Enlist the help of fitness apps. Downloading a fitness app on your phone or purchasing an activity tracker isn't necessary (so don't put off your fitness goals until you have one) but can be motivating for some people. If counting steps or reaching activity goals by using an app or tracker feels rewarding, do it! Create a favorite workout playlist. Music and movement are a powerful combination. Creating a playlist of lively tunes that make you want to move is always a great idea, plus the association day after day will become a familiar cue to which your brain and body will respond. Every gardener knows that plants can't grow without the essential elements of water, light, and properly balanced soil. If you have too much water, you will drown your plants. Too little, and they will starve. Too little light, and they will wither. Too much, and they will burn. As for the soil, only the appropriate balance of nutrients and minerals will allow your garden to thrive. Our bodies respond in the same way. Without the proper balance of the right elements, our bodies will not thrive. And when I say "our bodies," this of course means everything about our physical makeup: our brain function, metabolism, muscle tone, bone strength, energy level, immune system efficiency, sexual vitality, digestive health, and on and on. And when I say "the right elements," this means proper nutrition and hydration--food and drink that empowers the body to function at its optimal capacity. The right food will provide the right results. Walking is another very powerful indicator of strength in a conversation. When people see you walk they will gauge a lot about your personality. If you walk too quickly, you'll appear to be nervous and in a hurry.

If you walk too slowly or too erratically you appear unfocused or drunk. So, you should work to relax, stand straight and walk smoothly, without rushing any movements. The body does many things when sitting. It's an unnatural position, and therefore those without the strength or experience in sitting properly tend to slouch, stoop, or bend over in ways that are less than flattering. To end the messages sent through these poor sitting habits, consciously sit straight up, hold your shoulders back and keep your arms and legs unfolded. By maintaining a careful and open stance, your body will appear open and you will appear powerful and healthy. If you're uncomfortable sitting like this, consider some core strengthening exercises to boost the strength around your abdomen and lower back. Everyone has nervous twitches that get them into trouble. I used to rub salt from potato chips and sandwiches on my shoulder without realizing it. This bad habit actually killed a date for me back in college and probably put off a number of other people without me realizing it. Other nervous twitches I've seen people suffer from include: You know that up and down stutter of a knee under the table? It's distracting and sometimes a little unnerving, especially during calm, relaxed conversation. While you may be doing something unintentionally, any movement around your lips can be taken the wrong way, especially if you're talking to someone of the opposite sex. Avoid unintentional lip bites or licks to keep the conversation in the right quadrant. Anything that someone else might consider gross should be brought under control as soon as possible. This includes belching, scratching, gum chewing, and whatever else you can think of that is less than attractive to most people. In another series of studies, adults were put under hypnosis and told that they lived in an exotic culture, and were a different sex and race, in a previous life. A significant number of them actually developed "past life identities" that reflected the experimenter's suggestions. When other people were told that they were abused as children, they reported more abuse than people who were not given the suggestion.11 And so, false memories can easily be implanted with the use of hypnosis, leading questions, and other suggestive techniques. These suggestive techniques are so powerful that the accused may actually start to believe they committed the crime.

