Twelve recommendations for good health from Mazin Qumsiyeh who I visited when I co led the Quaker Voluntary Action group to Israel in October. Quakers manage the UK part of the World Council of churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel which monitors the human rights situation in the West Bank and I served with them for three months five years ago. With that experience I was asked to lead this Quaker group on a two week working retreat. It brought back memories as I had gone out with QVA ten years ago on this same retreat.
Mazin runs the Palestinian Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability in Bethlehem and is a truly remarkable person. He set up the Institute with his own money having been a medical professor in the USA, he has been arrested by Israeli police six times and yet remains committed to non violence. For fun he writes books on history.
1) Children of all ages need to be in nature. Play with dirt and smell nature. It improves immunity (latest epidemiological studies of those who died with COVID19). Plant things, harvest, and enjoy (ornamental plants, herbal plants, fruits, vegetables. You can even do it on walls, ceilings, balconies and window-sills).
2) Eat healthy seasonal food always. Not processed food.
3) Open your mind: shed the chains imposed on your brain from your background (education, religion, culture, society, conformity, nationalism), The world changes - do not try to be fossilized.
4) Corollary: Read a lot and challenge yourself to read more every year than the year before. Knowledge is power. You can also teach yourself or via the internet speed reading.
5) Talk less and listen more (ask questions, art of attentive talking). No matter your age, listen to young people, listen to old people, listen to all people of all backgrounds.
6) Find your passion and follow it, be it music, poetry, agriculture, painting, biology, computers or whatever. Never study something or do a job because you think there is money in it. Follow your passion and money will follow (or at least follow your passion while doing a job that you can eat from temporarily). You also really do not need a lot of money to live a decent healthy life.
7) Corollary: be passionate about a cause bigger than yourself: political, human rights, helping disenfranchised people etc. Getting involved in something bigger than yourself makes you live longer and healthier (physical and emotional) and life.
8) Time is your most valuable asset. Never waste it.
9) Walk a lot (important for all ages). Minimum one kilometer every day. Run if your health allows it. Preferably in natural areas.
10) Challenge your mind and your body to do new things.
11) Make friends with people who care about society and about nature. Hang around them and have fun while doing productive work (service. See #6).
12) Be kind to all (all animals including humans and plants) and never give up (especially on the potentiality of the future) no matter the challenges. Keep the hope alive.
Keith Scott, member of the Quaker faith
Date: Monday 9th January 2023