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Holistic Health

by Marjan Overgaag

Book Cover: Wholistic Health by Swami RamaHolistic health. It’s about our attitude in life.

For my presentation on holistic health, I thought and doubted about a topic. Holistic health. What is that? Is it whether tomatoes are healthy for someone with a pitta dosha? Yes, nourishing is one of the aspects of holistic health. Nourishing of the physical body. The other day my sister-in-law told me that listening to classical music helps her in the process of letting go. That sounded like nourishing of the mental body.

Cleansing and exercise

Or should I talk about the neti pot or upper wash? One of the shat kriyas, the cleansing practices. For cleansing is also an aspect of holistic health. I didn’t think of talking about the benefits of exercises. By now, we - TTP-L3-students - know what yoga exercise can do for our health. Can’t we? The importance of the joints and glands series are familiar from the first day we have started TTP.

Meditation and emotions

Being still. Meditation. It is also one of the aspects of holistic health. Haven’t we yet all experienced what going WITHIN means? Being still. Silence of the body. Silence of thoughts. Silence when we speak. Fast when we eat. Being aware. Being where we are: we have experienced it ourselves. Or not?

Smile before you speak

Off course, I could talk about our negative emotions. Very important as well. Do we cook our daily food with krodha? It makes our food like poison. Or will my topic be Chitta Prasadana…. Before I speak, I try to remember the motto ‘smile before you speak’. It helps me, but I can assure you that it is not easy. And before I say something I try to remember: Hitam Mitam Priyam. Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Again, you’d might think it is simple, but it is not.

What is our attitude in life?

So, what will be the scope of my presentation? I started reading the book A Practical Guide to Holistic Health by Swami Rama. I have read it several times and every time I get new insights. I read the first line: It is about your attitude in life. What is our attitude in life? Do we have the right purpose in life? That’s it! That’s my topic.

Positive mental outlook

Swami Rama taught us that the base of holistic health lies in our understanding of the purpose of life and knowing how to achieve that purpose. The power to make ourselves healthy lies WITHIN us all. We can be completely healthy and happy, here and now. The most important lifestyle choice of all is the choice to have a positive mental outlook. “Attitude is the most important factor in realizing health.”
Come out of the past and future and learn to live in the present. Those who learn to live in the moment and have a purpose do not know what sadness is, nor do they sway with the moods or phases of life.

Three categories of people

There are three categories of people travelling through the procession of life: time orientated, goal orientated, and purpose orientated.

  • Time orientated people move around without understanding why they are moving. They spend their lives fantasizing about a beautiful future or analyzing triumphs or defeats from the past. Because they live in their projections, they fail to appreciate things the way they are, and thus are dissatisfied. For such people, staying healthy and finding success is difficult.
  • The second category of people is those who are goal-orientated. Their goals are confined to worldly attainments such as ‘I will have a house, a wife, a car, a job and many other comforts.’ For lack of higher purpose their lives remain pointed towards material goals.
  • The third category is purpose-orientated. Whatever they think, speak and do is in accordance with their purpose in life. They regulate their habits and know that physical and mental health are not two different things but are inseparable units essential for maintaining holistic health.

So, let it be clear that the basis of holistic health lies in understanding the purpose of life and learning to achieve that purpose. Therefor we must have a practical philosophy of life. Buddha developed a practical approach to life. He said there are 4 noble truths. If we become aware of them, we will be able to understand the whole philosophy of life.

  • Accept that there is misery in life.
  • Misery has a cause.
  • There is a way of eliminating the cause.
  • There is a state free from all miseries.

Enjoy life

Swami Rama says, that we have to learn to face life’s miseries and become a witness rather than a victim, then we can enjoy life. The best enjoyment is life, not in the objects of the world. By becoming an observer of life, acceptance of its miseries becomes possible. It should come from within. As we perfect the methods of self-examination, self-analysis, self-control and self-awareness we become more independent and better able to handle the day-to-day problems of life.

A quiet mind

The first step is, says Swami Rama in his book, to build a positive attitude and learn to accept that which makes us unhappy. Next step is freeing ourselves from pain and misery and attaining a quiet mind. We must not have unrealistic expectations of ourselves or others. With realistic goals we will succeed. Our willpower will not be dissipated, and a one-pointed mind creates a dynamic will.

Program of life

Next, we should have to have our own thoughts, independent of culture and religion, and from these we should develop a philosophy of life which is simple and direct. Be flexible and direct. Swami Rama states, that each person should have a program of life and should work for that. And the process begins by cleansing and nourishing, followed by exercise and learn to meditate. Being still. Meditation is powerful and therapeutic. And off course we have to work on our emotions.

A practical guide to holistic health

To prepare for this presentation, I read the book A Practical Guide to Holistic Health. It is highly recommended.

— Marjan Overgaag

Last November 2018 I participated in the TTP-L3-retreat at the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama. Part of the assignment was to give a presentation.

Editor’s Note:

Himalayan Yoga Tradition – Teacher Training Program (HYT-TTP) offers two training sessions annually at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) in Rishikesh, India.

The future schedule includes:

  • Level I: March 10-23, 2019; November 10-23, 2019; and March 8-21, 2020
  • Level II: March 10-23, 2019; and March 8-21, 2020
  • Level III: November 10-23, 2019 - if the minimum enrollment is not met by May, the retreat will be cancelled.

For more information, please visit the website: himalayanyogatradition.com.



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