PART 2 CHAPTERS 8 TO 11
DIET & LIFESTYLE FOR HEALTH AND HARMONY
DIET & LIFESTYLE FOR HEALTH AND HARMONY
8.2 Present day response to disease
8.3 The Wholistic view of disease
8.4 How should we respond to disease?
8.5 Understanding disease
8.6 Food Habits and Instinct
8.7 How do we remove disease and return to vibrant health?
8.8 Pathway To harmony Part I - Diet.
8.9 Pathway to harmony Part II - Lifestyle .
There is much suffering in the world today. The "standard of living" is rising everywhere, but the "standard of health" is at its lowest! Pay a casual visit to any hospital anywhere in the world and you will see what man's "standards" have come to.
Natural calamities apart, most of today's suffering is man-made.
The poor suffer from diseases of "deprivation". These include malnutrition (including beri beri, scurvy and extreme situations like marasmus, as in Ethiopia), blindness, and diseases caused by unsanitary living conditions like dysentry, cholera, typhoid, malaria and jaundice.
The rich, on the other hand, suffer from diseases of "plenty" or "excess". These include diabetes, rheumatism and arthritis, high blood pressure, heart trouble (cholestrol), kidney failure, asthma, osteoporosis, depression, skin problems, Parkinsons disease, prostate problems, cancer, acidity and ulcers, colitis, spondylitis, thyroid problems, migraine, obesity and its associated problems, multiple sclerosis, haemmerhoids (piles), sinusitis, septicaemia - the list is endless.
There used to be a system, we believe, in ancient China, where the family doctor was paid at the end of the month - but only if no one in the family had fallen ill during the month. If someone fell ill, it was the doctor's duty to get him well AND the doctor was NOT paid for that month. Why? Because he had not done his job properly! It was the doctor's job to practise "preventive" health care - to guide the family's food and living habits in a manner conducive to maintaining good physical and mental health. In other words, the doctor had a vested interest in your NOT FALLING SICK.
Today, we have reversed the process. We go to the doctor and PAY him when we are SICK. Let us be honest - the medical profession is not responsible for this - WE are, and only WE can change this.
When the words "health care" are used, we are programmed to think of vaccinations, innoculations, medical check ups, pap smear tests, biopsies, prostate tests, urine tests, blood tests, CT scans, Ultra sound scans, MRI's etc. - in fact the list is endless and the more it costs us to get these tests done, the more we feel satisfied that a "lot" is being done by us for our health! Not withstanding all this, nations are getting more sick by the day.
While all governments all over the world have "health" ministries, "health" services, "health" insurance - health is quite conspicuous by its absence! What we have in fact are "disease" ministries, "disease" services, "disease" insurance and so on. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on "health care" annually, most conspicuously by countries who are at the forefront of medical technology. Yet - ill-health, not health, is the order of the day.
Because, dear brothers and sisters, health cannot be "bought" in a pharmacy. It doesn't "cost" money - it only demands an uncompromising quest for wellness. The pathway of peaceful and harmonious co-existence with Mother Nature and all her creatures is the ONLY way to wellness.
Is it not ironical - we first spend money to acquire ill-health (through indiscriminate overindulgence) and then we spend more money and vast amounts of national and personal resources trying to regain our health?
Mind you, while we are visiting doctors and hospitals we continue to guzzle vast quantities of wrong foods and live lifestyles of indulgence and indolence, all of which only adds to our woes.
8.2 PRESENT DAY RESPONSE TO DISEASE
Disease has overtaken us completely and we are all looking for quick-fix solutions.
Let us take an example - I have a headache. What is my response? I pop a pain-killer into my mouth. The pain goes away - for the moment. A few hours, a few days, a few weeks later it returns. I pop some more pills into my mouth. At each recurrence, the pain gets worse, the frequency is greater and the duration is longer. Soon I have to increase the number of pills I take because the pain is no longer "responding".
This goes on getting worse until I am a full blown case of "migraine" operating at an efficiency level which is only a fraction of what God intended for me. Worse still, I will develop hyperacidity (which is a side effect of pain killers) and maybe a full blown ulcer. For this I will in turn start taking antacids which over a period of time will destroy my liver. The kidneys will be next in line - all quick-fix "solutions" have a domino effect until all our vital functions are destroyed.
Meanwhile, I will go on stuffing myself with some or all of the following disease producing "foods".
- Undigestible foods which act as slow poisons for our body e.g.. refined sugar, chocolates etc.
