PART 2 CHAPTERS 8 TO 11
DIET & LIFESTYLE FOR HEALTH AND HARMONY
CHAPTER 8 SECTION 8.9
PATHWAY TO HARMONY PART II - LIFESTYLE
8.9.1 What is Lifestyle?
8.9.2 What must we aim to remove from our Lifestyle?
8.9.3 Why we must remove T.V. and mind-polluting books, magazines and pictures from our lives:
8.9.4 Why we must remove junkie and sensuous music, gossip and criticism
8.9.5 Why we must remove sense-arousing perfumes, after-shave lotions etc.
8.9.6 What must we add to our Lifestyle?
8.9.7 Yoga for the Body and Mind
8.9.8 The last word
We are aware that many of you who will read this may already be following most of what is given here. However, as healers it helps to have on hand "printed" guidelines which, if you lack time, can be photocopied and passed on.
8.9.1 WHAT IS LIFESTYLE?
The sum total of what we do (or fail to do), from the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep, day after day, is lifestyle.
If day after day we watch television and read books and magazines that feed our sensuous desires; if we listen to music that only conjures up base emotions; if we use our hands to engage in activity that is anti-peace and anti-God (read that as anti-anyone), if we smell of perfumes created to stir the senses, we can be sure of perpetuating negative samskaras for future lives as well, besides causing several dreadful diseases in the present life-time.
If we fail to do what it is our duty to do according to our station in our life (as wife, mother, husband, father, daughter, son, employee, employer etc.) we are indulging in adharma or "sinful acts".
We begin by listing what needs to be removed from our lifestyle and why, followed by what we must add to our life in order to bring about a qualitative change in our purpose, our perspective, and consequently our wellbeing.
8.9.2 WHAT MUST WE AIM TO REMOVE FROM OUR LIFESTYLE?
Remove mind polluting books and magazines, T.V., junkie/sensuous music, gossip, criticism, judgement, perfumes, unrighteous or adharmic activities.
Our body and mind is fed not only by what we eat with our mouth but also everything that enters through all our sense organs.
8.9.3 WHY WE MUST REMOVE T.V. AND MIND-POLLUTING BOOKS, MAGAZINES AND PICTURES FROM OUR LIVES:
Let us begin with what we "eat" with our eyes! A lot of what we see can be described as "involuntary" i.e. we have no control over it. What we CAN control is the subject of discussion here. It is by choice that we read what we do; it is by choice that we switch on the television; it is by choice that we stop and look at defiling cinema posters.
Baba has renamed television "televisham". "Visham" means poison. Do we really understand what Baba is saying? He is saying TELEVISION IS POISON.
Most people attribute Baba's condemnatioin of the television to the negative impact of the programmes on the mind. This is the truth but only half the truth. What most people are not aware of is that TELEVISION EMITS REAL RADIATION. There is growing evidence that radiation from T.V. can be a cause of epileptic type of convulsions in children, anaemias of various types (leukaemia?), skin problems, behavioural problems in children and what is most alarming - birth defects in children born to mothers having prolonged exposure to radiation from T.V. and computer screens (VDU's).
Television's impact on the mind cannot be overemphasised. ALL generations are victims to this invasion from the skies - but the SWITCH IS IN OUR OWN HANDS. The junk, and we cannot call it anything but that, pollutes our minds, erodes our cultural values and makes us impervious to violence and moral degradation. Violence and immorality have now become accepted norms.
Till about 15 years ago television played a very insignificant part in our lives - if at all it played a part. Interpersonal relationships within families have taken a plunge because no one talks any more - the idiot box is a priority. Our food is eaten in front of the television and conversations revolve around the previous day's serial!
Try removing the poison from your life - unplug it - put it away (or atleast reduce it to news only) - and see the difference.
Now let us talk about books. They can provide the best Satsang (company of the good and holy) and also the worst kind of "bad company" - it all depends on our choice of books and magazines. Those of you who have stopped reading yellow literature, love stories and gossip magazines - please do not keep these storehouses of sensuousness on your bookshelves. Don't give them or sell them to others either - BURN THEM. You will then never be tempted to read a book like that again.
8.9.4 WHY WE MUST REMOVE JUNKIE AND SENSUOUS MUSIC, GOSSIP AND CRITICISM
Our senses of hearing, smell, touch and taste, can likewise become gateways for garbage to enter our bodies. Gossip, criticism and sensuous music would obviously not fall into the category of "good food" for the mind and body. Music, it is said, is food for the soul but to achieve this lofty goal, it must be uplifting - raising us to higher levels of consciousness.
8.9.5 WHY WE MUST REMOVE SENSE-AROUSING PERFUMES, AFTER-SHAVE LOTIONS ETC.
Not many people realise just how powerful our sense of smell is. The memory imprint of smells is like a computerised recall and often a passing fragrance will bring a complete flashback of a scene which we never imagined was alive in our memory. It is not possible to control smells and fragrances brought to us by the wind or by other people, but we CAN control the kind of fragrance we ourselves carry around with us. Most perfumes today are made with the sole purpose of arousing the senses. BESIDES - perfumes are known to cause epileptic/epilepsy type seizures in children, asthma attacks, allergic sneezing bouts, headaches, nausea and a host of other symptoms. Would you like to cause these problems in innocent children you meet everyday?
WHY WE MUST REMOVE UNRIGHTEOUS BEHAVIOUR, ADHARMIC ACTIVITIES.
Touch includes all activities that our hands engage in. Any anti-God activity (read that as anti-ANYONE activity) will take us further from the ideal state of "ease" or health and harmony.
8.9.6 WHAT MUST WE ADD TO OUR LIFESTYLE?
ADD - Good uplifting books, and magazines.
