By Saleh Majaj
The many factors that influence our health are known in the medical field as determinants of health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines them as the numerous factors that combined affect the health of individuals and communities, listing genetics, the environment, and elements of life circumstances such as education, friendships, and income level as examples. Can these factors be reduced to a few in the hope that this will help us manage them?
Over the past couple of centuries, many healers have provided humanity with effective and safe tools to enhance health. One of my favorite healers is Dr. M. T. Morter Jr., who over 45 years ago developed the Bio-Energetic Synchronization Technique (B.E.S.T.), a gentle technique that helps remove mental and emotional interferences. In addition to his in-clinic approach, Dr. Morter, a master at simplification, reduced the factors that influence our health (and are under our control) to six essentials: what you eat, what you drink, how you exercise, how you rest, what you breathe, and what you think. The choices we make in these six essential areas are among the factors that determine the state of our health.
While Dr. Morter explained the details of all six essentials, he placed particular emphasis on “what you think.” Modern civilization puts a significant focus on our thinking. We use it productively, especially in our professions, and to solve life problems. During most of the day, our minds work constantly as our thoughts are running unchecked – and frequently with no discrimination as to what enters our mind and into what direction our thinking process drifts. Notably, we tend not to filter negative moods, attitudes, thoughts, or feelings while our bodies are continually reacting to the contents of our minds, both positive and negative.
Given the way our environment has evolved, with the exploding effects of industrialization and transportation, I would like to add a few factors that are increasingly coming to bear on our health: chemical agents (hundreds of thousands of artificially fabricated chemical compounds), microbial elements (old and new pathogens), and electromagnetic and radiation toxicity (including radio, television, cellular, WiFi, microwave, satellite, and all other frequencies that fill our atmosphere, besides spills from nuclear reactors). With all these influences to consider, all of a sudden, maintaining health becomes an increasingly challenging project.
The situation in Palestine does not seem to differ from that of any other part of the world that has embraced the new paradigm of modern city living (notwithstanding the liberal amounts of olive oil and other healthy goodies we consume). Despite all the scientific and medical advancements humanity has made, disease, especially chronic disease, is on the rise. To our shock and dismay, it is starting to show up at earlier ages than previously encountered. Our poor lifestyle choices will eventually translate into the quality of the genes we transmit to our progeny, and unfortunately, they will be biologically less resilient.
What can be recommended? While limited space and time do not allow me to address lifestyle choices and approaches to better health adequately in this article, a few recommendations regarding the six essentials can be made:
Note what is happening: Live your daily life with awareness, stay vigilant, notice what is going on around and within you and how it affects you, and record it with the intention to make changes.
MOVE: I sometimes see people in my clinic who say, “I have heard about you some years ago and wanted to come, but I never got around to it.” Well, better late than never, but definitely better early than late. Don’t sit long on your observations but act on what you noticed requires your attention. Make a move! Make it as soon as the thought enters your awareness, and make it in the right direction. Be ready to do something different from what you have been doing because frequently, that is what it takes.
Assume responsibility for your health: On average, in our mid-to-late-thirties, sometimes the early forties, our store of built-in health starts to wane, lifestyle factors weigh in, and symptoms of disease begin to appear. We head to the doctors and expect them to assume responsibility for our illness and make it disappear. But when the factors that contribute to our illness are partially attributed to lifestyle, we cannot possibly expect the doctors to assume that responsibility. Take that responsibility! Seek help, consult as many people as required and available to truly understand what is involved, consolidate the collected information, make your plan, and own it. The more you quietly immerse yourself in your condition, without panic or fear, the more our intuition becomes available to us, helping us with insights regarding our condition and telling us what we should seek.
Plan for the long term: As university students in medical school, we were told to estimate that, as a rule of thumb, it takes one month of vigilant health-seeking for every year of illness. While in practice this rule-of-thumb has proven too crude, it gives an idea of the long-term horizon of our approach to getting better. Hopefully, our newly discovered health practices will be adopted for life.
Note what is happening, move, assume responsibility for your health, plan for the long term, take baby steps in the direction of your aim, and do not forget the importance of proper rest.
Take baby steps in the direction of your aim: The plan that guides our road to recovery can only be implemented through small steps in the direction we have set out for ourselves. Take each small step, pause, evaluate, repeat.
A note on rest: Often, we want to get better while we are on the go-go-go. But our body, mind, and feelings heal while at rest; it is physiologically impossible to truly get better while carrying on with our daily lives in overdrive mode. Pursue those states that enhance tranquility; tranquility is where all the answers reside. Seek nature as often as possible to find rest and rejuvenation; this is where our healing is truly enhanced.