KN-003 took place on Nov 10. In the next week we’ll be finishing our coverage on the last 2 workshops, 1 seminar, and 3 Kennel nights – Yes, we’re a little behind!
How much of your body do you know? This third Kennel. night, Ravi took us through his personal journey of discovering the unique balance of his own ecosystem, and the reason why many times it bodes well for us to actively develop our own solutions instead of turning to the medical establishment. Suffering from an unknown condition that doctors puzzled at and repeatedly administered only antibiotics for, Ravi took matters into his own hands, studied the patterns of his own ailings, read up on the various sources and symptoms that he was experiencing, and experimented with his own solutions to alleviate his condition. Fast-forward to today and we find Ravi writing his own book about health, with theories conscientiously backed up by rigorous correlations and research. He is adamant that we all know less than we should about our own bodies, and that science is only a tool for us to achieve the balance we all need for healthy wellbeing.
Balance – clichéd but true, considering the fact that each of our bodies are an ecosystem unto itself, where we share space with bacterial and viral microbes that most of the time, remain benign. Only 10% of our cells are uniquely human; hence, what we recognize as good health is a continuous biological balancing act with parts holding value we may not now be able to explain. What Ravi means is this – if you’re doing something that feels good for you but can’t explain it, it doesn’t matter; science only goes so far and is often playing catch up. Keep doing what you need and what you feel keeps your balance. For example, it’s a truism that being outdoors and gardening makes you feel happier. But rather than the cause being sunlight or the colour green, Ravi’s groundbreaking research finds that it is a microbacteria in the soil that stimulates serotonin production in us. We should all stick our feet in buckets of mud.
Balance – it’s not about being ‘dirty / clean ‘, it’s about achieving just the right amount of both. If we live in too sterile an environment, our system, with nothing to fight, will turn inwards and fight itself. What however constitutes that suitable balance is something everyone needs to figure out for themselves – Jade, for example was amazed when she started breastfeeding about the big differences that tiny adjustments made in her diet – having a son and experiencing her body change in an ongoing experiment of what works and what doesn’t has made her understand the importance of ‘you are what you eat’. And so each shared about the tiny adjustments we have learnt to make in our daily lives to keep ourselves going: running while listening to music / encouragement / being around people you like / keeping yourself busy / turning to spirituality / shouting in the morning / giving gratitude when you wake up / giving blessings for all that you have / the stillness of dawn / being in greenery – all these prevent the mind from wandering and cleanses it at the same time.
So we started with bacteria, discussed breastfeeding (for longer than you might think – did you know that breastmilk is essentially modified sweat?), and ended up sharing individual philosophies on balancing life. Sometimes its about a pie-chart like division between ambition, family, physical and mental efforts, or about actually preferring some chaos, such as in Arif’s case where imbalance denotes being out of his comfort zone and thus growth. Whatever the case, as Hanna puts it, we all each find our own rhythm of struggle and rest. Missy encapsulated this spirit best, talking about the need to create opportunities to collide with unusual experiences and people. Diversity breeds richness and living in silos of sterile isolation turns us against ourselves, like Ravi’s analogy of the Roman army and our immune systems.
An interesting and full life is essentially a journey of collisions, where we find balance in that diversity. In order to find that balance, sensitivity, responsiveness, curiosity and experimentation are just what the doctor ordered.