Updated: Sep 20, 2021
by Neeru Prashar
In the fast-paced modern society, people got extremely busy acquiring and fulfilling the material aspect of life that they kept health in the back seat. Diabetes, High blood pressure, and cholesterol are some of the common lifestyle diseases that have flared up in the past few years. They have become part and parcel of our lives that we have started identifying with these health issues.
Our dependency on medications has increased many folds, whereas many diseases can be prevented with lifestyle changes. We have long forgotten the body's natural healing capabilities and stopped working to enhance them. The current pandemic situation kept reminding me of the teachings of the great yoga masters - to take care of our everyday well-being by keeping our bodies armed and fortified against the disease-causing microbes and viruses. One such simile given in the yogic texts is that of a forest full of thorns. If one were to go through the forest, it would be foolish to remove thorns one by one and wiser to wear a pair of good shoes to protect one's feet. It is high time that we take charge of our health and make ourselves capable of fighting any such viruses in the future.
When we utter the word health, we immediately think about the body or diseases. But, we need to understand it from a broader perspective and not just focus on the specific bodily functions but a human being as a whole.
According to Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine, health is a state where all the bodily functions, including the digestive and elimination processes, are working efficiently and all the body tissues are well balanced. It doesn't stop at the physical body but further talks about the human mind, which should be pleasant and content, in harmony with the inner self.
World health organization also revised its definition, including the four significant aspects, and defined health as a complete physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Most of us think that having a fit physical body is enough, but not very long ago, professionals started talking about mental hygiene or mental health. The old dichotomies of body vs. mind, physical vs. psychic, started disappearing, and even WHO accepted the holistic definition of health.
The ancient yogis and seers knew this interrelationship of the body and the mind and their influence on each other thousands of years ago. When someone feels sick, experiences aches and pains, or when the body's biological functions are not working correctly, the effect can be seen on the mind. One can think about a person living with pain and his susceptibility to emotional changes and mood swings. Similarly, when someone is angry, agitated, frustrated, or sad, the effect can be seen on the body and even their body posture. One can say that the mind has a more significant influence on the body than the body on the mind.
Even when the pain starts in the body, one can feel the impact on the mind. If it starts at the mental level, the effect is both on the mind and body.
Our physical, mental, and emotional states affect our relationships with others in the family and society. Along with a physically fit body, the pleasant and content state of mind is the hallmark of health that comes when we are in tune with our inner self.
( This article appeared in the column of Asian tribune, Edmonton)