Slicing through the water I swam the lap and headed to the far wall, in an effort to get my much needed exercise. Lately I have noticed that it is easier to make an excuse; than to actually get started on being active, and get the right amount of exercise. The evening walk is no longer brisk but a casual stroll, and far from the running of my youth. The laps are no longer vigorous, and more of an easy loping style that just gets the work done; and passes the time, giving the illusion of keeping in shape. No longer is the body one big muscle joined to the bones; but it is more a case of bones that are barely moved by the fatigued muscles, with odd joint pains and strange strains appearing out of the blue. The occasional instances when I revive the drive to live a healthier life; the efforts are more subdued and the gains not as pronounced, as they used to be in my youth.
I remember in the old days I could run for miles and swim for hours; and come out feeling not tired, but refreshed. As the fat and muscles were burnt; they would also allow the brain to release hormones, and one would get a feeling of euphoria and well being on emerging from the field or the pool. Wikipedia says “The endocrine system is the system of glands, each of which secretes different types of hormones directly into the bloodstream (some of which are transported along nerve tracts to maintain homeostasis.” The body is a chemical and electrical composition and its functioning is mysterious to most of us; and we only feel the effects of what we do and it is these chemical releases that affect our nervous system, and our overall sense of well being and health. When we do certain physical activities; it promotes the release of these chemicals, and it directly affects our nervous system and our moods and disposition. The runners “high” or the pleasure of a long walk; are not just figments of our imagination but actually are physical phenomena, which the body has learnt over its evolution.
In early evolution the job of hunting and the training of the young ones to travel many miles for finding a meal; or the sudden sprint for survival, were potent forces that made us what we are today. The feeling of flee or fight are primordial; and happen at a lightning speed and instinctively, just like when we spy a snake in our path. The brain has survival secrets built in; and often time responses happen even before we consciously become aware, of the actual danger or lack of it (discovering it is a rope and not a snake). The heart pumps more blood and the muscles taunt up to flee or attack, even before we can think about the situation. When we take in food or drink we often talk about its aphrodisiac property, or its energy giving capacity, or its ability to reduce our inhibitions, or its ability to intoxicate and provide feelings of euphoria and well being. The whole pharmaceutical and health industry has been studying these chemicals and their affects for centuries now; and a good doctor will combine the medicines, with a good dose of advice on active life styles to keep us healthy. Attitude and resolve has been often found to be the difference between a survivor and a deceased person; in their response to a biological or chemical attack, to their body.
Our ability to survive not only depends on our ability to find the right medicine; but also in our ability to bring about a positive attitude that will help release the right hormones and chemicals, so that the body can do the work of healing itself. A morose or ill person who gives up the desire to fight, will waste away and another person with a positive attitude will take the actions, required to recover from such a similar attack. It is all in these minute amount of chemicals that the body produces, in response to the actions we take. When we meditate and still the mind; and allow it to be quite all we are doing is allowing the body and mind not to get distracted and stressed, from our external stimuli. We are allowing ourselves the time and the energy to focus on what is important for our soul. A healthy body promotes a healthy mind, but the reverse is even truer. It is our mind that we need to nurture and it will promote well being and give us the energy; to take the much needed exercise, or do the right physical things without distractions. We are often overcome by anxiety and negative feedback loops; that leave us feeling stupid, ugly, fat, weak, and helpless or whatever else we may condition ourselves to be, and it is only quiet contemplation that will allow us to resurface from this negativity and start on the path of healing and self-actualization.
Thus the next time that you feel a lack of energy or feel that life is not treating you well take a brisk walk, and clear your mind. Let the release of Adrenaline or Dopamine do its magic automatically; and you will feel refreshed and ready, to take on any challenge. When your partner or boss berates you for the nth time regarding a task not done or a chore not performed; let these positive releases energize you and you will find the tasks and chores completed in no time, and you can move on to building that healthy relationship that you secretly crave. We are after all the masters of our own destiny; and just a minute dose of the right hormone, goes a long way in achieving what we need. The high achievers are constantly pumped up and in a positive spin cycle; where each action fuels the next, till others around them consider them supermen or super women. They attract others like themselves, and as a result are in a positive feedback loop that propels them into ever higher realms.
So when life has thrown that oddball at you and you find yourself backed into a hopeless solution; and are lost and helpless, let your mind go to a quiet place. Do not let the stress of seeing the snake overwhelm you, into paralysis or inaction. Allow the mind and body to come up with the appropriate response, and move on. Nothing is holding you back except for yourself. As you climb that unconquered mountain; the strength will come to you, and the will to reach the summit will prevail. The mind and body are mysteries that even the wise sages could not explain. All we have to do is live our life to its fullest and the rewards should not be the goal, but just the feeling of euphoria that we get from taking the right action will be our own reward. It is when you stand on the top of the peak and feel that elation of mind and spirit; that you will know that the next higher mountain will be even easier to conquer, and you will become happier and fulfilled.