How important are the blessings of ‘true health?’

An excerpt from Chapter VI – The Theory of Lightness: The Physical Facet – out of my book, A Glimpse of Heaven: The Philosophy of True Health…

“Contemporary empirical statistics substantiate a belief which is commonly held within the health and wellness arts that I teach and coach (and obvious on many levels): It is that a significant majority of people are chronically ‘out-of-shape’ throughout most of their lives. Additionally, in working with people on a regular basis, it is clear to me that a considerable majority of people go through their lives being much more muscularly tense than is necessary – not unlike a perpetual demeanor of isometric tensity. When one adds an unhealthful dietary way-of-life into this mix, it becomes, particularly in the long-term, significant unhealthful behavior manifesting as addiction to a highly problematic lifestyle – a culturally promoted, near-institutionalization of physical and emotional imbalance and weakness, and promoting of chronic disease.

Within the traditions herein, people relearn the arts of walking and/or jogging/running, and learn the arts of tai chi chuan and chi kung. These practices are all means by which the human body is meant to move – inclusive of movement congruent with hunting, gathering, and martial applications. I don’t teach yoga, albeit it offers significant benefits. These arts help promote a more healthful left side/right side balance, and a healthy homeostasis of the central nervous system. They abbreviate heaviness and stiffness, promoting lightness of the body, mind, and spirit, e.g., enhanced coordination, strength, relaxation, balance, flexibility. Many sport activities and forms of aerobic exercise, including dance (like tai chi chuan itself), can promote similar benefits.

Self-disciplined effort toward realization of greater mindfulness…learning to control stress and anxiety, and ‘ownership’ of a truly healthful practical and philosophical way-of-life, move one toward enjoyment of profound benefits. It is taking True Responsibility for one’s own health and wellbeing – which obviously necessitates a significant level of determination. Albeit, through this true effort one can realize, enjoy, a genuine ongoing sense of true happiness. It is the ‘journey,’ not just the ‘destination,’ which can become a substantive complement to one’s happiness when one develops a healthful way-of-life, not just a ‘quick fix.’

In these traditions, the practice of chi kung and tai chi chuan promote practical insight into the notion of learning to move as if one’s mind, and each of one’s body parts enjoy a deeply enhanced intrinsic connection – enhanced congruity through relaxation within movement: It is, as said earlier, “graceful, relaxed, fluid, connected.” It is moving meditation.

Nurturing this ability is not unlike a form of physical and mental therapy for preventing and treating stress. It can be greatly complemented by unblemished witnessing – learning to lighten, clear the mind of heavy internal dialogue (inclusive of pernicious cyclical thinking). Moving in this highly relaxed fashion and performing abdominal breathing in apropos timing with the movements greatly enhances the benefits of mobility and exercise. It is an important aspect of practical physical, emotional, and even spiritual lightness in being.

Abdominal/diaphragmatic breathing is a skill which is a most important part of these arts: As silly as it may sound, it is believed that most people do not know how to breathe. Therefore, it needs to be relearned as an art, not unlike relearning how to move, relearning how to walk (as mentioned earlier). It is believed that most people have incredibly taut diaphragm muscles, inhibiting the full utilization of their lung capacity. This lack of utility hinders the uptake of truly healthful, appropriate amounts of oxygen throughout the body, most particularly to the brain and extremities. Refined, deep breathing, after self-disciplined practice, becomes natural, and just like exercise, it additionally promotes a healthful flow of relaxing hormones – inclusive of enhancement of brain cell connectivity (considerably helpful in dealing with stressors such as anxiety, depression, etc.).

An additional significant aspect of the Theory of Lightness relates to the attainment of a healthful dietary way-of-life – as reflected in the ‘handed-down’ notion mentioned earlier herein: “our desire of food should not consume us and destroy our health.” In taking the point further, the notion of true health is inclusive of a healthful sense of ‘lightness’ congruent with the following point: One should eat light foods – healthful and low in calories, with a high nutrient density, versus heavy foods – unhealthful and high in calories, which have a low nutrient density. Light foods promote realization of lightness and health, and heavy foods promote realization of heaviness and poor health. Such analogy may seem quite simplistic, though it is quite profound in its practical outcome: The consumption of heavy food serves to consume us, so-to-speak, not unlike that of a slow poison.

