Usually when I think of health it’s been all about keeping myself in a certain state of health by maintaining some good habits and ensuring I recover any time my health is compromised.
Recently I’ve started to think a lot more about designing my health and it’s a completely different conversation. It pushes me to ask questions about my future. How do I want to be able to use my body? What am I planning to do with my body? What’s important for me (and what’s not important)? What are my priorities? And what do I need to do today to ensure I will be able to do what I want in the future?
I’ve started to realise that health is not just a question of doing daily exercise, eating decent food, getting enough sleep and doing my daily relaxation. Of course, that’s the basic minimum for any of us to be reasonably healthy, but I’m starting to get more specific.
For example, I always had weak lungs. As a child I coughed a lot and it often took me 5 or 6 weeks to heal the cough that inevitably followed every cold. My early life was punctuated by coughing fits in theatres,classrooms and anywhere I was supposed to be quiet. Last week I picked up a virus and ended up with bronchitis. I discovered that I have a deeply ingrained expectation that my lungs will take rather a long time to recover fully, but I’m starting to question that.
Why should my lungs be weak just because they always have been before?
And so I started to ask what I can do to build new, better lungs for the future. And the answer came instantly. I need to sing more. That’s not just singing songs, but using my lungs to heal themselves and build a new strength.
When I was younger I used to do a lot of sound healing – singing and toning that creates a subtle vibration in the body which is very relaxing and healing. So it was obvious to me that I could use this as a way of building new healthier lungs than I’ve ever had before. As I sing different tones I can feel which part of my lungs is being stimulated and I can literally play with my voice to strengthen any part I want as much as I want. I suspect the results will be surprisingly good. In fact I’m amazed I never thought of it before.
This is just one rather small example of how designing my health is different from maintaining my health. Instead of saying “here’s a list of all the things everyone needs to do to be healthy” I’m asking what exactly does health mean for me personally. What exact type of health do I want? And what exactly do I need to do to create that level and style of health?