The human condition today is one of desperation. Increased drug use among our youth, suicide, violence, depression, emotional pain, and mental illness, are all symptomatic of our profound loneliness. Everyday a person dies alone and no one claims the body. Someone else winds up in jail or in a psychiatric hospital and no one goes to see him. Our prisons are overflowing. Veterans hospitals are poorly equipped and under-staffed. Our involvement in wars around the world cause the deaths of soldiers and civilians alike and serve only to further global inequality, violence, and fear. The propagation of this level of negativity indirectly contributes to near-epidemic rates of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other diseases of the developed world.
Risking emotional vulnerability in this climate of violence is reduced to a visceral fear for individual survival. What we really seek is spiritual health, love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, and faith, but fear of rejection and low self-esteem keep us from admitting our state.
Negative emotions may be invisible but they can raise havoc in the body. The chemical cascades experienced during times of intense or prolonged emotion directly affect brain function, and subsequently our entire well-being. The immune and endocrine systems control critical bodily functions including heart rate and blood pressure, digestion and absorption, inflammation, cell regeneration, and aging.
Modern western medicine, with its drugs and surgery, can only be so effective if cur emotional environment is the ultimate cause. Well-intentioned though it may be, it is too often a tradeoff between helping some medical conditions and creating new problems in the form dangerous drug interactions and potentially fatal side effects. For better or worse, western medicine is quantifiable and reproducible.
Spiritual healing, which does address the underlying emotional state, is more a matter of faith, sincerity, universal brother-hood, kindness, and a gentleness of spirit. It is difficult to prove or document, unlike a laboratory experiment where one can duplicate the result each time. Often the best we can do is to collate empirical data and anecdotal evidence. Slowly, but inexorably, the intangible modalities are making their impression on mainstream medicine.
Occasionally, a physician or scientist will stumble on an alternative modality. They may be on holiday in India and discover yoga, ayurveda, or the merits of a simple life. A curiosity about herb and drug interactions may lead them into a study of herbal medicine. Scientific advances in functional MRls or PET scans can entice them into a study of biofeedback, acupuncture, or meditation. Bit-by- bit and one-by-one, western physicians are impressed with what can be accomplished with these modalities in alleviating a variety of everyday health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, sleep disorders, mood fluctuations, and agitation.
The University of Minnesota Medical School recently created a center for spirituality and healing which is now open to the public. Here, medical students learn about alternative and complimentary medical practices that are gradually being integrated in our Western medical thinking, training, and practice.
To take advantage of these modalities we must make necessary life changes, notably the elimination gluttony and the excessive use of alcohol. We must be sincere, open, and self analytical to tap into the unlimited and infinite source of our being. We should realize in humility that we may control our own actions, but not the consequences of those actions. We are not in charge. The natural laws and universal principles are absolute. We need to be humble in spirit and must accept that courage is the father of all virtues. Spirituality interfaces with the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of our life. There are many modalities that can help to access the level of deep spiritual awareness and sense of connectedness we all seek. A personal, intimate, spiritual communication with God on an ongoing basis is important to our overall wellness. One can find relief in prayer, but one can also be the recipient of prayers by strangers.
Things like music, art, and aromatherapy affect the senses and have a proven effect on the brain. Yoga calms and unifies the mind and body. Meditation can offer direct communication with our Maker.
A great deal has also been written about the importance of controlling our thoughts. By developing and formulating our thinking we can regulate our perceptions of the world around us. ln this way we can mitigate our emotions and our reflexive, negative reactions.
Kabbalah, a Jewish mysticism, espouses replacing the negative reactive mind with a positive proactive one. lt has become popular in recent years, with the patronage of show business heavy weights like Madonna. It teaches that every one of us is a miniature temple that can illuminate the world with the light of creation. They encourage learning, exploration, curiosity and open-mindedness.
Forces of negativity and chaos promote darkness, illness, and malfunction. Focus instead on bringing joy and fulfillment to your body and soul. Fie-move negative situations in your lives that can cause dissent, preoccupation, and unhappiness. When someone wrongs you or even when you wrong yourself, forgiveness is crucial. Our resentments hurt only ourselves.
Even when the offense is serious, forgive, and free yourself from the self-destructive, negative emotions. Don’t let them sit and fester in your heart where they can cause real physical damage. Forgive even when the recipient may seem unworthy. We must replace hate and revenge with love and forgiveness. In this way we can find the true cure and the key to health and happiness.
Vol 28 Issue 1 Page 44