1. What is Four Quadrant Living about?
Four Quadrant Living is about living an integral life of health and wellness. This is done through the proper nourishment of the four quadrants of our lives—mind, body, relationships, and environment. How we nourish ourselves in all aspects of our lives affects our health—whether it be the food we put in our bodies, the thoughts we allow in our heads, the people we spend time with, or the environment we live in. Most Americans are living in a chronic state of stress (poor Mind health). We feed ourselves manufactured food that is convenient but has been stripped of the nutrients (poor Body health). We surround ourselves with people who are draining us (poor Relationships health). We live in a world that is becoming increasingly toxic (poor Environment health). Four Quadrant Living educates people on finding simple, effective, and natural ways to reduce stress, eat right and exercise, engage in healthy relationships, and create healthful environments.
2. How did you come up with the idea of using the four quadrants?
Four Quadrant Living is inspired by Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory. Wilber’s theory has been used in everything from business to medicine, psychology to law, politics to sustainability, and art to education. Four Quadrant Living takes the theory and applies it to health. The term “integral” is used to mean comprehensive or inclusive. Integral Theory is based on a four quadrant model. The top two quadrants, mind and body, represent our individual selves. The bottom two quadrants, relationships and environment, represent our interaction with others and the world. The left two quadrants, mind and relationships, represent our interior selves while the right two, body and environment, reflect our exterior selves. Each of the quadrants interacts with and influences the others.
3. Why has Four Quadrant Living resonated so much with people today?
Health is in the forefront of the news right now with the rising cost of health care and health insurance, as well as the government health reform. Chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease are on the rise with 50 percent of Americans having one of these conditions. Many of these health challenges can be prevented with a change in diet and lifestyle.
4. What is healthy living in the Mind quadrant and why is it important?
Negative thoughts and mental stress manifest themselves through our physical body, such as increased heart rate and shortness of breath. Seventy-five to ninety percent of all visits to primary physicians are for stress-related complaints. Many people in America are living in a chronic state of stress. Left unresolved, stress seriously compromises our health. Long-term effects of stress include high blood pressure and anxiety, and are linked to cardiovascular disease and digestive system disease. The good news is that stress is not what happens to us. It is how we react to the stressors. We have the power to manage our stress. Four Quadrant Living is about promoting fun, easy, and natural ways to reduce stress. Ideas include coping strategies and relaxation methods—both important for reducing stress. Ideas for healthy living in the Mind quadrant include living mindfully, laughing, breathing, practicing yoga, meditating, having fun, changing your framework, releasing perfection, living in the flow, being authentic, and living proactively.
5. What is healthy living in the Body quadrant and why is it important?
Diet and exercise have been well researched and documented in their link to health. Poor diet is one of the biggest risk factors for cancer. Lack of exercise leads to numerous health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Four Quadrant Living provides information on how to eat healthy (eat real food!) and exercise well (make it fun) so that it becomes a way of life rather than a deprivation or a chore. In addition to eating well and exercising, there are other important elements in the Body quadrant such as getting enough sleep, rethinking prescription drugs, using natural products, being your own health expert, and listening to your body. The good news is that we are in control of properly nourishing our bodies. We decide what we want to eat, what products we want to use, and how we want to treat ourselves. Four Quadrant Living helps to sort through the noise and confusion of all of the information that is out there, distilling it into easy and natural ways for caring for our bodies.
6. What is healthy living in the Relationships quadrant and why is it important?
Most Americans are aware of the body and health connection. Some are aware of the mind and health connection. Few actually consider the relationships and health connection. Research shows that people with a strong social network live longer and are healthier than those without. In fact, the impact of social relationships on life expectancy appears to be at least as influential as variables like cigarette smoking, hypertension, obesity, and exercise. Four Quadrant Living encourages us to manage our relationships—letting go of the ones that negatively impact our health and nurturing the ones that make us feel better. Ideas for healthy living in the Relationships quadrant include identifying your triggers, letting go of expectations, not allowing technology to be a third party, and getting involved in your community.
7. What is healthy living in the Environment quadrant and why is it important?
Although many people see the environment as external to us, we are intimately connected to it—our health depends on its health and its health is influenced by our health. It is estimated that environmental factors contribute to 25 percent of health problems, including asthma, allergies, premature birth, learning disabilities, early puberty, diabetes, reduced fertility, and even many cancers. We spray food with pesticides and drive cars that produce pollution. We then eat these foods with the toxic chemicals and breathe the polluted air. Scientists have found more than 100 potentially dangerous industrial chemicals and pollutants in the body of the average American. Detoxifying your Environment is about softening your environmental impact such as reducing waste, gardening organically, protecting wildlife, and eating for the planet. It is also about creating health in your personal environment, such as decluttering your space, cleaning green, and creating a safe haven for yourself.
8. How do the ideas of Four Quadrant Living relate to Western medicine?
Four Quadrant Living encourages us to be empowered health care consumers and to take charge of and responsibility for our own health. Too often in this country we mindlessly follow what is recommended to us and we suffer the consequences. Americans on average take 14 medications a year. In many cases, the prescribed medication makes us sicker. Approximately two million people are hospitalized each year from prescription drugs in the U.S. and over 100,000 die from these drugs. At best, the medication simply masks the symptoms without getting to the root of the problem. Four Quadrant Living encourages people to realize we are the experts on our own health. Four Quadrant Living’s natural ways to promote health work in conjunction with Western medicine when there is a health condition present. It also promotes prevention to reduce the onset of health problems.
9. Do you live and eat healthy all of the time?
Yes, but in the Four Quadrant Living framework of "healthy". A key part of living a Four Quadrant Life is pleasure. Having fun and finding joy is really the foundation for all of the quadrants. In everything we do to nourish ourselves in the quadrants, we should look for ways that bring us pleasure. For example, too often we feel like we are depriving ourselves by limiting what we eat. This takes away from the pleasure of life. When I choose to eat a not-so-healthy meal, I eat it mindfully and gain full pleasure from it. I recognize that there are other ways this meal might be nourishing me. Although at first glance the meal may not be “healthy” in terms of the nutritional value, it may be healthy in other ways—like if I am sharing the meal with my family, such as Thanksgiving dinner. If I were to beat myself up about it, it would take away from the other nourishment it could be providing me. It’s all about moderation. I believe in the 80/20 rule. Live well 80 percent of the time and indulge the other 20 percent. Just be sure to be mindful in the indulgence and make sure you are indulging for pleasure.
10. What is the most important change we could make in our lives for healthy living?
Living mindfully. Living in the present embraces of all of the quadrants. If we are mindful of how we are feeling, we are more likely to respond than react in situations. If we are mindful of what we are eating, we are more likely to eat healthy because we are thinking about where it comes from and how it nourishes us. We are likely to eat it slower and watch our portion size. If we are mindful in our relationships, we will be able to identify those people who drain us and those who energize us. We can then plan our time accordingly. If we are mindful of the environment, we are likely to lessen our carbon footprint and reduce toxins in the world we live in.