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Recently, at my sister’s wedding, I was speaking with an old friend / acquaintance. She was struck by my height (6’3″ or so) and continued to say that I had grown in the past few years. I found this interesting and a part of me wanted to disagree due to what I have learned in biological psychology / human development classes. However I did not speak my mind. (I am 30 at the time of this revision, so having grown taller in the past couple years does not seem to fit. Although it is possible. Rather, I offer another alternative to follow:)
First, it is typically understood that males have reached their full height by the time they are 21 to 25 years of age. I am 29 and swiftly approaching 30 years old. Therefore, how could I have grown much after age 25? Just a little background, I was a smaller kid in school and I really hit my growth spurt as a senior in high school – leading several of those high school friends to not recognize me several years later (I was about 6 to 8 inches taller then). I am not purposely denying the existence of possibilities – growth happening after it is supposed to be complete – but I am attempting to be rational and empirical.
Second, I did not disagree with her due to the fact that I have been doing a preliminary practice of Tibetan Buddhism called Taking Refuge or Going for Refuge. I do not want to get into technicalities, but one of the elements of this practice is a form of bowing or prostrating. I would argue, and quite seriously, that doing at least 10 prostrations a day over a number of months has caused several shifts to happen. One – I have stretched myself to my full height. Two – I have come out of my shell and faced some of my limiting beliefs (old gunky stuff) – which might make me seem more present and open (taller) than before, where I may have been collapsing into my old defences.
She recommended I put that in a book at some point – and I plan on doing that if I have the chance – so you heard it here first! It would need research of course, but I am convinced of the multiple healthy aspects of prostrating. Here are several that come to mind out of experience, learning and speculation: healthier organs – by stretching the liver, stomach, diaghram, kidneys, lungs and viscera, one can overcome some minor health issues (there is speculation that some Tibetan Lamas have overcome tuberculosis and liver disorders due to prostrating, up to and including Hepatitis and Leprosy); stretching the spine and muscles is good for posture and maintaining height and alignment; doing multiple prostrations in a row can be a cardiovascular activity; and I am sure there are more benefits.
Side note: medical professionals and doctors who examine the Dalai Lama, proclaim that despite his being over 70 years old, he has the heart of a 20 year old. I think that is due, let me speculate for a moment, to his continual practice of loving kindness and compassion to others, and of course he has probably done a number of prostrations in his lifetime. So all in all, reason enough to give prostrating a chance.
In a nutshell, if you want to do prostrations, here is a suggestion, not that I am an expert by any means. Stand facing a sacred object, picture or shrine – it can be anything / anyone you feel is worthy of honor and respect. Then bow down, bending your knees, touch the floor with your palms and knees and then touch your forehead to the ground. This is known as a half prostration. To do a full prostration, same as above, except when you bow down, have your hands touch the floor and then keep going forward until you are fully extended on the floor, face down, legs basically straight. You can either clasp your hands together and bring them over your head, as you are stretched out, or you can lift your hands up if that is more comfortable.
Footnote: Going for refuge is generally referring to taking refuge in the Three Jewels – the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings) and the Sangha (the sacred community of monastics). When one desires to “become a Buddhist” (in the Tibetan tradition), one makes the request from a Lama to take refuge. There is a little ceremony and ritual involved, and then one is considered a Buddhist. There are some vows that you take in doing so, therefore I might recommend investigating the ceremony first. Unless of course you have a strong intuitive desire to do so (like I did). Then just do it and honor the vows you decide to take.
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