I turn 30 in a few days. Like any of you who are near or past my age, I’m sure you’ve felt the effects of aging.
When I was younger, I felt invincible. Like I could do anything. Mind you, I am not a large or tough man – 5’5, 120lbs. Not really that tough physically. But being young, I felt like I could do anything. I would stay up late, sometimes even pulling all nighters. I could eat processed foods, or nutrition-less junk and still get by just fine. I would do plenty of vitiating things to the mind, but still really didn’t feel their effects.
As time has gone on, my body has become less and less strong and more and more fragile. As much as I would like to blame this on my three car accidents, I can only blame those things so much. The truth is, a lifetime of making poor choices in diet and lifestyle have slowly added up.
Yesterday we spoke of the term purva rupa, which translates to “before symptoms”. Purva rupa are the early warning signs that problems are building in the body.
We’ve spoken in this blog about the origin of disease: misuse of senses, making poor choices, and decay due to time and motion. We’ve also spoken of the fundamental cause of disease, forgetting our true nature as spirit.
We’ve talked of the pillars of health: proper diet, proper rest, and management of sexual energy.
But these are all day to day, minute to minute, moment to moment tasks. It is very difficult when we feel so young and strong to put any emphasis on being healthy. We truly believe that somehow we are different, special in a sense, and that aging won’t catch up with us until we are senior citizens.
It is this arrogance and fear that leads us to feeling old.
I have no one to blame for my lack of ojas, my health, but myself. I’ve made so many poor choices in all these pillars and ignored the causes of disease my whole life. But I am grateful that I am learning these concepts now, before my ignorance manifests itself into untreatable or severe conditions.
It is so easy to ignore our purva rupa. Those early indicators is our body wisdom, trying to tell us that we need to change now before it gets worse. But all too often we wait until it’s too late. We turn to the medical system for surgeries, pills with side effects, chemical therapies that destroy our tissues…These treatments have their place, but if we continue to live our lives just crossing our fingers hoping we will be okay, then we are just waiting for age and bad habits to get us.
Many people, even after getting invasive and drastic medical treatments, will still continue to have poor diet and lifestyle. It’s amazing. We will remove our gall bladders, but not change how we eat. In fact, we won’t even try to change how we eat first. We think the body is some object that we can cut open and manipulate to serve our purposes. All it wants is for us to be healthy, and we fight it constantly.
It’s really amazing turning 30. Feeling older, more fragile…I can observe all the parts of me that I have been ignoring for so long and how the cumulative effect of ignoring health for so long has taken a toll. I can feel how every cell in my body has been neglected and how I owe my body an apology.
Things are not to late, and turning 30 is hardly a terminal condition. But It’s a landmark, a fork in the road if you will. It is my body, even after these years of ignoring the purva rupa, still trying to tell me to change. So why don’t I change? Why is it so hard for us to change?
If changing diet was purely about appetite, it would be easy. If changing lifestyle was purely about logic, we would all do it. But there is an emotional side to everything. We eat because we are lazy, scared, stressed. We distract ourselves and have bad habits because we don’t wish to address the reasons why we are suffering.
This is the heart of why change is so difficult. Changing diet and lifestyle, even though we all know it’s the best way to be healthy, is so exhausting for all of us. Changing those aspects means addressing who we are on a fundamental level, going into our fears, and addressing our emotional wounds. It means healing our past traumas and finding forgiveness and gratitude. These are not simple things.
It is far easier to ignore these things than to address them.
I have deep respect for anyone that pursues even some aspect of Ayurveda in their lives. It opens up a whole new way of being that is not always easy. This respect also helps me appreciate those of us (including myself) who struggle with change, even when it’s for the better.
Have courage and be strong when changing. Ignorance will only catch up with us at some point. And trust me, it can be painful or even terminal. Take comfort and support in the fact that everyone is feeling the same things you are, and that change is difficult for us all.
Ayurveda continues to be and always has been a science of personal responsibility.