To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.
Today’s post begins a little differently than most. Today we open with a rather simple, yet incredibly profound quote from Buddha. But before you misconstrue this latest post as a misguided religious rant oozing with theology and profundity, let me remind you that I’m far from an angel and probably not the right person to be lecturing anyone on their belief systems (that’s a topic we might hold off on for another time). Instead today’s post opens with a quote by one of the holiest men to ever walk the earth because of one reason: I wanted to back up what I plan on saying today with the credibility of others, and the guy summed up what I’m about to say perfectly – and there are few people more credible than Siddharta Gautama.
We have all heard the adage Healthy body: Healthy mind. It’s a rather simple concept that to this writer seems to draw a startling resemblance to Laozi’s infamous Ying-Yang theory. That is to say that just as there is a little evil in every good, there is also a little cerebral function in every physical action and a little physicality in every thought process and synapse that bursts into our consciousness. But how many of us actively practice this incredibly simple ideal? How many of us actively move our bodies on a daily basis as a means of not only achieving aesthetic goals but also to improve cognitive function? Having faced off against depression on a bloody battlefield laced with trenches and shell casings once or twice before, I understand the importance that leading a physical existence has on my mental state, and continuously make a conscious effort to move my body in any way possible.
I grew up near the ocean and spent much of my youth swimming and surfing as a means of exercise. The water was an escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life and an extraordinary physical outlet that quelled the darker impulses that lay dormant within my heart and mind. I was moving my body almost every single day and in that time could write with ease. However when I relocated interstate in a quest to chase my writing dreams I suddenly found myself landlocked and robbed of my physical mechanisms for coping with stress. It was around this time that I started to fall into a world of depression and anxiety and after a seemingly never ending hailstorm of shit I almost gave away writing forever. (For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading about some of my lower moments skip over to My first foray into the world of weblogs) So I changed tact, and instead of diving into the water to clear my mind I began frequenting gymnasiums and at one stage even took to running through a few local bush walking tracks until I found myself doubled over, out of breath and on the verge of spewing having pushed my body so far.
Thankfully as I began to return to a life of consistent exercise my flair for writing and my unique and rather obscure sense of imagination and creativity returned. Ever since then I have always been a firm believer in the fact that if I want that healthy mind I so vividly desire I really do need to have a healthy body, and by continuously exercising I have managed to continue to create. But as is so often the case in life, I took my creativity and my health for granted and until just recently I was beginning to think that I was indestructible. Then a few weeks ago I managed to damage the facet joints that connects my cervical spine to my skull and suddenly my whole world of physical activity and subsequent cognitive stimulation came grounding to a halt. I went from writing every day and being quite active to someone who suffered a migraine if I tried to bend down to pull on my pants in the space of a day and my imagination seemed to cease up just as quickly as my body did.
We often say that we suffer for our art, and after seeking the help of a physiotherapist I learned that that was exactly what I was doing. All my long hours slaving away over a computer with poor posture had literally left me incapable of repeating the action without the onset of a migraine, and nigh on the point of being incapacitated altogether. So began three weeks of headaches, continuous stretching, trips to the masseuse and physio, and a few fucking pathetic attempts at writing before the injury finally managed to subside. Thankfully I can now resume where I left off prior to my brief stint of injury; although nowadays I’m really focusing on my posture and am trying to avoid slouching over my computer screen.
So why am I telling you this? Why should you actually give a shit? Well… You probably shouldn’t. But nevertheless there is a lesson to be learned from my little tale of agony and inactivity. The mind is a powerful tool whose capabilities are virtually endless, yet the body itself is an integral component of the machine that is man. If I want to write, and write well, then I have to continuously stimulate the mind, and a large part of that stimulation comes from physical activity. I’m now exercising again and feel as though my creative flair has come flooding back; so much so that I’m considering attempting NaNoWriMo as a way to really test myself as a writer once again. I’ve only got a few more days to make a decision as to whether I will attempt the momentous feat and if I do I’ll probably spend the vast majority of next month at my laptop tearing at my hair as I try valiantly to produce fifty thousand words over thirty days. But hopefully with a little physical activity to keep me sane and keep my mind firing I can survive to ordeal and maybe even have a little fun at the same time.