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 you and of you that is entirely dynamic, responsive to the myriad richness of your life. Something cognizant of your periods of grief, your need to carry just a bit of extra weight for a time, your celebratory zest, your intellectual zeal for sitting still and reading all day long, your service to your community or family that pulls you into forgetfulness of your need for deep rest..etc. 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 the responsiveness of self awareness that knows when to draw the line and do things differently in order to live fully, with a sense of your physical strength, your freedom of clear thought, your emotional expansiveness that keeps your heart vibrant with feeling.
We want you, the great all-ness of you, to be able to breathe and touch and share yourself after a shock, or loss; to meet and integrate life’s intense challenges. ‘We’ want you to feel and love your life. And maybe this is the royal ‘we’ – the ‘we’ of what would be a loving and divinely blessed perspective of how treasured you really are. And so we would say, why not?!? deeply feel and Love your life! Every day! It is precious and full of beauty! And this day will not come again. The grace and gift of the simple day before you is worthy of your most divinely tuned in attention. And it is this tuned-in attention that establishes the potential of your best health day after day.
If I were to sum up the meaning of ‘best health’ in a lovely short sort of way, I believe I would use words like ‘relaxed attentive embodied vibrancy.’ Your body and mind would be soft and supple on the inside; in a state of ease and inner flow, AND you would be ready, easily and beneficially prepared to act appropriately to the situation – with gusto, or tact, with tenderness or willing sweating perseverance, with the wisdom of watching, waiting..for inner guidance, or right timing…or whatever is required. And this with eyes open, senses sensing, while tuning back into your hearts guidance again and again.
Health, being human, is actually quite complicated. Acknowledging this, for some, can be extremely helpful. It can put us in what might be a necessary state (necessary for our health) of constant self forgiveness; for our human state of ‘not knowing’ – of having too little information to go on, and yet arriving fully into the fact of being alive. We try. And we fail. And we try again. This is a tremendous thing that we do. Perhaps there is no absolute ‘getting it right’ -(mostly a silly useless notion it is – ‘getting it right’ yeesh!) Perhaps there is only ‘being alive.’ If that is so, I think it is a glorious thing. Your personal composite is of infinite attributes, curiosities, and influences. Truly you and I are unfathomable. It is only reductionist thinking that thinks it can categorize anyone into stock definitions, as we are constantly, variably metamorphosed. I want to emphasize this. Our societal categorizing brains would love to tell the tale of each of us as a type, as a diagnosis, as a role… and actually it is not totally unhelpful to explore such things as they contain bits of reality (especially ways of seeing such as in Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine that are relationally based thinking)…if we could only 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 to our person for creative, effective new response. We become freer to explore life, cultivating a wise attention, toward the aim of beautiful healthfulness, 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? That’s life after all. One moment at at time living. It’s actually quite good that way..teaches us so much..and is incredibly rich.
So, practical conversation about how to create ‘best health’ means deep understanding of the elements of being alive, of being human, of being mortal. Awesome. Impossible. Let’s try it.
What I want is to offer a conversation, suggestions, fruitful beneficial practices, and important questions, that enhance our understanding of health, for the benefit of anyone and everyone. 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, justice, and true happiness..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, from the gifts that have pushed me to expand myself in response to single-parenting, from the perspectives of Chinese medicine (which is full of relational attention toward organ systems, body qi, and natural laws of physics 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, 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.
This is a first installment..more to come. 🙂 Thank you for reading!