Spectrum of HealthMar 20, 2023
There is a spectrum of health that begins in our most ethereal, subtle bodies and extends into our material, physical selves.
This knowledge is borne from decades of experience. I have seen this spectrum in my work in medivac helicopters and psychotherapy sessions; in my research in labs and college classrooms and university medical centers. My teaching, whether with individual students, college classes, physicians and other medical staff, or corporate executives validates the same observation:
Health and well-being proceed from spirit to mind to body
In my professional life, I entered the spectrum of health in the direction opposite its natural flow. My careers in physical health soon led me to see that most chronic illnesses result from psychological maladies. The connection is well-documented, but still largely ignored, at least in any prophylactically functional manner.
Once it became apparent to me that psychological health is foundational to physical health, I changed my education and career path to better understand the nature of psychological imbalance. I thought that if I could understand the basis of psychological stress and the genesis of poor decision making, I would finally grasp the whole of what makes people sick.
And I repeated the process, backwards again.
A degree in clinical psychology and many years’ work with thousands of people taught me what works and what doesn’t, to make people feel better. There are many psychoactive substances that effect a rapid improvement in symptoms for maladaptive mental states. These pills were designed to be used in the short term, but they have become permanent staples in a terrifying number of patients’ lives.
Psychotherapy addresses the causes of suffering, as opposed to merely addressing the symptoms. But, “Wait,” as the commercials say, “there’s more.” It turns out that transpersonal factors are most effective in long lasting mental (and, therefore, physical) health.
In other words, pills may make noxious symptoms less painful, and therapy may illustrate harmful patterns of thought and behavior. Well-being, however, comes from changes in lifestyle.
People who have recovered from chronic mental and physical health issues report a number of interventions that have been effective as long-term solutions. Yoga and meditation and AA meetings and walks in the forest and mindfulness and even relocation to a different part of the country are all frequently cited as ways to permanently feel better.
And none of them necessitate drugs or therapists.
Effective long-term solutions have a connection to something larger, something outside of our sense of personal “self.” Call it community or nature or nous or Qi or God; a forest or a sunset or a strenuous exercise session enables a broader view of life that defies reduction to neurotransmitters alone.
I don’t mean to say there’s no place for medications or therapy. Either (or both) may be necessary as initial steps toward wellness. But just as a crash diet may help to reduce dangerous levels of obesity, it is not a long-term strategy. It takes a change in lifestyle to fully ameliorate the issue. And so I came to the last part of the puzzle in the spectrum of health.
Spirit informs mind
I still know how to stop a trauma victim from bleeding out. I still effect psychological interventions with depressed, lonely, and suicidal individuals. But these days I devote my effort to helping people have a larger view of life. An SSRI might mask your depressive symptoms and psychotherapy can help you understand why you choose situations that hurt you. But if you choose to act in accordance with your purpose, you might not get depressed in the first place. If you take responsibility for your life and change the circumstances that make you anxious, you may not feel the need to to overeat or self-medicate or distract yourself with harmful addictions.
It takes intention, time, and effort in the form of action to forge a life of purpose and well-being. That’s why I call it hardcore happiness.
Begin with a deep look at why you are here. What makes you happy? What helps you deal with life’s tragedies? How do you help others? Spend time in self-reflection and write out the insights you have. Truthful answers to these foundational questions – and the courage to act on them – will benefit your psychological and physical health.
As always, I welcome your thoughts. You can reach me through the comments section on my Substack or Medium accounts or the blog section on my website. If this article as of value to you, please follow my Instagram and Twitter accounts. And be sure to subscribe to my River Of Creation podcast – The Podcast for Creators! – coming later this year.
Be well; do good!
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