Seeking Perfect Health: Can Meditation Keep Our Immunity Strong?
In today’s pandemic-stricken world, there is a deepening understanding that true health involves not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well. An interesting perspective on truly integrated health comes from Sri Chinmoy’s recent publication, Seeking Perfect Health.
Unlike bacterial infections which can be treated with antibiotics, the only defence against viruses such as COVID-19 is our immune system. It is now widely accepted that this immune system of ours can be seriously compromised by stress, anxiety, fear, depression, and other negative emotional mental states which are so common in our fast-paced modern world. The worldwide lock-down emergencies have caused another sort of emergency, with the number of people suffering from anxiety, depression and hopelessness rising sharply.
On the other hand, it is now also accepted by many leading lights that happiness, joy, optimism and poise can help to keep immune defences strong. Meditation, prayer and mindfulness have become increasingly mainstream, not only to alleviate mental and emotional imbalance, but also with regard to their positive impact on the immune system and overall physical health.
According to recent research conducted at the University of Maryland’s Medical Center, increasing numbers of people are becoming interested in the role of spirituality in achieving health and enhanced wellbeing. This is in part because of dissatisfaction with the culture of our current medical system, and also the realisation that medical science does not provide answers to many of our questions about overall health and wellness.
Meditation, in particular, has moved from fringe to mainstream. As part of growing holistic health consciousness in the realms of fitness, nutrition and spirituality, meditation is now among the fastest-growing interests and industries across all levels of society. It is seen as a positive, effective life skill in an increasingly complex and stressful world.
In 2012 a World Health Organization research panel concluded that by the year 2020, stress and depression would be the second highest causes of physical and mental ill-health and disability worldwide, topped only by heart disease. Evidence of this is clear in the fast-growing groundswell of interest in meditation, in the popularity of mindfulness techniques and in the growing stress management industry in the corporate world and workplace.
Western science is beginning to validate the benefits of meditation, as featured in a Time magazine article in 2014. Results from several studies indicate that people with strong religious and spiritual beliefs heal faster from surgery, are less anxious and depressed, have lower blood pressure, and cope better with chronic illnesses such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and spinal cord injury. The regular practice of prayer and meditation is also strongly associated with recovery and abstinence from drugs.
The understanding of the connection between meditation and health by western science is still in its infancy. However, there are increasing numbers of books and studies looking at health from a holistic and spiritual point of view being published. One of these recently available titles is Seeking Perfect Health by Sri Chinmoy.
Unlike other health-oriented books this was written not by a doctor or fitness expert, but by an internationally renowned spiritual teacher. It is a compilation of the author’s insights from various sources, spanning several decades, and including Q&A sessions, books and lectures. It offers a fresh perspective on the connection between spiritual development and physical and mental health. The author shares detailed instructions and practical exercises and shows how meditation and the spiritual arts can help us tap into our inner source of life energy in order to harmonise all levels of our being.
This comprehensive book is both fascinating and intensely practical. In it, Sri Chinmoy addresses the inner, holistic secrets of perfect health by considering the connection between mind, body and soul. He discusses in detail many relevant topics such as how to receive life energy from a healthy diet and proper sleep, dealing with stress and depression, exercises for losing weight and overcoming insomnia, how to create physical habits that enhance spiritual practice, and many others.
In order to stay healthy, Sri Chinmoy stresses the necessity of having mental and emotional balance. In his book, he says:
If we look at the negative side of life, we see unhappiness, sorrows, anxieties, fear, doubt and so on. If we look at the positive side, we see faith, love, joy, readiness, willingness, eagerness and so many other divine qualities. Now, we want to balance our life in such a way that the negative qualities will not be able to conquer the positive qualities… Balance comes from inner poise. If we do not have inner poise, there can be no balance in the outer life… Balance in the mind, balance in the heart, balance in life itself is of utmost importance. If we have balance in our inner life, we shall never be shattered by what happens in the outer life or in the inner life. At every moment confidence will come to the fore in us.
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