By Alexander Diaz, LAc, FMP
As people get older, their bodies suffer illness and debility. This makes life feel less worth living. Then, the people become less motivated, causing a shifting narrative towards fatalism. This is a slippery slope to a vicious cycle.
But the illness and debility are not necessary. All too often, people accept the suffering of their bodies as a basic effect of time. Their language and story supports such victimhood. While in reality, those people could enter superb vitality, and within the span of 1 year of hard work, experience a sense of health, happiness and peace that they never felt before.
Healing takes discipline. Each individual has his or her own specific path to health. The common factor amongst all people is effort.
We must stride forward into wellness. We must create a plan to get well and implement that plan. We must play and laugh and enjoy while we do it. And if you put in the work, life gets better than you could ever have imagined.
At some point in each person’s upbringing, he or she adopts a narrative about the amount of suffering that is, ‘right,’ to experience. If the family home is violent in speech or deed, if the child is surrounded by dysfunction and hurt in school and activities, if the lineage of grandparents went through war or crisis, the person will expect a high amount of suffering.
As we live in a very abundant and safe world, most of that person’s suffering will be internal; either in self-created sabotage and strife at work or with loved ones, or in patterns of ill-health that seem to perpetuate themselves forever.
So the most important step in creating longevity, in having a vital, healthy, long life, is to deconstruct your subconscious’ agreement about how much suffering you should be enduring. Consciously, we are hard-pressed to agree that we should be sick or in pain or unloved. But the subconscious has signed up for this suffering before our current, adult consciousness was even properly formed.
There is some foundational work to do. As we shift our beliefs, we write our reality. Actually making the steps to improve health is easy, once we decide we are worthy of wellness and love.
So how can we access this worthiness, this self-love, this acceptance of the miracle of each moment that makes living longer and better into a MUST-DO Goal?
The simplest way is by deciding to serve others. We must be healthy and well for as long as we can, so that we can help other beings. Sometimes, it is easier to rationalize caring for ourselves if we view ourselves as vehicles of benefit. Since the other beings are suffering, we ourselves must be strong and well to aid them.
If you struggle to care about others, its largely because you felt and still feel that others never cared about you. But the real existence of every person is dependent on a million nourishing factors and events; every bite of food, breath of air, drink of water, night of sleep sheltered from the elements is because of the LIFE of other beings. However conscious those beings were of wanting to specifically gift to you, they did provide those gifts, and you are alive.
If you take the leap to let yourself be loved, you can branch out to loving relationships, and witness how others give to you and love you. If you enter a state of peace, through meditation, you can remember the times you were held, fed and cared for. Then you can help others.
Another valuable way to rationalize self-love and self care is to seek your own existential nature through spiritual practice. Whatever the particular path, spiritual and religious attainments commonly lead to the recognition of self as divine and worthy.
Let me just say that each and every person is worthy of health and love. No matter what you have done, what crimes you committed, what people you slept with under ignominious communication, what ways you have used your time, YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE AND HEALTH.
Simply by the nature of existence, all beings deserve safety, freedom, nourishment, and a chance to unfold towards divinity.
As you believe, so you achieve.
To achieve wellness and longevity, we have discovered some valuable jewels of knowledge. When applied, this knowledge actively increases life-span and health span.
HEALTHY DIET: Eating right is so important to good health. For this I recommend an appropriately tailored Paleo diet, rich in all essential nutrients, and sourced organically from sustainable farms and the wild.
GOOD COMMUNITY: The Blue Zone studies found definitive evidence that longevity is correlated with healthy and loving community. Having a group of best friends and feeling supported is essential to human wellness. In creating good community, the most important thing is to take 100% personal responsibility for your gifts and offerings to others, without expecting direct or immediate renumeration. Friendship is all about giving. As judgments of others arise, witness whether the characteristics you are judging actually cause suffering to you or to other people, or if they simply cause suffering within the individual you are judging. If you can recognize and actualize your own safety, you can have compassion for the quality you had judged. Perhaps you can even lovingly and appropriately help the person. By releasing judgments and feeling safe, you can continually and increasingly open your heart to people, despite their humanity.
