In the past several decades there has been an increasing interest in the natural approach to achieving optimum mental and physical health. More than ever before, people are becoming interested in natural healing, nutrition, exercise, as well as overall mental health and well-being. Although people are trying to eat healthier diets, taking vitamins, herbs and exercising, they often neglect the key point of overall health that can’t be bought or taken in a pill: the healthy mind or spirit that comes from meditation.
Although meditation has gained a foot hold as a tool for acquiring sound mental, spiritual and physical well being, it is often still neglected as a key point in developing a healthy mind and body. Only now have researchers and western scientists begun to accept the fact that the ancient practice of meditation is imperative to one’s mental and physical health. It is now being understood that health, longevity and happiness cannot be achieved only by what you eat or by doing physical exercise. We never allow our minds to have a break from the obsessive, constant chatter that goes on endlessly. We feed into the process because we don’t know the way out.
Our mind affects our body and our body affects our mind. It is not possible to completely heal one without the other; they are interrelated. The way we think and feel affects our bodily functions. Every time we think, whether good or bad, our body reacts or karma is created. Negative thoughts or feelings like anger and depression cause us to punish our bodies by tensing our muscles, restricting our breathing, affecting our blood pressure or heart rate. These negative emotions can also alter digestive patterns, disallowing the free flow of nutrients to our organ systems. Too much nervous stress constantly releases adrenaline into our systems, taxing the adrenal glands and all of the endocrine system. Which in turn feeds the vicious cycle to continue thinking and releasing negative emotions.
Although positive thought or feeling may appear to be the solution, actually it is just the opposite side of the same coin. Attempting to think positive thoughts is not the answer to the problem. Positive thoughts can create some of the same problems that negative thoughts create. This all has to do with what is known as attachment. We become attached to our emotions and even positive ones can create anxiety, craving, wanting, greed, anger, jealousy etc. This in turn produces suffering. So both negative and positive thoughts and feelings block us from seeing the highest level that human beings can attain. Having awareness of attachment allows us to reach a higher level of consciousness. Awareness or Knowing is beyond thought, feeling, the body and anything in this world. To practice self-awareness is to eliminate suffering. This can only be done through the practice of meditation.
Meditation helps us to balance our body and mind. Developing self-awareness leads us to see how our body and mind are inter-related, to see our mind as it is thinking, feeling and reacting until finally, awareness and wisdom will break the cycle of reaction and suffering. We will no longer think obsessively, be a slave to thought and feeling, and will be released from anger forever. Our lives will be feel light and we will live without creating burdens for ourselves or others. Thought will not be able to affect our inner peace and equanimity. This will in turn radiate through our whole body and help us to maintain good health.
Liberation is possible in this lifetime but is dependent upon proper technique and effort.