Health and wellbeing are interesting words. We tend to throw them around assuming we are all meaning the same thing, but upon closer consideration it becomes clear that they are entirely dependent on the context of what that individual considers to be important. Some people think being healthy means to be able to do a lot of sports, run marathons, do exercises without becoming puffed, or maybe looking lean with toned muscles. Others will think it has to do with having a good diet and work life balance, or that you simply don’t go to the doctors often or ever. Get into more nuanced circles and they will have more specific ideas. The Movement Culture that I was once very heavily involved in, for example, places high value on being able to physically move in a myriad of different complex ways. If you talk to a Buddhist they might say that health and wellbeing is entirely about the clarity of the mind. There are probably countless more examples with slightly different emphasis depending on who you talk to in which circles. Typically they all have an undercurrent of “if I do that thing, I will feel better about and in myself”.
In Da Xuan we also have a specific view. Traditionally they would say it’s all about circulation – if everything in our being is perfectly circulating then we cannot be in disease. We include in this view the physical body, the breath/energy, and the mind/spirit.
In the physical body, it means that all the organic fluids are moving through all corners of the body, bringing in new and fresh (oxygen, blood, nutrients, hormones, whatever) and removing the old and stale. Physical tension stops this circulation from moving effectively and also prevents the mind from having clarity about what the body is doing. Essentially this means that we want to resolve all chronic tension in the body which involves addressing and resolving all the weak points. Practically speaking, when a body has this quality it is both strong and relaxed, coordinated and very grounded.
In the breathing and energetic realm it means that we have a full and complete exchange of air with the outside, and that there is a strong and clear feeling moving through all parts of the body which creates a strong general feeling of vitality – as if we have enough resources to confront all aspects of our lives.
In the mind it means that our thoughts are able to run their course without us getting stuck going over and over them. They simply appear, pass through our minds and then vanish again. When we aren’t stuck on our thoughts and belief structures, our mind is free to focus on the task at hand, whether that be listening to someone or focusing on a single task without distraction.
We also consider that each of these aspects is intricately linked, and to create balance we do not want to treat one as being more important than the other.
This view of health is obviously quite different from the others I mentioned and it brings an orientation which means things that are considered very healthy from another point of view are very unhealthy from this perspective, and also that things that we find very important other people won’t give a damn about. It’s not that one orientation is any more correct than another, plenty of people lead very full and long lives using all sorts of different orientations towards health. But the orientation will determine what you do with your time, so I think it’s worth clarifying which view you have and why you value that view, and whether or not the view is helping you to achieve what is important to you in your life.