Monday, December 7, 2009

The World's Greatest Concern (what should be)

As a collective planet, our greatest concern should be our children.

Confusion from the Traffic Jam on the Super-Highway of Information

From parents to extended family to school administrators and teachers, everyone needs to be a living example for the next generation's healthy habits. As type II diabetes, obesity, and other diseases that used to be unheard of in children continue to soar, it is obvious that our examples are creating destructive behaviours and habits in our children.

However, if you are not a health care professional who specializes in health, wellness, injury prevention or other medicine, setting a good example first requires being able to wade through the plethora of information in magazines, books, on television, and the Internet as to what is the "best path" to living well. Even well educated and well read adults can get glassy eyes just trying to discern "the best path" for living.

If adults are confused about what plan, book, fitness or nutrition expert, therapist or doctor to listen to, then how can we teach our children about healthy living? Billions of dollars are made by those "experts" trying to spell out the best path for ideal health in their latest book or blog.

The Solution Exists - Ancient Wisdom, New You

I believe the definition of healthy living has always been there, remains unchanged, and is clear enough for a child to understand. The definitions are contained in ancient texts, all of which resonate with a similar message..."treat the body as the temple it is."

We should treat our body with special care. Daily maintenance, just as we would maintain our own households, is required. How can we expect our household or car to run if we do not regularly maintain it? Yet, many live their lives without maintaining their bodies and minds - and then worse yet - they are somehow surprised when adversity or illness leaves them on their knees and unable to cope. Such a small daily investment in our spirits and bodies will give us so much in return!

I believe in a message of simplicity. Being healthy does not have to be difficult or gimmicky. It does not require anyone to buy anything "special" or even spend a lot of money - as is evidenced by the effect this plethora of information has had on our glassy eyed nation.

Our children's' health & well being, despite what many self help books and products fail to recognize (or reveal), does not only encompass the physical. In order to teach our children what health is, we must show them - at home and in our schools - that true health should address social, emotional, psychological, energetic, and spiritual health - not just physical health.

Yoga does not own the market on "holistic treatment"

As a physical therapist and athletic trainer, I am the most practically suited person to focus and manage one's physical health and fitness; however before I had even completed my western medical education, I knew that the answers to "health" could not be contained in the physical realm alone.

Likewise, as a longtime student and teacher of yoga and yoga therapy, I make sure my students know that yoga does not contain the exclusive Truth to holistic health. In yoga and yoga therapy, holistic treatment starts with the "koshas" or sheaths.

However, my undergraduate exercise science and movement professor, long ago, did not know a thing about the "koshas" or yoga - and yet he fully understood (and taught his students) quite well that true health required looking past the physical. I have that professor, Dr. Bennett, to thank. He called his recognition of full health the "pentagon of wellness," I use the "pentagon" in my teachings and wellness prescription to this day.

The "pentagon of wellness" creates a balanced body and spirit. How beautiful to teach our children about the simplicity of being healthy - eating foods as close to the farm and field as possible, practicing the golden rule or karma, cultivating compassion through service, spending time improving and nurturing the Self, all in a way that is kind to the planet and people that God has created and given to us.

My Personal Lesson(s)

I gave birth to my first son in 2005, laboring from Christmas day until 2 days later. He was born a miracle, without drugs, fully alert, after 10 years of struggling. When I emerged from those ashes and met and married his father, before I knew my son would even exist, I was already determined to show my future child the beauty in the world ~ to teach him to take care of the gifts he was and is given.

Through those long struggles I had learned to stop asking "why me" and instead ask "what can I learn and how can I be better" from having struggled. Those struggles could have left me without hope and with much bitterness from comparing myself to others and all they had (and what I did not). However, I believed, deep down inside, what Paulo Coelho wrote in his book, The Alchemist, "that the universe would conspire" to help me realize my dream, my passion, my true place, in life.

Find it I did, and the dream was better than any I could have imagined. And, by no strength of my own did I find it. Through that, my mind, body, and spirit healed, I continue to help those patients and students who are suffering. But now also, I have been given a son to pass on the best of what I will teach him - a message to serve others without serving the self.

As a result of my struggles, and in the most positive way possible, I feel 103 already. I have seen and felt so much - that I will not let another day in my life pass without making sure I have truly Lived.

What You Can Do

More than ever, we must empower others. We can do that by using our adversities to support and build others up who have struggled through similar adversity.

Show others they too can overcome...they can be healthy despite their circumstances...that the multitude of information out there can be distilled to a clear message...

Only then, can we pass on that message of living by example to our children. We endure suffering I believe, for the purpose of living through and thriving from it - in order to help others who are suffering under similar circumstances.

Most people believe that the more you know, the more you realize you don't know and the more complicated your realize life is. I believe, the closer you get to God, or to realizing that a Greater Good exists and we all should be striving to work for it - the more simple you can become.

"Things you used to have", as Patty Griffin sings, "you do not care about anymore". Simplicity and gratitude in our daily lives for what we have, can allow Americans to clearly see and clearly teach our next generation to do the same. We can be better, and it is not so difficult as we think.

As a collective planet, what our greatest concern should be, is our children.

(written by Ginger on December 23, 2006; revised December 7, 2009)
*early yoga session with my 19 mo. old son, a few weeks before giving birth to my second son

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