I have had some conversations with a friend of mine that made it clear he was struggling a bit both emotionally and physically. I was certain meditation could help his mind and his body, and since he had previously commented that he would like to learn meditation at some point, I put together a bunch of information to help gently guide him into the world of meditation.
After thanking me for sending the information, he admitted to me that the reality was that he didn’t think he would bother trying meditation until life either calmed down a bit and he had more time, or his health got so bad that it became a priority for him.
My first reaction was my jaw dropping open in amazement that someone has so little regard for their health that it needs to decline so much before they put the effort into doing something about it. Okay, maybe that wasn’t my first reaction. My first reaction was actually being a little ticked off, given that the way I teach meditation is an over-simplified, stripped-down and basic method specifically designed to cause minimal disruption to a person’s life and takes very little time and effort to get started. I designed things that way because I know people are limited for time and I don’t want people to quit or not even get started because a lot of meditation can seem intimidating or overwhelming. I encourage my clients to incorporate meditation into their life slowly until they get comfortable enough to eventually want to make it regular practice and expand into more complex or lengthier meditation exercises. It is akin to encouraging someone wanting to add activity into their life to start with parking a little farther away or taking the elevator instead of the stairs, versus making them go to the gym for 60 minutes a day, 6 days a week right off the bat. So, it was a little annoying that someone didn’t consider their health to be worth even a couple of minutes a day.
Then there was the palm to the forehead in disbelief that someone was presented with something that was not only restorative but also preventative in nature, yet they would rather wait until they were suffering to try to fix things after-the-fact. To me, that is like medications that are used to prevent migraines. If you could take a pill that can stop a migraine from even happening (or reduce its severity if it does), why would you instead choose to wait for a full-blown migraine to hit, when you are throwing up from the pain, and try to make it stop then? I was baffled.
Next was a bit of anger at someone who has more than once commented how his mental and physical health negatively affect aspects of his life, yet he wasn’t willing to let someone help him. Then there was sadness, because obviously nobody wants to see a friend making a decision that could lead to needless suffering, as well as fear that by the time things got bad enough for him to want to do something about it, it might be too late. Lastly, there was acceptance that it is his life and I can’t help him if he doesn’t want to help himself.
The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that he really isn’t all that different from most people. So many people take their health for granted, putting everyone and everything before themselves, waiting until things become really bad before trying to do something about it.
Everybody is so limited on time, energy, and money, that it has thrown priorities completely out of whack and led to many taking an approach of fixing rather than preventing – we don’t replace our shingles until the roof begins to leak and damages the structure and/or items in the house (we can get at least another year or two out of those shingles!); we don’t build up the grade around our house until the basement suffers water damage (we haven’t had water yet, it will be fine!); we don’t take our car to a mechanic for a check-up until something breaks, often pushing it as long as possible even after the ‘check engine’ light comes on (I don’t have time to take the car in now; the light just came on now so it can wait until next week!). Likewise, with our health, many people avoid going to the dentist or eye doctor for regular check-ups, and pain and stress are chalked up to being no big deal and are often left until something more significant goes wrong.
In most cases, whether roof, car, teeth, or health, by the time we get around to doing something about things, significantly more damage has been done than if we had just fixed it when we first knew it was a problem or took measures to prevent it in the first place.
So, here is your Preventative Maintenance Checklist:
Keep regular appointments with doctors, dentists, and specialists.
Make meditation part of your regular practice. It helps reduce stress, which is one of the leading causes of numerous physical and mental illnesses, diseases, and ailments, and can help the body heal from injury, trauma, and illness. If you are too intimidated or strapped for time to do intensive meditation, start with a beginner’s lesson which will not take more than a couple of minutes per day.
Consider alternative health options. As with meditation, many of them are beneficial for relaxation, stress reduction, and pain reduction.
Develop a healthy and consistent sleep routine.
Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs.
Add activity into each day.
Eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods and avoid processed, refined, sugar or fat-filled foods.
Make time for self-care. Your happiness and health are a priority.
Limit your time on social media or do a social media ‘cleanse’, hiding or unfriending anyone who does not make you feel good about yourself or life, un-following people who spread negativity, and instead filling your feed with users and groups who are supportive and spread joy and positivity.
Do things that make your mind, body, and soul happy and calm.