In life we have a number of proficiency licences, such as a driving licence, which demonstrates that we have reached a certain level of proficiency in handling and driving a vehicle. In having the licence there are certain rules of the road and road conduct that you agree to abide by, and when you don’t there can be further education, or even fines or other penalties.
For the last decade, as inspired by the work of Serge Benhayon, I have realised that from birth through to death there is very little or no guidance or proficiency expectation about how we live in our own body. Yes, some of us may have had parents or an upbringing where self-care and health and wellbeing were foundational, but many of us didn’t.
Whilst at school we learn maths, English and other topics such as history, religion, social studies, languages, and possibly biology and physics. But do we understand how our body works and how to inhabit this body for best effect so that we have an ever-deepening relationship with it, understanding the language of the body and how to take super care of it in any given circumstance? In reality, how proficient are we in taking care of ourselves in work and in life?
One of the reasons I ask this is from my own learning and inspiration from Universal Medicine workshops. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-forties that I even began to seriously consider building a relationship with my body, and to understand that there is a cause and effect in regards to the way I live: if I don’t take care of myself it has a detrimental effect on my body – when I do take care of myself, it has a supportive and nurturing effect on my body and on the way I am in life.
I also ask this as over the last decade I have undertaken a number of studies regarding self-care, particularly in a workplace setting, including a PhD about developing self-care at work. During this time I have spoken with over 4,000 people about their health and wellbeing at work and in their lives. Resoundingly, the same conclusions come up again and again:
- We know that there are things in the way we live our lives that do not support our body – e.g. smoking, drinking alcohol, sugar, caffeine, not getting enough sleep or rest.
- We know there are things that support us, e.g. hydration, eating nourishing food, stretching and exercise, and asking for support when we need it.
- We know when we get sick that we need to take greater care of ourselves, e.g. if we have a cold, flu, or virus.
- We know how to take care of others, whether we work in healthcare or not – we have all cared for a relative, friend, pet, child, elderly parent etc.
- We know that when we are ‘off our game’ that the quality of the work we do suffers, as does the quality of our relationships and life.
- When we are ‘on our game’ we are more able to focus, concentrate, maintain perspective, feel balanced, be open to those around us and go the extra mile if needed.
Yet somewhere along the way – even with this knowing – we (collectively across the globe) are not taking care of our bodies. For example, there are statistics every day in the media that indicate this:
“Illnesses associated with lifestyle cost the NHS £11bn.” (1)
“Nine in 10 cancers caused by lifestyle.” “Our research has shown that many cancers are caused by external factors, and that there are changes that we can all make to our lifestyles to significantly reduce our risk of cancer.” (2)
“’Lifestyle’ diseases the world’s biggest killer.” “Non-communicable diseases are now the leading cause of death around the world, with developing countries hit hardest, according to a new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO).” (3)
“Nearly Half of US Deaths Can Be Prevented With Lifestyle Changes.” (4)
So, whilst we may know certain aspects about our health and wellbeing, somewhere along the line we are either not applying them or we have a gap in our understanding as to how to live with proficiency (not perfection) in this physical body.
Given the pressures on healthcare systems worldwide and the impact this has on society, with:
- The need for dementia friendly towns and cities
- The decline in productivity and quality in the workplace from increasing illness rates: or the remodelling of our infrastructures due to the pandemic rise of obesity…
Wouldn’t it make sense that, from cradle to grave, we had some gentle (not ‘one size fits all’) approach to support us:
- With learning how the body is an exceptional barometer of our daily living choices (if we so choose to listen and or observe)
- In learning how to care for our human body so as to understand the phenomenal design and order that governs it all?
It may not be that we need a licence, but what if some degree of proficiency was expected from us, as our part in being a responsible citizen on the globe? And whilst expecting us to accept a degree of responsibility and care for our own body may not be agreed with by all, at the very least, what if we were all offered a form of self-care study during our upbringing, education and working lives that gave us the choice so that we could understand the way to care for and live in our body?
By Jane Keep, London
- BBC News. (2018). ‘Lifestyle illnesses’ cost NHS £11bn. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-37451773 [Accessed 7 May 2018]
- Knapton, S. (2018). Nine in 10 cancers caused by lifestyle. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/12055206/Nine-in-10-cancers-caused-by-lifestyle.html [Accessed 7 May 2018].
- ABC News. (2018). ‘Lifestyle’ diseases the world’s biggest killer. [online] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-04-28/lifestyle-diseases-the-worlds-biggest-killer/2695712 [Accessed 7 May 2018.
- (2018). 40% of US deaths can be prevented each year: here’s how. [online] Available at: http://time.com/84514/nearly-half-of-us-deaths-can-be-prevented-with-lifestyle-changes/ [Accessed 7 May 2018].