With our world’s societies plagued with sickness, sadness and stress, it’s almost rebellious to take good care of your health. Now of course there are pockets of people who pump their physique for the primary purpose of vanity, but effective health management is much more than just working and toning your body.
The word ‘health’ has etymological roots which define it as ‘whole’. So when you think of being healthy, it’s wise to consider what layers of your life need attention to bring your whole experience into a functional and productive synergy. In other words, your personal well-being is much more than just the common description of ‘physical and mental health’, it’s a myriad of mirrors which reflect the wholeness of your being.
What follows, therefore, is a sharp snapshot for maximizing your health holistically.
1 – Love Your Body
Let’s start with the most basic. Your physical body is a biological computer. It requires certain inputs to operate functionally. The first step is to be smart about what you put into it, especially the food (medicine) you feed it.
For example, with a food supply that is laced by a corporate culture hell-bent on testing out whatever cheap, artificial ingredient they can to maximize their profits, we’re bombarded with a rich tapestry of genetically and chemically modified products that struggle to resemble real foods. Plus, the monocultural model of industrial-agriculture ensures that many nutrients we need are not in the synthetically produced diets they manufacture.
Therefore, an organic, nutrition-dense diet that avoids toxins from both the plant and meat industries will always be a wise move. Couple this with fresh rainwater (or water from other natural sources) and you’re already on your way to detoxifying yourself from a sick food system and maximizing your physical well-being.
Without going into too much detail, here are some other important aspects of physical health to consider:
- Sugar, especially the processed varieties, should be minimized because they’re addictive and cause various diseases, including obesity and cancer;
- For meat-eaters, a predominately plant-based diet with natural and ethically-produced meat is a must, especially because excessive meat consumption is linked to diseases such as cancer (along with a plethora of negative environmental impacts);
- Pharmaceuticals from the corporate monopolies commonly treat the symptoms (and not the cause) of a disease with synthetic concoctions that have destructive side-effects, including death, so always minimize your use of them and choose natural alternatives if they’re available;
- Having some fun with altered states of consciousness from your preferred choice of substance is excellent for mind expansion and/or de-stressing the mind and body, as long as it doesn’t become habitually destructive;
- We don’t need to be perfectly fit, but engaging in some forms of exercise – such as walking, stretching, hiking, fitness circuits, sex, gardening etc – is necessary to stimulate your body as a whole, as well as your lungs, heart and other organs; and
- Getting out into the sun and into nature have wondrous physiological effects that might be hard to quantify, yet regardless, it contributes strongly to your overall health.
Ultimately, you need to respect your body and its needs. After all, it’s the only one you’ll ever have, at least in this lifetime. Therefore, use your body like its intended. Move it, work it and fuel it properly. When it gets out of balance, including your gut health, it has severe impacts on your mental wellbeing, so as a prerequisite for being mentally healthy there needs to be a minimum respect for balancing your body’s health.
2 – Love Your Mind
Your body is the hardware and your mind is the software. Without both conscious and subconscious programs, the body won’t run and will therefore die. Yet if the programs are poorly designed and operated they will cause the love affair of the mind and body to generate disease.
It’s somewhat confusing when its recommended to ‘take care of your mental health’ because your internal experience is a deep dance of eclectic energies. Even when you identify the various aspects to your psychological wellbeing, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin and how to proceed.
To break it down simply, your psychological self is that which captures your thoughts, emotions, memories, desires and beliefs. It’s your ego; your finite snapshot of infinite consciousness. It’s also the result of your environmental influences and your freewill. Therefore, the way you organize your mind and respond to your experience can either be predominantly self-abusive or healthy.
No one ever gets it perfect, of course, but it’s important to understand where you sit on this spectrum so you can do what’s necessary to have more healthy and functional mind and heart states.
Put frankly, it’s not rocket science: toxic thoughts cause stress, which can lead to disease. The psychological response to your emotional apparatus (which are called ‘feelings’) can do the same if it’s also toxic. That doesn’t mean you need to always feel positive emotions either; it just means that you deal with your fear, anger, anxiety and sadness in healthy and productive ways.
(For more, see ‘How to Get Out of the Rut of Self-Harming Thoughts and Feelings’).
Another aspect to your mind are your philosophies. Etymologically, philosophy simply means ‘love of wisdom’. Practically, your philosophies are your beliefs and the paradigms they’re conceptualized within. Your philosophical positions are part of the category of mental health because the more healthy and empowered your beliefs, the more healthy and empowered your inner health.
