"A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."¨—Proverbs 17:22
All of the worlds’ spiritual and wisdom traditions instruct us to live in accordance with our soul’s deepest intentions in order to live a fulfilled life. These “soul intentions” come to us in the midst of our busy lives when we do something that elevates our spirit. For example, we might take a moment to feel gratitude for the things we have in our life, rather than only focusing on what we want or lack. We might suddenly be moved to give money to a homeless person on the street, or we might donate our seat to an elderly person on a train. We might be the first to end a fight with someone we love by taking responsibility for our part in the misunderstanding. In business, we might make a deal that is a win-win for everyone involved instead of striving for our own personal gain. In all these interactions, our hearts open, our spirits surge, and we feel good about ourselves and the world around us. We might not realize, however, that these soulful actions are just as good for our physical health as they are for our spirits.
Traditional wisdom throughout the ages has taught that physical health requires living in accordance with the soul’s deepest intentions. For example, Native Americans’ rituals were oriented to bring individuals, the community, and the entire natural and spiritual world such as, the earth, plants, animals, and spirits into harmonious balance so that each individual could live in a wholesome state. Buddhism teaches that illness arises from the passions resulting from unreal mental constructions that separate us from a unified connection to all existence. They explain that the elimination of egoism and possessiveness, along with the presence of love, heals the division at the core of the soul, resulting in peace, equanimity and health. Similarly, the Jews have made the connection between the soul and health very clear by saying, “If you cleanse your soul, you will live.”
These religious and philosophical principles have recently been confirmed by science, which increasingly demonstrates that body and mind function as one continuous interrelated flow of chemicals and electrical signals. The field of psychoneuroimmunology, for example, studies the correlation between stress, negative thought, emotions, trauma and disease. Extensive research has demonstrated that the brain responds to hateful, destructive, fearful, pessimistic and conflicting thoughts by releasing stress chemicals. These, in turn, negatively affect the body and its organs, creating a host of symptoms. Conversely, positive and harmonious thoughts of love, gratitude, generosity or compassion release chemical responses that heal and restore the body. Thus, the way to health is to live in a positive and wholesome manner that reveres all of life and its sacredness. To live a soulful life full of love, generosity, wisdom and compassion releases a flow of deeply healing neurological and chemical signals, inducing health, well-being and longevity.
Total health involves one’s mind, body and spirit. The mind engages in subtle, complex and powerful interaction with the body, so it comes as no surprise that emotional and mental well-being are directly linked to physical health. We may try to eat a healthy diet, take supplements, and get enough exercise, but if we are not happy, our inner spirit is not in tune with our hearts, and if we experience turmoil and friction in our soul, we are on the road to illness. Symptoms of illness are signals that there is something amiss, that we are divided from the deeper intimations of our soul’s intentions.
The physical body does not break down at random, unaffected by the condition of one’s inner self. Health requires being in a state of wholeness: to be whole or, healthy, means that our thoughts and feelings are in harmony with one another. In this way, we are not riddled with conflicts, but are true to what our insides are telling us. In other words, our physical health cannot be separated from our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
We may not be consciously aware of the root cause of our illness. At times, self-doubt or powerlessness resulting from a past trauma may prevent us from living according to our hearts deeper intentions. Beliefs absorbed from our parents or society may cause conflict. Our illness may be rooted in narcissism, arrogance, greed, or materialism. When our personality, soul and deep heart’s intentions are at odds, whatever the reason, we cannot stand unified or strong. We begin to deteriorate and cannot maintain physical health. Our symptoms are our psyches’ way of telling us that we need healing or to be made whole again. True and lasting healing occurs when we treat the whole person, which includes bodies, minds and souls as interrelated and not as disjointed parts that require to be fixed. Therefore, living in harmony means to live in a manner that we do not injure others or ourselves through divisive thoughts, deeds or actions. We are at one within ourselves and with others.
