That wasn’t too bad, was it?
Unfortunately, when it comes to the appropriate physical exercise, we do know how to better maintain the body. It’s the area of the mind that we lack the right information as to what will keep us mentally healthy. As such, many people think they are doing just fine flipping TV channels.
But just like muscles, the mind needs to be carefully exercised. A good work out has to involve a degree of discomfort. As they say in sports, "No pain, no gain." If you aren’t pushing your muscles to their limit then they won’t develop and get stronger. You can type all day long, walk a few blocks and breathe in and breathe out, but if you aren’t reaching your physical potential then you aren’t doing much, if anything. The same goes for your mind.
The Russians sent people to space, spending months at a time in zero gravity. However, this lack of gravity atrophied their muscles. Similarly, we can create environments where we have zero intellectual pressure and activity which will have a similar effect in dulling our minds.
When I first encountered the world of Jewish learning, one of the things that truly impressed me was the fact that people who had lived the better part of 100 years, were nevertheless as sharp as anyone of my peers.
I started to appreciate that Jewish learning – when done right – holds the secret to mind maintenance. If you are not already involved in such learning, or if you are but it doesn’t make you sweat enough, then it’s time you asked the teacher to turn up the heat.
The Torah is compared to fire. It’s from this that Aish Hatorah gets its name (Aish is the Hebrew word for fire) because after all, whether it’s the body or the mind, it doesn’t get good ’till you break a sweat.