The Three Environments

We hear daily news about global warming, natural and man-made disasters affecting our environment. How can we live a healthy life in an ever more polluted environment? We feel enraged but powerless. Where should we start to clean up? What about where we have control: Inside and around the house: get rid of chemicals, clutter, recycle, etc?

Then we are ready to clean up the next environment, our internal environment: the body’s pH, oxidative stress, cholesterol, toxins, etc. This entails a wholesome diet, regular exercise, regular sleep pattern, creative work and free time. We do have control over these things but it takes more will to implement them.

The toughest environment to clean up is the third: our emotional environment: depression, fear, anxiety, stress. Maybe contemplating about the popular nursery rhyme “Row, row, row your boat” will help to cleanse our soul from all this ballast: By skillful rowing we can avoid obstacles in the water; however we must surrender to the flow of life. It is suggested after all that we row down the stream. When sung as a group, the act of rowing becomes a social event, as the rowers must be in sync in a rowboat. It also implies rhythm, the archetypal essence of life. Please note that you should row your boat, not your spouse’s or neighbor’s, and that it is a boat, not an ocean liner – it’s a vessel that we can easily overview from stem to stern. It can also be swift. Any moves we make in life should be gentle, not extreme: fanatic, abrupt, sudden changes are not compatible with wholesome living. The idea that we travel along a stream suggests boundaries in the path of choices and in free will. Merrily asks us to be positive, as the saying goes “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. The final line, life is but a dream, is perhaps the most meaningful: Western approach to life is materialistic, linear, and goal-oriented. We often have a hard time letting go of the illusion of control. How much time, energy, and money (homeland security!) we spend to make life safe! The fact is that life is an open system and therefore frail. We would do better to trust that the universe will provide for our highest good and surrender to “Thy will be done”.

Wisdom in the Spirit,
Love in the Soul,
Strength in the Will:
These shall guide me,
These shall hold me,
In them I trust,
To them I give my life.
– Rudolf Steiner


Peter Hinderberger, M.D., Ph.D., DIHom practices at Ruscombe. The mission of his practice is to promote optimal wellbeing by providing health care through an integrated approach, combining conventional and complementary therapies, which include Anthroposophic medicine, homeopathy, and salutogenesis.

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