There are many pieces of advice that I could offer a young person now, looking back over more than fifty years to my time at Oxford in the late 1960s – a wonderful time to have been young, by the way: happy and carefree in that glorious decade of music, drugs, sex and revolution.
But there is one really important piece of advice that I would offer right now, which I completely failed to learn in those years – and it cost me twenty years of difficulties in my life which I could otherwise have largely avoided.
The one thing I failed to learn back in the day was simply this: to lead a healthy lifestyle. By the time I graduated from Oxford in the summer of 1970, I had developed a very unhealthy lifestyle. I had become addicted to alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and sugar. There were other bad habits I had acquired during those three years – we’ll get to those later. But first and foremost, let’s consider the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
You leave home at eighteen, and perhaps for the first time you’re living on your own and making your own decisions: what to wear, what to eat and drink, who to socialise with, when to go to bed, what TV to watch, etc. Looking back, I’m amazed that Oxford provided absolutely no guidance on those important topics. You were assumed already to be an adult, addressed as Mr Scott, capable of making your own lifestyle decisions, and offered no training whatsoever as to how to structure your personal life.
- First and foremost, Daily Yoga. Of the many different disciplines available, I recommend Yoga as the most effective, the most complete and the most holistic of them all – for body, mind and spirit. You need to do an hour a day, six days a week – and preferably first thing in the morning, rising at 6am, before you start the rest of your day. I recommend the Sivananda Book of Yoga as the best way to teach yourself, educate yourself on the subject, and develop an ideal daily practice. You don’t need Yoga classes, which have become a form of sexual and social display – the antithesis of what you should be doing. The best gains come from private, personal, individual daily sessions – sitting in the silence of your own soul.
- In order to maximise your gains from daily Yoga, there are a number of other actions you will need to take. Getting enough sleep would be the most obvious. To get a healthy eight hours of sleep, you need to head for bed at 10pm, despite the many obvious temptations not to do so! This takes character, self-discipline, determination, and the intention to be the very best that you can be. Some others may ridicule you for being a ‘goody-goody’, but in the long-term you will gain their respect for being your own person, setting your own goals, and being in control of your own life.
- Then there is the question of a healthy diet. It’s vitally important to avoid and resist peer pressure, and make your own decisions. I would avoid alcohol altogether, completely, now and for ever. Simply don’t get sucked into that self-destructive habit, which has destroyed the lives of so many of my own family and friends, believe me. Ditto tobacco, ditto caffeine. If you don’t start now, you won’t face the daunting prospect of having to give up, after the damage they have caused. Start clean, stay clean and healthy.
- Please do yourself a favour and steer clear of junk food, sugar, ice cream, cake, biscuits, sweets and other types of non-foods. A plant-based diet is trendy nowadays but, although I was a vegetarian for some years myself, I am sceptical about Veganism, as I consider it too extreme and unhealthy. The Buddhist Dalai Lama was advised by his doctor to eat some meat to maintain his bodily strength, and I have come to the same conclusion. Everything in moderation, nothing in excess.
- Finally, structure your daily and weekly life to meet all your personal and professional commitments. If you put in a solid five-day working week, attending lectures, studying your assignments, and writing your essays on time and to a high standard, then there is no reason why you can’t get a first-class degree, while still finding plenty of time, evenings and weekends, to enjoy your extra-curricular activities – whatever you choose them to be.
- On that subject, choose your activities, and your friends, carefully and wisely. Don’t over-extend yourself by taking on too much – and don’t allow yourself to get into bad company with people who will try to undermine you, lead you astray and let you down. In particular, don’t get addicted to porn and/or computer games. Ideally, find a sporting activity that you excel at and enjoy, and make a firm commitment to getting plenty of exercise and keeping fit – on top of your daily Yoga and healthy lifestyle routine. There’s a great buzz to representing your university at sport.
- For God’s sake, stay away from cocaine, heroin and all hard drugs. Just don’t be that stupid! On the other hand, I am a great advocate of the psychedelics – LSD, mescaline, mushrooms, Ecstasy – which will expand your mind to transcendental possibilities, as long as you treat them with respect, and access them only on a thoughtful and occasional basis, preferably in the company of good and reliable friends. I’m also a keen advocate of the use of Cannabis, as long as you use it on an occasional basis, perhaps at the weekend, and don’t allow yourself to become dependent on it, or let it interfere with the healthy lifestyle you have established.
- On that note, Cannabis can be very helpful in allowing you to develop a healthy and happy sex life, which your time at university is a perfect opportunity to explore. The wholesome lifestyle I am recommending will put you in the best condition, mentally and physically, to enjoy the gorgeous wonders of true love and great sex. But please do so ethically and sensibly. Don’t cheat on your partner, don’t be promiscuous, and always act without a hidden agenda and in good faith. Honesty is indeed your best policy.
“This above all: to thine own self be true….
Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Good luck and God bless, Robin Scott, 16/1/22
© Copyright Robin Scott 2022