World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as “….a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art of Living, explains good health as disease free body, quiver free breath, inhibition free intellect, and ego that embraces all. From these definitions, and many others, it is clear that good health is a much broader phenomenon which affects the physical body and the more subtle aspects like mind, emotions, inner being and even covers wellbeing at a social level.
Let’s start with the aspect of social wellbeing, which takes us to the very first two Limbs of Yoga – the five Yamas and the five Niyamas. The first Limb being the five Yamas refers to one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life. A quick recap of these include: non-violence; truthfulness; non-stealing; continence; non-covetousness.
The second Limb of the five Niyamas have to do with self-discipline and inner or spiritual observances. Examples are cleanliness – both inside and outside; contentment – when your happiness does not depend on what you have or what you don’t have; spiritual austerities being the ability to withstand the unpleasant, the discomforts of situations or place; the study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self. Such study should lead or guide us to our inner person, to the peace within; and the last Niyama is about surrender to God, the Divine, or the higher consciousness or being.
Delving more into the human values found in the Yamas and Niyamas, undoubtedly social wellbeing has to start at a very early stage. We have a saying in Setswana that ‘lore lo ojwa lo sa le metsi” meaning that early learning is likely to be better entrenched as a lifetime value than teaching an older person.
We are aware that our young generation, who are our future, require a lot of guidance and mentoring on human values that would build them into a peaceful, caring, confident, and tolerant nation. Introducing yoga in schools may go a long way in leading us to a desirable socially healthy future. When our actions are guided by the human values espoused in the Yamas and Niyamas among others, good health required in social wellbeing becomes a given. More next week…….
YOGA AND GOOD HEALTH
Continuing on “Why Meditate: 25 Signs For You to Start Meditating for the Next 40 Days” by Sejal Shah, Sri Sri Yoga Teacher, YACEP, Art of Living Teacher, NYU Post Graduate Medical School approved Yoga-CME retreat facilitator, Mind-Body Wellness Writer, Homeopath.
Fourth to eighth signs…
“4. It feels like you’re always short of time.
If you keep feeling that you have too much in your hands, your calendar is always full, your day begins very early and ends too late, and there is very little time to do what you really want to do, meditation can help you find balance. While finding time to meditate may seem like an extra burden, the boost that meditation gives to your mental well-being may help you get everything else done faster and better.
5. You scowl a lot.
“A child smiles naturally 400 times a day, an adolescent smiles 17 times, and an adult does not smile at all,” says meditation Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. This is because babies are stress-free. The purpose of yoga and meditation is to put a smile on our face, in spite of all the stress and tension we face in our day-to-day life.
6. You cry often.
If you find yourself tearing up at the slightest provocation, small failure, or setback, work pressure, or somebody’s minor opinions or criticism of you, meditation can help you become more emotionally resilient. You might be wondering why certain people are always smiling and laughing when you seem to be sad all the time–maybe they’re practicing meditation!
7. You either brood and analyze or plan and fantasize too much.
You find yourself caught up in past regrets or making future plans, either feeling bitter, angry, or anxious and worried. Overactive mind is a sign of stress. Meditation is known to bring the mind into the present moment and give you the ability to enjoy the moment as is.
8. You struggle even to make simple decisions.
When you find yourself asking either your spouse or friend to take small everyday decisions like what to wear, which restaurant to go to, which coffee to order, or what food to make, meditation can help you become more confident in what you want.” I trust we all relate to these signs, either on us or on those around us. Meditation maybe the answer.
YOGA AND GOOD HEALTH
While we’re still on the mental benefits of meditation, I wish to take a moment to appreciate the increasing awareness about wholistic yoga (yoga stretches, breathing exercises and meditation) in Botswana, judging from the inquiries we receive at Art of Living, especially the referrals from medical doctors and practitioners of mental wellness.
The reality is that meditation is a practical tool that addresses problems from the depth, not superficially. As you’ve seen from the previous articles, its benefits cut across many medical conditions but also just promotes a very good state of wellbeing. Let’s consider the next mental benefit of how meditation is the best tool to remove bad habits like smoking, or over indulgence in alcohol, for those who have an earnest desire to stop.
Meditation is good at helping get rid of bad habits because it creates or raises self-awareness. It reaches unimaginable depth of one’s core of existence, that only brings out the truth about us and our situation. It takes one past the delusions that one tends to hide behind to remain in a comfort zone.
When the truth gets revealed to you, there’s no argument or debate, no bias, no judgement, no justification, no need to defend yourself, it’s just the truth! This is unlike when someone tells you of your weakness or shortcoming. This is what makes meditation effective, and it becomes a lot easier to deal with as well as eliminate the habit from its root cause.
Consequently, you’re able to see the reality about life without that bad habit. Imagine how many lives, families, marriages, careers are destroyed due to bad habits by children, spouses, parents, workers, friends and so on. All is not lost, as meditation provides you with the chance to claim back your purposeful life.
Related to the benefit of breaking habits is that of breaking addictions. Meditation gives a natural “high” much better than the destructive “high” from drugs or alcohol which just leads to a regrettable crash. Meditation does not only deal with the addiction, but will also deal with the root cause of the addiction, presenting a longer lasting solution.
On 25th May 2019 at 3.30pm there’ll be a live Peace Meditation with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar the Founder of Art of Living Foundation as part of his yearly peace initiative of “I Meditate Africa” – www.bit.ly/VoiceOfAfrica.