Top 10 Health and Fitness Tips from Buddha

Top 10 Health and Fitness Tips from Buddha

Close your eyes and picture Buddha. Are you thinking of a fat bald guy with droopy earlobes and a goofy smile? This is the image that has been popularized by little statues and restaurant murals around the world, but it is far from the reality.

Born to the prosperous rulers of the Shakya Clan in the 6th Century BC, the man who would become Buddha was a prince named Siddhartha who stayed in top physical shape in the luxurious confines of his family’s palace. Outside of the palace walls, he fasted and ate only when it was necessary for his survival. We’ve assembled the top 10 health and fitness tips from Buddha, and none of them justify an endlessly expanding waistline, sorry!

1. Clean Diet

In following the First Precept of the Five Moral Precepts, many Buddhists choose Vegetarian or Vegan diets because they do not believe in killing animals for food.  Buddha recommended following a diet consisting of fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables. It is also important to consume lean protein, healthy carbs, vitamins, minerals, and fats.

A study published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society; (Apr 1999, Vol. 58 Issue 2, p459-468, 10p) shows that Vitamin E plays an extremely important role in platelet, vascular, and immune health due to its antioxidant properties. Incorporating an adequate amount of Vitamin E in your diet will leave you feeling more energetic, clear-minded and will also improve the immune system.

2. Always Begin Your Day With Breakfast

Many Buddhist monks have been observed consuming breakfasts commonly consisting of steamed vegetables, fish broth, and poached eggs.  The purpose of a diet consisting of these items is to prime your digestive system for an energetic and highly productive day while feeding beneficial digestive flora and starving pathogenic bacteria and yeasts in the digestive tract.

3. Fasting

Buddhism encourages ascetic practices–practices meant to teach self-discipline or self-denial in the pursuit of a spiritual goal.

Fasting helps you achieve self-discipline and acquire more self-control while detoxifying the body. Based on the Second Precept of the Five Moral Precepts, Buddha recommended eating once a day, in one sitting, taking care to reducing the amount eaten to avoid overconsumption. It was also recommended for monks not to consume solid food afternoon.
The potential health benefits of intermittent fasting include weight loss, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, improved cardiovascular and brain function, improved risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke, and increased resistance to age-related diseases and insulin sensitivity.

4. Wake up Early

It is important to maintain a consistent sleep schedule in which you go to sleep at and wake up at the same time every day.  One of the main benefits of waking up early includes increased energy, clarity of mind and productivity.  Waking up early will also give you an early start and more time to work on your goals for the day.

5. Maintain Physical Fitness

Siddhartha Gautama was born into the caste of warriors, rulers, and aristocrats of ancient India.  As a result, Siddhartha Gautama underwent rigorous physical training to master archery, swordsmanship, and horsemanship.  A healthy, flexible, and fit body will undoubtedly complement and support the pursuit of a healthy, flexible, and fit mind.  Unsurprisingly, yoga and Buddhism are sister traditions that evolved in the same spiritual culture of ancient India.  The beginnings of yoga can be traced back over 5,000 years ago to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization of Northern India and ancient monks used yoga along with pranayama (breathing the life force) to prepare their bodies for long periods of seated meditation.

6. Meditate Every Day

Meditation occupies a central place in all forms of Buddhism.  The Buddha was one of history’s major proponents of meditation, and Indian tantras (scriptures) mentioned meditation techniques around 5000 years ago.

According to the Buddha Dharma Education Association, the basic purpose of meditation is to calm the mind and train it to concentrate.  The benefits of meditating each day include lowered blood pressure and allow for fewer distractions throughout daily life.

7. Avoid Intoxicating Substances

Buddha emphasized the importance of avoiding intoxicating substances.  Intoxicating substances are to be avoided because they cloud the mind, can be physically and psychologically addictive and may increase the likelihood of breaking the other rules of Buddhism, according to the Five Moral Precepts.

8. Practice Proper Breathing

Proper breathing techniques go hand in hand with yoga and meditation.  There are many ways to practice proper breathing as one of the health benefits of mindful breathing and meditation include decreased Beta brain waves, which are associated with thinking, problem-solving, and stress.  With daily practice of proper breathing, you will increase Alpha, Theta, and Gamma brain waves, which are the brain waves associated with relaxed creativity and high mental state.  Mindful breathing throughout the day has been shown to have positive effects on the stress of the body and mind.  In a study published in NeuroImage suggests that mindful attention to breath contributes to increased emotional regulation because of the increased amygdala and prefrontal-cortex connectivity.

9. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness according to Merriam-Webster is defined as “the practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis” and pertains to both bodily actions and the mind’s thoughts and feelings.

Mindfulness is a conscious direction of our awareness and is often synonymous with meditation.  In Buddhism, mindfulness is a prerequisite for developing insight and wisdom.  Mindfulness is an activity that can be done at any time and does not necessarily require sitting in one place.

10. Practice Altruism

“O monks, wander! We will go forward for the benefit of many people…out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans.” — Catusparishad Sutra (Buddhist scripture)

“Someone may build a precious reliquary, as high as the world; It is said that training others to generate The altruistic intention is more excellent.” — Aryadeva (monk, 170-260 CE).

Many Buddhist organizations aim to give help and provide warmth and active caring to relieve suffering.  The goal of adopting an altruistic approach to life is to extend compassion and loving-kindness, or charity to others.

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Top 10 Health and Fitness Tips from Buddha

Close your eyes and picture Buddha. Are you thinking of a fat bald guy with droopy earlobes and a goofy smile? This is the image that has been popularized by little statues and restaurant murals around the world, but it is far from the reality. Born to the prosperous...

read more

Right & Wrong Meditation Practice

Right & Wrong Meditation Practice

People overlook the fact that suffering lies inside the mind (rather than outside it) and therefore must be dealt with inside the mind, not in the body or outside body and mind.

Many misunderstand that drinking, taking drugs and roaming from one place of entertainment to another will alleviate their suffering but in fact, it only manages to distract the mind from suffering temporarily. If we want to deal with suffering on a permanent basis, we cannot avoid meditation and it is perhaps no surprise that meditation is becoming more popular in the present day, especially in the western world.

Different people, however, meditate for the different reason. Some merely want to show off mental powers to win spiritual followers. Others wish to use meditation to cultivate mindfulness and wisdom to deal with suffering at its roots. Thus, it is obvious that the one word ‘meditation’ can refer to different things. Therefore, it is necessary to take note of the most fundamental categorization of meditation so that when we come to practice meditation, we can choose the correct methodology:

1. Right Meditation

Proper meditation in Buddhism is called ‘Right Meditation’ [Sammaa Samaadhi] further elucidated in the scriptures as follows:1 “What do we mean by Right Meditation? Any monk established in the Dhammavinaya, who is aloof from the sense pleasures and unwholesomeness attaining the first absorption as identified by initial application of mind [vitakka], continued application of mind [vicaara], joy [piiti] and happiness [sukha] and one-pointedness [ekaggata]. Detached from these qualities, he enters upon the second absorption – his mind becoming brighter in the absence of initial or continued application of mind. Only joy, happiness and one-pointedness [ekaggata] remain, mindful [sati] and self-possessed [sampajañña]. Detached from these qualities, joy disappeared, and he enters upon the third absorption as praised by the Buddhist saints as being one who has attained equanimity, mindfulness and happiness. Entering upon the fourth absorption where there is neither suffering nor happiness – because he has already transcended elation and sorrow. Equanimity results in the pure mindfulness named Right Meditation otherwise known as the Noble Truth of the Pathway to the Cessation of Suffering [dukkha-nirodha-gaaminii-pa.tipadaa-ariyasacca].” It can be concluded that Right Meditation is a way to calm the mind and reduce any sensuality or unwholesomeness in the mind. All the way from the first to the fourth absorption, will have the condition of feeling ‘neither-happiness-nor-suffering’ [adukkhamasukha], but rather abiding in equanimity [upekkhaa] which allows one to perceive things in pure mindfulness. In other places in the Buddhist Scriptures, Right Meditation is described as:

1. the mind free of mental chatter.

2. a mind made stable and focused in the proper way.

2. Wrong Meditation

In the Abhidhamma, Right Meditation is described as:

Right Meditation is the focus of the mind, where the mind is stable and unwavering. The mind’s condition of being unmoving gives rise to peacefulness, the faculty of concentration, the strength of concentration, and focusing the mind in the proper way.

Right Meditation can thus be seen to be of great benefit to the practitioner of meditation. When mental chatter disappears and the mind becomes focused, Wrong Meditation and defilements will be vanquished in accordance with the scriptures which affirm that, “those who cultivate Right Concentration will uproot greed, hatred and delusion.”5 Broadly speaking, it can be said that Right Meditation is able to eradicate Wrong Meditation, mental chatter and defilements, and allow the practitioner thereby to attain the highest goal of Nirvana. As stated in the Majjhima Nikaaya Commentaries that when Right Meditation comes into existence, Wrong Meditation and the defilements which are the obstacle to Right Meditation are eradicated a taste of Nirvana thus being attained thereafter giving the practitioner full faith in and unfailing practice of the compounded mental phenomena [sampayutta-dhamma]  and that is why it is known as Right Meditation. In conclusion, to succeed in meditation, one must practice Right Meditation that is to practice for a peaceful mind, eradication of sensuality and unwholesomeness and freedom from mental chatter until the mind becomes focused steadfastly. This practice corresponds to the Buddha’s teachings, and will enable the practitioner to attain the goal of Nirvana. The absence of mental chatter means that thoughts or images of the things that bring about the greed, hatred or delusion must no longer pass through the mind. The Buddhist Scriptures define mental distraction as when the attention is displaced outside the body becoming caught up instead infatuation in five types of sense objects: images, sound, odor, taste and touch which pollutes the mind with sense-desires.

What are the differences of Happiness and Pleasure?

What are the differences of Happiness and Pleasure?

True happiness is easier to obtain than you might think. It is much easier than owning a dream house, marrying a dream girl, or getting a dream job, etc. Where is it? Why is it that everybody of every race and religion is searching for it, but few people have ever found it?

True Happiness

True happiness is like true love. You cannot purchase true happiness. It is not like buying a lipstick, a Mercedes Benz or an ice cream. It comes from inside, from a place where force, money, and charm have no access. Yet, its’ invisible presence has had a universal appeal since time immemorial.

Pleasure is often mistaken for happiness. Pleasure makes you forget bad things for a while, but it comes with side effects. 

Happiness is pure and unadulterated joy. It is free from side effects and free from the slightest bit of suffering. As much as we appreciate the pleasure of: sitting by the sea, watching the sunset, cruising along the river, being a parent, receiving a promotion or buying beautiful things for ourselves, we know that deep down these things all come with a certain amount of cost (thinking, planning, problem-solving, maintenance and sometimes even stress). Pleasure requires us to take action (to do something), whereas pure happiness asks us to do absolutely nothing.

That is because pure happiness relies on nothing. The presence (or absence) of a particular person, possession or circumstance are not the conditions of happiness. Pleasure is short-lived and relies on external factors, on other people and things outside our control.

This does not mean that we should deny all pleasures. It means that we need to know what real happiness is, where it comes from, and how we can have it. There have been and there always will be times when we realize, temporarily, that all the external possessions and the lovely pleasures cannot lift us out of emotional suffering. Even a nice house, a six-figure salary or a diamond ring cannot prevent love from ruin or save us from heartache. We feel happiness in the mind. It comes from the mind.

To be specific, happiness comes from the center of the body, the natural home of the human mind. Most of us cannot find happiness because we look for only pleasure. We look for happiness on the outside. Sometimes we even feel empty inside, despite owning a new car, a new house and all the beautiful things that money can buy. Sometimes, we work so hard and spend so much time to get all these things for ourselves or for others, to win their hearts. We think that they will make us happy or will return our love. Other people still expire, malfunction or die. They leave us in a most unkind and unexpected manner. We wonder why they left. Then we realize that none of these things can help us when we are worried, depressed or in pain. We will truly appreciate this fact and the difference between happiness and pleasure, only when we have experienced pure happiness.

Real happiness is much closer than you might think

Real happiness is much closer than you might think. It is within every one of us. We have only to station our mind (in the right place) and still it (in the right way) to tap into our private ocean of joy, located right at the center of our body. Have you ever noticed that when you have a good night sleep, you wake up feeling refreshed and energetic, ready to face the day? That is because your mind is floating near the center of your body, two finger-widths above your navel. Medical scientists call it the “center of gravity” because the energy at this center keeps your entire body grounded and in balance.

