Gratitude: for your mind, body and soul

February 14, 2024

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Max Wills shares his daily routine for ultimate power and inner peace

The first thing I do when I wake up is drink water. Hydration is always first. This tells your body to wake up and get rid of any tiredness. Then, I like to exercise and feel how my body reacts to pressure and stress from weights.

When you put your body under physical tension, it releases powerful growth hormones like testosterone, adrenaline and cortisol to help you manage this external force. Also, your heart rate increases, your blood begins to pump harder, and you can breathe better. This is why I tend to start my day with a workout, so I get my body moving and energy flowing.

Then I wind down by engaging in Qigong routines on YouTube. Qigong is an ancient Chinese practice of breathing and movement. This helps to quiet my mind and bring focus into my body. Through breathing, and slow, mindful movement you can direct your energy like the flow of a river.

After a workout, I tend to have a cold shower (but not always!) to clean the sweat, dirt and gunk from my body. Cold showers help me to wake up and recover after a heavy workout. I let the water run on each part of my body and especially my neck to stimulate the vagus nerve which controls important body functions such as your digestion, heart rate and immune system.

Although cold showers are hard, they are one of the best things you can do. You become stronger, healthier, more resilient and disciplined, and alive and awake.

After this I like to have breakfast. I don’t eat first thing as I feel like having to digest something slows you down. The word breakfast is literally ‘break-fast’. Fasting in the morning is good as it means your body is clear of all things and as a result, you feel much lighter!

However, some people can be very antsy if they haven’t had anything to eat so maybe this just applies to me! Anyway, ‘break-fast’ consists of a healthy portion of blueberries, walnuts, ginger, cinnamon, soya milk, dark chocolate, honey and oats.

Blueberries are a fantastic superfood that increases the efficiency of your red blood cells so you can take in more oxygen. I cannot stress how much I love them for this! Walnuts are superb for your brain and a natural source of fat. Ginger and cinnamon go hand in hand as great spices for immune strength. Soya milk is great for calcium and protein, and good for the world.

Breathing and meditation have become so integral to my life, and they have really helped in some awful situations

Dark chocolate has antioxidants which can help prevent certain diseases. Honey is an anti-inflammatory, but I have it just because it is so sweet and delicious. Finally, the oats are from Scotland, so they must be good!

Breathing and meditation have become so integral to my life, and they have really helped in some awful situations. By consciously breathing in and out, I can slow my heart rate or speed it up. Moving the energy within me helps to calm me down and remind me of my purpose. It’s not to get worked up, mad or sad, or try to force anything, but to understand that I am a part of life. Like a leaf on a tree or fish in the sea, I am caught in the waves and there is nothing I can do about it except enjoy.

There are a lot of breathing exercises you can do. The first is simply being aware of your breath. How does it feel when breathing in, and breathing out? Next is breath of fire, a Hindu exercise, where you breathe in and out of your belly for one minute, a bit like a dog panting! This will fill you with good, clean energy, and you will feel refreshed!

The last technique I do is the Wim Hof method, where you take slow, deep, rhythmic breaths for one minute, then breathe out all your oxygen at the end. Hold this for another minute, or as long as you can. Now breathe in as much as you can. Hold this for about 15 seconds. Then breathe out and relax. That’s Wim Hof!

Learning about my body through breathing exercises has shown me that there is more to life than the physical world. It has opened me up to a world of energy. It has shown me the power of my heart, the intelligence of my mind and the intuition of my gut.

By practising prayer and meditation, I have discovered a great peace which has replaced my anxieties, fears and problems. By being aware of my body and breathing deeply, I slow down the thoughts in my mind and listen to the silence instead. I like to pray by saying thank you. Through this I channel the energy in my heart and say what I am grateful for.

This is usually my parents, friends or opportunities but eventually the love from my heart becomes free flowing and I can be thankful for anything. Even things which I don’t like, such as sickness, sadness, and suffering. They have a purpose too.

Building this deep connection with life through meditation and practising gratitude has shown me how to not be swayed by emotions and impulses that can lead me in directions which are not always healthy.

Recognise the beauty that lies beneath all things, good and bad.

Max is a recent Psychology Graduate of Sussex University. He does part-time work for the BBC and is planning to become a teacher’s assistant at a primary school. He loves to make music and create stories and is currently working an album and movie. “Thank you, Exposure, for giving me a voice.”

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