Focus on Improving Emotional Health, Keep Illness at Bay

The holistic nutritionist and wellness coach’s devotion to this form of introspection stems from an understanding that emotional well-being is as important as physical well-being.

As soon as we meet, Luke Coutinho emphasises that there are four pillars for great health: nutrition, exercise, sleep and detox. One needs all four to live holistically, especially when “most lifestyle diseases today,” he says, “have their roots in poor emotional health”.

Often ignored, poor emotional health is the real epidemic. For instance, when Coutinho asks his patients what they are missing in their lives, the answers: love or appreciation, rarely surprise him.

The problem, he believes, is in the way we are approaching health: “We give these people medicines… naturally, we’re good at treatment and not healing.”

Healing is not complicated, and a simple step towards it requires no gyms or fancy diet plans. All you need is some space and a willingness to sit with your eyes shut.

Meditation a must

Meditation came into Coutinho’s life when he started seeing cases of cancer and death. And it stayed. “My meditation practise keeps me away from burnout,” he says.

We are all chasing success and are stressing along the way, but Coutinho believes in looking at it differently. “For me, success is when you can have it all and still maintain your health physically and emotionally.”

And if, while trying to pursue your goals, you start to feel hollow, and consider quitting your job or travelling or turning towards spirituality, it’s because, Coutinho says, “that’s what your life is lacking”. “Beach life, mountain life, spirituality, meditation, the reason we start to crave it is because we’re lacking it.”

The solution is simple. Meditate and pay attention to both your physical and emotional well-being.

Don’t eliminate thoughts

Coutinho’s day begins with a five-minute breathing exercise he uses to centre himself. “The more oxygen I inhale, the more energy I get,” he says, which readies him for a 30-minute meditation practise in the morning.

His process of mediation, too, is neither complex nor intimidating.

“I don’t sit cross-legged. I sit with my back straight and focus on my breathing: inhale, exhale. That’s it. Sometimes I add a number to keep myself anchored. I inhale for four seconds, hold for seven seconds and exhale for eight.”

“The most common meditation is: I close my eyes and that’s the message I want to give people. Most people try to silence their minds. You don’t have to do that. You just have to focus on your breathing. Doing that, your mind automatically becomes calm, and that’s what meditation is about. You silence your mind for 10 minutes and then you’re back in reality and then it’s a shock. It’s better you come out calm which is more realistic for our life.”

If meditation has intimidated you thus far, know that it can also just be about watching your breath. And all you need to do to let it take hold of your life is, Coutinho says, “the discipline to start”.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- Marcus Aurelius

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