You are – and have always been – ‘the boss’
The global ‘health’ crisis we are observing in the world today has brought new opportunities and awareness. It seems clear that the current approach (quarantine and economic shutdown) cannot repeat itself whenever a virus might come along. Reliance on this type of strategy could bring the world into a great depression, potentially even greater than the Great Depression.
Faced with the challenge of adapting to and integrating the novel coronavirus (and potentially similar future challenges), you may be wondering:
Am I healthy enough to survive the novel coronavirus?
Where does health come from?
How does a person go about creating and building health?
Both as individuals and as a collective we are called to consider our level of overall health (and our capacity to develop immunity) and take action appropriately. This article will present some important concepts in the understanding of ‘health’ and will provide some perspective on increasing our future health.
Health as an outcome
Let’s start with the simple clarification that health and immunity are results (i.e. they are outcomes). They are the result of the proper and successful function of the body over time. The cells of the body are constantly renewed and – over the course of approximately two years – are nearly all replaced with a fresh generation of cells. The intelligence that coordinates body function is constantly working to maintain the body’s structure and also to identify and respond to any forces (including bacteria and viruses) that may act to disturb the integrity within. Based on what happens in our life, our level of health is constantly changing. Factors like nutrition, rest and stress converge energetically and impact how well the body is able to rebuild itself. At any point in time, health becomes a snapshot of the level of internal organization and performance that we have.
Change is a process
Any change in a person’s health status involves a process that occurs over time. Moving to a new (future) level of health requires a change in the structural organization, functional coordination and synergistic action of all our parts (cells, tissues, organs and systems).
Remember, the cells of the body are constantly being renewed. In subsequent iterations of the body, when the organization and cooperation of the parts are well maintained, we call it health. When the internal organization and coordination of the body increases, we call it healing. With healing, our health status and quality of life improves. When the body is unable to maintain itself effectively in its environment, initially we see a rise in ‘dis’-ease physiology and potentially, subsequent decreases in the body’s internal organization (tissue pathology and disease).
Ideally, our new, next body manifests more organization, more coordination and more synergy so that we can experience an increase in performance and quality of life, i.e. a positive change in health status.
Both health and disease take time to manifest.
Responding with ease
Science has shown that our access to influence our future health is in how we live the moments of our lives. How we focus our energy may either facilitate or impair our intelligence’s ability to maintain the body in active organization and respond effectively to any challenges that arise.
At every point in time the energetic resources of the body are directed intelligently towards the benefit of the organism. When we are at ease in the experience of our life and circumstances, there is stability and efficiency in the physiology of the body. Please note that, although there are certain life events that would disturb even the most enlightened zen master, this has primarily to do with our ability to remain at ease and is mostly independent of any external circumstance. This particular configuration, state or ‘way of being’ (ease) is governed by the parasympathetic nervous system and allows for healing, rest and recovery in the body. You can breathe fully and easily. The blood flows easily and the heart pumps effortlessly. Vital fluids (blood, lymph and interstitial fluids) move freely in and out of all the systems, organs, tissues and cells of the body, allowing the unimpeded delivery of nutrients, the proper drainage of cellular waste products and the elimination of toxins from the body. The body is relaxed and relatively free of muscular tension; we experience a calmer state of mind and a more conscious state of being.
Ease, peace, freedom and love allow our cells to respond, adapt and grow ‘properly’ (optimally). When this happens consistently over time our result is health.
Reacting in ‘fight-flight-freeze’
During times of crisis, and in the response to the many challenging and overwhelming stresses of the modern world, the body mobilizes its resources differently. There is a departure from ease because there is a perceived energetic requirement. To meet the demands of the moment, nature has provided an intelligent solution. It’s called ‘fight-flight-freeze’ mode, or the ‘sympathetic state,’ and is appropriate in specific circumstances. In such cases when the survival of the individual is threatened, it may be necessary to escape or defend.
This intelligent and coordinated effort of the body – and its reallocation of valuable energetic resources – is associated with a different type of biology and physiology. It generates a burst of energy and positions us to meet the emergent circumstances of the moment. This ‘way of being’ is not energetically sustainable and is not meant to continue for extended periods of time.
