The Story of Health really does hold the keys to our happiness and wellbeing. It tells the story of synergy - that is, "the whole really is greater than the sum of it's parts". In other words, no one thing is likely to make us truly well. For example: a lack of nutrients or insufficient water can dramatically undermine brain function and with that distort our perception, mood and attitude. Equally, a lack of meaning and purpose, or indeed a lack of love can weaken the immune system and also compromise the central nervous system. So how could any one approach/intervention meet all our needs... given that those needs are so diverse and at times even appear to be at odds with one another? Without a system that honours our multi-faceted natures, patterns and drives we simply cannot find a contentment, joy and peace of mind that really lasts.
The Story of Health explains what's needed and why....
The spirit needs - purpose, a reason for being. It needs to belong, to be loved and to live a life of meaning, integrity and benevolence if it is to discover and honour its purpose. It is by living a life based on these values that sustainable happiness, a happiness from within, can be found. This is what is meant by honouring one’s heart.
The mind needs - peace, love, clarity, structure, achievable goals and objectives. It needs a clear vision/mission statement to enable it to rise up and meet life’s challenges with courage and confidence. It also needs a balance between silent reflection and positive stimulation, in order to live a life of ‘mindfulness’ and find pleasure beyond the pull of the senses.
The body needs - to ensure its own survival in order that it can fulfil all the demands placed on it. It needs the highest forms of physical energy (food free from toxicity), relaxation, sleep, exercise, detoxification, pampering, hydration and quality nutrition. Only then can its genetic potential be fulfilled and the negative consequences of deficiency avoided. It is from this position of balance and poise that the body is able to fully support the mind and spirit.
The story of health is also the story of disease, they are in fact opposite sides of the same coin. This diagram is an attempt to help the reader understand the dynamics of the self. The primary elements of the self are: Mind, Body and Spirit, and they each have their own role and functions and a deep subtle relationship to each other. All 3 interface with the environment (represented by the circle) setting up the drama we call life. Under each of the four headings are listed some of their primary needs and how they can be attained. This is not a definitive list by any means but it does help to explain or to help us understand what is needed to transform things within each aspect of the self, thereby restoring physical and/or mental health.
The equilateral triangle represents the ideal state of balance and harmony between all 3, a position where the pull and tension between mind, body and spirit is opposite and equal. This means all 3 are having all their needs met and as a result are happily performing their roles and the relationship with the environment is as it ought to be, free of conflict. The triangle illustrated by the dotted lines indicates a position where health has been compromised and there begins a journey of ‘dis-ease’. This is where the self no longer relates to all its parts in an equal and opposite way. The equal force created as a result of each one’s needs being met has been lost. This ‘dis-ease’ is often, in the first instance, set up by a tension between Mind and Body, or by a loss of direction or purpose.
This ‘dis-ease’ left unchecked will in time become disease either of a biological or psychological nature. If the body pulls the mind away from its ideals, intentions and ambitions (as it strives to get its own needs met) then the mind loses its way and the spirit is lowered as a result of this tug of war. The mind’s pursuit for excellence and the fulfilment of its ambitions can also pull against the body so that the body’s needs are neglected and this imbalance causes biological tension and often ill health and also deflates the spirit. The spirit thrives on the feeling of being at one with itself, truly at peace, happy to its core, so when there is tension in the system it suffers and so does one’s health.
The lowering of spirit can manifest in different people in different ways e.g., stress, anxiety, panic, depression, phobias etc. The individual may well live in that psychological/emotional malaise for years, aware of their dysfunction yet feeling unable to change it. Equally the manifestations may be physical in nature eg: ulcers, I.B.S, lowering of one’s immune response (with the resulting health complications), central nervous system disorders etc…. These too may be spasmodic or become life long issues, depending on the individual response.
Neurosis could be described as losing the self, losing a sense of control over your life whilst being aware of that, yet feeling unable to halt the demise. Psychosis on the other hand is where the individual is so bound by despair, pain, hurt etc. that one’s sense of self seems to have evaporated. It is this almost total sense of disassociation that makes working with psychosis such an enormous challenge. To be so far removed from Spirit (ones sense of value and need for a purpose) is arguably the greatest sickness of them all. Physical illness, especially when it becomes chronic in nature, can also cause a severing of the connection with the self leading to a loss of spirit, a loss of hope.
All 3 elements (Mind/Body/Spirit) are equally important in the story of health as the illustration suggests, but it is Spirit and Mind that in an ideal world would be managing and maintaining balance and harmony within the self. However, without proper respect and attention to the body’s needs and to environmental factors it is extremely difficult through will alone to stem the tide of negativity. So in order to lift oneself out of neurosis or physical challenges/ill health and avoid the ‘trap door’ which leads to psychosis and/or chronic health issues we need to respond systematically, and creatively to our biological and environmental needs. Then the mind will be able to fulfil its highest ideals and ambitions and the spirit will rise up and be able to pursue a life of value, meaning and purpose.
“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our minds strong and clear”.
Buddha (563 BC – 483 BC)
Also see: The Story of Health Continued.