Depending on where you live and who you surround yourself with, normal isn’t necessarily good.
I’m interested in the gap between current reality and what’s possible, with a view to moving past normal into the realm of possibility and potentiality. As a yogi that’s kinda our deal. A yogi is someone who’s interested in exploring the potential of their physiology and biochemistry. The ancient texts tell us we’re wired for bliss. Yogis are on a quest to experience this, the highest potential for our human experience.
Question The Norm
I’m almost 40 weeks pregnant and about to give birth so I’ve been turning my reality/potential gap-gaze to the world of birthing.
There’s a place in Tennessee called The Farm. It’s a midwife centre led by Ina May Gaskin. If you’ve never heard of her, suffice to say she’s a natural birth legend. A hippy after my own heart, she created this centre back in the 70s as an alternative to the highly medicalised hospital environment that was (and still is) the norm for births in the US. A highly medicalised environment that in many cases intervenes too frequently with the natural process of birth to the detriment of both mothers and babies.
She took a stand for natural birthing practices and showed just what was possible. That women’s bodies were made to birth and that 99% of births were not medical emergencies and were best not treated as such.
As I contemplate my forthcoming birth I’ve been comparing statistics from my local birthing unit (The Royal Berkshire Hospital) for last year with the statistics from the farm. Here’s what I’ve found:
|Local Hospital||The Farm|
|% of homebirths||2.6%||95.1%|
|% vaginal births||55%||97.6%|
|% cesarean section births||25%||1.4%|
|% assisted by forceps||11%||0.5%|
|% assisted by ventouse (basically a vacuum that sucks the baby out!)||3%||0.05%|
Isn’t it incredible that nearly a quarter of women have major surgery here to bring their babies out into the world when the reality is that only a tiny fraction actually need this potentially lifesaving intervention?
You might not be about to give birth like me, but this concept of ‘the gap’ between reality and potential can be applied to a number of areas to get us thinking more critically about the choices we make about our lives. We have a lot of choice, always, in how we shape our reality.
Don’t assume the norm is good, or even OK, or that trained professionals in a given area necessarily have the right answers for you. My experience in a number of areas tells me the norm is usually a bit bonkers.
The Gap Between Standard and Dynamic Ageing
Another area I spend a lot of time pondering the gap is in ageing. Standard ageing versus dynamic ageing.
Let’s take a look at standard ageing first. The cultural assumption is that things go tits up (or down!) from around 30-40. We slow down, get fatter and generally more susceptible to sickness and disease. And then we die.
Our life expectancy in the UK is pretty good, 81 years on average. Our healthy life expectancy, that’s the number of years you can expect to live free from chronic illness and disease and generally in good functioning order is 71. So on average your last decade will be spent grappling with health issues. Not fun, 10 years is a long time.
Here’s a picture of what this looks like:
On the other end of the spectrum we have this:
Holy shit that’s a big gap!
This is 98 year old Yoga teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch. She’s still actively teaching. 99% of the UK population are dead by this age.
I don’t know about you but I can’t do this posture now (even prior to the massive baby belly). But she does have 70 years on me so I plan to be able to do this by the time I reach her age. And that’s the idea, to age dynamically.
What does that mean? To get better, more refined, more awake and alert as we age. It means making choices today that support our health and wellbeing from the inside. It means refining our daily routines and rituals – constantly- to take into account what we’ve already learned.
Stuffing my face with carbs? Result: Leads to bloating and less energy…hmmm let’s do less of this. Skipping my morning workout to get on with ‘stuff’? Result: Less awake and vibrant for my entire day, more likely to be more sedentary for the rest of the day… best let’s not get the day off to a bad start then.
The Number One Cause of Disease and Degeneration
According to Ayurveda the number one cause of disease and degeneration is Prajnaparadaha, failure of intellect or crime against wisdom. It means ignoring what we’ve already learned. We’ve all done this. Dynamic ageing is about acting on what you know supports your highest self, each day. Acting on your accumulated knowledge so you become body-wise as you age.
We all know what we should be doing, eating lots of natural whole foods, getting enough sleep, exercising every day, managing stress etc…but sometimes there’s a gap between knowing and doing.
It’s not random where we end up in life. Our choices are constantly shaping our reality, now and for the future. We’re crafting our own destiny today. So what does today look like for you? What are your daily habits and routines? Are you moving and grooving your body or sitting on the couch or slumped over a computer? Are you flushing your cells with nutrient-rich foods or are you eating whatever happens to be available, you know, the ‘normal’ stuff? If you lived today on repeat for the next 30, 40, 50, 60 years what would the compound effect of today’s choices look like as you hit your golden years?
Mind the gap between your current reality and what’s possible and start making better choices now.