Health and sanity of body, speech, and mind

Originally the title of this webpage was "Toward better health and more sanity in our lives and society"

Rolf Sattler


Contents

Definitions of Health and Sanity.
Paths of the Mind: Healthy thinking skills - An integral (inclusive) vision - Shadow work - Meditation - Wholeness.
Paths of Speech, Sound, and Silence: Healthy language-behaviour - Healing sounds - Silence.
Paths of the Body: Cultivating our 3 bodies - A healthy life style - Conventional, alternative, and integrative medicine - Our natural and social environment - Emotional intelligence - Health and happiness - Integrating light and darkness - Humour, relaxation, and acceptance.
Individuals and Society: Feedback - 20 imbalances in society.
Conclusions
References

Definitions


Health involves balance and wholeness (see, for example, Weil 2004). It has been defined as “a state of well-being, resulting from a dynamic balance that involves the physical and psychological aspects of the organism, as well as its interactions with its natural and social environment” (Capra 1982, p. 323). Since health also involves wholeness, “healing is fundamentally a return to wholeness” (Chopra 2009, p. 38). And since wholeness may evoke a feeling of the holy or sacred, healing and health are also related to holiness (the sacred). Not surprisingly, the words health, wholeness, and holiness share the same etymological root.

Sanity is often equated with mental health or soundness, which is related to sound (see below under Paths of Speech, Sound, and Silence). To me, sanity means understanding and being in tune with reality, understanding things as they are, understanding the nature of things. In other words, not being deluded. In this sense sanity appears even more basic than health because it may include an awareness of both the balance and imbalances in nature, society, and us (see below Dossey1984: Beyond Illness). “Sanity is about wholeness, completeness. Insanity is about narrowness and brokenness” (Ahlquist). Wholeness appears central to both sanity and health, but the concept of sanity often tends to emphasize the mental aspect of health.

Language cannot provide wholeness and completeness; it cannot provide an understanding of the nature of things. Understanding the nature of things includes the awareness that, “
whatever you say a thing [or a person] is, it is not”(Korzybski 2010, p. VIII) because neither our sensory apparatus and nervous system nor our language can capture things as they are (see below and Healthy Language-Behavior and Spirituality).

According to the above definitions of sanity and health, it seems that in our society most people suffer to various degrees from insanity and poor health. So in this article I want to show how we can gain more sanity and better health. My focus will be on the general population. Cases of extreme mental and physical illness have to be treated by specialists, but my suggestions may be relevant even to such severe cases.

There are many paths to more sanity and better health, including paths of the mind, paths through speech, sound, and silence, and paths involving the body. Although
body, speech, and mind are not separate from one another, I shall deal with them sequentially, but keeping in mind their integration and oneness.


Paths of the Mind


Healthy Thinking Skills


Since Western society (that has infected many societies all over the world) appears highly cerebral and places enormous emphasis on the thinking mind, let us first see how we can gain more sanity and health through the thinking mind. The thinking mind uses concepts and logic that strongly influence our ways of thinking, which in turn influence and are influenced by our speech and social interactions. Because of these interactions or correlations Korzybski referred to language-behavior, which means that language and behavior appear fundamentally interrelated. And since the language we use reflects our thinking mind, which in our culture is usually equated with mind, we could refer to mind-language-behavior. Nonetheless, since I cannot deal with all at once, I will first focus on the mind.

I want to show first that our predominant ways of thinking are not in tune with reality and therefore appear more or less insane: they distort our perception, which distorts our behavior, which diminishes our health. Our predominant ways of thinking ways of thinking are still profoundly shaped by
Aristotelian logic that implies the so-called laws of thought:
1.The law of identity: A is A,
2. The law of contradiction: A is not both A and not A (also referred to as the law of non-contradiction),
3. The law of the excluded middle: A is either B or not B.

Although to most people the laws of identity and contradiction seem unquestionable, they are not. For example, I am I, but a mystic would also say that I am the universe or God. Such a statement is based on a subjective experience and it is also supported by objective scientific evidence (see, for example,
Hollick 2006). Expanding one’s sense of self from the egoic self to the universal self, can be healing and liberating, whereas exclusive identification with the egoic self can lead to much aggression, conflict, war, and destruction; in other words, to much insanity and sickness.

The exclusive use of the law of the excluded middle can also lead to insanity and sickness because it may entail false beliefs such as the conviction that something must always be either true or false, either right or wrong, either good or bad, either beautiful or ugly, etc. Although there may be cases where such oppositions may be appropriate, in many cases they appear inappropriate, and then they may lead to insanity and sickness. For example, being caught in the belief that I am right and she is wrong may impede mutual understanding and may lead to unnecessary conflict, aggression, and further destructive behavior. Often it turns out that I was right only to some extent (if at all) and that she was not 100% wrong.
Ken Wilber thinks that it is practically impossible to be 100% wrong.

In his book
Fuzzy Thinking, Bart Kosko (1993) pointed out that most situations in our lives and the world are fuzzy, that is, they are not a matter of either/or, they are not a matter of black or white, but include shades of gray. More recognition of this fuzziness could transform the world and reduce much insanity and sickness. Unfortunately, in our educational system only little or no attention is given to fuzzy thinking, which, if sufficiently recognized, could be healing to a great extent (see Healing through Fuzzy Logic).

