A “jet lag” test of the mind-body relationship

Consciousness is being recognised by many as far more important to healing than previously acknowledged.

I have found that to be so when I have had a need for recovery from various illnesses.  In the field of preventative therapeutics, too, I have found it is helpful to explore one’s thoughts as well as one’s habits, in order to aid and abet the goal of maintaining well-being.

Firth of Forth rail and car bridges (from the air!)

I flew to Edinburgh, Scotland, recently from Southampton in the South of England.  On arrival I joked with the people I had rushed to meet for a meal after getting off the plane, “It’s just as well you can’t get jet lag just by flying the length of Britain!”

It was just an off-the-cuff remark.  However, it brought to mind the 100 plus trans-Atlantic flights I have made over the past decade, flights in which many people might assume that jet lag would be par for the course.

I have found it doesn’t have to be.

That’s not to say that I don’t know what jet lag feels like.  I have sympathy for those who struggle with it.  During my first flights across to America I experienced it.

Since then, though – having taken up a spiritual practice that gives me a different perspective on the relationship between thought and body – I have consistently not been challenged by it.  When I go from the UK to the US – whether East or West Coast (gaining 5 and 8 hours respectively) – I just forward wind my (mobile phone) clock on landing.  Then I stay up till my normal sleeping time (loving the extra hours I am gaining in the day!), I get up at a normal time the next day and – gratefully! – I get on with life.

On the trickier journey back home, when I lose the time, I might take two or three hours to sleep on the red-eye plane, sometimes have a couple of hours nap when I get home, and then I just get back into the UK rhythm of life.

That’s not to say that my practical steps are a formula that would work for everybody.  They work for me.  I do, however, believe that everyone gaining some spiritual sense of the relationship between thought and the state of the body can find some practical approach that will work for them in easing the effects of jet lag.

That might seem counter-intuitive to those resigned to that experience, or to those who feel convinced that physical effect is always the result of physical cause.  I have enjoyed exploring in my own life whether or not this is truly the case, and I have come to the conclusion that it is not.

Now, I am no expert on the theories of why people should feel jet lag – far from it!  But the phrase “body clock” certainly rolls off the tongues of fellow travellers who anticipate suffering from it.  So I feel enormously appreciative of the different framework of understanding that I have found for thinking about the body.  A “body clock” and our need to honour it suggests that we are at the mercy of the demands of our bodies.  The perspective that I have gained from my study of the teachings of Christian Science is that the body is responsive to our thoughts about it.  Not in the sense of “visualisation”, or positive thinking – which I don’t use.  But to the degree I have gained some spiritual perspective of myself  – that my underlying individuality is made up of the qualities of divine Soul – to that degree I have found that I don’t need to concede to all my body wants to tell me about how I should feel according to times of day, distance travelled, or other physical circumstances.

I am not Superman, or even super-fit!  I have a colleague who runs more miles in a week than I run in a year.  (My running is mostly between platforms at Clapham Junction Station, because there is such a short time between the connecting trains on my evening commute!)

But all aspects of our lives can be a laboratory to test out the relationship we have with the divine, and jet lag is one place in which I can say I have tried, tested and proved – to my own satisfaction – the idea that entertaining a more spiritual sense of ourselves can diminish the weariness that day to day life would sometimes seems to include.

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