It was a crisp, sunny January day as we walked on the South Downs. I felt almost weightless as I moved effortlessly uphill, Annie wondering why I was moving so fast. Usually I walk at a fairly relaxed speed, but on this day my thoughts were racing. It’s such an amazing and extraordinary time to be alive. On the one hand, there are so many problems, whether it’s the pandemic, obesity and diabetes, teenage stress and depression, climate change of course, the falling standard of living for millions while a few prosper, housing problems, poor nutrition, possible war, to name but the first ones that come to mind. But we also have all the tools and ideas and knowledge available to deal with these problems. Problems and solutions – at the same time!
Just look at the NHS, a wonderful institution full of dedicated individuals doing amazing work. But on its current trajectory, the NHS is totally unsustainable long-term. It’s the demographics! As the population ages, demands on the NHS will only increase, The broken social care system is also an important part of the overall picture. So the cost of the NHS will continue to rise while, with fewer young people, the tax base is shrinking and there are fewer people available to fill vacancies. Sooner or later, there will come a point when it will just become impossible to continue.
Problems and solutions
So what is the solution? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people were healthier and just needed fewer doctor visits, pills and hospital stays? How could people be healthier? I’m sure many people have ideas about that, but here are a couple of practical methods that I know about. The first is Transcendental Meditation, which is a simple, natural and effortless technique that can be taught in schools (or at any other time in a person’s life!). It brings calmness to the mind and a level of rest to the body that is deeper than deep sleep. This deep rest allows the body to eliminate deep-rooted fatigue and stress to be released, resulting in better health.
Data collected by a life insurance company in the US and Canada showed that, over a 5-year period, 2,000 subscribers who had been practising Transcendental Meditation needed considerably lower levels of medical support than controls. Both hospital admissions and outpatient consultation rates were over 50% lower for those practising TM than norms or controls. Interestingly, in the over-40 age group, the reduction was over 70%. This is significant because healthcare needs usually increase with age.
In a separate study funded by the National Institutes of Health, patients with coronary heart disease who were at risk of a second heart attack, stroke or death were taught Transcendental Meditation. Over a 9-year period, the incidence of heart attacks, strokes and death was 48% lower in the TM group as compared to controls, who received education on risk factor reduction, including diet modification and exercise.
One simple intervention
So this is one simple, single intervention that could make a massive difference to people’s health and happiness, while at the same time enormously reducing NHS costs. This could save the NHS. The technique is there, teachers are available, the research is there.
But there are more avenues to explore. Supposing people were taught some basic guidelines to look after their own health? So, instead of making poor lifestyle and dietary choices, then becoming ill, then going to the doctor and then being put on medication for life, with the medication bringing its unfortunate side-effects that then necessitates additional doctor visits, medication and medical interventions, people could make informed choices about diet and lifestyle and take responsibility for their own health?
It already exists
Sounds like a pipe-dream? Actually, such a prevention-oriented healthcare system already exists. It’s called Ayurveda (meaning ‘knowledge, or science, of life) and it’s been around for thousands of years. And of course, this is where the amazing Marma Therapy comes from.
Ayurveda includes information on:
- the maintenance and enhancement of good health,
- detox procedures that can be carried out at home or in a clinic,
- herbal and mineral supplements,
- as well as, of course, on the treatment of diseases.
A lot of the information and guidance it contains is very simple and logical. This makes it easy to introduce into one’s daily routine. My wonderful Marma teacher, Dr Ernst Schrott, used to say that the introduction of just 3 simple Ayurvedic recommendations could improve the health of 90% of the population (3 simple but powerful health tips!).
And supposing people did both? I.e. practised Transcendental Meditation and incorporated Ayurvedic recommendations in their daily lives? Yes, there are data for that, too. An 11-year study found that overall medical expenditure was 57% lower than controls, with 80% fewer hospital admissions and 55% fewer out-patient visits to the doctor. Amazingly, TM subjects over 45 years spent 88% fewer days in hospital than controls.
Hospital admission rates were 92% lower for immune, endocrine, and metabolic disorders; 92% lower for cardiovascular disease. They were 92% lower for mental health and substance abuse; and 94% lower for musculoskeletal disorders.
This is what was going through my mind on that beautiful walk in the South Downs. I also thought about business and finance, education, war and defence, nutrition – but that will be for another time. Yes, problems are there, but the solutions are there, too. It’s just a matter of using them!