By Ian Wallace
EXERCISE, DIET, AND MEDITATION:
THE HOLISTIC APPROACH TO HEALTH AND FITNESS
The holistic approach to health is multidimensional. It assumes that there is a complex connection between mind, body, and spirit. Advocates of “whole” health are concerned with enhancement of personal health and the prevention of illness before it can take hold. Yet when healing is needed, there are a wide range of therapies to consider, such as a combination of conventional and non-conventional medical treatments, or an altogether different healing tradition.
Each person has the potential of balance. The stress in our lives, years of poor nutrition, the lack of quiet time takes a toll on our well being. This balance is obtained by understanding your own personal “Energy”. Your energy is made up of your body, mind, and essential energy or spirit. The three work together in harmony to bring happiness, peace, and ultimately, balance. However, if one of these three is out of sync, the entire person suffers. Holistic fitness is a journey to find your balance.
From the perspective of holistic health, fitness requires regular physical exercise, healthy, peaceful eating, good mental health, positive social-emotional experiences, and attention to our spiritual needs. When we are “fit”, our body, mind, and spirit are in tune with one another.
Because it seems so simple, so straightforward, we have a tendency to overlook the amazing power of physical exercise in the overall formula for health and holistic fitness. A large body of research shows that physical activity has a profound influence on our health. There are many positive correlations between our level of activity and the health of our body and our mind. Physical activity is proven to increase bone density and decrease of the symptoms of arthritis, to lower risk of developing diabetes and several forms of cancer. It enhances cardio respiratory health and helps keep at bay depression and the onset of cognitive decline associated with aging.
It is imperative to include physical exercise in our quest for holistic fitness. We need to work on our physical fitness as part of our everyday program of health maintenance. Always begin with a low level of exercise and increase over time as your strength and endurance allows. Flowing, stretching and meditative styles of exercise such as Yoga and Tai Chi are most beneficial to our overall sense of wellness and long term health. But regular cardio such as bicycling, brisk walking,swimming or hiking is needed for cardio vascular, energy and bone health.
To maintain good health and to support the efficient functioning of your body systems, you need to make conscious food choices. Healthy “whole” foods will help keep your weight within acceptable limits and enhance the positive effects of exercise. Healthy nutrition is an essential component of holistic fitness. “You are what you eat”. Cruelty free (animal free) food awakes your ability to be compassionate, “whole” foods restore your body’s natural functions, healthy foods give you the clean fuel you need to live your potential.
Last, you must set aside some quiet, meditative time.
Start with 15 minutes each day. Lay on the floor on a mat or quilt in a comfortable position, your arms along your body, palms up, your mouth soft and breathe consciously in and out of your abdomen. Close your eyes, focus your mind on a peaceful image. Empty your mind and let your breath reach out into every inch of your body . This peaceful time is the glue that holds it all together.
Holistic fitness is a synergetic path to wellness that considers equally the essential components to make up a whole person , a healthy person that is physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually well.