What Makes a Paradise?

There’s been a rush to find nature’s own original health balms and cures within every earthly nook and cranny, probably from the time Homo Erectus realized chasing mammoths around all week made for serious joint pain.

Lakeside might be a unique location that really does qualify as a paradise, a confluence of climatic, geological, atmospheric and culture conditions that make it a special place for revival and restoration – a place that could change one’s life.

I started on this investigation, because so many people I knew claimed unexpected reversals in otherwise troublesome health conditions. There was enough anecdotal evidence for me to conclude that the curative effect here isn’t wishful thinking, placebo-trickery, or a probabilistic fluke. Often, for example, people talking about deep tissue massage, sacro-lumbar manipulation, hip-pelvis motor stimulation, were simply talking dirty.

My first thought about this was quite simple. Lakeside’s climatic conditions make up the type of environment that spawned us hundreds of thousands of years ago and gave us the magnificent physical qualities and brain enhancements we have today and enjoy weekly on The Kardashians. Lakeside may simply have returned us to those unique circumstances that gave birth to our wonderful species and infused us with the vitality and resilience that springs from nature itself.

My physician at Lakeside for over 30 years agreed with me. He has often seen visitors shed their disabilities and chuck their medications: ‘We were products of a consistently pleasing climate,” he told me, “which at the time was lush and fruitful, and where our bodies and internal systems adapted most efficiently and reduced stress levels – through a slower, more serene pace of life, reduced air pressure, cleaner air from mountain foliage, lack of humidity, and everyday access to the outdoors.” All of this helps power the immune system.

What’s more, “cognitive decline is slowed and moods elevated for those living in a comfortable locale where there are plenty of new sensory stimuli (like the rich palette of flora, new artistic and musical expressions, community activities and entertainments and new cultural experiences),” according to renowned neuroscientist, Robert Epstein in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Another important benefit to Lakeside well-being is often over-looked: the local Mexican people themselves are an even-tempered, gentle people. They bring a calm, genial formality to public appearances. There is rarely a  display of temper, frustration or emotion, something that is foreign to many gringos, but can be contagious. This quality of polite formality is something Mesoamerican anthropologists call cortesia, often translated narrowly as courtesy. But it’s more than that. It’s an old-fashioned mode of behavior, consisting of restraint and politeness in public.

Cortesia creates a village-wide sense of serenity we can all relate to. As long as you stay off the Carretera. On the Carretera, cortesia appears to be … optional, even among Mexicans.

To be absolutely clear, there are no guarantees of miraculous cures at Lake Chapala. Nobody suddenly sees religious figures in their pancakes and gets well overnight. Nobody leaps out of their breathing apparatus and joins a rodeo. And equally, not everybody coming here is going to experience significant changes in their health. Especially those who choose to haul down here the exact same lifestyle, diet, experience and environment they lived with north of the border. But for many of us, Lakeside living can become transformative.