I often notice that people take interest in their health out of fear. Time and time again I see people who are suddenly (or not so suddenly) overcome by the need to “take care of themselves”– perhaps because they don’t have health insurance, or find themselves with high blood pressure or high cholesterol; perhaps because they wish to strike preemptively against the heart disease, alcoholism or breast cancer that runs in their family. Many of these people would in fact do well to take care of themselves, and their health may very well depend on it. However, these individuals will heal not only because of specific diet changes, or the addition of healthful herbs, but because of new relationships to their own self-care and an embraced sense of empowerment. One of the first steps toward this type of change is to embody a life-giving, positive, nurturing attitude toward ourselves and the world. No amount of vitamins, minerals or green leafy vegetables can nourish or heal the person who lives in a state of negativity, fear, frustration or anger. When we move away from fear-based ideas about our health — ideas of “right” and “wrong,” “should” and “shouldn’t” — we can see that health is not black and white. We can see that, actually, health is quite complex, part of a vast web of relationships to self, lifestyle, family, community and the patterns of the earth. This process can prove a challenging one, so amidst the challenges it is important to hold compassion for ourselves and for our process of change and self-growth.
Health, and what makes us healthy, is as diverse as our preferences in art, film or music. It sometimes feels easy to forget that being healthy is just that: a state of being, a subjective and personal state for each of us. With this recognition comes the awareness that what is healthy for us will be healthy and healing for us in every aspect of our lives, and that those same acts of nourishment will build not only our health, but the health of our communities and the health of the earth. Health is an embedded process, and to be healthy requires a connection — for many a re-connection — with our own bodies’ processes, and with natural processes outside of us. I believe that we all possess the inherent wisdom to heal ourselves by getting to know our own rhythms, embedded as they are in the larger picture of our lives and the patterns of the earth.
People are taught to disconnect from their bodies in our culture, and to latch onto the prescribed wisdom of people they think know better than them — authority figures of all kinds. As an herbalist and healer I see myself empowering rather than ordering the people I see, because I want to help people cultivate their own skills and connect with their own intuitive wisdom. This view of health operates outside the paradigm of right answers and of “cures.” Trusting this process requires a shift away from a scientific and objective idea of health, and toward viewing health as a subjective process. Working together, we recognize that health can look many different ways; that a person’s healing path is unique, and their desire to heal, be well and live in balance with their body is their most powerful, important medicine.