by Don Ingwerson
It seems to me that people’s attitudes are changing as they become more conscious of the need for health goals to be achieved through interrelationships and world connectedness. People are finding that personal health goals like losing weight, eating better, exercising, and quitting smoking, while very important to the individual, also need to be considered in the context of world health issues.
For example, if an individual quits smoking, those who had been breathing second hand smoke are now benefited by that individual’s choice. This example shows how an individual and the members of society are interrelated. Improving these relationships improves the climate of health. The shift from experiencing health from the view of the world serving an individual’s needs to viewing the individual as being in service to the world requires a willingness to go beyond self-interest.
There is also a potential for spiritual resources to be used in promoting world health. Recent studies have shown that health includes a spiritual aspect. Development of a spiritual component to community health may be the key to reverse the downward trends in world health conditions. Elliot Dacher, M.D., author of Integral Health, intended to present a comprehensive model of health and healing in his book, but found that integral health and healing was in psychospiritual development – the awakening and development of consciousness.
Many find this consciousness, or spiritual approach, benefits the whole person – both mind and body. Maybe Dacher said it best when he stated “As I could slowly see the glimmer of the gem of human flourishing I knew it was possible for everyone. And I also knew it was time to come home to my own culture and do what I could to help others see the truth, goodness, and beauty of life, much as I had been helped to see it for myself. I knew it was time to practice medicine again, but this time, an inner and outer whole medicine.”
The importance of resisting the temptation to isolate yourself from the effects of the world or the influence of your community is best described in Sri Aurobindo’s observations found in his work, Integral Healing: “The mind/body/community relationship is like the relationship of water and wetness. You cannot put water on one side of the room and wetness on the other side”
As more people put the larger world ahead of self, a different world consciousness will emerge.
There is a revolution going on right now that changes the approach to health and healing. It involves including a new concept of oneness among mind/body and the individual and his relationship with those in his world. What’s really exciting is that more people are realizing that health is not just the domain of matter or materiality – but instead is a unity of all the elements that affect one another.
The link between man’s unity with his fellow man and his whole being – spirit-mind-body is not a new concept. It is recorded in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, when Jesus and others routinely demonstrated a revolutionary “new” approach to well being to counteract the health concerns of the times. Interestingly, the teaching included everyone, not just those who followed him, pointing to the current trend to see our inter-connectedness.
Is it possible that the development and use of spirituality to obtain individual and community health goals will build on the evolving ideas shared by Dacher and Aurobindo? Maybe they will be found to share the same core values leading to healthier individuals and societies.