When considering the concepts herein, many may believe that they are unreasonable, or that life would be ‘no fun’ if we took away the unhealthful ‘fun’ out of life. Many might believe that life is ‘too short’ and difficult as it is – and/or believe that these notions are unsubstantiated. To be clear, a great majority of the concepts set forth herein are empirically substantiated and not simply based on opinion. Even so, and as admitted earlier, it is obvious that substantial healthful changes do require intense ongoing true effort – incredible self-discipline – the development of refined skills which significantly enhance our quality of health, and hence, our quality of life. Though the development of such wherewithal is very difficult, is it possible that a genuinely healthful way-of-life may be worth the trouble – no matter the level of difficulty? Is it possible that the healthful benefits resulting from taking true responsibility for our own health and wellbeing could be like a glimpse of heaven – maybe even evolving into common glimpses? One may be doing oneself a terrible disservice if one ‘knocks it’ before one has truly tried. But please remember this: It will never work if you ever give up – and there is always room for improvement, greater mastery. These are among the rightful gifts and blessings of true health.” (Copyright 2011) — Dr. Glen Hepker

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What can we do when embracing healthful change is SO very difficult?

Glen, I feel that my health is not good because I don’t make a serious effort to work at it. I honestly believe what you say, i.e., that I have a choice to take true responsibility for my own health. I lack the drive to do so. I make resolutions, but seem unable to hold to it. Even so, I absolutely believe that I and most people have the ability to take the proverbial ‘bull by the horns’ and enjoy True Health. (Comments from a reader of my book and blog.)

Response: Please know that I understand…such circumstances can be SO quite difficult – to say the least, K. That said, the brightest of splendid blessings can be of such beautiful benefit, e.g., in congruence with our loving and selfless effort. There are magical things going on inside of us, and outside of us ALL of the time (not speaking of parlor tricks). We most often ignore them, or are untrained to ‘witness’ and take part in their splendor – in the genuinely healthful spirit of true appreciation of the miracle of the moment. Not succeeding in realizing healthful change is not weakness…it is just that we don’t often embrace our true strength.

The lessons which we learn when we (seemingly) fail, make these so-called failures (to be) NOT necessarily failures…if we are willing to delve deeply into these lessons. They are lessons which we need to learn. The key is to avoid getting permanently stuck on stagnant plateaus, which can eventually become like (and not in the spirit of sounding harsh) a living death.

Life CAN be lived in a loving and altruistic spirit of a ‘high art form.’ It CAN be appreciated as such – and it may be, if we are willing to embrace it as such: The greatest of blessings is that there is ALWAYS room for improvement…greater and greater life skills…less and less blemished insight. As you say, we have ALL of the tools we need! To reach a deep realization of this, we must learn to better and better embrace our comfort and discomfort equally. At best, this is in the selfless spirit of true honesty. Your staunch belief that most of us (inclusive of you yourself) have this ability, is the key to unlock the door to your so SPLENDID success…to greater and greater levels of mastery. True mastery is lovingly taking OWNERSHIP of the notion that there is ALWAYS room for greater and greater mastery/insight…and having a deep and abiding true appreciation of this truth…which is most difficult to explain in words: It is best witnessed and lived. Once again, life CAN be lived as a living loving art form.

K.: Wow. I believe I understand much better now, Glen. Something clicked deep within me, like a light coming on! Maybe this is one of those “spine-tingling moments” you speak of. Thanks so much!

Response: It is a TRULY privilege and pleasure, K. Please don’t hesitate to interact in the future. Brightest blessings – Glen

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What level of self-honesty is acceptable and/or healthful, & how does it reflect our honesty w/others?

An excerpt from – A Glimpse of Heaven: The Philosophy of True Health – Chapter XIV – “True Honesty”…

“Most of us have likely heard the saying that the world would be a better place when we ‘live each day as if it is to be our last.’ In the healthful philosophy set forth in this writing, this analogy is only true if we are most often a living example of the notion of ‘true appreciation of the miracle of each moment,’ versus ‘living for the moment.’ In the traditions set forth herein, this level of true honesty is requisite of one aspect of what is coined as the ‘accumulation of light’ – it is ‘parting the veil’…it is ‘opening the door’ to a higher and healthful purpose. It necessitates doing the right thing for the right sake, without the need for selfish recognition – and/or selfish and often hidden agendas. True honesty is a beautiful and genuinely healthful thing – it is absorbing of light…and the more skillful one becomes at it, the less light that is reflected. It is healthful energy which nourishes, strengthens, protects, and elevates us. Dishonesty is dark and heavy…it separates us from each other – true honesty leaves us without the need to hide behind any wall that separates us from others. It is a living lightness of being – a level of honesty which allows us to connect-the-healthful-dots toward deep and abiding true insight and clarity, e.g., coined herein as ‘pattern literacy.’

