Thoughts on Wellness: a new column from Evelyn Coggins

‘Wellness’ denotes a state of balance and harmony. There is current evidence supporting ancient belief that human health and wellness require harmony and balance between our physical bodies, our minds, our spirits and our environment. ~ Herbs for Health and Healing, Q+A with Evelyn Coggins

Introducing a brand new column from Pemberton herbalist/phytotherapist, Evelyn Coggins.

In the course of every difficult journey into the unknown, gifted teachers appear to help us on our way. One of my guides in the study of natural medicine was medical herbalist Chanchal Cabrera who told me that in her extensive experience as a healer she has noted only two reasons why people get sick: either they are unhappy but too afraid to change or they are disconnected from nature.

Another such original thinker is Dr. Candace Pert, an internationally respected neuroscientist and pharmacologist whose research into the molecular origins of emotions has convinced her that the ‘body-mind-spirit’ triad spoken of by healers of many different cultures has biological underpinnings.

The recently deceased Dr. Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley is teaching me now through his books, journal articles and videotaped lectures even though he has walked on. Raised by his grandmother in an Alaskan Yupiaq village, Dr. Kawagley was taught to respect his environment and to live in harmony with it. He grew up knowing that everything in nature is alive and has a spirit that must be considered in his daily decision-making processes.

He earned four university degrees including a doctorate from UBC, first learning and then teaching science and the scientific method but he too spoke of triads – trinities that are ‘woven together by the force of interconnectivity’ and cannot be separated from each other. Knowledge, practice and beliefs are meaningless in isolation as are economics, ecology and culture. Near the end of his well-lived life, he concluded that reductionism and the scientific method upset natural rhythms and patterns and that true objectivity on the part of any human being is impossible based on his conviction that ‘our beliefs are our biology.’ He concluded that the ‘Eurocentric’ systems of consumerism, technology and hierarchy are failing and if we are to survive, we need to develop a holistic approach to science.

Our lives depend on it.

Because everything is connected – every rock, every lake, every plant, every animal, every insect, every microbe – wellness of a nation depends on the ability of its people to live disciplined lives in concert with nature.

The teachers mentioned above are all uniquely gifted, university educated, original thinkers who move easily in academic and scientific circles. They are also fluent in the traditional knowledge, practice and beliefs of their own or their assimilated cultures and are convinced that wellness emerges from a state of equilibrium and reciprocity between the human, natural and spiritual worlds and the internal sense that the life being lived feels right.

If we destroy our environment, if we toss aside our traditional knowledge and spiritual values, we cannot be well.

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