If you’re like most people, you probably have a sneaking suspicion that your life is not all it could be. Even if you have attained a degree of success in some areas, I’m guessing there are probably several things that you’d like to improve or change if you could.
Here are some questions to get you thinking:
- Is your body fit, lean, energised and completely healthy?
- Is your mind clear and sharp?
- Are your emotions controlled and appropriate?
- Are you spiritually fulfilled?
Often in our younger years we can come close to achieving some of these but as we age we can end up settling for second or third best. Life is okay, but certainly not what it was meant to have been. Henry David Thoreau famously stated that ‘the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation‘; if we are being completely honest, it is hard to disagree with him.
Most of us have a vague feeling that our world doesn’t have to be the way it is. We perhaps recognise, at some hard to verbalise level, that something is fundamentally flawed or wrong. We have responsibilities though; bills to pay, a family to care for and work to do, so we push these uncomfortable feelings aside and plug ourselves back into the only life we know.
Then, out of nowhere, we are side swiped and come face to face with a crisis in our health. It may be a condition that has crept up over a period of time or something that literally stops us in our tracks. Whatever the cause, this crisis can often provide us with an opportunity to re-evaluate and re-balance our lives. It forces us to question whether the life path we were on was the right one, or whether we should be approaching things in a different way.
How is it that these crises develop and are there ways we can spot them before they get serious?
More Than Machines
Part of our problem is that we tend to treat our bodies somewhat like we would a car. When all is running well we probably don’t think too much about what is happening under the bonnet (hood). We jump into our vehicle, turn on the ignition and head off on our journey. It’s only when it starts to feel sluggish, or we hear a worrying rattle, or it breaks down completely, that we realise we need to do something about it and head off to a garage.
In much the same way we don’t generally take notice of our body until something goes wrong and we are faced with the choice of ignoring it (men are really good at this), or booking an appointment with a doctor. If we just ignore the issue we generally end up with a serious crisis that forces us to do something about it. If we go to the doctor we may get some medication that corrects an imbalance, or we may even face surgery to remove an offending part.
Either solution misses an important aspect of health and one that is central to our understanding of what it means to be fully human. The truth is we are not just a mechanical body that can have an annual oil change or parts stripped out and changed like the vehicles we drive. Our body is intimately connected with our emotional and spiritual health and what happens in either of these areas, for good or bad, is reflected in our physical health.
In many cases our dis-ease is often simply a wake-up call that something is seriously out of balance in our internal world. It might be that the lifestyle choices that we have made over a long period of time have caused a problem, or that the stress and pressure that we have tried to live with for too long has reached overload.
Listening to Our Intuition
We often know when something is wrong even before it has reached crisis level. If we listen – really listen – to what our body is saying we somehow know where the problem is. It is often our dreams that provide a real insight into what is going wrong, as deep levels of our awareness seek to break through when our ‘sentry’ is off duty. There have been many documented stories of people who have had recurring dreams where some aspect of their body is repeatedly ‘attacked’ or pressured in some way, only to find that they have a genuine physical problem in exactly that area.
If we are sensitive to these messages and pick up on these intuitions early enough we can often reverse conditions before they have manifested physically. However, this generally means we have to change the way we are relating to our world and this change must occur on many different levels.
Move More, Eat Less
At a basic level it may require a simple change in diet or exercise. If you live a predominantly sedentary lifestyle the old adage ‘move more, eat less’ represents a very good starting point! Although this may mean starting an exercise regime it doesn’t have to involve expensive gym memberships with all the latest fitness gear. It can be as simple as taking a brisk daily walk. Humans were designed to walk; running was only ever meant to be an emergency escape system, yet so many people pound the streets for hours on end and then wonder why their knees creak and their lower back gets tight. Walking is simply much better for you.
