#2: Is It Possible To Attain Optimal Health When Living In A Profoundly Sick Society?
Wrong turns on the path of “optimal health”
What actually is optimal health?
Optimal health encompasses the physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual
Misery and defeat as a pathway into surrender, acceptance and peace
The core principle of aligning to self-care, self-love & health and wellness
Making sure our behaviours are congruent with the things that we know support us
Extrapolating on Jiddu Krishnamurti
Living on a profoundly sick planet
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WHAT ACTUALLY IS “OPTIMAL HEALTH”?
I've had it in my mind for a long time that I'm on this quest of trying to attain optimal health and wellness. But really, what is that? What does it look like?
In my mind, it was some kind of magical yet attainable place, where I was incredibly fit and healthy, full of limitless energy and vitality, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, cognition sharp as a tack, with a zen-like radiance from eradicating all uncomfortable sensations and physical symptoms I've associated with being unwell.
But as I contemplated "optimal health" on my vibrantly-coloured-mandala-sheeting covering my couch, I realized that I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere along this path.
Optimal health is not a future destination to try and get to, waiting patiently just like the vibrantly coloured mandalas available to us after we ingest a powerful plant sacrament. Optimal health is being optimal right here, right now. Not optimal in the future. We’re never in the future. The future doesn’t really exist, it’s a construct of the mind. All we ever have is the present moment.
So I guess there is a destination, and that place is right here, right now. The journey and the destination are ultimately the same thing; the process of forgetting and remembering, with the opportunity to continuously arrive available to us in infinite streams.
So if optimal health is right here in the moment, how do we make it part of our reality and engage in the process of continuously arriving?
OPTIMAL HEALTH ENCOMPASSES THE PHYSICAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL & SPIRITUAL, IN EACH PASSING SECOND.
We optimize our health when we integrate an emotional and mental state of acceptance with our moment to moment physical experience. In other words, how we respond mentally and emotionally to what we’re experiencing in our body, is part of optimal health.
When it comes to health and health challenges, as difficult as this is, relinquishing the need for a certain outcome is a powerful act. Our constant striving and mental attachment to something better on the horizon, is dreaming of a future time where our arbitrary idea of optimal health exists, which it doesn’t, because the future isn’t available to us. So if we’re thinking about optimal health in the future, we’re not on the path of optimizing health in the moment.
It’s a lifelong practice of being able to release our resistance, surrendering fully to our present moment experience. Let’s not get that confused with succumbing to a mental / emotional state of defeat and misery though.
(although that actually can be a path that unknowingly leads us to the fruitful lands of acceptance)
MISERY & DEFEAT CAN BECOME A PATHWAY INTO PEACE & SURRENDER.
In the midst of despair, a time can come where we’ve had enough. We’re so sick of things being the way they are, that we feel like giving up. We just don’t care anymore. We’re over it.
And it’s in this space, the magical space of “had-enoughness”, that something astounding can happen.
We release resistance towards the way things have been, and the way things are. In the moments surrounding defeat, sometimes we let go of our relentless grip of attachment, and finally surrender - without much conscious choice - into the very thing we were so scared of surrendering into.
Here, lays the opportunity to notice the stillness within the spaces we’ve been resisting. Now that exhaustion has broken down the fortress walls, in amongst each breath resides a calm quietness that can finally be noticed over the distant echoes of struggle and defiance.
It’s up to us to recognize the profundity of this in the moment, take the seeds of wisdom from these potentially ephemeral pods of experience, and to plant them into the soil of our daily lives to sprout and bear fruitful surrender.
LET SELF-CARE, SELF-LOVE, AND HEALTH & WELLNESS BE THE NEEDLE POINT THAT DIRECTS THY COMPASS.
We’re empowered with choice. We can change the trajectory of our moment to moment experience by making decisions to engage in activities, thoughts or behaviours, to shift our present moment experience in some way, if we choose.
We may have a moment of self reflection and go, hey, you know what, this is not actually what optimal health could look like right now. I could miserably accept my present moment experience, or, I could actually change direction and do something in the name of self-care and self-love to better support myself.
Optimal health includes making sure our choices and behaviours in the moment are actually congruent with the things that we know that support us. Maybe it's recognizing this when spending too long sitting inside, and instead making a decision to go into the yard to drop in with nature, or go do some yoga, or get some red light therapy in, or do a nasal sinus rinse, or have a cold shower, or whatever it is.
(I just got up to grab my blue-light blocking glasses while editing this because optimal health in this moment is protecting my eyes from the incessant glare of the computer screen!)
If the nervous system is feeling a little fizzled and we can get up and make a nice warm tea full of medicinal mushrooms, herbs and adaptogens, perfect - do that. If we notice we’re stressed and overthinking things, and we know we can take six long-slow-deep breaths to bring us back into the present, perfect - do that. Intentions are important, but at the same time, as mentioned, relinquishing expectation, which is the desire for a certain outcome, is part of the puzzle.
It’s in the present moment surrender and acceptance, that we have the opportunity to tap into love, joy and gratitude. And when we allow these feelings to permeate our entire being, the body can respond to that information accordingly by triggering cellular processes conducive to health and healing. This plays a part in offering the entire system a chance to re-calibrate to the health we were originally seeking, without actually seeking it.
So while it’s important to incorporate healthy practices and healing protocols that become part of our daily habits, it’s not JUST about these choices and behaviours which may or may not get us to some distant place where we attain some kind of physical well-being free from physical discomfort. Optimal health is about giving the entirety of our present moment experience the validity to be exactly as it is.
JIDDU KRISHNAMURTI SAID THAT IT’S NO MEASURE OF HEALTH TO WELL ADJUSTED TO A PROFOUNDLY SICK SOCIETY.
Extrapolating on that, how can we expect to meet our imagination's expectations of reaching and maintaining some peak state of health and wellness, when we live not only in a society that could be considered profoundly sick, but when we live on a planet that could be considered profoundly sick?
It’s not hard to argue that this systemic sickness, is due to our own actions. We have made ourselves, and our planet, profoundly sick. While polluting the very Earth that sustains and nourishes us, we hold hopeful expectations to reach a consistent state of optimized health, forever and a day, until we die, as the planet still weeps as our lashings continue.
Now that is sick. Or maybe it’s insanity?
Alongside the emotional, mental and physical integration on the path of optimal health, it’s equally important to reconnect back to our planet; to the spiritual ways of recognizing the interconnectedness of all things, and the importance of all things, here on our planet. Re-establishing right relationship, and respect for all beings (except for virus carrying mosquitoes - joking, they have their place too, little fuckers...) is another piece of the puzzle to slot into place during our continuous arrival into both the journey, and the destination.
Less reaching, grabbing, grasping, struggling and striving. More letting go, surrendering, accepting, and allowing. Without the desire for “more-ness”, of course, if you know what I mean.
So with all that said, may my musings on health serve as a guidepost to assist you in attaining optimal health in each and every moment.
Whether you feel you’re in optimal health right now, or you’re experiencing your own challenges, the art of releasing resistance into acceptance, surrender and love, is a life-long practice.
We certainly have many opportunities in many different forms where we can practice, whether that’s in the mild day-to-day unwellness, or when our time comes for the body to start shutting down, getting ready to make the journey into the great unknown.
And I think that’s a great place to end things.
Thanks for tuning in…