In the East, the prayer gesture of two palms pressed together is called Namaste and is commonly used as a greeting that translates to mean: the Divine part of my self recognizes the Divine part of yourself. We each identify with different parts of ourselves at different times. Sometimes we identify with our fear, sometimes with our Higher or Divine self. The art of self-mastery is an Asian approach to daily living that emphasizes treating our bodies as temples, the mind as a servant of our highest values, and our breath as the bridge that allows the spiritual world and the physical world to meet. The purpose of a life of self-mastery is to care for one’s own body, mind, heart, and spirit to such an extent that we function at our optimum, so that we can be of service in the world to the best of our ability.

The first principle of self mastery is: take care of yourself first.

Fruit farmers know that to get the best quality and quantity from a tree, the tree must exist in optimal conditions; so they pamper the trees in their orchards. Race horse trainers use the same principle: they pamper their horses with the best food, careful not to give them too little or too much. They provide the horses with daily exercise, give them a lot of praise, and continually push them a little harder each time they reach a threshold. Human beings are no different. If you want your body to work at its optimum for you, you have to provide it with optimum conditions. This means that instead of exercising or eating well when you have time, that you make these things a priority. A person on a path of self-mastery makes the time to care for their self first so they can be of service to their families, maintain their livelihood, and contribute to their society in ways that bring their life meaning and purpose.

The predominant objection to this theory, of course, is that you’ll never get your work done if you spend your time eating well and exercising. But according to the latest research, self-actualizers, or people who put their personal needs first, consistently work more efficiently because they have more genuine energy. They take less time to do tasks because they are more alert and they have a more positive attitude about work because they rejuvenate themselves during their free time. They also report feeling less resentful about their time at work. And finally, people who take care of themselves first consistently report that they think more clearly so they spend less time on irrelevant activities and focus instead on what’s really important to them.

What would it mean to be a master of your life? In the West, self-mastery conjures images of hard work and discipline but in the East, it begins with relaxation time. We often tell one another to take care. The next time you say it, or the next time you hear it, pay attention to what it means.

Author's Bio: 

Sunny Massad, Ph.D., is a speaker, trainer, teacher for both organizations and individuals. For more information go to: http://www.hawaiiwellnessinstitute.org and click on Programs for Organizations.