Consider, for example, another amazing case in which a young woman accused her father of sexually abusing her when she was a child.12 The woman gave a detailed story to police investigators, claiming that the abuse began in primary school, and that her father would have sex with either her or her sister. Her father had no memory of abusing his children. During his interrogation, however, detectives told him that he buried his memories because he couldn't face the fact of what he did to his own children. They offered him bits and pieces of information from his daughters' statements, hoping to stimulate his memory, and kept repeating three statements: (1) His daughters would not lie about something like this; (2) Sex offenders often repress their own crimes; and (3) If he admitted the allegations, his memories would return.13 After hours of interrogation, he began to remember events similar to those the detectives described. The visions were sometimes distant, but when he produced an image, the detectives (or attending therapist) would ask a leading question to bring them into focus. In the end, he confessed to sexually molesting his daughters on numerous occasions, and impregnating one of them when she was fifteen, later arranging for an abortion. Over the next two months, the accusations grew from sexual abuse to satanic ritual abuse, alleging blood drinking, cannibalism, ritual abortions, sadistic torture, and the murder of twenty-five babies. The two girls then accused their mother and two others of belonging to a cult and having sex with the girls on numerous occasions. There was no physical evidence that the girls had been abused, sexually or otherwise. There also was no evidence of infant murders or animal mutilations, and the two daughters' memories often conflicted with one another. Mindfulness is present-moment awareness. It takes place in the here and now. It is the observance of what is happening right now, in the present. It stays forever in the present, perpetually on the crest of the ongoing wave of passing time. If you are remembering your second-grade teacher, that is memory. When you then become aware that you are remembering your second-grade teacher, that is mindfulness. If you then conceptualize the process and say to yourself, "Oh, I am remembering," that is thinking. Mindfulness is nonegotistic alertness. It takes place without reference to self. With mindfulness one sees all phenomena without references to concepts like "me," "my," or "mine." For example, suppose there is pain in your left leg.

Ordinary consciousness would say, "I have a pain." Using mindfulness, one would simply note the sensation as a sensation. One would not tack on that extra concept "I." Mindfulness stops one from adding anything to perception or subtracting anything from it. One does not enhance anything. One does not emphasize anything. One just observes exactly what is there--without distortion. Mindfulness is awareness of change. It is observing the passing flow of experience. It is watching things as they are changing. It is seeing the birth, growth, and maturity of all phenomena. It is watching phenomena decay and die. Mindfulness is watching things moment by moment, continuously. It is observing all phenomena--physical, mental, or emotional--whatever is presently taking place in the mind. One just sits back and watches the show. Mindfulness is the observance of the basic nature of each passing phenomenon. It is watching the thing arising and passing away. It is seeing how that thing makes us feel and how we react to it. It is observing how it affects others. In mindfulness, one is an unbiased observer whose sole job is to keep track of the constantly passing show of the universe within. Please note that last point. In mindfulness, one watches the universe within.

The meditator who is developing mindfulness is not concerned with the external universe. It is there, but in meditation, one's field of study is one's own experience, one's thoughts, one's feelings, and one's perceptions. In meditation, one is one's own laboratory. The universe within has an enormous fund of information containing the reflection of the external world and much more. An examination of this material leads to total freedom. We sometimes hear it said of Olympic athletes or others who physically perform at a high level, "Her body is a well-oiled machine!" I have news for you: God created your body to be a well-oiled machine, too, whether or not you run marathons, swim a hundred laps every day, or cycle long distances. The psalmist had a more poetic description of the human body, saying we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" by our Creator (Psalm 139:14). Your body and mind form an intricate, delicate system . God designed our bodies and the earth's rich food sources to work in harmony, bringing us maximum health and wellness. Over the past few decades, numerous research studies have demonstrated again and again the undeniable link between proper nutrition and mental health. I appreciate the words of Harvard Medical School's Monique Tello, MD, who says, "Diet is such an important component of mental health that it has inspired an entire field of medicine called nutritional psychiatry. What it boils down to is that what we eat matters for every aspect of our health, but especially our mental health. Several recent research analyses looking at multiple studies support that there is a link between what one eats and our risk of depression, specifically." Because the girls' stories were becoming increasingly more bizarre, Richard Ofshe, an expert on cults and mind control from the University of California at Berkeley, was brought in to evaluate the case. Ofshe conducted a field experiment, telling the father, "I was talking to one of your sons and one of your daughters, and they told me about...a time when you made them have sex with each other while you watched. Do you remember that?" He did not. Why should he--Ofshe made up the story. However, Ofshe assured him it happened, and that both children remembered it. Ofshe said, "Try to think about the scene, try to see it happening." In time, the father began to recover a "memory" of the event, and later handed Ofshe a three-page handwritten confession, complete with dialogue about the forced incestuous relation between his son and daughter. When Ofshe told him that he fabricated the entire story, the father became agitated and insisted that the images were real--as real as all of the other images he remembered.15 The court decreed a sentence of twenty years for six counts of rape.