Once Upon a Time there lived a powerful King who had 100 doctors. The finest in the land. Soon, one of the older Doctors passed away and a search began for his replacement. Many candidates came to be interviewed. Each candidate had to correctly answer one question from each of the other 99 Doctors. All failed. One day a candidate arrived who answered all the questions correctly. The King congratulated him and welcomed him as the 100th Doctor. The Doctor spoke:
“Your Highness. I would like to ask the other ninety-nine Doctors a question”.
The King, intrigued, agreed.
“What are the two most important things for health?”
All the Doctors answered incorrectly.
“What are they?” asked the King, intensely curious.
“A walk in the morning and an hour in the sunshine”, came the reply.
So pleased was the King with this answer, he fired all the other 99 Doctors and the new Doctor became the most famous physician of his Age.
This ancient story is a reminder of how, in a world filled with complex remedies and impenetrable jargon, preventing illness and maintaining our health is quite simple. The two most important things for health have, arguably, not changed. How many of you take a walk in the morning and enjoy an hour in the sunshine? When I was in the military, exercise would commence at first light. In the Mediterranean, walking is common, particularly after a meal.
There is something magical about the cool early morning air. While the rest of the country is sleeping, an early morning walk is invigorating and ensures greater mental sharpness for the rest of the day. Exercise during the day helps you sleep better at night. It also helps with constipation, reduces the risk of breast and colon cancer, burns calories and gets more oxygen into body and brain. Getting our circulation moving improves sexual health, muscles get stronger and so do the bones of osteoporosis patients. Immune function strengthens; ‘bad’ cholesterol drops; stress reduces, and physical tension is released. Walking briskly each day can reduce your risk of heart disease by 40%.
What about sunshine? We have been taught to fear it. Why? The effects of this can be catastrophic. Vitamin D is crucial for protecting us against Cancer. Sunshine produces it. Sunshine is also an anti-depressant. We are all pretty miserable in the darker months in the northern hemisphere. Except for a few rare instances, most of us need more sunshine, not less. Heliotherapy (sun-bathing) is part of ‘Nature Cure’ and included in our programs. There is no need for us to be fearful of the sun just because some ‘expert’ says it is bad for us or a few sun-worshippers have melanomas. Everything in moderation. Go out in the sun when it is not too high in the sky, and do not burn. Too much sun may be bad for you. But so is too little.
A morning walk is not so easy when you work shifts, live in a city, do not feel safe outside or only have time for a mad dash to get to work. Here you must do what you can. Exercise later in the day. If you cannot walk, ride a bicycle. If you cannot do that, learn some simple breathing and stretching exercises.
One fun exercise I do each morning is a Qigong exercise called ‘Tossing the Ball’. It is perfect for almost everyone, including the overweight. It can also be used to dissolve toxic emotions. Instead of ‘tossing’ a ball, imagine you are tossing away anger, fear, heartbreak, hatred or frustration. The exercise can be conducted slowly, or at pace, becoming a super workout. It does not need any equipment, costs nothing and you don’t have to move from one spot. You can search for it online or watch for a coming video on the Antarana website.
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