Last weekend I had the huge parent joy of seeing my oldest son graduate with his Masters in Public Health from Westminster College (how I got old enough to allow that to be a reality astounds me – but not relevant here J). The Dean, in his commencement remarks, said something that has stayed with me all week. He said, we ask all incoming students, collaborators, donors and faculty one question when they begin our program: “Does your health matter to you?”
While you and everyone else typically responds to that question with a resounding YES – the data around our behavior shows a very different story.
What a question – “Does your health matter to you?” Of course it does. We all know that without our health, everything else gets compromised. Without our health, life and dreams can dramatically change.
And, of course, a few days after the commencement, I got knocked down by a cold with a high fever. Go figure.
Health is typically thought of in three ways: physical, emotional and mental. There are 12 systems within the human body that all interrelate and depend on each other for effective functioning (circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous, endocrine, immune, lymphatic, integumentary, skeletal, muscular and reproductive). Our human bodies are a very complex and awe inspiring.
Over the years, I’ve asked many doctors, why? Why do some people get sick and not others, whether we’re discussing colds, the flu, depression or cancer? The answer has been very consistent. It is some unknown and evolving formula related to genetics, environment and behavior, they say.
So if our health matters to us, do we become aware of our hereditary predispositions? Are we vigilant about preventing our exposure to chemicals and toxins put into our environment? Are we doing our best to take care of our bodies?
Our ability to take care of ourselves is a daily struggle, made up of decades of patterns, conditioning, personality and learning. How do we deal with stress? How do we relax? How do we deal with anger? What do we chose to put in our bodies? How do we translate our values into our behaviors?
When we run around, we don’t take time to breathe and breathe deep. When our bodies stay in an ongoing state of alertness against a perceived assault, our systems get tired. I am a living example of these words as I sit in bed with a killer sore throat.
So what if we didn’t need to hold so much inside? How does it feel to breathe in understanding? To really forgive ourselves and others; to let go of judgment and replace it with learning on the journey? How does it feel to spend a few minutes every day breathing in our own healing, allowing the light of this beautiful day to fill our being? How does it feel to learn to listen before answering so that we can deepen into the knowing that we are enough?
Data continues to pile up that these small steps dramatically help in our fight against disease and in our ability to achieve long-term radiant health. Please join me this week spending a few minutes every morning closing your eyes, breathing deeply in and out the words Health or Healing. Allow your body to relax into that feeling (I just did it and it really helped). Then take a minute or two to write down an intention – just one – to do something this week in honor of your health (a longer walk, one less cookie, a deep listening conversation with a loved one or colleague, etc.), and then take a minute to write down something you’re grateful for. These quiet shifts can make seismic changes. Here’s to our radiant health and the internal power of our amazing bodies.