One of the curious dynamics of being human is the tendency not to do what we know is good for us. Certainly some of this is due to things like the addictive properties of some foods or bad habits. But there are often deeper issues at play, dynamics that cause internal conflicts between doing what we know to be right and what we are comfortable with actually doing.
Body weight is a classic example. Poor eating habits gradually catch up with us until we have to do something about it but are now faced with some significant effort to correct it. But then, we often find something unconscious conflicting with attempts to correct behavior. Something driving the habits beyond mere habit.
We can see this best at the two extremes.
There are people who pay very little real attention to their physical well-being. Essentially, they take it for granted, aside from the occasional complaint. They don’t adjust their lifestyle to age, reduced activity, or stress levels. They typically eat mindlessly, on the go, at their desk or in front of a TV or newspaper. They give little heed to the bodies signals for its needs.
Intake can be random rather than at routine times the body can regulate. Sleep is often insufficient, an inconvenience. Care swings between little and excess. Lifestyle is often based on the casually developed habits of early adulthood when it didn’t seem to matter.
On the opposite side are people who pay excess attention to their well-being, fussing over ever aspect. They eat very specifically, often take supplements and eat special diets, have very prescribed routines, and little flexibility.
While there is a high level of care, the mistake can creep in where the fussing is creating an intention that something is wrong. The attention is continually on a perspective of “frail body”. This reinforces wrongness rather than the rightness all this effort is for.
Now certainly, the careless may be typical of someone who’s never had health worries and the careful someone who’s had a serious health crisis. But this is not necessarily so. We’ve all met ill people with appalling care habits and very healthy people obsessed with their well-being.
The key is in balance and moderation. The middle way. It is part of the 8 limbs of Yoga. Mindfulness of what the body needs and what feels good in a non-addictive way. A simple routine. A varied diet of quality foods eaten at regular times, not too close to bedtime. Sleeping until rested.
With a little balance, the clarity can arise to reveal the hidden resistance or story at play that tends to encourage the extremes over simple care.
The longer we spend time at an extreme, the longer it may take us to clear the nervous system of the residues of excess. But that is not something we can judge in another. Some physiologies are quite robust or prone to frailty. Moderation for one person would be immoderate for another.
It can take a little experimentation to find what is right for you. And where the balance point of intention is between making it wrong and guiding the ship well. But if you do find the extra weight is slowing you down, that your back is getting stiffer, your eyes poorer, and so on – perhaps there is a place for more balance in your life. Taking care in body, heart and mind.