PEACEFUL LIFESTYLE: Every person has a different degree of financial empowerment and resource. Not everyone is able to work less, have shorter commutes, enjoy their livelihood, and take vacations. We have children and parents and partners to care for. But every individual can optimize the levels of tranquility, leisure, balance, and reflection within their life-circumstances. This effort is essential to longevity. Meanwhile we often find surprising opportunities to level up in job, lifestyle, and leisure, once we heal our beliefs about our own worthiness and take steps towards real healing. You can inhabit your dreams and live the life you choose. Doing so is essential to total wellness. [Check out my chapter: Breaking out of The Cubicle, in “The Path of Man,”]
GOOD SURROUNDINGS: Feng Shui does not just apply to what corner of your house you put the bed in. It applies to what spots on the planet you place yourself and your family. In truth, many cities and other spaces are quite toxic, and foreshorten longevity. When at all possible, relocate yourself to places with fresh air and clean water, with access to organic food. When you get there, do your best to participate in nourishing and improving those places. Relocating is not easy for all people. But if you want to prioritize longevity and wellness, you have to be in a clean environment. You must also clean up your own house-hold because molds and other pollutants are being found to be super dangerous to human health.
NATURE CONNECTION: Human beings are wild animals. We evolved in nature, not in buildings or cars. The more connected we are with nature, the healthier we become. This could include gardening, hiking, swimming, camping, or simply witnessing the living presence of plants and animals. As your health improves, your energy and resilience to the elements will rise, making it more comfortable to be outside. This is a great upward spiral. The deepest beauty and most poignant miracles occur in natural places while in connection with the all.
GONG FU PRACTICE IN RIGHT BALANCE: It is so important to find the right practices for yourself. They should be not too much or too little. They should vary and have different styles of training (strong weights, intermittent cardio, whole range of human motion), and leave you feeling good. I view my practices as wonderful opportunities and I feel so grateful to have the time and energy to do them. I used to view them as chores to accomplish. Ideally you should feel a sense of excitement and play about embodying your physicality and moving with purpose and pleasure.
MAKING THE STEPS TO HEAL AT ANY AGE: First you must identify the sources of suffering: perhaps your body is well but you are suffering mentally, because you cannot trust your spouse. Perhaps your back is in such severe pain, it creates a dis-incentive to walking. Perhaps your menses causes such discomfort, you spend the rest of the month recovering. When you find the causes of your suffering, you can act steadily and smartly to heal them. If you can get to a place where you are not suffering physically, and you have your basic needs met, you can embrace the process of healing your mental suffering. There are books, practices, and professional assistance for every class of suffering. Its just a matter of actively pursuing them and knowing you’re working on it.
RETHINKING THE PARADIGM: Even as we deconstruct the consumer meme of youth and valuing ourselves as only hyper fit, hyper sexual beings, and embrace the pure merit and value of self and others simply due to our existence, we have a larger memetic shift to contend with: Namely, what are we actually doing on this planet? Are we here to enjoy pleasure, to consume, to tacitly witness and support the changing of our climate until it is unfit for human habitation?
Unfortunately this is the dominant paradigm. Not only does that paradigm threaten all life on earth. It threatens the ability of each individual to merit his or her own life. Those individuals are then hamstrung in their abilities to benefit other beings.
So in the path of nourishing individual longevity, it is vital to look at the greater narrative about temporary human existence on planet earth. I posit that we are here in celebration, in divinity, in joy and purpose. We are here to experience the fear of hunger, wet, cold, and illness, and to transcend that fear, returning to the divine source of trust, peace, service, and sharing that is the birthright of all beings.
Yes, our individual life is temporary. But the wholeness of all life is infinite. Instead of being so attached to our personal existence that we suffer and fail to aid others, we must give infinite gratitude to our lives and the phenomena that existed before us to create that possibility. We must laugh and play and think and work for this planet and for all beings.
Here is the deal: The planet is ready to provide you with incredibly powerful medicine, clean air, fresh water, rich food, ample fuel, and everything you need to thrive. You need not feel guilty about embracing that abundance!
Embrace it, and become the best person you can be. We humans are the most conscious and powerful animals alive today and we can steward and protect all other species!
Dying early and suffering unnecessarily do not benefit anyone or anything. Living long and well and continuing to make steps towards enlightenment and planetary sustainability DO create a HUGE benefit.
So do your work, re-frame your paradigm, and take conscious action to heal yourself and end the suffering of others.
With advances in modern medicine and adherence to ancient knowledge, humans in the developed world are looking at a possible lifespan well exceeding 100 years. What will we do with all this time? Who are we and how do we most deeply wish to participate? What does a sustainable and abundant planet look like, and how does human society support this?
Here’s wishing everyone 100 years of wellness, and the power to make a healthy world that supports the full life-span of all creatures.
TAYATA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE
RADZA SAMUNGATE BODDHISVAHA