Our body is an instrument for our daily work, doing anything for others and even for practising yoga and meditation. Unfortunately, many spiritual practitioners have wrong understanding that there is no need to focus on the body and let the body be emaciated and let burn the body in the fire of severe austerities. Such fanatic spiritual practitioners spoil their health by not having proper diet and rest and later they find it difficult to practice mediation.
To practice yoga and meditation, we need to avoid extremes. Extreme sensual indulgence and extreme neglect of the body, both are unfavourable for practising meditation from long term point of view. In order to remove impurities and bad impressions from the mind, a healthy body and psyche are of utmost importance.
Five most important things for having good health to practice meditation.
1. Proper Exercise
2. Proper Breathing
3. Proper Relaxation
4. Proper Diet
5. Positive Thinking
We need to keep our whole physical system in tune by keeping our external limbs and internal organs healthy. By proper exercise, we systematically stretch our muscles to tone our body, release tension and insure circulation, digestion, assimilation and elimination.
By proper breathing exercises, we increase our vital energy. The quality and quantity of air and the timing of the breath have a direct effect upon the functions of the brain.
Proper relaxation is also needed to maintain physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Psychosomatic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, migraine, asthma, ulcers, digestive disorders and skin diseases arise from tensions in the body and mind. The leading causes of death in developed countries, cancer and heart disease, also stem from tension.
Modern medical science has been trying to tackle these problems in many ways, but frankly speaking, they have failed to deliver the necessary health to a man. If you are able to balance your tensions, you can control your emotions, anger and passions. You can control heart disease, high blood pressure, leukaemia and angina pectoris. Despite a superficial sense of wellbeing, most people are full of tensions all the time. They habitually bite their nails, scratch their head, stroke their chin, or tap their feet. Or they may pace about restlessly, talk compulsively, display constant irritability, or chain smoke. Yogic asanas and pranayama include special techniques for relaxation. These techniques also emphasise the conversation and efficient use of the energies contained in the body.
The optimum diet for a meditator is a simple one. In yogic diet, there should be an absence of those foods which negatively affect the mind. Hot and pungent spices, garlic, onions, salt, coffee, black tea, and meant agitate the mind, and hence control of the thoughts becomes difficult. Then there are foods which dull the mind, rendering a state of sleepiness instead of concentration. These include all pre-cooked and overripe foods. Those who are sincerely interested in mediation may begin by gradually avoiding these items.
In order to sit for meditation, the mind must be detached and withdrawn from day to day concerns. One can achieve this detached state of mind by selfless service. This is the foundation to go deeper into meditation. Through service to others without thought of personal gain, positive thinking can be practised in our day to day life.