Choose your community wisely.

Continuing our theme of enriching the soil for life long good health, in this post I will talk about the importance of our community in which we live. I will use the word ‘community’ in a wider sense than the usual meaning; it will also include sense of connectedness and formation of social networks with other individuals in that community. So this includes all of our relationships with each other, including family, friends,work colleagues, acquaintances and strangers; as well as the relationships with the broader world, to the universe and the  community in which we live. I am using this wider sense because we are social beings, and we as individuals can only flourish in a good, wholesome, fertile Eco-system.

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Eco system that promotes stress will cause ill-health. Studies show living in communities that are stressful and cause unhappiness contribute to ill-health and in communities where there is happiness and contentment are health promoting.

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Our Eco-system starts with our families and on that we may not have a choice. If possible we would want to experience in our family a wide range of emotions without fear of harsh judgement and with over all feeling of  happiness, feeling of being safe and supported;  and also having a sense of  unconditional love. In this kind of environment we produce less toxic hormone in our bodies. We are able to learn from our mistakes and grow. We can explore and can afford to be adventurous. Of course the opposite is true when our family environment is not supportive but is  judgmental and so resulting in us shutting down, unable to share our emotional life. The first situation as you can imagine is ‘life giving’ and the second situation is ‘stifling and life draining.’

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Friendship can be mutually beneficial in different ways. The best friendship, according to Aristotle  is that in which both individuals are equally virtuous and never do any harm to each other, to do so would be against their nature; and they have mutual love for each other. Lesser friendships are where there is limited mutual benefit through the association.

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The further away we move from our association with family and friends, to work associates, acquaintances and strangers our reasons for association become more limited but these associations still can have significant impact on us depending on whether the relationship is stressful or not.

The sense of the relationship to our neighborhood should be where its safe to be there without coming to harm from individuals, noise and pollution.

We also want to have the sense that we are not poisoning our planet and we want to leave behind a healthy planet for our children and many future generations.

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Obviously we don’t have complete control to organize our community around us so that it allows us to flourish. We never the less need to align ourselves so that it causes minimal harm to our person-hood  This requires deep thought on what we value, practical wisdom and great courage to make a change. In the end, the change that results in less stress and more contentment will be healthy one indeed.

Eating The Right Foods- Part 1.

Hypocrites said,  “Food is Medicine.”

In ayurvedic medicine there is proverb that says, “ With the right food medicine is of no use and with the wrong food medicine is of no use.”

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There is still truth in this ancient wisdom and science is confirming the same.

Studies comparing Rural Chinese diet with USA diet shows what we eat matters if we want to avoid ill health. In the USA it was noted that the fat intake was twice as much, fiber intake was three times lower and animal protein (beef, pork, lamb) was ninety percent higher when compared with the Rural Chinese diet. In the USA the heart diseases was 16 times higher in men, five times higher in women and higher Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Cancer and Hypertension when compared with Rural Chinese. These differences in the diseases were attributed to the difference in the food people eat in the two countries.

Scientists are now also discovering how these foods affect and change our physiology when we eat them. High fat meal for example can impair the blood flow to the heart muscle for up to six hours, in addition to the long term narrowing of the blood vessels. Its is not uncommon that if someone has a poor blood supply to the heart muscle they will get heart pain or a heart attack after a high fat meal; because the fat doesn’t allow the blood vessels to dilate up to six hours.

Red meat and cured meats are linked to colon cancer according to one study completed in 2010. Other evidence comparing indigenous Africans with USA Africans shows that African living in Africa who eat very high fiber diet have 1 in 100 000, where as USA Africans the cancer rate is much higher, 1 in 2000. This is linked to having higher red and cured meats; and low fiber in the USA diet.

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Another study in 2010 showed women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and were on high red and cured meat diet had poor clinical outcome compared with those who were on low red meat diet.

There is also some evidence linking obesity to having more cancer. The obesity is related to eating too many simple carbohydrates and sugars in the North American diet.

The good news is that there are foods that keep us healthy. Study done on people who already had coronary artery heart disease and who were put on Mediterranean diet for five years showed seventy percent reductions in cardiovascular events, eighty percent reduced spread of cancers and people developing cancer later in life was also reduced. The Mediterranean diet consists of more beans, veggies and lentils. To use canola oil or olive oil, eliminate saturated fats from beef, pork, and lamb and also eliminate butter and cream.

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Other research confirms the above findings and healthy eating is never too late to start. Another study shows benefits in older people, from age seventy to ninety year olds who were told to follow Mediterranean diet and walk one to one and half miles a day; there was fifty percent reduction in cardiac events and mortality.

Science is discovering what is in the Mediterranean diet that makes it so good for us to eat. It has to do with the right fats, right carbohydrates and the right micronutrients. We will look at these in more details in the future post.

Resources:

In Defence of Food – by Michael Pollan

The Science of Natural Healing – by Dr Mimi Guarneri

Sense of Self (Me) and We.

If one decide to become part of “we” it doesn’t mean they should lose sense of “me” ; if “me” does gets lost there is a serious problem knowing and developing the sense of self.

In relationships we share patterns of energy with one another which pass through our neural circuits, these patterns of energy carry meaning and information. If this energy and information is not transmitted properly there are serious consequences for knowing the self and being part of the we.

For example, if  the past experience of relationship connections were unreliable, it will prevent us from knowing ourselves and will cause difficulty relating to others as “we.” So as not to risk being hurt again by similar experiences to the past ones, we will shut parts of ourselves off . This may result in us living life of isolation and creating sense of independence which will allow us to survive but it will limit our sense of vitality that we are able to feel as part of we. We may also find that our sense of self to be in an overwhelming upheaval if our experience of past connections with those we depended for comfort  were inconsistent, un-welcomed and intrusive. In this situation we may find ourselves with disabling doubt , anxiety and fear when ever we allow ourselves to become dependent on our loved one for support, caring  and well-being. We may continue to look for a perfect partner but never finding one. We may become highly reactive to ambiguous communication that may fill our daily lives with dread and uncertainty. These experiences prevent us from growing and knowing ourself as a person; they keeps us from being “me.” They also constrain our present experiences and limits us from constructing more helpful future. We have to grow beyond these past memory patterns and move towards integrated state of thriving as both a strong “me” and a vitalizing “we.”

Daniel J. Siegel in his book Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology mentions studies of empathy and reports…

…” individuals who are shown a photograph of a gruesome accident can be overwhelmed in their response and shut down their capacity to help if they ask the question: What if that were me? How would I feel? Instead , if they ask the question, ” How does that person feel?” they are more likely to have the internal resources to extend themselves and help other. The gist of these finding is that if we fuse together you and me, “I” will become lost and overwhelmed. We will become confused, fused – with. Joining is not the same as fusion.”

Various mindful awareness practices are direct way to increase the capacity to become a part of a we without becoming lost as me. ( in the future posts I will say more about these practices.)

Resources

Daniel J. Siegel :  Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology

Interchange Blog

Interchange Blog

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