Getting to the heart of true health

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I was shocked to think that my decision to cycle on the shared bike path rather than the (admittedly wide and free of traffic) road caused a man’s angry reaction, as he had to reign in his large dog to get past me. I was perplexed that my decision to do what I considered best had annoyed him so much.

When I thought about it, though, hadn’t I displayed just as much annoyance sitting behind motorists as animated conversations with their passengers hindered them from making thoughtful and timely manoeuvres?

We have every right to be angry and stressed, and to let the other guy know about it – and then to stir ourselves up about it again (and again) as we tell our friends or publish it on social media. Right?

Well, research pointing to the effects of stress on our health suggests we probably need to think again about this “right.”

It finds that stress can lead to elevated levels of the hormone cortisol which, in turn, can lead to stress-related illnesses ranging from heart disease, GI distress, diabetes, headaches, disordered eating, depression and anxiety.”

However, there’s a significantly positive finding from this research, too. Empathy for the other guy helps. It often resolves the situation, and is actually good for our health.

So, is it possible to foster empathy? Dacher Keltner, who runs the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, reports that various kinds of contemplation — prayer, meditation, yoga, feelings of awe for nature – boost empathy.

You have to chuckle at how The Message puts into everyday language Jesus’ no-nonsense approach to practising empathy, “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back?”

As Jesus raised the mental bar from empathy for the other guy to full-on compassion (love) for him, so today’s medical research is following suit. It finds that the higher mental state of compassion (or its absence) fundamentally alters the biochemical in which your body is steeped.

Advancing from a state of self-focus, a preoccupation with “me, myself, and I,” we feel rejuvenated and depression and anxiety begin to diminish.

To accomplish this, “Jesus prayed; he withdrew from the material senses to refresh his heart with brighter, with spiritual views,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, my favourite author on how best to connect with that “something bigger than me.”

Learning about my spiritual side and adopting a healthy spiritual practice, has moved to the top of my list of priorities over the past years.

I’ve found that keeping in mind compassion for the other guy really helps how I handle people, deadlines and even the traffic. Come to think about it, stress-induced headaches are also a thing of the past.

You’d have to wonder if the hopes of millions now riding on “precision medicine,” extracting genetic data in order to tailor medical treatment, can actually be realised since compassion research seems to indicate that health is not a linear engineering exercise. Treatment tailored to the idiosyncrasies of genes and diseases cannot get to the heart of true health.

Eddy shared an important observation, “Not muscles, nerves, nor bones, but mortal mind makes the whole body “sick, and the whole heart faint;” whereas divine Mind heals” (Science and Health).

Compassion heals.

February is all about the heart – Heart Research Month, Heart Kids, Harmony Day and Valentine’s Day. We’re encouraged to make our heart health a priority.

You’ll be adding to your heart health as you courageously tackle these messy problems as they crop up – mistakes, anger, ignorance, don’t care attitude, difference of opinion, passions and misunderstandings – with compassion.

This article was published on LinkedIn. And also on these APN news sites: Sunshine Coast Daily, Coffs Coast Advocate, Northern Star and Fraser Coast Chronicle.

Rekindling the true spirit of Christmas via beaches, mountain summits, Byron Bay and Bethlehem

reading on beach

Christmas holiday “thinking time” is good for your health….

Many feel a pressing need to get away from it all and quite literally to lie on a beach during the Christmas holiday period. This isn’t a selfish desire, because a holiday break’s positive health effects are intuitively good for your mental, physical and spiritual health, and this is backed up by current medical research.

It could also be argued that no great discovery or innovation made in human history has been made without considerable “thinking time” in an environment where mental and spiritual development can occur unimpeded by the demands on time by colleagues, relatives and friends.

The epic blockbuster now showing, Exodus: Gods and Kings, opens with the hero Moses dealing with the heavy demands of family and national politics within Pharaoh’s palace, and blissfully unaware of the injustices occurring to his kinsfolk. Not until a series of circumstances opened his eyes and forced him to detach himself from this life, did he have the time to ponder his real life purpose.Continue Reading

Is there a daily diet that curbs perfectionism, eating disorders?

A daily diet that feeds our famished affections

Four ‘trick or treaters’ knocked on our door on Halloween evening. Somewhat unprepared and surprised to experience this novelty in Australia I managed to locate a few sweet treats for each of them, and they left happily bubbling with excitement.

Was I frightened of their costumes or weird masks? Of course not. And I’m sure they didn’t believe for a moment that they’d suddenly morphed into ugly, wicked or ghoulish creatures, either.

Sometimes, though, people do put on an emotionally draining mask as they strive to feel accepted and loved. Over time they may come to accept the charade as part of themselves.

For instance, they may act out the role where they have to be the best … at everything. They can’t abide mistakes and feel it’s a badge of honour to say they’re a perfectionist. Ever in fear of failing, they may be chronic procrastinators. They don’t like themselves very much either, because they rarely live up to their own expectations.Continue Reading

Can a shift in thought boost not only Commonwealth Games success but future wellbeing?


Whats the spirit that makes you successful

If you’re from anywhere in the British Commonwealth, it’s fairly certain that the XX Commonwealth Games are in your thoughts right now as competitors line up with some of the best in the world in Glasgow.

With over 400 athletes hailing from Australia and a swag of medals already in the bag we are again asserting a claim to being the Number One sporting nation in the British Commonwealth.

One of our greatest Commonwealth and Olympic Games swimmers, breaking 400m, 800m, and 1500m freestyle world records, was Kieren Perkins, O.A.M.

When asked how he achieved such feats he answered, “Being your best is not so much about overcoming the barriers other people place in front of you as it is about overcoming the barriers we place in front of ourselves”.

As personal bests are beaten and world records fall, many thoughtful people admit that health, like sporting success, is about overcoming the barriers we believe — not just about what’s going on physically but what’s happening mentally.Continue Reading

Tune out the downbeat and ‘laugh, love, pray’ for winter wellness

Research says laugh, love, pray for winter wellness  © Glowimages
Research says laugh, love, pray for winter wellness © Glowimages

Are you sometimes mesmerised by the latest medication for the common cold on the TV? Fascinated by the computer graphics used to depict the symptoms and their soothing remedy being promoted? Impressed by the subliminal suggestion that responsible people purchase the latest advertised medication? Influenced by society’s bland acceptance of the assumption that colds and flu are unavoidable at this time of year?

Or are you often repelled by these downward tugs, loaded with obvious big pharmaceutical company backing?

Good thinking!

You’re part of a growing movement of individuals who have become more discerning and are prepared to take responsibility for their thoughts, and ultimately for their health and wellbeing.

“Your health care shouldn’t be all about drugs”, says family physician, Dr Chandra. They are just not the answer for healing and more consistent wellbeing. She points to considerable and repeated research that has found that alternative therapies, which recognise the influence of our thoughts and beliefs on our health, are far superior treatments.Continue Reading