Let's take a look at our personal, emotional, and spiritual support systems, as they will hold up our physical structure - and not the other way around. What follows is my interpretation and synthesis of the work of many masters, principally the seven levels of judgment of George Ohsawa, founder of the macrobiotic diet and philosophy, and a philosophical view of the chakras from Caroline Myss, a pioneer in holistic health and the science of medical intuition. You may wonder how these wide-ranging philosophies relate to bones. Read on, and remember: As above, so below, and as is the inner, so is the outer. But does the body affect the mind, or is it the other way around? IN body-mind relationships, all questions about causality are chicken-or-egg questions. I think we should consider this a two-way street: The body affects the mind, and the mind affects the body. To make changes, we can start at either end and get results.

For a spiritual viewpoint on the body, I look to Rudolf Steiner, the German philosopher and founder of biodynamic agriculture, the Waldorf schools, and most pertinent here, anthroposophy, a spiritual philosophy. Thomas Cowan, MD, a Concord, New Hampshire physician certified in anthroposophical medicine, wrote to me in a letter that, according to Steiner, "one's physical structure is the external manifestation and, in fact, the basis of an orderly thinking process and often an orderly society. Our bones are (at least were) formed in precise mathematical relationships, which give our subconscious the experience of form, order, and logic." Thus, good bones give us a good basis for a coherent and orderly mental and emotion structure, and weak bones will correlate with a lack of inner strength. THis lack may have come through early neglect, abuse, or trauma. Recognizing this situation can be of help in motivating us to take care of strengthening our bones through diet and exercise. Then as the bones get stronger, the other levels of our being will too.

We need this structure for our sense of connection and belonging within a recognizable group of people who can give us support and receive ours in turn. If we have no mate or immediate family around, we need to create a structure of friends and coworkers that gives us that essential sense of tribal unity, without which loneliness can be truly unbearable.

Knowing who we are in terms of that sense of "I am who I am" is a necessary inner structure that allows us to withstand the inevitable emotional blows that life sends our way. Any time we feel the need to ask, "Who am I?" we can assume that this sense of self, our emotional structure, is wobbly.

Being gainfully employed or regularly occupied with satisfying activities is what we need to give structure to our days as well as our intellectual and creative energies. This isn't just about making a living, it's about being involved in something that helps us grow, as well as studying subjects that interest us. Having nothing to do, even if we are independently wealth, is demoralizing and lowers our self-esteem, regardless of the thickness of our wallet.

We need to feel and understand that we are part of a larger community, part of this world, and that our actions impact our environment. Chaos theory, one of the more interesting models in the current sciences, states that everything is connected, and small disturbances in one area of the whole can create large and unexpected outcomes elsewhere: In other words, the beating of a butterfly's wings in Tokyo can eventually loosen a storm upon New York. We are part of the larger structure of our world, and we need to be conscious of that to find a larger meaning in our lives, to know that we matter in the universe.

In my view, an essential component of our total structure is a philosophical understanding or model of how the world works. This helps us figure things out, make decisions, and predict what may happen if we follow one course over another. Religion provides this sort of view of life for a large majority of people. ("If you do this, then thus and such will happen"; for example, if you misbehave or don't follow the rules, you'll be punished.) Many of us also put together our own world view. I find that building a cohesive philosophical structure is one of the more fun activities in my life.

A feeling of awe tells us then we reach a connection with the divine. For our spiritual structure, we need to know that there is something unfathomable about the world we live in, that there is always a mystery and an exquisite order far beyond our ken, and that we are a part of it.

Do you recognize an emptiness or lack in any of these seven structures in your life? If you often worry about your bones, look into these aspects of your existence as well. The first one, physical structure, is addressed throughout The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones. The tribal, emotional, and intellectual structures can be addressed through a variety of therapies. Strengthening your social structure requires community activism, giving back, and volunteer work. To develop your philosophical and spiritual structure, look to introspection, meditation, and prayer. In addition, the five-element theory in traditional Chinese medicine says that excess worry is, like excess sweets, bad for the bones. Therefore, it is helpful to banish worry from your life as much as possible.

So, just as you increase your intake of vegetables to strengthen your bones and your overall health, consider attending to all of these issues to strengthen your stability. In other words, the foot bone's connected to the shin bone, the leg bone's connected to the hip bone, and all of the bones are connected to all the rest of the body. In the same way, the body's connected to the soul; it's all one package, and all of it deserves attention.


Excerpt from THE WHOLE-FOOD GUIDE TO STRONG BONES: A Holistic Approach

Author's Bio: 

Annemarie Colbin, PH.D., is a health educator and award-winning writer, consultant, and lecturer. She is the founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City. She writes a column, "Food and Your Health," for New York Spirit magazine and author of several books.