As a student and teacher of the Russian martial art of Systema, I constantly read about the culture and different aspects of Russian and its people. A few weeks ago, I came across one of the most interesting health providers in Russian history, Porphyry Ivanov.
Ivanov was a teacher, healing and eccentric who lived to the age of 85, at a time and in a place where such an age was uncommon. His life was ordinary until the age of 35, when he described in his diary whereby he simply uncovered new, “unprecedented” ideas as it relates to health. Though these ideas were not exactly new, he nonetheless taught them to the masses at a time when communism was in full force.
The ideas were simply and revolved around following Nature, being in harmony with Her and applying 7 very basic principles. They are:
1. Live with the constant wish to do good to people, and if thou hast done that, newer recollect of, and hurry to do more.
– What a beautiful concept. It fits with virtually every religious and spiritual principle – help others.
2. To everything with pleasure and joy. And until thou hast learned to get joyousness of doing a job, consider that thou dost not know how to do it.
– This is an ancient principle from the Orient. You have not mastered anything until you completely master it. 99% is the same as 0%, be it a skill or an emotion.
3. Drink neither wine nor vodka.
– A Russian not drinking vodka?! Newest research suggests that moderate ingestion of wine is considered healthy. In natural medicine, it is said that ingestion of grape juice would have the same benefits, not perhaps not quite as enjoyable. In any event, Ivanov has the themes of balance and moderation in all his writings.
4. One day a week, go without food and water.
– There are a number of protocols that advocate short fasts such as 24 hour fasting. The notion here is to simply give the digestive system a rest. Ivanov is the first person I have ever read that suggests 24 hours without fluids. His theory is that “sick cells” thrive on water and in water’s absence, they will die.
5. Walk barefoot all year round upon the grass and snow, at least a few minutes each day.
– Oriental medicine states that walking in the grass is considered medicine for the liver. Walking in dirt is considered medicine for the spleen, while water or snow is healthy for the kidneys.
6. Every morning and evening, bath in cold water.
– Uniquely Russian principle here. Get a bucket of cold water and pour away. The notion here is 2-fold:
(1) ice water will stimulate the thyroid gland and improve it functioning and
(2) When cold water is applied, there is a quick and temporary raising of the body’s temperature. This is said to kill all unhealthy bacteria, viruses, proteins etc. Ivanov also described a hormone release and stimulation to all nerves. There is evidence in the medical literature for the last 2 in particular. Nerve-based diseases such as neuropathy is often treated successfully by cold water submersion.
7. Live in harmony with Nature, in summer and in winter.
– Pretty straightforward here. We have gone to extremes – from waste, pollution and litter to environmental extremists and over-regulation. There is a point whereby we can use but not abuse. The Native American tribes are perhaps the best example of this. They lived on the land, used animals for food and clothing but alway found the balance. What marvelous teachers.
Of all the principles and writing from Ivanov, 2 main themes are seen throughout – live in harmony with Nature and make cold your friend.