Attaining Health & Happiness
Is there anyone who would say, “I want to have bad health”? No, of course not, because no one wants to suffer. Yet, nearly everyone suffers from time to time due to illness or bad health. Bad health may be the result of environmental factors, or the result of our own actions (or inaction). Ill health is generally associated with poor diet, improper hygiene, lack of exercise, insufficient sleep, over exertion, and pollution (bad air quality). It is also associated with aging.
The above paragraph discusses the physical side of health, but we also have the mental component of health. Mental health has to do with the placidity and lucidity of the mind. The mind that is peaceful and clear is said to be healthy, whereas the mind that is upset, anxious, and confused is disturbed and unhealthy. Poor physical health can lead to bad mental health and vice versa. The two (physical and mental health) are of course intertwined.
What is ‘Health’?
Health is a dynamic state of being in which we are perpetually free from pain and suffering. This definition of health could just as easily be the definition of ‘heaven’ or ‘nirvana’, or ‘moksha’, or enlightenment. Truly speaking, good health is certainly a heavenly condition. No one would imagine a heaven in which there is illness, and no one will associate any ignorance or confusion with enlightenment.
When we lose our health, we lose our freedom from pain (physical) and suffering (mental). To regain that freedom we need to restore our health. Our natural state is to be free and healthy—but that state is a dynamic state of being. In other words, health is NOT a passive state; it is an active state. For example, if we are not actively listening, then we are not listening; if we are not actively exercising, then we are not exercising; if we are not actively living then we are not living—we are dead!
To remain healthy we MUST remain active. We are constantly interacting with our environment. (From the perspective of the soul or inner self, both the mind and body also constitute an ‘environment’ with which our consciousness is interacting.) As the environment changes, the way in which we interact with that environment must also change. Sometimes we adjust our environment; at other times we adjust to the environment. Everything is constantly in a state of change. When we say that things are changing for the better, we really simply mean that things are more conducive to our health (physical health, mental health, financial health, marital health, etc., etc.).
So far we have only discussed physical and mental health, but what about spiritual health? Ultimately, our body is going to decay and die. Similarly, our memory system will begin to falter, and our ability to learn new things decreases with age. Unless we realize the inner self, which is both deathless and ageless, our mind will definitely become disturbed and unhappy regardless of everything that we achieve in the physical and intellectual spheres. To realize the spirit-self (the inner self), is what is meant by Self-Realization or Enlightenment; it is also what the Greek philosophers meant when they said, “Know Thyself.”
We attain optimum health only when we know our Real Self and when we are true to that Real Self. Being true to our self, being honest with ourselves, simply means to ‘be our Self’. But how can we be ourselves if you do not know our Self?
The Nature of Real Self
Our Real Self is incapable of wickedness or any bad action whatsoever. Our True Self is unselfish. Our True Self is kind and loving, merciful and forgiving, compassionate and caring. Our Real Self is ever-pure, ever-free, ever-real, and never hurtful or harmful in any way.
When we hurt ourselves with bad habits we are not being ourselves. When we are in our ego we are not being ourselves. When we are stubborn, annoyed, anxious, resentful, restless, jealous, etc., we are not being ourselves. And when we are not being ourselves, we are not happy or healthy.
Attaining Health and Happiness
To restore our health and happiness we need to remove those thoughts and actions that cause poor health and mental disturbances. If we continue to hurt ourselves with unhealthy habits and shallow thinking, we will remain in pain and suffering our whole life. Just taking a vacation from our worries is not enough; we need to remove all our anxieties and self-doubt by experiencing our Essence, the core of our being.
When the mind is purified through the study and application of wisdom, and the body is strengthened and invigorated with healthy foods and exercise, we automatically regain our health and peace of mind. If there are any setbacks along the way, we should not get discouraged and give up. No ‘body’ is perfect, and every ‘body’ is limited. The body is subject to time, place (environment), and circumstances (the untraceable results of previous actions and interactions). We should take solace in the realization that our Real Self is eternal and unchangeable. This insight gives us the inspiration to meet every challenge without buckling under to the moods and whims of the mind.
By thinking and acting positively, we will definitely (without any doubt) fulfill the purpose for which we are living: the realization of the highest state of Consciousness and the attainment of Supreme Bliss (ANANDA).