The book I’m reading on healthy aging devotes an entire chapter to stress and how it can harm our bodies. We obviously can’t eliminate stress from our lives, but we can modify our stress response.
In the two years since my car accident, I’ve kind of taken up meditation. I say “kind of” because I do it for awhile and then don’t. This morning, for example, I have a sick child home who was well enough to take the laser pointer and shine it on me to make the kittens pounce on me while I was meditating. It’s hard to focus when that’s happening.
I’m not talking about meditation in the middle-eastern Buddha sense. I mean mindfulness, where you sit quietly for about 15 minutes and focus on your breathing and the sensation of your body, like relaxing your shoulders. If any other thought comes into your mind, you are supposed to ignore it and go back to focusing on your breathing. This simply gives me a few minutes of doing nothing, which is so rare in our culture and yet so healthy. Remember the days as a child when you’d sit on your back porch step in the summer and play with a dandelion, just spending time blowing the seeds across the grass, and maybe watching a bug crawl across the sidewalk? I imagine that’s close to meditating and some days in the summer I simply sit on our swing outside and watch the birds.
But this active form of meditation, of making time to focus on your body and your breathing, has really helped me. Once you capture the feeling of being that relaxed, it’s easy to take a few breaths during the day and recapture the feeling, throughout stressful moments.
Stress is toxic to the neurons in our brains. It’s a major cause of heart disease, inflammatory disease, digestive disorders, headache and other ailments and chronic conditions. It can make us tired, dizzy, and achy. Unchecked, it destroys our body.
If Christ is in us, we need to take care of our bodies, inside and out. It’s a command.
Here’s a sobering verse:
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?
If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:17.
What do you do to keep your “temple” healthy for God?