“The first wealth is health.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The topic of health can instigate a variety of feelings and responses. If you’ve ever struggled with your health, the word alone can be a trigger. Many of us feel shame and guilt about our choices with our health while others of us either think it’s too expensive to be healthy or simply don’t know where to begin.
Healthy means “enjoying health and vigor of body, mind, or spirit” and health itself is defined as “the condition of being well or free from disease.”
So, to be healthy is to be well, free from disease and have vigor of body, mind or spirit. Note that the spirit is also contained in this definition, which is why we’re going to look at why being healthy is fostered through a deeper relationship with ourselves.
Having a healthy lifestyle does not mean letting go of all the fun and pleasure in life and it certainly doesn’t mean making healthy choices all of the time. In fact, being healthy means doing things that keep you feeling good physically, mentally and spiritually.
The World Health Organization’s definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” illuminates just that. We are all comprised of a physical body, a mind and a spirit. So why is it that most of us forget about at least one of these parts of ourselves throughout the day?
The most complicated element of the human experience is the mind - and it’s also the most difficult to condition and change. Luckily, if we notice that our mental state is imbalanced early on enough, we can use our physical body to reshape our thinking. Ancient practices such as Yoga, Qi Gong and Meditation are designed to help us do this. The ‘monkey mind’, as many of these ancient traditions call it, is like an animal that needs to be trained. Otherwise, the mind can lead us to the demise of both our physical body and our spirit.
But what if you have a problem with your body physically, perhaps as a result of an illness, an injury or some type of chronic pain?
When your body suffers, you have two choices - dwell on the pain or dwell on the process of healing. When we’re able to change the station that’s playing in our heads, we can more effectively uplift our spirits to then help the body recover. This can be done through a variety of spiritual practices and very simply through the daily and routine practice of gratitude.
Gratitude creates space for positivity and joy to flow into our lives.
The more we focus on the good we have, the more we magnify those things and begin to cultivate better things to come into our lives. This is the fastest way to heal the body, which really is simply a reflection of the health of the mind and spirit.
To be healthy then does not necessarily mean eating the right foods and exercising right and sleeping well. In its very essence, health is cultivated through a sound, peaceful and positive body, mind and spirit.
Health is the state of ease you cultivate through an intimate relationship with your body and mind.
This means that we care about and pay close attention to both the body and mind.
To pay close attention, you have to be fully present.
When you’re present, you feel what you need and want in each moment and are therefore far less likely to make decisions based on impulse.
When you’re present, you often choose nutritious foods because you’re in tune with the impact of food on your body and mind.
When you’re present, you’re more more mindful of the people with whom you spend your time because you want to feel nourished by your relationships.
When you’re present, you listen to the cues to exercise not because you feel you have to, but because you actually enjoy it.
Paying close attention to your body and mind means being present with how you feel moment to moment, and this cultivates self-love. Self-love brings ease to the body, mind and spirit and prevents disease manifestation.
Self-love means that you care enough about yourself that you fill your life with the people, things, foods and activities you enjoy.
It’s less important to have your life be full than to have it be fulfilling.
For many of you this may mean that you do less, rest more and spend time in fewer yet more nurturing relationships and surroundings.
Tips on what foods will give you energy, which exercises are appropriate for your body, element and age, and which practices will help recondition your mind are certainly helpful.
But the truth is, no matter what we or anyone else tells you, the choice to be healthy must authentically come from you.
And once you really slow down and pay close attention to yourself, the realization of a truly fulfilling life makes choosing to be healthy a no-brainer.
Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac. is Co-Owner and Director of A Center for Natural Healing in Santa Clara, California, a health and wellness clinic that specializes in Classical Chinese Medicine and Traditional Japanese Acupuncture. Setareh offers clinical services and transformational workshops that blend the ancient practices of Classical Chinese Medicine and Yoga. More information at www.setarehmoafi.com and www.acenterfornaturalhealing.com.