If I were to speak about health, or say to you, please conjure a vision of your best health, and give that vision to your body as a gift of consciousness, right now, it may be easy to be a bit stumped. Stumped into thinking of ‘best health’ as some perfection of physique, or air-brushed wrinkle-free, blemish-free picture of yourself, captured and cut out in one dimensional, freeze framed form. So I’d like to clarify.
When we speak of best health, for my part, I’m talking about something in us and of us that is entirely dynamic, and responsive to the myriad richness of life. Something supportive and upholding of our periods of grief, our body’s natural form, our celebrations, our intellectual zeal, our love of a trashy novel, our anxiety for the world, our service to community or family, our need for deep rest, our hungers, our forgetfulness..all of it, all the stuff..
Here, when we speak of ‘best health,’ we want the health that is so bolstered and resilient that your body and mind can gracefully handle real life.
We want a most loving acceptance of self, in community, with the responsiveness of self awareness that knows when to draw the line and do things differently in order to live fully and justly, with a rootedness in physical strength, freedom of clear thought, and emotional expansiveness that keeps our hearts vibrant with feeling.
Best health is to meet and integrate life’s intense challenges, fall apart when we need to, get back up again when we need to and want to. Maybe best health is to truly feel and be free enough inside to simply love our lives… to be able to look back and say I learned how to live with a full heart, even when it was so hard, and I’m still learning…
Individual health, in community, is a web of connection and understanding, inquiry and care. Community health, driven by deep listening, happens in relationships of equality and respect. The health of our communities reflects back into us in our individuality, not as a separateness, but as interbeing. If we are to nurture self, we must see ourselves as part of community.
The gift of the simple day before us is worthy of our most attentively tuned in awareness. And it is this tuned-in attention that establishes the potential of our best health day after day.
Healthy people make healthy communities, because we then have the energy to care for each other. Healthy communities make for healthy people, because we feel so tangibly that we are not alone. These connections are the foundation for working well toward our best goals.
If I were to sum up the meaning of ‘best health’, I might use words like ‘relaxed attentive embodied vibrancy’ of the individual and the community. The body and mind would be soft and supple on the inside; in a state of ease and inner flow, AND one would be ready, gently and beneficially prepared to act appropriately to the situation – with gusto, or tact, with tenderness or willing sweating perseverance, or pausing and resting with the wisdom of watching, waiting, ..for inner guidance, community guidance, or right timing…or whatever is required. And this with eyes open, senses sensing, while tuning back into the hearts guidance again and again. And often enjoying deep rest and fun along the way.
Health, being human, is actually quite complicated. Acknowledging this can be so helpful. It can put us in what might be a necessary state (necessary for our health) of constant self forgiveness and self gentleness; for our human state of ‘not knowing’ – of having too little information, and yet arriving fully into the fact of being alive. This is a tremendous thing that we do, this ‘being alive.’ Each person is of infinite attributes, curiosities, and influences. We can keep in mind the ever-changing, ever-responding nature of life,
of being that is always also becoming.
With all of this said, I find I am a very practical player in this creating health desire. It is in open-minded thinking, in remembering the infinitely altering nature of self, I believe, that helps us to choose specific actions in the realm of time. Helps us to… stay receptive to the effects of those actions in order to consider new input from self and others, to obstruct definitive labels when helpful, and also use the natural forces available for creative, effective, new response. We become freer to explore life in the form of distinct practices and clearer choice. Can we work with our complexity, in a truly gentle one-moment-at-a-time way?
So, practical conversation about how to create ‘best health’ individually and in community means deep understanding of the elements of being alive, of being human, of being mortal.
I can offer fruitful beneficial practices and important questions, network care and prioritizing that creates paradigm shifts, that enhance our understanding of health, in togetherness. I want this because I feel that when we are in a state of resilient peaceful health, (which profoundly includes the state of having struggles of all kinds including physical ones), we become a stronger planetary community toward kindness and justice, ..with less fear. There is something about embracing the whole picture, the deepest reality, of what it is to be alive, that is profoundly health-making, not just for ourselves, but for all beings.
This exploration of deep health is aided by 25 years of yogic study and health networking for individuals and groups, from the perspectives of Chinese medicine (which is full of relational attention toward organ systems, body qi, and natural laws of force and flow in the body-mind), and Ayurvedic Medicine (also a relational elemental [earth,fire,water,air] physiological, spiritual, intellectual perspective), from the study of psychology and trauma, the overwhelmingly motivating love and nurturance within motherhood, from the gifts that have pushed me to expand myself in response to single-parenting, respect for and study of herbalism and our natural communion with the planet we depend upon, and a deepening respect for what it might be to be truly fully alive. The perspective that I offer is one that seeks health from a life lived holistically..and is one full of curiosity for all the infinitude that is yet to be discovered and integrated.
It sounds complicated, which it is, so as we hold the complexity as basic, we’ll be able to then focus on practical ideas as well, that are easily implemented, and you’ll be conducting your own experiments as to what is helpful, when it’s helpful.
Thank you for reading!