Our health can also be compromised by over-exercising as easily as it can by under-exercising. So many people spend their days rushing around trying to fit family and work commitments in, only to continue to pressure themselves with a visit to the gym or a ‘quick’ 10km run in their leisure time. While there are undoubted benefits to moderate exercise, the obsessive training that many people put themselves through is simply not healthy. If they continue to push themselves their body will eventually say ‘Enough!’ and force them to stop.
All Work, No Rest
Activity, without balancing periods of inactivity, is also damaging to our health. Our modern world has been engineered to promote activity and action over passivity and reflection. We have largely lost our connection to the balancing rhythms of nature that our ancestors would have recognised. We even begin to feel guilty if we are not doing something when we actually find ourselves with a few minutes of downtime. The constant haste and rush-rush lifestyle we are encouraged to adopt is nothing more than a deliberate distraction that prevents us from stopping for long enough to question the madness of our modern existence. As I said, it has been deliberately engineered that way.
And, once again, that quiet background awareness nudges us with that same question ‘Does it really have to be like this?’
As well as paying attention to our physical health we absolutely have to look at what is going on in the deep recesses of our mind. The state of our mental health is always reflected in our body eventually. If we are unhappy or stressed for a long period of time there will be a physical manifestation of these emotions, whether it be headaches, digestive problems or a compromised immune system.
As with our physical body it is possible to make changes but this could mean that we need to remove ourselves completely from the situation that is causing us excessive stress or unhappiness; ultimately this may mean leaving a job or moving out of a toxic relationship. Not a course of action to be taken lightly but one that may be necessary if we are to fully restore our health and sense of well-being.
Anger – The Most Dangerous of our Emotions
The default position for so many people is one of anger. They seem angry about everything; life, people, the government, their boss, their parents (or children), or their ex spouse. They have been treated so badly and everything is so unfair. You can see this anger etched on their face and hear it in the bitterness of their words.
Of all our emotions this unfettered anger is probably the most damaging to physical health. Lose your anger or lose your health – it really is that simple.
Illness – A Time to Wake Up?
Our illness or disease is really a time of choice. We could decide to carry on living as we have without making any change and, unfortunately, people do this every day. Modern medicine is very good at patching people up and returning them to some sort of functionality so it is fairly easy to fall off, and then quickly remount, life’s treadmill. Failing to address the root cause however, will usually mean it is not too long before they are back in medical care facing a new, and often more serious, crisis.
If we do not listen to these inner intuitions and messages from our body it will eventually force us to sit up and take note. The body will not tolerate a sloppy situation for long and it will often promote a crisis in our health that can in turn present us with an opportunity to reset our behaviour and our relationship to the world. By looking at the way we relate to our own body, other people, and the world in general, we can develop a more enlightened viewpoint. One that contributes in far greater measure to our own health and the health of the world around us.
To do this we need to:
- focus on discovering our own truth
- look inside and not outside and learn to trust our own judgements and intuitions
- take absolute responsibility for our own lives
- perceive what is really going on both inside ourselves and in the world around us
This path is never easy – it is truly ‘the road less travelled’. It takes time and great personal effort to rebuild our lives from the inside out. Ideas and concepts that we have held as ‘truth’ for most of our lives may have to be rejected and replaced by others that can seem far less certain.
We are a bit like a computer that has been running with an inferior and corrupted operating system. It functions reasonably well in some circumstances, okay in others, but breaks down completely when asked to perform certain functions!
If you have ever tried to install a new operating system onto a computer you will know that it rarely goes smoothly! It is a process fraught with hidden and unexpected dangers and frustrations. However, when it is all set up and running quickly and efficiently the effort seems worthwhile.
We may encounter similar difficulties during our own ‘rebuild’ but the end result will be well worth the effort. The goal is to develop understanding and the realization that there is a way to be in this world which is above mere existence.
It’s up to you. You can ignore the messages your body has sent you or you can use your illness to develop a more enlightened outlook on life, one that allows you to:
- grow and develop in wisdom and real power
- return to a more compassionate and enlightened way of living
- restore a healthier body and a clear mind
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