Aristotelian either/or logic is often taken for granted not only in statements but also in the questions we ask. For example, we may ask: Is he healthy or not? Is she neurotic or not? These questions imply either/or logic, which appears inappropriate in most cases because most people seem to be more or less healthy, more or less neurotic. Health, sanity, neurosis, psychosis, etc. seem to be a matter of degree, ranging from 0% to 100%. For the extremes either/or logic works, but for the whole continuum from 0% to 100% it doesn’t. Asking whether someone in the middle of the continuum is neurotic or not seems insane to some extent. People who are somewhere in the middle can be considered neurotic to some degree.

More recognition of the principle of
complementarity could also contribute to greater sanity and health. Complementarity entails both/and logic. In quantum physics it has been recognized that an electron or photon can manifest as both a particle and a wave depending on how it is observed. Korzybski and others have emphasized that both/and logic and complementarity apply not only in quantum physics but also to many or most aspects of our lives and the world. However, not enough attention has been paid to this important issue. It seems that most people, including most academics, continue thinking in terms of either/or and thus view themselves and the world in terms of black and white. The result is much insanity and sickness, including distortion, injustice, misunderstanding, etc. (see Kosko 1993).

In short, we could live in a saner and healthier world if we paid more attention to modern developments in logic, and if besides Aristotelian logic we would follow
Buddhist and Jain logic. Buddhist and Jain logic include Aristotelian logic and go far beyond it. Whereas Aristotelian logic includes only two values, namely either – or, Buddhist logic recognizes four values: either, or, both/and, neither/nor. Thus it includes both/and logic and complementarity. And through the neither/nor it helps to transcend logic altogether because if something is neither true nor false, the door to the unnamable, the ineffable, the mysterious is opened. Neither/nor goes beyond words, language, and the thinking mind. Jain logic recognizes seven values or perspectives, one of which is the indescribable. Making room for the mystery of the indescribable could alleviate much suffering, insanity, and sickness. Instead of insisting that our view is true, right, good, etc., we could admit that ultimate reality is beyond our grasp and thus conflict could be transcended: we could feel one and united in the mystery of the indescribable.

An Integral (Inclusive) Vision


We also could alleviate much insanity and sickness if our concepts, conceptual frameworks, world views, philosophies, ideologies, and religions would be less one-sided, less dogmatic, less antagonistic, and more open. For example, in our culture we find a materialistic worldview and religious world views that often seem antagonistic to one another because they may claim absolutistic exclusivity. Concepts such as wholeness, oneness, interconnectedness, relativity, complementarity, and tolerance are often ignored or are not translated into action. But actually living accordingly could be beneficial for our health and sanity (see, for example, Hollick 2006, Schneider 2013).

Ken Wilber (2006, 2007, etc.) and other integral visionaries tried to overcome unnecessary conflicts and one-sidedness. Wilber’s AQAL map recognizes four or three major dimensions of existence: self, nature, and culture, or art, science, and morals. In each dimension several levels are distinguished, ranging from matter to mind to spirit. Thus, science as well as religion and spirituality are recognized. Incorporating the AQAL map into the school and university curriculum could greatly reduce the insanity created by one-sided and dogmatic world views such as the predominant materialistic scientism of mainstream science and religious fundamentalism. However, the AQAL map should be taught in a critical and open-ended way so that it would not become an AQAL dogma. I have suggested elsewhere how we can go beyond the AQAL dogma (Sattler 2008, 2014).


Fortunately, Ken Wilber recognizes limitations of the thinking mind and the importance of shadow-work, meditation, and bodywork (see Wilber et al. 2008). Shadow-work, a form of psychotherapy, tries to create awareness of unconscious thoughts and emotions that have been buried and disowned and tend to be projected onto others. If they are made conscious and integrated, more sanity and better health may be obtained.

Meditation


There are many ways of meditation, all of which help to transcend the limitations of the thinking mind. One form of meditation that is increasingly used is called mindfulness (see, for example, Shinzen Young 1993). In mindfulness we do not identify with the thinking mind; we observe or witness the thinking mind. This process of observation creates a distance through which obsessive thinking and drivenness can be transcended. It then becomes clear that we are more than just our thinking mind and our thoughts. Thoughts arise within us, but we are not our thoughts. This insight can create peace, more sanity, and better health.

The practice of mindfulness appears helpful in many ways in many aspects of life. For example, it can reduce stress (see
Kabat-Zinn 2013). Teaching mindfulness in prisons has been beneficial to many prisoners. Teaching mindfulness in schools and universities could prevent many crimes and could create a saner and healthier society (see The Healing Power of Mindfulness).

Besides the practice of mindfulness, there are many other ways of meditation, all of which can be helpful in alleviating insanity and sickness (see, for example,
Osho 2004). In The Book of Secrets, Osho (2010) presented 112 meditation techniques that are described in the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. In this book or others you may find one method that clicks and thus may lead you to greater sanity and better health. According to Osho, for many people laughing, singing, chanting, and dancing are easy and natural doors to meditation that transcends the limitations of the thinking mind because when we really laugh, sing, chant, or dance we are so totally absorbed that we cannot think at the same time. Thus, total laughter, singing, chanting and dancing can be beautiful introductions to the non-thinking state. Laughter Yoga facilitates laughter through laughter exercises that at the beginning may appear forced to some people but eventually may lead to spontaneous laughter. Scientific evidence indicates that the practice of laughter yoga may be beneficial for our health (even when the laughter is more or less forced). Remember the slogan “laughter is the best medicine,” and it is free. In his book Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins (1981) reported how through laughter he recovered from a serious illness (ankylosing spondylitis) that was considered incurable by the medical establishment (see also Albert Nerenberg’s DVD on Laughology).

