I’d like to have a conversation with you, one-on-one. I want this to be a private talk just between us, one that can be as short or as long as it needs to be.
The conversation I have in mind is about your health. I know you are interested in your health or you wouldn’t be reading this. You may, in fact, already be well along the path to greater health and might want our conversation to be a true dialogue. That would be fine with me. I would enjoy sharing perspectives.
Not that I know you, but I have concerns about your health, especially about your idea of what your health is. In the world today, the nature of our health and the truth of our natural health is still deeply misunderstood, buried under so much history and misconception, and so often miscommunicated when it is glimpsed.
Maybe this is not the case with you, but maybe it is, and maybe it is still with me. Certainly many people we both know misunderstand their health – people who are not especially interested in their health, for example, and even people we know who consider themselves healthy or health-oriented.
Getting Past Labels
I was in a natural foods store the other day and was reminded of this idea of our health being still generally misunderstood, even by health conscious people. Almost every health food store on our planet provides an obvious, telling, and compelling example of this misunderstanding. It occurs simply in the way the people there define and use the term “natural foods.” It’s an easy example, but a revealing one too. For many people, natural foods means foods found in nature, especially plant foods in their unadulterated and unprocessed state.
This common way of thinking leads to the idea that if a food is found in nature, and is not poisonous, it’s probably alright to eat. Perhaps even that it’s desirable to eat, and may contain health-bestowing properties not found in regular foods. At least, the thinking goes, if it’s natural, it’s no worse than harmless and perhaps beneficial. The things that end up, and do not end up, in people’s bodies with this way of thinking. When I walk through so-called health and natural foods stores, I marvel at the vast range of foods, powders, and pills, many of them quite unnatural (to humans as food) and most superfluous to our health, if not unhealthy in themselves.
For the HumanaNatura community, as you may already know, a natural food means, and only means, a food that humans once ate in wild nature, before the outbreak of civilization. To many people I speak with, this definition at first sounds similar or identical to the health food store one, but it is actually quite different and reflects a different understanding of our human nature and requirements for health. It is a definition that leads to a different way of eating, and ultimately to very different levels of health and even potential ways of life.
Which brings me back to our conversation about health, about your health.
Me Only More So
The really big point I want to make, the misunderstanding about health I am most concerned with, has to do with seeing our health not just incorrectly but in an incremental way. This type of thinking is everywhere, even in you and me. We can encounter it all the time when friends and acquaintances talk to us about our health. The perspective I have in mind can be summed up succinctly, with the following expression: “me, only more so.”
I think or hear something along the lines of this expression when I work with people just starting down the path of natural health. Worse, I hear it from or think it of people who may be stuck in their quest for greater health, stuck in the pursuit of what might be only pseudo-health. They are apt to say or unconsciously assume something like “me, only more so” when describing their health goals or what they think is involved in the quest for greater health.
Both if us can easily spot this way of thinking: a fervent pre-occupation with food and eating, with body weight and other physiological metrics, and especially with exercise. If I hear that someone did 100 sit-ups, I may wonder if 80 sit-ups and an extra minute of reflection would have been healthier and time better spent in the long run. By this, I mean that many perspectives on our health are possible, perspectives that are available to us all if we take the time and are open to them.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that am very careful about what I eat, and I walk and workout for an hour or two most days. Most people would describe me as very disciplined in my diet and exercise, and my body as well proportioned given my middle age. Others have used the term “paleo-lean” to describe the body type you achieve on the HumanaNatura natural health program, and this probably describes my appearance reasonably well.
But all that – the eating, the walking, the sit-ups, the physical appearance – really is not natural health, and I want to make sure you understand this. These things are just a means to or a consequence of health. They are a beginning and the surface of our health. Correct eating and exercise are a foundation and gateway, but are not the totality of what is involved in being healthy and well.
It is true that natural diet and exercise can keep us alive longer. They almost always help us live more clearly, intensely, and emphatically. Importantly, they also help to motivate us to explore and grow in our lives and communities, but this growth and exploration almost inevitably is into areas beyond diet and exercise, if we allow it to be. In this sense, diet and exercise prepare us for and may lead us to a healthy life, but are only a part and a beginning of this life.
Me Only Much More
So, to prompt you to respond and draw you more deeply into our conversation, I’d like you to consider different thinking about your health and our natural health. I’d like you to think of it, not as “me, only more so,” but instead as “me, only much more.” This idea goes to the heart of what HumanaNatura calls “natural living,” a way of life that begins in earnest the day we understand, practice patiently and deliberately, and then look beyond natural diet and exercise – to what else might be involved in our health and well-being.
“Me, only much more” is a simple turn of my original phrase, but it is a change that is remarkably important. It calls us to new perspectives on our health and selves, on what we are and can be. My hope is that it opens you to new possibilities in your life, even to new lives and new forms of life, much in the way that HumanaNatura’s redefinition of natural foods opens people up to new understandings of what our natural health might really be. This gently turned phrase simplifies and perhaps clarifies what is natural and most healthy in us, new growth and unexpected discovery (the surest hallmarks of healthy life).
When we think, “me, only much more,” it implies there is more to our health than we realize, now and at any moment, and more to both you and me than we can realize at any given time too. It implies there are always new choices and directions for us, new ideas and new human naturalness waiting inside us, or around us, to be discovered and pursued with our lives, throughout our lives.
Natural living, embodied in “me, only much more,” challenges us to re-think our present health and state of life, our future possibilities as we see them today, even to begin life again with a new sense of purpose and place in nature, to move forward more urgently and patiently, whole and free and human.
Let me pause in our conversation to let you reflect and respond – by wishing you health, in the truest and fullest sense you can discover and create in your life, and the lives of those around you.
Mark Lundegren is the founder of HumanaNatura.
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