After many years of helping people with many areas of life, we have developed an overview of what we need to live healthy lives. Much of this is consistent with health practices taught for many thousands of years. More and more of it is becoming common practice for everyday people. In what follows, you will find general statements of most of these practices. Should you want more information, you can obtain it by following the suggestions given in various parts of the text.
COMPLETE HEALTH - A DEFINITION
We are in complete health when everything is working as it is designed to work, when it is self-maintaining and self-correcting. This state is the result of having physical, emotional, mental and spiritual state of balance.
MAINTAINING OR ESTABLISHING BALANCE
We can think generally of the physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and "actionistic" dimensions of our lives. We need to balance ourselves within and between each of these dimensions.
We need to ensure that we have the necessary nutrition, exercise, rest, and shelter we need, both to maintain survival and to secure a standard of living that is satisfying to us. We need to pay attention to the basic rhythms of our daily lives and accommodate them in the way we act. Also, we need to take whatever specific health care measures may be necessary to deal with any conditions that may arise.
We need to develop the capacity to maintain emotional balance and equilibrium. To do this, it is helpful to be capable of recognising feelings (have emotional literacy), to express them, to harness them into daily activities and to have the capacity to shift them, through our own efforts, to feelings that are more congenial and healing. To do all of this we need to cultivate an acceptance of the feelings that we experience, whether they are comfortable or convenient, or not. Part of this involves our learning to manage pressure and stress in our lives. Overall, it is helpful for us tocentre our lives and living in love, humour, good will and expansive creativity as much as possible.
We need to learn to manage our thinking in a variety of ways. We need to learn to think clearly and with a "reality base". We need the capacity to develop the capacity to fantasise about the future, define our goals, and to plan action that will enable us to accomplish those goals. We benefit also from the capacity to live in the world with "constant" reference through extended periods between what we are doing and the pursuit of long-term goals. Learning to harness our natural, spontaneous ways of thinking is also important, as we expand our capacities through more structured types of approaches. They need to combine. Our thinking offers powerful aids to well-being and to this end, it is best to keep always in our awareness the goal of living life to the full and ensuring that the content of our thinking is aligned with that.
We need to awaken to and develop our own spiritual awareness. Partly this involves discovering the answers to questions, such as, "Who am I?", "From where did I come into this life and to where am I going if I leave this life?" Partly it involves engaging in practices and procedures that open in our awareness the direct experience of spiritual energies. An integral part of all of this is finding some meaning in life - both general and specific. We need to develop an understanding of Being - our own and that of others.
We need to learn how to act to bring balance within and between these dimensions. We need to learn that decisions are a form of behaviour and that the actions we take indicate the decisions we have made. Action delivers the fruits of all our "inner" processes into the world and we need to ensure that we act in ways that concentrate our attention and energy into the outcomes that are desirable. We need to learn the balance between passivity and activity, between decisiveness and acceptance, between intervention and allowance. We need to balance our active lives between our needs in, and the demands of, the "external" world, and our needs in, and the demands of, our "internal" worlds.
COMBINING THE DIMENSIONS
We need to combine these dimensions in a dynamic whole, so that there is no separation between any of them. Each contributes something to the others and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Take any aspect away, or diminish its contribution to you in some way, and the whole of you is affected. We need to become people who live dynamically so that our bodies, feelings, thoughts, spirituality and all that we do are integrated.
SUCCESSFUL HEALTH PROGRAMS
In successful health programs we concentration on what healthy and fit people do to promote health and fitness. As we learn to do these things as we live, whether we are healthy at the time or not, we too generally become fit and healthy. Such programs include attention to eight areas:
attitudes and expectations
fun and enjoyment
love orientation to living
We need good nutrition, physical rest and exercise, good hygiene practices, and a responsive approach to our bodily rhythms.
Key Action: See General Well-Being in the Practical Daily Living Directory for more information about this. Much of this material is covered in the early Lessons available by joining the Network's Training Program. See Lessons in the Network Training Program Directory.
