This New Year, it might be a good idea to experiment with one’s lifestyle and try out meditation and vegetarianism as fresh ways of adding positive energy and a sense of calm to one’s spiritual life, writes Sant Rajinder Singh
Each of us has the power to create a healthier way of life. The choices we make today impact our physical, mental, and spiritual health tomorrow, even months or years from now. Our choices also impact our family. What we choose today regarding the care of our body, mind, and spirit will determine what our future health will be like. If we would realise that everything we do is building a foundation for our own life as well as for the lives of our children and other family members, we might think and act differently.
The physical body and mind comprise the house for our soul. If we want to build a healthier body, mind, and spirit for ourselves and our family, we can make choices that contribute to a healthier lifestyle. Recent medical research points to two ways in which we can be proactive for increasing our wellness. One is meditation and the other is vegetarian diet. Here are some simple steps that can help:
Step 1: Be still
We know that our parents had all the solutions for us when we were children. When we were rambunctious, they had five words for us: “Sit down and be still”. These words are a precursor to a healthy lifestyle. Being still is another word for meditation.
When we meditate, we slow our heart rate and breathing to a point where we are calm. When we are agitated and upset, the body produces fight or flight hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which may be useful when in danger to help us defend ourselves or run, but not useful when the simple problems of life upset us. We do not need cortisol and adrenaline to kick in when our spouse or children leave the toothpaste cap off or someone cuts us off on the highway. We have been so conditioned to become upset about things that are not life-threatening that we produce stress hormones that react on our body in a way that can break down our organs and hamper bodily systems.
Meditation helps us sit in a calm, relaxed state so that we can ward off the effects of daily life challenges. When we remain calm, our body is not producing hormones that can lead to stress-related ailments such as heart attack, stroke, hypertension, headaches, digestive and skin problems. When we meditate we also keep our mind calm. We not only suffer physical illness from stress, but we also create emotional and mental difficulties when we are not calm. This can lead to emotional and relationship problems or other stress-related mental disorders. Through meditation, we can keep a calm and peaceful mind to help us lead happier lives.
Meditation also helps us develop concentration, which we need for school or our jobs. When we are stressed out our performance level is not as high as we need it to be. When we concentrate we can get better grades, which reduces our stress as students. Our stress as employees or professionals is reduced because we can perform better at work.
How can we prove the spiritual benefits of being still and meditating? This is one area where meditation fits the scientific model. It is based on experimentation leading to proof. Those who have tried this experiment have discovered that meditation leads to wellness not only of the body and mind, but also of the soul.
Step 2: Vegetarian Diet
Doctors have proof that plant-based diet reduces the risk of many diseases such as stroke, heart attack, diabetes, digestive disorders, and even some cancers, among other illnesses. By cutting out meat, and even fish, fowl, and eggs, we can reduce the risk of many ailments.
Vegetarianism also has benefits to our state of mind and our spiritual well being. Think of the state of the animals when slaughtered. Hormones of fear and stress run through them at the time of their captivity and slaughter. It has been said that we are what we eat. All that was a part of the animal becomes part of us when we eat it. This means we are ingesting their fear and panic hormones, which can contribute to our own state of fear and anxiety when it becomes a part of our body.
We also are taking into our body anything the animal ate. For example, antibiotics fed to the animal become part of us. If animals are fed hormones to make them grow faster, they too become a part of us which can lead to problems because now those hormones are in our body.
There are moral benefits to a vegetarian diet. Most cultures believe in the law that “thou shalt not kill”. There is a recognition in many cultures that even animals have a soul in them. Thus, when we take the life of a creature, we are taking the life of a being who has a soul in it. All beings are created by one creative power, and as such we are all one family. When we recognise this, we begin to love all and treat all as one family. Just as we would not want to harm our family members, similarly, we would not want to take the life of any creature.
Moreover, it is now easier than ever to be vegetarian and the benefits of being one are enormous. One can try the experiment of incorporating meditation and a vegetarian diet into one’s life. Then, you can see for yourself the benefits you will experience. If you can track the changes these two choices make and find that you are healthier —physically, mentally, and spiritually, you will have first-hand proof that meditation and a vegetarian diet are in fact beneficial.