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
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.
YOGA AND GOOD HEALTH
We concluded last week’s Yoga Corner with the introduction of ‘meditation and good health’, highlighting the vastness of the subject and that there isn’t a part of our lives that is not touched or affected by meditation.
Starting with the category of physical benefits, and with probably the most favorite of slow aging, I’m sure that most us would like to slow down the aging process, especially in the most natural and harmless way.
Studies have shown that experienced meditators often look a lot younger than their «true» age, and they also arguably live longer than people who do not practice meditation as a lifestyle.
Scientific studies have been published, which I will not delve in to avoid being technical, explaining why meditation is the very best way to freeze “father time”, but I encourage those interested on the details to read more on the subject.
According to leading health and longevity researchers, stress accelerates our biological clock leaving us looking and feeling old long before our time (as you read this you may even think of one or two people yourself). Mediation is a natural tool to counter stress, hence slowing down the biological clock so to speak.
Granted there are very few people who are not yogis but still live even beyond a hundred. And if you were to interview these people, you would find that their general disposition is that of inner peace, very little or no stress at all. These are the fortunate ones. Most of us need to make an effort to reach the state of inner peace amidst chaotic surroundings. This is where meditation as part of yoga comes in.
The next physical benefit is that of beating addiction whether it is alcohol, tobacco, food, coffee, prescriptions, illegal substances, the list goes on. Researchers have found that there are physiological and psychological reasons why meditation is the best, most effective way to naturally overcome any addiction. It has been proven to give a “natural high” through the brain’s “happiness center”.
Indeed, the brain researchers have built a mountain of evidence showing that meditation can help immensely in beating addiction, healthily and naturally. When one practices meditation regularly, the mind develops the power as well as the inner strength to observe the coming and going of urges and cravings without emotions and in a detached manner. More next week……..
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