Foundations of Health
There is an essential paradox to
being human. Each and every one of us is a unique being and, yet, as we are all
humans, there are certain commonalties we share. We are the same, yet different.
Over the last couple millennia, the physicians and sages of the Chinese medical system have discerned the basics to being healthy as a human being. There are certain fundamental requirements to attain and maintain health.
I have broken down the foundations of health into six areas. There are certain requirements within each area that must be addressed if you wish to be a truly healthy person. Now, that being said, there may be an illness present that creates the appearance that one or more of these areas is not necessary or, perhaps, isn't immediately possible. In such cases, professional medical care may be required.
As these are the very basics of health, none can be ignored if you wish to attain real health. It is possible to 'feel fine' while one or more of these areas is ignored, but with proper attention to the foundations, that 'fine' feeling will improve drastically. This has been my personal experience on several occasions. I'll fall off my exercise regime or sleep schedule, but, really, I still feel fine. Inevitably, as soon as I get back on track with exercise or sleep, I am amazed at how much better I feel.
The six areas are:
Mind and Mood. The emotions are considered internal causes of disease in classical Chinese medical theory. Though emotions are as natural, and therefore healthy, as any other bodily function, where they go ignored and repressed or fueled excessively they become causes of disease.
Sleep. Clearly, fundamental to good health is plenty of quality rest. The amount needed may vary with amount of physical activity, age, season, overall health, etc. There are a few basics to getting good sleep that are addressed in the separate article, as well as talk about what exactly sleep does for us.
Diet. Diet has received a lot of attention, but so often the basics of healthy eating habits are ignored or misunderstood. Before any talk about what to eat occurs, these basics need to be addressed. Even if 'good' foods are consumed and 'bad' ones avoided (assuming such static distinctions are possible), if one eats late at night, when not hungry, or with large quantities of fluids the diet will effectively be poor, and will not sustain good health.
Exercise. The body is designed to be moved. If it is not, it won't be healthy. Contrary to popular belief, running may not be healthy exercise, and walking may not be enough. There are some basics to determine whether your exercise is healthy, and there are some classically proven very healthy exercises.
Meditation. Simple seated meditation, where the goal is to simply sit there, is one of the most important things a human being can do. Though one can function without a meditation practice, one does not experience real living until they get a such a regular practice going. It is profound simplicity.
Appropriate Medical Care. In many ways, we are social creatures. As far as health and healing are concerned, it seems to be written into our structure that there will be those who are naturally talented in medical care. And it's a good thing, to, because we all seem to fall ill at some point despite our best efforts. 'Appropriate medical care' simply means seeking the right treatment at the right time. This is essential to living a healthy life.