The Six Pillars of Health

Updated: Jun 5, 2018



A healthy life includes avoiding excessive stress, living naturally, quality of sleep, proper nutrition, avoiding inflammatory foods and understanding the relationship between our emotions and internal and external health and beauty.


1. Sleep


Deep sleep is important for your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It's a process of renewal that helps clean and detox the blood system, regenerate body cells and repair tissues. Lack of deep sleep over time can lead to obesity or diabetes.


2. Meditation & Stress Management


Meditation, backed up by several studies, is a powerful tool for spiritual growth and well-being. Learning to meditate not only helps to calm the mind and nervous system but it increases the brain's grey matter, improves memory and concentration, supports cardiac health, and reduces menstrual disorders.


In some studies, meditation has helped reduce medication and eliminate depression, allergies, asthma and other ailments. During meditation practice, we develop awareness of breath and mental space to help manage stress and bring a sense of peace.


3. Movement


Exercise is key for mental and physical health. Physical exercise works more nerve cells on the brain than any other activity. The reason we have a brain, is to move. You don't have to do vigorous exercise. A simple walk every day, going up and down the stairs, or taking 10,000 steps daily, is enough to provide significant health benefits.


Yoga is a good exercise for all ages and body constitutions. A consistent yoga practice, along with breathing techniques, increases metabolism and bone density, improves joint health and flexibility, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves overall health. A consistent practice of the proper yoga poses for your mental and physical constitution, can provide you with many health benefits now and in the future, including a strong sense of well-being.


4. Emotions


Studies show that negative emotions like fear, anger, resentment, envy, hostility, grievances, guilt and depression, cause inflammation in the body which leads to physical and mental imbalances and disease. Experiencing feelings of gratitude, joy, love, compassion and equanimity, improves physical, mental and emotional health as it allows the body to increase homeostasis or self-regulation: a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements as maintained by physiological processes.


In the Vedanta tradition, there's the concept of Kleshas (Sanskrit for "human suffering") - the five sources of existential suffering:


1. Not knowing the true nature of reality

2. Grasping or clinging

3. Fear of impermanence

4. Identification with a false, constircted and habitual self (Ego)

5. Fear of death


Understanding these Kleshas will allow us to manage our emotions in a healthy way creating more balance and health.


Similarly, in the Buddhist philosophy, The Four Noble Truths provided by the Buddha after he reached enlightenment, explain the sources of existential suffering:


First Noble Truth: to live means to suffer. Human beings are not perfect thus the world they inhabit is also imperfect.

Second Noble Truth: the origin of suffering is attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion). You don't have to deny desire; the problem arises when you don't know where to put an end to your desires.

Third Noble Truth: the cessation of suffering is possible. Liberation from attachment and sorrow frees the mind of all troubles and worries.

Fourth Noble Truth: the path to the cessation of suffering. The attainment of liberation (called "Nirvana" in Sanskrit/Hindu religions, "Satori" in Japanese/Zen/Buddhist philosophies and "Salvation" in Christianity) can be achieved by leading a balanced life through the Eightfold Path - a gradual path of self-improvement.


5. Nutrition & Nourishment


Eat organic, plant-based, nutritious food that is nourishing to the body. Avoid processed food and refined sugar. Industrial food production is pumped with estrogen, steroids, antibiotics and petroleum products like pesticides- the main sources of inflammation and disease.


Processed food has been around for only a few decades but it is posing a real threat to human civilization. Try to avoid any food that comes from a fabric and is not directly connected to the earth. You cannot change the genes that you inherit, but just by changing your diet, you can change the way your genes react. This is the mighty power that food has on you.


6. Biological Rhythms & Grounding


Also part of Ayurveda, biological rhythms like circadian, lunar, gravitational, seasonal and tidal rhythms, are important in programming your body and influencing how you feel.


Grounding theory, an area of recent attention and research, believes that when people walk barefoot on the beach or on grass, they feel better because it brings negative ions from the earth into our body and neutralizes excess free radicals.


References:

- Chopra, Deepak M.D. & Snyder, Kimberly (2018). Radical Beauty.

- Chopra, Deepack M.D. (2018). The Healing Self.

- Sadhguru (2018). Isha.

- HH Dalai Lama (2000). A Simple Path - an explanation of The Four Noble Truths as the foundation of the Buddhist teaching. 


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