It is one of the greatest and most rewarding attributes you can work on — attentiveness. There is a slight yet significant difference between mindfulness and attentiveness. Mindfulness is maintaining a sense of awareness, a sort of consciousness that you are watching your own thoughts, your actions.
With greater practice, your level of mindfulness rises to a degree that it becomes effortless. Mindfulness is the basis of a stable life, a sound mind, and living gracefully. It is also the essence of meditation. That reminds me: a while ago, I recorded a discourse on dhyana yoga, meditation. It is in Hindi. You can watch it here.
Getting back to my present topic, attention is a conscious effort. You are paying attention and you are conscious that you are trying to be attentive. If you pay attention to yourself, your actions, and the environment, and if you are listening to your body, you naturally inculcate an effortless, rewarding discipline and order in your life. Attention leads to mindfulness eventually. My focus today is predominantly on paying attention or – listening to your body, understanding what it is trying to say to you.
Are you listening to your body?
Fitness of the physical body is more important than any religious ritual, in my opinion. We enjoy all pleasures through the body, however transcendental they may be. It is through the body alone that you experience what you do and it is your body that puts up with the good and bad results of any action you perform.
This world with all its whims and fancies, joys and sorrows, pleasures and pains, exists for you as long as you have the body. A lot of people do not treat their body with the same care as they would treat their money, relationships, work, etc. Or perhaps, it is a question of priority. Your physical fitness, regardless of your age, deserves to be at the top.
Nothing happens instantly in the play of nature. The same goes for your body too. I have observed countless times that often small ailments, when not tended to, turn into major problems. Many a time, your body shows symptoms and signs long before anything is diagnosed. If you choose to ignore its nudges, it expresses in the form of disease later on. Are you listening to your body?
Imagine running on a treadmill at a fast pace for an hour and then simply getting off it without cooling down. It might do you more damage than good. Similarly, in life, after you have caught up pace, when you wish to stop, you need to give yourself time to slow down, to cool down. You cannot afford to keep running at the same pace throughout.
Evolution over numerous lifetimes has helped your body develop a sophisticated mechanism of survival. When you are eating a wholesome meal, no matter how delicious, your body tells you when you should stop. It makes you feel sleepy when it wants rest, it wakes you up when it has gotten enough sleep, you feel thirsty when your body needs water, you feel hungry when it needs food. The easiest way to keep fit is by listening to your body, by paying attention to it. If you do not ignore it and exercise, your chances of keeping your body fit and healthy skyrocket.
The human body can take a lot when young but that does not mean it is justifiable to abuse it. Often the results of such abuse show through in the later years. If someone smokes a lot and lives off junk food, the body may still remain fit when young but sooner or later, the perils of such living catch up. Is it any coincidence that all yogic scriptures give great importance to eating right and physical exercises!
Ripu ruja paavaka papa prabhu ahi gani’a na chota kari ॥
An enemy, disease, fire, sin, a master, and snakes should not be taken for granted, no matter how small they may appear at first. Attend to them at the first sign.
(Ram Charitmanas, Aranya Kand, 21)
It is never too late or too early to adopt a healthy lifestyle. And what is a healthy lifestyle? A balanced life is a healthy one: work, exercise, and a balanced diet. Your body is an instrument of life, of living, of experiences. It is not a cage for your soul but a potent vehicle of knowledge and insight. All acquisition of knowledge is through the senses. There will be no senses if not for the body. Befriend it, treat it with care. Love thyself.
Listen to what your body is trying to tell you, pay attention! Taking charge of your health begins with giving heed to what your body has to say.
Art of Meditation
Free yourself from suffering and live life to the fullest. Learn the yogic technique of meditation in 4 days (and master it over a lifetime)
Now that you know how to listen to your body, here’s more on some aspects of health, including exercising and eating right. Get ready to listen?
Why are exercise and the right diet important for maintaining health?
Someone asked me recently, “Can you tell me in detail about your exercise/yogasana routine and diet regimen to keep our bodies healthy and shaped like you?”
Now, this is a flattering question because my body isn’t exactly chiseled like Hercules or some ancient Greek god, but yes, mostly I’m on top of my fitness, which in my view exists at three levels: emotional, physical and mental.
In this post, I’ll limit myself to the question above and focus only on physical fitness. When you listen to your body and take care of your body by eating, exercising and sleeping well, it rewards you in every other sphere.
How do I cultivate the self-discipline to exercise?
Let’s be honest, maintaining self-discipline requires a constant supply of motivation and self-control. We want to listen to our body and exercise it, of course. But mindfulness alone doesn’t cut it, you’ve to have the will to act on your intention. We all fall, and that’s okay as long as we get back on our feet.
Here are my three tips on building and guarding self-discipline. Take note so that you can get your train back on track!
How do I lose weight when I’m obese?
On 28-Jan-2019, I got the rudest shock of my life. When I’d gotten my annual medical checkup done, nothing was right:
- My cholesterol was 220.
- Weight: 79 kg. I was overweight. I weighed 81+ kg in Nov 2018. The most I’d ever been.
- I was low on Vitamin B12 and D. Like very low.
- Worst of all, my liver reports were terrible with SGPT and SGOT (also known as ALT and AST) at eight times the average value in a healthy adult. It was an indication that it could be NAFLD (Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease).
- GGTP: 163
The condition was so bad that, among other tests, I was told to get a Liver Fibroscan to ascertain the extent of damage to my liver. The result of the scan? Worse than anyone expected.
Read here to know how I got my weight and lifestyle back to the optimum range. Listen to your body because nothing is more important than health.