The manifest dynamics of self-honesty (and hence, honesty with others) may be one of the most complicated riddles of all – and the true effort it requires to insure that one will be able to look back over one’s life and enjoy “a sense of healthful and loving unselfish honor and delight,” is to say the VERY LEAST, very, very difficult. Life is, in any circumstance, never easy – often seemingly untenable. Be it as it may, the more we truly become honest with ourselves, and of course with others, the more and more that life truly becomes easier. Please ask yourself, what would this really mean? What if it really is true? Is such a level of true happiness worth the effort? As stated in an earlier chapter, “nothing is worth anything unless we keep trying…and trying…and trying.”

Most, if not all of the religions of the world have pointed out the importance of honesty. They have not done so haphazardly – they have made it pretty clear. Albeit, there is at least a vague difference with the philosophy of true health: Therein, the primary point is that one’s quality of health and wellness is succinctly reflected in one’s level of true honesty. It means that a significant portion of our emotional, physical, and spiritual difficulty and/or illness is rooted in our dishonesty with ourselves and others. This outlook sets forth that dishonesty propagates unhealthful walls which are blockages that encumber insight into our internal environment – and in and of our external environment, e.g., between ourselves and others. To put it quite blatantly, dishonesty is not unlike a disease – in fact, it is a disease. Dishonesty puts weight on our shoulders that can break us, or all-but-break-us. It often makes us want to keep busy (always seeking new and interesting ways to stay entertained) – running away from ourselves, from the horror we fear within…the wall(s) of lies – built with self-deceit and/or lack of objective insight.” – Dr. Glen Hepker (Copyright 2011)

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Are we all much more in the same common ‘boat’ than we so often think and act?

An excerpt from Chapter III/”The Same Boat Theory” – of a Glimpse of Heaven: The Philosophy of True Health…

“The Same Boat Theory is another central feature of the Bright School of Thought. In some ways it is similar to the Golden Rule of Christianity, e.g., “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Even so, the former is traditionally associated with notions pertinent to health and wellness (inclusive of emotional, physical, and spiritual facets thereof). The key thesis of the ‘same boat theory’ asserts that…the primary fault of humankind is the notion that you are there and I am here; it will likely be obvious to most, that many if not all of the problems of humankind are rooted in thinking which is not displaying of an awareness of any such philosophy. That is the true health issue within this healthful ‘way-of-life’ philosophy: Our healthful motivation or unhealthful lack of motivation to interact with others in a fashion congruent with the notion that we ARE all in the same boat is a gauge of the quality of our health and wellness status – emotionally, physically, and spiritually (and as per these traditions, there really is no true or clear separation of these three measures).

According to this theory, each of us inwardly suffers emotionally and spiritually from wars and famines which are reflected to and from the greater world. A significant portion of this suffering is rooted in our most significant/common human flaw, e.g., the faulty notion that you are there and I am here. In this theory, this learned disconnection is not unlike, unto itself, a malady/illness.

In the first chapter I focused on one facet of the Bright School notion of ‘true responsibility’ – the displaying of dignity, decency, goodness, and grace in our interaction with others (as a measure of true health). The same boat theory goes a step further: It relates that the only way which humankind will ever elevate itself to a higher level of true health, is when at least an initial slight majority is raised to do the right thing for the right sake, e.g., Acting Without Acting (as portrayed in the preceding chapter). The theory of ‘acting without acting’ sets forth the notion that all good acts are just that – a good thing. Albeit, a measure of true health is the ability to do so without the need for selfish recognition – an intrinsic element in the following notion: It is much more difficult to feel a need for ‘selfish recognition’ if one is endeavoring to realize practical application of the true health ideal that ‘we are all in the same boat’ – as the analogy conveys.

It is evident that the practical application of the philosophy herein in one’s daily life is not a simple matter. Albeit, the issue is not that we perfect such practices (as the sayings go, ‘there is nothing perfect on this Earth,’ and ‘there is always room for improvement’). The issue is that we try – that we try not to rock the boat in a fashion which jeopardizes wellbeing. Such effort is a vital key to true health, and it may be said, that at its best, this is what life is about.

*The notions of acting without acting and the same boat theory pose a strong fellowship with the budding contemporary movement of social entrepreneurship (social enterprise and risk literacy), albeit more obviously on a micro scale. Even so, the micro level has a profound, if not greater effect on the macro level – likely not the other way around. Without individuals willing to embrace healthful change, then large movements manifest stagnicity. Healthful change must go in both directions – yin begets yang, and yang yin.” — Dr. Glen Hepker

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