By Suma Varughese January 2001 The New Age is here. Can the New You be far behind? Here’s how to package your body, mind and spirit for the Millennium The New Millennium,another term for the New Age. And we are obliged to create ourselves afresh. For the New Age asks for a radical change in attitude, perspective, approach and being. The Universe, we now discover, is caring, intelligent, connected and radiant, with energy responsive to our needs and thoughts. Fundamental to the New Age is the acceptance of a Higher Intelligence that not only created the universe but also is intimately connected to every single atom. The Creator and the Creation are one. How do we respond to this vision of oneness and divinity? There are certain key attitudinal shifts we must make. The first is the acceptance of the supremacy of the spirit. So far our understanding of life was shaped by our use of the senses. But now we learn that our bodies are containers for our spirit and that this spirit is eternal, undying, and divine; in short, it is the God within us. If this is so, how do we access the spirit within us? To align ourselves to our spirit and to give expression to it, we need to develop our intuition, for one thing. Our spirit speaks to us through feelings, hunches, visions. The old ways of using reason and logic to arrive at decisions must be tempered with heart. We are no longer driven to do things simply because they are sensible, but because they are what we want to do. Using intuition as a yardstick throws us with greater dependence on the Universe. And as we abide by its dictates, a path unfolds before us. Things happen that lead us one more step towards our growth. We get insights that open new possibilities. We sense that we are in the middle of a wonderful adventure and that all that arises in our lives is meant to lead us further towards the goal. And the goal? To access the God within. To become Pure Consciousness itself. This leads to another attitudinal shift, namely, that our purpose in life is to grow and eventually realize our true nature. We must move from protesting against the many inequities of life to actively cooperating with them, for they teach us what we need to learn. Burdened with a cranky mother-in-law? A floundering business? Death whistling close behind? So much the better! The more the problems, the more springy your step. It’s a long road that you and I have to travel. We have to get to the Holy Grail of Godhead. And for that we have to vanquish every impediment of the body, mind and soul. Here’s how- We are not the body, but the body is the vehicle that bears us onward and we have a sacred obligation to take care of it. The New Age attitude towards the body is responsibility towards it. We must look after it so that it can serve us to the best of its ability. The old idea of using (and abusing) the body to experience sensory pleasures will be calibrated by the need for discipline and self-control. Nor is the body unconnected with the spirit. As all seekers know, unless the body is in perfect fettle, spiritual progress is hindered. FoodWhat is the appropriate food for the Millennium? Yatha anna, thatha manna (as the food, so the mind) goes one saying. The Bhagvad Gita was far more precise regarding the impact of food on the body-mind-spirit complex. ‘Foods which increase life, health, happiness, which are tasty and strengthen the heart, are liked by those of the character of goodness (satvic). ‘Foods which are bitter, sour, harsh, which give pain, grief and sickness, are desired by those of passionate character (rajasic). ‘That which is stale and has lost its flavor, and is unfit for sacrifice is the food liked by those of dull character (tamasic).’ (XVII, 8, 9, 10; The Song of the Lord, translated by Edward J. Thomas). Self-realization is the progressive movement from tamasic to rajasic to satvic qualities. Satvic food would include wheat, rice, milk, butter, honey, raw sugar, green vegetables, fruits and nuts. Rajasic qualities are found in wine, tea, coffee, sodas, oily and spicy food. Tamasic food is canned or frozen, root vegetables, peanuts, leftovers as well as meat products. So, we are what we eat. But what is the impact of food on the body? Traditional healing sciences such as ayurveda and naturopathy stress on diet and good digestion. Says Hans H. Rhyner in Ayurveda, The Gentle Health System: ‘Improper nutrition is almost always the cause of a physical illness.’ Ayurveda also introduces the concept of doshas, or three life-giving forces—vata, pitta and kapha. These are found in every individual in varying qualities and form our individual natures. All depends on the balancing of your doshas with the food quality. Ayurveda suggests that each meal should have the full complement of gunas and rasas. Gunas define textures such as heavy, light, dry, oily. Rasas refer to sweet, sour, salty, astringent tastes. Ayurveda would advise a diet of 30-60 per cent whole cereal grains, 30-50 per cent fresh fruits and vegetables, 10-20 per cent of high quality proteins. But naturopathy advocates the consumption of a primarily raw diet—fruits, vegetables and nuts. Grains and cereals require cooking and are therefore not encouraged. Tips for good digestion • Never eat when angry, depressed, bored or upset. • Preferably eat fresh, local, seasonal and home-cooked food. And chew well. • Facing east when eating maximizes digestion. • Give thanks for what you are about to eat. • Eat only as much as would fit into your hands cupped together. • Join the middle finger and thumb of each hand and sit cross-legged with your hand resting on your knees. Breathe calmly. This mudra improves digestion. Health How does one attain perfect health? Allopathy is the study of disease and not of health. To understand the principles of good health and how to practice them, we must retrieve the traditional wisdom of alternative therapies. Morarji Desai, former prime minister of India and an avid advocate of nature cure, says in a foreword of the book, Health In your Handsby Devendra Vora: ‘The human body is a perfect machine which can regulate itself, provided the natural rules of food, work and rest are observed. When we transgress natural rules, we create toxins in the body, which the body attempts to get rid of. This attempt is considered as disease.’ Health, in other words, is the natural state. Disease is the aberration. • Right diet: The first important thing is the need to moderate one’s diet. Have at least one glass of juice every day. Vora gives us a useful way to gauge the right and the wrong for ourselves. Stand straight, keep your left fist holding whatever food item you wish to test against the heart and stretch out your right hand parallel to the ground. Ask someone to pull your hand down. If the food item is good for you, the resistance in your right hand will be much more than if it is not. In the latter case, your right hand will slip down easily. • Breathe right: Learn pranayama. ‘The yogi’s life is not measured by the number of his days but by the number of his breaths. Therefore he follows the proper rhythmic patterns of slow, deep breathing. These rhythmic patterns strengthen the respiratory system, soothe the nervous system and reduce craving,’ writes B.K.S. Iyengar in his book .The Illustrated Light on Yoga • Mudras: Just a few graceful gestures with the fingers can help you stay on the cutting edge of health. Try Vayumudra: Bend the index finger down till it touches the mount of Venus and press your thumb on it. Keep the other fingers straight. It cures rheumatism, arthritis, gout. • Try acupressure: According to this therapy, the body is one connected bioenergetic system whose contact points are to be found in the palm of the hand and the sole of the feet. All you have to do, says Vora, to keep your system toned up, is to press the whole palm starting one inch of the wrist upwards with the thumb for five minutes. Remember to do it with both palms as well as the back of them. To diagnose, become aware of pain at any point. This indicates disorder in that particular organ. To cure the problem, press the affected point for two minutes thrice a day for as long as it takes to heal. • Give yourself reiki everyday. It will add life to what’s left of it. How do you know when your health is okay? According to Vora, your head must be cool, the soles of your feet warm, your stomach soft, indicating that your digestive system and solar plexus are in order. Mind The mind is the second aspect of our tripartite selves. It too needs to be disciplined and in alignment with our souls. And that’s easier said than done. The first sign of a greater consciousness is the knowledge that the mind, as the scriptures say, is a restless monkey. We say, I will file my tax returns and the mind insolently serves up pictures of dancing girls instead. To control our moods, feelings, behavior, approach to relationship is a serious endeavor, often demanding a lifetime of work. Personal Growth This is the process of learning both to control the waywardness of our minds and to realize its truly awesome potential. We are ignorant of both, how little control we actually have over it, and how much it can do if trained well. In the New Age, we are learning to go beyond truisms such as having a fixed nature or inborn limitations. Our minds and selves are infinitely malleable and within our power of change. What stops us from coming in contact with the ground of pure potential is the conditioning we picked up on the way. The process of deconditioning is two-way. One is to become aware of the old conditioning that tells us how powerless, helpless and limited we are and to accept the feelings and issues they present. The other
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