When we hear the word “health” what comes to mind? Is health about feeling good? Maybe it’s about a well-maintained body? Does physical health preclude and guarantee a “life of happiness”?
Language and words are the true tools that allow for the impact of real magic. That’s why, in all the old stories, spell books were the key to understanding and owning or revealing the power of magic. Harry Potter fans know this.
Words condense energy and real meaning into power. The word “health” is a prime example. It may be one of the most sought after realities in North America, the most readily identifiable cultural value. Our very society would seem to be mainly focused on providing this beneficial state as a guarantee of the American, Western way of life… it’s also deeply connected to the Constitution (a word that can also refer to one’s physical make-up) in the promise of “the pursuit of happiness”.
‘Health’ has meant and stood for far more than physical wellbeing for a very long time. The origins of the word refer to a state of being whole, which itself suggests a quality of entirety or totality. Wholeness includes a whole range of states of being, non-being, and more.
When we think about or discuss health, is it possible that we’re leaving something out? What of the more-than-physical realities that are also part of being? Doesn’t health, if it really is about wholeness, also have something to do with the spirit and the soul?
Carl Jung once said, “I’d rather be whole than good”. Might it be possible that we’ve lost something in relation to our idea of what it means to be healthy?
We know, though it looks like we could easily soon forget, that healing involves more than just the physical body. We have seen how meditation, prayer, music, our attitudes, ways of being and thinking, all can deeply influence our overall health. For, isn’t it true that we have experienced times when we were physically healthy and of sound body, but we still found our selves lacking or off kilter in some profound way?
What of our feelings, our emotions and our values? When I say values, I’m not talking about moral pronouncements. More so, the meaning to be found in our lives that gives us some anchor for being able to navigate through the confusing labyrinthine structures of our lives.
How is it that a nation, so focused on the pursuit of happiness and upon physical health and wellbeing, could still be seen to experience so many troubles? Hasn’t North America been the so-called world’s leader in economics, health care (a field so strangely devoid of real “care”, at the end of the day) and technology? Why, then, hasn’t life become more attuned to the idyllic vision that is touted so proudly and by so many as the solution to the world’s ills? If we have it all figured out, why is it so readily apparent that there are so many suffering so deeply, and that there is so much discord, even here at home?
It may seem like a strange note to strike, but let me suggest that it all has to do with the fact that we have largely lost, forgotten and otherwise devalued our dreams. Dreams, far more than the mere mental confusion of the brain, offer up visions of real wholeness, each night as we go to sleep and surrender to the deeper truths to be found in our souls.
Wholeness, and therefore, health, means finding our selves able to be with ‘all that is’; our dreams reveal to us the way that health involves spirit and soul, as well. Many folks seem to think that dreams are an artifact of some psychological theories that belong only to the select few professionals that know what they’re about. Psychology is mostly now understood as the “science of the study of the mind” or of conditioned behaviors. The very word itself, however, has always meant the knowledge of the soul. Psyche is soul. Logos is knowledge. Knowing need not be reserved to factual, scientific and intellectual forms. The ancients, who coined the very word itself knew this. It is we who have turned this word, and the surrounding reality that it refers to, into a “less-than” practice of behavioral study.
Our dreams, which appear so strange and even silly at times, are seeking to remind us of the fact that real and true health is about wholeness. That’s why our dreams appear so counter to what we think we know when we’re awake. They are seeking to prove that Reality, as we could know it, has far more to do with many more realities than sheer physical health and happiness. They’re also concerned with these, but it turns out that these are only complimentary pieces in a much bigger puzzle. Life also has to do with death, with grief and joy, with struggle and work, suffering and confusion, all the elements that we seek to eradicate through a two-dimensional “good good” salute to the day and to one another.
May we look, then, to our dreams, the dreams of the past and of the present, the dreams of the future, the “dreams of our lives”, the Dream of Life and Death, for deep clues to what it is that we’re missing, that we may have attempted to rid ourselves of in a narrowing pursuit of “feel good” solutions and incomplete treatments of our own and each others lives. Something in us knows there’s more to life than the sheer physicality of existence. We also know that there’s more to all this than simply seeking to be happy – after all, that never lasts, even though it feels good and we crave it, it comes and it goes, no matter how hard we try to hold on. So, let’s get real again, and honor what people have known for ages, that there is much more to our advent here upon the Gods and Godesses Green Earth than we tend to think and believe there is.
Our health and wholeness, and that of myriad creatures, which we share the planet with are depending on it.