The quest for immortality is timeless. Lost Horizon is a novel written by James Hilton in 1933. He set the story in a hidden valley called Shangri-La. The valley was a sanctuary of peace, wisdom, and long life. At the turn of the century, Li Ching Yeun was an internal martial artist living in China. The New York Times reported that he was 256 years old at his death. In today’s news, Mahashta Murasi claims he is 179 years old. If his claims are true, then he is the oldest living person on the planet.
It is estimated that human beings are made up of 37 trillion cells. At any given time, 50 million cells die and are replaced with new cells. Some say we become whole new people about every 7 years. While that is not a completely accurate statement, it is close enough to the truth to give pause for thought. Since we have the capacity to replace dead cells with fresh new ones, you’d think we would live forever. So why don’t we?
I don’t pretend to have the answer to that question, but I do have a few thoughts on the subject. As a starting point, the possibility of such a long life stirs contradictory feelings for many of us. Some fear it, while others lust for it. Many of the elderly that I have spoken to on this subject tell me they would not want to live forever. When I ask them to explain, they get kind of vague about it, but their negative feelings seem to be tied to the aches and pains of growing old. On the other hand, young healthy people tend to believe they will live forever. The difference seems to depend on our quality of life.
We can begin by working to improve the quality of our lives as we age. Many exercises, like running, cause wear and tear on the body, especially the joints. On the other hand, Tai Chi can help improve the quality of life without damaging the body. It has been shown to improve circulation, mobility, and reduce chronic aches and pains. Tai Chi is slow, gentle, and available to everyone. It is one of the exercises that Li Ching Yeun was said to have practiced.
But what about the business of replacing dead cells? To practitioners of Tai Chi, the area surrounding the navel is considered to be the center of our bodies. Taoists call this area the “Tan Tien” or “Energy Field”. It is the place where conception occurs. Taoists believe our “First Cell” resides in this area, just behind our belly buttons. This “First Cell” contains all the blueprints of who we are, and it uses those blueprints as it goes about the business of replacing dead cells.
As we know, life is full of dangers and challenges that we must adapt to if we are to survive. If too many cells die too fast for the First Cell to complete its task of replication, then we die. Fortunately, we have an amazing capacity to adapt. Likewise, our First Cell can adapt to things like environmental toxins that interfere with the job of replicating cells.
It only stands to reason that if we want to prolong our lives, the First Cell’s job of replacing cells and adapting to dangerous conditions must be supported. The practice of Tai Chi can help. If Tai Chi isn’t an option for you, then try a simple daily meditation where you reconnect to your First Cell or Perfect Self. This is easy to do, just focus your smile on the First Cell located behind your belly button. Give it a figurative pat on the back and agree to take some of the load from it. It’s that simple.
Here’s to our perfect health…peace out…..
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