It is not possible to stay in a loving state of mind all the time, as our minds, thoughts and emotions fluctuate from moment to moment along with the events that occur in our lives. The problem arises when one becomes fixed on a particular negative state of mind, such as fear, anger or hopelessness. If we become angry or depressed and remain that way for a long period of time, the body will be inundated with injurious chemicals. True health requires us to be able to pass through many emotions and their attendant chemicals, within a moments demand, and return to a more centered functioning, in which the chemicals are balanced and ready to move in a positive direction. The ancient traditions of meditation and prayer, as well as the more modern forms of psychotherapy are designed to help in this regard. When we are able to return to our centers, we are once again in harmony with our soul’s intention. We return to the natural state of wellbeing, wherein peace predominates. We are once more in tune with, ourselves, our cells and all of life.
Ultimately, to have total health is to live with a sense of love and compassion for others and ourselves. It is to deeply recognize the oneness within our own selves and our oneness with all humanity. The great sages have always taught that “we are one mind and one body”— meaning both “one” within ourselves and “one” with the world. No matter what our station in life, we all share the same desire for happiness and peace. When we see others as separate from ourselves, and we approach life from a “me first” consciousness, we create a divided state of mind in which the negative chemicals of fear, paranoia, and selfishness predominate. Our bodies, minds, and souls close down. Our hearts, endocrine systems, and other physiological functions respond in kind, ultimately affecting our health. When we see others compassionately as real human beings whether our families, friends, as well as strangers, we are filled with the chemicals of the soul. These chemicals bring joy, love, kindness, peace, and ecstasy; they represent the ultimate healing elixirs for the body. This is called total health, wholeness, or holiness.
Our bodies, minds and souls are involved in every transaction with every person with whom we engage. We enhance our health and well-being by creating love and good feelings and we loose it by creating discord and chaos. The image instruction below is asking you to see an Eidetic Image in your mind. These are special images, which are hologramic memories that are neurologically recorded in the brain and give lots of information. They are part of the school of Consciousness Psychology developed by Dr. Akhter Ahsen.
As you read the instructions below, allow the images to form in your mind’s eye. Notice what you see can be either vague or vivid (either is okay). You will also feel a somatic response (emotion or body feeling) and you will discover a meaning as you see the image.
- See that you are interacting with someone you feel some discord such as a family member, a co-worker or someone in business.
- See how you feel towards them? Are you open or closed? What are your emotions? These are your body feelings while dealing with them.
- See that you are interacting with them. What do you do or say when you have the feeling of discord? What is your mind and body state?
- See that the person is responding to you in the image when you feel the discord. How they respond also affects your mind and body. Notice how you feel.
- You have the power to affect the outcome of your interaction. Now take a moment and think of a soul quality such as being loving or peaceful, compassion or wise or any such quality that comes to you. See that you interact with them with your soul feelings in some way. How do you feel in your mind and body as you do so?
- How does the person respond to you in the image?
- Do you notice the difference in your body when you approach the person with positive feelings? Do you notice how the person responds to you enhances your good feelings? This is how you create well-being and positive actions in the world.
Fred a man in his 50’s used the imagery instruction to see a situation between himself with his wife when they argue. Here is what he experienced:
“I see me with my wife. We are arguing over some plans that we made which did not work out. I notice that I feel closed and angry towards her. I am resentful and annoyed. I see that she goes over and over the same point and hammers me with it. She keeps repeating herself and I am getting more annoyed. I feel great tension in my body. I just want to stop the conversation and leave. The tension is in my chest and stomach. As my wife senses my anger and tension she gets even more insistent and frustrated. This is not a good situation and both of us are getting more and more entrenched in a negative encounter.”
“When I think of my soul I can feel compassion towards her. I understand her more. I can see her point of view and her feelings. My anger dissipates and I feel more loving and connected to her. My body is less tense and I feel a sense of ease. My chest is more open. As I interact with her from this place of compassion I feel stronger. I can see in the image that she senses my inner shift in attitude and my compassion opens her up. She looks more relaxed and she becomes open and less defensive. This is great. We can now speak to one another and resolve the disagreement. Wow, the power of my soul is grand!”