Health for all Your Life
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“Think of what the final purpose is – It is longevity with eternal spring. If you don’t seek in this direction, it will be a sheer waste of effort and time. Exert form Chant of the Thirteen Kinetic Movements
The value of mental / physical health
Without our health nothing in life has any value, it doesn’t matter how much money we have, possessions or status in life, as soon as we decline in mental or physical health everything else means nothing. We forget how pivotal our health is to our happiness and that of our family and friends. It is only when we lose it, even to something as simple as a common flu or sore back, that we see how everything which seemed important loses its value to us.
What is really important in life becomes very clear and it isn’t that the neighbours’ dog soiled your lawn, or that we didn’t deliver the portfolio on time at work. These things quite quickly become meaningless, a child’s game. Our mental and physical health affects the way we interact with and perceive the world. Our mental and physical health is the highest wealth that we have; unfortunately it is also something that most of us only invest in after we have already lost it.
We are happy to spend money and time on our homes, entertainment and travelling, we even maintain our car, but our physical and especially mental health is something that we really only think about once it is gone.
When we think of staying healthy it often conjures up images of long hours in the gym, runs along the beach or special diets. This type of exercise is usually preceded by the desire to change our life in someway, so we can look good down the beach, at our wedding, to reverse a health concern or to aspire to some perceived ideal weight. It’s all goal orientated and by thinking this way we make staying healthy something separate from our lives; it contains an ideal state that once attained, needs to be maintained.
The problem with effort equals reward based exercise and thinking is that it can’t be maintained over the long term. Sure you can get to the gym three times a week when you’re twenty, but the vast majority of people find it difficult to maintain that every week for the rest of their life. Regardless of how much effort equals reward based exercise you do each week as you get older it will be harder to keep up the momentum, until one day you receive an injury or get caught up in real life and then your health starts to decline again.
Why? Because health is not about this week or next month, health is about the rest of our life, our mental and physical health is something that needs to be maintained, like anything else, without maintenance it will gradually wear out and eventually fail.
Our True Wealth
Our mental health is important
Our mental health is as important as our physical health, yet we often forget about this. It is not until we experience depression, anxiety, mental confusion, dementia or one of the other mental imbalances that can afflict us that we really appreciate how precious mental health is. If we are going to value our mental health we need think of and maintain it with the same awareness we have for our physical health.
We can help to maintain our mental sharpness as we age through reading or doing crosswords. These can definitely help, but it doesn’t help with the emotional build up that we store in our body and mind in our day to day living. The accumulation of our emotional stress builds up like water in a dam and unless we can find a way of releasing the pressure it can manifest in the mind as anger, depression, anxiety or even insanity. The physical aspect of these emotions store up as anything from shoulder tension, headaches to illnesses from the knot of tension we hold within ourselves – something has to give.
Releasing the Pressure
To release the day to day emotional build up it is necessary to quieten your mind; this means to lower the amount of thinking going on and find a place of rest. While we are thinking about things, like what happened yesterday, what I have to do tomorrow or how to solve the latest puzzle we are still creating mental energy, like turbulence in the water in the dam, we are adding to the build up. Once we have quietened down the chatter it allows our mind to naturally start to release the build up, the quietness is creating room for it to do this.
This is a natural process that happens when we sleep… well, one that is supposed to happen. For a lot of us deep restful sleep is not possible, we tend to have shallow or restless sleeps and wake up feeling more tired then when we went to sleep. This is because of the incessant mental chatter and our emotional build up that has not escaped, it creates a perpetuating cycle that ends in illness.
To release the pressure we need to create a platform of stillness to allow our mind to do what it does naturally. This platform is created through concentration and awareness, concentration and awareness of what?
Of something that is happening now, in the present moment, not a memory of something that happened in the past, or a thought of what might happen in the future, but a acknowledgement of something that is happening in the present, right now. Why is this important?
It is important because what is happening in this present moment can only be observed, felt and experienced, but never thought about. Because as soon as you start thinking about it then it is no longer what is happening in the present moment, it is a thought about the past or a projection into the future.
To maintain good health throughout our life we need to use a balanced exercise system, one that incorporates both mental and physical exercise as not being separate from each other. The combining of both mental and physical exercise can help you not only deal with life’s problems, but also understand them, to allow you to live a healthier, happier life.
To maintain it throughout your lifetime the exercise must be pleasant to do, you must get enjoyment from it. If it involves “pushing yourself through the pain” then eventually it will lead to burning out. Exercise should not be goal orientated, it should be done for its own sake, because it feels good and you enjoy doing it. If you enjoy it and focus on that, you will progress, experience benefits and you will wake up in the morning looking forward to doing it again.
Exercise must become part of your life, not separate from it, so that you can continue it and support your health throughout your whole life, not just when you are at your healthiest. The aim of balanced exercise is to keep you feeling mentally and physically young as long as possible.
Its aim is a long life with balanced mental and physical health throughout.
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This article was written by Stephen Procter, instructor from Tai Chi Health for Life, Australian College of Tai Chi & Qi Gong and Meditation Instructor from Meditation in the Shire, Kirrawee NSW, Australia. If you wish to post this article on another website or in a publication please respect the author and reference / link back to this website, thank you