Sustainability and Health

Posted on by Teri Cochrane

walk on a road through the woods

Since the pandemic began in March, many of us have been impacted both physically with illness, and emotionally, as rapid change, uncertainty and isolation have eclipsed our normal routines. Perhaps you have noticed yourself feeling overwhelmed, unusually fatigued, or are experiencing flare-ups of stress-related sensitivities to food or environmental triggers. As we know, stress can wear thin our buffers against toxins both in our food supply and environment, causing ruptures in all the likely places: our immune system, in our gut and in our energetic field. A word to describe the current climate? Imbalanced.

Now more than ever, as we are confronted with a surplus of emotional and environmental stressors, finding sustainability in our personal health must become a priority. The necessity for new and sustainable health models has made itself obvious, as everything from preexisting conditions like diabetes and obesity, to unsustainable toxic and pathogenic loads (smoking, poor diet and air pollution), have made families and communities across our country vulnerable to the ravages of the current health crisis. We have to recognize that our apparent lack of preparedness in meeting this pandemic has more to do with a systemic blind spot than it does with being “surprised” or caught unawares. The truth is: as a nation, our current health model is simply not sustainable.

So what is sustainable health, really? Sustainable health is anathema to diets and short-term fixes. It’s a model of awareness, education and habit-building that provides people with the knowledge and tools to make consistent, positive choices about their health. Much like yoga, painting, playing an instrument or any life-affirming passion, sustainable health is a practice developed over time and must be addressed and enunciated every day. At the heart of sustainability is a return to the touch-stones of self-knowledge and reflection. It is the ability to ask, “Where and why am I out of balance?” – because my body knows what it means to maintain and live within a health paradigm of my own power and vitality.

Sustainability is not asking yourself, “What did my friend do?” or, “How did this actor or influencer get to their goal?” The process that informs your own health practice is one of bio-individuality; listening to the feedback your own body gives you and learning how to respond appropriately; this is why, at our practice, the sustainable models we impart are deeply personalized. Extremism in any form is not sustainable, whether by subscribing to a diet that is lopsided or too restrictive, or exercising 5 hours a day. Sustainability is found in adopting moderation, modulation, tuning in, self-reflection and education.

The truly beautiful thing about committing to a sustainable practice in all aspects of your life is that this practice becomes incorporated into your matrix; it informs the way you think, and becomes a lens through which you see and move in the world, as reflexive as moving your own hand.

With a sustainable approach to healthy living, those special occasions when you do stray from your particular health plan won’t set you back. Why? Because you have the internalized foundation of your practice to support you, body and mind. The practice begets the habit, the habit begets the healing, and the healing is then sustainable. If we can look at longevity as part of sustainability, then we know that the earlier we adopt this approach, the better it is for that human being – and the better it is for the world.

Photo from here, with thanks.