Lifestyle describes the collective behaviors we consistently exhibit as we walk this path called life. Our lifestyle is equal in importance to our dietary choices when it comes to influencing the lack or abundance of good health in our lives. And how we walk (or run) through life seriously impacts immune function.
As in diet, much of our behavior is determined by influences subtle enough that we may not even be aware of them:
- We embrace habits and tendencies so deeply engrained that their origins often preceed this lifetime.
- Our perception of what is beneficial and what is not is clouded by unconscious preferences and distortions.
- And who among us can avoid the massive inflow of 21st century cultural biases?
Here, now, is a list of the most obvious places we go astray:
- Movement: Although physical movement is what is being described, movement must occur at all levels in order to experience health at all levels. This is a huge topic, but the conversation simply boils down to too little or too much, and one extreme is no less harmful than the other.
- Sleep: Once again, balance is the key. Many of us stay up too late, which impairs the body's ability to repair the damage of the day — at the cellular, psychological, and emotional levels. Sleep experienced at midnight and sleep occurring at noon are not equal in result or benefit.
- Television: If you happen to be under the illusion that television is a neutral technology, may I recommend reading Jerry Mander's classic, "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television?" The physical, psychological, cultural, and creative damage is immense.
- Computer addiction: Perhaps more insidious than television, this tendency takes a similar toll. From the perspective of Oriental Medicine, it depletes heart blood and damages spleen qi. Typical symptoms could include: poor memory, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, weight gain, depression, poor night vision, palpitations, pallor — anyone you know?
- Overwork: Americans don't really have this market cornered, but we can hold our own against any other culture. I'm as guilty as anyone else, and the cost is more than we can afford.
- Being in the Sun: This is healthy! Somewhere along the line, we were sold the idea that being in the sun is bad for us.
- Abdominal Breathing: This seemingly insignificant choice of habit can make the difference between relaxed centeredness and anxious uncertainty. It soothes, relaxes, and massages the visceral organs, while breathing in the upper chest stimulates readiness for "fight or flight," and we already have plenty of that....
- Spiritual Practice: Whatever that means to us. The deepest, most sincere effort we can make toward higher consciousness. In the context of this discussion, it might be beneficial to perceive spiritual practice as simply bringing awareness to our attention and our attitude. To what are we giving our precious attention? And what is our attitude toward what we are viewing? Herein is the birth of our experience.
Hopefully, a theme is presenting itself here. Balance. Woefully scarce in our lives, and so vital to what the soul in us seeks. The "middle road" sounds so utterly boring to the hyped-up western mind. Yet this is where not just happiness, but true bliss resides.
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