The center of the body is where our mind feels happiest, where sadness cannot exist and joy abounds, infinitely. It is a place of strength, energy and inspiration to be creative. A place inspiring us to do what is morally correct and useful for oneself or others – despite difficulties and obstacles. It is where our mind rest and it is strengthened and purified. The closer the mind is to the center of the body, the happier it is. The further away our mind is from its home sweet home, the unhappier it becomes.

Have you ever noticed that when you long for someone or something, or when you are angry with somebody, your mind is not with you? It is with that person or thing. By leaving its happy home, the mind exposes itself to negative forces, pressure and emotions – adding to the owner’s suffering. Similarly, when you feel pain in your leg or your arm and you focus on the pain, your mind is with that pain. It is with that painful part of the body. You feel more pain than when you rest your mind in its protected home at your center.

You have only to allow your mind to come to a standstill and rest in its’ home, to savor the pure happiness from your private ocean of joy. You can tap into as much peace and joy as you wish at your center. It is all yours. This permanently reliable source of joy is an inner wealth that you gain when you are born. It is your “true possession”. Nobody can take it away from you.

When your mind dips into the ocean of joy, you will experience an absolute joy that does not compare to owning any possession. Nothing in the world can compare with this absolute joy. Our body’s center guarantees that we all have the ability to make ourselves happy – independent of personal circumstances and external factors.

How anger affects your brain and body | Best practice for anger management

How anger affects your brain and body | Best practice for anger management

“Anger” a human emotion conveyed to said message. No one is devoid of not feeling this emotion. The more you try to push it, the more it comes towards you. There is nothing wrong with feeling anger but one should know how to come to terms with it.

While it has fueled some of the great leaders in the world to make changes in the system for humanity, however it is also the reason for wrecked relationships, serious crimes, work problems and an overall decline in the quality of life.

Anger causes not only the external problems of leaving scars to your loved ones and a hurdle to your professional life but it is a serious threat to your internal health too. Anger devours much of your mental energy leading to stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and distraction. One is also more in risk of high blood pressure, heart diseases, weak immune system and break down of the nervous system.

There is a very common myth related to anger that says one cannot control anger. But the fact is one might not be able to control the situation but the emotions that arise out of the situation can be controlled.

But how does practicing Meditation reduce Anger?

Meditation increases healthy serotonin levels in the brain which creates more awareness reducing the chances of doing or saying something harsh in anger. Meditation boosts calm hormones. The feeling of anger generally causes physical responses like an increase in the blood pressure, stress in the mind and increase in heart rate. It causes all mental, emotional and physical turmoil. Meditation provides a serene and calm thought process harmonizing the dangerous hormones with healthy hormones.

Basically, Meditation replaces anger with compassion.

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Top 10 Health and Fitness Tips from Buddha

Close your eyes and picture Buddha. Are you thinking of a fat bald guy with droopy earlobes and a goofy smile? This is the image that has been popularized by little statues and restaurant murals around the world, but it is far from the reality. Born to the prosperous...

read more

What meditation can help

What meditation can help

The world is moving at a rapid pace and all the people in it want to put up with this pace. Increase in globalization and technological devices are making our life easier physically but while moving on at this pace while most of the populations are facing emotional problems with depression, stress, and anxiety.

Want to be free from all the emotional and mental turmoil but don’t know how?

The answer is Meditation. Meditation is the tool to renew our mind, body, heart, and soul. These thousands of year old practice does really have benefits in every area of life. To name a few benefits meditation can have in a mental and emotional wellbeing:

Alleviate depression, anxiety, and stress: Scientists have discovered that mere 30 minutes of meditation daily helps to provide more clarity on self-awareness and inner thought and desires. The consciousness of the mind increases decreases the negative thoughts in your mind. According to researchers meditation can relieve depressions as much as taking a depression medicine. It also improves your sense of wellbeing and gives you a better version of yourself.

Increases the concentration level: Meditation not only increases the mind awareness but helps to cut down on distracting thoughts. One review concluded that meditation may even reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to mind-wandering, worrying, and poor attention.

Rejuvenates You: Our mind needs to be cleaned just as we clean our homes, offices and our body. Meditation cleans our minds from the negatives energies and enables us to look at the positive aspect life has been providing us. After meditation one finds themselves rejuvenated and energized.

Well! There is countless benefits meditation provides in one’s emotional wellbeing so why not try and accommodate meditation in our daily lives. As Siddhartha Gautam Buddha once said, “Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.”