Ouch, my lifestyle is killing me! | TheUnion.com

Ouch, my lifestyle is killing me!

Have you ever wondered why we’re all so sick and unhappy? OK, not all of us are equally sick and unhappy. However, few of us are optimally healthy or experience sustained peace of mind. Why? Important clues to our lack of well being can be found in our everyday lifestyle.

When patients come into our Ayurvedic health clinic, we look at both the symptoms they present with and how their lifestyle may be contributing to their disease.

Scientific research supports the idea that a faulty lifestyle leads to a failure of our immune system to keep us healthy. Ayurveda is the science of creating optimal immunity.

To understand the relationship between lifestyle, health and disease, one needs only to look at the effects of a stressful life, a poor diet, inadequate rest and a lack of exercise.

It is in these areas that the cause of most disease and unhappiness can be found. Stress of any kind places wear and tear on the immune system. A poor diet deprives the immune system of the fuel it needs to sustain itself. A lack of exercise makes the body and its organs sluggish. A lack of rest fails to give the immune system the time it needs to regenerate itself. The end result is sure to create a fragile body and a fragile mind.

Life is stressful. Fear, worry, anxiety, anger, resentment, jealousy, envy and depression are a part of the price we pay for this stress. Yet what is stress? It can’t be seen or touched, tasted or smelled. What is stressful to one person is not to another.

Stress exists only within the mind. Stress is created when we are unhappy with things the way they are, when we are unhappy about what happened in the past, or when we fear what is going to happen in the future.

Vedic knowledge teaches that stress occurs when we judge the past, fear the future or resist the now.

Stress disappears when we let go of judgment, have faith in the future and surrender to the now. The stress of life is not “REAL.”

We imagine life to be stressful and through the power of our imagination, we make it real! The more we imagine, the more important a proper diet, exercise and rest become.

A poor diet does little to help us deal with stress and becomes a stressor itself. Our bodies need pure, nourishing foods to sustain themselves against the physical and emotional stresses of life. Fast foods and quick-to-fix frozen foods do not provide the body with maximum nutrition. High in fats and low in nutrients, these foods cannot sustain the body for long against the stresses of life.

Coffee and other stimulating drugs give quick bursts of energy, allowing us to do more than our body’s wisdom desires. Taking stimulants is like taking a loan from the bank. The more you take, the more you borrow. When you can’t make your payments, physical bankruptcy occurs and the body breaks down.

Add to this the stress on the body of trying to digest pesticides, genetically modified foods and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and it’s no wonder our immune systems just don’t function as well as we’d like them to.

Proper exercise is also important. Not only is it beneficial for the cardiovascular system, it helps alleviate stress. Exercise increases the production of anti-stress chemicals in the brain.

These chemicals (endorphins and enkephalins) improve well-being. They are natural, internally produced narcotics that alter mood for the better and have few side effects save addiction to exercise.

Rest is essential for regenerating the immune system when it has been overworked by stress and a poor diet. A good night’s sleep and time for rejuvenation is essential. Sadly, most of us are too busy to rest.

Our society is not structured in a manner that honors rest and rejuvenation. Yoga and meditation are an important part of a rejuvenating lifestyle.

If we don’t take the time to rest, nature will give us a nice long vacation in the form of illness. I for one would rather plan my time off than be forced to take it by being sick.

Next time you’re sick, ask yourself: How did I create this? Look at your lifestyle and you may find the cause. Correct it and you may find the cure!

Marc Halpern is founder and director of the California College of Ayurveda and Ayurveda Healthcare Center in Grass Valley, where students are trained to become clinical ayurvedic specialists. Call him at 274-9100, or visit http://www.ayurvedacollege.com.

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