In modern day society, patients are often left feeling powerless and unaware of the various ways in which they can take responsibility for their health beyond just obliging by medical treatment advised by a practitioner. While that is of course a great place to start, what should patients do once they leave the medical office to optimize their treatment and take ownership of their health?
First, let’s get on the same page about how the body works to facilitate health and conversely, disease. The human body is what is known as a “cybernetic system“, meaning a “system of systems“. We have a cardiovascular system through which oxygen is transported and utilized; a musculo-skeletal system which stabilizes and enables movement; a lymphatic system which aids in excretion and drainage of bio-products; and so on and so forth. There are many more in Western medicine and more still in Eastern medicine such as the acupuncture system which, like the central nervous system, carries energy to all vital organs in the form of electrical impulses.
In the West, however, medicine has taken a reductionist approach. Specialties have been devised, not only by system, but by organ, function, body part, cellular activity, and just about any other way one could think about dividing up the body and its functions. While this has enabled us to make great advances in specific areas, something critical has been lost – that is the true holistic perspective of how these parts fit together as a whole.
The bottom line is that while specialties and expertise are important, we must not lose sight of who and what we are, and how we truly function as human beings. We must not discount the interconnected actions that take place between systems, including the mind (mental, neurological processes) and the body (biochemical and physiologic processes). In a cooperative system such as the human body, all systems are part of a continuum and you cannot make a change to one without it impacting all others. With this knowledge, and an understanding of the 8 different areas of our lives that we can greatly impact through our own actions, one can continue the healing process when outside the medical office, and foster sustainable health.
The 8 Microcosmic Categories of Life
So when it comes to taking specific actions toward improving health, we need to acknowledge the categories of life over which you have influence, and are all interconnected such that if one is lacking, other aspects of the system will be impacted. Let’s take a look at these 8 microcosmic categories of life and why they are important in terms of achieving sustainable health:
Movement pertains to any type of exercise that facilitates a shift (both temporarily and over the long term) in physiology. This includes anything on the exertion spectrum from resistance training, to running, swimming, biking and all other forms of cardiovascular exercise, to more restorative exercises such as yoga, Tai Chi, Qi gong and even conscious breath work. We often think of exercise as exertion, or “working out”. But in this broader category of movement, we must also consider the recovery mechanisms as “working in”. The latter examples of movement above are aimed at replenishing the body’s energy systems opposed to exhausting or depleting them.
Because this balance of exertion and recovery is so critical for maintaining homeostasis, patients can do a variety of things from the comfort of their own home aimed at maintaining balance between exertion (yang) and recovery (yin). Tai chi and Qi gong are great options, which were developed as a means of feeding energy back into the body. See below for more information on how you can easily implement these techniques into your daily life.
If movement is the catalyst for increased energy production, then diet should be thought of as the fuel you take in to replenish yourself. It’s easy to be confused when entering the world of diet because there are so many myths and marketing terms thrown around. In actuality, it’s really quite simple. Quality in = Quality out. Regardless of macro-nutrient ratios and fancy prescriptions, your baseline quality of health is most largely determined by the quality of the foods that you eat. You may be tempted to experiment with various diet types and that’s fine. Even encouraged if for instance, you are in need of a detox, then following a low animal protein diet for a time is beneficial. However, never loose sight of what is fundamentally important: food quality.
Ensuring you are shopping for the best produce (as opposed to products) as well as getting back to the basics of what actually works and what the body really needs to foster a healthy diet are just the preliminary steps to optimizing this crucial category of life. We even have specific dietary recommendations from Dr. Thomas K. Szulc, Medical Director at the New York Center for Innovative Medicine, for patients undergoing medical treatment.
If movement is your energy booster and your diet/nutrition is your fuel, then quiet is your restoration and assimilation period. Our society has become hyper focused on productivity. It’s been said that we’ve become “human doings” as opposed to human beings. You need only look around to see that everything from extreme exercise programs, to monthly goals and outcomes, to the very lights that enable us to “burn the midnight oil”, staying up into the night when we should be sleeping – all these are aimed at further exertion. All the while, we seem to have forgotten the most fundamental law of physics: Polarity – “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
If we don’t replenish the energy that is lost through exertion, we are virtually guaranteed to burn out. And burn out we do. We get sick, tired, lose enthusiasm, or fall apart in a hundred different ways. Most of us lack the awareness to link these crises to our one-sided way of living. Sometimes we mistakenly think we are maintaining when in fact, we are just compensating and slowly wearing down and weakening over time. It is at that point when something we might have been able to handle: a cold, an infection or stressful life event seizes the opportunity and acts as the straw that breaks the camel’s back. But the camel’s back might never have broken if it was not already carrying such a heavy load. There are many specific actions to retrain your recovery mechanisms which may have been neglected, such as simple pillow conditioning techniques to ensure you get the most out of your precious hours dedicated to sleep.
Now, this is important. All too often, we get so caught up in the healing process – learning to perfect our diet, exercise, meditation practices, etc. that we forget why we’re doing it. It may seem blatantly obvious, but FUN and joy should be a central component of any healing or sustainable self-improvement endeavor. Lack of fun is the number one reason why people fail to uphold regular exercise routines, or any routines for that matter.
