It’s shocking that this topic wasn’t addressed until the 53rd installment. It’s shocking because it is one of the most important aspects of having good physical health and because I find it to be one of the most intriguing of all topics. The very name “Sacred Self” stemmed from the following concepts.
In previous editions the discussion has leaned towards diet and lifestyle factors and their effect on psychological health. There is no doubt that achieving blood sugar and hormonal stability results in a much higher level of mental and emotional consistency and aptitude. My personal experience of going from a somewhat moody and unpredictable person with fairly strong highs and lows to experiencing life on a much more even keel has certainly made a strong impression on me. For me, diet and lifestyle factors have proven to greatly exceed any spiritual or psychological method for achieving psychological health, although my pursuits in those areas certainly aren’t exhaustive.
But brain physiology aside, I have found two prominent mindsets to be strong determinants of the total health experience.
The first and most important element of psychological health is to:
Express and be the most authentic version of yourself that you can be, never questioning the rightness or wrongness of your passions and desires, focusing on ways to deeper understand and celebrate who you are in your entirety.
This concept is usually spoken of in clich?, like, ?just be yourself,? or ?don’t worry what other people think,? or ?be your own best friend. That’s not exactly what I mean. What I’m talking about pertains mostly to the Supreme Court Justice within that condemns certain actions and praises others. Our biggest critics in life are always ourselves, and we go through life patting ourselves on the back and beating ourselves up for the things we think, say, and do. This is foolish and leads to poorer physical health because of the psychological harm that is inflicted in the form of guilt and shame (the lowest of all human emotions).
However, the repetitive seesaw of good boy, bad boy, punishment and reward, and sin and repent can greatly be transcended. The strong polarity of the two sides can certainly be lessened. An entryway into easing the strength and amount of self-deprecating thought is to keep, in the background, the mindset that you are the only you that you’ve got, and you mustn’t go against yourself. Certainly we can all agree that being at odds with yourself is a less efficient and more burdensome way to go through life.
But that is really just the beginning, because in order to be able to go ?all the way? it takes an unraveling of many layers of belief, and that can be too difficult of a mental exercise for many people. For example, if you see a strong virtue in someone else that you feel you do not have, you will put them on a pedestal and beat yourself up over your shortcomings. That’s just how it works.
You also have to overcome feeling ?good? about certain aspects of yourself, because you will feel lousy when you are displaying the opposite of that trait. For instance if you pride yourself on being kind, then when you yell or harass someone, or lose your temper with them, you will feel extremely guilty about it. The pinnacle of psychological health would be to not take credit or blame, to feel grateful for every trait that you possess instead of good about some and self-conscious about others. In essence, you would have to have less polarized definitions of good and evil, right and wrong, and see instead a dynamic assortment of elements in a matrix of perfection (personal pet peeve phrase: ?Nobody’s perfect).
Given mainstream thought in society and religious dogma, the difficulty of getting there is heightened. Although, upon closer examination of many religions, there are indicators that this philosophy was at least understood in part ? even in Christianity, so notorious for its code of ethics. The Bible for example warns against ?judging,? which, as a reminder, means labeling someone or something as either good or bad. Even more revealing is that the woes of mankind arose ? the paradise destroyed, when Adam and Eve ate from ‘the tree with the knowledge of good and evil. This is an incredibly strong metaphor suggesting that all was well until the world was suddenly divided into a good half and a bad half, whereas before it was just plain old creation in its fullness.
Eastern philosophy paints a much more inclusive portrait of existence. Yin and Yang are not defined as good and bad per se, but as two equally important opposing forces that serve to balance one another. This parallels nature more closely. For in nature sun and rain are two opposing forces whose sum is balance and therefore perfection. The same goes for day and night, life and death, summer and winter, and so on.
