What can we do to stay healthy? Nothing much frankly, except for an easy adherence to a few simple rules. These rules relate to the four pillars of health namely, food, sleep, exercise and emotional wellness.
शरीरं धार्यते नित्यमागारमिव धारणै:।।
"You are what you eat." Traditional, time-honored foods that are freshly prepared with locally available ingredients are the best. Foods that appetize are the foods that nourish. Enjoy them with due regard to the signals of your body clock and health is assured. Just make sure that you round up every meal with a serving of butter-milk and fresh fruits. And most importantly, never over-eat!
"Balm of hurt minds...Chief nourisher in life's feast." The bard, as always, knows best. Court every night this 'chief nourisher' and spirited with that joy your days shall be. Daytime sleep, except for the very young and the infirm, is a strict no-no.
Moderate intensity exercise of about half an hour everyday would be ideal. A brisk walk in the midst of mind-soothing greenery is verily the queen of all exercises. Never ignore her! Remember: "Longer the belt, shorter the life."
Nourishing our interiors with truer, abiding joys is the key to emotional wellness. Two rules that the simple-minded would find it easy to apply can assure this wellness:
- Do the work you love
- Make LMN your best friends: Literature, Music/Meditation and Nature.
The inextricability of healthy living from sanatana dharma becomes most evident here. Vagbhata's prescription for mental wellness is simply a devoted adherence to this dharma.
मता: सर्वा: प्रवृत्तय:।
सुखं च न विना धर्मात्
तस्मात् धर्मपरो भवेत्।।
Finally, an important study published by National Geographic on longevity, highlights a vital truth, best put in the words of its author Dan Buettner: "The big aha for me, having studied populations of the long-lived for nearly a decade, is how the factors that encourage longevity reinforce one another over the long term. For people to adopt a healthful lifestyle, I have become convinced, they need to live in an ecosystem, so to speak, that makes it possible. As soon as you take culture, belonging, purpose or religion out of the picture, the foundation for long healthy lives collapses. The power of such an environment lies in the mutual reinforcing relationships among lots of nudges and default choices. There's no silver bullet to keep death and the diseases of old age at bay."
Reminded of Vagbhata's advice?!