What we really need from healthcare

Both streams of my career, yoga and writing, focus on health.  You could say both are designed to promote health in body.  But in actuality, my real interest is a change in consciousness.

When it comes to yoga, I think first of transformation.   Yes, yoga loosens up and strengthens our bodies, but it also changes our minds and spirits.  I love the way it changes my awareness, makes me feel more present, alive, and in tune with nature.  When it comes to writing, I sometimes write to promote wellness, but the real reason I write is to engage with the world, learn, and find greater connection.

I think health has to do with being open to change, to interacting with our environments and other beings.  I think it involves transformation.  We all know it isn’t easy to change a habit or to gain higher levels of fitness:  Doing those things usually requires a change of mind, a change in our way of being that translates into new ways of behaving.  So I experiment in my yoga practice to experience a different state of awareness and observe its effects.  And then I write about what I’m exploring and learning.

When I learned yesterday that the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of most of the Healthcare Reform Bill, I cried.  My reaction surprised me, but then I realized I’ve cared about health and wellbeing for most of my life, and I see changing our healthcare system as vital to our wellbeing as a country.  But I also know that a change in the laws and access to healthcare is not enough: to get to the most needed changes requires a change in mindset.  We must develop a different sense of ourselves and our own ability to find balance and health, with the help of good food and humble practitioners.  We must move from a mechanistic/materialistic view of the world to one of a living world in which we are intimately connected with the natural world and with each other, no matter our race or creed.  We must acknowledge the Gaia theory and the reality of our own true nature.  We must believe or die, know our connection or destroy ourselves.

I cried when I heard the news of the court ruling because I feel it is a first step toward addressing our healthcare system and the underpinnings of our insurance system, and I for one am desperate for such change.  For more access for more people, and for new conceptions of health and prevention.  But I also know that we as individuals must take more responsibility, that we need to think about our wellbeing and insist on a different model of health and healthcare.  If healthcare reform is enacted, more of us will have to think about what health means to us, how to foster it in ourselves, what kind of care seems most supportive and healing to us.  We will have to speak up to the insurance companies and governments to keep care affordable.

We need this first step to start dismantling a system that not only doesn’t serve many, but that waits for us to become deathly ill before it helps.  A system whose idea of prevention may not be enlightened, may even be destructive.  We need to wake up as individuals and communities and foster our health as individuals and groups.  Our conversation about health will address food, habits, addictions, exercise, economics, politics, environment, community, and environmental design.  Ultimately it will involve and engage our consciousness.

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