Holistic health, related to the idea of “wholeness,” includes the well-being of one’s body, mind, emotions and spirit. Holistic health practitioners may avoid conventional medicine with its narrow focus on symptoms and drug remedies. I think it’s unwise to throw out what may be useful. I also think that health has to do with the non-individual well-being of all species and, actually, the whole planet. That’s a big subject, for another day.
Here on the very micro-level, what I can take care of most readily is my own individual health.
Everything is medicine, or not. Food is medicine. Sleep and exercise are medicine. Toxic relationships are not medicine. Facing difficult emotions and expressing them in helpful ways is medicine. Simply claiming that everything is all good and “a gift” is not true and therefore is not medicine.
I hesitate to write in detail about my health program for two reasons. One is that it is all-encompassing in my life and, so, to write about it would require way too much detail. The other reason is that I am not in the business of prescribing. Each person needs her or his own medicine.
Here I’ll give an overview of my health program, which I’m continuously tweaking. It’s largely about nutrition, movement, stress reduction and enjoyment.
I love morning. Since childhood, I have awakened before sunrise. I find it the best time to meditate, pray, write down my dreams or a new insight.
In the morning, I boil water for two mugs of medicine. One is a Chinese herbal blend prescribed by a doctor of acupuncture. The other is the juice of half a lemon (from my garden or a neighbor’s). Google the benefits of drinking lemon juice daily; they are many. I drink these mugs while practicing various meditations and sitting in silence with my dog.
As I’ve written, I rely on paleo nutrition as a cornerstone of health.
Breakfast is my largest meal. From my garden, I cut the equivalent of half a bunch of mixed chard/ kale/spinach and steam it, then cook it with two pastured eggs, pastured butter and sausage, sometimes adding half an avocado. I top it off with an orange or berries and decaf coffee. I do not feel stuffed. I feel great.
Supplements: Everyone needs to work with her own doctors and healers to determine what’s right. I take specific vitamins, minerals, Omega 3 fish oil, extract of maitake mushroom, Co-Enzyme Q, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant herbs. I’ve studied and discussed each supplement with my doctors. I would not recommend just taking handfuls of whatever.
I also take a non-intoxicating cannabadiol oil, in consultation with an MD who specializes in the use of medical cannabis to treat and prevent cancer. It has effectively reduced my joint pain (pardon the expression) down to about zero. I’ll write about medical cannabis in a future post. Really, it’s just a plant, and a wonderful, healing plant it is.
Work is an opportunity to practice stress reduction. The office phone rings all day. I don’t answer it. My virtual receptionists pick up and send me an immediate email message summarizing each call. I can reply right away or later, as needed. I am not a slave to the phone, nor is my concentration continuously interrupted. I minimize multi-tasking. When I meet with clients, they get my undivided attention.
Chinese herbal medicine and biweekly acupuncture treatments are key to my good health.
Acupuncture is not a cure for cancer. Acupuncture supports the immune and energy systems so that the body can withstand and heal from the drugs that are given. The effects of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are subtle and cumulative. While reclining for an acupuncture treatment, I do a healing meditation which I believe enhances the healing effects.
Acupuncture is resting, and resting needs to be balanced with movement.
An exercise program that one enjoys doing is one that will be sustainable.
I walk daily with my dog, in local parks and a field near my house. I forget my cares and practice walking meditation, feeling my feet on the earth. Near home, we run into neighbors and their dogs, chat, and do impromptu pack walks. We come home refreshed.
Two or three times a week, I go for a strenuous work-out at a local pilates studio. I’ll write more about pilates in another post. It combines strength training and stretching, with a great emphasis on breath awareness.
At home, in the evenings, I do some light workouts with hand weights, mat exercises and light yoga.
Lunch and dinner are simple paleo meals. I take my lunch to work. Spring and summer, it’s a salad with a protein food on top, olive oil and vinegar, maybe a small piece of cheese. In the fall and winter, I make a weekly stew using home-made bone broth and take pint jars to heat up in the office. Dinners are endless variations of organic, grass-fed, locally and humanely raised meat (or sustainable fish) and organic veggies. I cook enough to reheat a second night or take for lunch the next day. For snacks, I eat nuts, moderate amounts of fruit and also dark chocolate. I am rarely hungry and never deprived. Most days after dinner I have a small scoop of Straus organic, pastured ice cream!
I also stay well hydrated. I especially love roibus and hibiscus herb teas. I brew several pints a day, keep them in mason jars in the fridge so that I always have a cold drink handy. This beats drinking anything sugary, including fruit juice which I do not drink.
Of course, I do not drink alcohol.
Happiness is essential for good health. Life creates ongoing demands and sorrows. And yet we can create many forms of happiness for ourselves. I think it’s important to have some fun every day. No matter what else is going on.
For me that includes daily bouts of knitting, looking at knitting patterns on-line, tending my gardens and playing with my dog. It’s never the case that I “don’t have time” for fun.
The paleo lifestyle emphasizes getting a lot of sleep. For me that’s eight to nine hours. To reduce mental chatter in the evening, I don’t answer my home phone or send emails after 7 p.m. I lower the lights in the house and don’t watch agitating TV. Most nights I take a detox bath including Epsom salt and lavender oil, which also assist in getting good sleep.
I thank God for having given me another day.