The name Mahatma Gandhi resonates a strong sense of patriotism and self-righteousness within us. Gandhiji famously said, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” On the outside, he may have looked weak (thanks to his weeks of fasting in protest), emaciated even, but he was a formidable opponent to the British Empire. He led India to Independence through his Satyagraha movement. But there is more to the father of our nation. Gandhiji was very wise in the matter of health as well.
While Gandhiji’s entire life is an example, here is his take on health and fitness:
1. Practice Non-violence
Gandhiji believed in non-violence and ahimsa. The term Ahimsa signifies respect for all living beings and adopting a non-violent way of life towards all. If we follow this mantra, it can help us stay calmer, preventing hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and improve our mental health. It will also keep us away from binge eating or craving for junk food when in stress.
2. Sleep Early and Wakeup Early
It is said that Mahatma Gandhi slept for 4-5 hours each night and woke up at sunrise. Today experts suggest that adults need at least 8 hours of sleep, we can still practice sleeping early and rising early. Starting the day first boosts our productivity and reduces stress.
3. Fasting for Good Health
There are many known benefits of fasting. It helps establish a discipline in our day-to-day life and has many physical benefits too. It helps the body detox, flush out the toxin, cleanse the stomach, and moreover, it helps the body utilize the unused fats, nutrients and boosts the immune system. Fasting helps keep infections at bay and regularize the bowel movements.
4. Watch What You Eat
This is very important. Given the many choices, we have today, junk foods or processed foods often take precedence over healthy, fresh foods. Gandhiji said, “The Body was never meant to be treated as a refuse bin, holding all the foods that the palate demands.” He adopted veganism for six years as he wanted to prove that diet should be healthy and self-restraint was the key.
5. Walk to Wherever You Can
Remember the Dandi March? Gandhiji walked to the Dandi beach, covering 390 Kilometers on foot to protest, followed by 10000 people. So, protest or no protest, walking is very beneficial for our health. Nutritionists suggest that we should walk for at least an hour each day.
6. Give up Alcohol and Tobacco
We all know that alcohol and tobacco do no good for our health. The use of tobacco leads to diseases like lung cancer, high blood pressure, and stroke. Consuming alcohol can lead to heart diseases, types of cancer and diabetes. Therefore, it is best to give these up.
7. Meditate to Stay Calm
Meditation has been practiced for centuries in our country. It is known to reduce anxiety and stress. Practicing meditation every day helps us to stay calm, lower blood pressure levels and lead a happier, healthier life.
8. Be Positive in Life
How we think affects our life. So, if we continue to hold grudges, stay angry and in general, think negatively, things will take a similar turn in life. Gandhiji said “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” This holds very true for all even today.
Therefore, we must train our minds to think positively. It helps us to approach every situation and circumstance in life in a positive way, helping us find solutions instead of problems. It also improves productivity, mental health, and overall social skills.
9. Forgive Others and Yourself
Forgiveness is no easy task. It means to let go and move beyond; a feat that can take years to manifest. Gandhiji, a firm believer in peace, said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Holding onto anger and grudges leaves little space in our minds and hearts for anything new or positive. It continues to stress us, adversely affecting our mental as well as physical self. Forgiveness can help in overcoming depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
10. Be Compassionate
Our world today lacks compassion. We often misunderstand ‘compassion’ and think of it as an extra effort on our part for others. But what we fail to understand is that a compassionate heart has many personal benefits too.
Being compassionate helps us to become less judgmental, more empathetic towards others and be more open.