Coronavirus brings the topic of health and wellness to a whole new level. It makes self-healing matter more than ever before. This dovetails with a holistic way of looking at health, namely linking ancient (and proven) healing models with modern lifestyle choices to promote powerful health changes.
Many—from physicians and healthcare workers to progressive consumers, even knowledgeable patients seeking alternative care—have become disillusioned by the old, yet prevailing conventional interpretation of healing and what defines good health.
For example, wellness is not just the opposite of illness, but rather “a state of physical, mental and social wellbeing—not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” This definition, established by the World Health Organization in 1946, provides a more holistic view of people’s wellbeing at all ages and is essential to the fullest attainment of health for all.
There’s a revolution in health care emerging that’s based largely on insights from ancient traditions where healing and spirituality are linked. These ancient models come from traditions that are very much alive today—and have never been dormant (such as Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine) and are embraced by cultures worldwide and tailored to their specific needs.
Evidence-based research also strongly supports the ancient view of the human body as more than a mere life-support system. Rather, our bodies are “vehicles” we must enhance for lifelong wellness and to realize our versions of perfect health.
These ancient healthcare models, which come to us as teachings, practices, and even rituals, provide us with new ways to understand the link between the body and mind. Body, mind and our attitudes and behaviors are, in fact, an integral part of health care and one of the most important elements of the healing process itself.
While many of the ancient systems of mind-body health are thousands of years old (see some for yourself here and here), their approach is clearly modern, as they involve our bodies, mind, behaviors, emotions and spiritual growth. In many cases, they have served as the foundation for common modern remedies (such as willow bark, prescribed in ancient Greece for headaches and the source of salicin, modern aspirin’s reliever of pain.)
Integrative medicine is based on these insights and are the foundation of the mind-body approach.
Principles of the Mind-Body Approach
Ancient teachings and modern science increasingly concur: Your body, mind and emotions are part of one integrated system, and when you influence one aspect of your system, you affect all of it. Whatever point you begin from —whether it’s your body, your thoughts or your emotions—you can change the totality of your system.
This means that when you activate your body in a positive or negative way, it can have a positive or negative impact on your mind. And whatever emotional responses you have, affect what you do and say and how you physically function or behave. When you’re physically tired or ill, you’re less likely to be creative, upbeat or calm. Or, when you’re emotionally depressed or down, your posture may reflect how you feel. Everything that is “you” is connected.
Recognizing that you as a human being operate as a whole system helps you find better ways to achieve and maintain your health. The art and science of wellness comes from understanding the importance and power of your body’s dual control—the mind-body connection—as the source and hope of self-healing itself.
What really matters is the series of personal choices you make:
- Cultivating your body
- Sustaining vital energy
- Building your immunity
- Focusing the power of your mind
- Developing and refining your senses
- Empowering your emotions
- Creating health-producing behaviors to support spiritual and personal growth
The potential for self-care and healing is founded on these choices.
I believe that all comprehensive and integrated paths—including yoga, which is the practice I follow daily—are a source of hope and promise for everyone, especially now. These many transformative strategies have never been quite this accessible to all. Nor have they even been so desperately needed. But it’s going to take renewed effort and attention to embrace as many holistic priorities as each of us can right now.
This challenge leads us back to “self-awareness”—of our physical health, mental focus, moods, behaviors and values. The more we know about ourselves, and others who are important to us, the more we make our unconscious conscious, gain clarity to see more of the truth and develop mind-body skills essential for thriving in a complex world.
Embracing Healing Now
Changing our actions, thoughts and feelings; generating happiness in ourselves; and making our lives more positive are not mysterious talents. They are learned skills that come when you realize that you can change your health, and there is something you can do about it.
Taking the time to pay attention to your health makes you become an active force in designing it. Once you begin to take full responsibility for whatever you generate in your body and mind, extraordinary consequences will appear.
This is what healing can and should look like now:
- Deciding to create successful new routines and activating them
- Exercising healthfully, sleeping more regularly, reducing stress, going out in nature and developing mind-body skills
- Learning to meditate, practicing breathing, focusing the senses—and simply appreciating yourself more.
Finding new ways of healing that engage your body, mind and lifestyle means finding your own style of practice that makes you feel healthy and happy. And over time, through sustained and committed efforts, you may achieve a revolution of sorts— creating both personal change and societal healing.
Try this powerful healing strategy by practicing with my video, “Stress Reduction”.
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