I met some distant relatives for the first time recently and was pleasantly surprised to see that although they were almost 50 years old, they were healthy and happy and vitally alive. It made me realise what a strange world we live in, where, if you are a working person, you get progressively unwell as you age. By the time you retire from your job, you are a slave to various unhealthy habits and usually to medicines with multiple unknown side effects. To me one of the main side effects of modern work-life seems to be a loss of vitality, as if we were patients forever stuck in a hospital ward. I have my life markers more or less under control and cannot remember the last time I had an allopathic medicine, but I also feel the loss of vitality that seems to naturally accompany modern life. It is almost like whatever I eat or breathe in or think about or get entertained with is slowly poisoning me. Slowly draining the life away from me like a dripping tap that cannot be closed.
What is it that we can do? I can talk about what I do and what I think helps me and perhaps you can share what your practices are to keep mentally and physically healthy in a world bent on making everyone ill. The following is my incomplete list:
– I make it a point to walk outside in the sun as much as I can. A day when I miss walking in the sun, I consider a wasted day in which I have become a little less well than I was in the morning.
– When I feel that I have become poisoned with too much food over many days or months, I cut down drastically on my food intake and I make strict rules for recovering from the poisoning that I inflicted on myself.
– I am superstitious about missing my Pranayama practice. It feels like the poisoning that happens everyday gets partly reversed with this practice. At least it feels like that to me.
– And this may seem a little far-fetched but I was thinking that having a deep dialogue, a samvaad, with another human being also falls in the category of something that makes us less poisoned. By samvaad I mean an exchange where there is careful, respectful listening and a contemplative, authentic, tentative response, ideally based on personal experience.
– This brings me to the last point I wanted to make here about paying attention to the world around us (people, trees, birds, insects, animals, buildings… everything) and seeing the beauty and sacredness inherent in all of it. I think when we achieve a small part of this, we break free from much of the poison spread by modernity.
I will conclude this post here and request you to add your comment about your experience and what practices work for you. Thanks in advance.