Wholeness


Return to basics: I defined sanity as seeing things the way they are and being in tune with reality. Seeing things as they are entails seeing their emptiness and impermanence. In Buddhism emptiness of things means that they have no separate existence, that they are interconnected with everything else. Being in tune with reality means that besides looking at emptiness and impermanence, we live emptiness and impermanence; we do not just think about it, thus objectifying it; “to understand real life is to be one with it. This is not only Buddhist teaching; this is life. For example, if you want to be a cross-country skier, you can objectively understand what cross-country skiing is through research, but to understand skiing perfectly you have to go skiing” (Katagiri 2007, p. 33-34). Then you can feel one with skiing and this oneness connects you to the source of existence. As we become more in tune with this oneness not only in skiing but in all our activities and non-activities, we may come to the understanding that “each moment is the universe” (Katagiri 2007), although we usually may not be aware of it.

"The most common unexpected injury most people suffer nowadays is being struck by an idea."(Rovin, J. 1989. 1001 Great One-Liners. New York: Penguin, p. 80).

Insanity arises in the mind and may be expressed in speech and bodily actions.

Paths of Speech, Sound, and Silence


Healthy Language-Behaviour


Korzybski (2003, 2010) and others have pointed out that language is inherently limited, that it cannot convey the nature of things. Furthermore, Korzybski has emphasized that our commonly used language is based on Aristotelian thinking that often obscures and distorts reality, which may lead to unhealthy behaviour and various degrees of insanity. To overcome or at least reduce these harmful consequences of written and spoken language Korzybski (2003, 2010) proposed several so-called extensional devices. In their book Drive Yourself Sane, Kodish & Kodish (2011) discussed such devices as follows (see also Falconar 2000 and Steve Stockdale’ free e-book):

1.
Avoiding the “is” of identity and predication will help to reinforce the awareness that whatever is expressed through language is not identical with what it refers to. The “is” of identity occurs in sentences such as “He is a liar,” whereas the “is” of predication occurs in sentences such as “He is bad.” Such sentences distort our perception of reality because what he actually “is,” is not just a liar or bad, what he really “is,” is much more than just a liar or just bad. To underline that he is much more, we would have to say, “He is a liar, etc.” and “He is bad, etc.” And if we don’t want to add the “etc.,” we would have to be at least aware of it and assume that the person(s) we talk to also have this awareness. But how many people can retain a constant awareness of the etc.? In the absence of such awareness unhealthy, insane, and harmful behavioral reactions may occur. Korzybski referred to them as semantic reactions. They may be strong reactions with harmful consequences. To avoid or reduce the severity of such reactions, we need to develop more awareness of what is left out in verbal statements, which leads to greater balance, sanity, and health.
Being unaware of the “etc.” can also inflict much harm to oneself. For example, if I say, “I am a failure,” and consider this what I really am, my identity, I have a very distorted perception of myself, which may have harmful consequences. In reality, I am much more than just a failure. Keeping this in mind is important for my sanity and health.
Instead or in addition to the “etc.,” we may say, for example, that “he appears dishonest to me,” which underlines that this is just my view or perception and not a reality that exists independently of me.


2. Although adding or at least being aware of the “etc.” may diminish the insanity of the behavioral reaction, it is not sufficient. We also have to differentiate between different meanings of a noun such as “liar” or an adjective such as “bad.” Korzybski referred to this differentiation as
indexing, which means that we have to distinguish between liar1, liar2, etc. and bad1, bad2, etc. For example, liar1 could be a liar who intentionally deceives people in order to profit from this deception, whereas liar2 could be a person who lies to avoid unnecessary upset or harm. Similar distinctions can be made for the meaning of adjectives such as “bad.” To draw attention to words with multiple meanings, Korzybski suggested placing them in quotation marks. If we are unaware of different meanings, bypassing may happen: we think we talk about the same thing when in fact we don’t, and such misunderstandings may have more or less unhealthy behavioral consequences. In addition, bypassing may happen when we forget that meaning is not only in words but also in the people and their behavior. It has been said, “No text, no phrase or word can be reduced to a single meaning” (Craw and Heads 1988, p. 515.)

3. Even indexing is not sufficient to completely avoid unhealthy and harmful behavioral reactions. We also need
dating, which means we have to add the date to statements such as “He is ‘dishonest’, etc.”. Maybe he was only “dishonest” last month or yesterday, but not today. Knowing this makes a big difference. People change in many ways. If language does not take into account the fluidity of reality, including people, it provides a poor and rather misleading description.

It has also been pointed out that nouns tend to imply statics, whereas verbs refer to dynamics. Since reality appears to be profoundly dynamic, a language consisting only or mainly of verbs seems closer to reality than our common languages that have a noun-verb structure.

4. Adding the context also helps to render language more accurate. For example, instead of simply saying that he lied yesterday, adding that he found himself in a very stressful situation provides important relevant information. Context seems important in all languages and especially in tribal languages. Chase (1938, p. 59) remarked, “No foreigner can really learn a tribal language from books, for it is a mixture of words and “context of situation.”

