Health and Spirituality (May 2016)

One of the beauties of human life is that we can pursue multiple goals simultaneous. And, not only that, we can celebrate the fruits of those goals as well as enjoy the anticipation of the journey. However, when those goals appear to be incongruent or the means to achieve them seem unaligned, it makes for confusion, frustration and resentment. One such confusion, prevalent in our society, is in simultaneously pursuing physical health and spiritual goals. It is assumed that spirituality comes at the expense of other life goals, particularly health consciousness – as if being health conscious is an impediment on spiritual path. This cannot be far from truth.  While obsession in any endeavor is inappropriate, moderate pursuit of health is not only fine but also advantageous in achieving spiritual goals. Topic for this month’s kid’s assignment is the role of good health in achieving success in different aspects of life and ways to achieve them.
When we think of health and its benefits, naturally, physical and material goals come in forefront. In the physical realm, health means an active life style, vigor in actions, and lack of illnesses. This physical vitality leads to successes in material realm: fortunes, richness, and accomplishments come naturally to someone who is full of energy. That’s fine, but, does health lead to spirituality, which is a part of mental realm? Yes. In fact, all the three aspects (physical, material and spiritual) are interrelated.
Let’s take a look at physical health first. Not only does a healthy body aid, but also is an essential step in achieving spiritual goals. Spiritual goals require healthy thoughts, and health thoughts reside in health body. There is a saying, “healthy mind resides in health body.” It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a physically ill person suffering from the pains of diseases to concentrate and focus in acquiring knowledge or sit for long periods. There is another saying, “व्याधि समाधि की दुश्मन है,” meaning disease is enemy of meditation.
The other byproduct of bodily health is material benefits. Being able to fulfill one’s needs without worries or stress at monetary front makes for mind’s calmness and peace. Like bodily sickness, it is hard, if not impossible, to concentrate and meditate when one has not accounted for life’s basic necessities. Only after feeding one’s family to satisfaction can a person think of charity and philanthropy.
As it is obvious that these three aspects go hand-in-hand, it is important that kids focus on all of them and their interconnection in their articles.
Next logical question then is how to acquire good health. Let’s look at different means – from gross to subtle: food, hygiene, exercise, breathing technique, and outlook. While I expect kids to cover all of these five means in their article, the focus being spiritual growth, let’s look at that aspect in each of these five means that aids in spirituality. For instance, eating pure food (सात्विक भोजन) gives rise to pure thoughts; maintaining good hygiene (शौच) is essential part of student and yogi; doing physical exercises (आसन) provides desired flexibility that help lengthen youth and vigor; proper breathing (प्राणायाम) leads to all sort of health and mental benefits; and a positive outlook (सकारात्मक सोच) towards life pushes away many dreaded diseases.
Please encourage kids to expand on these five means as they deem fit.
As always, I am looking forward to enlightening articles and thoughts.
With best regards,
Harsh Mendiratta