Posts tagged True Health

A Skillful Reflection on Lightning

Although substantiated by a logical scientific process, there’s something inexplicable few can deny about the effects of lightning. In fact, many cultures have viewed it in conjunction with a deity, including the Greek god Zeus, the Mayas’ God K, and Norse mythology’s beloved and fabled Thor. Verses in the holy books of Judaism and Islam credit lightning with a mysterious and commanding “supernatural importance,” and in the traditional religion of the African Bantu tribes, lightning is a sign of the fury of the gods, representing a time of rage and indignation.

But in the midst of the fear and mystery around this natural phenomenon, perhaps the most can be learned from the French and Italian’s expression for “Love at first sight,” which is Coup de foudre and Colpo di fulmine, respectively, which literally translated means “lightning strike.”

This parallel is a telling one, depicting the positive aspects that can be taken away from something so potentially frightening and ferocious. Allow yourself to envision the first time that primitive cultures saw fire. Without the conventional wisdom to explain it, it was magic, worthy of the respect and humility of an outright miracle. Conversely, lightning was like fire shooting from the sky; a divine force that brought its spectators as much excitement as concern. And although they couldn’t quite explain what was causing it, they knew it was helping to shape the landscape of the earth they were so attached to. They developed a profound appreciation for the process, and their own theories on what was triggering it. Perhaps some sort of divine being needed appeasement; perhaps it sought to regenerate the forests to keep them healthy; perhaps something was in dire need of being restored…regardless, they were able to parlay any fear in their minds into recognition in their hearts, welcoming the inevitable shift and its sacred messenger.

This time of year, when lightening is most visible, think of it not as a warning, but as a reminder of how yielding to the vigor and unpredictability of one of nature’s strongest forces can set possibilities ablaze.

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Advice from The Skillful Doctor: Overcoming Courage and Fear

Question:

My teenage daughter’s best friend has a learning disability that she’s quite sensitive about. My daughter is incredibly supportive, not only of the hardships her friend faces as a result of it, but in respecting her wish to not discuss it with too many people. Recently, in an effort to defend her friend from a group of classmates who were being insensitive about something that took place in school, she divulged a bit too much information, and it gave the other children ammunition to tease her friend about her disability. Her friend doesn’t know it was my daughter who shared the facts, and my daughter doesn’t want to tell her, but I think she should. The situation was created by accident, and my daughter was only trying to help. The two of them couldn’t be closer, and although I know her friend will eventually understand, my daughter wants to act like it never happened and move on.

I too have a close childhood companion whose friendship I cherish beyond compare. We’ve had tremendous ups and downs, but still remain incredibly close. Our families spend the holidays together and we even started a successful business together. We’ve made plenty of mistakes and had plenty of disagreements along the way, and it was always in the reconciliations that our bond got stronger, in the end committed to truth. I want my daughter to understand this, and I want to help her display the courage that I know she has instead of hiding behind her fear.

Answer:

Thanks for writing in with this question. It’s an important one, involving three good people in a sensitive predicament.

It’s apparent to me that you certainly have your daughter’s well-being at heart. Our relationships provide an immensely important foreground for our overall health, and hers with her friend, if nurtured correctly, could be a channel for a lifetime of growth, joy and immeasurable support, as you yourself have experienced.

But even with your recognition of the factors and emotions that exist in this scenario, I still detect one very prominent variable here which, while you are acknowledging quite correctly, you might be underestimating–the issue of fear.

You say you want to help your daughter display the courage you know she has, but I’m going to ask you to entertain the notion that she isn’t quite there yet. Clearly, this friendship is incredibly meaningful to her, and the thought of it changing–or worse, going away–might be more debilitating than you may assume. Unlike you, she may not have the vision of the future and the ripple effects of concealing the truth. Her fear is what she knows best, and appropriately, she is sparing herself pain, at least for the moment.

Now, let’s look further into your question and the interesting pairing of courage and fear in your final sentence. Indeed, courage and fearlessness are two different things. In fact, without fear, courage does not exist. Fearlessness is a young child walking haphazardly into the middle of the street without looking. Having not been warned of or exposed to the consequences of such an action, there is no fear weighing on his decision. However, if a car is in fact coming, and that child’s older sibling, parent or even a stranger, boldly runs to the middle of the road to protect him from a potentially tragic fate, that’s courage. The difference is that they know better. The adult or older child understands the risks associated with selflessly stepping into harm’s way to keep someone else out of it, but they proceed anyway. In this case, it seems that your daughter’s fear, from her point of view, is justified given her limited range of experience. Here, she’s old enough that she is not “fearless”, but she is not quite ready to run in front of the car either. While it is right for you to point out that it would be a big step for her to proceed to come clean, this part of her development is not yet her paradigm as it is yours.

So, let’s talk about you for a moment. You said you’re a business owner. Surely, in your pursuit of a successful living, you risked being relegated to an unsuccessful one. Have you never been uncertain about how a big decision would affect your revenues or your marketing, or even your relationship with your own partner and friend? I’m willing to bet that you have been, but that you took your chances, and when all was said and done, reaped the appropriate rewards. Your daughter’s current circumstance is no different now. It sounds like a lesson in risk and reward, and you sound well-suited to teach it. But, experience is the best teacher. While you can talk to your daughter about using this particular opportunity, this is something she’ll have to determine on her own. In the interim, while it might hurt to watch, her choice now will put her in the best position in the future to make a better decision the next time.

Indeed, it is often hard for a parent to watch their children make these mistakes. Assuming they are minor, i.e. not life threatening, even broken or lost relationships are the lightning strikes that prune the tree to flourish in the future.

Again, speak to your daughter in this tone. Help her weigh the risk and benefit of the current situation, perhaps she will get it this time. Whatever she decides, perhaps the best role for you as her mother is to help her realize that while it’s nice to live in a state of naiveté and to avoid the confrontation with what scares us, it’s much more skillful to proceed despite it. This is the toughest part of growing up.

So, rather than focusing on helping your daughter display the courage, I suggest you arm her for a lifetime of beneficial decision-making skills by focusing instead on helping her to recognize and confront fear and to develop the ability to stay in her truth.

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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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