- Foods of himsa or violence (non-veg.foods), which convert our bodies into putrefying burial grounds.
- Carcinogenic (cancer causing), nerve-destroying additives like artificial colours, preservatives, flavours, MSG., all found in most packaged foods and drinks.
- Caustic soda, formaline, urea, Oxytocin - (a female hormone) all in milk.
- Irradiated foods, Microwaved foods - the disastrous effects of which are only now being understood.
8.3 THE WHOLISTIC VIEW OF DISEASE
Most Alternative medicine therapies from Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Chinese and Tibetan Medicine to Yoga, Pranic Healing and Reiki and many more subtle healing techniques, view the human body, mind and soul as a Whole.
The divine miracle called the human body-mind system has the most sophisticated kind of networking in all its functions. It is this networking and inter-connection within the human body-mind that is the basis of treatment in alternative systems. The mind, body and soul are intimately connected and affect each other to a great degree. In fact it is often believed that imbalance first manifests on a subtle level – and when it is not checked at the subtle level, it then manifests as a physical disease in the body.
That is why, if you have a headache, a holistic healer will ask you what you've eaten, whether your bowel movement is smooth, if you're emotionally tense about something in your life, etc. – because a holistic healer sees the connection between your dietary intake, your bowel movements and your state of mind. You are a Whole Being.
Disease is basically a state of imbalance within the body. This imbalance can occur due to several reasons. Our five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell take in huge amounts of information everyday. All of this is processed within the body-mind. Your state of health or ill health depends on what you feed your senses, and how it is processed by the body.
That is why the key to good health, lies not just in how to cure imbalance, but in how to prevent imbalance itself. And for this, each person is responsible for himself/herself. The kind of thoughts you dwell on, the attitudes you maintain, the emotional reactions, the attachments you keep – all of these have a direct impact on the state of your body.
Similarly, the kind of foods you eat, the kind of beverages you drink, the lifestyle you lead has a huge impact on the state of your body. This chapter is called guidelines on diet & lifestyle for health and harmony– because to create harmony and balance within your body – to be disease-free, the simplest way is to introduce harmonious thinking, harmonious feeling and harmonious living into your life. The result? Health, wellness and peace.
8.4 HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO DISEASE?
Let us go back to the example of a headache given above. Pain is NOT a disease. It is the body's way of telling me that a problem AT A DEEPER LEVEL exists.
What does the body expect me to do?
The body expects me to respond in a more intelligent and responsible manner. The easiest and the best thing to do under the circumstances would be to abstain from normal food - just stay with diluted fresh fruit juice or fruit or a clear soup or best of all, just fast with lemon water and honey. Responding in this way opens up a communication channel between me and my body. Within a few hours I will know what the problem is. Most likely it is constipation or a sluggish liver.
Digesting what we eat takes up more "energy" than any other activity. When there is a headache, refraining from eating or eating only fruits (which digest themselves), is the kindest thing I can do for my body. Elimination of waste matter from the body is vastly more important than eating. This function too needs "energy" The body would be most grateful if it could use its available resources of energy to get rid of the "garbage", which, to put it mildly, is raising a "stink" inside me. That stink is the "headache".
Let us say the headache was not due to constipation but was in fact due to clogged up sinuses (there are nine sinuses behind and around each eye). My response of "fasting" would still be the best response - clogged sinuses are "garbage dumps". When there is excessive mucous being produced by the body (milk and milk products are usually the main culprits), the body pours the mucous into the sinuses to get it out of the way, so that normal body functions can carry on. Sinuses are empty air pockets - the body's built-in garbage bags - and the body intelligence uses them as such. When they are close to filling up, the resulting build-up of pressure in the forehead area results in the headache.
When I respond by fasting, the body takes advantage of the energy bonus to throw out the mucous. I might get severe cold symptoms with a heavy discharge from the nose. The headache backs off immediately. Being aware that it is better to have the garbage outside me than inside me - I am happy with my "cold". I continue to either fast with lemon water and honey, or I eat only fruits, boost my immune system with the Sanjeevinis, and if possible take a day off from heavy routine.
Once the garbage has been eliminated, I will be "in tune" with ME, with my inner Shakthi, and my instincts will begin to tell me what to eat.
8.5 UNDERSTANDING DISEASE
Negative emotions like resentment, jealousy and anger set off chemical reactions within us which cause us to self destruct. There are latent tendencies in all of us towards certain diseases, handed down through heredity. Our negative emotions trigger off storms within us which wake up these latent tendencies and cause disease.
