What does health mean to you?
I am guessing that since you are reading this, you already know about some of the results of having a magnesium deficiency (If not, try Googling it and then come back.) As a Yoga instructor for over thirty years my interests have been towards what benefits us most in terms of that most elusive of goals, basic happiness.
Whilst a lot of our focus and interest moves naturally towards nutrition (diet and supplementation) sleep and physical fitness, we are more than our digestion and muscle tone. It’s possible to be extremely fit and extremely unhappy. (Look at our Olympic swimmers battles with depression, from Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett to Liesl Jones.) Whether this has anything to do with hours spent swimming in Chlorine or some other reason is a matter for a later post.
Similarly, it’s possible to be physically healthy and emotionally unwell.
We all know ways we can improve our physical health, from exercising and nutrition, down to cleaning our teeth. We know how to do basic first-aid when we scrape a knee. But most of us have no clue how to deal with psychological scrapes. The scars that can linger from rejection, loneliness or bullying can have truly devastating effects on our lives. Yet we ignore them. Why do we give our physical selves far more importance than our feelings?
If we are feeling down we may counsel ourselves (or a friend): “Come on, just shake it off, get over it.” If on the other hand they have a physical injury, we would suggest painkillers, doctors: “You should get that looked at.”
We treat our emotional and psychological self like the poor relative of our physical self.
We are becoming human ‘externalists’ concerned more with appearance than fact. Or as an article in the New York Times on ‘Healthy Body – Unhealthy Mind’ says:
“Someone who’ll exercise great care over what he puts into his body and never think about what he puts into his mind.”
What if our emotions, behaviour and relationships play a greater role in our sense of well-being than our physical health?
What if the concept of separation of mind and body we have grown up with…is a mistake?
Have you ever experienced getting sick soon after some emotional or stressful experience? Recent studies have shown that traumatic womb experiences can affect hormone production in later life. Our current medical system is based on dissection and Cartesian dualism…the idea that each part of the body is separate from the other parts. Even the term Mind/Body split indicates that we think there is a mind separate from the body.
Obviously this is a big issue. One that I do not wish to over-simplify.
Stress can mean you are living in a fight/flight or emergency status Your body cannot differentiate between a life and death situation and getting stuck in traffic. This reaction can be helpful if we live in an environment where predators abound, but less helpful in everyday life. Stress causes a flood of hormones into the body, particularly adrenaline and cortisol which increases the heart rate and narrows the arteries.
So how can we give an equal amount of care and attention to our psychological well-being as we do to our physical? I will write more on this, but first give me some of your ideas on how to do this on our Facebook page…
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