5. Another reason why our common languages tend to provide a rather poor map of reality and thus may lead to unhealthy behavioral reactions is because they tend to fragment reality into bits and pieces. They cut up wholeness, which I think is one reason why we tend to lose the holiness, the sacredness of existence. For purposes of communication it may be necessary to fragment when, for example, I want to tell my doctor that I feel pain in my ear. But we have to keep in mind that in reality my ear is not separate from the rest of my body and my body is not separate from my environment.
To underline the interconnection and wholeness, Korzybski suggested connecting words by hyphens such as the organism-in-its-environment, or mind-speech-body, or language-behavior. An unawareness of such connections and wholeness has led to very harmful consequences and seems at least partly responsible for the ecological crisis and much physical and mental illness.

6. Another way to improve our language and to reduce or avoid unhealthy behavioral reactions is to
eliminate absolutisms and allness terms such as all, always, never, etc. Such absolutisms do not seem to correspond to reality and therefore much injustice and suffering has been inflicted on people by their use.

7.
Qualifying and quantifying may also help to reduce or avoid unhealthy and harmful behavioral reactions. For example, instead of an overgeneralization we may say “as far as I know,” or “to me,” or “under these circumstances.” Instead of making either/or statements, we may say “to some extent,” or “to a degree,” and we may use fuzzy logic (see above).

8.
Avoiding perfectionism may also be helpful. Looking for perfect health, perfect love, perfect happiness, perfect peace, perfect truth, etc. seems unrealistic and futile.

9. Sometimes it may be more appropriate to refrain from talking and instead change the ambiance through laughter, hugging, or whatever seems appropriate. But if we want to speak,
pausing before we speak can be helpful. This way we can consciously choose the most appropriate expression instead of more or less automatically following inappropriate habits. Furthermore, pausing may create a space, in which we can directly relate to the unnamable ground of existence. Being unnamable, it may be called mysterious. Albert Einstein was well aware of the mysterious. He wrote: “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science” (Einstein 1954: Ideas and Opinions, p. 11). Korzybski referred to the un-speakable.

Implementing Korzybski’s extensional devices could prevent much insanity, violence, and bloodshed. In some cases it may even be a matter of life or death. I heard that during a party a woman referred to her partner as “He is weak.” The man felt so insulted and became so infuriated that after the party he wanted to kill her and she barely managed to escape into a women’s shelter. If she had followed the extensional devices, she would not have said, “He is weak,” but might have said, “In some instances when he seems stressed because his boss treats him unfairly he does not have the strength that he often displays.” Or she might have formulated it somewhat differently without implying that he is weak, which means that his very being is weakness. Weakness in some instances and in certain contexts may have been one of his traits, but not his being, which is infinitely more than just one of his traits. What he actually is cannot be told through language because language abstracts (selects) only some features from reality. Therefore,“whatever you say a thing [or a person] is, it is not”(Korzybski 2010, p. VIII), because “whatever we might say belongs to the verbal level and not to the un-speakable, objective levels”(Korzybski 2003 and 1958, p. 409). Because of its abstract nature, language cannot reach the reality of existence that remains mysterious (see Healthy Language-Behavior and Spirituality). And therefore,“knowledge [expressed through language and speech that conveys meaning] cannot contain the immensity of life and existence...cannot contain the mystery of being” (Osho 2012: The Heart Sutra 05). Knowledge cannot reach that which is, reality or truth (if truth is defined as that which is).

To the extent that we have to use language, implementing Korzybski’s extensional devices can create more sanity and better health. Other approaches can also be very helpful. Marshall Rosenberg’s (2003)
nonviolent communication addresses our relationships. Many (or most?) of our relationships seem to be more or less unhealthy (that is, out of balance) and more or less insane (that is, out of tune with reality). Rosenberg’s non-violent communication can help to restore some measure of health and sanity. It involves empathy and communicating our needs instead of judging, criticizing, and attacking. Stone et al. (2010) also provide great help on how to improve communication. Gray (2012), Tannen (2001, 2011, 2015) and other authors provide insights that may help to infuse more sanity into relationships between men and women, although they run the risk of exaggerating the differences between men and women.

Since language and behaviour are intimately connected, Korzybski referred to language-behaviour. It follows that if we want to change our behaviour, we also have to change the language we use. Since we do not allow aggression and murder, why do we accept the language that leads to it in the name of free speech? If we ban hate speech, we reduce insane behaviour. But hate speech is not the only kind of speech that leads to more or less insane behaviour. The widespread disregard of Rosenberg’s non-violent communication and Korzybski’s extensional devices can also lead to more or less insane behaviour that may have more or less disastrous consequences. Therefore, education of a saner use of language seems an important key to saner behaviour and a saner society.

Since speech usually implies some kind of logic, it relates to the thinking mind (see above), and since it often stirs up emotions, it relates to the body-mind because emotions are rooted in both the body and the mind (see below). Thus, sanity of language and speech correlates with sanity of the mind and health of the body.

“During English class one morning, Miss Goodbody calls out, “Betty, tell me the meaning of the word ‘trickle’.”
“To run slowly,” says Betty.
“Quite right,” says Miss Goodbody. “Now tell me the meaning of the word ‘anecdote’.”
“A short funny tale,” says Betty.
“Good girl,” says Miss Goodbody. “Now, Lucy, see if you can give me a sentence with both those words in it.”
Lucy thinks for a moment: “Yes, I know,” she says. “Our dog trickled down the street wagging his anecdote.” ”(Osho. 1998.
Take it Really Seriously. Osho International Foundation, p. 132).

