Kest Immersion Day 2

Today we discussed and practiced different meditation techniques, noticing how even 20 minutes in a simple mindfulness or gratitude meditation can radically shift the patterns of the mind, reduce stress, and improve the mental state. And those are just the immediate effects. Here’s something crazy: In a recent poll conducted by the Smarty Pants over at Harvard’s School of Public Health in cooperation with NPR and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans reported that the primary cause of stress in their lives is related to poor health. Guess what the primary cause of poor health is in America? Stress! What a cycle! We get stressed, we get sick, we get stressed about how sick we are, and then we get sicker. Throw in financial instability, family issues, work drama, and the everyday stuff like traffic, standing in line at the DMV, and taxes and what you end up with is an over-medicated, cranky, reactive culture full of people who hate themselves because on top of all this shit they ate too much free dessert at the all you can eat buffet dinner and now they also feel fat and ugly. Bah freakin humbug, Ebenezer.

What can be done? I’m going to argue strongly that yoga and meditation ought to be done. By all of us. Daily. Yogis have been preaching this for thousands of years, but we in America like to hear from the “Real Experts”, so here is what the good people at The Mayo Clinic have to say about it: Research seems to show that some emotional benefits of yoga include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions

Physical benefits include managing or eradicating the symptoms of:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain
  • Sleep problems

Isn’t that what we’re medicating the crap out of ourselves for? That depressing list could be eliminated from our lives if we made time to sit still in focused meditation for 20 minutes a day. 10-20 minutes to focus on stillness, gratitude, and loving kindness could eliminate most or all of the emotional and physical pain from which we suffer. Imagine the money we would save! Imagine a world with no more pills, prescriptions, or procedures that are supposed to make us “happy” (until they wear off and we have to buy more). Yoga classes are a hell of a lot cheaper than decades of doctors bills and prescription medicine, yet so many people choose the harder, more expensive route. “There’s no way I could set aside that kind of time for meditation every day. That’s way too hard.” Well, then you might want to open a savings account and start tucking away pennies for the inevitable surgeries, medicines, and doctors you’ll be paying for in a few years.

Want to get healthy and happy? Join a yoga studio. Take a meditation workshop to learn some techniques that you can use in your own life. Sit still. Go for a walk or a hike in the woods. Turn off your phone for one full afternoon. Commit to a yoga practice, not because you want a toolbelt full of cool party tricks to show off on your instagram account, but because a strong daily practice will help you to develop a healthy body and calm mind for a better existence. Want to be able to put your pants on by yourself when you’re 85? Practice yoga to keep the spine strong and muscles supple. Want to maintain control of your bladder and bowels as you age? Practice yoga, because you will strengthen the muscles of the pelvis floor and also the ones that help you control when and where you poop. Want to play in the yard with your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren? Practice yoga and meditation so you don’t lose your life early to heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes because you spent 40 years stressed and sedentary and too busy to do anything about it. Want to ease or heal the pain in your low back? Take a weekly restorative yoga class to mindfully reverse the effects of sitting at a desk all day. Want to calm the chatter in your mind? Get your sweet behind to a yoga studio and surround yourself with people who are practicing doing that exact thing. Want to build healthy relationships with like minded people? Find a studio and join it. Want to repair and restore the relationships you are already in? Practice yoga as often as you can to cultivate patience, compassion, gentleness, and grace in your life.

It’s not too late. Still breathing? You still have time. Get on it.

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