Philosophy is rarely discussed in terms of health, probably because there are as many belief systems as there are people. But just because we all have the right to believe how and what we want, that doesn’t mean that those beliefs are actually healthy. One sure-fire way to ensure a healthy philosophical foundation is to acknowledge both your subtle and explicit connections to reality at large, which I’ll elaborate on in the next section.
Ultimately, your mind can be broken down into two fundamental layers: the conscious and the unconscious. In addition, the scale at which you are actually conscious compared to the activity of your mind is so insignificant that you need to delve into your subconscious to effectively take care of your internal health.
One such approach is meditation, which can be a type of self-administered psychotherapy. This can be done by focusing your attention in a quiet, undisturbed setting, or it can be done on-the-go, especially when we are engaged in an activity that has a singular focus, such as exercise, washing dishes, gardening or a plethora of other mundane activities.
Whether its achieved by specific meditation techniques or by simply giving more focus to your mind’s activity, the purpose is to become more aware of the drivers, themes, patterns and habits that emerge from your subconscious because they will illustrate the dysfunctions and toxicities you need to heal and the immaturities you need to grow. By identifying the dis-ease that exists in the deeper layers of your consciousness – such as your traumas and fears – you can now get on with important layers of self-healing and self-development.
Beware though: rewiring yourself neurologically and redesigning yourself conceptually takes months, if not years, of repetitive and sustained behavioral change, which is usually accompanied by sacrifices to properly achieve.
3 – Love Your Connection to Reality
What I always recommend when it comes to developing a healthy belief system is to recognize and respect your connection to reality. This encourages you to honor your external realm, as you should your inner realm.
This can be done multiple ways. First is obviously the connection to yourself; how aware are you of the holistic activity of your mind/body/spirit interaction? Next is the so-called outside world, which you are connected to on several key levels. Family and your ancestry is your genetic connection. The animal and plant kingdom is your ecological connection. The earth is your cosmological connection. Some even go further into the wacky world of quantum sciences to rationalize their entangled connection with reality at large, whilst the other method is to study esoteric disciplines to envision it through the lens of spirituality.
A poetic way I like to summarize our connection to our experience is that we’re an individual instrument in the orchestra of reality.
Regardless of how you specifically design your understanding of your connection to all things, it’s a necessary feature for your health because standing in a false sense of isolation can cause a myriad of mad mind states. For example, excessive greed, selfishness and vanity are usually by-products of an unhealthy sense of connection to reality which leads to a disharmonious relationship with yourself, as well as others.
Yet, once you develop your philosophy of interconnection, you realize that your interdependence is just as important as your individuality. Simply, they’re two sides of the one coin. So, how healthy are your relationships with your family and friends? How healthy are your community relationships? Are your actions healthy for yourself and those around you? What impacts do you have on your environment and natural systems?
Moreover, your connection to reality is not just physical and metaphysical, it’s also interactive. It’s the knowledge you’re sharing and absorbing. It’s the energy you’re emitting and attracting. It’s the love that you radiate and the love that you invite into your experience. Therefore, how you dance with your experience can either be an aesthetic masterpiece, or a disturbingly, bloody war.
The good news? It’s entirely up to you to choose.
There are other nuances to our health that are equally important, but for the sake of time I’ll only mention some of them briefly. How strong is your energetic vitality? Are you building synergy between your conscious awareness and your energetic bodies? How is your creative health? Are you expressing yourself properly? Are you facing yourself authentically by identifying your weaknesses, such as your hypocrisies and bigotries? Are you morally conscious? Can you recognize your behaviors that are self-loathing and self-abusive? What about your capacity to forgive? Are you even aware of your unnecessary hates and condemnations?
Whatever your current state of physical, mental, behavioral, social and spiritual health, it really is a challenge to undertake a holistic rebirth of the self, especially once we surpass the natural growth limits of the body-brain. As mentioned earlier, it is a long, neuroplastic process of commitment and sacrifice to recreate yourself into a new and improved version.
However, it is achievable. It’s also necessary. In a global community that is characterized by lower frequencies of thinking, feeling and acting – one where fear and suffering runs rampant – it’s not only important for the quality of your own life, but the quality of the collective energy that you’re dancing with, regardless if you acknowledge that you’re influencing it or not.