A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Enlightenment requires a healthy body for the journey

I have talked extensively on the training of our minds, and the guidelines which we need to follow. In fact if you read most discourses on Buddhism, they are about the thoughts, speech and actions. Today lets look at the vehicle we use to carry out our speech and actions, our body. Before we can help others, we need to help ourselves, applies to the physical as well as the mental and spiritual aspects of our life.

According to Hindu and Buddhist teachings there are 7 major chakra’s in our body, which means wheels or  energy centers. These then become 21 smaller ones, and if you look at the Chinese acupuncture chart there are thousands of them. These energy centers are located in our physical body, hence the need to take care of the body as well as the mind and spirit.

Before achieving enlightenment the Buddha practiced Asceticism, a form of meditation where you survive on rain water and little or no food, and don’t bathe. He was so desiccated and weakened that a young woman mistook him for a tree spirit, and offered a bowl of rice and milk. It was only after he regained his health, that the Buddha discovered the middle way. “Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” Buddha. So how do we take care of our body.

1. Get enough quality sleep on a daily basis. First keep a regular schedule, allowing you body to develop a rhythm. If you late getting to bed, resist the temptation to sleep in, instead grab a nap if you need the rest.

2. Exercise enough to work up a light sweat for a minimum of 3 hours per week for an adult, aged 17 – 64. New Canadian guidelines suggest one hour of aerobic activity per day for adults. This does not mean you have to go to a gym, it can be doing housework, walking to the store or work, or playing a sport such as Frisbee with your children.

3. Eat a well balanced diet, that provides all the nutrients your body requires. If you are not ready to be a vegetarian, try following the Canadian Food Guide, link provided below. It is available in several languages. Other countries may also provide a similar guide with local foods, but the Canadian one is adaptable.

4. Listen to you body, pain is a warning sign. If you are experiencing severe pain that hasn’t happened before seek proper medical advice. Even something as ordinary as a toothache, needs to be taken care of. The same bacteria found in a cavity, can enter your blood stream and damage your heart muscles, in rare cases causing death.So brushing your teeth regular may also save your life, besides keeping your partner willing to give you a kiss.

5. Use your time wisely, don’t live to work, remember you are working to have a good life. If you spend 70 or 80 hours a week working, yes your family will have some nice material objects, however they won’t have you, or not for the length of years that you should be with them. Keep work, rest and play in balance.The 37 to 45 hour week is normal in the developed world, as it allows enough time to earn a living, while still having time to engage in your family duties, and get enough rest.

6. To not take drink or drugs that causes you to lose mindfulness, or that are addictive, causing you to become a slave to a desire for ever increasing quantities. Happiness comes from within, the temporary feeling from these substances will not last, and will just add to the feeling of wanting to escape.

“Now, having obtained a precious human body,
I do not have the luxury of remaining on a distracted path.” From The Tibetan Book of the Dead

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  1. Pingback: Weekly Writing Challenge: Wrap It Up « A Western Buddhist's Travels

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