Happy and Healthy in One Hour

by davestone13

Two small, easy tweaks in your daily routine may be all you need to color your life with health and happiness

Does it seem odd that almost every formula you hear about promising happiness and good health involves doing things you know you won't enjoy? It seems contradictory, doesn't it?

I've spent years checking out everything on my two favorite subjects. (They are inseparable, I found.) I read lots of books and articles and use myself as a guinea pig. How could I recommend anything for my readers, if I wasn't willing to try it myself?

I wrote two books and numerous articles about what I found.

The interesting thing is, the answers got simpler as they became clearer. Today, I can offer you two simple things to include in your daily routine and assure you 1) you'll feel happier and healthier right away and 2) if you stick with them, you will find paths to deeper well-being than you thought likely.

I'm the guinea pig, right? I'll share my results as we go along, but I can tell you upfront that I am the world's happiest man. As for health, I don't even get colds anymore, I never miss a day because of sickness, and I get along well on no more than seven hours sleep per day.

Below are two simple things to merge into your daily life, and the truth is, it won't even take an hour. I used that number to make the headline simpler.

Minimum requirement: 39 minutes, although your mileage may vary.

Health and Happiness: Step One

First, You Meditate

Meditation is like using a tuning fork for your spirit. Unlike with music, all of us can hit the perfect spiritual pitch. It's easy to do.

(If you already meditate, stay with me. You might tweak your practice a little. If you don't meditate, start. It's the easiest thing you can do for the most benefit to yourself. The next best isn't even on the horizon.)

I once heard Marianne Williamson tell an audience that she'd no sooner go without her daily meditation than her daily shower. I agree. Missing either makes me feel awful. The comparison is precise. It's just a matter of what you refresh, your spanking clean body or your sparkling clear spiritual tone.

Less Than Perfect Meditation

I was surprised to read a poll recently showing that, while most people would like to try meditation, the problem was that they didn't know how. Yikes!

Nothing is easier than meditation, and I can only imagine that guru efforts to make more of this simple practice than it basically is convinced people there is some kind of challenge involved. Follow my easy instructions, and the only real challenge you'll have is staying awake.

Some people are so stressed out they never sleep well. These are probably the ones that benefit most from meditation, but when they start, the deep relaxation may deliver them straight to dreamland. Personally, I've used meditation like a sleeping pill. No side effects.

My point is, go easy with it. Meditation isn't something you build up to; it's what you settle into.

How To Do It

No need to take notes. Meditation is so easy, my cats do it all the time. They don't have to think about it, and neither do you.

  • Pick a time, preferably the same time every day, when you won't be disturbed. I get up early and meditate before the rest of my world wakes up, except the cats. I have no trouble with a cat napping on my lap, by the way. You may want a room where you can be alone.
  • Sit as relaxed as you can. No lotus positions required. Get comfy and warm.
  • Breathe deeply and evenly and focus on your breathing. Your mind may drift. If it does, gently bring your attention back. You spirit will come in, if you give it time, but the man thing is to let that breathing relax you like a tub of warm water.

You only need to do this for fifteen minutes a day. Nothing says you can't go longer, but fifteen will do it. Go ahead and set an alarm if you want. My inner timer takes care of it for me. Just like when I'm done showering, I'm done meditating when it feels right.

If you'd like some easy meditation help...

Try a simple guide
An Easy Guide to MeditationEasy Meditation Lessons

Why Meditation is Ultra Important for Health and Happiness

It's Personal

Really, there is nobody else like you. To really get the most out of your life, you have to discover what makes your heart sing and your spirit dance to the tune.

What I discovered about meditation, and the big reason I'm sharing it with you, is that there is no better pathway to understanding how special you are within your complicated personal universe. 

  • Estimates vary, but the consensus is that the making of You requires 37 trillion cells, all with a roll to play in your universe on two legs. Your special composition is unlike any other, no matter how many legs it's on.
  • 100 billion of those cells are neurons making up your brain, but what makes you so unique are the 100 trillion synaptic connects that fire 5 to 50 times per second between them. Nobody really knows how much of that process you control through your conscious awareness, but it's somewhere between 1 and 100%.
  • Experts and commentators have this horrible practice of saying our brains are "wired," as if the connections and processes are all set and we roll along like little robots. Nothing could be farther from the truth, first because there are no wires, only transient, extremely rapid and changing connections and, second, if we were all so automatic, wouldn't life just be a whole lot easier?

Think about it. Think about you. Most of the experts didn't.

Where meditation comes in is on the road to insights into what makes you You. You will never see all the cells or manage all the synapses firing twenty-four a day, but mediation will gradually show you the bigger picture.

With the bigger picture comes the possibility of big control. Some of us find that we don't just see it, we decide what the weather's like and what our personal universe is made of.

What most people you pass on the street don't know is that they are already at the helm of their universe. They don't know because they aren't paying attention to how much their thoughts do to deliver results. 

But we already know that meditators have been observed changing their own heart rate, lowering their respirations and blood pressure along with other things everyone knows we can't do.

Or can we?

Buddha in Repose


Spiritually Fit / Physically Flacid

The Way Out

How would you like to be spiritually uplifted but still look like the Buddha above?

Of course, every artist doesn't express Buddha as a fat slob, but I'm making a point that to be spiritually sound is one thing, to be physically well quite another.

Frankly, I think it's nearly impossible for most people to be spiritually sound and physically unsound. But I also believe we can maximize our physical fitness to match our high-flying spirits and that it's easy to do.

I know it's easy because every day I exercise my 24-minute miracle.

Here's how.

Health and Happiness: Step Two

Next You Stretch and Strengthen

Wayne Dyer was the first to impress me with the old wisdom that "when the student is ready, the teacher will come." That's never been truer.

You may not realize it, but the science of physical fitness is pretty young. Sure, we always had athletes, but it wasn't until roughly fifty years ago that scientists started looking seriously at what components are necessary under what conditions for optimal fitness. 

And by optimal fitness, I'm not talking about strength, speed, endurance or flexibility, I'm talking about all of it. 

My Fitness History 

Growing up in the country with lots of other kids my own age made fitness simple and easy. We played sports all year round, watched far less television or participated in fewer passive activities than kids do now. Our eating habits were still relatively sane. 

Maybe like you, by the time I hit adulthood, the baseball leagues and pick up football games grew fewer and fewer. My waist expanded, my muscles got weaker and even my posture suffered.

Fed up with feeling like crap, at 42, I started running. Over the next few years, I grew leaner and stronger. But the demands on my time as my career expanded forced running to become a sometime thing.

My wife found some great aerobics shows we could follow. Later came yoga and more. But either from boredom or discomfort, I found it hard to stick with any of it for long. When I noticed exercise time creeping up on me, my inner demon started feeding me excuses about why, today, I probably should skip it. 

Reluctance is not a great mental set point for physical fitness.

Then, My Wife Found Miranda

Early in the morning, when she's waking up with a cup of tea, my wife sometimes skips through the cable channels, looking for something interesting before the demands of the day swoop in. One morning, she found Classical Stretch on a public station. She recorded it, and before long we were completely hooked.

The brains behind Classical Stretch is a former ballerina, Miranda Esmonde-White. The shows feature "a full-body workout with dynamic strengthening and stretching exercises." What makes Classical Stretch different is Miranda's insistence that, although a small part of each session may be not so pleasant, most of it is filled with a refreshing feeling of your body being set free from age, stress and all the accumulated habits keeping you from feeling really great. 

After two years, the back pain that used to shoot across my lower back whenever I turned over in bed at night is gone; the creeping pains from hours each day at the keyboard are melting; and among other things, when I stand now, it's all six feet, two inches, straight up and nothing lost to slouching. 

I look and feel better than I have since I was a young guy and fitness was taken for granted.

But Miranda can show you better than I can. I'll post a couple of videos below. Watching, keep in mind that the beautifully fit lady you are watching is 66 years old. You can see that she practices what she preaches.

Oh, I forgot to mention, Classical Stretch shows are all of 24 minutes long. That's all you need to add to your 15 minutes of meditation. 39 minutes, total. 

Classical Stretch

Miranda Esmonde-White


Happy and Healthy in One Hour

So, there you have it, a simple recipe for health and fitness. They really do go hand in hand.

One thing I want to make sure you understand is that I'm not just pitching something I think will work. This is really what I do.

For the last seven years, wherever I am, I've meditated early every morning. The insights and increased understanding of myself, my strengths, which are easy to know, and my weaknesses, which have always tried to hide, are astonishing to me. All I wanted to do was relax.

Two years ago, I started a daily practice of Classical Stretch. For most of that time, we just recorded the show off New York City's public station and exercised with Miranda for free. When we cut the cable, we bough our own set of DVDs. 

The cool thing is, you can do all of this for free. You can buy a book or DVDs, if you like, but it isn't necessary. Whatever you do, the point is to establish your own entry point for your very personal happiness and great health. 

David Stone

Updated: 12/11/2014, davestone13
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