Today I’d like to talk about the health of the U.S.: I am sorry to report this but the United States is a sick country, and one that knows nothing about what health and healing truly is.
Its medical system is highly flawed, in danger of collapse and is primarily a sick-care system. The U.S. spends twice as much on health care per capita than any other country, yet people are twice as sick due to the high rates of chronic disease: 75% of all health care dollars are spent on patients with one or more chronic conditions, many of which can be prevented, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, lung disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Meanwhile, life expectancy at birth in the U.S. is an average of 78.14 years, which ranks 47th in highest total life expectancy compared to other countries.
On top of all that, the U.S. is the only developed nation in the world without a true universal health care system. No wonder that about half of the bankruptcy filings are due to medical expenses.
And then there’s drugs: pharmaceutical sales in the U.S. are a $300 billion a year industry, with over 3.5 billion prescriptions a year written. The best-selling class of drugs are the statins, used for lowering cholesterol; the second-best selling class of drugs are those for acid reflux; and the third best-selling class of drugs sold are anti-depressants. As a consequence of all the drugs taken by Americans, medication side effects are the fourth leading cause of death.
The cost of drugs has skyrocketed, and insurance companies pass on these costs to the consumer by raising premiums. From 2000 to 2006, overall inflation increased 3.5%, wages increased 3.8%, while health care premiums increased 87%.
To change the health care system of the U.S. will take a philosophical shift in understanding what healing is all about. The medical system’s mission is to help people be healthy, yet the modern medical system knows nothing about delivering health. And because of that, the United States, the richest and most prosperous nation on the earth, is one of the unhealthiest countries on the planet.
When a person is unhealthy, it is hard for them to see beyond their physical, emotional and spiritual ailments. Instead, because of their ailments, they are stuck in a quagmire in which they live in a disempowered and apathetic way. As a nation, the United States can’t see beyond the troubled state of its healthcare system.
For anyone who has gotten onto the path of health and wellness and recovered their health, you know what it feels like to experience vitality—you feel energized, passionate and fulfilled, and you attain a heightened state of mental clarity. These feelings should be basic human rights, as they are not that hard to attain. But when you are not conditioned to think and act in this way, when this is not the direction that a society is programmed to aim for, when there are vested corporate interests in keeping you unhealthy, you do not follow that road.
An integral part of our health dilemma as a nation is the fact that we are disconnected from ourselves, causing us to live in a fragmented way. We do not think in a holistic manner; we are divorced from nature, divorced from our intuition, and divorced from listening to what our body and mind tell us.
And without health, without knowing what healing is, the mind and body will continue to be fragmented. One of the things healing does is allow you to become more integrated.
So, the key to creating better health as a nation is to create better health in individuals, and to do that means for people to empower themselves and to understand what true healing is all about and how to attain it.
I will state something that may sound overly simple, but my experience as a health practitioner has shown me that it is profoundly true: it is easy to get on the path of true health. In fact, I believe there are only three components:
1. Diet: When I say diet, I mean a whole foods, plant-based diet (which doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be vegan or vegetarian)
2. Movement: Any movement is great, but including movement that has a mind-body aspect to it, such as yoga, Pilates or even dance, makes movement even more enriching
3. Attitude: Attitude encompasses our mental perceptions and emotions. It is important not to negate our emotional health, but doing it within the framework of attitude gives it a larger window of perception. For instance, we all will have our difficult times, and when these occur we may feel depressed, overwhelmed or stressed to the max, but if you keep a positive attitude about things and remember what you have to be grateful for, it can help you move through the emotions you are feeling. It’s normal to go through the gamut of emotions as it’s part of the human experience, and you want to acknowledge those feelings when they occur and not run away from or deny them, yet the key is that by maintaining a healthy attitude you can move through those emotions in a fluid manner..
And so, if health can be attained easily, it’s worth it to go in that direction. And as more and more people do so – and the truth is, there are more and more people doing so – it will impact the heath of a nation in a positive way.