Healing Sounds


Experiencing speech as sound (vibration) may bring us closer to the mystery of reality than clinging to the meaning of language, which, although useful, remains limited (see, for example, Shinzen Young 1997, session 11). Any particular sound such as the sound (vibration) of a word or sentence connects us to universal sound (vibration) and thus may allow us to transcend the limitations of egoic experience and consciousness. Such transcendence may lead to more sanity (soundness) and better health because it seems more directly in tune with reality. Singing and chanting, such as chanting mantras, can also transcend the meaning of language, and therefore it has been emphasized in many spiritual and religious traditions whose goal is to lead us towards the ground or source of existence. A mantra “is meaningless, it is just a pure sound” (Osho 1974, p. 359). Chant a mantra or any sound and “this sound will become the door to all sounds. Hindus call it Nada Brahma, the sound of all (Berendt 1983). The benefits of music and music therapy have been known for a long time.

Silence


Sound is also powerful and empowering because it may lead us into silence. This may happen in different ways. For example, as we exhale the sound of Om we may enter into silence. Or according to a Shiva meditation technique, silence can be found in the center of sound, as we can find stillness in the center of a cyclone (Osho 1974, p. 357). In silence we are all united and thus beyond the conflict of power hungry egos. According to Schopenhauer, "the end of philosophy is silence" (Gardiner 1967:331). And Wittgenstein, who by many is considered one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, concluded his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus with reference to the unnamable, reminding us that "whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

Silence appears basic. Out of silence arises sound. With sound words are created and then thoughts as logical sequences of words. And with thoughts and observations are created science, philosophy, and religion, which constitute important facets of our civilization and culture. In our society we tend to see science, philosophy, and religion as primary and thus we tend to forget that sound (vibration) and silence are more basic. This seems like putting the cart in front of the horse, which can lead to degrees of insanity and sickness. To regain more sanity and better health we have to return to our roots: sound (vibration) and silence.

“Silence heals” (Ramana Maharshi in Hendricks and Johncock 2005, pp. 22-23). And “silence is the best language of all. More is communicated through silence than you realize...silence has a greater impact than preaching” (ibid. p.23).

Paths of the Body


Cultivating our 3 Bodies


In our culture, when we refer to the body, we usually mean the physical body. There is, however, evidence for the existence of subtle and very subtle (causal) bodies. In some spiritual traditions such as Hindu and Buddhist traditions those additional bodies have been recognized for a long time (see, for example, Wangyal 2011). Nowadays there is also scientific evidence for subtle energies that constitute the subtle body (see, for example, Tiller 1997, 2007; Gerber 2001).

According to Greene (2009), all bodies or energies form a continuum, a continuum of energy frequencies. Divisions with this continuum may appear more or less arbitrary. However, often the above three bodies are distinguished. In some traditions the continuum has been divided into more than three bodies. Greene (2009) distinguished the following four bodies and their corresponding energies: the physical, vital, emotional, and universal. The vital and emotional bodies comprise the subtle body in the 3-body classification. The universal body corresponds to the very subtle (causal) body. “All of creation lies in your universal body. Don’t be blinded by the personal aspects of your body so that you ignore the universal” (Nisargadatta in Hendricks & Johncock 2005, p. 37). “Your body and the universe are a single field of energy, information, and consciousness” (Chopra 2009, p. 27). This “awareness heals… and healing is fundamentally a return to wholeness”(ibid, p. 38). “
Both Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism define complete awakening/Buddhahood as the Trikaya, the union of physical, subtle, and super subtle [universal] bodies” (Powers 2016).

For good health good posture and corporeal exercise are highly recommended. Good posture seems important for all three bodies, especially the physical and subtle bodies. It can be achieved through various techniques such as the
Alexander Technique, which is also very helpful for improving the way we move.

A vast array of techniques is available for corporeal exercise. Whereas exercises such as weightlifting or aerobics strengthen mainly the physical body, Yoga, Taiji (Tai Chi), Qigong, and other techniques also train the subtle body (subtle energies) and might even touch the very subtle (causal or universal) body. As part of an
Integral Life Practice, Wilber et al. (2008) developed a 3-Body Workout that exercises all three bodies: the physical, the subtle and the very subtle (causal or universal) body.

A Healthy Lifestyle


Proper posture and corporeal exercise are part of a healthy life style, which, according to Dr. Weil (2004, 2011), also includes an anti-inflammatory diet, some supplements, reducing information overload, proper breathing and breathing exercises, rest, relaxation, sufficient sound sleep, stress reduction, meditation, laughter, silence, practicing forgiveness, compassion, etc. One should add touch to this list because it “is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health”(Keltner 2010). Referring to “One Health,” Lueddeke (2016) also emphasizes the importance of a very comprehensive approach to healthcare and well-being in the 21st century. Avoiding pollutants such as, for example, asbestos, cannot be overemphasized.

