Monday, February 29, 2016

Secrets of Long life

Secrets of Long life
I was on a long holiday and that was the longest for over a decade. One week holiday for me is very long and holidays any longer than that would kill me of boredom. In my profession there is nothing called “Long Holidays” and even on holidays people would approach you with some bizarre problems and I pretend not to be a doctor and amazingly some even have questioned my credentials confused as they often are.
I only get bemused in such an occasion and pretend not to be, aggravating their own confusion further.

I have digressed and delayed this writing so long, it is time for me to get to the job at hand.

Nobody seems to have addressed this issue of long life of our yesteryear Buddhist monks and their secrets.
I have a list of reasons and they are listed not in any order of merits.
However, I would like to address one or two of them in detail.

1.  Simple Monastery Life
2. Vegetarian Diet
3. Meditation Practice
4. Rituals like Recitation of Stanzas by Heart
5. Multi-language Capability (as many as six to eight)
6. Wondering life style (No fixed aboard)
7. Village Life Style
8. Simple exercises like walking from temple to temple

It is now emerging in the West that not only physical activity but also mental activity and alertness enhance long life.

The key elements on recent research are
1. Speed of Action (mental activity),
2. Reasoning
3. Memory

Even though, the memory scores low in the above study mentioned, yesteryear Buddhist monks in meditation practiced these activities very well and that would have been the secret of their long life.
For the mind which is always active and to freeze its attention and to hold this attention to whatever the element of meditation, the speed is the vital element.
The focus of attention is something they were adept at and the speed at which they went into trance states are probably a testament to their devotion to task at hand.
The core elements of Buddhism are based on reasoning of ones happiness or suffering they were brought up as seasoned thinkers.
Even though, they avoided argumentation (not all) they were thinkers of a different kind with a focus on one object i.e. The Nibbana.
Memory power needs no elaboration since stanzas were handed down for many centuries by heart till they were documented later. Even then they practiced verbal tradition without books for a long time. Putting the verses down on ola leaves was more difficult (before the print media) than remembering them by heart.
I have my own analysis of the medical matters.
It is quite evident most of the strokes occur on the left side in patients with dominant right hand. The right hand dominance may have contributed to the premature atrophy and low flow of blood to the right side (activities are represented on the opposite side of the brain) of the brain with atherosclerosis.
My interest is more on the ability of these monks on many languages. It is emerging that the mother tongue is localized to one side of the brain and the second and third languages are localized to the other side in general terms. So they have been using both sides of the brain throughout their life and the meditation especially the "Metta Meditation" brings a balance of blood flow to both sides of the brain especially to the deep hidden parts of the brain.
That probably was their secret for long life.
My adaptation for the current century with IT and computer technology are as follows.
1. Start playing computer games (which require manual -ambidextrous-dexterity) when young and continue to play them when old
2. Learn many languages as possible other than ones mother tongue
3. Metta Meditation
I often wonder whether the present day monks practice any of those practiced by the yesteryear monks.
23rd of December, 2006