The mystery of “health” is yet unresolved.
In India, the term “svAstha” is used to denote health. Now, svAstha simply means “established in oneself,” and we can safely say that health (or good health) is an integral aspect of being established in oneself. (What does it mean to “be established in oneself?” I wish I had a good answer.)
Does (good) health imply absence of disease? Or does it mean an ability to live and breathe fully, regardless of disease condition? Can health be tracked on multiple parameters? Or is it a state that defies all measurable parameters? Is there a universal definition of good health? Is good health same as immunity?
No two humans are alike, and it seems that there is not a universal prescription for good health, or for warding off disease. There are a zillion recommendations around diet and lifestyle and exercise, and there are as many individuals who appear to lead healthy lives WITHOUT following a single one of those recommendations. I know people who have survived cancer, undergone multiple surgeries, and live with chronic pain… but you wouldn’t know any of that from speaking with them—such is their zest for life. There are people who talk endlessly about health and fitness but there is such a defeated air about them that one wonders, what is the point? I know healthy individuals in their 80s, and it may be that their longevity owes itself to their disciplined lifestyle but then I also know others in the same age group who appear healthy because they have an inexhaustible, fearless appetite for life. I know young people who consume mindfully but live fearfully. There are individuals who take all manner of supplements and there are those who have never swallowed a multivitamin in their life. Really, what gives?
What is one to do? What recommendation can one follow?
Maybe what is essential for good health is a kind of “system integrity,” and I don’t know if there is an actual term for this.
A kind of honesty in how we live life, a sense of truthfulness to our own selves about our wishes and fears and desires, a simple clarity in expression, a habit of looking fear in the eye, a habit of living comfortably and side by side with fear, or grief, or regret, a willingness to see our internal tendency to push or pull, grab or shove or hide, to rush or dawdle, an intention to breathe fully through all life experiences.
Perhaps what one needs is sufficient love and faith in Life’s essential dynamism and intention to guide us in every way, including food, exercise, lifestyle, relationships, career, etc.
Indeed, the healthy ones are those that appear to be imbued with this inner love… love for? God, World, Life, whatever. Perhaps this is a complex phenomenon but maybe it is also simpler than the simplest, and so simple that this mind cannot comprehend.