What is disease but dis-ease?
Our desires are like a fire - the more we feed them the more brightly they burn. Since desires cannot always be fulfilled, frustration, anger and resentment set in.
Disease is Mother Nature's response to our indulgence and our unmitigated efforts to self-destruct through over-indulgence. Disease is Nature's way of slowing us down. In Her compassion she warns us first with minor ailments that we are headed towards a precipice. When we stubbornly refuse to listen She limits us with severe illnesses.
Health, on the other hand, is a joyous journey back to harmony. Desires, material possessions, sense gratification are viewed in their proper perspective. Love, faith, compassion, sharing and caring take the place of the negative emotions. This puts us in touch with our Inner Guide. If we are listening, if we tune in, the Inner Guide never fails to guide us.
In the Sanathana (timeless - natural) way of healing (in this we include Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Yoga, Acupuncture, Acupressure, Reflexology, Homoeopathy, Radionics, Vibro-healing, Spiritual healing and all systems where the patient is treated holistically i.e. he is looked upon as being made up of body, mind and spirit and treatment is at all three levels), we awaken the body's own healing power - THAT Cosmic Energy which when balanced, sets right all disorders at all levels of existence. This healing power is known by various names - in Yoga we call it Prana; in Acupuncture it is known as Chi; in Homoeopathy and other natural systems it is known as the Vital Force.
Therefore, in Sanathana health care we would work towards keeping THAT healing power ALIVE, AWAKE AND ACTIVE.
8.6 FOOD HABITS AND INSTINCT
Our food habits are guided by :
1. Our sense of taste
2. Conditioning through advertisements (remember, a lot of the knowledge that is acquired by the medical profession is also through advertising. This could be directly from the television or worse, in an indirect but more insidious way by vested interests who periodically come up with "studies" which are aimed at showing that "their product" is good for health). The medical profession becomes an unwitting pawn in the hands of commercial interests.
3. Conditioning through social interaction. This also includes the conditioning we receive throughout our childhood.
There is a general lack of awareness about the harmful effects of sugared drinks like Sodas and sugar - soaked snacks. Often, due to social pressure, even those aware of the indigestible nature of these foods continue to serve them guests to appear welcoming as per social norms.
It is precisely this kind of conditioning and peer pressure that we have to rise above.
Our sense of taste was provided by God to be used as a tool to verify that only wholesome, balanced food is ingested by us. But due to our senses having taken control of us, all balance has been lost. We are now slaves to our 5 senses and our tongue has lost the discrimination - that instinct - to eat only what is good for us.
In the wild, animals don't have doctors - their instinct tells them how to revert to a state of health when disease strikes. We too have the same instinct, hidden in the sense of taste, to revert to good health. Given half a chance, the body will know how to heal itself.
When we are not in harmony with nature, when we are violating God's bounty at every step, when our planet, mother earth, the animals, the underprivileged, are all crying out at the abuse heaped on them by us for our own selfish ends - our instincts become numbed and slowly die.
We will have to rise above the conditioning we are constantly being bombarded with, through the media and through social and peer pressure. We will have to return to nature and to harmony - harmony with our surroundings and with ourselves. Slowly but surely, our instincts will begin to re-awaken and guide us to a state of vibrant health.
8.7 HOW DO WE REMOVE DISEASE AND RETURN TO VIBRANT HEALTH?
We can regain our health and vitality by following the Pathway to Harmony.
The only lasting way to return to good health (it is possible!), is through acute awareness of what is causing dis-ease in our lives. An honest self-examination is called for and with courage and determination we must embark on a programme of change. What do we change?
1...Remove all that is wrong and dis-ease promoting from our Diet and Lifestyle.
2. Add all that is good and health promoting to our Diet and Lifestyle.
“A strong will is the best tonic. The will becomes strong when you know that you are a child of Immortality or a person who has earned the Grace of the Lord. Medicine and hospitalisation are for those who doubt and hesitate and argue about this doctor being more efficient than the other and this drug being more powerful than the rest. For those who rely on the Supreme Doctor, His Name is the drug that cures."
- Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
8.8 PATHWAY TO HARMONY PART I - DIET.
For details of Section 8.8 please click on the link below:
8.9 PATHWAY TO HARMONY PART II - LIFESTYLE .
For details of Section 8.9 please click on the link below: