Author: CAIT BROOKE
In the thick of the cannabis community, we talk a lot about natural medicine and healing. This is obvious, as the core of our passions lies in a natural plant. Although wonderous in its properties and abilities, cannabis is not the cure-all for happy living however, and many other natural systems exist that contribute to our overall wellness on a daily basis.
The Seven Pillars of Health are an ancient Chinese medicine practice that realized we had more control over our daily health than many of us knew. Examining seven key natural areas of our life and ensuring our needs were met in each of these areas, became an important assessment when working with new patients. It seemed that whatever problem was manifesting, whether in physical body, or in emotional state, was stemming from an imbalance in one or more of the seven key areas of wellbeing (aka pillars of health).
I was drawn to the universal truth of each pillar, recognizing it to be something essential to healthy living and being able to experience the best quality of life while present here on little ole Earth. If you are feeling out of whack, in a funk, downright no good, try examining and reflecting how each one of these pillars is present in your life and if one or more is lacking or too abundant. Here is my synopsis and breakdown of each one! (including an honorary addition!)
This seems an obvious place to start, it is no question that we need food in order to fuel our bodily machines and sustain ourselves as animals. However, in order to be in check with this pillar of health more questions need to be asked other than, ‘have I eaten today?’ In the era of wellness that I like to think we are in, a lot more attention is on just what kind of food we are fueling our body with. Which is the most beneficial for such and such desired outcome? The answers stream in endless supply, from paleo to high carb diets, and vegan to, high meat protein diets. All seem to have found the secret formula for the body to run at an optimized level. Although the jury is still out as to which of these numerous nutrition recommendations is the best, the judge (I am the judge) has decided that the first step is just being mindful of what we put into our bodies and how these foods make us feel.
Another obvious necessity to surviving, water is an essential part in creating a happy homeostasis within us. As inhabitants of the desert life here in Las Vegas, we know this better than most, with air so dry and hot it’s easy to feel like Spongebob in Sandy’s Squirrel-Hut without a helmet on if we don’t get our appropriate amount of watttteerrrrrr. I know I am still guilty of wanting to gulp back a sugary juice or fizzy soda when instead I could be refreshing and cleansing my body with good ole fashion H2O. I enlist different drinking games to remember to drink water throughout the day, like taking a drink every time I see a political post. (super effective) There are even apps you can download to help track your water in-take to make sure you are consuming what your body needs, so drink up Water Beings!
If you aren’t breathing, that’s a good sign something may be wrong. If you are breathing and something is still wrong, maybe dive further into how breath plays a role in your life. I donated plasma a few times in college and before I was able to give each time they administered the routine test of checking my heartrate. After testing it for the first time, the technician told me that my heart rate was too high to qualify to donate. Instead of turning me away however, she instructed me to close my eyes and forget about the place I was in. She told me to take a deep breath in through the nose and then push it slowly out of my mouth, doing this again and again as I pictured laying among a warm field somewhere. After a few seconds of breathing this way, she wrapped the heart rate monitor around my arm once more and did another test. She grinned as she showed me the results, having in just 20 seconds lowered my own heart rate by 7 bpm purely through the power of my breath. Since then I’ve discovered more ways in my daily life that I can use the power and awareness of my breath as a tool for my overall wellness.
Roughly 60 million Americans suffer from sleep insomnia of some form (npr.org). That is a lot of restless humans out there not getting the full recharge that their bodies truly require. Sleep affects every system and organ of the body, allowing each to perform in rhythm with an established sleep/awake cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. So many essential functions are happening while we sleep to help ensure that our waking life stays in good health. Sleep deprivation has been linked to several different wellness issues including poor immune health, obesity, increase risk of heart disease, emotional mood swings and so many more. When our bodies fall out of sync with their natural rhythm we begin to feel this severe imbalance in all aspects of our life. So whether you are groggy at work, or pissed off that the Starbucks attendant spelled your name wrong, you might just need a nap.
Humans are pretty incredible beings, with 650 different muscles stretched over our sturdy bone structure; we were built to move. When we exercise in any way, our body is literally releasing a drug (endorphins) to us that makes us feel damn good. Our body gives us this instantaneous reward as a thank you for utilizing its magnificent power. Maybe this is why I have become addicted to climbing mountains, fresh air aside, liberating my limbs and getting the blood flowing throughout my system is simply the greatest high of all time. So go MOVE, run, climb, bike, walk, lift, stretch, bend-ANYTHING. Even if you are in a situation that limits your mobility, have a professional move those limbs around for you- therapeutic massage is an excellent way to stimulate and target every muscle!
I have mixed feelings about this one. (kidding) Emotions play such a HUGE role in our overall wellness. And we all experience them differently, how fun! We use emotions to navigate everyday life and in turn these emotions teach us so much about ourselves. Do I have healthy emotional habits? This is a question I like to ask myself and stay in check with how I handle different situations or feel at different times in the day. Being aware of our emotions and when we elicit them is often an unconscious action usually resulting in major self-confusion. “What’s wrong?” “I don’t know.” Becoming aware of our feelings and how we express them is essential to our growth and self-awareness as happy human beings.
This is my favorite necessity as a human, the ability and the force of constant connection between the self and everyone else. Unless you are stranded on a desert island (which if you have wifi you aren’t stranded honey), then you know that human existence is filled with interaction and interference from other humans. Afterall, what great lesson did we learn from Into The Wild (other than wild sweet pea and wild potato look similar, but one will kill you) – “Happiness is only real when shared.” was the real takeaway though. I see it like this; my brain is always running a never-ending internal dialogue of The Cait Show, so having someone, some energy, outside of myself interrupt that solo show in there, fills me with excitement and thrill for the unpredictability of life. More can be said about when our connections with these individuals deepen (dare I mention LOVE), and the profound joy that can be discovered in creating relationships. So go out and make yourself a new friend, your health depends on it!
Never seen before in any pillars of health list yet, I am adding an honorary 8th pillar to shout-out my number one lady, Marijuana. Nature as a whole offers us so many medicinal spices and herbs to aid in healing our bodies. Cannabis alone, contains over 480 different natural components, to which the many benefits of are still being discovered. Based on what we know already of the most infamous cannabinoids found in cannabis, THC and CBD, cannabis does not discriminate against any ailment, but instead plugs into our endocannabinoid system to find and meet the imbalance. For this reason, no matter what ache or pain or hurt a person may be feeling, I am quick to suggest exploring cannabis options to enhance daily life as I truly believe there is a product for everyone.
And there you have it! Seven key areas of our life that contribute to our overall state of wellbeing- did you notice how many of those things happen unconsciously? It seems if we practice being aware (which cannabis can help with! Read Slowing Time article) and conscious of what our body is doing and how we are feeling, we can take control of our health and use our natural forces to maintain it. Be Well Wanderers! -Cait Brooke