What is Healing? Part 4: Sustainable Healing
This is the fourth entry in a 4-part series. The series has one focal question: “what is healing?” The first entry defined healing, and distinguished it from curing. The second article discussed pain and suffering. The third article discussed self-care and its role in illness prevention, health maintenance, and human growth and evolution. This final part of this series will conclude with a discussion of the importance of sustainable health care practices, both on a national scale and on a personal, day-to-day level.
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
Happiness is the highest form of health.
― Unknown (sometimes attributed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV)
Since I know how disappointing it was that the last article didn’t begin with a definition, I decided to start this one off right, with a definition straight from Google:
- Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
- (esp. of development, exploitation, or agriculture) Conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.
Health care in the US is unattainably expensive for many people. Our health education is minimal, and out of date. Additionally, it is frequently bound up in old moral purity laws and rules that tell us what we must do to be a healthy member of a culture already thousands of years vanished from the earth.
To have sustainable health care is not just to have affordable alternatives to expensive treatments for illnesses. It is simply not adequate to focus on how to not get sick, or how to get well once you are sick. To be sustainable, a new health care system must focus on educating and training people in how to be healthy.
As a health care provider my role is to teach and model what I know about living a healthy lifestyle to the members of my community, knowing that this improves the overall health of my community. This is what sustainability means to me; it means that I care for myself so that I can take better care of others, and I teach what I’ve learned. It means I reduce the impact that I have on the environment as much as I can by using treatment protocols that rely on eating natural foods, freeing the body from excess stress, and cultivating calmness in the mind.
So what can you do on a day-to-day basis to move toward more sustainable health for yourself? Remember that small changes accumulate over time. Drastic changes to your lifestyle are very difficult to maintain: they aren’t usually sustainable. Instead of changing everything at once, getting frustrated, and giving up (does this sound like your history with New Years resolutions?), pick one small change to make, and stick with that until it gets easy to maintain.
For specific ideas, experiment with one of the following for 3 weeks (it takes about 21 days for a new habit to be formed in the brain):
- Practice sitting quietly and just watching your thoughts, and noticing what your body does in response to them. Do this for 5-10 minutes every day for 10 days, and see if you notice what most people do: it’s easier to stay calm under stressful circumstances.
- Practice eating one meal every day for a month that has three times the vegetable content as everything else combined (meaning a little bit of meat, a little bit of grain, and a lot of leafy greens, squash, etc.), and take the time to savor it, whether by yourself with favorite music, or with friends or family.
- Implement a quick morning exercise routine: move your whole body quickly, running in place, waving your arms, dancing, jumping, as fast as you can for one minute. Then rest for about 4 minutes; this is a good time to start the tea for breakfast, brush your teeth, or just lie on the floor feeling your heart rate slow back down. Repeat the burst of exercise as many as 3-4 times, and your metabolism will improve: more energy all day for 15 minutes of your morning, most of which is just resting. It really works!
- Last and certainly not least, get bodywork regularly. Whether it’s massage, chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, or any other modality that works to keep you feeling centered and well-taken care of, you are worth the investment of time, energy, and money. You’ll not only feel better, but the results are in: people under regular chiropractic care, at least, use hospitals and drugs less than people who aren’t. It’s cheaper in the long run, and you’ll feel better.
Give yourself the chance to adjust to small changes before making more of them, and you’ll set yourself up to steer your life toward greater health and vitality. Soon, healthy behavior and decisions will start to flow out of you automatically, because sustainable health has momentum.
Need help figuring out what to do next for your big life remodel? Give me a call or drop me an email. I’m always happy to refer you to the right practitioner for you if I’m not him!
To your health!