In addition to its purely practical function that fun makes everything else more sustainable, there are some important biochemical elements linked with enjoyment which serve to not only create a positive association between self-care and happiness, but also have powerful immune boosting properties. Just as cortisol and adrenaline from prolonged stress can suppress immune function, oxytocin and dopamine from pleasure can trigger immune boosting activity simply by experiencing more enjoyment on a regular basis. We have a plethora of practical tips for incorporating more fun into your everyday life – see below for further details on how to access!
“Do you view the world as friendly or hostile?” – This question has lead to countless studies being conducted on the neuro-physiology of harboring an abundance vs. scarcity mindset. Wherein the former, the core operating belief is one from which there is no need to rush, to stockpile, or otherwise protect resources, and those with the latter felt a fundamental need to guard their resources: time, money, sense of personal identity and so on. You can begin to see to what great extent this (too often, subconscious) choice can determine a person’s outlook on life and even their actions.
Even something as simple as “focusing on what is, instead of what isn’t” helps to consciously create and choose an abundance mindset over a scarcity mindset. From energy levels, to outlook, to finances, the positive regulation of this set-point can facilitate profound shifts in health and overall well being.
Your environment is one factor that plays a critical role in your health for several reasons. On the macroscopic level where your environment refers to your location and surroundings, it only makes sense that you would benefit from being in an environment to which you are best suited (e.g. living in the mountains and longing for the coast is not optimal, nor is the opposite). The place that will bring you the most harmony is the place that is most aligned with your inner sense of self. Now, whether you are in this place or not, there is plenty that can be done to improve your personal space.
In the immediate sense of environment, is your home. Once more, some may do best in a modern stark style while others are energized by seeing lots of furnishings, and items such as collectibles. One concept that we hold near and dear, quality over quality, particularly stands out in this category. When it comes to stuff, a minimalist approach is best; let go of the things that are not serving a purpose in your life! Scroll down to see how we’ve compiled specific actions you can take to ensure your environment is best suited for optimal health.
Organizational change specialist and psychologist Gustavo Rabin stated, that “There are three things that must work in life, in order for life to work well” – They are: your relationship to yourself; your relationship to your work (what you do that connects you to the world); and your relationship to others. Often times, as strong willed individuals, we take pride in “being self-sufficient” or “making it on our own.” And while there is merit to being self-reliant, the fact of the matter is that we live in a participatory universe. Just as no cell in the human body functions in isolation, we as individuals function as a part of a greater collective (family, community, society and planet).
The health of any system, society, or cellular organism is dependent on open flow of unhindered communication. If we put up barricades between our inner selves and outer selves; ourselves and our work or role in something beyond us; and ourselves and others, then we disrupt the natural flow of energy and information that should be in a state of fluid exchange in order for health to persist and improve. If you’ve ever stopped yourself from expressing something to someone that was sincerely true to you, and you felt a physical sense of constriction (often in the chest, stomach or throat) then you’ve experienced first hand, the important role that the quality of relationships plays on the quality and function of health. See below to see how we’ve compiled clinically verifiable actions that you can implement to strengthen this category of life.
If relationships are described as that which has to do with transfer and flow of information among inter and intra-personal settings, then “connection” is the fundamental flow of information that governs the connection and flow of energy and information in extra-personal settings. This includes aspects such as your relationship to nature, to your surroundings, and your overall sense of connectedness in this universe.
If you are an analytical thinker, you may feel a little uneasy at first when trying to make sense of something as seemingly esoteric as “connectedness”. But even the most rational thinkers, such as philosophers like Descartes and Aristotle, are always trying to determine what the fundamental elements are that unite all things. Every world religion and spiritual tradition faces this existential question head on when pondering what happens after death. Once you begin to understand the extent to which we are truly connected, this question can be answered by turning to another: “What happens when a drop of water returns to the ocean?” The implication being that there is some universal essence of which we are all embodiments. And therefore we cannot think of ourselves as separate from our surroundings.
Whether you hold any particular belief system or not, a general understanding and experience of what it truly means to be connected will serve to alleviate some of the existential stress placed upon us when we feel as though we are “cut off” from things. Remember, a cell when integrated into its larger organisms, will be instantly re-animated and revitalized with the life it needs in order to participate in the well-being of its collective host. Much of the apparent “mystery” of human health can begin to be understood when shifting to a different, grander perspective.
Optimizing Your 8 Categories through ‘Empowered Healing’
This seems like a lot to improve. Should all of this be addressed at once? After reading and gaining an understanding of the 8 categories of life that we describe and how optimization of each category is crucial to achieve optimal health, you will soon be able to participate in a one-of-a-kind program that will help you determine which areas may be drawing the most power from your body as a total energy system, and apply proven and scientifically verified techniques and methods to improve the categories that are most impacting your current state of health. This unique program, based on our past 12 years of working directly with doctors and patients from around the world, is called Empowered Healing.
Empowered Healing is the only clinically derived systematic process that addresses factors both tangible and intangible, leaving no stone unturned (under which healing hindrances commonly hide). Ultimately, it is designed to equip you with everything you need to take ownership of your health and reclaim the life you were meant to experience.
We know the thought of addressing all of these categories at once would be a huge undertaking and may lead you into a state of overwhelm (or keep you in a state of overwhelm). Worry not, because Empowered Healing is designed to get you on the right path and will only have you focus on between 1 and 3 of these categories to start. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Keep on Healing…
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