When your boss is freaking out
Imagine you’re at work, sitting in your cubicle and you get a call from your boss. You pick up the phone and your boss is freaking out. Your boss is very concerned about what might happen today and explains that there could be a problem at any time; something very serious and potentially dangerous may be on the horizon. You ask, ‘What’s this all about?’ Your boss doesn’t have any more details to share, they just wanted to give you the heads up and ask that you be ready for anything. You say ‘okay…’ and get off the phone. Next thing you know, your colleague’s phone rings and it’s your boss having the same conversation with your neighbour. And so the news spreads throughout the office.
Now, imagine the entire day goes by, and nothing happens. You don’t hear from your boss again and neither does anyone else. Some people, including your manager, try to get some more information, but the story remains vague and unclear: ‘just be ready for anything.’ So being a responsible worker who wants to do a good job, you try your best to be productive and get some work done, but it’s challenging. With the uncertainty of this potentially devastating possibility looming overhead, it’s difficult to focus and get any ‘real’ work done. Every time the phone rings, you can feel yourself ‘amping up’ with readiness but nothing happens. Eventually you go home and attempt to go about your usual after-work routines, but even though you’ve left the office, the news continues to impact your state of being and influence how you feel.
The next day, when you arrive at work, you get another call from your boss to the same effect, with no new information and no additional details. Again, you hear the same conversation happening with your neighbours. Like yesterday, nothing happens and you go home slightly less disturbed than the day before.
Ready for nothing: disconnection and exhaustion
Now, let’s say the pattern described above repeats for days, weeks and months. It’s likely that one of two things will happen. Either (a) you will start to ignore your boss and get back to business as usual (despite the continued and painful repetition of this alarm sounding each morning), or (b) you become totally exhausted from the continued preparedness for something big and scary that never actually comes. The consequence of the former is that you become less sensitive to incoming information. The result of the latter is that you are too depleted to respond effectively, even if the information is accurately received. This is exactly what it’s like for your cells living under the rule of a stressed-out ‘boss,’ with the brain enacting a panic-arousing management style, spreading mania and hyper-vigilance throughout the cellular population of your body.
Implications for health and immunity
This ‘fight-flight-freeze’ mode, governed by the sympathetic nerve system, has proved an important asset for our survival in nature. However, in today’s world we live in a society where so many of us sit at computers, isolated and under chronic stress to meet deadlines and produce results. Additionally, many families have 2 working parents and very busy schedules. Commonly, the result is that we end up living much of our lives in a chronic sympathetic, dis-ease nerve system mode and pattern. As stress and uncertainty increase, the body releases stress hormones, creating a more persistent low-to-medium level readiness. We’re not actually mounting the full response to run and/or fight for our lives, but we aren’t ever truly relaxing either. Over time, this half-stressed/half-relaxed way of being chews up our energetic resources, leading to decreased tissue resilience and decreased immunity.
How can the body get any real work done (cellular replacement, detoxification, immunological performance and healing) when there is always an emergent crisis on the horizon? The reality is it can’t – at least not very well. Definitely not properly or optimally. So, many things get put ‘on-hold.’ Physiologically, we are bathed in the chemistry of a life-threatening emergency, energetically positioned for a massive output, only to find ourselves sitting in a chair and eating chips.
Without the opportunity to clear and resolve this fight-flight-freeze positioning, more stress and tension accumulate in the body and over time, there is a shift at the cellular level. With the persistence of stress hormones and neurotransmitters in the body, the pH of the blood acidifies and the ease in our way of being can be seriously compromised. This negatively impacts our ability (and willingness) to feel our body. And so the cycle of disconnection begins. Many will resort to alcohol, drugs, overeating and vegging in front of the TV, being fed mind negativity as a way to disconnect from the feeling of what’s happening inside. This chronic sympathetic nerve system activity is a drain the body’s resources and creates a generalized overwhelm that significantly impacts the ability of the cells to grow, respond and adapt effectively.
You are – and have always been – ‘the boss’
There is a way to create a shift and guide the body – and its legions of cells – back towards the conditions that create health. It is possible to steer the whole ship and its enormous crew towards the desired destination.
When we become conscious of what we are and what we’re creating, we have more options to course correct and generate different outcomes.
Let’s get real: who’s in charge of all these cells anyway?
You guessed it – it’s you.
Amazingly, the tone of the thoughts and feelings that is broadcast from our consciousness, over our nerve system and into the structure of our body, is what changes the game.
What’s it like to be in charge of millions and billions of individual workers?
How can we support our cells and create a better physiological environment for them to carry out their individual tasks?
Cellular management – Part 2
Leading the cells of the body to work together effectively.
The second article offers some direction on how to be a great boss and manage your cells more effectively.