Article first published in Blogcritics.
You hear a lot about living a healthy lifestyle, but what does that mean?
Meditation and love are very much a part of healthy lifestyles, according to columnist Mark Bittman, who stated in a New York Times Opinionator article, “For the first time in history, lifestyle diseases…kill more people than communicable ones…But they are preventable, and you prevent them the same way you cause them, lifestyle…diet, along with exercise, meditation and intangibles like love prevent and even reverse disease.”
I find it interesting that he didn’t list meditation under intangibles. Yet I think meditation and love, as well as prayer, should be included in this category. The Meditation Society of America gives the distinction between meditation and prayer by saying “that during prayer, we ask God for something, and during meditation, God speaks to us.” But for me, my prayers are directed to a God who is always present and available. Since God is as close as my thought, I am able to affirm qualities like health to be a vital element of a Christian lifestyle.
The intangibles of prayer and meditation are so important that Dr. Andrew Weil mentions these qualities in every book he has written since his first in 1972. In Spontaneous Happiness, he suggests that the use of these intangibles is a “powerful way to open thought to new, more spiritual ideas.”
I get the same sense of power and purpose from an early 20th century Christian writer who “withdrew from the world to meditate, to pray, to search the Scriptures.” When asked about this time in her life, Mary Baker Eddy writes that “it answered my questions as to the process by which I was restored to health.” (Pulpit and Press)
Improving or restoring health is a core goal in maintaining a spiritual lifestyle. Spiritual lifestyle experts Keith and Sharmai Amber suggest that an ongoing effective lifestyle needs to include something beyond diet and exercise – a spiritual life, which would not include What do I want? Instead it would include What am I supposed to learn from the conditions and circumstances in my life? Acting on the answers to this question leads to self-mastery, enlightenment, service, compassion, balance, and wisdom being chosen as the alternate behavior.
I have found a healthy lifestyle comes from the qualities inherent in Christian meditation, prayer, and love. These elements can give purpose to maintaining the regimens of proper exercising and eating. Without inner meaning from the intangibles, the daily schedule of diet and exercise would become burdensome. So each day I quench my hunger and thirst first thing with a diet of scriptural study and prayer. This quiet time has helped me filter out many counterproductive thoughts; then appropriate physical activities fall into place resulting in a healthy lifestyle.
What have you found that helps you lead a healthier life?