The first step in meditation is to start paying attention to the physical health of your body. When your body is functioning with perfect health, it gives you the courage and confidence that you can execute whatever you think.
Understand, at the basic level, your body is a purely physical mechanism. It needs food and rest. It feels warm and cold. It falls sick and heals. It performs physical functions. It needs regular maintenance and care. Naturally, it will be affected by your physical habits – how you eat, sleep, exercise and rest.
Listen to Your Body, Stop Treating it as Dustbin
When you don’t give your body the basic care it needs, naturally you are inviting disease. As I always say, all your diseases are your guests! You invite them upon yourself with your careless treatment of your body.
For example, when you eat something spicy, your eyes begin to water; your body starts protesting, I can’t handle this! But do you listen? NO! And then, you complain about your eyes watering. When you watch television till midnight, your whole system is screaming, I need rest! But as usual, you ignore it.
Then the next day, you complain about feeling tired; you talk as if it is a disease of the body. Be very clear: your body is continuously giving you signals, but you don’t have the intelligence to understand these signals.
For instance, why do we eat? The simplest explanation would be, to get energy. But does your food actually energize you? After a meal, do you feel energetic or sleepy? Most of us feel sleepy. Because our choice of food is poor, and because we continue to eat long after our stomach is full, we feel sleepy after eating.
We throw anything and everything into our stomach. We throw food into it as if it were a garbage bin. We treat our stomach like a garbage bin. With every meal, we are taxing our digestive system. No wonder we don’t feel energetic after eating!
Invite Energy not Diseases
When you eat excessively and don’t exercise enough – you become lethargic. A lethargic body is completely unfit for meditation. Not only that, diseases attack the body easily when your energy levels are low. Exercise can help you expand. When you exercise, every cell of your body expands. Your lungs get filled with oxygen and the impurities are thrown out along with the carbon-dioxide that is expelled.
In our lifestyle, we don’t have time for either exercise or rest. What we call as rest is not restful.
How many of us wake up feeling refreshed and joyful? If you have rested properly, you should dance your way to the bathroom every morning! Instead, when the alarm goes off in the morning, what do you do? Switch it off and go back to sleep.
Real sleep is when the body is totally at rest; when all its stress has been released; when your systems can take care of all repair and maintenance work. How often do we enjoy deep, undisturbed, dreamless sleep? Very rarely. But be very clear: only on those days have you actually slept.
You may be wondering, what does all this have to do with meditation? There are two reasons why we are discussing this subject.
The first thing is, a physically fit body helps you enter deeply into meditation.
And secondly, practicing meditation itself can help you rest and function better. When the quality of your sleep improves, the quality and productivity of your waking hours increases naturally.