In the news recently is highlighted yet another trial, yet another tribulation, yet another reason for the native peoples of the Amazon, in this case the Kayapo, to be violently ousted from their home. The reason today? Electricity. The reasons in the past? Logging and cattle farming are two of the most prominent. In the past, this sort of news has been fairly inaccessible to the general public though the truths have been even more shocking than currently, stretching to include even the genocide of Amazonian native people.
This sort of truth is not unique to Brazil, to the Amazon, though its result and its root are just as heartbreaking. In 2010 native people in Vancouver, Canada were forcibly removed from their homes in order to make way for Olympics-related industries, such as new strip malls and larger hotels for Olympics visitors. Similarly, in the US legislative battles still occur in order to protect and expand upon native peoples’ rights while the country also wavers in its significant issues with both institutionalized racism and racial profiling.
Health is not just meeting a set of ideal health standards, 3-5% body fat (for men), 60 mg/dL High Density Lipoprotein (“good cholesterol”), 120/80 mmHg blood pressure, 60 beats per minute heart rate, 12-18 breaths per minutes, and so on. The health of society is just as influential and actually highly indicative of individual health. The two are inextricably interrelated and understanding and employing this fact can only benefit the health of the world-wide web in which we live.
In Ayurvedic Medicine, there are three specific ways to promote health and prevent future imbalance: ascribing to a daily routine, a seasonal routine, and healthy behavior. Each of these three practices developed some 5000 years ago to in some way provide a framework for maintaining health. Healthy behavior, or swastavrutta, was developed in recognition of the importance of life choices, development of character, and an individual’s relationship with society as all being pivotal in maintaining individual health.
Ways to follow healthy behavior include universally accepted moral guidelines such as abstaining from killing, stealing, and telling lies, while also going on to define positive actions as well, such as performing your work with energy and intelligence; intending to help and serve others; respecting and maintaining an open mind towards others, especially towards elders, teachers, and parents; having good intentions towards others; and doing your duty honestly.
Research showing that it is now very difficult to distinguish one species from another becomes even more provoking when considered from the viewpoint of “healthy behavior.” In his later years, Darwin came to the conclusion that he was mistaken: survival of the fittest is not applicable in the context of individual to individual. Survival of the fittest is a mechanism which occurs across species. The improvement of the fitness of one species improves the potential for the survival of another. Unfortunately, as is often the case with great minds, their functioning draws much contention when their ideas in their elderly age don’t jive with that of their peers.
Development economist Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, former special advisor to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, has built his work of eradicating poverty completely by 2025 on much of the same principles. His argument? Wealth is not limited and is not lost if another nation gains. Rather, wealth and the stability that it ensures, increases as more benefit. In other words, eradicating extreme poverty (most of which exists in sub-Saharan Africa) through specific differential tactics, will not deplete the resources or potential of the donor countries and organizations. Instead, as the economy of an increasing number of countries becomes stable, the economy of the world as a whole will also become more stable.
If we consider the idea of stability as it pertains to the individual and health, we often tend to think that this is largely dictated by the unchangeable nature of our DNA. However, what research now shows is that your beliefs form your DNA- your DNA is malleable. (See more on DNA structure.) Furthermore, only 5% of your life experiences are formed by your conscious mind, while the whopping 95% rest of it is molded by your subconscious mind.
How is your subconscious affected? By your environment and the patterns which are formed in your early life. The good news with this information is that your subconscious can still be targeted and changed so that positive and constructive patterns are created and reinforced. However, in light of arguing for the upholding of human rights and dignity, the significant aspect in this is that our environment is prominently influential in the sort of health or lack of it that is encoded in our DNA.
It is not for no reason that conclusions from such varying fields and across time can parallel each other. David Bohm, a protégé of Einstein’s, stated that humanity greatest obstacle in its development is its lack of recognizing the wholeness of the nature of the universe and all its parts. Though this statement can be generalized, he often specifically referred to humanity’s tendency to note division versus cohesion, especially when it came to each other.
I am because you are.
To our health.