On Holistic Health and the Gandhian Child

photo credit: synmed.com

photo credit: synmed.com

To me, holistic health is a concept that takes into account not only the interconnection of all parts of the human but all parts of our world as well.  It is the health of the whole of the individual, the whole of a community, and the whole of our global culture and environment.  I consider myself to be a holistic health activist, invested in the health of the world as it manifests on all levels, from the largest scale to the smallest, as I recognize myself as a part of the interconnection of all beings. 

This is not a unique or original idea, but one that I see reflected back in the myriads of people and organizations that strive to create peace, balance, and unity in working for equality and human rights across racial, gender, and socio-economic lines; for the preservation of our environment; and for the survival of endangered species.  I see it in the expressions of creativity that draw out a sense of beauty in the artist and the viewer, in small acts of kindness that radiate into the whole, in the individual pursuit to remain resilient and courageous in the face of struggle.  We are all connected.  Even in our minuteness, we are great- everything we do radiates into every aspect of our being and into the web of all of life.

Holistic health is commonly viewed as the interconnection of the mind, body, and spirit on the individual level and specific methodologies are utilized to address the root cause of illness or imbalance as it occurs in the individual.  However, many of these holistic health systems, Ayurveda included, recognize that the health of the individual is directly linked to the health of the environment and interactions with one’s community.  Diets are tailored to the season, the energetic functioning of the body parallels occurrences in nature, healthy behavior is rooted in respectful and positive interactions with one’s community members, and trauma severely impairs Prana, the life force of the body, while snehana, or the giving of care and love, balances and builds it.

Ancient holistic health systems still in existence today, such as Ayurveda, were built upon principles of interconnection and balance that are timeless and, therefore, still relevant today.  Today, we can apply these principles to the context of our modern global society in order to maintain the health of our world.  Knowing that our health is a direct reflection of our relationship with our world, we can live out our daily lives in such a way that our communities and the environment flourishes, much like we would do everything we could to see a child happy and prosperous.

Looking at our world with eyes of simultaneous honesty and possibility is both freeing and balancing.  It is refreshing.  Shielding our eyes from our gift of acting as guardians for our world only intensifies a sense of lack of control and disempowerment.  It is like the shadow of an emotion or an experience that you know that until you don’t face it, it continues to control you and infiltrate your daily life.  Standing up to the challenges of life and of our world is invigorating.  It shows you just how powerful you really are, though sometimes it can take practice and falling many times for you to truly recognize it.

Being an activist for holistic health does not necessarily mean turning your world upside down or taking up a superhero-challenge.  To me, it means living out your daily life in a way that revitalizes you and the world around you.  Gandhi said it most simply: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

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