Sunday, April 15, 2012

Health is a Process

We tolerate even see it s a right that smokers take time out of their routine to smoke their cigarette outside. What we don't seem to accept, take as a right is that we - the non smoker - take time to go outside to breathe fresh air. Some of you might even feel guilt just by the thought of taking that time: What would the colleagues/boss say? Even now when I write this observation I can feel my own abdomen knotting up just by imagining needing to explain a colleague or superior going for a fresh air pause. 

How has it come this far? 
How conditioned am I?.... are we?

Health is a process. 

Have you ever asked yourself the question: What is health? 

Write down 10 behaviours that contribute to health. 

How many of those 10 are you applying in every day life? 

Maybe you could have some meaningful conversations about this topic with your friends and family. Meaningful and not a I'm wright you're wrong match, use a talking piece if you feel that will help guide or slow down the conversation. 

How do you feel about your answer?

I'm not here to judge you. But when you're reading this book then it means most likely that you are seeking something. By now you probably realise that you won't find the answers you seek in this book but rather within you and that these words are a mere catalyst for that process. Your health process. Or at least that's my intention. 

Health is a process. Health hasn't stopped when you're ill nor have we achieved it when we are healthy.  

Health is very active when we're hanging over the toilet bowl trowing-up after a big night out or when that steak tartare (raw minced meat dish) wasn't that fresh after all. 

You might feel as sick as a dog but imagine if your body hadn't reacted with the 'get this out of here as quickly as possible' reaction. What would that excess alcohol or the bacteria have done when they had stayed in your body! Mmmm... the probability of dying would have been increased if anything... 

No, being sick isn't always a sign of not being in health. However when conditions are chronic - you keep on throwing up day after day - then one could speak of impaired health. In other words, the health process will still be active but is out of balance. Its self regulatory mechanism is impaired and needs help. 

Time for reflection... 

Lets have a look at what the World Health Organisation (WHO) writes about health. Their definition is: Health is a state of complete of physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. 

 I never get it what they are trying to say, do you? But what I like you to reflect on is the word 'state' in this definition. (Although the word complete in this definition is also questionable) 

Health is a 'state'?

I'm not an expert on language, any language for that matter, not even my mother tongue which is Dutch or as Belgians like to call it, Flemish. That aside, saying health is a state then I interpret health as being a pinnacle something you try to reach, a far fetched ideal, a goal, a peak, in any case something short in time...

In psychology for example they use the term an emotional state which last only a few seconds. This compared to a mood which lasts from a couple of hours to some days and an emotional trait last more then a few years. I do recognise that before I started to look into what health is, that when I was ill I indeed tended to see it as the goal to be free from the annoyances that were bothering me and wanted to get rid of them as quickly as possible (the latter I still do I'm human after all). Now I try to live a life where I listens to my health and try as much as possible to interact with it. But it doesn't stop me from being ill or having illness symptoms. Like the other day a conversation got me deeply hurt (old wounds that got poked at) and ended left me frustrated and turned inward (best that you don't talk to me for a while when I'm in that mood) and 24h later I developed herpes zoster around the left corner of my mouth. I had the herpes zoster blisters turn up before ones it was after a dentist visit. Again it was through frustration. No, not towards the dentists, she's lovely and very careful and considerate I was so frustrated by the sensation the slow frequency drill that dentists use, gave me. It provoked anger in me and I was frustrated because I didn't want to feel that anger. This internalisation of frustration/anger seems to express itself with giving me herpes zoster on a place around my mouth. 

I'm not sure if you're still following me. Hope I do make sense to you here.

To get back to health as a process, what I want to convey is that health is not a moment, nor is it a peak. Health is a process it is ongoing and it is present all the time. Yes it might be out of balance but if you're still alive then health is within you. If you are alive and ill then health has been perturbed in it's expression. But in whatever condition you are health is there until the day you exit this world.

Question: How long does a mountaineer stay on the top of Mount Everest? 

Answer: It depends on the weather....

Answer continued: The weather will determine if it is seconds, minutes but it will not be more then a couple of hours. (I did verify this with a Belgian mountaineer who's been on the top) 

What do you learn from that? I learned that arriving is not the goal/purpose. Health is not a goal in itself it is a process. Just like the mountaineer his expeditions' goal/purpose is not arriving on top of the mountain it is the whole process from the idea to the return home and beyond. Imagine if arriving on the top was the sole purpose/goal... 

Doesn't take away that it is a human condition that arriving is exhilarating and a moment we cherish. When this book is published (for you who are reading this on my blog yes it is meant for a book) also I will pop a bottle of champagne or two to celebrate but in the meanwhile while writing, reflecting upon its content and all the moments in-between I'm enjoying consciously the process and in my heart celebrate each word.

Health, process... not a moment, nor a peak... ongoing. So right now! 

How do you feel about that? 

The Dalai Lama invited Richard Davidson (The Emotional Life of your Brain to his home in India in 1992 to pose a question: Scientists often study depression, anxiety and fear, but why not devote your work to the causes of positive human qualities like happiness and compassion? the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader asked. "I couldn't give him a good answer," recalled Davidson, a University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist. (From the Dalai Lama's website: 

I'm asking you again when have you asked yourself the question what is health? Like me you think and know more about disease don't you? We've been brought up - Westerners - in a society which seems to have forgotten that health is a process that needs conscious attention and can not be given out of hand. No, the doctor or therapist is not there to give you health. All the books in the world will not do that nor does this one. No proposed diet, pill, tool will give you health. 

Click, click, click... is that your brain processing this information... 

Reality check: Who am I? Yes I know that what I write is not the truth. It is what I think and for me it is real but is it the truth. I don't know. My limited experiencing is forming these thoughts and I'm just sharing it with you. End of reality check, or at least for now. 

How do you feel? I will ask this question a lot as it is important that you take a moment to reflect, think for yourself and question my words.

No comments: