The word health evokes different images for different people. One person might think of carrots and kale, another might picture a sweaty workout and a third might imagine a visit to the GP. So, is there a right definition of the word health? Let’s look back at its origins.
The word comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word “hale”. But this isn’t only the root for the word health – it’s also the original root for the word holy. That points to something deeper: it shows us that fundamentally, either through healthy means or holy means, all human beings are striving towards the same thing. And what is that one thing? It’s the meaning of the word hale: wholeness.
So, the original meaning of the word health is wholeness. And health isn’t just about physical aesthetics or sweat dripping from your body. Health is about being whole in every aspect of your life. True health can never come from just a diet or exercise routine, and it can’t come from meditating while living a life of stagnation. True health means looking at the bigger picture. Health arises naturally when we realise our inner wholeness and let it manifest itself in a holistic way, through every aspect of our lives – physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual.
The original meaning of the English word health also has a unique parallel with the Sanskrit word for health, swastha. A cornerstone of Ayurvedic wisdom, it means to be established in one’s self. Like the word wholeness, swastha shows us that true health begins within, by realising inner health. Once we do this, we become conscious of ourselves and, almost organically, begin to live a holistic life in which we strive to maintain our inner balance through our diet, lifestyle, actions and even the products we choose to use.
We need to stop looking outside ourselves to find health and happiness. We need to discover inner wholeness, so that we can enjoy holistic, balanced and beautiful lives. When we realise true wholeness, we also begin to realise a connection with the world around us, and in that sense, health is not just a physical journey. It is about a deeper purpose – to come into harmony with nature, spirit, and our true self.