Conventional, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine


For specific debilitating diseases Dr. Weil recommends first of all holistic alternative medicines, and if that does not help, conventional medicine. But in some cases the first choice might be conventional medicine, although it may have more or less severe negative side effects. Integrative medicine for the body-mind combines the best of conventional and alternative medicines (see, for example, Weil 2004, 2009). Unfortunately, most medical doctors seem to know little or nothing about alternative medicines and often denounce or ridicule them. Denouncing what one doesn’t know to me is not a scientific attitude. Furthermore, as, for example, Lanctôt (1995) has pointed out, the conservative medical establishment, the pharmaceutical industry and governments conspire to suppress alternative medicines.

An integrative approach to health and healing appears to be the solution to many diseases, including cancer for which conventional medicine has had only very limited success in spite of enormous funding and research (see, for example, Somers 2009, p. XIX). We need to rethink the way we look at these diseases (see, for example,
Whitaker in Somers 2009). We need to recognize that these diseases appear multifactorial and therefore require “a multifactorial solution: medical, nutritional, and lifestyle changes, as well as mental, emotional, social, and spiritual issues” (Murray 2002, p. XIV). We also have to include Energy Medicine (Oschman 2015) that understands the body as energy or energies.

The recognition of the plasticity of the brain and its intimate interconnection with the rest of the body also plays an important role in healthcare. It has great potential for alleviating various illnesses, including chronic pain, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit disorder, autism, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, learning disorders, sensory processing disorders, balance problems, and to some extent dementia (
Doidge 2015).

It is also important to recognize that in addition to the brain in our head there are remarkable neural networks in the belly. Some have referred to these networks as a “
second brain.” Even in the region of the heart an accumulation of nerve cells has been referred to as a “heart brain”. Therefore, a more comprehensive understanding of human neurology and health will have to include all three “brains,” those in the head, the heart, and the gut.

In addition to the recognition of three “brains,” we have to be aware of the living matrix that envelops and connects all organs of the body, including the nervous system. It consists of connective tissue that includes an extracelluar environment, often referred to as fascia, which form a continuous network throughout the body, surrounding and permeating all tissues and organs (Oschman 2015, Chapters 10-12). The living matrix is considered a liquid crystalline semiconductor network in which communication is faster than in neurons (ibid., pp. 195-196). “Another potentially extremely rapid system that is just beginning to be explored is quantum coherence of water molecules” (ibid., p. 196). As a result, the organism can be seen as a coherent whole.

All of these findings lend support to the idea that the mind is not only located in the brain of the head but in the whole body and, as
Sheldrake (2013, Chapter 8) and others have pointed out, also beyond. This more encompassing view of the mind has profound implications for health and healing. For example, it validates the relevance of meditation in which we transcend the limitations of individual consciousness (see above under Meditation in Paths of the Mind).

Insanity and mental illness ranging from neuroses to more severe mental health problems can be addressed through the mind and the body (or bodies). The use of drugs may be a last resort. Otherwise, there are many helpful methods, especially for less severe problems. For example, tapping certain points of the body may relieve various physical, emotional and mental afflictions (Ortner 2013). Since the body is integrated with speech and the mind, it also seems of utmost importance to look into and transcend deeply ingrained harmful patterns of speech and the mind that can lead to much insanity and ill health. Meditation has been used successfully in this respect, but in certain cases it may not help or may make the condition even worse (Epstein 2007, p. 149). Otherwise, through meditation we can become aware of the illusion that the ego (or self) represents an ultimate reality, and we can learn to overcome this illusion, which leads to more sanity - sanity in the sense of understanding the nature of things and thus being in tune with reality.

Our Natural and Social Environment


Our natural and social environment also matters for our physical, emotional, and mental health. Soil, water, and air pollution that affects the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe can lead to poor health. Therefore, the reduction of pollution is not only desirable for the environment but also for our health (see, for example, Epstein and Ferber 2011). Governments could reduce the escalating costs of healthcare if they took better care of the environment. Another way to reduce healthcare costs is through the recognition of alternative medicines that are less expensive than conventional medicine and that for many ailments (but not all) are often more effective than conventional treatments that often have negative side-effects.

The social environment of our society may also affect our health. Information overload, pressure, coercion, exploitation, stress, and other factors may contribute to poor health and insanity. These factors may affect our physical, emotional, and mental health.

Emotional Intelligence


Emotions are deeply rooted in the body and the mind, that is, thoughts. To deal with emotions, especially negative emotions such as anger, fear, or jealousy, it can be helpful to feel them in the body (see, for example, Cushnir 2008, Chopra 2009) and to investigate and observe mindfully the thoughts involved in them. Weil (2011) recommended various other aids, especially for people who suffer from depression, a common ailment in our society. In general, developing emotional intelligence can create more sanity and better health (see, for example, Goleman 2005).

Health and Happiness


Health and happiness often appear interrelated. Healthy people often seem happier than sick people, and happy people with a positive outlook on life tend to be healthier than unhappy pessimists. Dr. Weil’s recommendations for a healthy lifestyle also increase happiness. Chopra (2000) endorses these recommendations and adds others in “The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment” (Chopra 2009). The 7 keys are the following: 1. Body awareness, 2. Self-Esteem, that is, being aware of one’s universal Self 3. Shadow work, 4.Overcoming righteousness, 5. Focus on the present, 6. Seeing the world in oneself, 7. Living for enlightenment.

Individual happiness contributes to happiness in society and the world. And happiness heals. “The most important contribution I can make to the healing of our planet is therefore to be happy” (Chopra 2009, p. 138).

