I will maintain purity of body. Take care to maintain the heath of the body. Give it what it needs and avoid what harms it. Listen to your body. Make as much of a effort as you can, given your means, to keep from ingesting the pollutants of modern industry and agribusiness.
That is Raven’s description from the Pagan Book of Hours site. Personally, I’m not exceptionally concerned with the health effects of agribusiness; my concerns with it are primarily environmental. (“Purity” shows up in a few of these Principles, and it is an odd choice of words, given that they are explicitly not about strictly defining certain things as “pure”/”holy” and other things as “impure”/”sinful”. But I’ll talk about that later.)
Maintaining and improving the health of my body has been a primary focus of mine for the past few months. Part of the motivation is that I had mononucleosis about a year and a half ago, and recovery has been a very slow process. It was a year before I was even diagnosed, and my doctor said that two years is not an uncommon time frame for full recovery.
So, for the past year and a half, I’ve been feeling pretty lousy. Not disablingly ill, but dragging through daily life, needing a huge effort to do even simple things. I’d been really busy with work, but I’d promised myself that over the winter, I would spend time taking care of myself. And I have been steadily working on that since November.
For me, the three big things are eating a reasonably healthy diet, getting decent sleep, and getting physical exercise. I get all neurotic about them – especially about food – but really I know that it is pretty simple.
It isn’t about losing weight – I’m skinny. It is about honoring my body. It is about giving my body what it needs to thrive. It is about experiencing the full joy of embodied existence.
I need to be eating primarily “food that is made entirely of food”. My partner is on a super restrictive diet to deal with his intermittently life-threatening chronic illnesses, and I am blessed with a body that responds pretty well to pretty much any food. I’ve got to take it easy with the sugar and caffeine, or I get kind of crazed, but aside from that, there is no reason for me to have a restrictive diet.
Right now I am just trying to get in the habit of eating a decent quantity of meat and veggies. Left to my own devices, I’d pretty much live on nuts, grains, and dairy. Mac & Cheese. PBJ and milk. Maybe the occasional eggs or tuna. No veggies. Not much meat. And if unsupervised – sugar, sugar, sugar, caffeine, and sugar. I actually really enjoy meat, veggies, and all sorts of food, when someone sticks them in front of me. I just never tended to bother.
Sleep is more problematic. I know my body wants to get up with the sun. My life does not. My longstanding habits do not. My lazy ass does not. My internet-procrastinating mind does not. But my body and soul want to get up with the sun. So I get into this pattern of staying up far later than I need to, and getting up far earlier, and being exhausted all day. Or laying awake for in bed hours. I’ve got a bunch of reasonably effective strategies to deal with it. It is just about having the discipline to implement it, especially when my partner often works until 2 or 4am.
Physical exercise is such a weird one for me. It is incredibly satisfying, but I procrastinate terribly on it. I’ve been doing yoga for years. I started doing kettlebell workouts recently. I go for short runs with the dog. None of these are loathsome activities. I’ve done some loathsome workouts in the past. These ones are pretty easy and and enjoyable. The yoga makes my body feel good, and the kettlebells are putting some muscle on my scrawny frame. I’m reasonably good at them too. Not great, but not at all discouragingly bad. And I see real progress when I put the time and effort in. Yet it is still so hard for me to do. I keep turning it around in my mind, like, “Why am I so resistant to doing this? Why do I drag my feet about it?” I don’t quite know why. It seems like all the other things that I’ve faced with similar reluctance are actively unpleasant, or scary, or discouraging, or overwhelming. The degree of reluctance just seems way out of proportion with the actual experience. It frustrates me, because I think of myself as a pretty self-aware person, but I really don’t get it. I keep feeling like, “If only I could get into a routine, this would be so easy.” So I’ve been trying on that, but life gets in the way and I don’t have the discipline to hold it.
So that is how I work towards Purity of Body. Oddly enough, my primary source of support and encouragement in this has been the online community at NerdFitness.com. And while my root motivations for this are solidly grounded in my spirituality, and I continually think about it in those terms, I am more interested in connecting with people whose fitness interests are similar to mine. I don’t have much desire, in general, to talk about the spirituality of it. I just want to talk about kettlebell stuff, and post recipes, and do enough handstands and pushups to help my Sith teammates crush the Jedi.