18 Jan What is total health?
What is total health? To me, total health is being at peace within myself and with the world around me, no matter what the outer circumstances may be.
Healing is not necessarily CURING. Sometimes a cure does not eventuate but healing – or how we relate to the situation, does or is able to heal to the point we can be at peace with our situations. For me total health incorporates several sub-categories, which are not separate categories but all interrelate in our own individual combinations:
- Nutrition – what we eat is vital to our well being and especially during times of healing. Whole foods contain the nutrients the body requires to make the various chemicals/proteins etc that are involved in healing. Foods with little nutritional value contribute little to our body’s self repair mechanism except maybe for giving us calories that convert straight to fat. Also 70% of our immune system resides in the gut so what we eat is vital for prevention then rebuilding after injury or illness. Good nutrition is also important for mental health.
- Exercise – moving the body through its ranges of movement is important for moving nutrients, energy & oxygen around the body and removing the waste products and is also beneficial for general cardiovascular health as well as local strength and endurance. Exercise also has added benefits for improving mood and mental health.
- Mind Matters – what we think affects our body and can contribute to illness and injury. Thoughts are powerful and if they are mostly positive then it has health benefits but if thoughts are predominantly negative then it impacts the body in ways that are destructive. Bruce Lipton in his book, “The Biology of Belief” described how our environment shapes our health,how we think and that we have the ability to control and change the environmental input to ourselves. Meditation is one way to quieten the mind and learn to harness the power of our thoughts and minds by learning to live in the NOW not dwell in past or future problems. There are many ways to calm and help the mind. Exercise can assist in this also.
- Soul/spirit – this category may upset some people depending on their beliefs. Spirituality is a part of humanity. Research shows that being in nature has a positive effect on our wellbeing- this is spirituality. Looking at the ocean, walking in a forest soothes our souls and is part of being a spiritual being. Being in dense urban areas can have a negative impact on us. Socialising with others uplifts us and has been proven to be important in total health – just as conversely being alone or isolated from others has been shown to have a negative impact on our health. In mindfulness meditation I train people to learn to observe part of the background stillness that is always present. Why else do we have language that describes our situations as, “soul destroying”, “soulful” or “uplifting”?
- Environment – Where we live or work can affect us. As can the people in our environment be either positive for us or toxic. The air we breathe can be life giving, or contributing to our ill health if it is filled with toxins. Some of the items we have in our homes or offices have been made with toxic substances which can affect our health. The fuels we burn for energy often contribute to ill health and decreased air quality. These may need to be addressed in your total health big picture.
- Past Life experiences (this lifetime is what I mean but I am open to past past lives also) – these can be subconsciously affecting us without our knowledge, with the only clue being that we continually have to face the same negative patterns in our lives including ill health or poor finances etc. How we were programmed as children can set us up for a life of abundance, or a life of unexplained perceived failures, or just generally not being happy with our lot in life. If someone has a bad marriage or a toxic job this can manifest as an injury or illness and can recur until the underlying reason is uncovered.
Of course books can be written about these categories, while here I have summarised the main points only. Each of us will be affected by each category in various ways both positively and negatively. The hardest part is uncovering the true underlying culprit/s to poor health for each of us as individuals. We need to take responsibility for our own health but this may include working with our health professionals. Ultimately the decisions of what to change and what to do are up to each of us, as we know our own lives and bodies best.
It takes courage to change any aspect in the above categories and from my experience there is often a need to overcome a lot of fear and resistance, which shows up to wanting to prevent us from changing.
Changing aspects of our life can seem terrifying and often people only change when the problem pushes them off the ‘metaphorical cliff’…i.e. Severe life threatening illness or injury etc. But we all can change before it gets to this point. We have to be open to changing and also kind and compassionate to ourselves as we confront our biggest fears. Usually we need help from friends/family/doctors/health professionals to help guide us through the scariest times but many books and reports from people who have undergone these changes will testify the outcome is worth the maze of fear they had to negotiate.
By taking responsibility for our own lives and health we can find the right health professionals to guide us through the darkest days until we reach our goal of inner peace and healing.
Many people are researching and writing about the way to total health. Lissa Rankin is a medical doctor that has a great book, “Mind over Medicine”; Bernie Siegal is a surgeon who has written many great books on healing and self healing techniques and Bruce Lipton has three books on how his views have evolved since his cellular biology research discovered that we are a product of our environment (and our subconscious) and are much more than our genes. Bruce Lipton was one of the first to show us that epigenics is changing how we determine the way genes express themselves and that we have some control over this…more than we were previously taught.
Medicine is learning that the the patient has more control over their illness than was previously thought. This is a good thing as we each can participate and learn about ourselves enough to collaborate with health professionals. Health professionals usually are just guides and teachers and even surgeons etc do their part and the rest is up to us…Our bodies are amazing…they are always striving for balance and equilibrium but at times we are blocking the body’s ability to achieve this balance and sometimes we need medical and health practitioners to assist us in attaining this goal. Learning to know our own bodies can make this process simpler and smoother.
So the bottom line of this blog is – know your own body; know yourself – for if you love and care for yourself you can make better choices about what you eat, how you move, who you allow into your life or who stays and then you should have more courage to make changes when needed. Change can be scary – but so can staying in the same place feeling miserable! Life is meant to be lived with more joy than fear. Fear should be a signal that something needs to be changed! And in my experience the only way out of fear is to walk or run straight through it and discover what is on the other side!