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Spirituality And Lifestyle Management

Updated: August 7, 2010 11:57 am

Aggressive lifestyle of today’s world demands a very balanced and purposeful lifestyle. It is definitely a core issue when personal life is considered on priority for much cherished happiness and also when personal productivity is focused at the work place. With the march of time, all over the world, lifestyle related diseases have assumed epidemic proportions and are placed on priority agenda by the health care planners and providers, while planning the health care delivery programmes, across the world. However, it is true that occidentals and orientals have their different perceptions about, what should be an ideal approach for lifestyle management? To some extent these differences are on account of historical-cultural background but to a larger extent these are on account of personal, social and professional customs/ trends, developed over a period of time, in the different parts of the world. Therefore, in this age of global connectivity and aggressive lifestyle, it is not surprising if the lifestyle management is considered a priority issue, for the people from all walks of life, in all the countries.

            General perception about the lifestyle management is very narrow. It is considered as the order of daily routine with special thrust on physical exercise and eating habits. On account the lack of universal consensus on this issue, it is discussed and advised differently by the professionals and counselors, in different institutions and in different parts of the world. Therefore, it is prudent to unfold the intricacy and relevance of this basic issue, in the background of the spiritual approach for life.

            A regular daily routine, balanced vegetarian diet, various types of indigenous exercises and asanas, control of mind through meditation and a benevolent as well as helping attitude towards all other individuals, societies and creation around, has been the cornerstone of the lifestyle management in ancient India. Ashtaang—Yoga of Patanjali is one such compilation—which describes and authenticates, this scientific approach of life for personal fitness, self-empowerment and much coveted personal as well as professional productivity.

            Eight components of Ashtaang-Yoga are: yama (external control), niyama (internal control), asana (physical fitness), pranayama (breath control or vital power regulation), pratyahara (effective and purposeful detachment), dhaarna (concentration), dhyan (meditation) and samadhi (state of self realisation/ enlightenment). Last three steps are dedicated for the effective and step-wise control of mind, which is necessary for the right and purposeful use of this powerful faculty of human personality.

            Modern medical and social scientists may have debate on few components of the spiritual approach, for lifestyle management. One such area of debate could be vegetarian diet, an important component of spirituality based lifestyle. Vegetarian diet is an outward expression of the practice of ahimsa or non violence, which is a basic tenet of peaceful co-existence, in this world. It has less to do with the protein-rich diet prescription and more to develop a mindset which complements the philosophy of “live and let live”. In tribal areas and many other parts of the world, where there were geographical limitations and appropriate agricultural development could not take place at desired pace, non-vegetarianism developed as a compulsion. However, in most of the developed and civilised societies today, non-vegetarianism is more on account of the concern for palatability and material enjoyment rather than the nutritional necessity. Many animal and bird species are nearing extinction on account of such cruelty, sheer palatability and insensitivity for the other fauna of the world.

            Above mentioned prescription for lifestyle management is a general outline for an effective and purposeful control of common behavioral life processes. Many more components could be added, depending upon the personal, social and cultural needs of the individuals. However, basic concern remains the thrust on natural and innovative approach for achieving effective control of the life processes, at all intersections of the life. This is one of the basic requirements of today’s world and we have time tested approach for the same. This approach is not only scientific but also relevant personally, socially and culturally, across the world. However, there is genuine challenge in exploring it rightly, for the benefit of mankind, irrespective of caste, creed, sex, religion and nationality.

            In last fifty years, there have been significant efforts by spiritual leaders to address this issue, through mass awakening, across the world. Results of such efforts have been very encouraging, across all the socio-cultural segments of the world. It appears to be the turn of medical and social scientists to take-up this issue for scientific and analytical study and discussions, so that all social and professional groups are encouraged to take benefit of this spiritual lifestyle, for desired personal and professional productivity, social harmony and much needed integrated approach of the life. Such approach could be a new philosophical highway for the peaceful and purposeful journey of mankind, across all the professions, vocations, ethnicities and nationalities. Is the scientific community ready to accept this challenge and examine this less explored area of human potential and development?

By Dr Dipak Shukla

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