Friday, April 23, 2010

Taking Good Care

These last few weeks, I have been feeling the strain from giving myself wholeheartedly to the demands of the path. And I have become very aware of the need for raw heart, and alert mind to be held within sturdy container of healthy body. Hence the importance of self-care, starting with such basics as eating healthy, exercising one's muscles, and getting enough sleep. As the French say, 'Qui veut aller loin menage sa monture' (Whoever wants to travel far, steady wins the race)

The Buddha agrees:

So, too, prince there are five factors for striving . . .

Here a bhikkhu has faith, he places his faith in the Tathagata's enlightenment . . .

Then he is free from illness and affliction, possessing a good digestion that is neither too cool nor too warm but medium and able to bear the strain of striving.

Then he is honest and sincere, and shows himself as he actually is to the Teacher and his companions in the holy life.

Then he is energetic in abandoning unwholesome states and in undertaking wholesome states, steadfast, launching his effort with firmness and persevering in cultivating wholesome states.

Then he is wise; he possesses wisdom regarding rise and disappearance that is noble and penetrative and leads to the complete destruction of suffering.

These are the five factors of striving.

- from Bodhirajakumara Sutta: To Prince Bodhi, in Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha -

What do you do to take care of yourself?


  1. Aerobic exercise (bicycle). Free weights. See friends regularly. Garden. Pranayama every day before meditation. Eat a healthy diet that agrees with this body and is as raw and organic as possible. No television. Chinese herbal medicine, periodically. Donate blood periodically.Try not to spend too much time in front of the computer;-)

    The topic of health is much ignored in Buddhist circles, and when addressed is almost as an embarrassment, a concession to our attachments and weaknesses. Buddhists tend to lean toward the pre-enlightened ascetic ideal, in my experience, former self included. The humanity of the Buddha, and the practitioner, often are addressed as an afterthought, if at all.

    Your blog often takes the 180 degrees opposite approach and comes as a breath of fresh air in this regard. Also,love the quotes from the Pali Cannon.


    D stargazer

  2. Thank you, D stargazer. I share from what I know to be true for me. That it often, if not always, happens to be congruent with the Buddha's teachings, is the very reason I feel so at home there. :)

  3. Hi Marguerite!

    I like to do yoga along with my meditation practice. It's something I just recently started and would like to do more of. Just some simple breathing and stretching exercises that allow me to be more mindful of my body. I find it very helpful.

    I also do 'regular' exercise, such as lifting weights, body-weight exercises and cardio.

    Finally, I really do try to eat healthy. I start out my day with a healthy breakfast, such as grains and fruit, which gives me a good boost of energy to get going.

  4. Thank you Nate! Looks like a great routine . . . I usually do the dog pose before I start meditating. I found it makes a big difference, particularly when I meditate early in the morning and my body is still stiff from not having moved around yet. It allows for the meditation to go deeper. Of course, I also swim or walk every day. And like you, start my day with a healthy breakfast of oatmeal, raisins, and almonds, with milk. The body, such a wondrous thing, to be used wisely. It serves us so well, while it is healthy still!