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Do I have any secrets as to longevity, or about fitness and health?

Health and fitness needs to be high on our list of priorities since the "gifts" of mind, body and spirit are our greatest assets. Is it not strange that we are more concerned and take better care of our various modes of transportation than we do of our own body? Or better care of the externals of life as opposed to our inner stability.

No longer is it a contention, a "maybe" that the triad of the mind, body and spirit are connected. Since this is so, there is a need to investigate, enquire and probe as to how the mind, body and spirit work together to help us in achieving a life of balance, harmony and peace. To ignore the importance of this; is to do so at ones' own peril.

How lackadaisical we are and "yes" even lazy when it comes to the maintenance and the nourishment of the mind, body and spirit. We turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the influences that are the harbingers of the many maladies and disorders that threaten the state of our well-being.

In the face of these ever increasing "risk factors", we speak words of utter nonsense when old habits are challenged. In a cavalier manner, we say; "I will die happy doing the things I like who wants to live to be old and feeble anyway? Or the words; "I know someone who lived to be one hundred years old. They smoked, drank and chased everything in skirts. And when they died, they died with a smile on their face." How touching! Both statements are a cop-out and they demean the inherit "gifts" of the mind, body and spirit.

Many; to many of our health problems we bring down on ourselves from out of our past and present ill-fated habits and lifestyles. The words;"what one sows, one reaps" are never truer than when we take into account how we have not given due attention to the proper maintenance and care of our personal health.

Recently, I noticed a cartoon and its' caption. It showed two westerners walking down a jungle path. Off to one side were two lions in the bush.

One lion said to the other lion. "No", I wouldn't eat either one of them. They are full of Preservatives".

That is not all we fill our bodies with in today's living. We abuse our bodies on a daily basis by ingesting all sorts of strange liquids and even stranger forms of matter. We have substituted a balanced diet with eating habits that no self-respecting four-legged animal would dream of copying. At the same time we ignore the need to do even a minimal amount of exercise to keep the skeletal and muscle structures in shape. Some believe "elbow bending" and the "remote control button" afford enough exercise. Maybe these two should be included as Olympic events,

Probably we should mention something about sleeping habits. In many cases what we consider to be an adequate nights' sleep falls short of the goal. If we were told that one of the requirements to hold a particular job was to get as little sleep as possible. We would protest vehemently, shouting that our rights were being violated. Yet we allow our own personal habits and life-styles to deprive us of the much-needed sleep that our mind, body and spirit need to restore and heal our depleted energy levels.

Add this to our frenetic merry-go-round existence as we reach for the "golden rings". Believing that within these externals, ones' identity, happiness and our very life can be found. It is no accident that we have become "fragmented people". Fragmented in mind, body and spirit. It is not surprising that there are times we feel alienated not only from ourselves but from others as well.

Several days ago, after speaking to a group of students who were studying English. One of them handed me a piece of paper that had these words written;

"Do you know how it feels to be lost and alone? If the world is a stage and you are left in the wings. 

Or when you feel like a song and no one wants to hear you sing. Do you know how it feels"?

To live in a state of well-ness, to have a well-being we need to look to the choices we make, the life-styles we adopt. We either focus in on those things that engender and promote balance, harmony and peace. Or we choose their counterparts and live a life of "quiet desperation" or maybe not so quiet. As we have said; we create our own world.The world we choose to live in which inversely creates in us a limiting factor binding us to a self-image that is incomplete. Sadly we accept and believe it to be our "Real Nature". In this ongoing process we furnish our "comfort zones" the way we want them. Making it almost impossible to make the needed change to become and be all that we can be and are.

If our lives are lackluster, dull, lifeless, painful or meaningless. It is time to ask ourselves, "why is this so"? Is this really the way I want to live out my life? We know that the solution to any problem lies within the problem itself. Herein lies our hope; we can remain our own problem while we moan and groan and even find someone or something to blame. Or we can become and be, the problem no more. And go on to a more excellent, a more meaningful way of living.

