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(H.H. Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj)
Health is joy. Health is wealth. Health is the elixir of life. Without health there is no enjoyment. Without health one cannot earn well. Without health one cannot attain his desired objects. Without health one cannot put in strenuous efforts. Without health there is no earnestness in work. Without health life becomes a burden. Foremost attention should, therefore, be given towards keeping perfect health.
Without cause there is no effect. So there is no sickness without violation of the laws of Nature. Nature always tries to keep up health, but we bring on sickness by continuous violation of the laws of Nature. Of course, the natural laws are relentless. There is no mercy.
There is seldom any sickness amongst the animal kingdom. They do not violate laws of Nature and therefore, they seldom require any medical help. Only rarely a few domesticated animals require some medical help as they cannot lead a natural life.
Before the age of machinery a man's life was more natural. The persons of the past generations were more healthy and strong. In this twentieth century life has become and is becoming more artificial. Hence there is much deterioration in health and strength in spite of innumerable doctors and various medical discoveries. We have no sway over the present conditions, but we can adapt and control ourselves to a certain extent. If we follow the rules of health we can keep up a fairly good health and lead a joyful life.
The important and prominent factor in keeping good health is the air. We must spend as much of our life as is possible in open air. This is difficult in the case of many persons who have to work in-doors in offices, factories and business concerns, as they have to lead their life in congested areas. Those who can afford some time in the early morning should take a walk or run in the invigorating hours of the dawn, or in the evening in the open air. The early morning air contains more ozone and hence is most pleasant and effective in giving us exuberant health.
Those who cannot afford to take a walk should practise some physical exercises or Asana and Pranayama. They should wear as little clothes as possible and should expose their bodies to the air as much as possible.
The second important element in the preservation of health is water. As soon as we get up from bed, we should drink one or two glassfuls of water which helps the evacuation of bowels. The next in importance is cold bath, and that also should be taken in the morning as far as possible. After bath the body should be rubbed well by a towel. A cup of hot water before meals helps much to keep up good health. The third most important element in the preservation of health is the sunlight. The sunlight is most essential for the growth of both the plant and the animal kingdoms. Those plants and trees which do not get enough sunlight become stunted in growth. If we expose our bodies to the rays of the morning sun, we gain much vitality from the sunlight. There should be enough light in places of work. The doors and windows of the houses should be kept open to allow the sunlight to enter. Even in winter the doors and windows should be kept open and we should protect our bodies with enough clothes. The dress should be always light and loose.
The food is also an important factor in the preservation of health. The most natural food of man is green vegetables, fruits, roots, milk, i.e., the uncooked food. The animals who live on grass, green leaves, fruits and roots are stronger than man. The cooking of foods takes away many vital elements from the food, and so we cannot get the needed vitality from the foods which are conventionally cooked.
Since agelong man has been accustomed to cooked foods and so it becomes difficult to change the old habits all of a sudden. So the golden means is to take one meal as usual, and the next meal should consist of milk and fruits only.
This alone is not sufficient. There is also the necessity of avoiding unwholesome foods. Tea, coffee and other stimulants should be avoided as far as possible. Abstinence from alcohol, cold drinks and other beverages is also necessary.
The practice of going to bed early and rising in the early morning is also most essential. Working till late hours at night should be avoided as far as practicable.
Celibacy is also necessary for maintaining radiant health. All excesses in enjoyment should be avoided. Too much of cinema-going habit is also a sin against health and nature.
As the saying goes, "A sound mind in a sound body," it is the mind which controls the body. So we should try to keep our mind as cheerful as possible under all circumstances. A strong mind helps much to ward off ill-health; not only this, but it aids us in preserving good health and effecting a speedy cure. It is the mind which creates heaven or hell. So we should always try to keep cheerful at all times. Knowing that the circumstances are not under our control, it is our duty to struggle hard against the circumstances with a hope of success, which is slow but sure if our attempts are in the right direction.
If you want radiant health then return to Nature and have a blooming face and a charming personality.
Body-building is the foundation of nation-building. Build the body through nature's aids. Avail yourself of the healing agencies of nature - the sun, water, air, earth, fasting, herbs, etc. Observe the laws of eating, drinking, sleeping, thinking and conducting oneself as laid down by the ancient Rishis and Sages. Live in tune with nature. Use the herbs and greens.
He who observes the rules of health and hygiene, who is moderate in eating, drinking, and other things, who is regular in his prayer, Japa, meditation, who is free from jealousy, pride, hatred, who observes Brahmacharya - is free from diseases. He is healthy and obtains longevity.
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