Love and devotion just shone from my son-in-law’s face as we watched him gently bathe his new daughter for the first time in the hospital. When so much attention is focussed on mum and bub it’s so important to celebrate the indispensable supportive traits and contributions of the male of the species.
During November each year, Movember “is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces around the world” with an aim to raise funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate and testicular cancer and male mental health.
According to the statistics listed on this website, it’s expected 1 in 2 Australian men will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85; around 1 in 5 men experience mental illness in any given 12 month period; and, over 85% of suicides are men – that’s 5 every day in Australia. Dire statistics indeed!
So many of my male family members and friends share dynamic focus, an uncomplicated life direction, unswerving loyalty and a commitment to and love of science. But could it be a sole focus on physical science that hinders men’s quest to be healthier?
Michio Kaku is a quantum physicist and co-founder of “string field theory”. When he was 16 he built a particle accelerator in his mother’s garage, blowing out the electrical circuitry in the house and causing his mother to ask, “Why couldn’t I have a son who plays baseball?”
His book that came out in 2011, Physics of the Future, spells out some amazing technological wonders many of which are already being demonstrated.
How about accessing the internet through your contact lenses? Blink…and you’re online. Fascinating stuff with big implications in many areas, including health care.
Kaku predicts that thought will be harnessed and become action with no physical body movement involved. Form a thought … and watch it become an action.
Could our understanding of ‘science’ be moving away from a narrow definition which focusses purely on the natural and physical sciences, what we can see and hear, and back somewhat to its original meaning as a body of reliable knowledge or philosophy – an emphasis on thought?
The benefits of thought-based treatments like meditation and mindfulness often crop up in conversations amongst health practitioners and the public. However, many more still question whether the power of thought that is harnessed through meditation or prayerful practices can positively impact men’s health.
Research tells us it can.
In recent years, medical studies have found evidence of meditation’s many benefits, including protecting against health problems like high blood pressure, arthritis, infertility, stress, as well as improving attention and even physically altering parts of the brain associated with learning and memory.
An advocate of two twenty-minute sessions of meditation per day, Bill George, professor of management practice at Harvard University Business School suggests that meditation and mindfulness can also have major implications for our career success, while positively affecting health.
Being in the moment and consciously being loving, compassionate, grateful and forgiving are not gender-specific behaviours, but they open the door to change and healing in men’s lives, as well as in women’s.
In a 2006 study, Spirituality influences health related quality of life in men with prostate cancer, low spirituality was associated with significantly worse physical and mental health in men.
However, there was some good news in the report. The study suggested that interventions targeting spirituality positively impact the physical and mental health of many men.
More and more men are beginning to connect the dots away from a belief that their health is only dictated by their genes or environment, or that healthcare is the sole domain of drug-based medicine.
A few years ago, a good friend was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He confided that to be diagnosed with cancer was a test of his belief in a higher power.
Over the years, he had gained an appreciation of the benefits of a meditative practice or scientific prayer which treats the whole person.
This now gave him the courage to take control of his own treatment plan. He came to understand that health wasn’t just about his physical and mental state, but the quality of his thoughts, or spirituality, were at the core of his wellbeing. This realisation transformed him and now continues to keep his life in balance.
You could say that his meditation and prayers changed his thinking first … and then his body naturally healed. Compassionate and forgiving thoughts are powerful!
The Movember initiative encourages men to think about their health in a different way.
The evidence is clear that men have an innate ability to be mindful or spiritual, and have the capacity for better health than may have been thought possible, as they consider the whole person – mind, body and spirit.