We all want the secrets to health and vitality. We can buy bottles, creams, and whatever else is advertised to us, but ultimately anything sustainable comes from self-awareness and choices.
I recently read the New York Times piece, The Economics of Doing What You Love, by Justin Wolfers. Wolfers outlines analysis of his habit of running and what it has cost him financially. Time spent running vs. potential extra hours at his teaching job, money spent on shoes vs. money saved, and so on. "By my calculations, my 16-week training program comes at an opportunity cost of several thousand dollars. A quicker runner would have a smaller opportunity cost. It's only because I'm both slow and an economist that I fret that the world's cheapest sport is actually incredibly expensive."
Analysis is interesting and useful when there is a problem that needs to be solved, but Wolfers loves running. No problem there. Thankfully he has decided to continue running, despite the financial strain. However, Wolfers, drawing on the principles of economics, has missed a piece of analysis: the events that can't be seen. He hasn't factored in the savings in medical expenses and prescription drugs over the years from maintaining a healthy body and mind through running. That is, of course, unless he becomes injured while running and then his costs might rise again. He also hasn't factored the probability that doing what he loves will keep him on his best path, and therefore inspire him to achieve his goals and strive for greatness. Maybe a best-selling novel reveals itself to him while on a hard run, or maybe he realizes and creates a new system of teaching that benefits students for years to come.
Growing up learning the discipline and artistry of ballet, my favorite concepts were indeterminacy, chance, and dance for the sake of dance. There came a point in the history of dance, exploded by favored icon Merce Cunnningham, where dance had evolved beyond the confines of narrative. The Nutcracker is nice and all, but bodies moving beautifully is more than enough. Culture had moved past the need for spelled out structure and acceptable emotions...at least in the theater.
There comes a point when you have learned enough technique and have enough knowledge to live in the world. Feeling, intuition, and awareness need to be introduced and merged into technique for real growth to happen. Dharma Mittra instructs his students to perform a pose. He doesn't say where to point your toe, what muscle to engage, and where your spirals are coming from. We are taught rules our whole lives. When we are working on growth and expansion, we don't need more rules. There are plenty of systems of learning, and systems of yoga, that will keep you in a cycle of rules and principles taught by someone who stands outside you, who knows something you don't. Dharma Mittra says just to feel it. It's already in you. Knowledge and intelligence are sometimes useful, intuition and awareness provide so much more.
I've come up with 5 habits that I've observed lead to and maintain good health. They are some tricks that work for me so far. What works for you?