Take Responsibility for Your Total Health

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Take responsibility for your total health, the physical-, the emotional-, and the spiritual health.  Today, a lot of people hold a very narrow view of health.  For them health is merely physical fitness or a body free of disease.  In this respect, people in the ancient times were more enlightened.  Two millennia ago, people in  the Greek and Roman society recognized that the body, the mind, and the spirit were interrelated.  They figured out, quite correctly that "sound body and sound mind," go together.  Unfortunately, with the descent of the "Dark Ages," this knowledge was lost.  Man and science began to look at mind, body, and spirit, as unconnected and independent of each other.  

 The current advances in mind-body medicine are making us aware that mind and body  are inseparable.  If we neglect one, we would be hurting the other.  So we have work to do in order to stay healthy, in addition to fitness exercises and annual medical check-ups.  We have to take direct responsibility for our health.  Merely depending on doctors, priests, politicians, and Food and Drug Administration, won't do it. Mark Andel in the Insight (#176) says, "No, It's not okay to eat and drink whatever you want, sit around doing nothing for years, and then expect a surgeon to make everything all right again....or a doctor to order up a bottle full of pills for you so you can have the symptoms treated--and go out and commit the same abuses."  

 TV and other media commercials constantly instigate us to act irresponsibly.  No, it's not all right to keep on eating indiscriminately, and then call for a "Maalox moment."  A commercial such as this is senseless, but it sells.  This is why the TV commercials for Gas-X, Tums, Pepsid, Maalox, and similar other remedies, are broadcast more at dinner time than any other time of the day.  The message implicit in these commercials is this, "Don't worry about what you eat and how much you eat.  Just buy our stuff regularly and keep on doing what you've been doing."

 In the 1980s, one out of every four Americans was obese.  In the 1990s, it is one out of three.  What is going on here?  We were supposed to have become more health conscious, low-calorifed,  decholesterolized, and less "fataholic."  We were supposed to have been reading food labels more carefully, eating more grains, fruits, fish, and vegetables.  It's not happening.  Guess, what the five most consumed food in America are?   Based upon the total value of grocery store sales, the five top foods in America are, Coke, Pepsi, Kraft processed cheese, Campbell's soup, and Budweiser beer.  The nutritious value of these five top foods is atrocious--they're junk food pure and adulterated.     

 Someone said that food in a can is nothing but a dead food.  It doesn't have much nourishing value and may contain ingredients that are harmful.  The food has to be "killed" (an uncharitable name for processing) in order to increase it's shelf life.  Why doesn't a  food that is toxic or poor in nourishment turn us off?  Some say that we are out-of-touch with our own body.  As a result of that we are hardly conscious and watchful about what we put inside our body.  It is ironical because America is regarded as a highly materialistic and physically-oriented society, and body is certainly a physical matter.  Yet, we have little appreciation of the delicate balance the body needs to maintain in order to stay healthy.  Unhealthy food-choices, eating disorders, unhealthy dieting, drug abuse, excessive smoking, etc., can be reduced if we pay loser attention to what we are doing with our body and how we are taking care of it.  The body is not just a carrying case for our head: the body is the temple of the soul;

    The food that we buy in packets, bags,  and cans or that we buy in a restaurant for that matter, has created another kind of problem.  Food is losing the "flavor" of love which can only be packed in the food by someone who prepares it with love.   Cooking used to be a family affair.  It was not meant to be a large scale commercial affair.  It took a lot of sacrifice and love on the part of the lady of the house to prepare it.  Cooking, serving, and eating at the table used to be a major family event of the day.  As a child, I would say to my mother that the "roti" (an Indian bread freshly baked at meal time), she cooked was tastier than that of anyone else.  She would  tell me, "Nobody cooks food with greater love than does a mother for her children.  That's why you like my "roti"  so much."  I bought her explanation then, but as a teenager, I would tell my mother that she made up these theories about motherhood to impress us.  

 Today, as a psychologist, I know there was a lot of wisdom in what my mother said.  Food has a very strong connection with love.  As the saying goes, "The way to the heart is through the stomach."  Food-love connection is imprinted in us biologically.  A mother holds her baby close to her and feeds him with love.  Baby gets the first lesson in love and that lesson goes right down into his or her belly.  Some anthropologists say that cooking is fundamental to intimate relationships and love expresses itself  through the preparation of food, the serving, and its consumption.  Of course, our social circumstances have changed.  Parents have to work and we can't ever go back to home cooked meals all the time, but it's important to preserve this tradition as much as we can for its emotional and physical health value.  

 So much about food for the stomach, now let's evaluate the quality of our food for the mind.  What are you feeding your mind?  Make sure it is rich and nutritious food for your imagination, knowledge, attitude, and emotions.  We get our mental food through the five senses, mainly through the eyes and ears.  Evaluate the "food" you or your children get from TV, books, music, and other media.  These are all visible and external sources of mental food.  The invisible and internal source of mental food is our thoughts, the "chatter" inside our mind. Remember the GIGO principle, that is, "garbage in and garbage out."  Don't feed your mind any garbage.  You become what you think about all day long.            

 Thought is pure energy, the most powerful form of physical force available to us.  Everything that is man-made on this planet is caused by thought.   Recognize the power of thought and the benefit and harm thoughts can bring you.  F. H. Burnett in The Secret Garden says that letting a bad thought get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body.  Settle for nothing less than the total health for yourself.         

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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