It would be a beautiful thing if we were able to get through our days and years without pain. Any sort of pain–emotional, mental, physical or spiritual. A lovely thing, but we know it’s not likely to happen. Especially as we age.
I speak from experience when I say that getting old is a further impediment to being pain-free. There are the many ‘inconveniences’, such as loss of hearing and deterioration of vision. As well, there are the discomforts of stiffening muscles and rusty joints. There are also the outright agonies that go with serious medical conditions. And these occur at any age.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how I can preserve the relative good health I enjoy. I want to avoid future pain, too, of course, to the extent that is possible.
At the recent Ekam Retreat, I was reminded of a powerful message that comes to us via the old sage, Patanjali. In his Sutra II-16, Patanjali says: ‘…suffering that has not arisen can be prevented.’
Rebel Tucker, one of the Ekam presenters, led a discussion session called Choices for Living Well. If you’ve never experienced Rebel in person, you must book in for her classes at the Ekam Festival in mid-September. Rebel is an enthusiastic force of nature and a force for optimum good health. In her retreat session, we talked about what techniques and strategies enable us to practice good self-care. The holistic practice of yoga is an obvious method for fostering well-being. That is, the practices of asanas, pranayama, meditation and relaxation, done regularly.
Another well-defined way for promoting self-care is eating well. Long ago, I worked out what I consider a healthy diet for me. It’s mainly plant-based, not too much sugar, fat or refined foods. I’m also well-practiced in ‘portion-control’. Sound boring? Not entirely. My housemates and I spice things up at dinner with a glass of wine. Being at the retreat and enjoying the awesome meals cooked by Sarah Wilton had me feeling my best diet-wise. I realised the evening glass of wine I enjoy was possibly not serving me well.
Have a become a teetotaler since the retreat? No. But I have become more aware of the effects of even my modest glass, and felt better for limiting it.
The point for me isn’t to live an abstemious life. It’s not even to avoid ‘suffering that has not arisen’. It’s more about noticing what enables me to engage with life fully on all those levels: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual.