Existential counselling is a process of guided self-discovery. The journey we take together will take us deep into what it means to be you and what you mean in this world. Along this path, it is important for you to remember that I cannot be your sherpa: I cannot carry your load; Only you can do that. To be successful on this treacherous path you will need to stay fit, take care of yourself, and take precautions. The process of self-awakening can be powerful medicine if we are willing to step up the the challenge and meet the medicine half-way. Here are some ways you can do that.
Sleep well. Keep the refuge of your bedroom scared. Reserve your bed for only one activity: sleep. Okay, maybe, two. Keep it free from light and noise. Invest in a good mattress and sheets, if you haven’t already. Stay off your phone and social media an hour before you need to be asleep. If you can’t sleep try melatonin. If your sleep isn’t restful, see a specialist. Alleviate sleep apnea with a CPAP machine can be life-changing as well as life-saving. Avoid alcohol, cannabis and sleeping pills, they will decrease the quality of your sleep. Keep a journal by your bed to record your dreams. Have good sleep hygiene, go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. If you wake before the sun, spend at least 15 minutes under full spectrum light in the morning.
Eat and drink well. Your body is a temple. That is a cliche for a reason. Eat fresh, whole, organic foods. Not too much. Plants mostly. Privilege quality over quantity. Try to hold eating sacred. Do it sitting down, with enough time to enjoy it. Do it with family and friends. Cook with love. Give thanks for your food. Eat with gratitude for the earth.
Treat your body well. Bodies were made for joyful movement. Dance, swim, walk, do yoga, do qi gong, play sports, engage in meaningful activities like tree planting or community cleanups. Avoid toxic body products. Try using vegetable glycerine or Castile soap for most things. Get a massage. Do cold plunges, take saunas. Take long baths in Epsom salts.
Treat your mind well. Give it a break. Meditate as much as you can. Relax the chatter of self-criticism and doubt. Take long walks alone without earphones or your phone. Listen to the birds sing and the wind blow. Let your mind drift where it will. Leave space in your day. Stop and actually smell a flower. Smell it and contemplate its fragrance. Imagine that the Buddha’s famous Flower Sermon is the most profound lesson you could ever learn. Get lost in a book. Go to the movies. See a play. Learn a new language. Learn to play an instrument.
Socialize well. No one can be an island. We are social animals. Take time for family and friends. Reconnect. Have engaging conversations. Do new and exciting things together. Play games. Hike. Camp. Travel. If you think you are free from the prison of your cultural programming try leaving your culture for an extended period. Make new friends with unexpected people. Engage in the dirty work of politics. Get your hands dirty in service of others. Laugh! There is more medicine in a knee-slapping belly buster than in a thousand pills.
As your guide, I will not abandon you until you have decided you can go on without me. A guide, after all, can only take you so far; the rest of the way must be walked alone. Throughout your journey, it is your practices that will serve you best.
Love and light,