27 Jul Strengths of a Weak Constitution
If you are a student of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, Western medicine or simply nature and health, you have probably learned or noticed that some people have stronger constitutions than others. Those of us with weaker ones may bemoan our fates and envy our stronger brethren and sistren (should be a word, right?).
Maybe we shouldn’t.
Here’s what happens to many of us: we do what we can get away with.
I don’t really have a lot of doubt: if I could get away with drinking a few lattes—or even one—a day, consuming croissants, pizza and finishing off my day with a hot fudge Sundae, and not feel wretched, I probably would. I really, honestly, probably would. At least a lot of the time. (I’m just that tamasic).
But I can’t. I have to have a pretty simple diet of freshly-cooked veggies and other whole foods. I have to get enough sleep. I have to get some fresh air and exercise pretty much daily. I have to do my 5-10 minutes of yoga a day. (Pretty impressive, huh?) I have to do my alternate nostril breathing. And a bunch of other, not very exciting stuff. Okay, boring sometimes. But I have to do it or I begin to feel crummy. Or lousy. One or the other, with the occasional good mood thrown in. I just can’t get away with much.
It seems to be human nature to do what we can get away with. It is certainly my nature—one I rise above with varying degrees of success now and then.
I suppose it is natural for us weaker mortals to envy the folks who seem to get away with a lot. They bounce through life, displaying strength and a happy-go-lucky, it’s-all-good, pass-the-beer joie de vivre. They appear to have iron digestive systems and steel constitutions impervious to cheese, wheat, sugar, caffeine and fluorescent colored food.
But, while there may be tasty lunch, there is no free lunch. Strong people are not impervious. They may experience little warning signs like heartburn or indigestion for years, but nothing so uncomfortable as to seriously sabotage the fun or force a change. They seem to get away with it. But, steadily and quietly, poor food choices and lifestyles tax the body’s various systems and organs and, one day, poor habits catch up with us. And something gives way. It may seem sudden, out of the blue. But it isn’t sudden at all. While a heart attack, for example, may feel sudden, the damage to the arteries has been growing over years or decades.
Someone with a weak constitution simply cannot get away with very poor food choices or lifestyles for too long. They don’t have little warning signs. They have big ones. Maybe they are lactose or gluten intolerant, or allergic to eggs or other foods. Maybe they have panic attacks if they touch caffeine or stay out too late. Maybe migraines if they drink one glass of wine. They may be able to strengthen their organs, constitutions or systems to some degree, but often, they are forced to cultivate a relationship with food, drink and health that is more disciplined. And one thing about discipline: it may not be as palatable as hedonism, but it can go the distance.
Once these weaker-constitutioned (I’m making up words today. Just the way it is.) people develop the discipline and knowledge they need to manage their health, they can maintain it for a very long time. And since they can’t tolerate the treats and trash as well as their stronger brethren and sistren (see note above), their body’s organs and systems do not wind up clogged and diseased, and they have the potential to live very healthy, happy, long lives.
This is not to say that there is a problem, by the way, with having a strong constitution. But even sturdy folks need to learn about, and choose, a moderate way of life, healthy diet and routine, and voluntarily sacrifice some of the tasty stuff, if they want to go the distance as well as their weaker friends.
It is more to say that, should we be tempted to mourn our wimpy constitutions and incessant need for pure foods, air and water, we may take comfort in the possibility that our good (if forced) habits will help us inherit the earth.
No, wait…that’s the meek. We’re just the wimpy. And the mourning. So we can take comfort in the possibility that our good (if forced) habits can help us go the distance every bit as well as our sturdy friends.
Oh, and Happy Divali.
Hope you are enjoying the solar eclipse.
And your life.