In any case, the simple search to see the essential importance of all elements of life: joy and sorrow, peace and turmoil, success and failure, sickness and health, etc. can be profoundly liberating for those that really take it to heart. Like Dr. John Demartini says, ?the Master embraces both pain and pleasure in the pursuit of purpose,? or, and I’m paraphrasing this one, ‘those in search of only joy can at best achieve halfillment, those who develop an appreciation for joy and pain, support and challenge, ease and difficulty ? experience fulfillment. To realize this you need look no further than the relationships in your life that are the most meaningful to you. The people we frustrate, disappoint, hurt, and disrespect the most love us the most and vice versa. It takes two people displaying their whole selves to one another to achieve fulfillment ? and everyone has both a heart and an asshole. No relationship can develop true depth and meaning in the absence of suffering.
Although this seems quite complex, for practicality’s sake, try to honor all sides of yourself, of others, and of life. Everything has purpose, everything serves, and everything is an equally important manifestation of god itself. The more unwilling you are to embrace (not just “accept”) life in its totality the greater the negative impact on your overall well-being.
The other essential key to psychological health is:
You must always be in pursuit of something.
Pursuing a dream, a goal, a passion, a desire, a mysterious calling, you name it, is mandatory for maximal psychological health. It really doesn’t matter what the nature of the compulsions you have. It can be pursuing becoming a bum, or pursuing becoming a world champion. It’s the active pursuit that counts, and whether you achieve your goal or not is secondary to the pursuit itself. The hunt, the quest, the mission, the journey itself is what keeps your body alive, vibrant, and regenerating. As Patricia Bragg said the other night at the intimate gathering with Dr. Demartini that I attended, ?plot, plan, and follow through.
The third step is the one most frequently left out. To that I must say, if you think about something constantly, daydream about doing it or living it, and so on, you better hop to it ? no matter what it is, no matter how rational or irrational it is, no matter how weird or bizarre or impractical or inconvenient it may be. An unfollowed dream causes much stagnation and destruction of the human spirit. Just don’t expect happiness to be waiting for you when you achieve your greatest glory. The satisfaction of fulfilling a dream is very short lived and becomes cripplingly depressing until you begin your next mission. As many religions and spiritual teachings point to, life is about the journey, not the destination.
Matt, your reading was most awesome! After reading it I feel better about the day. It’s like you know these things in the back of your mind, but you need someone to remind you of them ever so often! Peace,
Glad to see you integrating the top-down (mind to body) areas. The impact of mental-emotional states is a huge part of the system of our meat suits we run around it. I think everyone has examples of people that live and eat super healthy yet lack the mental hygiene keeping them in their state of dis-ease.
Just like eating right provides the necessary nutrients to nourish and sustain the body, we come with a highly advanced self-sustained chemistry set that responds to our psychology. Dwelling in guilt, shame, regret, anger, anxiety, etc. is literally bathing all the cells of our body with neuro-transmitters, hormones, etc, and all these micro-messengers serve the very important purpose to communicate with us that what we’re doing is not serving us. If we fail to hear the message and these states become consistent, they become very toxic and unfortunately the best nutrition can’t ameliorate it.
Too often people suffer simply because they do not take responsibility for some or all of their life. They might believe that happiness is a right and that we should “just be happy” or that those people and places outside of us are responsible to bring us happiness. But just like you said, joy in life comes from defining your journey and constantly acting to realize it in lieu of all the good and challenges along the way. Avoiding the journey is sure ticket to eventually realizing you will die without having truly lived, also known as regret. The best part about taking the risk to live the life and do the things you love, is that that when you look back on it in your golden years, you get to enjoy it again and again and again…..
Do today that thing you think you cannot do!
Be the change you want to see in the world. -Ghandi
This post really hit home with me. I battle with a sense of purpose daily. I started reading your blog because of your incredible insight on overall health and nutrition. I disagree with a few minor points, but has provided me with the stepping stones to learn much. However, this post spoke to me on a level of goals, passions, and purpose.
Things that most people in my life have no concept of (which is fine, just respect my path). I know clearly what my passions are, it's just a matter of getting there (no matter how unorthodox they are). It seems you found your passion a long time ago and are actively pursuing it.
Very well done.
Be in touch,
53rd installment? I only get it to 43 :/ (reading up)