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Lesson 305 - Must We Become Vegetarians?  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: Feb 17, 2009

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"

It should not be surprising that the formula for good health is not very different from the formula for good progress with spiritual practices, with fine-tuning to suit individual inclinations and needs. Overall inner health of the neurobiology and the cardiovascular system requires the following:

-- A balanced diet containing a variety of fruits and vegetables, favoring reduced fat and salt consumption.

-- Regular aerobic exercise the equivalent of 20 minutes or more of brisk walking at least four times per week.

-- A balanced routine of regular daily activity and rest. Not too much activity, not too much rest.

There is nothing esoteric in these suggestions, which are straight forward, and come from both modern medicine and ancient yogic wisdom.

Is it necessary to become a strict vegetarian to achieve good health, and be suitably prepared for yoga practices such as deep meditation?

No, it isn't. All of the suggestions given above can be acted upon within a diet regimen that includes meat and dairy products. It is only a matter of eating in moderation, and favoring the basic guidelines as best we can without throwing our personal preferences out the window. There is no black or white in this. While it seems to be human nature to believe it is so, few things in life are all or nothing. So, good health can certainly be maintained by eating a wide range of foods in moderation. For those who have an aversion to fresh fruits and vegetables, try compromising and eating some of these only a little bit on a regular basis. It won't kill you. If you are a heavy meat eater, favor eating less meat, and see how much better you feel. It can be as simple as favoring lighter meats (like fish or fowl) over heavier meats. These tendencies will come up by themselves if you are practicing deep meditation. It happens like that. Nothing is all or nothing. We just favor what we know will be good for our health and well being. It is logical, yes?

On the spiritual side it is just the same. We eat according to our preferences, favoring what we know will improve our health and well being. A vegetarian diet may gradually emerge in our life as we move ahead, but only if we are naturally inclined that way. 

Forced diets are not the best diets, because they introduce stress and self-judgment. The first chance it gets, the body rushes back to the old diet. This is why regimented diet programs rarely work over the long run. It has to come from within. The same goes for morality-based diets avoiding certain foods for moral reasons. Our rising spiritual instincts will guide us more harmoniously than rules of conduct or rigid ideologies imposed externally. 

If we are meditating regularly, we will find that, in time, we will be drawn to a lighter, more nutritious diet. Our preferences will change naturally. And we can trust that. The body knows what it needs to sustain the process of purification and opening fostered by deep meditation. As inner silence (pure bliss consciousness) rises, our eating habits will change accordingly. 

If it is our choice, it is possible to fulfill all of our dietary needs in a pure vegetarian (vegan) diet, providing for complete protein needs through the blending of seeds, nuts and legumes. It is also possible to fulfill our dietary needs in a healthy way, eating a non-vegetarian diet. There are no absolutes in this only the honoring of personal preferences, and favoring moderation in all things.

Light and nutritious says it all. Light to aid in easy cleansing of the nervous system through our yoga practices, and nutritious to support good health of the body. Too light is not usually nutritious, and too nutritious is not usually light. Balance is the key.

Daily deep meditation will naturally lead us in that direction. A preoccupation with diet is not an aid to meditation, or to anything else in life. So we take it easy and meditate twice each day. If we do that, the diet will take care of itself.

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed discussion on yogic diet, see the Diet, Shatkarmas and Amaroli book, and AYP Plus.

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