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Center for Enlightened Leadership

Using Intention to Practice a Spiritually Healthy Lifestyle

  Adam Sokolow
  Adam Sokolow
Senior Advisor

In our Western culture, illness is viewed as a breakdown of our discrete biological parts. If we become ill, our doctor will often focus on providing us with symptomatic relief intended to help the part of us that is not working correctly. For example, if we’re having trouble breathing the doctor will probably write a prescription for a medicinal inhaler to relax our bronchial pathways so we can breathe easier. And if we’re feeling anxious we’ll be offered a medication to help us relax.

In contrast to this, in both the traditional Chinese and the Ayurvedic medical system of India, illness is viewed as an indication of an underlying energetic imbalance. Under those systems, if we’re having difficulty breathing or feeling anxious, our doctor may advise us to alter our diet, offer us herbal remedies, and give us acupuncture to remove blockages and strengthen the flow of our vital energies in a constellation of our internal organs.

Over the past few decades we have seen a gradual blending of these two cultural approaches to medicine. The West now has holistic wellness centers that emphasize preventive medicine; doctors using this system of healing may, in addition to prescribing medication, encourage us to eat a healthier diet, take supplements, engage in a regular regimen of aerobic exercise, go to a yoga class, and practice meditation to reduce our stress. Through their positive experiences with this more comprehensive approach to health and healing, many Western doctors have also developed a deeper appreciation of how our “state of mind” significantly influences our state of health.

Here in the West it is widely assumed that it’s the neural pathways within our central and peripheral nervous systems that connect our mind to our body. In fact, we can pretty much track the bioelectrical impulses within our brain and spinal column directly to every organ and muscle grouping within our body. If we have the thought “I want some vanilla low-fat yogurt,” our nervous system sets our body in motion and we’re off to the refrigerator. Less obvious, but just as real, is that our tripartite mind/nervous system/body linkage is demonstrated through an abundance of clinical evidence indicating that we’re more susceptible to physical illness if we suffer from prolonged negative thoughts and feelings. Conversely, a positive mental attitude actually does promote good physical health.

In addition to our neural pathways there is ever-increasing acknowledgement within our medical community that an additional mysterious energetic linkage between our body and mind exists that operates outside the range of their understanding. This is due to their recognition of the clinical efficacy of the protocols of traditional Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medical systems that are being applied in western hospitals, such as the Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s department of integrated medicine, which offers patients Qigong, Reiki, yoga, acupuncture, and meditation.

This mysterious energetic linkage between body and mind is called the movement of “Chi” in traditional Chinese medicine and “the flow of Prana” in India’s Ayurvedic system. Both terms translate into our Western cultural idiom as “primal life-force.”

The obvious difficulty that Western science has with this concept of “life-force” is that despite the fact that it is the reason we are alive, we still don’t know what it is; though we have access to incredibly advanced cyber-imaging technologies, we still can’t detect or measure it. So let’s explore what the traditional Indian Ayurveda (the science of life) literature has to say about this entity.

According to the Ayurveda, our Jiva-Atman (our embodied spirit or soul) manifests as three sheaths of increasing energetic density called 1) our causal or mental body, 2) our subtle energetic body, and 3) our material physical body. Our causal body is like a magnetic flux imprinted with our deepest thoughts, desires, aspirations, and intentions. This magnetic-like flux generates something akin to vital electrical fields called “prana” (or life force) that comprise our subtle body. It is this prana or life force coursing through our subtle body that animates our even denser physical body.

A few things should be clear from this spiritually anatomical schema:

The first is that our soul creates our causal mental body, which generates our subtle energetic body, which in turn manifests as our material physical body.

Second, our subtle energetic body is the link between our causal mental body and our concrete physical body.

Third, the thoughts and feelings we hold in our mind, which is another way of referring to our causal body, actually do cause energetic shifts in our subtle body, which in turn most certainly does affect the functional health of our physical body.

In light of this, now we can recognize how we can positively affect the state of our overall health by adopting the best practices of a spiritually healthy lifestyle! We can directly affect the health of our causal mental body by trying our best to maintain a more integrated and healthy mental attitude, and by learning how to manage our stress through stress-reduction techniques and by engaging in the practice of meditation. Furthermore, we can have a direct positive impact on the health and resiliency of our subtle energetic body by maintaining good posture, learning how to breathe correctly, and by engaging in such spiritually grounded exercises as yoga and tai chi. Oh, and also by making a commitment to live a healthy lifestyle, which includes among other things proper nutrition, physical exercise, and adequate sleep. All of these will certainly go a long way toward our achieving and preserving physical health.

So perhaps this other energetic pathway that links our body and our mind is not so mysterious after all, eh? All that remains is for our scientific community to develop the technologies in the future that verify all of this. But why wait till then to start doing what is best for you now?

Center for Empowered Leadership ®
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