Waking Up To Our Health

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By Mark Lundegren

There comes a time, in the life of every person pursuing natural health and well-being, when we literally awaken one day to our health.   I’d like to talk with you about this experience, even if it is hard to describe, so you can look for it and know what it is when it happens in your life.

Waking to our health is an intimate and personal experience, unique and special for each of us in when and how it occurs, and thus one that is difficult to describe as I said. But like our emerging from physiological sleep, our waking to health also has a commonality across people.  It is something we can and should discuss, and is an important milestone we come upon along the path to greater health and well-being.

As the phrase suggests, awakening to our health involves a sudden insight or experience, one including a realization that permanently alters our perspective on our health, ourselves, and the world.  It is the personal recognition of a gateway we are entering or have crossed, leading to a new phase of our lives.  With this insight, we look at our life and health with new eyes and new sensitivity.  We grasp a simpler and deeper meaning of what it is to be healthy.  We understand, for the first time, the living or lived reality of our health and what we are seeking to create in our lives, as we pursue the path of our health and well-being. 

Our sudden waking to our health is almost always a memorable event in our lives, one that is easily recalled and often still affects us even years after it occurs. In discussing the experience with others, people describe it as a vivid and unexpected new outlook or perception, a simple and clearer comprehension of the complex idea of healthy life that had been developing in them but was still not fully composed.  I have heard others refer to their waking as a more complete understanding of the new life they want and are creating with their health.

When we awaken to health, the nature of the path we are pursuing and its practical consequences for us appear to us intensely and intimately.   We understand health in a new, more forceful, and far more concrete way.  We can see and feel how our health is driving choices in our lives and how these choices are converging, into a new state of life for us and more than simply an abstract idea or goal.  We often can see forward into this new life we are creating for ourselves, see more tangibly this life on a day-to-day basis, and see the critical steps we must ensure we take or the obstacles we must overcome to get to this new life.  And we can often better perceive how we are perceived, how the force of healthy change has or will affect the people around us.

After waking to our health, our motivation toward and feelings about health are changed.  We see our health forming a spiritual center in our lives, increasing and informing our personal strength, and giving our lives heightened intensity, purpose, meaning, and even humanity. Health and well-being become more than simply attributes of our lives, more than lifestyle choices.  Health becomes the practical means to a new and higher way of living.  Our health becomes our means and our end.

My Awakening One Day

I awoke to my health one day several years ago, but can remember the experience as if it were yesterday.  I was lying in bed early on a Saturday morning, the first rays of a spring day touching the trees outside my window, the birds singing.  I remember gazing up at the light, starting to think about the day ahead, and then a sudden new thought coming, one that held my attention and would not let go.

My waking to health forced me to sit up and take in the experience over several minutes. I remember consciously exploring as much of this insight as I could at the time and that it was an interconnected collage of feelings, images, and thoughts.  When the experienced passed, I was myself again and not myself.  I was left with new ideas and outlooks to contemplate and a need to clarify for myself the many ideas and images imbedded in this experience. 

For me, as I suggested already, my waking to health was a new understanding of the physical and personal reality of enhanced health, and the true nature of a life of sustained commitment to health and well-being. It was a new emotional appreciation of the simple reality of our health and healthy life, coming on the heels of many choices I had made and was making at that time in my life – which were compounding and unfolding in ways I had not fully appreciated.  My awakening was a palpable, poignant realization of what I was really doing with my life, as my life evolved into a quest for greater health.  I found myself face-to-face with something and someone familiar and yet strangely new – my future life and myself in that life.

That morning, for the first time, I truly appreciated what I was doing with my life in my pursuit of new health and well-being.  I realized then that my pursuit of health had substantially impacted me and my relationships with others already, closing some very specific and familiar doors and possibilities that had been open to me, and closing off certain relationships from my past, while presenting new opportunities and new relationships, most that I had not imagined before and was now just beginning to fully appreciate for their intricacy and power.

In my case, I had not made any significant decisions on the eve of my waking to health. In fact, the prior week had been a fairly ordinary one, to the extent that any week is ordinary when we are consciously seeking progressive well-being in our lives and with our time.  But my awaking had been preceded by a number of interconnected decisions and choices, some small and easily made, and others not so small and some quite difficult, over the course of several months.

I was at a much higher level of fitness than ever before in my life, even though I was in my early forties and even after having spent years seeking more optimal health in various traditional and alternative ways. I had been following for a time what would later become the HumanaNatura diet and exercise programs, and had made changes in my personal life that brought me closer to the goals of what I would later term natural living.

That spring morning, I saw clearly and felt tangibly that I was becoming a new person, and a different person. I understood how I was moving into a broader and less certain personal space, a real space and not a hypothetical or conceptual one, a living space in the world, rich in the possibilities and limitations that the world creates in any life.  I also saw that my life was becoming materially different and that many of the changes I was making were permanent and irrevocable.   I even sensed in new ways how the people around me were perceiving me, how they felt about the many changes I was making.  I was different in their eyes, and I now saw that more plainly.  Some people were clearly moving away from me, others toward me and some with a speed and with expectations I was not sure I could live up to.

