eat.
Fire cider is an incredible example of an immune-boosting recipe that is both food and medicine, says herbalist Herbalist Leslie Bish. “It is an anti-inflammatory cider used to boost the immune system and aid the upper respiratory tract. The desired effect of the ingredients is to provide an antiviral and antibacterial kick, while creating a circulatory effect on congested sinuses. Fire cider can be taken daily as an immune booster, or as needed during sickness to break up mucosa and warm the body.” Make your own fire cider at the recipe here.
3. Own what being well means for you
There is no one single way to be healthy. The only common thread in caring for our bodies is developing a deep trust and ability to listen to what we need. Everything else is just a signpost along the way that should help guide us.
Let go of the controlling, rigid, and should-filled approach. Make it fun. Let the process of caring for you be unique. Play around with rituals and practices that feed your creativity and enhance your sense of self. Do you love making a morning smoothie? Do you have a *thing* for erotic sci-fi novels? Does putting on Billie Holiday while you put fresh linens on your bed feel amazing? Anything goes, as long as it’s contributing to this sense of making space for yourself to replenish, and to bask in a space of safety and nourishment.
4. Showing up for yourself so that you can show up for others
When we show up for ourselves, we can truly show up for those around us. During this time of upheaval and great change, making choices that contribute to our body’s vitality is the first step in showing up for our broader community from a place of awareness, accountability and empowerment. As psychotherapist and writer Minaa B shares, “We heal for ourselves first so that we can collectively create change together” -- and that’s certainly an approach we can raise a shot of fire cider to.
Photo courtesy of Anne Shvets.
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