I hope your month is off to a great start. I am starting my month filled with a deep appreciation and gratitude for those who do what they do and do it well. I ended up at the ER last week and was admitted to the hospital for a couple of days with a severe infection or allergic reaction of some sort that took 48 hours to fully manifest in closing up my throat and therefore my ability to breathe. Test results are inconclusive, but all is well now and I am happy to be back to normal. This newsletter isn’t about that part so much as it is about what this experience got me thinking about which is adopting an alternative viewpoint or perspective (pratipaksa bhavana).
It is so easy in this very divisive world to get caught up in black and white thinking, reducing life down to either-or However, if we can step back and widen our view, we can learn the power of both-and. This life we find ourselves in is subject to the extremes. Yoga is a practice of balancing them. With all that is happening in the world right now, it is tempting to make one side right and the other wrong. This is how the ego not only survives but thrives. Through the practice of yoga we find ourself more balanced in the center able to see all sides creating harmony and cooperation rather than separation and conflict.
We can all acknowledge that there are problems with the healthcare system in this country. There is also the problem of people not taking responsibility for their own health and happiness and leaving it in entirely in the hands of those who hold power. There are people who do not have access to good health care and there are those that pay a ton of money for it and never use it. There is also the problem of those in the medical profession who spend only minutes with their patients and prescribe medications without proper education or getting to know the person and their individual needs. There is also the patient, who just wants a quick fix and doesn’t want to take responsibility for their own health because they don’t know how or it seems too hard. There is much need for improvement, no doubt.
AND there is always another perceptive. There are also doctors that are loving and kind and truly want to help and do all that they can to work within the very flawed system. There are patients who are doing the best they can to get and stay healthy and despite that, problems still arise. All perspectives exist and are therefore true.
When I was in that hospital, there were kind, compassionate people that knew exactly how to save my life. And they did. Western medicine, with all its faults, is not the bad guy. It is very good at what it is designed to do which is handle life threatening emergencies or unusual situations that every day maintenance and care cannot handle. Then, in the times between, it is up to us to take care of ourselves by eating healthy, exercising, practicing mindfulness techniques, spending time with loved ones and in nature and getting plenty of rest. It is not one or the other. It is both. What we need now more than anything in so many areas of life is to work in cooperation so our efforts complement one another.
So the alternative perspective (pratipaksa bhavana) is this…when we find ourselves feeling right or that one system is better than another or that our beliefs are the ones that make the most sense (not just with healthcare but with anything), try imagining it from a different viewpoint and walking in someone else’s shoes. Let’s go against the extremes and find ourselves here in the middle, together, figuring out how to live in harmony with all of the gifts and diversity of this complicated world. It could very well save our lives.
We have a lot of great stuff coming up at the Blend to hopefully keep you balanced and able to see life from its many angles. Please check it all out here!
With infinite love and gratitude…