Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities begins with the immortal lines, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” That aptly describes the global healthcare scenario these days. On the one hand people are more aware than ever before about the importance of eating right and exercising and on the other hand there is a global diabetes and other lifestyle diseases epidemic impacting large sections of the world.
The modern world provides unparalleled opportunities for growth and progress to anyone who seeks it. At the same time this persistent pursuit of economic growth has caused unprecedented environmental degradation that is beginning to impact us in very direct ways like floods, forest fires and droughts. Clearly mindless growth is not everything.
The millennials know this and are therefore not as much into material pursuit, as the generations before them were. They would rather experience the world than exploit it. That is why they don’t buy homes and cars and prefer to travel the world living in shared accommodation and working out of shared spaces.
The same attitude needs to be extended to health and wellness and not just for the millennials. Rather than spend millions on hospitalization bills, people need to find ways to connect with their inner spiritual self. They could do this by jogging, cycling, mountaineering, yoga, ti chi or even by volunteering for a cause.
Will all of this ensure good health and longevity? You bet it will. Western medicine is fixated on treating symptoms and finding a cure. The eastern system of medicine on the other hand would rather have you focus on prevention and your inner innate ability to ward off any disease. Take the case of the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease that impacts millions of people in the west causing much grief to those who have it and their loved ones. Billions have been spent on trying to find a cure, with not much success being achieved.
In eastern nations like India with all its concomitant problems, Alzheimer’s is not that much of an issue, though the numbers are now rising on account of many more Indians now adopting the western lifestyle. That tells you something about what health and wellness are all about. Just because you are member of a fancy gym or eat organically grown food, you are not going to ensure good health and wellness.
It goes much deeper. It depends upon the kind of air your breathe and how you breathe. Yoga for example exhorts you to conserve your breath and not become breathless with exertion. There are yogis who are able to survive in just a loin cloth in the bitterly cold winters atop high Himalayan peaks. How do they do that?
Clearly there is much that we don’t know about the physiology of the human body. Maybe we could learn from ancient wisdom albeit through the lens of modernity. Just like planet earth is groaning from the excesses perpetrated on it in the name of development, so is the human body crying for relief from the excesses of modern medicine. Maybe it is time for a reboot.