You can feel it as soon as you meet some people – that certain something; an inner spark that radiates outwards, brightening everything with an invisible glow. Recognised by an array of cultures, this elusive quality goes by many names: chi, ki, prana, élan vital, life force, verve, vigour, energy.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s call it vitality, a term the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as ‘capacity to live and develop; physical or mental vigor especially when highly developed’ and the Oxford Dictionary defines as ‘the state of being strong and active; energy’.
But more pressing than semantics is the question, why do some people project this attribute so strongly, while others seem to hardly possess it all? And more importantly, if we find we’re lacking, how can we create more vitality in our lives? While the answers are even less clear than the meaning of the term itself, here are some ideas taken from cultures and idealogies across the globe.
Meditation might seem like hocus pocus to some, but scientific studies have revealed that this age-old Eastern art has a myriad of undeniable benefits, including improving physical health, honing mental focus, relieving stress and inducing a state of calm and relaxation. In other words, at the same time as providing building blocks for vitality, it combats some of the elements that drain it.
While it might be the last thing you feel like doing if you’re battling low mental and physical energy, there’s nothing like a workout (even a gentle one) to boost your state of being. A brisk 20 to 30-minute walk three to five times a week is a sure-fire way to improve your health and well-being. Alternatively, try yoga – this ancient Indian discipline was designed to harness and expand life force through the practise of asanas (postures) and breathing techniques.
Beware of energy vampires
Take an inventory of people in your life who lift your energy, and those who sap it, says psychiatrist Judith Orloff. Try to maximize the time you spend with the boosters and give the vampires a miss. If you can’t avoid them (for instance, in the workplace), set clear boundaries as to what you are and aren’t prepared to tolerate and stick to them.
Though eating a balanced diet is the cornerstone of good health, it’s far too often neglected in our modern world of fast paces and fast foods. Concentrate on getting plenty of high quality protein, high-fibre vegetables and fresh fruits and steer clear of processed foods, refined sugars and carbohydrates, trans and saturated fats, caffeine and alcohol.
Do things differently
When we get stuck in a rut of repeating the same experiences and approaches to life our brains become ‘hard-wired’ and we cease creating neural tracts. In contrast, by changing our routine and exposing ourselves to new experiences, we ‘rewire’ the brain by forming new pathways along which the synapses can travel, elevating cognitive vitality.
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