Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Bridge Between

I believe the mind...body...emotional connection is not well understood. The emotional pillar is the bridge between the physical and the mental. It overlaps and affects both. There is so much misunderstanding about the relationship of the pillars and a real danger of pain and suffering because of it.

There are those who insist that all physical illness is a manifestation of emotional instability, that physical illness is caused by the mind and can be cured or prevented by the mind. I do not agree with this in any way. Yes, the emotional pillar affects both the physical and mental, and can make physical problems worse and make the mental pillar unstable..........but that does not mean that if we achieve emotional balance or emotional health, we will automatically have physical health, nor does it mean that emotional health makes the mental pillar outstanding (i.e. increase the IQ beyond all realistic expectations). In fact, many emotional or mental illnesses have their base in physical imbalances and can be healed, treated or controlled by medical means.

Each of the pillars affect the others. When any one is out of phase with the others, our life becomes unbalanced and can only be brought back into balance by bringing that pillar into line. It may also be that one pillar has grown faster than the others and in that case, the other three must be realigned with the most developed one.

Because mental health (actually emotional health) is such a taboo subject in our society, we do not pay sufficient attention to keep our emotional self healthy. We are also taught a work ethic that leaves little or no room for play, for joy, for self-expression. This causes the emotional pillar to be out of balance more, and more often than the physical or mental, and sometimes the only way for our emotional selves to attract attention to the problem is to have a detrimental effect on the physical or mental pillar. We get physical check-ups, and often get mental check-ups in the way of IQ tests and comprehension tests, but we don't get emotional check-ups or even seek validation for our emotions from others. We burry our feelings deep where they can take root and grow into terrible monsters.

This does not mean that the root of all illness is in the emotional self. It simply means that we may well break down in those physical areas that are not as strong as others. Or we may make a pre-existing condition worse because of our negative emotional state. If worrying causes ulcers, and we stop worrying, the ulcer is still very real and needs physical attention to heal it. If our negative emotional state causes us to experience more pain and suffering than if we were emotionally healthy, the pain and suffering is still real. If we have a hereditary weakness or disease, emotional health is not going to cure or prevent it.

However, if our emotional state is in harmony, we are much more able to deal with physical adversity. We are capable of centering our attention outside our selves and reduce the effect of disease on our lives. We are able to grow spiritually in spite of physical obstacles. We are more able to make our lives enjoyable and rewarding. Again, meditation helps us to create the harmony we need in our lives.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Balance-The Emotional Pillar Revisited

I was sitting here thinking about a deeper look at emotional health and how to gain or maintain it. I glanced at the pile of weekend flyers and noticed a white sheet. It was titled “Being Well”, Our Mental Health Matters”. Although it is referred to as Mental Health, it is actually Emotional Health. I would like to quote a couple of things from the flyer that caught my eye right away.

First, The World Health Organization in 2005 said “There is no health without mental health.” The second was in a box for emphasis, and was titled “Did You Know”. It said that mental illness is the single leading cause of illness affecting Canadians. Those with mental health issues are at greater risk for chronic disease. It is estimated that mental illness costs the Nova Scotia economy more than $338 million per year.

After I picked up my dropped jaw, I realized that mental health is a much bigger issue than I had thought, and that we are actually talking about emotional health! There is nothing special about Nova Scotia, Canada, that would account for such numbers. This scenario can be applied to most of the western world. It is no wonder that the platform holding our lives is so often tilted to the point that we are in danger of sliding off.

One of the difficulties we encounter if we feel we are ill and needing help, is the stigma that is still attached to anyone with an emotional illness. It makes us try to look happy and in control of our lives. The coping mechanisms we develop are often more damaging than the illness itself.

Most communities have mental health programs, but people are afraid to avail themselves of these services for fear that family and friends will think less of them. This added stress of trying to cover up our emotional problems makes it all worse. We need to educate ourselves as well as those around us. Mental illness most often has a physical cause and can be treated just like any other illness. There are also often events in our lives of such magnitude that we need help and support to deal with them. If we do not, they are very apt to manifest as physical diseases.

We need to take our courage in hand and seek help when we feel overwhelmed. Often our lives can be restored to order or at least made better with education, development of healthy coping skills, and possibly even medication if required to correct a chemical imbalance. Support groups can also help by sharing experiences, ideas, skills and understanding. It is surprising how much better we can feel if we know we are not alone, and not the only one with such problems.

Along with other skills we can learn from both professionals and support groups, meditation is recognized as an effective tool by the medical community. A regular meditation routine can reduce stress and put us back in touch with our inner strengths. By bringing the emotional pillar into balance with the others, we become more stable, and happier in all facets of our lives.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Balance-The Mental Pillar Revisited

When I spoke of the mental pillar before, I touched on the need to put as much "programming" into our mental computer "wet ware" as we can. In order to even speak about our experiences, we need to make a concentrated effort to expand our knowledge and our vocabulary. We need to experience new things, and understand them.

It is easy to settle into the same old rut, assuming that nothing changes and nothing is new. This kind of thinking once almost got me killed. Many years ago, where I lived in rural Ontario, there was a railroad that passed along beside the highway between our tiny hamlet and the nearest town big enough to shop in, which also had the highschool for the whole area.

Before I finished school and moved away to pursue my own destiny, the railroad fell into disuse and was used only once or twice a year. I became used to never seeing a train or hearing its lonesome whistle announcing it's presence and it's intention to cross the road. Returning home for a visit, I was driving to that town to do some shopping, on automatic you could say, I had passed that way so many times before. My mind did not register either the whistle or the presence of the train passing across the highway until it was almost too late. I stopped within inches of the moving train! Nothing in my mind had prepared me for seeing the I did not.

If we do not prepare our minds for the wondrous journey ahead, we will miss many great truths, experiences, and growth itself. Just as a child learns gradually, we must allow our minds to build on each layer of learning we complete. We need to learn to really see, hear, touch and experience the world around us, and that takes time to learn the language to express what we experience and understand the experiences of others who share with us. Trying to push too far or too fast will only lead to discouragement. Learning comes in all shapes and sizes. We learn from books, from TV, movies, radio, computer, other people and from life itself. When we indicate our desire to learn, many more occasions and events will be presented to us. In order to benefit from the lessons that are presented, we must be alert and aware, alive in the present moment, looking carefully at all we experience. You can bet that I learned a lesson from my train experience, and now keep my senses open and my mind alert for the unexpected. It is surprising how much more I am aware of because of that.

An active, healthy mind is also protection against Alzheimer's, Senile Dementia and other mental afflictions. As we must keep our bodies strong and healthy, we need to do the same for our minds.We must never stop learning. Life will bring so many more delights if we are open to the. Meditation helps us to prepare for learning and keeps us both alert and relaxed.