Lesson six explored the importance of adaptation in maintaining life as we know it in our natural surroundings and even within our own body systems. We already know that nature embraces biological diversity and that the health of each element is enhanced by there being a great diversity. Biological diversity or ‘biodiversity’ for short is a complex web made up of many forms of life. For this web to work best, there is a tendency towards variety, which is interdependent, meaning no one element can survive for long in isolation. This deep mutual interdependence within the active system sustains the health of each individual component so that the great diversity of life can flourish within the controlling limits of oneness. Every ecosystem contains an interlinked diversity of life, where each animal and plant is dependent upon the health of its neighbours. In other words, nature maintains health systems. 

For any organism to be healthy it must be in harmony. The converse is that a body is ‘diseased’ - it does not enjoy equilibrium. So, although we cannot see it, our health depends upon harmony and that extends to the impact of those external things that influence and shape our experience of and responses to the world. 

The principle of health requires us to look closely and learn from nature’s system to understand that the same dynamics that underpin the health of the natural world applies to our bodies. Our bodies remain in balance through self-sustaining systems. The way bodies maintain equilibrium mirrors the way that nature works. 

Better health can be promoted through understanding the self- regulating systems that are at the heart of how we thrive. It is crucial once and for all to remember that in order for humanity to endure alongside the natural world, we must have better relationship with everything else present on our miraculous planet. The soil upon which we stand on, is home to trillions of living creatures that air it and fertilise it to make it possible for us to grow our food. Soil per se is an abiotic entity. Like water, soil is not alive but it contains living organisms. The overall health of all these organisms is intimately linked to our very survival. 

All living things take and give back to nature to maintain harmony. Ancients knew how to “read” the soil, and developed appropriate farming systems to ensure it maintains its fertility and yields abundance. This abundance depended on nature’s cycles and even today indigenous societies still farm sustainably. However, it has become increasingly acceptable to use excessive synthetic fertiliser and pesticides for profitability. This industrial farming mode is not sustainable because it cannot be repeated again and again. 

A truly durable farming system is the one that has kept things going for 10,000 years – the one that is commonly called ‘organic farming’. This is actually how farming was always conducted before industrial techniques came to dominate agriculture. It means farming in a way that preserves the long-term health of the soil, which comes down to giving back to nature, organic matter to replace what has been taken out. It means maintaining microbes and invertebrates in the soil and good moisture. It means using good water catchment management, planting trees that prevent the soil being eroded and maintaining the teeming biodiversity, including the beneficial and essential insects, such as bees. 

Human beings are among the most complex of all life forms and yet it seems that we sometimes regard our collective and individual wellbeing as something equivalent to looking after a car. We mend the parts as they fail rather than seeking out and securing the causes of health, which tend to include wholesome food, rest, relaxation, exercise, a sense of community, enhanced by the quality of surroundings, relationships and contact with natural spaces. In fact, many developed countries have reported long-term increases in mental health problems. 

The combination of the stress of trying to keep pace with rampant consumerism and the impact of people living more isolated lives has led to many millions becoming victims rather than the beneficiaries of how we have chosen to achieve and measure progress. We must try and avoid cheap globalised food, bereft of identity and produced at massive environmental cost, holding huge risks for humankind, at many different levels. 

A more harmonious relationship with land and food – and thus ultimately with nature – can deliver improved health and food security for people if we embrace the more integrated and holistic approaches that can take us there. Indeed, if we allow nature to be our inspiration, we will be able to moderate our consumption, maintain healthy bodies and have time for mindful reflection about our life’s purpose. 

Mahatma Gandhi points out that: “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” 

Values for HEALTH:

care: Feel concern or interest; attach importance to something.

moderation: Doing something in a way that is reasonable and not excessive.  - An Ancient Greek Philosopher Epictetus observed that:If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please”

Competency for HEALTH: 

Analytical Thinking

Logically breaking problems down into their essential elements (vitally important; absolutely necessary): carrying out diagnosis and developing solutions. Analytical Thinking involves looking for underlying causes, thinking through the consequences of the different courses of action and developing clear criteria for guiding decisions. 

Unlike Conceptual Thinking in INTERDEPENDENCE, which is about relating things and putting them together. Analytical Thinking is about breaking problems down into their different constituent elements –it is about deduction, drawing logical conclusions from the available information. As such, it uniquely describes the kind of sequential thinking, which for example, underpins planning activity. 

For further explanation and understanding, please read our handbook from page 52 to 56 on


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