When you think of improving your health and happiness, what do you think about? Is it diet? Is it money? Or is it even having that dream house with a nice car? We all have different dreams, but the thing that connects us all is the fact that we believe these dreams will make us happy.
Happiness is something that has been studied for a long time. Itís something that we cannot fully grasp. We may see happy people walking past us, but we never know why theyíre so happy and what their secret is.
As the Buddhists say ìthe secret of happiness lies in the mindís release of worldly tiesî, but do we really need to do that? Iíve gathered five simple ways you can improve your health and happiness without giving up that which makes our lives interesting.
1. Yogic Breathing
One of the five principles of Yoga is Pranayama. It is a breathing exercise that promotes proper breathing. Pretty simple, right? Proper breathing in the Yogic sense is to bring more oxygen to your brain and blood, while also controlling the Prana (life force energy).
Yogic breathing can seem mystical at first, but once you learn and try it a few times itís just like regular breathing with a few modifications. About 4 years ago, I traveled to Valencia, Spain and attended a small seminar where I learned yogic breathing.
It felt awkward at first, but as I practiced I noticed a sense of calm and serenity come over me. It is believed that practicing the Asanas (yoga poses) with Pranayama (proper breathing) is the highest form of purification and self-discipline.
Sungazing is an interesting concept, which involves gazing at the sun to give your body the nourishment it requires. It is somewhat controversial and if you read about it, you will no doubt run into a man called Hira Ratan Manek.
He has been followed and studied by scientists, but there is still an aura of controversy around this particular subject, and rightly so. Hira Ratan Manek claims to live mostly on the nourishment from the sun. He says that he occasionally drinks tea, coffee and buttermilk for hospitality and social purposes.
Whether this is true or not, I do not know, but it is always fascinating to expand your mind and read about new things. Dr Shah, which was one of the people who followed and documented Hira Ratan Manek wrote a synopsis on the whole matter.
I hail from Northern Sweden and have Finnish parents, so I know everything about the Sauna. Well okay, not everything, but I do know that it has some pretty impressive health benefits, and then you have the infrared sauna, which is often believed to be more powerful than the regular one.
One of the best ways I have used the sauna when I lived in Sweden (I moved to Spain recently) was when I was about to get a cold and felt a sore throat coming on. I would jump into the sauna and take deep breaths of hot, steamy air.
It has even been shown that taking cold showers in conjunction with a sauna challenges your immune system and reduces stress hormones. If you ever have the possibility of trying a real sauna, where it can get very hot, make sure you check it out. It can get uncomfortable, so itís a useful way to build discipline as well.
4. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is an Indian folk remedy, where you take an oil, such as sunflower oil, and you swish it in your mouth in the morning before eating anything for about 10-20 minutes. The Hindu Business Line has written an interesting article on this.
A few smaller studies have shown that oil pulling can help against certain bacteria in your mouth, but other than that oil pulling is often thought of as something that doesnít work. When I first read about it, I was fascinated and wanted to try it for myself.
My dentist appointments are usually a year apart, because I usually have no problems with my teeth, other than some minor plaque. However, when I started oil pulling and went to the dentist 3-4 months later, I had no plaque and no other problems whatsoever.
My girlfriend did the same thing and also got glowing feedback from the dentist. This convinced us that it is a valid practice that actually works, at least for us.
Although there are no official studies done, you can find many personal reports all around the web. I personally will continue to do my morning oil pulling whenever possible. I have found cold-pressed coconut oil to be particularly effective in whitening my teeth.
5. Finding Your Passion
Finding your passion is not an easy task. If it was, more people would be following their hearts and living out their dream life. I recently decided to take the plunge and start pursuing one of my passions, which is writing and helping people improve their lives.
I initially ran into a lot of fear and mental blocks, but I decided to keep going even though I felt confused and scared. Sometimes we have to accept the uncomfortable so we can move towards what we really want.
If you havenít read about the worldís oldest case study on happiness, you might want to check it out, because it can really open your eyes and remind you that it is the simple things in life that improve your health and happiness.
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