- Devotiional, classical, enobling music - vocal or instrumental
- Satsang of sages who teach the eternal values of truth, righteousness, peace, love, non-violence, compassion, tolerance, harmony - leading to fostering of brotherhood of man.
- Selfless service - Maanava seva is Madhava Seva - resulting in self purification.
- Moderate exercise, walking
Highly recommended - Half an hour of Yoga practice everyday with Asanas (body postures), Pranayama (Breathing related practices) and Meditation. This will rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit. Even
elderly people can do simple Yoga practices. They will find it very refreshing.
On days that you are short on time, just three to five rounds of Surya Namaskara (Sun salutation) practice will recharge your Body and Mind. Surya Namaskara rejuvenates everybody system. If you are not confortable with Surya Namaskar, 10 minutes of Pranayama practice will rejuvenate you. Please see section 8.9.7.
8.9.7 YOGA FOR THE BODY AND MIND
The word ‘yoga’ has come to mean many things in the modern world. In its origin language, Sanskrit, yoga comes from the root word ‘yuj’ or ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke together.’ In Vedic philosophy, yoga is a term used to denote many different and varied spiritual practices that lead the practitioner to a state of ‘inner union’ or ‘harmony’.
In this section, we are using the word Yoga to refer to what is traditionally known as ‘Hatha Yoga’ – or the physical postures (Asana) and breath-work (Pranayama) as devised by ancient healers of India.
The yogic view of human anatomy inseparably links the physical body (Annamaya Kosha) with the energy body (Pranamaya Kosha) and the mind (Manomaya Kosha). Therefore, the practice of yoga (asana, pranayama and meditation) is designed to replenish and re-balance the subtle energies within the body, bringing vitality to the body, clarity to the mind and joy to the spirit.
Perhaps the most important benefit of a regular yoga practice, and one that especially applies to healers, is its ability to align body and mind in the present moment. The modern world is very good at distracting us and preventing us from experiencing stillness and silence. We are also very good at keeping ourselves distracted to avoid this experience of stillness. Often, healers can get emotionally overwhelmed by the suffering they witness, thus causing them to feel ungrounded. Sometimes, healers also use ‘the act of service’ as a distraction itself, to avoid approaching the place of silence within.
When physical yogic postures, linked to deep breath-work are performed with mindful awareness, they allow us to find a way back into the experience of stillness within. This place of silence, where there are no questions, there is no analysis, and no expectation, is the centre of grounding – the centre of stabilising and being present in the now.
For healers, it is especially important, that a yoga practice (or any other mind-body holistic practice such as tai-chi, qi-gong or others) becomes a part of the daily routine. These are the benefits that can be experienced from a daily and balanced Yoga (Asana, Pranayama & Meditation) practice:
1. Physical vitality and health of joints, muscles, tissues, organs, glands as well as all bodily functions
2. Increased physical and mental stamina
3. Clarity of thought
4. Increased patience and decreased irritability
5. Reduction in acute emotional sensitivity (especially in empathic people)
6. Greater ability to release overwhelming emotions
7. Feeling of inner and outer stability and grounding
8. Easier access to inner joy and positivity
A common misconception of yoga in the modern world is that it is only for the very flexible and fit. This cannot be further from the truth. Yoga meets you, wherever your body is – even individuals barely capable of sitting up in bed can have access to the gifts of yoga. This is because yoga is not exclusively a physical practice. It is a holistic body-mind-breath-soul experience available to people of all ages and body states.
Today, there are many different schools of Hatha yoga such as Hatha, Patanjali, Iyengar, Sivananda, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, to name a few. Choosing which school of yoga to follow is a personal decision that must suit the physical and spiritual needs of each individual.
Once you develop a steady yoga practice, you will never look back. It is the gift that keeps on giving by joining together your body, mind and spirit, and through that giving you the experience of peace and contentment.
Yoga will eventually become an indispensable part of your journey as a healer.
8.9.8 THE LAST WORD
Right at the beginning of this note in the section entitled "Introduction", we talked about the poor suffering from the diseases of deprivation and the rich suffering from the diseases of plenty or excess. True harmony will reign in this beautiful world of ours when the "haves" begin to look at the "have nots" as their brothers and sisters. If even ten percent of the rich decided to alter their lifestyles and eating patterns in a way that they did not fall sick, we feel sure that enough resources could be generated to completely eradicate diseases of deprivation in the whole world.
Something to think about!
Each of us can start in our own way - taking care of one or two persons from the underprivileged classes in our very own homes. There need be no hunger, no deprivation, no disease.
We just need to shift our awareness from our own narrow lives and see ourselves as a very small part of the beautiful "whole".
"Without giving ear to patent lies born out of malice and greed, I would advise you to form "satsang" where you will meet and exchange truths and virtuous talk; where you will study holy books and discourse on the glory of God. Why waste precious time in scandals about others and criticism of others' behaviour? Cultivating envy, malice, hatred and anger against others is an evil past-time that recoils on oneself. In everyone there is resident the self-same Divine spark; so cavilling at the neighbour is tantamount to cavilling at Divinity."
- Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
" Practice silence. For the voice of God can be heard in the region of the heart only when the tongue is still. Silence is the speech of the spiritual seeker. Soft sweet speech is the expression of genuine love. Hate screeches, fear squeals, conceit trumpets - but love sings lullabies; it soothes, it applies balm."
- Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
“Sathwic (pure, health promoting) diet does not mean simply the food we take through our mouth but also means the pure air we breathe through our nose, the pure vision we see through our eyes, the pure sounds we hear through our ears and the pure objects we touch through our feet and hands. All that we take in through the doors of our five sense organs may be described as diet. Listening to bad sounds, looking at bad sights, touching bad things do not constitute sathwic diet."
- Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba