Karnamrita Das

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AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE: We have been eating healthy organic food for 4 or 5 years as part of my wife’s Ayurvedic wellness program due to her long struggle with weak health. Unfortunately, because of my rare encounter with serious health problems and a strong “kapha” constitution, I have been more cavalier about taking care of myself. Her weak constitution and immune system has forced her to be much more conscious of the importance of diet, sleep, exercise, balance, and peace of mind. So now I am also being forced to do all the things I should have been doing as maintenance for health, and more so with a special diet and treatment for cancer.

I am no evangelist about any topic, yet I can speak with some conviction about a few subjects, and am sharing them with you—gently, as food for thought. I hope you take it in that spirit. I feel I am putting love and prayers into my words and pray they may have the power to bless my readers. I have expressed this many times in my writing. Wishful thinking perhaps, and yet, for me, this is my intention in writing and living. Every day I feel compelled to share my inspiration with the prayer that it will be encouraging and meaningful to you. I feel this is what it means to be a spiritually oriented person.

It takes money and time to eat right and exercise, and even if we do, we may still attract some catastrophic illness. I remember reading an account several years ago about a health enthusiast and advocate for a strong wellness program who was shocked when she was diagnosed with cancer. She was saying, “How can this be happening to me, since I am doing all the best things for my health, and have been for twenty years?” The better thought is, “Why not me?”
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We live in a toxic world and generally we’ve spent years ingesting junk, or less than ideal, food, so that has taken a toll on our long term health. However, it is never too late to make the time and spend the extra money to live a healthy lifestyle. Even if we can’t afford to eat all organic, we can avoid those foods which have the highest pesticide residues—and while there are many different opinions about the best diet, there is universal agreement on the value of fresh fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed foods as much as possible. It is said in many circles that “Sitting is the new smoking,” so our sedentary lifestyle causes all sorts of health problems. I am not saying anything you don’t already know. As people invest in money making programs, we have to also invest in our health. Thus I have been reminded of the very old say by which I began this blog.

Tomorrow I have a doctor’s appointment to see what turned up, if anything, from my PET full body scan, and we are hoping and praying that this will give us more clues as to the kind of treatment protocol I will adopt. I am planning to do all the things in my life I have been putting off, or procrastinating about. We all have a certain amount of time to live in our current body—we all know this—yet for me, the power of today or “now” has taken on a new urgency. I can’t help but emphasis this topic.

Each day is a precious gift. Each friend we have is a precious gift. Each opportunity we have to serve and show love and kindness to others is a precious gift. Our devotion to God, and service to him, through his holy name and Deity forms, is a precious gift. Our life will be blessed many times over if we take the time to appreciate our life, and live with gratitude. What can I say? I am a sentimentalist, so if I could, I would bow down to you, give you a big hug, and spend time with you to laugh can cry about our lives--but only God, or for many of us, Krishna, can do that for everyone. Only he is everyone's best friend and well-wisher, and yet, in our small way we can make a difference with one another and other people.
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My wife has struggled with a weak constitution and immune system for as long as I have known her. Even though following an Ayurvedic diet has helped her general level of vitality, she still struggles in many ways that healthy people wouldn't necessarily relate to. To sleep through the night or even to feel good is always in question. Still in spite of it all, she is the most positive person I know, and her faith in Krishna, exemplary and inspiring for all who know or work with her in counseling. As she often says her body has been a very good teacher. Thus, I have learned much from her in dealing with physical ailments and health challenges.

Her refined sensitivity aids her greatly in helping devotees, while physically her sensitivity means tiny amounts of anything have a strong effect on her body. She is sometime exasperated by the struggle of maintaining her body, and mentioned to me how difficult it is to stay alive. That has never been the case with me, but now, with so many more demands on my time, I can better understand it. Exercise and certain eating and healing protocols are no longer optional, but required for my day.

Still "struggle" still isn't a word I would use to describe any part of my life--which is due to my personality-- though I am finding it quite difficult to fit everything I need to do in a day. My gentle daily struggle is to go to bed early enough to rise so I can do my spiritual practices, worship, and pranayam before the energy of passion sets, making my japa more difficult, and creating difficulty in doing other activities I want to do. Managing time is what I am focused on--struggle, I guess it is, though I need a better word, but in any case, I think many people would describe their lives as a struggle.
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Certainly at a cellular level there is always a war going on by the immune system to fight off viral invaders or pathogens. With the proper vision our physical or mental struggles can bring us closer to Krishna by our really understanding that everything and everyone is meant to help us take shelter of Krishna and understand both our incompatibility with matter and the spiritual solution to all problems. One of the keys during our struggle or effort to balance our material and spiritual lives is to see life as a blessing and gift and do our best to be in the service mode and find Krishna active everywhere in our life.

And something that I often write about, but have been profoundly reminded of by the outpouring of love, kindness, and prayers for me, is that when we give love, we receive love, when we are kind that is a reward in itself and we feel joy. Our attitude is reflected back by how our life or other people treat us. There are many terrible things and awful people in the world which we just have to look at the news to view (though many are hidden), yet we can't let that make us bitter or cynical critics and focus on doom and gloom. We can be "street smart," yet in spite of everything, we can be kind and loving people. I believe in people until they show me otherwise and I am happier because of it. We have great power to do good and be a source of upliftment for others. To do this we have to keep our head and become deep spiritual people with spiritual vision, compassion, and the desire to help others, even as we work at self-improvement and physical health. Spiritual life is, after all, about changing for the better.
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