The reality and consequences of specific decisions I had made in the prior year, based on my new understanding of natural health and desire for a more natural life, confronted me that morning in an acute and potent way. In that time, I had relocated to a smaller city and separated from several close friends and my long-term companion.  I had made a number of smaller personal changes in my life too, ones that seemed incremental at the time and I had not thought much about.  In turn, had gradually begun to migrate towards new friendships and uses of my time that were more health focused, a task made easier by my relocation and new distance from friends who were less health-oriented.

Looking back, I really had started over, re-grounding myself in important ways and beginning the task of creating a more deliberate and healthier life, but I had not fully appreciated this and certainly had not thought through the combined impact of the many changes I was making.   I had felt hopeful in this process, especially because by health and fitness were greatly improved, but also somewhat disconnected from changing events in my life and relativistic about many of my choices. 

My awaking to health that morning gave me new perspective and an added ability to look ahead and better sense my future.  It certainly gave me a more holistic view of my actions and a new and more grounded view of what was fairly radical personal change (if seemingly incremental and measured at any particular point).

A Needed New Perspective

In the immediacy of our lives, as in my case, it is easy to think and talk about health in an abstract way, or as a set of ideas and goals only. It is even often fairly straightforward to make a great many incremental decisions in favor of our health and healthier life: eating one food instead of another, exercising more or differently, going to a new place or taking on a new activity rather than a familiar one, or spending time with one person and not another.

Without the unique perspective that comes from waking to our health, such choices may be very discrete and lack true cohesiveness.  We may lack an intuitive feel and tangible sense of how small but sustained decisions and choices compound and come together in our lives, into a whole far greater than its parts. We may not fully appreciate just how far interconnected, health-focused changes can carry us over time, even in the short period of several months. We easily can fail to connect the dots and not understand the new and larger patterns emerging in our lives, not see them concretely and for what they really are.

On the spring morning when I woke up to my health, I suddenly saw health less in terms of physiology and statistic and more as a tangible way of living, one that was emerging in my life and making me other than as I was or as many are around me. I saw how natural health had begun to insist that I become a stronger, more insightful and compassionate, and more complete person – someone I had always wanted to be and had previously wanted others in my life to be for me.  My health was moving me into new places and into new places in me, challenging and remaking me, while giving me the strength to endure and manage this change.

Since the day when I woke to health, I have wavered far less on my path to health but have also been far less romantic or esoteric about what healthy life is.  I remain aware of how my life has changed and continues to change in very practical ways as I pursue specific goals related to my health and life, and I better remember that I am now different – from how I once was and from how many people are today. I have used the memory of my waking to become transformed and to transform my own thinking about health and what it means to be well.  And I have remained more aware of the perceptions of people who know me, their range and evolution of feelings about my pursuit and now advocacy of health practices (from frequent skepticism and curiosity to new acceptance and even attentiveness), and how this can enable and limit opportunities for them and me.

Today, remembering my own life before and after my awakening to health, I am less likely to take my health for granted or to minimize or understate the work that it is for us all to uncover our health.  I have a better perspective on the choices I have made and the things I have given up to get to where I am, and the persistence and non-conformity these things require (and thus the uneasiness and fear they can engender too). I see natural diet and exercise differently too, as important but smaller matters in our lives, techniques that facilitate our health but ones that are relatively modest pursuits and even self-limiting, without the redefinition and expansion of our concept of health that is the essence of HumanaNatura’s focus on natural living.

Your Own Awakening

Perhaps you too have already awoken to your health, and now see yourself and your pursuit of health in a new, fuller, and more personalized way. Perhaps your experience was like mine – a sudden seeing of your actions in a new light and in their totality – or maybe it was a different experience. Others have described their waking as emerging from the dream around them,  dawn after a long night closed off from the real world, and being suddenly untangled from a limiting web of commitments and relationships.

But maybe you are still waiting for your awakening to health. If that is where you are today, take heart. Be hopeful and be persistent in your quest for health and new well-being. Focus for now and have the courage to act on the everyday matters that form the foundation of our natural health and future well-being.  Have faith that in time you will gain the new perspective on your changing life that our waking to health is, a perspective that requires change before it can be realized.  And be comforted with the idea that your wakening is likely not something you can force or rush.

In a day, or a month, or a year, maybe on a spring morning with the light just in the trees, you will awaken to your health too. You will have a new, more expansive, and more intimate perspective on your health, your life, and our world.

Then and now, we will be waiting to hear about and encourage your own awakening to your health.

Mark Lundegren is the founder of HumanaNatura.

Tell others about HumanaNatura…encourage modern natural life & health!

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