No. 5 – Healing Mind Series

Immersed religious activities

Placebo Effect

You don’t have to be religious to do this.  We will get to that later.  First the religious, the people of religions, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jewish and so on.  Being immersed in your faith allows one to feel security in a life of unknowns and unpredictability.  This security gives the mind the ability to relax.  The state of a relaxed mind is the state that promotes the healing qualities for your body.  The placebo effect is still unknown but certainly valid and effective.  Modern medicine has made many conclusive prognosis about a patient’s outcome and potential for healing only to be defied by unexplained results devoid of the benefits of medicine. 

The Atheist Dilemna

To unleash the healing ability of the mind, it needs to reach a certain state, the state of relaxation mentioned earlier.  How do you achieve this without religious activities or chemicals?  The idea is to be similarly immersed as you would in a religious activity, in an activity that engulfs your consciousness and brings about the feeling of relaxation.  For some people, it is simply like meditation but like religious activities, it is about putting your faith into something that releases you from worries.  What if you are an atheist could you put your faith in such a state?  I don’t think it is possible, for the mere belief in the existence of an all powerful force that is good and protective is what facilitates the release of fear and worry.  This seems so unfair, as though the life of an atheist is so crude and fearful, fearful of the next occurence that is beyond his or her control.  Therefore for the atheist to achieve this state, he must have an acceptance approach, a resignation to a future that just is what it is, and to accept is as it comes and deal with it as best as possible.  Is an atheist therefore without fear?  I doubt that, but maybe in the moment of fear the atheist finds peace in his acceptance of the outcome, whatever that may be.  A person of faith normally attributes this to God’s way.  It is really quite similar in that sense, God never gets blame while that atheist doesn’t assign blame through acceptance.  It is what it is.  I felt this in the chaos surrounding the events leading up to the eventual passing of my father.  

It is what it is

Being not a person of religious acceptance and pursuits, I have merely entertained the existence of a powerful force but the atrocities of life never afforded me the adulation of this powerful being who apparently allows evil to triumph over good, the untrustworthy over the sincere one, the complainer over kind tolerance, as if there was no accountability for bad behavior, as should be in the existence of God.  I recalled that my father had a DNR activated against my wishes leaving me no recourse but to accept that he would be abandoned mortally even if he had a breath of a chance so to speak.  I remember resigning to this inevitability that grew even worse when a date was quickly set to take him off life support.  “it is what it is” I said to myself and reached a state of quiet acceptance and resignation to an outcome beyond my control.

Why worry

This would mean for an atheist to reach this state of relaxation, he would have to use his energies as permitted and able, to bring about a desired outcome while at the same time understanding that the outcome is “what it is”.  Maybe in essence, this is a peaceful approach to life.  Do your best and don’t worry.  Again, my father’s memories resurface because this was his mantra.  He would say, “Why worry, just do your best”.  Although a fairly realistic and practical man, he did practice his religion, Hinduism.  He tried to impart this culture upon his children, succeeding largely with his first daughter,  My brother and I adopted more of a cynical approach to the concept of God.  I continued gamely to worry about perfection and the prospect of failing.

Salvation of an atheist

Still it eludes me as to how the atheist reaches the same state of mind of relaxation as a devotee of Christianity.  For me I struggle mightily against acceptance of outcomes that are not desirable.  For example, I cannot accept the possibility of being overwhelmed in the middle of the night by an intruder so I take paranoid steps to prevent that, at some times playing the part of a victim in some thriller movie and role playing all possible vulnerabilities to be most prepared.  This is why I have no peace. This unfortunately means that my state of mind is destructive to my body.  My recourse would be drugs or some method to induce a relaxed state of mind.  Alcohol works.  CBD now very popular may also become a player in this thriller.  This may appear to explain why atheists are likely drug users.
There it is.  Atheists can achieve this state of mind and must do so regularly by inducing this with the procurement of creative facilitators.  It sounds like I am recommending a routine of regular hits, but I would hasten to emphasize that I am only suggesting this on a recreational basis not to the extent of destructive addiction.

Nirvana for all

There are other ways of achieving this though.  Find your own place of worship and immerse yourself in it.  For me that would be my favorite place of a kayaking or photographing birds.  It is true, i do become naturally completely immersed in those activities.  My wife’s place although she is a devout Christain, would also be the beach.  She glows after coming back from the beach, her face alight with radiant health.

So in essence, find your place of worship, the temple, the mandir, the church, your own altar at home, the quiet spot on a beach, your favorite riding or running route, etc., and immerse yourself totally in it.   The state of mind derived during the course of this exercise will promote the

healing abilities of your mind over your body.

Exercise – No. 4 on Healing series


Of the 10 things that promotes a healing mind, exercise is number 4 on my list.

It increases heart rate we all know but did you know that by sending more oxygen to the brain, it aids the growth of brain cells by releasing hormones?  In other words, working your muscles builds your brain bulk!  I don’t mean that your head will explode but the tiny membranes and connectors.

