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How are you? I’m fantastic.

How are you? I’m fantastic.

Jumping with Joy

Not too bad. Could be worse. Another day, another dollar.

How often do you hear something along those lines in response to the question, How are you?

Maybe you even answer that way yourself.

It may seem trivial, but what’s actually being transmitted about life through those words? That it’s just something to survive, to get through, to barely tolerate?

Our healthcare system seems to support this idea. The focus of modern medicine is nearly always on getting us to that relatively OK point and no further. Life may not be great, but, hey, at least we’re not dead.

But what about being alive?

Health is a continuum, and most of what we think of as health care is actually sick care. It’s meant to deal with issues in the narrow margin between baseline and death. It doesn’t have the tools to move us beyond that.

Clearly there’s a need for this type of acute medicine. A person who’s just been in a horrible car wreck shouldn’t be asking to see their acupuncturist in that moment. A patient who’s just had a stroke shouldn’t be consulting with their herbalist right then.

These are emergency situations and sometimes surgery and medication are the only options.

But those interventions should make up a tiny percentage of what we actually consider health care. And we shouldn’t be using emergency medicine to combat the chronic, stress-related issues that make up the bulk of our problems in this modern day.

When we try to treat lifestyle-generated illness with emergency medicine, we will never be well.

We end up suppressing the symptoms of heartburn with Prilosec while continuing to eat the foods that cause the problem.

We end up with people being prescribed an anti-depressant after an – on-average – five-minute interview with a doctor.

We end up with a significant amount of the population needing a drug to fall asleep at night, and three cups of coffee in the morning just to feel somewhat alive.

We end up with a quick-fix culture.

How do we reconnect with our own ability to cultivate health and wellness?

We do it by paying attention.

Our bodies are wise and our symptoms can be our teachers. We just usually don’t pay attention until it’s too late.

Insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, anxiety, acid reflux. These are all symptoms of a deeper imbalance. Just treating them as a disease that needs to be silenced misses the point. What do we need to learn? How do we need to change?

Think about insomnia for example. This label means nothing without the context of the life of the individual who is suffering. Does she have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Is it seasonal? Is it due to physical pain or mental worry or both? Has she just been laid off? Is she contemplating a major life change?

I’ve discovered that when I’m having trouble sleeping, it means I need to write. There’s some idea that needs to be expressed.

Of course, we could all just take Lunesta. Which would be like putting a piece of tape over the check engine light in your car.

Rather than thinking of our symptoms as problems to be fixed, we need to start recognizing them as the messengers that they are.

Not so that we can reach a pinnacle of perfect health with no symptoms. Or have a perfect body. Or avoid death. Chasing perfect health can be an addiction like any other.

The important questions are: Am I well enough to do the things I want to do? To make a difference in the world? Play with my grandkids, do work that matters?

A person who’s experiencing some mild burning in her esophagus has a few choices. She could ignore it and keep living the way she’s been living. Maybe take an antacid every once and a while. Then maybe once it’s developed into a serious issue she could seek treatment.

Or she could start to explore what it might be signalling. Make adjustments to her diet, learn to meditate, find ways to better express her anger.

And with these small changes, day after day she may find herself waking up in a new life. Her relationships more harmonious. Tapped into a deeper well of creativity. Connected to a greater sense of purpose

Awareness, and small changes to her daily habits are the scaffolding that make this kind of journey possible.

And if someone asks her, how are you, she might answer, I’m fantastic. And really mean it.

Do you know what your messengers are? Are you curious to see where listening to them might take you?

By:

For an in-depth, innovative look at restoring common sense and personal responsibility to health-care, I can’t recommend the book Breaking the Iron Triangle highly enough.

(Image source: Clewn)

 

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The Nuin Center
5655 Bryant St
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
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Tue 10-7
Wed 10-7
Thu 10-7
Mon, Fri, Sat hours twice a month
Closed Sun
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Returning patients can schedule online with the button below. New patients please call to schedule. (FYI I have about a 6-8 week waitlist.)
Phone: 412.927.4768