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Adding Ten Years to Life

19 Nov

“The difference between rising at five and seven o’clock in the morning, for forty years, supposing a man to go to bed at the same hour at night, is nearly equivalent to the addition of ten years to a man’s life.”

~  Philip Doddridge

Waking early lifting arms to sky

Love, Happiness and Stillness

8 May

I don’t know about you, but I need an excuse before I can ‘allow myself’ to do nothing – a cold, a broken computer, a problem with the transport. Paradoxically, these problems transform themselves into miracles as I think “Wow, I can spend the whole day doing nothing; I can spend the whole day just reading!”

Like most Westerners, I fill my days with many tasks and activities. And, unfortunately, like many Westerners, I am active because I feel like I should be active. I prioritise what I believe I should do, and not what I would like to do (and please note that should is not equal to must). I am like a wind-up toy: I can be Superwoman for a week, only to lose my powers and go back to being a drained zombie thereafter. I used to feel bad for not being able to keep my energy up, yet it’s hardly surprising considering that my energy is spent on things that give me no joy or fulfillment in return.

I know that I am not the only one in this situation. Many Westerners overwork, give themselves task upon task to do and prioritise action above all else. We are all driven by different motives, but I believe that our main motive is the yearning for love. We all want to be loved, and society now says that to be loved you need to be successful, rich and important. So we spend our time and energy doing tasks that will earn us more money and therefore more status and more recognition, with the false idea that these will bring love and happiness into our lives.

But isn’t it ironic that we are too ashamed to admit openly that what we seek is love and happiness? We rarely get straight to the point by doing something that would directly and immediately create love and happiness.

A home-made meal for two, an afternoon on the sofa with a book, a walk in the woods, an evening playing Pictionary with family, a hand-made card, a bright dress, making collages with friends, redecorating the house, drinking wine on the balcony, dancing in your bedroom…

Our capitalist world has made us believe that love and happiness can only come about from wealth and success, and therefore, from hard-work. Yet wealth and success count little for love and happiness.

Love and happiness are right in front of us.

In order to notice them, all we need to do is stop moving, stop rushing, stop doing.

Through stillness we will come to understand that happiness and love are not goals or ends, but states of being – here and now.

“When you rest in quietness and your image of yourself fades, and your image of the world fades, and your ideas of others fade, what’s left? A brightness, a radiant emptiness that is simply what you are.” ~ Adyashanti

The Name is Lupus. Do You Know Who I Am?!

11 Oct

Recently, a fellow blogger (or, to be more precise, my first fellow blogger) posted a video that sadenned and scared me, that surprised and shocked me.

The video is about Lupus. It is something about which I had no knowledge; I’d never even heard of it before reading about it on her blog. Yet it is something that is affecting the lives of millions of people around the world.

If, like me, you haven’t heard of Lupus and have no idea what it is, please watch the video.

~

Let’s spread awareness, in any way we can.

Are You Running Out of Memory Space?

24 Sep

“Low Disk Space”. My laptop has been popping up this message for several weeks. Until today, the thought of having to go through all of my files, in order to delete anything unnecessary, seemed like a chore and a waste of time. Wouldn’t it be easier just to transfer everything onto a hard disk drive, instead?

This morning, however, the words spoken by a sophrologist, at a trial class that I attended yesterday, rang in my mind: “How can we make space for the present, for the new, when we are holding on to the past, to the old?”

My laptop needs space to save new files, to perform new functions. My old documents, photos and music are blocking it up from being able to serve the purposes for which I need it today. It is asking for my help to clear it of the unnecessary junk that I’ve been storing all these years.

As humans, clearing up our system of the past is crucial to a fruitful, productive and fulfilling life in the present. Unfortunately, unlike the laptop, we are not programmed to recognise a file overload (until it reaches a critical state). We have to look into ourselves on a regular basis in order to understand this.

Our past fears, frustration, grudges and negative emotions do not serve us today. They are in the mind; they exist only as thoughts and memories. Today’s reality is different to yesterday’s. In order to live fully today, our mind and body must be in the present.

“Think of an acorn”, the sophrologist said. “It has only one thought – to grow in to an oak tree. It has no awareness of the past and no concept of the future. But it knows what it must achieve today: to grow. So everyday it focuses on growing, looking only at the present circumstances – rain and sun – to help it do so. When it can grow no more, it dies, and is recycled into a new life-form”.

Today, I will free my laptop of old and unnecessary junk. Today, I will connect to myself and recognise the thoughts, beliefs and emotions from the past that hold me back from living fully today.

Happy Laptop

What unnecessary thoughts are blocking up your mind?

What beliefs from the past do not serve you today?

What negative emotions, based on past events, prevent you from moving forward?

What excess baggage, emotional and mental, do you carry around, not noticing its heavy weight on your life?

Return to Yoga

7 Sep

“I haven’t done any exercise for five years”. I think of my friend’s words with horror as I practice yoga for the first time in two months. My muscles are tight, my joints creak and my limbs just refuse to bend into place. It’s clear that my body has not appreciated being abandoned during the summer.

My yoga journey between spring and summer was full of discoveries and disappointments. I experienced the joy of my first solo yoga practice, as well as the frustration of not being able to find a suitable yoga teacher. I tried half a dozen classes, but none of them gave me the feeling of peace and well-being that I treasured so much in my previous schools. I settled for a class with an experienced teacher who had trained in India. With her, I learnt perfect alignment, but I learnt this through harsh discipline and fear; she would raise her voice at our ‘mistakes’ and would rarely return a smile.

By her last class in July I was tired, frustrated and disconnected from my physical and spiritual states. I had lost all interest in yoga. I couldn’t even remember why I had enjoyed it in the first place. Did it once really make me feel good? Did it really have such an important role in my life all these years? I did not practice once in the two months that followed and even felt repelled when simply thinking about it.

However, yesterday, something shook me out of my slumber. After a whole day slouching and stressing in front of the computer I could feel my body yearning for just one thing. Without further thought, I rolled out my dusty yoga map onto the bedroom floor…and suddenly….I remembered!

I remembered how amazing it feels to S-T-R-E-T-C-H.

I remembered how satisfying it is to let your body tell you exactly what it needs.

I remembered how relaxing and refreshing it is to go with the flow of your breath.

I remembered how satisfying it is to heal your body with every pose.

It was the most natural thing to let myself be guided by my body; it knew more than my mind about my current state of health and spirit.  During that practice I needed no explanation for why I love yoga. In my mum’s words, “It’s not about how far you can stretch; it’s about how you feel in the stretch”. With new yoga classes starting this September, I will choose a teacher with whom I can connect on the spiritual level, and for the rest I will listen to my body for guidance.