There is a lot of science about increasing connectivity in many cortical areas of the brain and so on.  You can read about this in detail if you like, but the bottom line is that exercise makes your brain work better, aiding in decision making and solving problems.

 

 

Mental Power

However the mental benefit is what is most fascinating.  There are antidepressant-like effects due to a drop in stress hormones due to exercising.  A Stockholm study tells you more about this.  The main point is that exercise has effects on your mind that enables it to heal and be more capable.  A mind that is more whole and functioning better is also one that enables the body to heal better.

Here’s a bonus.  Exercise slows down the aging process of the brain by enabling the birth of new neurons in the hippocampus, a brain structure associated with memory.  How’s that for another reason to exercise if you are getting up there in age?  Exercise your way to a longer and fuller life!  We tend to view exercise as beneficial to getting that summer body or bulking up to impress the girls (or guys, hey everyone has needs)  Now we, that is all age groups, can see exercise with a more profound benefit, the well being of our minds, our brains!  It’s a beautiful cycle.  A healthy body is a healthy mind, while a healthy mind fosters a healthier body.  By a healthier mind, we are referring to the physical and mental states of the mind.

In today’s world where social networking and unrelenting connectivity is producing a population plagued by  anxiety and depression , exercise is once again the answer. How?  Well I am no expert but there is ample information online which I will share with you.

The benefits are related to  neurogenesis (the generation and creation of new neurons) and europlasticity(synaptic plasticity, or alterations to the strength of already existing synapses)  I have no idea what all this means, I am not a doctor but there are studies to back this up.  

Many of these benefits are due to the ability to reduce insulin resistance and inflamation. (Goldman, 2014)  You can read more on this here.

 

 

No. 3 – Why Sunrises and Sunsets are good for your health

 

When you witness a sunrise, you are normally aware of a feeling of euphoria, of hope, of a greater power, a feeling of awe.  The same goes for a sunset.  Also accompanying this feeling is a feeling of calmness.  This calmness is what’s good for your health. 

“There are now several lines of research suggesting that our mental perception of the world constantly informs and guides our immune system in a way that makes us better able to respond to future threats.”  Studies show that optimistic people are less likely to get sick.  We know that a positive outlook has unexplained healing benefits.  Look at the effects of placebo application where they are shown to bring about a healing effect in patients simply because they believed that they would be cured.

Just the feeling of optimism and gratitude that tend to accompany these moments of sunrise and sunsets is what puts your mind in a state that promotes the healing and immune system abilities of the body.  

 

 

  The Power of Positive Thinking

 John Hopkins Medicine

 

 

 

 

The Power of Nature

– Love Yourself Series

It is very tough to wake up early and go on a hike to see sunrise or nature in its best light.  As a photographer who previously photographed professionally portraits, weddings, quinceñeras, and other events, my favorite type of photography was that of capturing nature.  Sometimes just the process of leaving early in the morning, fighting the urge to slip back within the comforting caress of a warm soft bed is a battle.  But I can tell you without any hesitation that I have never regretted waking up early to venture out into nature.  Even if I didn’t get any great shots, which is rare, because of that beautiful light, I would still feel the euphoria of being up early in the solace of the early morning when nature comes alive in its unabashed glory.

However, being in nature appeals to deeper instincts within us that affect our mindset, our creative wheels, releasing our mental faculties to function without the constant noise.  In a 2012 study, a scientist by the name of Strayer, found that given our environment plays an important role in how we function mentally and intuitively, exposure to nature increased our ability to function cognitively and creatively, including our problem solving skills.  He found that there is a unique effect of being immersed in a natural setting on our mental capacity.

 

But nature does more.  In a 2015 study by Gregory Bratman, of Stanford University, he found that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination (focused attention on negative aspects of oneself), and negative affect, as well as more positive emotions, in comparison to the urban walkers.  There are numerous studies that support the positive effects on a person’s perspective and outlook towards life.  

From experience I can tell you that I experience an exhilaration from my encounters with nature.  When you are in nature, for example when I am kayaking, you have to stop thinking about worrisome thoughts and pay attention for your very survival.    Nature with its beauty brings threats which require you to be attentive and alert in your surroundings. This state of being is what allows us to escape the noise of modern life. 

This removal from negative thoughts into basic instinctive almost primeval state is what fosters the removal of stressful weights of life, the relentless schedule of making a living, a social life, preserving status, impressing others and so on.  All this is discarded allowing room for unrestrained unprescribed thinking.  When I return home, I am tired physically but mentally refreshed.

Nature with its innocent routine devoid of ego, conflicts of personalities, goes about business as usual without judgement.  It is an environment that appeals to your better “nature”.  It reminds you of the need to embrace life more fondly.  A healthier state of mind fosters self appreciation which is the root of self love and a more robust and resilient self esteem.

Try it.  Wake up early.  Go for a walk in the park, by the beach, near a lake. Experience the company of birds, animals, the sounds of nature, the pleasant natural order of life.  Bathe in this and feel your heart swell.  Do it alone.  Do it with your loved one, with your family, just do it regularly for the love or you!  It works!  Science says so.