You want optimal health. You understand that it takes work. You get that grandma’s old school advice was right: one dollar invested to prevent problems is preferable to shelling out sixteen dollars to solve problems.
You appreciate that new-fangled thinking that was just popularized a few thousand years ago:
mind and body are inseparably interwoven.
Now then, since mind and body are inseparable it follows that thinking can powerfully determine our neurochemistry and therefore our physical states of being. It’s like the one morning my wife and I were arguing over who was going to use the van to get to work, and less than a minute after pulling out of the driveway (in the van, in case you were interested–an apparent win).I get a sudden pain in the side of my neck–an apparent non-win.
As an acupuncturist in practice for over a decade now, guess how often I see patients whose complaints–neck pain, lower back pain, joint pain, fibromyalgia, etc., etc.–have a significant component of stress-anxiety. Pretty often. Almost daily.
Stress-anxiety affects our neurochemistry in such a way that: 1) favors tension and inflammation and 2) decreases the effect of our innate wellness molecules like serotonin and dopamine.
Therefore, decreasing anxiety where possible is essential to cultivating optimal health and preventing suffering, yes?
Now in order to decrease anxiety, it becomes necessary to identify why we feel it. What is it that stirs up mental-emotional dis-ease?
Dear friends, one root cause of anxiety is this: thwarted desire.
Thwarted, as in frustrated, cock-blocked, interfered with. As in, the mischievous youth’s plan to steal the candy bar was thwarted by the sudden appearance of the shopkeeper.
Now this thwarted desire, we can look at it in two ways:
Life not giving us what it is we do want. “I told that server I wanted my steak medium and it’s well done! Argh!”
Life giving us what it is we don’t want. “Why do these neighbors play their music so goddam loud and argue with their freakin windows open?! Growl!”
On a subtle level, the net effect of this long-term negativity is a murky cloud within that interferes with our being able to discern the path of our highest good. On a dense physical level, the net effect of this long-term negativity is an internal chemistry favoring sickness, pain, suffering.
You want optimal health, to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. You understand that it takes not just work, but the right kind of work.
In that spirit, dear friends, I offer you Integrity Challenge K54: Becoming Witness to Bad-mindedness Arising Within (BWiB-MAW)
The essence of IC K54: study your gripes–the little annoyances and irritations that interactions with others seem to stir up.
Make the following commitment: for the next three days, watch yourself carefully and catch when your mood just begins to shift from positive to negative (e.g., impatient, annoyed, irritated, angry, discouraged). Learn to detect right away that first huff of frustration, the increase in heart rate, the tension-inflammation developing in some part of the body. Step back into the position of benevolent observer and ask: Hm. Seeing that my mood has just changed, is it possible that Life has delivered me something I don’t want, or has not delivered me something I did want? Did someone just do something I didn’t like? Who was it? What did s/he do? What did I really want/not want from this situation?
Now if you decide to incorporate this form of introspective reflection into your personal wellness program (because I know you got one of those, right?), you sooner or later come to a simple yet startling conclusion. It’s not some theory you buy into because it sounds cool, but an insight that’s borne of direct experience:
It is not Life’s fault that I’m suffering, but rather
it is my immature reactions to Life that produce my suffering.
Sticking with BWiB-MAW practice brings into the clear light of day our long-standing immature tendencies. With these long-standing immature tendencies out in the clear light of day, we can reflect on whether these serve to help or harm ourselves and others. Reflecting properly, we can contemplate, meditate, and/or pray in the direction of greater integrity.
The result: decreased anxiety, and an increase in a durable happiness that shines within regardless of external circumstances.
Cultivating health is an ongoing process that involves deepening self-awareness, dear friends. Hope this helps you in that process.