Chinese Martial Arts consider five different areas when they talk of health: how we eat, exercise, the environment we are in, rest and spiritual practice.
The first two areas of health are very obvious. Most people understand that to maintain good health throughout their lives, they need to eat well and exercise.
If we eat good, whole foods, not processed foods, nor sugary foods, then we are giving our bodies the proper nutrition it requires to excel throughout the day.
If we exercise regularly, then we can develop our muscles, lungs and our bodies in general. Staying active and not sedentary will help the blood, water, and other body fluids circulate throughout the body. This is essential for bringing oxygen, and other nutrients to all of the bodies extremities, and back again. This will ensure proper function of our bodies.
The environment we’re in is another obvious area of health. Think of working in toxic environments where we breath in toxic fumes daily, or we drink toxic water, eat contaminated food, etc. This will do harm to our bodies.
Rest is one of the most overlooked of these areas of health according to Traditional Chinese Martial Arts. Especially in our society. We are always on the go, always doing something; rarely do we rest for rest’s sake. If our bodies never get a chance to heal, then they are constantly in that state of damage. Damage done by exercise and toxic environments, poor food, etc. even if we do everything else correctly, we still need to recover from that. Exercise is still work, which damages our bodies. With proper nutrition, we can heal that, but need the rest to do it.
Spiritual practice is necessary too. It connects us with something greater than our bodies, or even our minds. Having a connection with the spiritual, in whatever tradition each one of us chooses individually, will re-energize our spirit, our will to keep going. It will bring balance to our activities. It will help us see the reason, the truth, behind why we need, or want to maintain proper health. If we are too physical in our lives, we find we’re missing something. With a spiritual practice that hole becomes whole.
With focus on all of these five areas of health, we find balance in life. We feel good in order to bring the best of ourselves to the world around us. To our communities, where we both help and enjoy each other.
Shifu Daniel Cimino