This refers to the need to maintain equilibrium by fostering it "internally" and in our interactions with the "outside" world, as we live our lives. We need to manage our thoughts, feelings, impulses and behaviour, whatever they may be. Integrating our these aspects of our lives is important, so that we can think, feel and act at the same time. Part of keeping our equilibrium as we do this, involves freeing ourselves from past reactions and perceptions. Developing the capacity to recognise and deal with the heritage of the past, when it influences the present, is imperative, if we are to live freely and easily. It also helps if we develop the capacity to manage ourselves with challenging and demanding people, in challenging and demanding situations. Goal-setting and doing what is required "internally" and "externally" to achieve those goals, is also extremely helpful. Knowing how to solve problems (personal and other) and how and when to get help from others when needed, is very important, too.
Key Action: Good nutrition, deep relaxation, grounding, creative release and living rhythmically, are all helpful with various aspects of these areas of our lives. Many courses and other forms of learning are available to help with other specific aspects. Finding and learning from people who already live in this way is invaluable.
Finding the balance in life is crucial. Most areas of life include dimensions that we may express at one of two extremes. When we do, finding some position between the extremes is usually most beneficial for us all. Several examples of these dimensions are: activity and passivity, assertion and acceptance, and work and leisure. In relation to balancing demands from different aspects of our lives, three major pairs of areas are: work and leisure, family and other people, and day-to-day life and spirituality. As you can notice by checking your own life, these areas often overlap.
If we lose balance, most areas of our lives are effected. We need the satisfaction and fulfilment of productive service that comes from work. Simultaneously, we need the balancing release of leisure activities. Most people know of those others who spend all their time working and the immediate and eventual costs of doing so. Similarly, most people know someone whose life is filled with leisure and the different costs of this sort of life-style. Our families are a source of primary nourishment and satisfaction in our lives, or they can be. Each family member has a unique contribution to make to each of the others. We need to spend the time with each other, if we are to experience this contribution and to make our own. Other people are part of the world in which we live, too. We each have a part to play with them and they with us. Taking time for friends and acquaintances is very important. Think of people you know who are almost entirely caught up with their families to the expense of others, or with others to the expense of their families. Then there is the balance we need to strike between our worldly preoccupations and our spiritual nourishment. It is very easy for many people to act as if the demands of day-to-day life are more important than their needs for deep nourishment, and the growth and development of their Beings. By contrast, some people spend so much time in spiritual practices, such as, prayer and meditation, that they neglect the worldly demands of their live. Finding the right balance with this is very important.
Key Action: The way to maintain the balance is to practise awareness of the overall patterns in what we do. We can make schedules that give is a sense of the proportion of time that we spend engaged in various activities. Once we have the proportion, we can fill in the detail about the nature of what we are doing in different aspects of those activities. Then we can decide how we would like the balance to be, can engineer whatever changes we regard as worthwhile and begin to live differently. Sometimes we need to allow time for making such changes, because our lives are not as flexible as we may want them to be. Nevertheless, we can always make changes, and a little at a time is better than nothing. Eventually, by this means, we can have the reward of finding that through small changes, we have reorganised everything, so it is in accord with what we initially conceived.
ATTITUDES AND EXPECTATIONS
We need to cultivate attitudes and expectations in life that affirm life, health, happiness, fulfilment, cooperation, mutual respect, optimism, beauty, harmony, strength, capacity, creativity - and anything else you want in your life that you would like to add. The importance of our attitudes and expectations is that they are fulfilled in our lives. In particular in relation to health, our bodies release certain chemicals and start particular processes that are healing and life-promoting when we are optimistic. They start others that are not as helpful and life-promoting when we concentrate on the pessimistic side of life. This orientation is important emotionally and cognitively, too. The more we concentrate on something in our lives, the more we energise it and encourage it to appear. This applies to everything we are doing, thinking, feeling, or experiencing, in any way. Another aspect of this, is that when we share anything with others, we intensify it. So, it is a very good idea to share with others only those things that we want to intensify.
Key Action: The Complete Health Meditation, the Relaxation Meditation, the Grounding Meditation and the Creative Release Meditation can all make a major contribution to you and help you shape, reshape and confirm your attitudes and expectations. All are available through the CDs & MP3s Directory in the Shop Directory.
FUN AND ENJOYMENT
Laughter, joy and happiness are more than a great tonic. They release the body by relaxing and softening it. They also stimulate the body to release hormones and chemicals that stimulate heath and well-being. As they do, feelings and thoughts are set free from what holds and binds them in our systems. Our life force can flow more easily through us again, healing and strengthening as it goes.
This effect is very powerful, and we have all probably experienced it at times. For example, perhaps we were feeling out of sorts, unwell, preoccupied with various things, and then had a good laugh at something, only to discover, almost immediately, a solution to the previous difficulties. Often, after a good laugh, we also discover that what we were worrying about previously was not as important as we thought it was. There is one man at least who knows the power of humour. Dying of a terminal illness, he decided to watch comedy videos continually. He laughed and laughed and, as the title of his book indicates, he "laughed his way to health".
Next time you watch the elderly being interviewed about their secrets of long life, notice how lighthearted they are about things. They may not mention joy, laughter and humour as one of the secrets, but you may notice that the majority of those who live long lives, are joyous, like a good joke and do not take things very seriously.
Key Action: There are myriad things you can do to promote fun and laughter in your life; and it is a good idea to do something every day. Look at the following list and add your own ideas:
Laugh as often as you can
expose yourself to the humorous in life take a joyous and light hearted approach to life
do the Inner Smile Meditation regularly
watch funny films, visit funny friends, tell funny stories, read good joke books
live playfully, be a clown
Love has a melting, transforming and enlivening effect. Heart-felt and heart-centred expressions of love flood our systems with life and, as they do, the systems of others. We experience love from others to the extent that we are open to expressing it to, and sharing it with, others. Most importantly, we need to love ourselves. Other-love is not possible without self-love.
The feeling of love is central in good health and well-being - feeling it, expressing it, living it. Spiritually, it is understood that Love and Life are the same. At the worldly level there is a lot to indicate the importance of the feeling of love. There are many examples of this. Healthy people usually have an abundance of some sort of love in their lives. Also, there is an increasing catalogue of examples in the lives of those who are not healthy: pets help people to recover faster and more fully from some illnesses (notably heart disease), people with pets tend to be healthier, and general health (particularly dogs), single men who live alone tend to die younger than their married counterparts, post "heart-attack" patients who included expressing love in their life-style changes made far more change than those who did not, and many long-term survivors of AIDS also learned the value of love and a healing agent.
Key Action: There is a lot that can be done, to help open the heart and get love flowing. You can put yourself on a love program and encourage others to do the same. Engage in heart-opening activities. Spend time each day thinking about the people and things you love and care for, or would like to love and care for. Express love and caring to others every day, personally and intensely. As you think of love and caring, and as you express these, stay aware of your heart. These programs help to open the heart and to increase the flow of love.
Express love as often as possible, especially unconditional love. Say, "I love you" to your family and friends as often as you can. Every time you use the word, it stimulates the release of love in your system. Use the "I AM LOVE" Mantra and the associated meditations daily. (See Opening the Heart - Workshop Notes in the Assorted Documents Directory, for several meditations and other practices you can use for this.) To promote self-love, use programs related to self-care and developing loving, personal acceptance and regard. For example, take rests, give yourself rewards, compliment yourself, say "I love you (me)" to yourself often, and generally find things to value and applaud in yourself.
Well-being arises substantially from a developed sense of mastery in our lives. Mastery naturally leads to our taking the initiative in our lives. We do not sit back and wait for life's events to happen to us and then respond. We live actively, influencing, guiding, directing, and planning. We engage in the process of living. We live proactively, not reactively. None of this means that we attempt to exercise an artificial or unreal control over events. It does mean that we know that we are involved in the process of living and that our initiative and activities make a difference. If forced to wait for events, as we sometimes are, then wait actively. The idea is to stay engaged in the process of living at all times.
Key Action: Our success in this area is to do with thinking, planing and acting to change our lives according to our hopes, dreams, aspirations and needs. Much of the material already presented is relevant here. As well, we can include daily programs along the following lines: doing three simple things a day that make our homes more the way we want them to be, setting three simple goals a day that we do only because you want to, and doing at least one thing a day with another person that is consistent with the way we want to relate to that person all of the time. You can think of many more programs along the same lines.
For well-being to develop fully and to sustain us throughout life, we need to pay some form of deliberate attention to our spiritual awakening. There are many ways of doing this. Some people do it by digging in the garden, some by excursions into nature - to the sea, the forest, or the wilderness. Some do it through engaging in activities that enable them creatively to express something of themselves into the world via, for example, writing, painting, or sculpting. Some follow through in this area of their lives joining religious or spiritual associations and engaging in their practices. Human beings crave fulfillment through the direct expression of Being in their lives. Anything that helps to "bring that through" is relevant to spiritual awakening. Many of these activities are not specifically focussed on spirituality, nevertheless they are generally helpful.
Specifically focussed activities are often helpful, too. Most people benefit by engaging in activities that are specifically helpful in promoting spiritual unfolding. For many thousands of years, human beings have explored these processes and have developed many that are wonderfully effective in producing the results we crave. Wonderful results can come from exploring some of these practices. Establishing a daily routine and living the orientations involved in the practices we adopt, is very important. Full Realisation is not available unless we do something in our lives to promote it. People associated with Biame Network use meditation, both as a life-style and through specific techniques, to promote this. Generally, establishing routines is important in every area of life.
The craving many people experience for spiritual Awakening is very closely connected to the hunger many people have to find meaning and purpose in life and to develop a sense of belonging. Meaning and purpose arises naturally within us as we connect more fully to the core of what we are. Our basic purposes or meaning can then express through. As they do, we realise what we are and what we are here on the Earth to do. This is not a cognitive process, nor does this sort of realisation arise from reading books or searching as we might for some item in the shops. It comes because the Beings we are, are saturated in that meaning and purpose. As we live more deeply out of our Beings, we know them as directly, just as we know that we are satisfied after a meal. We know this because we experience it directly.
A sense of belonging is a natural accompaniment of realising meaning and purpose in life. It is associated with the way we tend to become increasingly involved in serving others as we become more attuned to the Beings we are within. So vast is Being, that our worldly lives need to expand to enable us to ground that vastness the more realised we become. We do this by our involvement with others: family, friends, clubs, public issues, or activities to do with world-wide events and conditions. The involvement that is important, as part of this, is one of service. It is to stretch our concerns out beyond our own immediate issues and desires, for us to learn the importance of the service to and with others without thought of recompense. Finding belonging in this is to do with finding a meaningful place for ourselves in the world in the context of such associations with others. Simultaneously, however, this belonging will only come fully as we, through "inner" practices, learn to belong to our own Beings within.
These possibilities exist concretely for everyone. They are real and specific. There is nothing vague or mystical about them.
Key Action: These possibilities arise from clearly defined and well tested procedures that anyone who practises can learn. Engage in some form of contemplative activity every day. Meditate, pray, concentrate daily for the sake of doing it. Explore the rich availability of spiritual practices that may be of value to you. Think of Divinity, Nature, Life, God, the Ultimate, or whatever you regard as all powerful, or more powerful than anything else. Find how this, whatever it is, expresses in and through your life. Involve yourself in activities that are for the benefit of others. Do some form of service for others, even if it is only to do small things each day for people without their knowing. Do anything that will help you find your-Self in your heart and express that naturally in your life.
SUCCESSFUL HEALTH RECOVERY PROGRAMS
Successful programs that help people recover their health and well-being have certain definite characteristics. As you would probably imagine many of them are shared by the outline just given. In summary, they involve:
all of the above factors
an array of effective methods of correcting problems in any central areas that cause or help to maintain the conditions being treated, including medical and non-medical methods, and physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual, and "actionistic" remedies
effective ways of affirming and sharing affirmations of complete health
It is wonderfully encouraging to those in need to know that many different people in many different locations around the world have arrived at similar conclusions. Effective programs may look different from each other at first glance, however, when we look behind the most obvious activities, our experience is that the dimensions outlined above are usually present.