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Monday, Aug 19, 2002

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Those 60 seconds of joy

Bharat Savur

A healthy person is one who stays fit and spreads well-being.

What marks a person as a healthy being? Is it somebody who strides out come rain or shine? Who keeps busy? Who spends time doing, dreaming, thinking? I think these are all steppingstones we chisel through honest, clean actions as move through the river of life, sending our own ripples that reach and touch and create a vibration in others, arousing a spark of joy that returns as a tiny current of kindredness.

A healthy person is one who keeps himself/herself fit and spreads well-being. The healthy person is an awakened prophet who, through words, behaviour, actions or just by being there, lightens everyday struggles, adds sweetness, hope, gentleness and awakens the dormant powers in others. The rest are sleeping prophets yet to awaken.

So, I wonder in my own philosophical way whether that is what sets off the `Jerusalem syndrome' — a name given by Israeli psychiatrists to `a form of hysteria' that turns some 50-200 ordinary tourists every year into temporary self-declared King Davids, Virgin Marys and other Biblical giants. A 33-year-old American, an ex-cadet, ran naked through the city shouting that God had instructed him to cure the blind. A 31-year-old German school teacher walked into his hotel's kitchen and introduced himself as Jesus. A 36-year-old British school teacher claimed she was carrying the son of Jesus even after tests revealed she was not pregnant.

Fantasy? Or an abrupt awakening that they are not able to deal with when they find themselves in the `divine city'? Dr Bar-El, the psychiatrist-on-the-spot who attends to them, says, "When they snap out of the syndrome, they remember the experience as very pleasant and not traumatic." That uprush of energy, shivering joy, wanting to do good to others reflects a tremendous physical and mental stamina that is obviously not present in their normal day-to-day lives.

Yet, it is there in each of us, ready to be stocked. Stamina is derived from the Latin `stamen', the thread of life spun by the three fates — the constitutional conditioning of past lives (genetic), the link to God (mental attitude), the strength of a horse (physical fitness). Anecdotal studies suggest that parents with incredible stamina often produce one offspring with the same dynamic capabilities, researchers say: one brain chemical is responsible for this tireless, exuberant car-do spirit.

Where the Jerusalem syndrome puzzles is: it is episodic, hyperactive, uncontrollable — manic energy so scattered that it just cannot be focused. And this is viewed as `a disease of stamina' by text-book terminologists. Tool extreme? I wonder.

Sure, it's made these tourists behave in ways not accepted by society, but to those who experience it, it is awesome, magical to be filled with such vitality for a few glorious days.

The whole being is quickened, the person's senses, emotions, reason, affections, imagination are all new, uplifted, powered. A veritable spring-time in the spirit that drives the body mind to heights it cannot always handle. Indeed, it is the stamina of the awakened prophet — to want to give, to want to impart, to want to heal, to want to awaken. Rediscovering these natural, innocent, authentic wants appears strange to a world tuned to materialistic wants.

And this is where I come to the essence of health. I think it lies in the fragrance of being a facilitator in whatever you do.

The driven CEO who effectively negotiates with a difficult client will increase his/her stamina a hundred-fold if he/she also gives, imparts, shares something beyond the boundaries of commercialism. So, will the hardworking manager, whose exemplary commitment in seeing the project to the finish, be uplifted manifold, if he/she sees himself/herself as a facilitator who makes the difference rather than mere bucks for his/her company and client.

In practice, these ways invoke enduring stamina:

  • Stoke your passions in your field and be the live spark that kindles others.

  • Learn how to live without artificial limitations and teach others to live.

  • When the going gets tough, be the wise and discreet master who never flags in bringing about a higher, healthier set of conditions in the world.

  • Humbly accept your drawbacks. Expand your activities gradually and to the extent that you know you can give fully.

  • Take half-hour vacations for activities you enjoy — like walking, napping, meditating, reading.

  • Eat moderately, exercise, and get your full quota of sleep. These continual acts of rejuvenation support the facilitating spirit.

  • Reflect constantly on `What am I giving?' rather than think on the `What am I getting' line to keep the prophet's perspective.

  • Lighten up, slow down. Impatient imperfectionists get hyper on hype alone. Patient prophets remain high on focused dreams and doings.

    Above all, if you can facilitate so that each unforgiving minute turns into 60 seconds of joy, you'll always be in health, my friend.

    The writer is co-author of the book, `Fitness for Life'.

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