Last week I shared information with you about the latest studies that demonstrate the harm a sedentary lifestyle can wreak on our health. Interestingly, there is a paradox to not moving. Exercising is critical for optimal wellness, but it is only a part of the equation. When I first became health conscious, I approached my body, as though it was a machine that had fallen into disrepair. That’s what I learned in medical school. Fortunately, I learned much more after graduation, and the rest of the equation.
Stagnation vs. Meditation?
Our bodies are not designed for stagnation, but for movement. Nevertheless, isn’t it interesting that people who meditate are usually seated and still? Their state is regenerative and restorative, so obviously, they are experiencing a different physiological state of being from your run-of the-mill television viewer or sedentary desk worker. Perhaps the issue with being sedentary, isn’t so much the lack of movement, as it is the lack of true stillness, which promotes our physical restoration and balance.
What Do Joggers and Monks Have in Common?
Physical activity is protective of our health, and so is spiritual activity. Consider the monks who meditate for hours on end and reach a remarkable physiological and spiritual state. They can be buried alive for hours, deprived of normal amounts of oxygen, and emerge unharmed. Think of the joggers who experience a rush of endorphins, the brain’s natural opiates or painkillers, and report feeling high.
What does a jogger have in common with a monk? Both are both benefiting and improving their health
Although brain function may, to a certain extent, determine what a runner and meditator have in common, I believe there is a higher energy of intelligence involved In the meditator’s activity that cannot be fully or adequately measured at this time. Meditation engages the brain in a way that is extremely beneficial to the human body, in comparison to the brain-wave and chemical patterns related to our normal waking state.
Another Sedentary Danger
Perhaps the true danger of the sedentary lifestyle is not the lack of activity per se, but the lack of conscious engagement with our spirit when we’re “vegging out.” Our culture’s typical absence of awareness and our preoccupation with tuning out with computers, television, and video games as a form of emotional coping may be unconscious sources of stress that are harming our bodies. Perhaps we should tune in to our spirits instead.
This is just a hunch, but I believe it is a good one—and worth pursuing. Physical inactivity as we know it, with it attending risk factors for disease, may not be harmful primarily because of the inactivity, but may be in part due to the absence of our disruption of our self and body awareness.
So the next time your sitting at your desk, or verging out before your television, consider closing your eyes an taking a few deep breaths and relax into a few moments of silent meditation. Your body will thank you!