We call them diseases but they are the cure of disease.Hippocrates, known as the Father of Medicine
To empower wellness in yourself is to make a daily practice of doing things that support your ongoing physical, mental/emotional and spiritual health.
Over half a century ago the World Health Organization formalized this definition of health: “a complete state of physical, mental (again, I would add spiritual) and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
In this definition the measure of health does not rest solely on whether we are visibly sick at the moment or not.
And social well-being implies an intrinsic, ongoing, harmonious relationship with our external world, which I will argue, includes our relationship with the sea of microbes we share space with.
Based on the behavior that I’ve seen, the general public seems to have gotten the idea that in order to stay healthy we must keep ourselves separate from the microscopic world, as if we’re waging a war against a threatening “other.”
Protection is certainly one job of our immune system.
But it’s more complicated than that since some cool research has been done that makes it clear that we could never be separate from the world of bacteria and viruses.
Not only is the world of microbes not other, in one sense they are more us that us, which leads me to some interesting conclusions regarding their relationship with us and our health.
Absent from the mainstream, healthcare narrative is anything about the vital force that maintains our body’s health and wellness from within and despite the fact that our environment is teeming with bacteria and viruses.
A hint that we need a more nuanced approach than competing with the world of microbes the way we do is the fact that the same life force energy that animates our health and wellness is the same life force energy that animates theirs.
When we’re conscious of that life force energy in our bodies, and connected to it, synergy between us and the microscopic kindgdom is the result.
A sign of that synergy, and the ultimate measure of wellness, is our ability to adapt to our environment and grow with it as it evolves.
It’s my assertion that ninety-nine times out of a hundred (or ninety-nine trillion times out of a hundred trillion, as it were) the world of bacteria and viruses is our helper in this evolution.
First, let’s stand back and look at the big picture.
As a dynamic, self-organizing, living system our Planet does what all dynamic, self-organizing, living systems do.
It trends towards greater and greater levels of complexity and higher levels of organization, a.k.a. evolution.
Our planet is changing and evolving, and through our connection to it, it is exerting pressure on us to entrain to its rhythms and evolve with it.
The change in the seasons is one example of this pressure.
The change in the season can be a bit abrupt as shorter days, fewer hours of sunlight, colder temperatures and drier conditions descend on us almost overnight.
This shift in our environment invites us to adopt a different internal rhythm and requires that we take in more and different nutrients.
If we could allow ourselves to pay close enough attention to our internal rhythms during this time of year we’d find the natural impulse to get quiet, to let our attention be drawn inward, to focus on what’s pertinent to the present moment, to be less social, to work less, to stay close to home, to get more rest, to eat nutritious and warming foods, to get more vitamin C and D to counteract the decreased exposure to sunlight and to drink more water.
But the rhythms imposed on us by our consumer culture, through the constant drumming of the media, are at odds with the rhythms that our environment invites us to entrain to.
We have a tendency to let our media frenzied, consumer culture set the tone: we focus outward, we get busier, we get more extroverted, we go shopping, we go to parties, we get less sleep, we eat lots of sugar and drink lots of alcohol.
We get out of sync with our environment.
Is it any wonder we then “get sick?”
It’s my opinon that getting sick is the reconciling process we go through when we’ve gotten out of sync with our environment—it’s one of the processes we might go through when our evolution is lagging behind.
There’s some interesting research that makes me believe that the world of microbes plays a part in that evolution.
Ever since 1665 when microbes were discovered, the reductive world of science has run with the idea that the “bugs” are responsible for disease—that our ability to keep ourselves separate from them is what derives health.
When, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Research conducted by the Human Microbiome Project is revealing a relationship between us and the microscopic animal kingdom that is vastly different from the relationship that the mainstream health model is based on.
The Human Microbiome Project is a National Institutes of Health initiative which has as its goal the identification and characterization of the microorganisms found in and around our bodies and the discovery of their relationship to human health and disease states.
It is estimated that we have somewhere between three and ten times more microbes in our bodies than we do human cells.
The average human body has about 50 trillion human cells in it.
That means that we have between 150 and 500 trillion microbes in each of our bodies.
And that’s only taking into consideration the microbes on the inside of us.
Human Microbiome Project researchers have found that we are surrounded by and infused with a cloud of microbes.
Researchers call this cloud the microbiome, which is to say, the veritable universe of microbes (bacteria, fungi and others) that occupy every nanometer of space inside of us, as well as in the air around us, in our water, our food and the soil that our food grows from.
What about viruses?
As a natural extension to the study of the microbes that share our space, scientists have also trained their focus on the world of viruses (known as the virome) that we co-exist with.
Researchers are finding that the vast communities of microbes are accompanied by, and working in tandem with, even more vast communities of viruses.
A study that appears in the July 2010 issue of Nature identified more than four thousand different viral strains in the guts of study subjects.
