Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Still Mind, Moving Body - the intersection between sedentary work, dis- stress management \ meditation

 Around 500 BC the Greek philospher Thales wrote:

What man is happy? He who has a healthy body, a resourceful mind and a docile nature 

The Roman poet Juvenals (~50-150 AD) said men should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body or in Latin mens sana in corpore sano usually translated as a sound mind in a sound body. This motto has been used by many movements and organisations over the ages. In the 1790's, The German innovator GutsMuths commenced his famous book on gymnastics using that sentence. In the next paragraphs he decries the degeneration and weakness of his fellow country man saying that they had not realised they could be strong if they pleased. It seems over 200 years ago, it could be observed that civilisation was weakening people. Sadly, this trend has continued with mechanisation, the reduction in physical education to games, even military fitness standards in some countries have had to be reduced, more than once, over the last 100 years or so; Sedentary work and sedentary leisure has significantly increased.

At the same time the mental complexity of society has increased, the extended family support system has given way to the nuclear family, information has increased and become digital.

Today, many people have busy minds and still bodies. But our genes are designed for the reverse a still (calm) mind in a moving body:

Still Mind, Moving Body                        busy mind, still body

The full quote from Juvenals:

men should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death,
and deems length of days the least of Nature's gifts
that can endure any kind of toil,
that knows neither wrath nor desire and thinks
the woes and hard labors of Hercules better than
the loves and banquets and downy cushions of Saranapalus
What I commend to you, you can give to yourself;

For assuredly, the only road to a life of peace is virtue.
                                Decimus Junius Juvenalis (Satires 10.356)

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