Create a Spiritual Practice to Take Care of Your Heart & Other Tips From an IIN Graduate
Nina Zorfass, IIN Content Editor
What spirituality and heart health have in common.
Spirituality takes many shapes and forms, and not just in the traditional sense of spirituality as religion. Spirituality can be a gratitude practice. In one particular study, researchers examined the role of both spirituality and gratitude on potential health markers in patients, and “found higher gratitude scores were associated with better mood, higher quality sleep, more self-efficacy and less inflammation. Inflammation can often worsen heart failure.” Most importantly, they noted that “spiritual well-being was associated with better mood and sleep, but it was the gratitude aspect of spirituality that accounted for those effects, not spirituality per se.”
Spirituality can also be a mindfulness or meditation routine. In multiple study analyses, researchers have determined that meditation can improve your HRV, or heart rate variability, which is an indicator of the overall strength and health of your heart. Meditation has also been found to modestly lower blood pressure, as well as modulate how you respond to stress and other environmental triggers.
IIN graduate Manoli Lagos shares how he incorporates spirituality into his health coaching practice.
Manoli Lagos, class of HCTP May 2018-Accelerated and founder of The Living Fuel, left the corporate world to become a full-time Health Coach. Over the years, he’s noticed the same pattern, namely: it’s never just about the food. As he built his business, he’s discovered that spirituality can play an important role in someone’s health journey, including his own.
IIN: Tell us about your health journey – how did you find IIN?
Manoli: After dealing with chronic cystitis and really getting in the weeds with health, I had a conversation with my homeopathic doctor and she mentioned that I should look into becoming a health coach. Months later I connected with a mutual friend who is a nutritionist and works for the company F-factor. She told me about the program and the other coaching schools out there, so I did my research and IIN was the best fit for what I wanted to get out of the program.
IIN: You decided to leave the corporate world to coach full time, and we hear the same from many of our graduates. Why do you think people wait so long to take the leap? Is it the culture of working in the corporate environment, or something else?
Manoli: I would say there are two main reasons why graduates fear taking the leap. The first is that once you’re in the wellness space, there are so many avenues and career paths available to you. From joining a private practice to creating your own company, the options are endless. For me, it was important to have clarity on what that next step looked like before I left my full-time corporate job. I would suggest that everyone starts by coaching and see where that takes you, it may open doors you didn’t imagine. The second big fear is financial. Leaving a steady paying job is scary for anyone, and my advice is take the leap when you are ready, don’t rush it. My goal was to reach an income that was paying for my base living expenses before I left my corporate job. That being said, there will never be a “perfect” moment to take the leap, the sooner you make the decision, the sooner you’ll be living the life that you envisioned.
IIN: Do you notice any similarities in what your clients are coming to you for? Why do you think there’s this common thread?
Manoli: It usually starts with weight loss, aesthetics, or cleaning up their diet and it usually evolves to become much more than that. My programs are designed to help people improve every aspect of their life from happiness to spirituality to how they look and feel every day. I think there is a commonality because society stresses the importance of how we look on the outside, and I think social media plays a big part of that. I’m a true believer that comparison is the root of self-doubt, so I encourage my clients to be comfortable in their skin and do what makes them feel good.
IIN: We’re talking all about heart health this month, but not just the cardiovascular aspect of heart health; the emotional and spiritual aspects, too. As you know, the primary food aspects of health. How do you work with your clients in these areas?
Manoli: A lot of people come to me with the impression that true health is being skinny, eating salads and doing juice cleanses. I work with people to re-wire the way they think about health and open their mind to the other key pillars e.g., stress, sleep, movement, mindset, spirituality. I like to give my clients options. So I teach them several spirituality practices and give them tools to play around and find the one that resonates with them, then I help them weave that into their daily routine. I really believe its vital to have a spiritual practice, whether it’s meditation, journaling or doing charity work, it can take so many shapes.
IIN: Since you work with a lot of clients who are male/identify as male, what comes up for them when you explore self-care, self-love, and all the other areas of tending to the emotional and spiritual aspects of heart health?
Manoli: I typically wait until we have established trust in our relationship before I delve into those deeper subjects. When the time is right, we open the conversation and I have not had a single person turn that opportunity away. Once they understand that health is more than fitness and food, they become much more open to thinking about things like spirituality. I hear a lot of my clients say things like “I never thought about that before” or “I’m not religious, so I don’t have a practice” and that’s where I come in and help them explore spirituality and self-love and the many forms that it can come in. From the Circle of Life, to annual life assessments, I love to incorporate tools in my program to help my clients look inward, something that most people neglect.
IIN: What’s your favorite way to take care of your heart, both physiologically and emotionally?
Manoli: Emotionally, it’s through love. Loving what I do, loving my family, and loving myself. I pour my emotions into my work and that keeps my heart full. My love for life has always been there, but with an amazing girlfriend and my decision to align my passions with my career, my heart is more full than ever before. Physically, I love to make my heart work. It’s such an incredible organ and I’m thankful for every pump it gives me. I like to push myself in the gym to the point where I can hear my heart pumping. I keep a big variety in my routine from the long walks, to playing basketball to intense HIIT sessions I’d like to think my heart is pretty resilient.