Life – A Balancing Act

March 2nd, 2015

The theme for March 2015 is balance. Balance is an important component of naturopathic medicine because it must be embraced during a holistic perspective on health.  Health requires balance in our lives. And without balance we can’t be truly healthy. The two are mutually inclusive.

The seat of a chair rests on four legs of equal length; so too our health depends on the stability of four pillars: physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. Too often individuals examine one of these pillars looking to improve health, while overlooking or neglecting the other three. More often than not this single focus can actually potentiate the imbalance. There is no such thing as a single causative agent or imbalance regarding our health. Our health, or lack thereof, is the sum of the totality of our being.

Becoming aware of the importance of our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being is the first step towards understanding how to strengthen them completely. When we are aware, we can shift our focus and efforts appropriately to balance these aspects of ourselves to optimize our state of health. We can then begin to rest comfortably with our entire being and let our own natural healing processes unfold.

Here are simple and basic recommendations for strengthening each of our four pillars of health:

  • Physical health requires exercise on a regular basis. We are beings that are not accommodated to sit in an office or classroom all day with limited or no physical movement. Because so many of us spend most of our days with little physical activity it is important to incorporate exercise into our routine. Physical health declines with both over and under use. We must perform exercise that can push us past our comfort zone and be stressful enough to force our body to respond in an adaptive way. It is possible to overdo it if you are not careful. If you haven’t exercised recently in the past year, please seek the advice of your primary care physician and a personal trainer before starting a new program.
  • Mental health requires learning and mental stimulation on a daily basis. Our jobs can be monotonous. And watching television after work is the equivalent of eating junk food all day for nourishment. We must stimulate our minds to keep our mental health sharp. Read books about topics you are passionate about. Learn for the sake of learning. When I read books I write a summary about the book and create at least 3 action steps I want to take related to what I have learned. It keeps me engaged in the material and inspires me to put into action the thoughts and ideas that come up while exposing myself to new concepts. Mental decline is so often a concern that patients have when they come into my office. We must exercise our mind to keep our wit sharp.
  • Spiritual health requires that we recognize a purpose to our life outside of our self. It isn’t necessarily all about religion. In fact, too often individuals attend church weekly and still feel that their life is lacking spiritual meaning. This is because they have not engaged with a purpose outside of themselves. To cultivate a healthy spiritual self we must embrace those things that are important to us and give of our self in pursuit of supporting a better world. This can often be accomplished through volunteering of your time to a cause that is near to your heart. I do think it is a noble act to give money to charity, but simply giving from your wallet won’t provide the same level of return on investment that giving of your time will.
  • Emotional health requires that we embrace actions and people in our lives that provide enjoyment and a sense of fulfillment. Certainly pursuits that support spiritual health can overlap with emotional health and vice versa, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be so. Music provides wonderful enjoyment in my life. I often play music whenever I am doing tasks or chores that allow a soundtrack. It doesn’t do anything to support my greater purpose, but it does keep my smiling and moving to the beat. It is even that much more enjoyable for me when I can share my love of music with the people that mean so much in my life.

I hope these ideas about creating balance in our health inspire you as we move into another year. Your health is your most valuable asset, invest the time and effort to balance the 4 pillars of your health and enjoy the benefits of holistic well-being.

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Posted in Naturopathic Medicine, Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Where Should We Focus for Holistic Health

January 3rd, 2015

A new year provides a blank canvas for our health and life. There is a promise and potential of change that is invigorating and motivating. There is a collective momentum from people all over the planet hoping to better their life and we have the opportunity to capitalize on this energy for ourselves and our families. My hope is that as we strive to improve our wellbeing we embrace a holistic perspective and focus on cultivating a healthy and balanced self in 2015. To do this, we must consider our health as three distinct and interrelated parts comprising the whole of who we are: physical, mental/emotional (I consider mental and emotional as one aspect in our person and for the rest of the article will use the term “mental” to encompass both), and spiritual.  In 2015, let us widen our perspective and bring all aspects of our self together. Here is how I believe we can best achieve this goal.

Often the physical aspect steals our attention and restricts the health of our mental and spiritual self. This is a tragedy when we limit our focus to only a third of our human potential. The basics for physical wellbeing are simple. We must drink clean filtered water to properly hydrate the body. We must move our body and develop symmetry in our strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. We must sleep 7 to 8 hours each night so that our physical body can repair. We must eat real foods that provide the nutritional foundation our body requires. These are the simple, though often not easy, changes we must make to heal our physical being.

Healing our mental self requires a change in the attitudes and beliefs we maintain regarding our life. In order to do this, we must begin a practice that encourages a dissolution of the Ego and detachment from our physical self. I believe practices such as meditation, prayer, and mindfulness are ideal for this type of shift to happen. The goal is a deeper recognition that we are not the physical body that we associate as ourselves. We are so much more than the confines of our physical package. When we let go of those physical limitations, we are capable of being healthy regardless of our physical state or diagnosis.

To heal spiritually we need not go to a church. That is a physical building and the church community is made up of individuals that are walking around and interacting through their physical bodies. The limitations are physical. This is a not a criticism of any church or religion. I am grateful for my own church community and the support it provides. To heal spiritually we must detach again from the Ego and physical self. We can detach and connect to the spiritual world by practicing 4 ideals that will connect us to other humans, animals, plants, and the world in which we live. Here are the ideals: Forgive, Gratitude, Joy, and Love. When we forgive the transgressions we have suffered, when we show thanks for the blessings we have been given, when we embrace the joy that is being alive, and share that joy though love all around us we are on our way to spiritual health. Our spiritual health grows through our interdependence and connectivity with all of creation. Please do not let the physical limitations of your religion, your church, your identity restrict your ability for spiritual health.

Holistic health is a balance and symmetry between our mental and spiritual self-reflecting in the physical body. It has nothing to do with the lack of disease or physical symptoms. It is an internal peace and outward calm that is capable for us all when we embrace the limitations of our physical self and limitless possibilities of our mental and spiritual nature. It is such a gift to be alive in this New Year. Cheers to 2015.

~Dr. S

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Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification, Uncategorized |

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