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Healing: Vital Energy and the Creation of Health

vitalenergy.jpgIn Vital Energy: The Seven Keys to Invigorate Body, Mind and Soul Dr. David Simon poses two important questions: 1) Why are so many people overwhelmed by fatigue, lack of enthusiasm, and depression? 2) Why are so many people haunted by the sense that something vitally important is missing from their lives?

Simon believes that we have lost connection to our most vital sources of energy in life. He suggests that we face a critical issue when it comes to our health and well being, that is, we have learned a lot about how to treat illness but not much about how to create health. Part of the issue is that our definition of disease must be expanded. The learning required centres on finding equilibrium between reactive medical intervention and proactive development of health. This search for equilibrium means we seek to learn the essential unity across mind-body-spirit...

Healing vs. Modern Medicine

The question, "What is a doctor?" is an underlying theme in this book. As a youth, Simon knew that his life's work would in some way focus on healing. In medical school he learned that modern medicines can effectively deal with the symptoms of disease without encouraging a more proactive approach to health.

Healing is a broad idea that is common to many cultures. The idea of healing often centers on creating a greater sense of unity across mind, body and spirit. For example, the experience of happiness represents an essential unity across mind, body and spirit while unhappiness represents disintegration. A broad view of healing is critical for reintegrating these essential connections. Candace Pert describes the essential unity as the bodymind.

Health as a Consequence of Thought and Choice

I learned that health and illness were the consequence of the thoughts and choices people made.
- Vital Energy: The Seven Keys to Invigorate Body, Mind and Soul

I believe that this single sentence contains a great deal of wisdom. That is, we need to learn that it is our own thoughts and our own choices have a direct impact on our health. At first this statement may seem quite simplistic, as wisdom often is. However, as easy as it might be to say we only need to glance at our social habits to see that we often embrace a tradition of illness. For example, there is no benefit to eating fast foods, yet the fast food industry continues to grow. The hormones, pesticides and other chemical additives to our food only have a detrimental effect on our health, yet we continue to prefer convenience to well being. The food we eat is often produced by intellectually and ethically deficit corporations that are more concerned with profits and branding than they are promoting the health and well being of human beings.

Simon's personal discovery of healing came to him through the tension that existed between his medical studies and his cross-cultural explorations of health and wellness in various parts of the world. His belief is that the Western model of medicine focused on treating symptoms is not wrong, but it is incomplete. My own personal experience, however, suggests that modern medicine can in fact be absolutely wrong most notably when it comes to the flagrant use of prescription medication. It seems that we have fallen victim to the idea that our illnesses can be cured by drugs, yet as we have already seen in tragedies involving Vioxx and Lipitorwe are playing a dangerous game.

Mind-Body Types

The first key in seeking vital energy is to understand your own mind-body nature.

The word "Ayurveda" means "wisdom of life." Wisdom is the integration of both understanding and experience. Ayurveda provides the keys to both, viewing people as woven from the fabric of the natural world and offering a process to reestablish access to the vital forces of nature.
- Simon, David. Vital Energy: The Seven Keys to Invigorate Body, Mind and Soul

An excellent description of Ayurveda can also be found at The Chopra Center:

The principles of Ayurveda state that nothing exists in isolation, so that everything you interact with, your diet, family, work or relationships, has an effect on your health and well being. One guiding principle of Ayurveda is that mind and body are connected and that the mind has a profound influence over our health and well-being. While conventional Western medicine is still grounded in the paradigm of mind-body separation, Ayurveda holds that health is more than the absence of disease; it is a dynamic state of balance and integration of body, mind, and spirit.

The three vital elements of the natural world are earth, fire and wind and are present in people in different ways. For example, my mind-body nature is EARTH-WIND-FIRE, that is, at the last time I took the test all three scores from the questionnaire (Chapter 1: Seek Yourself) came within five points of each other. On previous occasions, the test scores did not fall within five points of each other meaning that the three vital elements were within my mind-body in different proportions.

I can recall when taking the test for the first time that I was full of doubt. The reason for this, I believe, is that at that time I was not in close contact with nature. One of the more interesting effects of Simon's questionnaire was that I consciously and subconsciously started reconsidering the natural world and my relationship to it. The idea of associating my mind-body nature to the natural world was a kind of re-awakening.

Simon notes that the EARTH-WIND-FIRE constitution is the rarest of constitutions, that is, each of the three elements are in relatively equal balance. Interestingly enough when I took the test for the first time my mind-body nature was exclusively FIRE, and as I look back on that period in my life it does make sense. Today my constitution seems more balanced across the three elements. One of the key characteristics of EARTH-WIND-FIRE is a tendency for my nature to reflect the qualities present in my environment, which means that I must pay attention to the environment I am in and adapt accordingly if I am to maintain equilibrium in my mind-body nature. Interestingly enough, I find this to be quite true on a personal level and this insight has caused me to pay more attention to my surrounding environment. There is a sympathetic resonance between this and the medium is the message.

If you would like to try this questionnaire The Chopra Center's Online Dosha Quiz is available online (free).

Learning Vital Energy

The fluency and flexible that Simon has with this topic is quite intriguing and compelling. He is easily able to traverse various bodies of knowledge in order to seek an essential unity. That unity is the integration of mind, body and spirit.

The word vital is derived from the Latin root "vita," which means life. Vital energy is the energy of life, that miraculous organizing principle of molecules and forces that orchestrates its own evolution through learning and creativity...

For all of us, the most important journey is the one that carries us back home, restoring our connection with our source of vital energy...

In essence, we are vital energy.
- Vital Energy: The Seven Keys to Invigorate Body, Mind and Soul

The phrase that miraculous organizing principle of molecules and forces that orchestrates its own evolution through learning and creativity invites us into an exciting dimension of learning. Candace Pert describes molecules of emotion:

Think of the brain as a machine not for merely filtering and storing this sensory input, but for associating it with other events or stimuli occurring simultaneously at any synapse or receptor along the way - that is, learning.
- Pert, Candace. Molecules Of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine

Richard Restak comments along a very similar line of thought:

And while the brain operates via electricity and chemistry, it is also a product of the social and psychological world in which it finds itself. In short, all that we are and all that we can be cannot be considered separately from our brain... This clearly implies a direct relationship between our brain's organization and operation and what we can learn about the world and about ourselves as part of that world.
- Restak, Richard. Brainscapes: An Introduction to What Neuroscience Has Learned About the Structure, Function, and Abilities of the Brain

What we are witnessing is a science reaching out into experience, that is, many of the more intriguing scientists are seeking ways to create unity. David Simon's work clearly focuses across the dimension of mind-body-spirit, while both Pert and Restak focus more intensively on the mind-body connection. All three authors provide keen insight into new and emerging ideas about learning.


  • Dr. David Simon
  • Healing Lifestyles: An Interview with Dr. David Simon
  • Wikipedia: Ayurveda
  • Wikipedia: Dosha
  • Vitalism

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On the physical traits I was 3-5-3 and on the mental traits I was 3-3-3. So that's Pitta dominant, but an even split between Vata-Kapha.

I've tried the test in Vital Energy four times in the last couple of years and noticed that the results have varied.

Interesting. Health and unhealth are certain a series of dynamic continuums. "I learned that health and illness were the consequence of the thoughts and choices people made." seems to be more and more inescapable as a premise. On another shorter quiz, I was closest to Vata ( although again I am fairly evenly split. Kapha is slightly higher this time. I'd be Kapha-Vata.

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