As a nation becoming dependent on the health care system is something we seem to have slipped into subconsciously. A dependency that is symptomatic of deeper issues within our society. Generation after generation have pushed their bodies and minds to breaking point and then simply keeled over, broken, crawling towards that referral to see a specialist or using medication as a scaffold to keep us going.
Yea, i know! A pretty gloomy view. Gloomy yes! But a view that seems to reflect the subconscious reliance many people have come to have on the health care system in our country. Don't get me wrong. We are very fortunate to have the NHS and there are time in all our lives we are grateful for it's existence, whether for ourselves or for our loved ones. As a nation we are stronger, richer and healthier (mostly) because of it. No the problem, in my opinion, is not with the system but with the way we have come to lean on it for our health and well being. It is as though we have come to expect it - the NHS, GPs, medication, surgery - to be 'responsible' for our health and well being, taking the ownership of ourselves away from, well, ourselves.
But don't lose heart. The outlook is looking brighter. Change is afoot. There appears to be an awakening to the idea that our own health and well-being starts and finishes in our own hands. And this is good. It is a start. It not only means we can become responsible for our own health but we also take control of it. Becoming the architects of how our bodies and minds develop and progress. This is evolving through awareness and education in the long run.
Much more attention is being paid now to 'alternative' medicine - a strange title really if we accept that there are many ways to bring about homeostasis within our bodies then any and all approaches that work (and not just those sanctioned by 'conventional' medicine practitioners). Looking at these alternatives to conventional medicine which were once the 'conventional medicine route; western herbal medicine, massage, kinesiology, acupuncture, reflexology, Qigong, traditional Chinese medicine, ayurvedic medicine, aroma therapy - it could be easy to see, when approached in the right way and at the right time, how conventional western medicine is a small element on a wider spectrum of health care. But important yes. No denying it. But being well is as much about staying well as it is about treating illness.
However, this ownership of our own health and well being comes through an approach that must parallel not only how we treat ourselves when we are ill but, and more importantly, how we treat our selves when we are well. Staying well as apposed to treating illness is as important if not more important for this shift in our dependence on the conventional medical route to manifest completely. Long term planning that includes our entire being is paramount to maintain homeostasis. Through diet, exercise, outlook, care of others, care and concern of the world we live in. Thoughts and actions that go beyond the self and the short term fixation or gratification we have come to strive toward and expect from our health care system. It is the long term that that takes that effort over time but also delivers a deeper satisfaction a more profound and longer lasting sense of self and well being. Not easy when we have been reared on short term fixes for immediate problems. Band aids for symptoms as apposed to lifestyles for change.
Obvious stuff i know. And it is on my mind as i write this that if you have chosen to read this then I am likely preaching to the converted. But hey! Repetition is learning. And there in lies the crux of the issue. Education and repetition! Educating ourselves as individuals is the first step. Allowing this to become that subconscious background that shifts the direction of our whole society, our whole species, is something that is likely to take time, and repetition. Lots of repetition from people in greater places of influence than my own. But we each do what we can. What else is there other than to try?
I like to think we are on that path, that the shift has already taken place and now we need only keep things focused in that direction long enough to allow time to fulfill itself, to allow the ideas, the change, to transcend into a deeper aspect of our shared consciousness.
Food is medicine and exercise is a cure but only if it is a part of our life. It cannot serve to scaffold or band aid chronic issues as they arise. But it can serve to change them over time, so it is never to late to begin a change. This is that shift in mindset that needs to take place within our society as well as for the individual. It has begun. We all now know the effects of eating the right and wrong foods, of the importance of exercise. These are now elements taught to our children from an early age. Just imagine if they were also taught to think of the environment in which they live as the source of health and medicine, if they were taught to practice a little mindfulness every day, a little meditation. The Dalai lama said that if every 8 year old was taught to meditate we would eradicate violence from the world in one generation. I kind of think he makes a good point as research has shown how meditation has a positive and calming effect on our children's concentration, reasoning, confidence, empathy and ability to learn. We live in a time of paradox. While the threats to our health and species have never been so pronounced we also have never had such a wealth of traditions and knowledge at our disposal in history as we do now.
It is not so easy to do this when our leaders fix their strategies, their policies to appeal to the immediate, to the short term. Like our own health, the health of our society, country, world, requires deeper earnest. A longer term approach that starts immediately. It should not be a surprise that the problems we see mirrored in ourselves, in our own mental and physical health, are reflected in our world at large. From the environment degradation to social unrest; from political upheaval to greed and the quest for short term gratification, from financial superiority to the mindless pursuit of power; all part of the same issue. What came first our species problems or the problems faced by individuals. I don't think they can be differentiated. They are one in the same thing and it is the selfishness or shortsightedness of them both that have lead to our current situation. We are taught to be this way from a young age. We are shown by the actions of those around us how to become an adult. And no matter what we say to our children, no matter what our parents said to us, what we do, what they did, became the blueprint for our own behaviors and aspirations. It takes effort to break that cycle. I always question things we are taught to accept. the news is a good starting point.
I like to think it is not 'the' news it is instead 'bad' news and we chose to let this become our view of the world. But i guess if we are taught to perceive the world as a pretty terrible place we find it easier to accept the things we are not happy with about our own lives.
So what to do?
Do what you can. What else is there? Implement the changes you can bit by bit. With the health of our bodies many people are put off with the time implications involved. But it seriously does not have to take a lot of time to make change if approached in the right way. Little and often as my teacher used to say.
Take those few minutes out during the day to stretch a little, to take the mind away from everything out there and become aware of what is inside for just a few short breaths. It is a start and it can have a trans-formative affect on ones life. And when we view things differently, calmly, from a place of stillness, even only for just a few short minutes, it can have a trans-formative effect on the world around us.
Quantum physics suggests that the act of awareness changes the thing we perceive. It sounds so abstract when delivered with words like 'quantum physics' in the same sentence but the action is simple. Just take a little time out for yourself everyday and the change, while not bursting forward in a flurry of sensation, will manifest in your life and then the life of everyone around you. And just imagine if everyone did this.
Simply, if you are feeling tired, stiff, and run down take a few minutes out 3 times a day (2 minutes will have an effect) and stretch and breathe deeply, letting your thoughts follow the breath and actions. Look up a few yoga stretches on YouTube, there is a wealth of material at our disposal. play with it. Experiment until you find what works for you. Keep this up for a week and see what differences you notice in yourself. Keep it up for a month and see the differences others notice in you. Keep it up for a the rest of your life and see the difference manifest in the world.