Filmmaker Thomas Wade Jackson and Producer Victoria Moran have created a documentary well worth watching: A Prayer for Compassion. You can learn more about this at their respective websites: http://aprayerforcompassion.com/ and https://mainstreetvegan.com/a-prayer-for-compassion/
But today, I want to highlight Jackson’s Four Pillars of Well-Being. As he said:
“At the midpoint of filming A Prayer For Compassion — an adventure composing some three-and-a-half years — I realized that if I was going to challenge people to have more self-compassion and take better care of themselves, I would need to start doing that myself. After some time trying to practice what I intended to preach, I discovered what I call my “Four Pillars of Well-Being.” I found that each day I practiced these, to the best of my ability, I felt great. My overall sense of ease seemed to grow. I was finding it hard to get anxious about things that used to worry me. Instead, I had the energy and clarity to discover solutions to the challenges that mattered and let go of those that didn’t.
THE FOUR PILLARS OF WELL-BEING
- Eating clean, healthful, vegan (nonviolent) food. I start my day by making a fruit-and-greens smoothie with ground flax and chia seeds to jumpstart my intake of micronutrients and ALA (an Omega-3 fatty acid). I sip on this smoothie throughout the day. This is just one example of caring for the body temple with food. A quick internet search can provide you with information on making the most health-promoting food choices.
- Exercise and stretching. Movement is another way I increase my energy flow and perform much needed maintenance on the sacred temple that houses my spirit. My favorite kinds of year-round exercise are hiking in nature, riding my bike, working out at the gym, and yoga; I add on swimming and canoeing in the summer. There are so many ways to move our bodies.
- Meditation and prayer. In these inner pursuits I find my deepest connection to love and peace. In fact, prayer and meditation are directly responsible for the making of A Prayer For Compassion. They sparked the idea and guided me on every aspect of the journey. Meditation has become a wonderful tool that I use throughout the day. I’ve learned not to put rules on meditation, nor judge the way it’s manifesting for me in the moment. Sometimes meditation is just going within for a few minutes to shift gears and refocus between disparate tasks, or to quietly prepare for a meeting or conversation. Sometimes innovative thoughts come up, so I jot them down and go back within to find another thought waiting. I continue to write them until I either find the silence again or I run out of time. Sometimes I chant “Om,” the primordial sound in the Indian traditions, or hold a thought such as, “I am an instrument of peace.” And sometimes I just listen deeply within and feel my interconnectedness to all things. Meditation and prayer are personal, but there are techniques, resources and even apps to help you discover what works for you.
- Sleep. This was the last pillar I added — probably because I truly love life and didn’t want to miss anything. I combined this discipline with the other three and found that together they create an overall feeling of well-being that continues to grow. There is a wealth of recent research around sleep which demonstrates the amazing benefits from getting the proper amount of it (seven to 8.5 hours is the range the researchers recommend). The right amount of quality sleep enhances mental clarity and sharpness, decreases inflammation in the body, offsets depression, and may even lead to a longer lifespan. Even so, many of us take sleep for granted and push ourselves to survive on the bare minimum. You deserve better.
I have to be honest that as a single dad and self-employed person, there are days where I leave out one or more of these pillars. Whether a rapidly approaching deadline or a dizzying travel schedule is to blame, I simply do the best I can in the moment, ever remembering to treat myself the way I would treat a dear friend, with kindness and compassion. I remind myself that it’s about progress, not perfection, and strive to trust the divine flow of things.
The Four Pillars are foundational in creating well-being, but they’re just the beginning. There are many other attitudes and practices that can add to our sense of peace, purpose, and connection. Loving relationships with those in our lives, giving back to the world around us, and indulging in activities that feed our soul are all on the list. For me, spending time in nature, having play dates with my daughter, and making music are favorites. For someone else it might be preparing and sharing healthy vegan food, reading a good book, or becoming engrossed in a play or a lecture. It’s simply a matter of making sure we give ample priority to what makes our heart sing. Whether it’s a once-a-month jam session with friends or making jam with a child, parent, or partner, I challenge you to take more time to nurture your soul.“
Today, 2/23/23, is an easy date to remember. Why not consider one or more of these four pillars for your life? Why not check out the documentary?
As the cliche goes, today is the first day of the rest of your life. Let us make the most of it.
Good post with good info! 🙏
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A classic list Patrick. When I worked as a fitness coach I used Nutrition, Exercise, Mental Health and Sleep as my big four template. Same thing as you’ve written just different labels. Used it personally for weight loss too, added together they are a complete system. Sorry not much commenting these days, serious health issue with son in law and daughter living at home till resolved. 🙏🕉🙏
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Sorry to hear about the health issues but know they are in good hands with you. _/\_
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