Archive for July, 2010

Assessing Health

How healthy are you, really?

Most people’s initial reaction to this question is to say they’re “pretty healthy.”  They’ll answer the question based on the conventional idea that “health” means “the absence of disease or injury,” and they’ll give themselves a pass.  For many others, in particular those who are dealing with illness as typically defined in our society, all too often accept their condition as something that is beyond their ability to heal on any level.

However, I urge you to consider your health not simply through the physical lens that you are probably accustomed to, but through a more layered and frankly more sophisticated point of view.  After all, our careers, our relationships, our finances, and the social and physical environment in which we live are as essential as physical health to our overall wellbeing. Therefore, to be truly healthy would require a dynamic balance between all these disparate yet connected elements.

Are you prepared to shift your view and think of health in much broader terms than toned muscles, clear skin, youthful glow, low resting heart rate, cholesterol level or the affirmation of these by well intentioned physicians? I urge you to instead consider health as something that represents a state of flow, unity, energy, and brightness.

And with that, I wish you the peace you desire,

Michael P.S. Isn’t it time you really got to know yourself?


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What is True Health?

It is a great tragedy that the modern medical model has abandoned the concept of “wholeness,” which, to me, is the true definition of health. I like the word “wholeness,” because it implies unity and coherence, flow and harmony.

Therefore, the health we should be looking for is not determined by longevity, wrinkle free skin, an hourglass figure, or the absence of disease. (Does it really matter if you are losing weight if all you are eating is celery or lettuce leaves? How significant is the achievement of finishing the New York City Marathon if you cannot co-exist happily with your spouse or family?) There should be intelligence to this process, not just thoughtless behavior or random goals that can be quantitatively measured or narrowly defined.

True health, then, is the achievement of a state of wholeness, living a good life in a state of awareness, not failing to recognize the beauty around you. Ultimately, “health” is more than just living well, but is marked by a state of peace and tranquility throughout your life. To be in this “state” requires the cultivation of mindfulness, identifying and following your passions and purpose, and the recognition of and ability to express your essential authentic self.

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The Skillful Doctor: Visiting Your Physician

Question: I’m 48 years old and I feel just fine.  Since I seem healthy, I don’t think I need to go see a doctor, but my family members say I need to have a routine appointment and checkup.  Is that true?

Answer: Here I tend to agree with your family, as it is important that you build a good relationship with a physician—and there are some basic routine tests that should be performed periodically helping you maintain your health, prevent certain diseases and guide you when a potential medical issue arises. Ultimately the experience should be reassuring and comforting. Thus it is quite vital that the person you seek appreciates the value of your autonomy in making decisions that affect you.

However, that being said, it is even more important that you check in with yourself on a regular basis, going deeper into the issues that affect your life and are responsible in creating your “experience”. By taking the time and making the effort to explore these issues more deeply you will live to the fullest. To assess your true wellness, then, it is imperative that you evaluate the overall quality of your life; including your relationships, your work, the physical environment in which you live, the social world around you, and your feelings of connectedness. This will give you a more complete understanding of the state of your health.

You can even start by taking this Wellness Self Evaluation. Click HERE.

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Summertime Energy

From the Chinese perspective, there is an abundance of yang energy during the summer months.  This energy is different from what we experience during the spring – the season of birth – when shoots are just rising from the ground.  During the summer, nature’s energy is hard to miss.  The flowers are in full bloom and the bees are buzzing busily to gather their pollen and nectar.  We are now enjoying the ripening fruit and vegetables that have grown from seeds planted earlier in the year and the animals born in the spring are romping as they explore the freedom of their new lives. Like all of the life around us, we too are fully open to the world as we absorb the energy from the sun high in the sky.

Indeed, the long summer days expand our capacities. These lengthened days and heightened energy render summer a season of peak activity. During the summer months, it is important to align our energies with those of nature and consider how we may be most productive.  By soaking in this energy and making the most use of it, we will be most able to enjoy the fruits of our labors much in the way that plants grow in the summer to be harvested in the fall

So, soak up some sun now! And, enjoy the lightness it brings,


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The Importance of Rest in Summer

While the blossoming energy of summer may inspire us to be more active, we must remember the issue of balance.  It is important to see the big picture – to appropriately use this time, but also to pace ourselves so that we don’t become exhausted. This is a time to make use of these extended daylight hours and heat, but we must take care not to overdo it.

Since the days are long during this season, we can take advantage of the extra hours.  In many traditional cultures, people take a time of rest during summer afternoons.  They allow themselves to stop work during the hottest time of the day and then return to their activities rejuvenated when the temperatures cool down. Clearly, this makes sense on many levels.   By wisely balancing your expenditure of energy in a similar way, you may see that you can accomplish a lot without draining yourself.

Carve time every day to relax and enjoy life whether it comes in the form of reading a book, listening to music, snuggling with your child, taking your dog for walk, or standing outside and taking in the beauty of a summer sunset.

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The Skillful Doctor on Seasonal Eating

Question: Everyone tells me I should be eating lots of fruits and vegetables but I don’t like them.

Answer: Summer is an excellent time to experiment with seasonal produce.   Instead of arbitrarily trying to add fruits and vegetables to your diet, go to a farmer’s market and pick up the produce that is in season.  Try to stay open minded, even choosing things that you think you won’t enjoy.  Because seasonal fruits and vegetables taste much better than those out of season, you may find that some things you didn’t like in the past are much better than you remember.

An added benefit of eating seasonally is that it simplifies our daily nutrition decisions. By eating what is growing in the current season, our nutritional intake is more aligned with the shift in the nutrients that we need during certain times of the year.  Adjusting your nutrients seasonally is one way in which to increase your awareness of nature and restore natural balance.

Tell us about your favorite seasonal fruits and vegetables or submit your own question in the comments section.

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