In a conversation with a friend of mine last week, I realized she had the conventional belief system about health, and that therefore her health probably would not rise to be better than her expectations. She would need several different kinds of medicines and treatments to maintain a reasonable level of health, and the whole medical establishment to provide those treatments. There are some changes she can make for herself, but mainly, in her belief, her health depends on others.
She knows, for instance, that knees and hips wear out and have to be replaced. She knows that genetics is extremely determinant in what diseases we get, who we are and what we can do. She pretty much feels, with most of the country, that without the medical system, we all would be sick much of the time. And as we age, we can expect to be sicker.
I am just not able to be there. My belief is that my health largely depends on my choices and behaviors, not those of others. And I don’t actually believe in the benevolence of the medical system. It exists to serve itself – to employ folks who feel a need to be useful to others, to work hard at research into more and more arcane possibilities, to pat people on the head and say – ‘If you do this we can save you’ or, later, ‘I am sorry, there is nothing more we can do, and here is what you are facing.’
And, largely, when life has been spent eating American food while couch potatoing, the only thing that can be done is to make a radical change at that end – what we eat, what we talk about, how we move, what we think, how we provide love and nourishment to our bodies and minds. Often too late to make those moves, but they can make the end better.
In my belief / experience system, I find that eating low on the food chain, and the cleanest food possible, is the best medicine. Moving around – yoga, walking, running, standing while working – not only brings joy / mood elevation – but keeps the body happy and limber as well. My medicine is vitamins, especially the Bs and C, herbs, spices like turmeric. I consult Prescription for Nutritional Healing and Heal Your Body for ideas and possibilities, and then pay attention when my intuition nudges me one way or another.
But mainly and importantly, I look at the out-of-balance symptom my body is presenting, and walk meditatively with it, asking what it is trying to tell / teach me, what lesson is there for me to learn. I don’t argue with that symptom, or try to ignore it (usually) – I accept it, pay attention to it, learn more about it, and what various resources tell me about it – including google and perhaps wiki.
I am careful not to adopt it, name it as part of my self-definition, make it a permanent part of myself. I visualize my life totally without whatever the symptom, and smile at those images. I love myself in any case, and appreciate my body – its strength, its beauty – and affirm those qualities. My self-care includes putting myself first on my priority list, giving myself treats and presents, making myself happy – often by helping and giving to others, of course, because there is such joy in that.
Health is much more in our hands than we often believe. Trusting ourselves, staying calm and peaceful, using medical and spiritual resources as needed, moving along step by step, we can get better and stay better. And always have more fun!