By Johanna Smith B.Ed, Cert Early Childhood, Teacher, Rockingham, Perth WA.
I recently attended a Universal Medicine event day, where a photo from the 1960’s/70’s was presented alongside a discussion forum around health. This photo was of a group of young people who looked at ease with each other, had genuine smiles on their faces, were of a healthy weight range and their bodies reflected an openness and naturalness. The photo was really pleasant to see and reminded me of the feeling of being free in my body that I had when I was very young – something that could not be faked.
As a whole, we looked at the photo and shared what we saw before us. There was pretty much a consensus that this photo was sharing something that was not commonly seen in today’s society. It was not only showing how the individuals were, but it also revealed how they were with each other, how they felt and more importantly what they were reflecting about life back then. A way of life that, from this photo, seemed to support bodies to look and feel vital, engaged, open and ‘healthy.
Serge Benhayon then presented and facilitated us through a valuable workshop around the word ‘Health’. Much was discussed that was clear and made complete sense, yet some of it I had not really considered before.
The presentation and conversations in the workshop made me realise that the words ‘health’ and ‘being healthy’ relate to something we have now come to perceive as something that we ‘do’ in life – as one part of life. We have, over time, created this meaning to be what it is today and put ‘health’ into its own compartment, somehow separate from the whole of life. Therefore we are now living by a false – a bastardised – definition of ‘true health.’
We started by talking and sharing what ‘health’ means today and this created lots of discussion. Serge asked the group to split up and sit into age groups of 80 year olds, 70 year olds, etc., all the way down to under 20 year olds. Each group discussed and shared life, health and what it meant and looked like for them as they were growing up. After this we all came back together to share what we had discussed in our age groups with the whole group.
In order for us to get the true picture of ‘health through the ages,’ Serge asked us to share about health and life from our age groups, starting with the oldest group all the way down to the youngest group. This is where the whole group was able to see and feel ‘health through the ages’ – basically how we as a society have moved from what was depicted and evident in the photo shown, to what we see and feel in people’s bodies, behaviours and attitudes in and around health today.
Generally it was shared that the people who were in their 80’s, 70’s and 60’s did not really have a clear definition of the word ‘health’ back when they were growing up, except that the absence of sickness generally meant you were healthy. These groups shared things like serious illnesses – such as cancers, diabetes, mental illness – were rare and hardly spoken about; that life and health was one and the same and it did not carry its own activities or definition. Life’s activities back then were what kept you healthy and people didn’t make time to ‘be healthy’ or ‘do health.’ This point alone was very interesting to hear. Health back then was without definition but the way of life was what supported healthy bodies. So at this point there was no compartmentalisation of ‘health’ in life.
Then, as those in their 50’s and 40’s shared, we could start to see that some health fads were coming in; being healthy was getting promoted, but life in general still had more play and activity than it does today. This group shared that people did do sport and for that they exercised and kept healthy, people did have an awareness about eating habits, yet there still was not a complete division between life and health, even though it was starting to creep in. This group also shared that more awareness of some illnesses were creeping in and it was heart disease that was spoken about the most at this point.
As those in their 30’s and 20’s shared, the absolute shift and compartmentalisation of health was obvious along with the great deterioration in the way of life, relationships, behaviours and activities, and the dramatic increase of serious illnesses and diseases within it. This group shared that being healthy meant you went to the gym, went for a run, did aerobics, ate certain fad foods, were a particular image and fitted in, and so on. Yet health here all took place in isolation to life, was a part in life but not a natural part of a way of living.
This means that activities and behaviours that go completely against ‘true health’ – ones that in fact abuse the body such as drinking, excessive exercise, smoking, starving oneself, overeating, eating sugary and fatty foods, spending excessive time on technology devices, getting little sleep, working in drive and so on, can play out while the body that is doing them still considers itself ‘healthy’ because it spends some time at the gym or ‘doing health’ now and then. And so the lie of health today is revealed.
Meeting the criteria of the current compartmentalised perception of health today such as going to the gym, exercising and eating certain foods, does not mean that one is truly healthy. One could say that this mentality allows us in society to continue in our ill ways and deteriorate, without choosing to be aware of unhealthy patterns and behaviours, let alone look at the root cause of why we choose them. The lack of self-responsibility is then taking place because we collectively now ‘box’ what ‘health’ is. How can we ever consider that true health is about the ‘all of us’ – our mental health, our physical health, our way of relating to people, our confidence, feeling settled and supporting our body and ourselves in all areas so that we can be all that we are designed to be in life – if health today is a tick box exercise?
The thing is, we all have values and every human being on earth knows these deep down. True Health means we consider how we work, how we relate, speak with family and friends, the depth and quality of all our relationships and interactions, maintaining a consistency, respect, sensitivity and much more. It means we consider absolutely everything about us; how we are and most of all the fact that others are always on some level affected by what we think, say, do and express in life, just as much as we are. We may think whatever we like, but our bodies reveal the truth of our choices and the quality of the relationship we have with them, ourselves and life is the foundation for living in a way that is either harming or truly healthy.