I was recently challenged by Oscar Insurance to name my personal health hero, an individual who inspires me to live a healthier life.
I was immediately enthusiastic, thinking that this would be a great opportunity to express my appreciation for someone important in my life, but this proved to be harder than anticipated.
As I thought about it, image after image of all of the teachers I’ve had through the years flashed through my mind.
Try as I might, I couldn’t pinpoint an individual who single handedly inspires me to live a healthy life.
One teacher taught me an approach that changed the way I live, but a little while later another teacher taught me another technique, strategy, or perspective of equal significance that transformed my life yet again.
More than once, an early teacher taught me something that I wasn’t ready to receive, but they planted a seed in my awareness. Years later another teacher came along and reinforced the teaching at just the right time.
Sometimes I think that it’s not so much the teachers, but the teachings themselves that motivate me to eat healthy, move my body, and practice techniques that help me maintain a more balanced inner experience.
Or perhaps I can’t choose one individual because I myself am a teacher, but do not take credit for what I teach. I can only teach what I have learned. I did not invent the concepts I teach, and I do not claim to know all the answers.
I only know what has worked for me, and what I have been taught, and attempt to transmit this experience in a way that will benefit those who want to learn from me.
I believe this is true of all of my teachers.
They all teach from their own personal experience, using what they have been taught by their teachers.
These teachers have used what they’ve learned, found what works for them, and then they pass those lessons on as best they can.
Occasionally a teacher has communicated a teaching in a way that I resonate with, and it immediately and profoundly shifts the way I live my life.
But more often than not, its the accumulation of teachings, each contributing to my understanding from a slightly different angle, that add up and lead me toward living a more vibrant life.
That said, there are a few categories of teachers that stand out as having shifted my perspective on health in big ways, but they are not necessarily teachers I have met in person.
Thich Nhat Hanh, the 14th Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, Alan Watts, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Jiddu Krishnamurti have all contributed to my mental health, teaching me to view life from a more joyful and grateful perspective, and inspire me to live more mindfully regardless of what I am doing.
The Yoga Sutras of Pantajali continue to teach me how to live a more fulfilling life, providing tangible guidelines that I can easily incorporate into my daily life.
All of my yoga teachers, who are ultimately basing their teachings off Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ asana, provide me with living examples of how to effectively use collective yoga practices for physical, mental, and spiritual vitality.
My qigong, taiqi, and Chinese medicine teachers inspire me to go deeper with my practices, live with the seasons, and nurture my body through food, physical activity, environmental exposure, medicinal herbs, meditation, and community support.
I am also inspired to live a healthier life for all of my loved ones. By taking care of myself I am better able to help them when they need me, and hopefully am able to inspire them to incorporate healthy habits into their own lives.
And those are just a few of the many people who have helped me, and continue to inspire me to take care of myself and live a healthier life.
I am grateful for all of the teachings I have been able to absorb in my life, and I humbly hope that I can pass on their wisdom to others who wish to live more vibrantly as well.
Who is your health hero? How do they inspire you? Leave a comment below!