I hate to admit it, but I'm losing ground to my migraines. Since they started in 2006, we've had an on again, off again relationship. At times, they have more control over my life than I do. At other times, they are virtually nonexistent. I've been doing all of the right things: solid sleep schedule, good eating, regular exercise, and plenty of water. Yet, from time to time, I get out of orbit. I've been in denial about my need for corrective treatment until two things happened. I started keeping a diary, as I should've the whole time, and frankly, the diary doesn't lie. Second, I became irritated that my daily choices had to conform to a rigorous daily regimen of preventative habits. Most days, it's fine, but what about when I'm on vacation and I want to sleep in or stay up late?
I think that my most recent experience with migraines mirrors our spiritual wellbeing. There are certain things that we should do each day in order to maintain our spiritual balance. While sin is attractive and may even be exciting, we all know the desolation that waits for us on the other side. We know the joy and happiness that comes with a life well lived and the peace that can only be found when we're living the way we ought to. So, to keep our defenses up against temptation, we pray at various points during the day, we go to Mass on Sunday, and we occasionally go to Confession.
When we slack off on our prayer life, or when we haven't gone to confession in a while, sin starts piling up on us. We get busy and move prayer down the priority list. Or we get complacent or feel invincible and stop actively working against our principal sin. It's in those times that we fall into sin. Correcting these failures requires more effort to get back into our prayer routine. That friction may even discourage us and keep us out of orbit for even longer. It's a cycle that we continue to face every day.
The same is true for our physical health. We know we should eat right, drink water, and exercise. When we're in the routine, there's little friction and it's easier to persevere. Yet, when we fall out of the habit and skip a few days, it easily becomes a week, or a few months. Getting back into the routine requires tremendous effort that often fizzles out by week two. Your body needs good food to energize it, it needs water to cleanse, it needs exercise to maintain healthy levels of activity, and it needs prayer to relieve stress and connect with the spiritual dimension of our personhood. When we neglect any one area, our body sends us alerts, and if we ignore enough of them, we end up somewhere we don't want to be.
Living a happy and healthy life yields tremendous benefits, but it can only be achieved when healthy choices are backed up with discipline. Only when we're willing to do the work will we reap the rewards. Listen to your body, meet its needs, and enjoy the fruits of your work.