A recent news report cited the startling estimate that lifestyle-related diseases will cost India close to $6 trillion from 2013-30! With that kind of cost, it is clear that something needs to be done. Experts such as the World Health Organization are suggesting a range of measures from increasing the tax on tobacco and alcohol and banning their advertising to changes in diet.
Even current researchers are stating that lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disorders and diabetes can be prevented. “Lifestyle changes and stress management can go a long way in warding off these diseases”, said Dean Ornish, clinical professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco. Speaking at the International Conference on Global Health Futures held in Bangalore last year, he went on to say that “Fun, freedom, pleasure and love are the key factors that enable people to make sustainable lifestyle changes”.
But the choice to make that change rests with each individual. While many people may desire to make the change, the ability to see it through may prove more difficult. It’s more than simply resorting to willpower or self-control.
It is “to live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal.” (Mary Baker Eddy). In other words, real and sustainable lifestyle changes have to start from deep within us. It has to start with the spirituality inherent in our nature. It’s the best way to tackle problems from the root up and find permanent solutions.
I’ve found that following a daily spiritual workout to be effective in changing lifestyle behavior for the better. My workout is based on this advice:
“Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.” (Bible)
I like to break this up into a daily 2-step spiritual workout:
Step 1: Exercise the ability to express good. Qualities such as honesty, unselfishness and patience are always in demand. And a daily routine that includes the conscious effort to exercise such qualities brings confidence and satisfaction. Doing what’s right and good has a boomerang effect. I find that I’m energized. Apathy, laziness and even tiredness seem to melt away. It brings a sense of wellbeing, removing any need to seek gratification by indulging in excessive food, alcohol or tobacco.
Step 2: Exercise the right to fast. Not from food and drink or anything good. Rather choose to abstain from selfishness, anger, criticism, envy and pride. Replace them with unselfishness, kindness, genuine appreciation and humility. It does take effort to be watchful and discipline thought.But it’s worth it because of the resulting peace, calm and restfulness. Stress and strain disappear and only grace and harmony remain.
Practiced daily, this type of workout builds up spiritual muscle. The best part about it is that it is not one more thing that must be scheduled into our already full schedules. In fact, it works best when it is incorporated into our daily routines – wherever we are, at home, at work, with friends, any time and any place.
The resulting spiritual fitness helps one make wiser choices, and stick with those choices, leading to stress-free and healthier lifestyles.
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