Eighty percent of these apparently symbiotic viruses were previously unknown, along with their functions.
This tells me that there’s a lot going on with viruses that we don’t know about and that we shouldn’t automatically villify them.
So at any given moment we are swimming in a sea of microbes and viruses (the microbiome/virome) and that sea of microbes and viruses is also swimming inside of us.
If you suddenly feel the urge to reach for that bottle of hand sanitizer, fear not, this sea of microbes and viruses is not the enemy—far from it, in fact.
Microbiome/virome researchers are finding that the multitude of microbes and viruses are assisting us in ways that we couldn’t live without, from playing a role in the timing of our growth and development, to virtually digesting our food for us.
Our immune systems in particular appear to co-exist with the microbiome/virome.
In fact, Human Microbiome Project researchers are finding that the microbiome itself guides the immune system to the proper balance!
The Nature, virus study revealed that viral strains were unique to each person in the study and over the course of the one year study the populations of viruses stayed mostly the same.
According to Martin Blaser, a microbiologist and physician at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, this kind of stability in viral populations indicates that the viruses are part of our biology.
Did you hear that?
Part of our biology!
So much for our cultural “germ” phobia and the universally accepted idea that we need to compete with the world of microbes and viruses for our health.
As we’ve just learned, the shear mass and complete omnipresence of the microbiome/virome makes it impossible to keep ourselves separate and it necessarily means that our relationship with the microbiome/virome is deeply, deeply symbiotic.
If it weren’t we would have been dead a long time ago.
No, it appears the microbiome/virome is as much a part of us as any of our organs, and it functions as such.
I understand why we spend so much energy trying to keep the “bugs” at bay.
We’ve picked up on some correlation between the bugs and getting sick.
Getting sick is uncomfortable.
And some of us are at greater risk than others.
My experience is that it puts us all in touch with something primal.
Getting sick brings to the surface just a touch of the existential fear of death.
So there’s a lot of vulnerability that comes to the surface when we’re sick.
It can feel like a loss of control; confusing and scary.
In general people will pay any price and do almost anything to avoid feeling even just a little bit of that kind of confusion and fear.
That’s the problem with not being connected to the vital force within us.
We will be lacking a felt sense and a knowing of the source of health and wellness within us.
When that knowing and felt sense is not there, we tend to perceive health as something outside of us.
When we see health as something outside of us we give all our power away to the external health authority.
Our unconscious and unembodied fear and confusion will get projected onto any element in our environment that might be seen as competing with us for a limited supply of health, like “germs.”
In this way viruses and bacteria become the enemy and a convenient repository for our fear.
Whether intentionally or not, the healthcare wing of our consumer culture has not been able to help itself from taking advantage of this disempowering belief system.
Personally, I have a hard time believing that their main motivation at the highest levels is not money, as opposed to our health.
Now don’t get me wrong, the medical world has a very special and necessary place in our lives.
They keep us from dying when some event or series of events has made these bodies unable to sustain our spirit without help.
And thank God they’re here to help.
It can give us another chance when we’ve come too close to the precipice.
But let’s face it, wellness is outside of their scope of practice.
Their predominant m.o. is selling us the illusion of health in the form of treatments that mostly mask symptoms.
I won’t begrudge anyone for taking them if they think they’re necessary for whatever reason.
Again, people have their reasons, and good reasons they may be.
But my personal experience is that they haven’t been necessary for me or my family.
Relative to the massive complexity, specificity and elegance that I’ve seen our bodies exhibit, vaccines seem clunky and dirty to me.
So in my opinion our healthcare system is mainly serving itself when it comes to our wellness.
They’re soothing our fear and selling it back to us in the same motion.
In the process we stay disempowered and dependent on them to give us our soothing fix and oblivious of the real sense of health and wellness that’s possible.
On the other hand, if we’re connected to the life force energy in our bodies and have a felt sense of genuine wellness, the microbiome/virome and the process of getting sick can be perceived much differently.
Here’s a video I made on the three different angles or levels of consciousness that someone might view the “getting sick” process from:
If you get your edification in the form of audio podcasts listen below or look for the BioSoul Integration Podcast and this episode wherever you listen to your podcasts:
We could consider any one of the scary viruses we’ve heard about recently, but let’s take the flu, for example.
So much a part of our yearly cycle and so widespread is the buzz surrounding the flu that it has been granted its own season, dubbed the “flu season.”
Having worked very closely with roughly three thousand people over the course of the last twenty flu seasons, I have witnessed many instances in which the process of getting sick with the flu has become part and parcel of a broader healing and evolutionary process in a person’s body and life.
This healing and evolutionary process is more than a mere philosophical concept.
It is a measurable and reproducible phenomenon.
The healing and evolution process is always evidenced by:
To the extent that we can connect with the vital force of our bodies and the wisdom therein, the energy that was previously bound up in the pain, or the symptom, or the “sickness,” or the condition, or the disease becomes the energy that fuels our healing and evolutionary process.
No matter how the “getting sick” process looks, whether it’s a simple back ache, or allergies, or depression, or the flu, or even cancer, it is always part of a broader healing and evolutionary process that involves the shifting balance in our relationship with our selves, and between our selves and our environment.
The most life changing thing that we can do for ourselves is to simply turn our focused attention toward our body and let our attention rest on the sensations that we feel there.
Every nanosecond that our attention is resting on the sensations in our body we are connected to the life force energy and the vital force that animates us to life.
If simply paying attention to body sensations sounds too elementary to have the profound effect that I’m claiming, it is because most of us are completely unaware of just how little of our attention we are directing towards our bodies from moment to moment, and therefore have no direct experience of the massive power that we can access by doing so.
Here’s an in-depth blog post I wrote that goes into detail about how to increase life force energy and the benefits of doing so.
We’ve been born into a culture that has an aversion to feeling the body.
This habitual resistance to feeling our bodies has been building momentum in us over the course of thousands of years as each generation has become increasingly convinced of the preeminence of thought.
As humans we spend most of our time completely captivated by the constant stream of thoughts running through our heads.
As a principle of Nature the flow of our attention is constantly and strongly being drawn towards the sensations in our bodies, as well.
But because of our cultural conditioning and our habitual aversion to feeling our bodies, we expend massive amounts of energy in our constant attempt to resist that draw.
That’s why our bodies have to scream at us with painful symptoms or knock us out with disabling illnesses before we’ll stop what we’re doing and pay attention.
Any skill worth learning will take some practice.
In this case the effort is well worth the payoff.
The ability to feel our bodies at all times is the most fundamental skill that we could learn during our lifetime.
I say fundamental because our ability to stay connected to the body’s vital force has a deeply profound effect on the most foundational aspect of our lives, that being our relationship with our selves and our environment (our wellness as I’ve defined it at the beginning of this article).
Microbiome/virome research supports this larger view of health.
It is showing us that the thing that we call an immune system is not only a system that protects and defends us.
It is also a relational system that coordinates and regulates a harmonious interaction between our cells and those of the microbiome/virome, between our selves and our environment.
As our skill in allowing our attention to rest in our bodies increases, so does our access to the vital force there, along with our access to the intelligence that coordinates all of the life on this planet.
As we become more connected to our selves and our environment, we feel naturally compelled to make decisions that are more congruent with who we are and why we’re here; decisions that will support a more efficient use of the resources that our bodies and being share with the planet.
When our resources are not being spent on the continual effort to resist feeling our bodies, our bodies no longer need to scream at us to get our attention, and so our pain and our symptoms dissipate.
As we’re more present with the rhythms of life we’re more often up to date with the latest download from the planet; it also becomes less and less necessary for us to get sick.
When we do “get sick” with things like the flu, we are able to see and feel it as part of an intelligent and empowering process of healing and evolution; the direct experience of empowered wellness.
If you’re wondering how to connect with the life force energy in your body, I’ve written If It Didn’t Hurt: How To Resolve Your Pain And Discover Your Life Purpose.
It’s a book about how to turn the pain/problem/challenge into a portal to your soul’s gifts and living your purpose.
One of the ways that life challenges us is through the “getting sick” process.
In the book I tell some entertaining personal stories, as well as some client stories about how getting sick turned into a transformational process.
Turning the “getting sick” process into a transformational process requires developing the skill of bringing your attention to the sensations in your body.
Among other things there are simple instructions about how to do that in this book.
Click the link to buy it, or if you’re not ready to buy you can also get the first chapter instantly for FREE.
I look forward to helping you express more life,
Reyes, A., M. Haynes, and N. Hanson. “Viruses in the Faecal Microbiota of Monozygotic Twins and their Mother.” Nature 466 (2010).
Saey, Tina Hesman. “Everyone Poops His Or Her Own Viruses.” Science News. 06 Jan. 2011.
WHO. Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June 1946, and entered into force on 7 April 1948.
Zimmer, Carl. “How Microbes Defend and Define Us.” New York Times.com. 12 July 2010. Web.
Dr. Jay is the founder and owner of BioSoul Integration Center in Louisville, Colorado. He’s a chiropractor, a hands-on healer, an in-person and online soul integration coach and the author of If It Didn't Hurt: How To Resolve Your Pain And Discover Your Life Purpose. For two decades Dr. Jay has been helping people navigate their healing journeys. Over the course of that time he’s worked intimately with thousands of people. Those who are most drawn to Dr. Jay's work are those who are seeking to integrate and embody their soul's essence and their soul's gifts so they can share them with others. Life will keep nudging us in that direction, anyway. BioSoul Integration helps to speed up the process and smooth out the rough spots created by the innocent and unconscious resistance that lives in our primal brain and nervous system. Click the link to get your Personalized BioSoul Integration Guide.
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