A Broader Lens

Uncategorized Dec 15, 2020

Call me self serving, because right now, I surely am.  In fact, this selfishness of mine is 100% contrived AND intentional.  I’ve wrapped my family, my house, my practice and its members in a bubble.  I didn’t create this bubble to protect them from germs and viruses because, let’s face it, that bubble isn’t sustainable.  The purpose of my bubble is to assiduously guard my attentional space and my emotional tone.  My bubble is also a round-the-clock reminder that my mindset and of my emotional tone exactly determine the outcomes of my physical health. 

Am I the only one who feels a great deal of concern when I hear ads like the one on NPR this morning and the one I just heard on the PA system at my local grocery store?  Ads meant to remind us that “healthy habits include hand-washing, sneezing into our elbows, wearing a cloth covering over our mouth and nose and getting your flu shots”?  What are we?  Toddlers? Do these “habits” enhance the quality of our health or do they just keep us from becoming sick, because there is a difference, and our language about this is more important than ever.

The last thing I want to do is engage another mélée about masks or vaccines.  I understand the  current defensive strategy.  People are afraid.  When we’re afraid, we have no choice but to contract.  This contraction swings our pendulum straight into fight or flight.  Right now we are, literally fleeing from one another and it appears that yes, we are literally fighting, also.  This tête à tête of mine simply comes from the deluge of twilight zone mind cluster that keeps me up at night.  If your mind cluster is different than mine, then I encourage you to write about it.

Can we permit ourselves to look through a broader lens for a moment, since our current focused lens approach is saturated and certainly not neglected?  We’re consumed with the  current crisis everywhere we look.   We’re thoroughly being instructed as to how to handle this , but we’re instructed, in real time only.  We’re suffused with all the efforts and we’re more than informed about mask wearing, social distancing and “doing the right thing”.  

What about the road ahead though?  Looking at the horizon,  instead of right under our feet does appear to change the vista.  It helps out with the sea sickness and unbalance. Looking at the horizon graces us with a more optimistic perspective, if we allow it.  Looking to the future gives redefines “accountability” and puts a different spin on what self-preservation is.  It allows us to come out of our contracted state for a second so we can sit up straight and see beyond the storm.  

The 5, 10 and 25 year outlook predicts that this will most certainly happen again.  This presents  an incredible opportunity to discuss the real state of our health, well beyond the helplessness of a “silent enemy”.   

Zach Bush, MD, and expert in gut health says that our micro-ecosystems mimic our macro ecosystems.   His work highlights that our current state of crisis is directly proportional to the state of health of our planet, as it specifically relates to our shared microbiome (the flora in our gut).  The health of our microbiome determines how our immune systems handle viruses, as well as the respiratory infections that come secondarily to viruses, not specific to,  but including Covid19.

“Respiratory infection is one of the most common causes of death worldwide for children and adults and thus has claimed the lives of many thousands of people in the recent months. Each year, the vast variety of microbial sources for these infections varies. This year, a proportion of our global deaths from pneumonia will include the presence of COVID-19 (not likely to be the cause of death – just as with influenza, it is the secondary bacterial infections that typically are the cause of the death). The loss of these loved ones has a profound impact on their families, friends and colleagues regardless of the vector.

COVID-19 seems merciful in the sparing of children and young adults, but we should be saddened by the loss of our elders in a Western culture that has long forgotten to see, respect, and give close ear to our elders. May this respiratory virus that now shares space and time with us teach us of the grave mistakes we have made in disconnecting from our nature and warring against the foundation of the microbiome. If we choose to learn from, rather than fear, this virus, it can reveal the source of our chronic disease epidemics that are the real threat to our species”. - Zach Bush, MD

What’s interesting is that this has been on the radar for a whileAll disease comes from the gut” - Hippocrates

There are documented ways to improve the health of our microbiome and that of the planet.  Why aren’t we hearing about this on NPR and other news outlets?  In looking at the road ahead and how to save ourselves and each other, it seems necessary to look way beyond masks and vaccines because all fingers point to our health being entirely dependent on our ability to adapt to the world around us.  This being said, there are measures we can take to take care of our microbiome which include:

Eating real food, organic, non gmo, non processed (including fermented foods).

Doing away entirely with Glyphosates (by eradicating mass spraying of Monsanto products)

Spending time outside in the sunlight, exercising (breathing in your biome)

Staying well hydrated (drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water)

Focusing on breath work

Sleeping well

And… Thinking well. 

