This has been a very intense week for Devi and me. We’re in the middle of our annual Inner Renewal Week, and are launching the pilot course that we hope will be a whole new way of sharing Yogananda’s teachings. The daily classes, all new, have needed a lot of thought and preparation. It has been exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I’m sure you must have had similar experiences in your own life.
Today’s class was on living a balanced, integrated life. Paramhansa Yogananda said that a true scripture must address all levels of our being: physical, energetic, mental/emotional, and spiritual. The same is true of the balanced life, as we discussed in the class. In this blog I’ll address only the physical level, but perhaps in future we can write about the other levels as well.
There are three areas that strongly influence our physical well-being: our diet, our habits for exercise and sleep, and the ability to avoid addictive substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. If we can change our habits in these areas it will greatly improve our lives. Here are some of the pointers we shared this morning.
Yogananda suggested a simple, commonsense diet and gave it the charming name, “propereatarianism.” He advised us to eat mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh juices, whole grains, and legumes. He also suggested that we fast on fresh orange juice one day each week, and for three days once each month. And he developed a Nine-Day Cleansing Diet, which we have tried with great success. Here’s a link if you’d like to give it a try yourself.
The way you eat is as important as what you eat. See your food as a source of prana, not just taste. Always pray before eating, and feel a sense of gratitude not only for the food, but for all the divine gifts that sustain us. Cook and eat in a sattwic manner, because you absorb vibrations when you eat. Follow these simple ideas and your health and vitality are bound to improve.
During a period when Swami Kriyananda was working with his guru, Yogananda sent him a letter with detailed and practical advice about his daily routine. Though we may need to vary the details of his suggestions, the principles are very helpful. Here is the advice:
- You should take ½ hour walk in the morning after a meditation and breakfast.
- Work 9 hours a day with deep concentration.
- Meditate two hours deeply at night after dining at 6:30. Adjust routine to whatever is possible.
- Sleep 7 hours.
- Be sure to walk briskly or run for 5 minutes every 2 hours. This will keep strain out.
- After dinner at night walk on the road, and not in jungly brush, for one hour. (This was in the desert near Twentynine Palms, California.)
We have a friend who is a doctor and a devotee and has seen great changes over his career in the medical guidelines for diet and exercise. He told us that, interestingly, the more science studies these areas, the closer their recommendations come to what Yogananda advised his students many decades ago.
These timeless principles are given to us out of God’s love and His desire that our lives be balanced, integrated, and healthy. Let’s all take them to heart.
In His love,
P.S. If you would like to see this week’s classes, here is the link.
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