Integrating Light and Darkness


In view of the importance of happiness, Dossey (1984) suggests not to become obsessed with health because such obsession is not healthy. It appears healthier to accept unavoidable illness, to recognize that the light of health and the shadow of illness belong together like day and night, Yang and Yin. Through the acceptance of the opposites one can go beyond them and possibly become aware of the very subtle (causal) body that manifests itself as very subtle energy or clear light in which we “recognize that space is light, that light is space, and that light and space are energy – there is no separation. This recognition of no separation appears as clear light. Clear light is not white, yellow, blue, red, or green. It is pure awareness. The moment you realize that light, you are liberated” (Wangyal Rinpoche 2011, p. 43). Debra Greene (2009, pp. 226-7) suggests a meditation that might give a taste of clear light. She calls it the universal body. Obviously it transcends the individual body, that is, egoic consciousness.

Humour, Relaxation, and Acceptance


In our search of the ultimate, whatever that may be, it seems important to relax and allow, as a friend of mine would say, and appreciate the wisdom of humour and laughter that can be liberating because it transcends egocentricity.

“Randy Mustaver is telling his friend that he has toured around the whole world looking for a perfect woman.
“Did you find her?” asks his friend.
“Yes, I did,” replies Randy. “But it is a sad story.”
“Why is that,” asks the friend.
“Well” says Randy, “she was looking for a perfect man.” ”(Osho. 1998.
Take it Really Seriously. Osho International Foundation, p.200).


Individuals and Society


Feedback

What I have referred to so far has been mainly intended to further individual health and sanity. As individuals become healthier and saner, society is positively affected, and as society becomes healthier and saner, it becomes easier for individuals to improve their health and sanity. Obviously, there is a feedback between the health and sanity of individuals and society (see, for example, Fromm 1955/1990).

So far only some pockets of our society have become saner and healthier. It seems, however, that the sanity of these pockets is spreading. Many organizations have been formed that emphasize a healthy unifying vision (Capra and Luisi 2014). Also in the business community at universities and corporations there appears to be an increasing recognition that sanity and health is important and therefore steps have been taken to reduce the insanity of ruthless capitalism (see, for example,
Spirituality and Ethics in Business).

20 Imbalances in Society


However, in spite of some progress toward better health and more sanity in our society, major unhealthy and insane imbalances remain, some of which are the following (see also Fromm 1955/1990; Mintzberg 2015):

1. The imbalance between art and science/technology. In our society enormous amounts of money are spent for science and technology (that appeal mainly to the head and the physical body) and very little for the arts (that appeal more to the heart).

2. The imbalance between science and spirituality. More emphasis on spirituality, including meditation, could lead to a saner and healthier society.

3. Too much preoccupation with Aristotelian either/or logic and not sufficient awareness of Buddhist logic, Jain logic, modern forms of logic such as fuzzy logic, and complementarity, which leads to tolerance of different and even opposite views.

4. Too much emphasis on knowledge and not enough on wisdom.

5. Too much emphasis on rational intelligence (IQ) at the expense of
other kinds of intelligence such as emotional and social intelligence (see, for example, Goleman 2005, 2006).

6. The imbalance between conventional and alternative medicines. Enormous amounts of money are spent for conventional medicine and very little for alternative medicine, which could be helpful in many cases where conventional medicine fails.

7. Exaggerated emphasis on growth and insufficient (though increasing) emphasis on sustainability.

8. Too much emphasis on economy and too little on happiness. In Bhutan “gross national happiness” has precedence over “gross national product” that is considered an indicator of “progress” in our society.
The Bhutanese measure progress through a combination of environmental conservation, psychological well-being, preservation of local culture, good governance, and sustainable socio-economic development, all of which is implemented into the school curriculum”.

9.
Exaggerated emphasis on quantity at the expense of quality.

10. Too much involvement in wars and violent confrontations and insufficient emphasis on peaceful resolutions of conflicts. Marshall Rosenberg’s (2003) nonviolent communication, if more widely taught, could contribute to greater sanity and peace.

11. Enormous expenditures for the military and not enough for social well-being and reform.

12. Too much emphasis on punishment and not enough on understanding, compassion, love, and forgiveness.

13. Too much materialistic consumerism and not enough emphasis on spirituality that includes the material and transcends it.

14. Too much speed and hurry and not enough rest, repose, contemplation, and meditation.

15. Too much emphasis on competition and not enough on cooperation.

16. Too many fragmented views and not enough emphasis on unifying visions of wholeness such as, for example, those of Hollick (2006), Wilber (2007), and Capra & Luisi (2014).

17. Too much preoccupation with technology and not enough abiding in nature (the natural world). Overreliance on digital information.

18. Too much involvement in the profane and not enough appreciation of holiness and the mysterious, which can be all-inclusive as in nondualism.

19. Too much emphasis on the written and spoken word and not enough appreciation of silence.

20. Too much identification with limited ideas and not enough emphasis on transpersonal and cosmic unity consciousness. Limited identities that have been constructed individually and socially need to be transcended so that we can be “at home in the universe” (Kauffman 1995) where we are all united (Hendricks and Johncock 2005).

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

Albert Einstein said: Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I am not sure about the universe.


Conclusions

Health can be understood as wholeness and balance. Sanity is often defined as mental health. To me it means understanding and being in tune with reality. It also implies wholeness or completeness. Insanity implies narrowness, brokenness, and delusion.
There are many ways how we can create more sanity and better health:

1. We can become aware of how limited and distorted our common ways of thinking are and opt for more inclusive ways such as Yin-Yang thinking, Buddhist logic, Jain logic, and fuzzy logic. In other words, we could develop
healthy thinking skills.

2. We can become aware of the one-sidedness of most of our concepts, conceptual frameworks, philosophies, ideologies, religions, and world views and opt for a more inclusive integral vision that recognizes the complementarity of less inclusive perspectives, which leads to more understanding and tolerance (see, for example,
Wilber’s AQAL Map and Beyond).

3. We can practice
mindfulness and other ways of meditation that connect us to the source of being so that we can be “at home in the universe” (Kauffman 1995) and realize that we are “always already home” (Ramana Maharshi in Hendricks and Johncock 2005, p. 3).

4. We can practice
shadow-work, a form of psychotherapy, to become aware of and release unconscious thoughts and emotions that have been buried and disowned and tend to be projected onto others. Shadow-work is part of Integral Life Practice (Wilber et al. 2008) that practices body and mind, that is, body-mind.

5. We can reduce or eliminate harmful behavioral consequences of our speech through the use of Korzybski’s extensional devices (see, for example, Kodish & Kodish 2011 and
Stockdale 2009).

6. We can use other ways to render our language-behavior saner. For example, we can practice Marshall Rosenberg’s (2003)
nonviolent communication.

7. Recognizing the abstract nature of language that removes us from reality, we can experience speech as sound (
vibration) that connects us to Nada Brahma, the sound of all, that can lead us to silence.
Listening to sound and music, performing music, singing, chanting (such as chanting mantras), and laughing can also make us aware of our connection to the universe, and, as it fosters a sense of wholeness and oneness, it can be healing.

8. Many ways of caring for our physical, subtle, and very subtle (causal) bodies and their corresponding energies can improve general health and sanity (see, for example,
Greene 2009).

9. We can develop multiple intelligences including emotional, social, and spiritual intelligences that can enhance our sanity and well-being (see, for example,
Goleman 2005, 2006).

10.
Holistic education from early on in life to kindergarten to school to university will be helpful in creating saner and healthier individuals and society. Diverse approaches can be used for children and adults with special needs.

In our society many imbalances need to be corrected to gain more sanity and better health. Some of these imbalances are the following:

1. The imbalance between art and science/technology. In our society enormous amounts of money are spent for science and technology (that appeal mainly to the head and the physical body) and very little for the arts (that appeal more to the heart).

2. The imbalance between science and spirituality. More emphasis on spirituality, including meditation, could lead to a saner and healthier society.

3. Too much preoccupation with Aristotelian either/or logic and not sufficient awareness of Buddhist logic, Jain logic, modern forms of logic such as fuzzy logic, and complementarity, which leads to tolerance of different and even opposite views.

4. Too much emphasis on knowledge and not enough on wisdom.

5. Too much emphasis on rational intelligence (IQ) at the expense of
other kinds of intelligence such as emotional and social intelligence (see, for example, Goleman 2005, 2006).

6. The imbalance between conventional and alternative medicines. Enormous amounts of money are spent for conventional medicine and very little for alternative medicine, which could be helpful in many cases where conventional medicine fails.

7. Exaggerated emphasis on growth and insufficient (though increasing) emphasis on sustainability.

8. Too much emphasis on economy and too little on happiness. In Bhutan “gross national happiness” has precedence over “gross national product” that is considered an indicator of “progress” in our society.
The Bhutanese measure progress through a combination of environmental conservation, psychological well-being, preservation of local culture, good governance, and sustainable socio-economic development, all of which is implemented into the school curriculum”.

9.
Exaggerated emphasis on quantity at the expense of quality.

10. Too much involvement in wars and violent confrontations and insufficient emphasis on peaceful resolutions of conflicts. Marshall Rosenberg’s (2003) nonviolent communication, if more widely taught, could contribute to greater sanity and peace.

11. Enormous expenditures for the military and not enough for social well-being and reform.

12. Too much emphasis on punishment and not enough on understanding, compassion, love, and forgiveness.

13. Too much materialistic consumerism and not enough emphasis on spirituality that includes the material and transcends it.

14. Too much speed and hurry and not enough rest, repose, contemplation, and meditation.

15. Too much emphasis on competition and not enough on cooperation.

16. Too many fragmented views and not enough emphasis on unifying visions of wholeness such as, for example, those of Hollick (2006), Wilber (2007), and Capra & Luisi (2014).

17. Too much preoccupation with technology and not enough abiding in nature (the natural world). Overreliance on digital information.

18. Too much involvement in the profane and not enough appreciation of holiness and the mysterious, which can be all-inclusive as in nondualism.

19. Too much emphasis on the written and spoken word and not enough appreciation of silence.

20. Too much identification with limited ideas and not enough emphasis on transpersonal and cosmic unity consciousness. Identity that has been constructed individually and socially needs to be transcended so that we can be “at home in the universe” (Kauffman 1995) where we are all united (Hendricks and Johncock 2005).

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Latest update of this webpage on December 22, 2015.

See also

Body, Speech, and Mind
Healthy Language-Behavior and Spirituality
The Human Condition and its Transcendence



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