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The 3 Levels of Health

Traveling is one of my greatest teachers.  It’s vitally important to me to see how different people live, their cultures, and lifestyles.  I learn so much from this process, and it sustains me on a level that I can’t always articulate to others who often ask, “don’t you get tired of traveling?”

I love traveling. It’s a way of life.  It helps me share with others.  I also love staying with different people, and seeing how they prepare their meals, live their lives and wake up each day.  It enriches my life as a healer, and I feel better equipped in understanding how people live and hopefully, in this way, be able to serve better.

What I’ve noticed too, is that there are different levels of health in different countries and geographical areas depending on ones social background, culture, demographic, etc.   This is a basic breakdown of what I’ve noticed so far:


3D Pyramid

The 3 Levels of Health

1. First level of health:  Basic needs.  Having your basic survival needs met such as food, water, shelter.

2. Second level of health:  Having livelihood that sustains you.  Being part of a community, having friends, social engagement and community.  Taking care of Self and family.

3. Third level of health:  Living life purpose.  Creative expression of Self.  Greater importance on teaching, giving, serving community.  Exercising your personal potential.  Living your “dharma.”

These levels of health can also be correlated to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the Hindu chakra system.   Lower chakras tend to correlate with basic needs for survival and money. In both systems, basic needs are often met first before ascending to higher levels of spiritual aspiration and fulfillment.

Maslow's hierarchy
Maslow’s hierarchy







Chakra system
Chakra system

In coaching, mostly in first world countries, I’ve noticed a considerable gap and stress that can exist between Level 2 & 3.   Many people feel that they are getting by, living day to day, simply subsisting.  They are not necessarily inspired or infused with a sense of purpose or direction.  They are just doing what they need to do to pay the bills, take care of their family and live a lifestyle that fits with current societal expectations:  work 9-5, workout, watch movies, have get-togethers, go to the bar, etc.   On the outside, people who experience Level 2 health may appear to have what they need:  friends, family, money, physical health, but inwardly, something feels amiss, and it causes a feeling of inner angst and restlessness; a feeling of living only  a part of Self.

In Level 2 health, people oftentimes don’t have the energy or resource to examine their life from a higher level.   You could call this level of health “the conditioned well-Self.” (by Ruth White).  This is where people experience a level of inner stress, what I refer to as “spiritual” stress, of not living your spiritual essence, or dharmic path.  This level of stress and dis-ease is often ignored in our society and not considered as part of any “medical examination.”

At some point, even if Level 2 people enjoy their job and security, they may at some point realize there is more to their life than the life they’ve created.  Level 2 health can only provide a certain amount of wellness and health.  It is the difference between “subsisting” in Level 2 and potential “thriving” in Level 3 health.  Getting by vs. living with a sense of joy.  Level 3 health often includes the willingness to leave the main path, and make one’s own path, as described by Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.”  You choose to follow your bliss.  This takes you to another level of health (and stress.)

What I’ve often observed is that there is a great deal of stress that can accumulate from making a jump from Level 2 to Level 3, that often keeps people stuck in Level 2 health.   It supports the idea: “If I pursue what I love, I’ll be poor.”  There is less “communal, societal and financial” support for living Level 3 health, living one’s own individuated and unique path.  Also, in order to make the jump from Level 2 to Level 3, one needs a certain amount of space and time for self-reflection, exploration and inner-work.   Life savings would certainly help!   It also takes courage.

Level 3 health, which includes living your dharma (your unique path) feeds your health and energy system in a different way.  It provides vitality, fulfillment and an inner brightness that often comes with knowing that you are connected to a greater purpose.  Channeling passion feeds your soul.  Oftentimes it is the missing link in one’s health and well-being.  Level 3 health really comes from the idea that, “having a full cup allows you to fill the cups of others.”  Paulo Coelho once wrote in “The Alchemist” that you can tell when someone is living their destiny, just by looking at them.

Living your dharma can meaningfully affect your health, joy and vitality.

However, Level 3 also comes with it’s own set of stressors:  going against the grain, financial instability, starting from the ground up.  I’ve noticed people who choose to live Level 3 health also struggle, and sometimes fall back to safety and security that Level 2 health provides.  It takes perseverance.  People who are often new to Level 3 health want to live their purpose, they want to serve others, but they don’t know how, and they don’t know how to do it in a way that can also sustain themselves.  They tend to be leaders, artists, innovators, teachers and healers in their community.  Living in Level 3 health requires total self-direction and authority in one’s own life.  It often takes a tremendous amount of faith and willingness to live at Level 3… a willingness to thrive at a higher level of existence.  However, I also think it is possible to integrate Level 2 & Level 3 health, and that’s one of my jobs as a Coach, “bringing meaning into the everyday.”

Making distinctions between “levels of health” is not a judgement call.  It simply provides a context for health.  We need a new context and paradigm for health today, one that includes spirituality and inner fulfillment, not just stress management.  I think our definition of should not simply be the absence of disease, but also include joy, peace, balance, fulfillment, flexibility and vitality.  In some health systems, such as RIFE, health is a vibration, a resonance of a particular energy.

From what I’ve observed, it’s best to have all 3 levels of health met in one’s life, including basic needs, social belonging, abundance and purpose.  I believe that as a collective, we are moving towards Level 3 health, where well-being, purpose and connection are playing a greater role in our lives than just our material existence.  This is why we see an explosion of yoga studios, wellness programs, life coaches and spiritual media programs like Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday.”  It’s my hope to contribute to this movement of Integration.

Abraham Maslow reminds us,  “Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.”   He also says, “It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.”

Keep going.. choose to live a higher way, and be aware of what brings you closer, or farther away, from your true source of health.








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