It is easy to remember Gandhi only at his most emaciated, weak from weeks of fasting in an attempt to end Britain’s unjust occupation of India. And while Gandhi did push his body to physical extremes to enact political change, it is important to remember his strength as well. A formidable lawyer and cultured intellectual, Gandhi attended university in London and channeled that leadership and experience into a movement that awed the entire world. Best known for achieving India’s independence through non-violent resistance, Gandhi was wise in matters relating to health and fitness.
- Non-violence is healthy: Gandhi was a proponent of non-violent resistance and believed ahimsa is the true path to freedom and the best way to achieve life’s goals. Non-violent behavior can extend to day-to-day life by applying this teaching to other areas of your life, by reducing stressors and remaining peaceful and calm. Studies have shown that calm people are less likely to get hypertension and heart disease. Remaining calm will also fend off unhealthy behaviors such as stress-eating and smoking.
- Go to bed early and wake up early: Gandhi himself only slept 4-5 hours a night and awoke before the sun. Since modern day findings show that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night, we can still follow his motto of waking early to have a productive day.
- Fasting can promote health: fasting not only promotes discipline but can lead to various physical benefits as well. Fasting allows your body the time to detox, cleanse the stomach, use up unused sources of nutrition like fat, and helps it cope with any infections that might be present and can help relieve constipation. According to Ayurvedic principles, one should fast for at least one day in the week. Gandhi himself famously fasted for 21 days to promote unity between the Hindus and Muslims.
- Watch your diet: Gandhi famously said “The body was never meant to be treated as a refuse bin, holding all the foods that the palate demands.” He himself went vegan for six year because he believed that our diet should be healthy and paramount to learning self-restraint.
- Walk, walk, walk: The Dandi March was when Gandhi famously embarked solo on a 390 kilometer protest walk, and was soon followed by 10,000 strong. So keep walking!
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco: Gandhi preached complete abstinence on these two drugs. Tobacco use increases risks of all types of diseases like lung cancer, stroke, and high blood pressure. Alcohol can increase the incidence of heart diseases, diabetes, and several cancers.
- Practice Meditation: Meditation has been practiced in India for centuries. Recent studies show that it has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation can also help lower blood pressure with consistent practice over time.
- Think Positive: As Mahatma Gandhi said “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” Setting your mind right with positive thoughts boosts your health, improves your skill, and improve your work.
- Forgive yourself and others: Gandhi was a peace promoter, he said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” When there’s stress in the heart and mind- mental and physical health is being affected. Forgiving others has shown in research it effects in lowering blood pressure. Research also presented that HIV patients who practiced forgiveness had higher CD4 cell percentages, which are helpful for their immune system. It helps your health overall and reduces feelings of anger, depression, and fatigue.
- Show Compassion: The actions of being compassionate bring out personal benefits to us. Gandhi wisely said “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” When you pursue a compassionate lifestyle, you become more open to others, less judgmental, and understand how others feel.
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