People regularly ask me if I have always been this conscious about health and well-being, and about the consequences of my actions on the environment. The answer is a definite NO when it comes to health, and a 'yes sort of' when it comes to the ecological side of things. There was never much consciousness around healthy eating or healthy living as I was growing up. Both my parents smoked when I was young and my mother still does; both drink; and both eat a pretty unhealthy diet. To be fair, my mum did try her best to get us to eat more vegetables and fruit when we were growing up, but vegetables for me were rabbit-food (I happily borrowed that phrase from my dad who would use it daily), and for nearly every meal I would substitute my portion vegetables with a second piece of meat. That lasted well into my years at university. As to healthcare, my parents blindly trusted (and still trust) their GP and the pharmaceutical industry and would insist on us taking antibiotics for a common cold. I remember having to plead for 3 years with both my parents and my GP to be allowed to see my first chiropractor for the migraines and scoliosis I was suffering from so badly! And I was already in my early twenties at that stage, but they would still not allow it. Both are still extremely reluctant about the path in life I have chosen a few years ago: that of teaching yoga, becoming a health and nutrition adviser, massage therapist, and counselor, after I initially had a very successful 10 year career in academia. On the other hand, both have always been very active when it comes to social justice (my mother was a social assistant, my father a union leader) and have always supported the Green Party. But while they do pay a lot of attention to their ecological footprints in certain ways, there is an incomprehensible lack of awareness and care in certain other ways, which absolutely baffles me.
My upbringing did plant some seeds of consciousness in the sense that I have only ever voted for the Green Party myself, I have always given dasvandh to different nature-protection organisations, and I never got a driver's license, for a large part because I don't want to pollute in that way so I consciously choose to use public transport, my bike, my own two feet, or drive together with someone.
Consciousness in the products I used for skincare came quite naturally too. I gradually started replacing store-bought shower gels with natural organic body oils which I apply before I have my cold shower. The few skincare products I would ever use (like a day cream) would usually come from health stores that only sell products not tested on animals, but up until about a year ago I could just as easily go back to buying my products for Poundland for months on end again, sinking back into that state of non-awareness of the impact of these products on my body and on the planet. I definitely never ever thought I would one day start experimenting with making any products myself!
It's still an ongoing process and there are still quite a few things I want to replace but haven't found a good solution for, but I'm already quite happy with where it has got me. And I'm incredibly happy to have just married an Indian Sikh man who shares this environmental consciousness and who does his own research into how we can live with awareness for our own health, the health of the family we hope to raise if Guru Sahib does kirpa, and the well-being of this planet. He is particularly inspired by all forms of sustainable living and is researching alternative house-building options for us, which we are both incredibly excited about. There are so many amazing alternatives out there! I'm hoping he will start contributing to this blog on that area soon himself :)
So for anyone thinking that they are too old or too much set in their habits to make changes like these, I hope that sharing my own personal journey has helped in convincing you: it doesn't matter what your lifestyle is right now, you can always start making changes towards more health for yourself and the world around you!
Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh