What Our Modern World Can Learn From the Conventions of Eastern Medicine

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Complete wellness can occur when we pay attention to—and care for—the entirety of our bodies, rather than treating just its parts as if they were separate and independent fragments. Good health encompasses a multitude of dimensions including, but not limited to our mental, emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual components. Wellness is not simply dependent on the physical condition or mindset that a person currently inhabits. We are continuously building up, breaking down, repairing, growing, and changing. Thus, we are in a constant state of metamorphosis.

In ancient healing traditions across the globe, human beings were seen as an integration of mind, body and spirit as well as microcosms of the totality of life. Ancient medical systems surveyed the human being as if through a panoramic lens. When treating a single dimension or symptom, we are overlooking the inherent connectedness of the system. Humans are composed of the same forces of nature and are an integral part of the unbroken whole. It was the Western mind and the advent of Western medicine that created the idea that human beings were independent living systems unbound to the natural world.  The western attitude fostered the division of wholeness.

When we abandoned our connection to the natural world, it became easier to follow egotistical pursuits. Some of these quests include a desperate desire for approval, fierce competition, drive for success, making it to the top of the corporate ladder, achieving and triumphing victory, power, prestige, reputation, fame, and the like. The mission for these things is like a drug; it feels great to be popular, famous and successful, but if we lose any of these things, we are left with feelings of emptiness.

It is important to remember that the survival of our human family is threatened by the unrestrained desire for short-term gain. If we take an honest look at our world, we can easily identify the growing waves of despair, pessimism, sadness, outrage, anger, fear, anxiety and hopelessness. All around us, grave social issues expand.  For example, increased rates of addiction, mental illness, homelessness, violent crime, child abuse and neglect, sex trafficking, political corruption and unimaginable wealth disparity; just to name a few. Our problems are not sealed off in a safe space.  We cannot stop the vast flow of a thousand rivers from ultimately merging with the ocean. Our collective problems eventually affect all of us all; we cannot escape it.

We must recreate a new world and reclaim the sense of connectedness that existed within earlier cultures when human fate was interwoven with nature. The desire for greater unity, harmony, peace, and understanding is evidence that humanity is returning to its source. We must rebuild the broken bridges between human beings, cities, nations, animals and nature.

When we address the entire mind, body and spirit, we restore balance and health. Likewise, when we feel connected to others and to nature, it causes us want to act with goodwill, kindness and understanding. Feeling interconnected enhances our lives and allows us to visualize our existence as meaningful.  When we disconnect and separate, we feel alone, isolated and hopeless.  If we take good care of our body’s ecosystem, we begin to heal and thrive.  Similarly, if we take good care of our external ecosystem, including family, friends, communities, cities, nature and the planet, humanity will begin healing for the collective good.  Each one of us is an integral and valuable part of this living, breathing web of life.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature,

one finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

~John Muir