I was a student in Catholic schools during the 1950’s.
All organizations are influenced by culture and at that time the culture inherent in my school was that we must suffer to attain the bliss that the after life offers. Life was a valley of tears and only heaven offered happiness.
The belief systems given to children form the foundation for their perceptions about life. Perceptions become a part of us and we take them for granted.
I did not realize how deeply I had ingrained the belief that there is glory in suffering until I began to study Ayurveda. When I first heard through Ayurveda that happiness was equated with perfect health and was the birthright of all human beings, I experienced an internal release that fascinated me. This was the experience of a major shift in perceptual awareness. I became more open to the experience of happiness! I am certain that being more open to happiness enhanced my overall health as well as my overall happiness.
If we are healthy and our doshas are in balance, positive thinking will come naturally to us. At the same time, positive thinking can move our physiology in a healthier direction. The mind, body and spirit are connected at a deep level and whatever affects one aspect of our being affects the totality.
Ayurveda (and modern science) teaches that it takes very little to change our physiology in a healthier direction. We can do this by using our mind and our attitude. Think of it this way: if you tug on one leg of a table the entire table moves. If you make a mental shift you can reset your entire physiology. For instance, modern science and Ayurveda teach us that the experience of love and of being a loving person is healing to the mind-body. Making a decision to “be more loving” can create a change in your cellular structure, bringing you closer to ideal health.
One of the most exciting fields in modern medical research is Psychoneuroimmunology. PNI studies the links between the mind and the body. This science has demonstrated that our emotional body conducts many of our physiological responses. Consider the following:
- The feeling of joy, defined as “mental resilience and vigor” by researchers, was the second strongest predictor of survival time among women with recurrent breast cancer, following “length of disease-free intervals.”
- The two highest risk factors for a first heart attack in men under fifty are not the ones taught in medical school—overweight, smoking, diabetes, family history, or high cholesterol—but a lack of job satisfaction and a low level of general happiness.
- Herpes infections recur more frequently in people who are depressed.
- Bereavement causes a drop in the number of T-cells, an indication of the diminished capacity of the immune system to respond, which subsequently normalizes as the grief lessens over time.
- Some terminally ill people, especially women, are able to “postpone” imminent death until after an event they cherish and long to see, such as a family wedding or the birth of a grandchild, or even until a meaningful holiday has passed.
- In one study, flu was found to be most common amount the employees whose morale was lowest.
(A Woman’s Best Medicine, Lonsdorf, Butler and Brown)
The convergence of ancient medicine and modern science is exciting. Both are telling us that happiness on earth is not only possible, and, indeed, our right as human beings, but that this emotion can be stabilized and it will enhance our health.
Yes, suffering is a part of everyone’s life. But an attitude that embraces suffering is not in our best interest. On the contrary, the experience of love and happiness enhances our spirituality and our overall health. Happiness is ours for the taking and yes it is our birthright!
As always, Sandra and I wish you happiness and perfect health!