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The teachings of our ancestors and elders are within our reach and our understanding. They tell us that we are all related and connected to everything else: everything on earth, the sky, the stars and the whole universe. Being related and connected warrants respect. We hold everything and everyone with high regard.
The earth, referred to in cultural teachings as our Mother, provides for us just like our own biological mothers: food, clothing, protection, safety, and security. Sometimes, we overlook our connection to her and we forget to treat Mother Earth as our ancestors instructed.
The time to practice the teachings of our ancestors and elders is now. We can start by being more aware and respectful of our environment. Keep it simple by taking shorter showers and by turning off the water in between scrubs when we brush our teeth. We can grow our own food and use plant-based food scraps for composting. We can reduce weekly household waste by recycling or reusing. We can lend our voices to speak on behalf of Mother Earth by writing letters or by joining an environmental demonstration march or workshop.
Whatever the action, it starts with awareness. To help you get started, the Native Wellness Institute is pleased to offer this beautiful set of posters, free, for you to print and share in your community. Our future generations and Mother Earth are counting on us!
We are two weeks into 2014 and the most common question I’ve been asked is this: “Have you broken your New Year’s resolution yet?” If you look closely at this question, it is telling of our collective perception of the term resolution. The question implies that resolutions are meant to be broken. This idea is so ingrained in our consciousness that breaking our resolutions is not only accepted, but it is expected!
What are the most common resolutions? Many involve a change in habit. People resolve to either stop or quit a certain behavior. According to surveys, the number one resolution is to lose weight. The phrasing of our resolutions is important because words such as stop, quit or lose do not motivate us. After all, who wants to be considered a quitter or a loser?
One resolution I made several years ago was to stop drinking soda. I was an avid soda drinker. Not only did I drink soda with every meal; it was my most common drink throughout the day. When adding up all of the supersized drinks, thirst-busters, and free refills, it wouldn’t be ridiculous to assume that I consumed at least 2 gallons of soda per day! Knowing that this habit was going to wreak havoc on my body in years to come, I decided it was time for a change. So when the next New Year rolled around, I resolved to quit drinking soda. My first attempt lasted 3 months. The next attempt lasted 5 months. The next one, I only made it 3 weeks. It was not going well for me. I also noticed a trend in my soda relapses. Whenever I broke my soda resolution, I would go on a soda binge! Does this sound familiar?
Then along came a book entitled The Hidden Messages of Water by Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese scholar. In his book, Dr. Emoto explores the consciousness of water as a spiritual being. While reading it, I began to think about the traditional beliefs of our Native people about water. So I began asking. I asked anyone who was older than me. I found out that different regions have different beliefs, but that there are commonalities.
Water is our greatest medicine. Within water is the physical and spiritual connection to all living matter and all of creation. Water carries the messages of the Creator. Water is sacred and every meal should be considered ceremonial. Water purifies our mind, body and spirit.
Water is the key to wellness.
In becoming more “water aware,” I noticed changes in my behavior. I spent more time in the water: swimming, sitting in the hot tub or participating in water ceremonies. I was starting to collect water from different lakes and rivers. I also noticed one unintentional and very positive habit. I was drinking more water. I began to drink water with all of my meals. I drank water when I got thirsty. Water became my morning drink. By drinking more water, I significantly reduced my soda intake. I went from drinking 2 gallons a day to about 24 ounces a month! The only time I do drink soda is when I go to the movies and I average about 2 movies a month. Most importantly, there are no more soda drinking binges.
What I have found is that when I focus more on getting rid of something (soda), I fail. When I focus more on wanting something (water), I am successful. When we focus on being more positive and proactive, we are more productive.
Try this! Instead of using the phrase “New Year’s resolution”, try saying “New Me Revolution!” Only people who take action can be revolutionary. Only decisive and intelligent beings can create meaningful change. In order to act differently, we must think differently.
Think for a minute. What are your traditional tribal teachings about food, fitness, finances and fun? If you applied these teachings to your belief system, wouldn’t that be revolutionary for you?
And to those of you who think you have broken your New Year’s resolutions after two weeks, keep this in mind. In the two weeks that you did go to the gym, or the two weeks that you did eat more veggies, or the two weeks that you did not use alcohol, I say congratulations! Two weeks being more healthy and well is a huge step. Continue to evolve. You are on your way to being that New You that you want to be!
About the Author
Robert Johnston (Creek/Choctaw) is a founding board member of the Native Wellness Institute and a motivational speaker, coach, and entertainer. He is the lead youth trainer for the Native Wellness Institute. Robert is a certified hypnotist whose hypnosis shows have delighted Native communities all over the United States and Canada. His mantra is “When you hold back, you stand behind the mountain. When you step up, you stand on top of it!”
Happy New Year, friends! We have joined the wide world of blogging.
2013 was an amazing year in the Native wellness world. We were fortunate to see many of our long-time friends and to make new ones, young and old. We visited many of your communities throughout the United States and Canada. We even made an incredible trip to visit our friends in Australia.
Wellness means we constantly strive for balance. Together in wellness, we can get through anything! We all deserve healing, happiness and joy.
We are looking forward to meeting you along the wellness path in 2014. We invite you use this blog to share your experiences, thoughts, reflections, and stories with us and our readers.
So again, Happy New Year and happy wellness blogging!
About This Blog
The Native Wellness Institute knows that wellness takes hold every day all over Indian Country. We invite you to tell us what is happening in your family, organization, tribe, or community. Send us a short article (1-3 paragraphs) with your activities, experiences or thoughts. Please include photos or videos and a little bit of information about you. We may edit some of the content if needed and then share it with our readers! Please send your blog submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.