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Graduation season is upon us. I have attended my share this week alone. For the graduates, it’s a time to reflect on the path behind and to envision the path ahead. Often there is a feeling of gratitude for our families, community of friends and fellow students for their support and inspiration along the way.

Through tear-filled eyes the graduates recount their journey, “I couldn’t do this alone” and “Your support carried me when I was ready to give up.”

A support system can keep us on track and remind us when we are losing our way

After working in Ornish Lifestyle Medicine for the past 24 years, these comments are reminiscent of what the participants often say at their graduation. With the help and support of community, our lives are lifted. This has been proven in our research. While the program delivers four equally weighted modalities that help to reverse heart disease, one of the most powerful of those modalities is Love and Support.

Not only does the program subscribe to love and support as one of its tools for healing the heart, but each one of the other three modalities is made more powerful when there is support.

Cooking for Each Other

In the Nutrition Element, cooking for ourselves requires dedication and time. When we share the experience of cooking with our family and friends, we are building a support system around nourishing ourselves. Our health relies on the daily preparation of food, and because we need to eat three times a day that routine can feel overwhelming at times. When we share it with others, it can take the pressure off and lend a feeling of support. This feeling will even inspire the preparation of food. If you don’t have family to support you, you might consider rotating meal preparation with a group of like-minded friends and then share a meal together.

Friends Inspire Fitness

In the Fitness element, exercising with friends or family can inspire our routines and make them enjoyable and fun. I’m always encouraged when I watch marathon runners and the support they give to each other along the way. Even the crowds cheering helps to raise the energy and carry them along when they feel they just can’t go another step. When we make a date to walk or exercise with friends regularly, it picks us up when we might otherwise talk ourselves out of it.

Community Deepens Your Yoga Practice

In the Stress Management element, support can be the thing that keeps us returning to our practices and looking inward. Yoga is a very internal process, but just the feeling of someone else practicing with us can not only help us stay disciplined, but it can lend support for a practice that is deep and meaningful.

Yoga invites us to meet ourselves in ways that our modern life doesn’t always recognize. It provides a foundation for knowing ourselves from the inside. We meet our edges, our resistance, our compassion, our fear and our light all with the same quality of equanimity and non-judgement. It is easy to get caught in our old habits of judgement when we begin to witness ourselves in these ways. A support system can keep us on track and remind us when we are losing our way. One way to create support around yoga is to practice with others, or even meet to study and talk about the benefits and challenges you are experiencing in your own practice.

As you begin to reach out, you may find different support systems for each one of these key areas of health and well-being. As we get better at finding support it’s like putting down roots, only then can we truly bloom.

What are the support systems you have put in place around your healthy lifestyle practices?

Contributed by

Susi Amendola
Stress Management Specialist

What have you done to remind yourself of the things that have meaning for you?

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