This one often surprises people, but I can't imagine moving forward on life's path without having any fun. Fun activities, whatever they might be for you, bring levity to your life. They loosen up your energy and bring in optimism. They remind you that life is meant to be joyful. Paint, dance, play with your dog or do your favorite sport...regularly!
This is my favorite pillar, and I think the most powerful of them all. Here's why: What you eat affects your body, soul and, actually, the whole world. Conscious eating just means that you become more aware and alert to the process of how your food gets to your plate, and you choose to eat what feels right according to your values of kindness and compassion.
In terms of benefits, moving away from eating animals and toward eating things that grow in the ground or on trees—things like grains and beans, fruits and veggies—helps heal your body. Within the first week of eating a plant-based diet, weight begins to drop off effortlessly. Within two weeks, blood pressure and blood sugar drop, and within three weeks, cholesterol drops significantly.
Environmentally, steering clear of eating animals is one of the very best things you can do for the environment because animal agriculture is one of the top causes of water pollution and water shortage, soil degradation and climate change. The Environmental Defense Fund tells us that if every American gave up eating animal products for one day a week for a year, it would be like taking 8 million cars off the road! How's that for being a change agent?
And as for the soulfulness factor, when you eat food that didn't cause suffering (plant food instead of animal food!), your heart opens and you feel more connected to life, more aligned with an inner integrity.
Next: Exercise, self-work, spiritual practice and service