To be well, to be "whole", to be healthy in mind, body and spirit. Another triad needs to be considered. The following three things are three suggestions that most every mother tries to teach her children.

1. To eat properly
2. To exercise daily
3. To get a proper nights sleep

Sounds simple enough, right? But how many do {do}these simple suggestions. Do pay attention, taking them to heart and finding out what they can mean to their well-being. Lets' take each of these basic essentials, one by one. Commonsense tells us that for us to maintain a high level of energy that we need to perform all the various tasks we as humans have chosen to be of importance. Proper nutrition is needed to supply the fuel to maintain the body machine.

Someone has said;" we are what we eat". I would add," some live to eat while others eat to live". Many would agree with the first quote as for myself, I eat to live. The "stuffers" of the world those who shovel the food in as though they were stoking a locomotive or as if it were their last meal. May be closer to the truth than they realize, it may well be their last meal. Obesity is on the rise with its accompanying entourage of high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, diabetes, gout and the killer heart disease. It is hard to believe that people play so "fast and loose" with their lives. Unless obesity is caused by a glandular or some other physical abnormality there is really no one or anything to blame except oneself.

Back in the sixties: I knew someone who weighed over 325 lbs. He had trouble just to get in and out of a chair or in going up a flight of stairs, Many of the simplist of things demanded a Herculean effort on his part. One day after many broken promises and resolutions, he decided to lose weight. His goal was to reach a weight of 175 lbs. He also decided that he would not buy any new clothes until he had reached his desired weight. The months went by and the pounds with them. Almost twelve months to the day, a new person emerged out of the old. New clothes were bought, a new car, a sporty BMW, a new hairstyle and a new personality. The transformation was unbelievable. When asked how he did it; he said; "I just stopped kidding myself that I could lose the weight anytime I felt like it". And faced up to the fact that if it was to be done. I was the only one who could do it. Plus I was getting tired of carrying around an extra person".  The rest of the story; he also got a new wife.

The bottom line, if you want to change, whatever, "Just do it".

The second basic building block for maintaining a healthy body is exercise. A word which many have grown to ignore and dislike. Proper exercise is important for the skeletal and muscular structure of the body. If we don't exercise we will lose our tone, as flab replaces muscle. Also we will suffer in a loss of strength, stamina and endurance without a minimum amount of exercise. As they do say; "if we don't use it, we lose it"

The magic word to remember when we are talking about exercise is "consistency". We need a plan and we need to work the plan. A companion word with consistency is "determination". And I guess we need to include, "desire and discipline" if we are going to get serious about exercising as a life plan. The original question asked about longevity? No exercise, no longevity

What kind of exercise, how to exercise, how often, must be a personal choice. But whatever it is it needs to be something one can live with and do on a daily basis. Fitness and exercise must become a way of life, a posturing and a "breathing". By this I mean fitness must become as important as breathing. From a personal standpoint; I do a routine of stretching, stomach crunches, push-ups and working out with the five pound staff I carry. Plus the daily walking with and without the backpack {70-100 lbs.}. I used to carry 100lbs but since India I have reduced the pack 25lbs. Sometimes if lucky I get to play some tennis and half court basketball. To put it another way, I think "well-being". I am,"well-being"; I assume the "presence" of wellness.

Old habits die hard but again the benefits far exceed the initial difficulty of making the change. The favorite excuse I hear all the time when the subject turns to exercise." I am to busy, I have no time and when I do, I am to "tired". If we want to do something bad enough we will always find the time. I believe the greatest "nemesis" to exercising is down right "laziness". I have yet to meet a person who has seriously decided and stuck with his decision to exercise. That has not said;" I feel better than I have ever felt in my entire life".

As we know; there are all sorts of addictions; one of the better, the most productive is to be addicted to those things that engender and enhance ones' well-being.

