Working as a physician I came to believe that medicine was often insufficient to explain illness and people’s reactions to it. Hoping to gain a better understanding of people and their needs I came to think about health differently, graphically. Please visualize four overlapping spheres. The first symbolizes the body including its organs, its physical structures and its physiological processes that we can see and measure in medicine. This is the stuff we learn in medical school. The second sphere is the mind. This represents the internal world in which we each live, our knowledge, our attitudes, our beliefs, our feelings, and the tapestry of our personal thoughts. Much of the mind is a mystery to anyone except to the person whose experience it represents. It cannot be measured. Descarte called mind the “immaterial stuff”, others have called it the spirit or soul. The third sphere is the physical world including the earth, the weather, buildings, uneven side walks and mountains and all that surrounds us which is not living. The fourth sphere is Society including our loved ones, our friends, our acquaintances and colleagues, the strangers we pass on the street, all elements of the social infrastructure and indeed all living beings. Visualize these 4 spheres the body, the mind, the physical world, and Society as overlapping and at the center of that overlap all 4 elements synthesize and determine our consciousness, our health and our relationships to the physical and social environments. This center of 4 way overlap is referred to as the point of health environmental integration (HEI). One can achieve optimal health through optimizing HEI. This is done by optimizing health of the body, health of the mind, being in the most facilitating physical environment, and relating to others positively.
Through principles of HEI our well-being is dependent on metabolic balances in our body and mind. Status of the body influences status of the mind. Mind feeds back to influence status of the body. Our well-being is also dependent on qualities of the physical world and society. We control the man-made and natural worlds by what we choose to build, and destroy. The physical world we create or influence will effect or body and mind. How we treat each other and how we relate to and use other forms of life will shape self concept, how others treat to us, feelings of balance, stress and general well-being. I seek a positive state of HEI by optimally exercising and balancing my body and mind, by walking gently, attempting not to damage and taking little from the physical world, and by trying to support and cherish all people and other forms of life. I seek optimal HEI by attempting to live simply, with grace and with humility. I believe that we are each at the center of our own universe, but also a part of something much bigger and more important than ourselves.
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