Health is not something you have to 'get' you already have it, sometimes we just need to be reminded of how to keep it. So before you go wasting time and money on complicated techniques and solutions, start with these basic tips that have helped humans thrive for eons. Enjoy!
1. AIR: THE ART OF SCIENTIFIC BREATHING.
Breath is life. Yours began with an inhale, and will end with an exhale. Humans can live without food or water for days, but deprive air even for a few minutes and everything stops. Nature, in her infinite intelligence, has constructed man in such a way that we do not need to think about breathing. Isn’t that marvelous?! Amazing. But it’s also the reason most people are completely ignorant of the value and significance of correct breathing as it relates to their health.
If step one of physical life is breath, how can anybody move on to step 2 if they have failed to master step one? Yet that is exactly what almost every person on the planet is doing.
There are entire traditions (LIKE YOGA) dedicated to the awareness of the breath, but in order to gain the health benefit only one thing is necessary, and that is to be conscious of your respiration. Once you are fully conscious of your breath the only instruction is that you breathe completely. Use your diaphragm and you will not need further instruction on how to breathe. It will come naturally. Consider it a gift of the Gods. That you heard from me. So consider it a gift from Sun God Wongi.
Exercise: To develop the habit of correct breathing sit comfortably for 5 minutes inhaling and exhaling through the nostrils, while observing and witnessing the patterns of your breath. Practitioners should develop the practice until able to take just a few uninterrupted breaths during the entire 5 minute exercise. In a sense learn to influence the quantity and quality of the inhale and exhale.
FOR A MORE IN DEPTH LOOK AT THE MIRACLE OF BREATH DOWNLOAD THIS FREE PDF VERSION OF YOGI RAMACHARAKA'S 'THE SCIENCE OF BREATH.'
2. MEDITATION: THE ART OF BEING.
Meditation is about getting your mind right. How can you expect to get your body hard if your brain is soft? It can't and won't happen. The mind is muscle and unless you use it, you lose it. Meditation is the most practical and effective method for developing mental strength, flexibility and endurance.
Exercise: Simply repeat the exercise in step one but increase the time in variable increments. For example set a timer for 21 minutes. 1 minute for adjusting and 20 minutes for stillness. Eventually you will find that you are no longer focusing on the breath, or on thinking about nothing, but you are just being. I don’t know how else to explain it, other than being.
At this point you can begin to apply your being in your everyday life. I don’t mean that you have your eyes closed behind the wheel of your car, but rather that when you’re driving your car that you are meditative. Aware. Awake! Not on subconscious cruise control letting your thoughts lead to actions not in line with your optimal performance. Theoretically everything becomes meditative. EVERYTHING.
3. WATER: THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
When astronomers scan the celestial heavens for life they look for the element of water. Science tells us that humans are composed of nearly eight tenths of it. But what does that mean to our health? It suggests that every organ and functioning system is based on water.
The circulation of our blood, the beating of our hearts, the tears that lubricate our eyes and nearly every other feature, are all based on water. When the water level is low, the body has shown a remarkable ability to compensate and sustain functioning, however this loss in efficiency shortens the life span of the equipment. What we call aging. Just like any other high tech piece of machinery if regular maintenance is not performed, eventually the system fails or requires significant repair. In the human body the breakdowns show up as strokes, cancers and seemingly limitless ailments that deplete comfort and time.
The remedy is to develop a habit of water drinking. How much is enough? Everyone has an opinion. In general if you’re thirsty you’re dehydrated. My general rule is to drink until my urine is clear. Truth is simple. And genius.
Exercise: Drink 12-16 ozs of water immediately when you wake up and just before going to sleep. This gets the internal system moving in the morning and keeps it operating the 8 hours you’re asleep. Develop the complete habit until you feel you are always hydrated.
For a more detailed understanding of the benefits of water drinking listen to a free version of Yogi Ramacharaka's The Hindu Yogi Water Cure narrated by Wongi.
4. MOVEMENT: MOTION IS LIFE.
Everything that lives moves. If you desire health, get up, get out and do something. I’m so tired of all these gimmicky products and programs that promise fitness. Nothing is required except to be active. Something you enjoy is a good start. Walking works. Yoga can be fun. So can paddle boarding, surfing, roller skating, playing practically any sport. When is the last time you went for a bike ride? Do anything but do nothing.
Get out there and LIVE. What is the point of having a strong, flexible, vibrant body if you are not utilizing it in many different ways? So try lots of things, or master a few. Never allow yourself to grow old and you won’t.
Exercise: Commit to twenty minutes of physical activity for twenty consecutive days. If you miss a day begin again at day one. (this will keep you committed) Some people prefer to do the same daily activity, others try twenty different daily activities. Do what you feel. Let nothing prevent progress.
Need motivation? Move like my Uncle Bruce.
5. SUNSHINE: NATURE IS NATURAL
We are only the second or third generation to spend more time inside then out. Houses used to be a place for shelter from the night or weather until we could get back to working the land. Now it takes a weekend or a vacation to find a natural environment. This is not what nature intended. So get back with her. She misses you. The effects on your attitude and health will be obvious.
Exercise: Spend 5-10 minutes with nature everyday. Even if that means just sitting in the sun or in the garden make the effort to touch the Earth. When possible take a day or weekend trip to the wilderness. Any wilderness. Lake, stream, ocean, mountain or forest and live as nature intended. You will be amazed at how much more alive you feel. You can thank me later.
Here are some of my favorite Earth environments.
Wongi is a mindful performance enthusiast and author of the often enlightening and usually entertaining lifestyle blog, Meditating Out Loud.