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Quality of life...
by Boyd Martin

Extreme Martial Arts... Last night I watched the Discovery Channel's "Extreme Martial Arts." I've always been inspired by the discipline, purity, and soulfulness of martial arts training and accomplishment, and this show had it all. One segment was about breaking things such as concrete blocks and wooden slabs, using pure intention and force. At one point, after a few injuries were featured, the announcer quipped, "It's not about the pain. It's about not minding." That set me off in a couple of directions pertinent to physical well-being and how we get into compromising situations with our bodies.

The most inspirational people to me are those who are extremely physically challenged, and yet accomplish great things or accomplish normal things, but only through sheer determination, inner vision and heart. They have risen above their "handicap," and have actually applied it to their advantage in creating deeply soulful lives. They are "not minding" their situations, and are finding within themselves the power to experience a high quality of life.

Such people as the renown physicist, Stephen Hawking, the great violinist Itzhak Perlman, Helen Keller, or the champions of Special Olympics (who are champions of much more)--managed to achieve a high quality of life because they persisted in the achievement of it, and that challenge tested much more of their abilities than those of us with eyes to see, legs to walk and hands to grasp. To me, these are the super-people of humanity. They are testaments to the power of life to transcend against all odds. The lesson for us "able" people is, here we are with all our limbs and faculties intact, and yet we insist on feeling sorry for ourselves because we're overweight, or have acne, or are depressed.

The mystery lies in what drives these challenged people to be such inspirations and to accomplish so much for humanity. In my previous article I discussed the power of decision, and certainly at some point in these people's lives, they made a heart-and-soul decision to rise above their disabilities. But more than that, there is a quality of striving and a certain emotional and spiritual center that glows brighter, and it informs them of their right to a quality life.

I'm defining "quality life" as one in which goals are regularly achieved, morale is high, there is a high sense of well-being, and an aura of satisfaction around every endeavor, and all of this radiates out into the world and uplifts families, communities and nations.

Now is the only right time... But there are two insidious mutations of "not minding" that can disable anyone, and these are COMPLACENCY and COMPROMISE. They are pretty easy to spot in even a cursory self-inventory. Such rationalizations as, "It's not really too bad. I can live with it," or, "I'm getting too old for this," or, "It hurts, but I can still work," or even, "Somebody else with more talent and focus can do this instead of me." These are all "comfort zone" statements, and are the single most destructive elements to anyone's quality of life. Of course, there is value in these rationalizations in that they invariably lead to more extreme and serious conditions, and when conditions get serious enough, changing them can become a matter of life and death--sometimes too late.

Why do we wait to change the little things until they become BIG THINGS? It's really a personal question perhaps related to self-image, deserving-ness, responsibility, victim behaviors, any number of complexes. But I know in my case it really was a matter responsibility. My rationalization was that so much more would be expected of me if I healed my lower back condition, and those expectations would be overwhelming. The idiocy in this computation is that increased expectations ARE overwhelming when you're in constant pain, but with the cause of the pain removed, expectations are joyfully fulfilled, with the added confidence and morale increasing further my quality of life.

Bikram Choudhury After 10 months of daily Bikram yoga, my back "problems" are no longer, and I have a new-found belief in myself and my ability to make a heart-and-soul decision, stick with the repercussions and bask in the light at the end of the tunnel. The ridiculous thing about it is, that I always KNEW yoga would cure me, but I was just waiting for the "right time" to do it. Finally, after months of unending pain following a slipped disc, miraculously the time became "right." The point being, of course, that NOW is the only "right time."

Physicist have pretty much agreed on the theory that the Universe is expanding. To me, this is self-evident, because creation is constantly occurring. Everything increases one way or another--where one thing ceases, two things begin. I could be accused of being an optimist, and I proudly tout that moniker, but I see it as simply being practical. The more you strive to achieve, the more opportunities present themselves. The more you refuse to achieve, the more reasons appear to motivate you. See? Increasing universe.

The point is, that attaining wellness, well-being, physical health and happiness is a matter of striving heart-and-soul toward an increase in the quality of life. Today, increase one good thing in your life. The universe agrees with this! You can't lose.


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