The last building block is an adequate time for sleeping. The body needs "downtime", a chance to restore and replenish the depletion of energy that one expels during the day. To run an engine with little or no fuel, no oil lubricant and allowing it no "timeout"; a resting period will eventually ruin the engine. The body is no different for it is during sleep;that the restorative powers of the body are replenished to help in the healing of the wear and tear of the day. One of the worst injustices done to the body is depriving it of proper sleep. One of the important techniques used in brainwashing is the deprivation of sleep.

All that has been said up to now about the need for proper nutrition, proper exercise and proper sleep for the healing and restoration of our physical vehicle. Also applies when we speak about the mind. Both the body and the mind are forms of matter manifested out of the unmanifested. Relatively speaking since we live in time and space, the mind as the upper echlon of the body needs the proper nourishment {right thoughts, feelings and emotions} those very things that can help in the developing of the ways, means and instruments so that we might better "self-remember" as to 'who we are.' As well as remembering the "Source" of our mind and body.

We spoke about the need of the body to excercise. The mind also has a need to stretch; to ask, probe, seek and search for a "way" to reach out beyond the mind into the levels of consciousness that can afford us a possibility of new insights into new paradigms. To lead us out of our present dilemma of fragmentation and separateness towards a unity with "All and Everything". Atrophy of mind can happen as subtly and as easily as it does to the body. The break down of both of these fields of energy {mind and body} is a source of much of our suffering and pain. Vigilance is one of the words we need to practice.

Aging need not be a negative attitude but rather a time to enjoy the moment and reflect on the joys of wisdom and truth. Age should not be considered a liability but instead an asset. A period to expand, to go beyond our safe havens and enter into the wonders of the unknown. Many of our years prior to the "autumn" of our lives we spend bound by the "known" of our time. With fleeting moments of suspecting there is more to life than what we think, see or feel. More than the World we have created for ourselves. More than the transitory externals that we cling too, defensively out of fear. 

If there is a need for the body to have a "time out" period, there is even a greater need for us to set aside a time for the mind to seek refuge from the constant "chattering'' within. Three words and their meaning need to be investigated and considered for the health of the mind; the three words are; concentration, contemplation and meditation. It is within these three, a healing and restoration can take place. Not just in the mind but throughout the body.

This leads us to the last building block in the triad of "mind, body and spirit". As said before; "words create words". Which in a sense is unavoidable but necessary. It is imperative that we are aware, that our consensual languages are inadequate. Because our minds at this point in time are as we have said; fragmented. Unable to consistently separate the unreal from the real; the truth from the false and the light from the dark. But we are working on it.

Whether we believe or do not believe that the human species is part spirit as well as being mind and body is one of personal choice. One either believes he/she is more than ones' mind and body. That life is more than just existing. More than eating, sleeping and the performing of the many routines we have conditioned ourselves to participate in. More than the pain/pleasure cycle. More than the fears and desires which we have allowed to bind us.

Or we believe that death is the "end all" of end alls. That everything is for naught, that there is no rhyme or reason for life. No meaning, no purpose or goal that life is just one great big "joke"; a "comedy of errors" played out by a bunch of misguided fools who believe that there is more to life than meets the eye.

The wonder, we are not doomed, we have not been left defenseless, without the inherit resources to cope, to adapt, to go beyond the transitory circumstances whatever they maybe. Each has within "the gifts"; the Power, the Force, and the Will. Choose well, always remembering there is no name for the nameless. It just is.

Deep within our "Absolute Nature" the Power, the Force, the Will, the Truth, the Love is waiting to be "incarnated", if we will consciously decide and consciously make the effort to become and be who and what we have always been, the" very substance of the very substance"; One of the One.

The secret of longevity, fitness and health lies within the investigation, the enquiry and the probing into the meaning behind, in and through, above and below. As to what is "Truth", what is relative, what is Absolute, what is temporary, what is permanent? Who am I? Why am I here? And where am I going?

I will end with a legacy of twelve words; I have spent a lifetime with these words;

"Be still and know"

"Know thyself"

" Unto your own self be true"

(China 5/2001)

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