Before you roll your eyes with the predictability of another parley on whether or not our thoughts (and language) really do predict our outcomes, check this out.

In 1997, Candace Pert, PhD, a well recognized pharmacologist and neuroscientist, wrote the book Molecules of Emotion.   Dr. Pert discovered that every single one of our 37.2 trillion cells holds receptors which bind the neuropeptides produced in response to the way we think, which in turn, perpetuates our emotional state.  She says that every time you have an emotion, your cells bind this emotion on receptors that ultimately determine the expression of our health.  And…because we make nearly 2 trillion new cells every day, our emotions become replicated through cell division, which propagates more of those emotions, which creates more binding of these emotions to cells and on and on . (ever met someone who seems addicted to anger, or sadness or enthusiasm?)

Our bodies and mind, she discovered, aren’t distinct from one another but they are deeply intertwined and the body depends on a healthy sense of well being for healthy function.  Our physical bodies are the outward manifestation of our minds.  When we’re stressed or angry, or lonely or ashamed or scared, these are the specific neuropeptides that bind to each of our cells, including, but not limited to, the cells of our immune system.  When our cells are in a state of fight or flight, the cellular repair of cancer cells and immune modulating cells becomes interfered with and our ability to detoxify and modulate inflammation are arrested (just to name a few).

When we’re scared or worried or fearful or angry, our bodies perceive this emotional stress as being the same as physical stress and we literally experience a breakdown in our self-healing mechanisms.

Before we entered into this twilight zone of 2020, the United States already consumed over 80% of the world’s antidepressants.  Our current situation doesn’t bode well for our collective conciousness…unless we flip it.  And yes, according to the experts in this field,  we can flip it.

The science tells us that within just a few hours of experiencing a certain type of emotion, our cells are producing more cells which propagate these emotions and we, in turn, express the physicality to match them.  

This is why I protect my attentional space almost religiously.  This is why,  in our space at home and at work, we’re empathetic and sympathetic with those who suffer AND we place our focus on love and trust.   We’re constantly expansive with our vision for potential in ourselves and in our community because, well, what’s the alternative?

While the world around us is literally contracting (just listen to the language used in the news and on social media), we are diligently finding ways to expand and create.  This isn’t just a real “healthy habit” but it’s necessary if we want to come out of this as truly healthier people.  The roads between expansion and contraction travel in opposite directions and never the twain shall meet.  

There are easy, readily available ways to protect our space and to intentionally create growth, hope and expansion include:

Staying away from more than a few minutes per day watching the news.  It takes no more than 10 minutes to get caught up on current events.

Finding a creative outlet for at least 10 minutes per day.  

This doesn’t have to be fancy because simple things like home projects, cooking, writing, drawing, dancing are all expansive and they all promote growth.  Let’s remind each other that when we’re in a state of growth, our bodies automatically turn to repair, healing and protection.

Sleeping at least 7 hours per night.  

This is so simple that we tend to minimize its importance.  If you have to choose between exercising, reading, working,  or anything else in fact, sleeping (7-10 hours per night) is the healthiest choice 100% of the time.

Exercising every day.

Exercise is currently being found to be more effective than antidepressants and anti anxiety medications.  Exercising everyday right now isn’t just a good idea but it’s literally a genetic requirement.

Seeking out discomfort

Engaging in healthy stresses (eu-stress) like cold showers or plunges is shown to help with depression and anxiety.  It’s also shown to help with immune system function.  Look up Wim Hof’s breathing methods and cold immersion information, they’re easy, albeit quirky.

Trying something new.  

The moment we try something new, especially when it’s uncomfortable, we have no choice but to flip the switch into health and repair.  It engages our brains and tips the scales toward expansion.

Opening up our posture - literally.

When we stand with our chest puffed out and our chins up, it immediately changes our physiology.  It creates confidence and changes our state of being within 30 seconds.  Look up Amy Cuddy, PhD’s ted talk on body language.

Right now, Our focus needs to be laser sharp. 

It’s time for our dialogue about health to reach beyond just avoiding our neighbors, covering our faces and employing proper sneezing etiquette.  

Lifestyle choices, thinking, movement, sunlight, food choices, and everything we can do to enhance our potential is more important than ever. The time is now. The opportunity is here.  The choice is ours.

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