Health encompasses the whole of life and is as vast a subject as the people in pursuit of it. It can include focus on food and dietary rules, or exercise and movement practices, or on the non-physical pursuit of meditation, prayer or mindset. What is this state called health?

Our health weaves through our lives enabling us to pursue our destiny, or not. It may even be that our lack of good health becomes the path that leads us to our destiny. Whatever you attribute your health or lack of health to, can be a defining endeavor. Wellness is different for each of us; our stories roughed out as we arrive as newborns, but how we tell those stories, allowing them to play out, is all.

An aspect of health and life I’d like to highlight comes from the lectures on health Rudolf Steiner1 gave in the early 20th century. He informs us of the digestive systems’ powers to break down the food we eat so completely that it has no relationship to its original form. When the body’s digestion is unable to transform the nutrients from food into its own health building materials, allergies and self-damaging diseases arise. The purpose of digestion is to digest and only from the fully broken down nutritional elements is the body able to build and maintain the physical form.

A corollary to digestion is the transformation of the caterpillar on its way to becoming a butterfly. Its first phase of life is all about eating and growing, crawling along branch and leaf taking in its environment. When this phase is done, the caterpillar wraps itself in its own juices creating a cocoon where it will transform to a new state. Within the darkness of the cocoon its body completely dissolves into a primordial soup; neither caterpillar nor butterfly, only elements and cells that slowly rearrange themselves building a new form, a body that can move beyond branch and leaf and fly! Once the butterfly emerges there is no sign of the previous body caterpillar. The complete transformation of life form is done.

Life is a process of consumption and digestion that ultimately leads to our transformation. Taking in all of life, learning what we need to learn, and then taking responsibility and transforming life’s raw materials into our own being-ness is what we are here for. The manner in which we consume and then digest is what gives us our life process and therefore the state of our health.

With unlimited opinions, sources, influences, courses, swirling around us our task is to find our own way through, find what works for us, and only us. Time, experimentation, experience, study, evaluation, that process of consumption and then transformation circling back to what resonates with our own being-ness.

Health has been my focus and concern for as long as I can remember. I have spent decades trying various diets, adjusting lifestyle practices, study and experimentation. The truth is, as I age I feel better than when I was younger! Hard won self-knowledge and a slowly but surely developing sense of listening to my body and soul is what offer me some of the best health so far.

My particular story begins with plants and growing things, which evolved into a workshop of making combinations for using on the body’s exterior. Over the years I have had conversations with people who value science and its products over what the natural world produces. Their arguments can make sense to the mind but the heart, my heart, recoils when I hear this and I walk away trying to make a plausible argument to win them over. But we can’t make others see the world the way we do.

I’ve used those experiences to deepen my own understanding of what I feel is the most beneficial approach to the subject of health and I’ll hang with momma Nature. At her finest and over vast stretches of time, Nature has fine-tuned and tailored her elements to be in alignment with region, climate, season, all conditions of place. What is produced in a region is full of what the fauna requires for health and wellbeing and sustainability. Each time we have tried to supersede nature’s plan we are rebuffed with repercussions that impact health, environment and fundamental wellbeing.

As a part of the fauna, of flora and fauna, we belong to Nature and she to us. Our bodies have evolved right along with Nature and we speak the same language; the language that is made up of chemicals and physiological functions, relationships, and the requirements for life. I am old enough to remember the image of a pill on a plate that we were assured was our future meal. How far from that image have we come with slow food, farmer’s markets and the whole foodie movement?

Health usually focuses on the body. We under appreciate these bodies of ours that carry us around from birth to the end. In my age group the saying “getting old isn’t for sissies!” is common. Yet in my sixth decade, I actually feel better than in any previous decade. Much of what I attribute this to is years of good, but not rigid, eating patterns, an interest in activities that I love, regular movement which is not the same as exercise, an inquiring mind that ponders life’s mysteries, and just as importantly, an improving mindset!

Fundamentally, the exploration of possibilities, trying various systems on “for size” then assimilating all of that and applying the experiences to my particular situation – taking it all in and making it all mine. We are all caterpillars on our way to becoming butterflies! How is your cocoon?

1 Rudolph Steiner founder of the Anthroposophical movement that gave birth to Biodynamic farming, Waldorf Education, plus contributions to the disciplines of medicine, movement, and much more.

Susan Parker Susan M Parker, owner and formulator of herbal and skin care products founded her business SOLUM&HERBE in 1996. She trained as an herbalist with Pam Montgomery in1994 in upstate New York. Always open to experimentation and observation of materials, Susan went on to develop a number of natural, organic products for skin and body. Early influences included growing up in Hawaii where she experienced the rich aromatic flora of the islands, still a strong influence in her work. This year 2015 is a culmination of 14 years work on the fixed carrier oils with the publishing of her book, Power of the Seed; a Guide to Oils for Health and Beauty. Susan now lives in the Pacific Northwest of the US and works with her daughter Olivia in her business.

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