Namaste Yoga 308 Cultural Conditioning Series The Myth of Perfect Health

by Melissa West on December 4, 2015

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Namaste-Yoga-308-HealthCultural Conditioning is the social process in which authority figures such as parents, professors, politicians, religious leaders, peers, and the media define our cultural values, beliefs, ethical systems, and ultimately the way we perceive ourselves in the world.

We tend to buy into the myth the perfect health is something that we can achieve, especially as yogis. Perfect emotional and physical health is something that we strive for as yogis. Through our yoga practice we tend to our physical bodies with the intention of alleviating physical pain and suffering. We also practice yoga to ease our anxiety and stress. It is not that anything is wrong with this, in fact many yogis have alleviated a lot of their suffering through yoga. The problem comes when we get attached to the outcome and find ourselves striving for results.

We need to bring awareness to this part of our practice as well. Healthcare in 2015, total health expenditure in Canada is expected to reach $219.1 billion, or $6,105 per person. A 2007 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of more than 23,000 adults nationwide reported that Americans spent $34 billion on alternative medicine including naturopathic doctors, traditional chinese medicine doctors, chiropractors and herbal remedies. Whether allopathic or naturopathic we are being sold that we can cure ourselves of whatever ails us.

Illness, whether it be physical and or mental suffering is part of life. As BKS Iyengar says, “Yoga allows us to cure what can not be endured and endure what cannot be endure. Through our yoga practice we learn how to be with our suffering, whatever form it takes. It is impossible for your body to be perfectly healthy and free from all diseases at all times. As a human beings you are vulnerable to disease at any point in your life. When you experience illness, this is a reminder of your human fragility. Perfect health is never going to be completely attainable. Your wholeness, well-being, or perfection as a human being therefore, does not mean the absence of all pain and suffering in life but instead, learning how to be with the pain and suffering that you will inevitably experience as a human being in this world.

Through mindful awareness you can notice what is happening in your body and your emotional experience from moment to moment without judgment. This allows you to see what is happening in your body and emotional landscape as it is without clinging to what seems positive, running from what seems negative and numbing out when the experience is neutral. This is what is happening in your body now, this is what is happening in your emotional landscape now, but it won’t always be this way. With practice we can bring a sense of loving kindness and compassion to our physical and emotional experience, whatever is happening.

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Today’s question to answer in the comments is: What are you bringing mindful awareness and loving kindness to with regards to your physical and emotional health this week?

Today we spoke the phrases, “May I be at ease with what comes and what goes.” in supported fish pose. If you would like to receive my favourite phrases of loving kindness that I use in my own practice then sign up for the link below.

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