In the current model of health care we normally measure our health in terms of the absence or diminishing of concerning symptoms. This is, of course, important for function, but there are many people going about their day to day lives who may think all is perfect because they aren’t presenting with medical symptoms, but who could be improving their personal health and levels of thriving in so many more ways. Now, the whole act of taking this vantage point is going to depend on how you, yourself define the word health. See if you can stop and do this for a moment before reading on. See if you can finalize a sentence or two that sums up what you consider health to be. My personal definition of this very important term continues to evolve the more I do… but it currently would go something like this: Health is the ongoing ability of a being to be open to learning, growth and inspiration in life. Now, I only stand by this definition for the moment, for I expect it to change as I do. The underlying sentiment behind this definition though, is that even if you have physical disabilities, or medical problems (which most of us will most certainly have at one time or another unless we are the lucky few who suddenly sneak off quietly to death in our sleep) you can find inspiration that gives you a high quality of life, and a sense of awe in learning during your time here. Now this inspiration can come in as many different forms as there are people- it might be through enjoying real connections with people, or studying a favorite subject, or connecting to nature, or living through art or music….the list could go on and on. In any case, the following list includes aspects of life that I feel have been strong indicators of my own connectedness to life and my personal brand of inspiration, and are worth considering for you as well.
- Your ability to recall dreams: There are actually many studies that link levels of dream recall to many aspects of medical health. I can often tell when I am in a sluggish or more stressed state simply by noticing that my rate of dream recall seems to dip a bit below its normal trends. If you are remembering less than you used to, this points to decreased mental clarity which can be resulting from a myriad of different life or health sources. If you don’t remember dreams at all and you’d like to, there are steps you can take to try to cultivate the return of this ability. Feel free to contact me if you need help in this area.
- How vividly you see the world: I’m not talking about visual acuity here- we obviously all have varying levels of eyesight, and I myself am nearsighted. I am talking about tuning in and noticing how colors strike you, how you take in a scene, and being able to notice how looking at the world affects you at different times. See if you can take note every now and then and get your own personal opinion on the quality of the scene ahead of you. Is it sparkly and vibrant? Does is seem mundane and tiresome? Your responses to taking in your world can be very telling. I know firsthand that it is possible to find the world’s shimmer even during typically undesirable life circumstances, so see if you can tap in and see what I mean.
- Your ability to listen openly: Try to notice if you can listen to another person speak without having to respond or relate to it personally in any way. Can you listen and just be a witness to the amazing life in front of you? Or does it have to relate back to your story? Of course when someone speaks to you they usually expect some kind of response, but it is a great practice to pretend, initially, that you won’t respond at all, and that you will form no judgments. You’ll simply accept all of the words you hear and absorb them. When it does come time that you have to respond, see if it can be as simple and openly supportive as possible. Your ability to witness those around you in the world without having to interrupt or jump in with your own story is a wonderful sign of confidence, happiness and receptiveness. See if you can take note of how you are doing in this area, and then see how you do in listening to yourself, and doing it kindly.
- Your level of connectedness to nature: This is a very difficult thing to measure objectively, but you can personally assess subjectively how connected you feel you are. This goes well beyond simply being able to notice the beauty of nature, to things like feeling real empathy for other creatures, relating to them on a personal level…especially those that you don’t find cute, or that you might even find scary. (Think spiders, snakes, poison ivy- even if you don’t want to touch them….do you GET them? Can you like them as a friend?) Are you interested by small out of the ordinary occurrences in nature? Do they provide you with meaning or curiosity? Are you drawn to be outside no matter the weather conditions? If you are particularly over sensitive to cold, or heat, or humidity, or scared of insect bites, or sunburn, etc…these are health symptoms to take a strong look at. They point out your constitutional weaknesses, and can be worked on, even with simple nutritional approaches. Lowering these sensitivities and getting yourself to be more durable and connected in nature not only improves your constitution but your ability to connect to the world and your life as a whole. Some of the few moments of pure spiritual bliss that I have experienced in my life so far, of having a sudden feeling of momentarily glimpsing the answer to the big questions, have occurred when out in nature, alone, and finding myself receptive in a rare but incredibly complete way.
- Your ability to perceive the emotional energy of others without asking: There are many people nowadays who have been able to identify themselves as “empaths”. This is the term used to describe someone who is particularly sensitive to feeling the emotions of others. It can often be confusing and difficult because you might feel these emotions as if they were your own, and then wonder why you are feeling particularly anxious, or sad, frazzled or apprehensive. I, however, feel that when identified and worked on properly, this trait is actually a huge talent as well as a sign of increasing connectedness to the world around you. Obviously if you are able to hone this and know when someone around you is feeling a certain way, you can remain as present and supportive as possible. This is, in fact, a psychic talent, but all people have the ability to work on developing it. This does not mean we all have an equal measure of these abilities in the end. Some people are just more psychically inclined than others, just like some bodies are more athletically inclined than others. But working on your intuitive levels and honing them to the best of your ability will improve your health just like working out will. There are many ways of honing empathic, intuitive or psychic abilities that could be the topic of another article!
Realize that these are all pretty abstract and subjective aspects of life to consider….but know that tuning in intermittently to see how you are doing in these areas can tell you a lot about your health. In my holistic practice I have ways of helping people to work on these qualities, and questions along these lines are always welcome. Also, this is a very small list! I would like to hear other little known or little discussed indicators of life quality, health, thriving and inspiration that you have discovered to be particularly important. Maybe together we can grow this list and continue to evolve the ways in which we define, and ultimately experience, true health. Peace and blessings to you all on this amazing and beautiful day!