Illuminating the Dao – Happiness Creates Health

Happiness Creates Health

By Michelle Wood

If you follow the field of alternative wellness – and if you are reading Yang Sheng I’m sure you do! -you know that strong, scientific evidence is building in favor of fostering emotional well-being to create wellness.

It started about seven decades ago with the discovery by endocrinologist Dr Hans Selye that mental and emotional stress causes physical illness. The answer was to try to teach people to reduce negative stress which, unfortunately, we have not yet done very well in spite of the media attention to the physical damage caused by a stressful lifestyle. (Dr Selye also proposed that a certain level of stress is a good thing which helps to keep you challenged and motivated. Negative stress can be viewed as the unhealthy reaction to changes and challenges for which you see no solution, usually chronically-experienced situations such as being stuck working at a job you don’t like, or feeling trapped in an unhappy relationship.)

Attempting to reduce negative stress is still putting the attention on the negative stress. The important thing that’s been revealed and is incredibly important to all of us as believers in alternative wellness practices, is that by putting your attention on any feeling or experience, you will deepen those feelings and create more of those experiences.  So, by putting your attention on stress-reduction, you are giving more energy to negative stress, not reducing it.

I think this writing on “Happiness” from the book 365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao, (Harper San Francisco, 1992, ISBN: 0062502239) has some very revealing things to say about focusing on the reduction of stress instead of the creation of wellness.

“Let us not follow vulgar leaders
Who exploit the fear of death,
And promise the bliss of salvation.
If we are truly happy,
They will have nothing to offer.

“Some leaders use threats to win adherents. They invoke death to force good behavior and to herd people toward paradise.

“Others woo with grand promises. If you have no satisfaction, they offer bliss. If you feel inadequate, they offer success. If you are lonely, they offer acceptance.

“But if we do not fear death and are happy, what will such leaders have to offer? Spirituality is an organic part of daily life, not something dispensed by a professional. True spirituality is liberation, not just from the delusions of reality but from the delusions of religion as well. If we attain freedom from the fear of death, a sound way of health, and a path of understanding through life, there is happiness and no need for false leaders.”

I would like to be explicit in my use and definition of the word “vulgar” when used with “leaders” in the above excerpt. By “vulgar leaders,” I intend the meaning of the common or ordinary leadership we frequently see today in the field of health and wellness. In spite of all the news and evidence for the efficacy of the body-mind-spirit connection and the incredible power that has for initiating and creating wellness the vast majority of health providers are people who are ignorant of this connection. This trend is improving, and alternative practices are occasionally being recommended by mainstream medicine, but there is still a need for additional enlightenment in order to provide the best possible heath care which combines both typical Western practices with the best that alternative medicine has to offer.

Typically, the “vulgar leaders” do exploit fear of death in an attempt to get you to change your behavior. (Have you, or someone you know, ever been told, “If you don’t lose forty pounds you’ll have a heart attack.”? How about, “If you don’t quit smoking, you’ll end up with lung cancer.”? Most people associate heart attack and cancer with death, and upon hearing either of these statements unconsciously add the words “and die” at the end of the statement: “If you don’t lose forty pounds you’ll have a heart attack (and die).” or “If you don’t quit smoking, you’ll end up with lung cancer (and die).”

The biggest problem with this tactic is that fear and worry generate a hormonal response that suppresses the immune system, thereby suppressing self-healing, and contributing to the very diseases you desire to reverse and cure. As Deng Ming-Dao’s writing goes on to say, if you can find true happiness, those “vulgar leaders” will have no influence nor control over your wellness.

The key to finding happiness is incredibly simple – not necessarily easy, but very simple – focus your attention on it. Turn away from the worry and fear, and turn toward the freedom and fun. Happiness reduces the levels of stress hormones that can suppress self-healing, and increases the body chemicals that support regeneration of all the elements and components of your physical self!

I love this verse of the Daodejing, verse 57 from the John C. H. Wu translation (Tao Teh Ching, Shambhala Pocket Classics, Boston & London, 1990, SIBN 0877735425) to illustrate the principle and provide guidance:

[以正治国, 以奇用兵,以无事取天下。吾何以知其然哉?以此:
天下多忌讳,而民弥贫;人多利器,国家滋昏;人多伎巧,奇物滋起;法令滋彰,盗贼多有。
故圣人云: 我无为, 而民自化;我好静,而民自正;我无事,而民自富;我无欲,而民自朴。’]

You govern a kingdom by normal rules;
You fight a war by exceptional moves;
But you win the world by letting alone.
How do I know that this is so?
By what is within me!

The more taboos and inhibitions there are in the world,
The poorer the people become.
The sharper the weapons the people possess,
The greater confusion reigns in the realm.
The more clever and crafty the men,
The oftener strange things happen.
The more articulate the laws and ordinances,
The more robbers and thieves arise.

Therefore, the Sage says:
I do not make any fuss, and the people transform themselves.
I love quietude, and the people settle down in their regular grooves.
I do not engage myself in anything, and the people grow rich.
I have no desires, and the people return to Simplicity.

Here is how I would utilize this to make the choice to turn attention away from the reduction of stress and worry to instead focus on happiness, turning the tables from illness to wellness.

You govern a kingdom by normal rules;
You fight a war by exceptional moves;
But you win the world by letting alone.

The kingdom is your body, and the governors are your thoughts and actions. By going along with the thoughts and beliefs of the normal rules on reducing illness, you still focus on illness, and will only create more of the same.

Do you really want to think of making moves toward your wellness as fighting a war? The very word means conflict and generates all sorts of negative, wellness-reducing thoughts and feelings!

Winning the world, revitalizing the body, is done by “letting alone,” removing those thoughts and things that interfere with the natural, normal wellness processes so that the body may heal itself.

How do I know that this is so?
By what is within me!

I have admitted on several occasions to being an Integralist; I do believe that everything you require for health and wellness already resides within you. When you remove the obstacles of worry and negative beliefs, the natural flow of healthy energy and spirit resumes, and the processes within your physical being return to harmony and wellness.

The more taboos and inhibitions there are in the world,
The poorer the people become.

The taboos and inhibitions represent the confused and confusing, often contradictory, thoughts and ideas you are often exposed to around the topic of wellness. Certainly, your health becomes poor and poorer as this confusion of information becomes great and greater.

The sharper the weapons the people possess,
The greater confusion reigns in the realm.

If the weapons are the plethora of products you are encouraged to use to reduce illness or even to find happiness, the more confused you become over which “weapons” work, and which ones are the correct ones for you since you are smart enough to want to avoid useless or ineffective “weapons.” And again, I would like you to consider the mental and emotional reaction you may have on the thought of using “weapons” on yourself, fighting that “war” from line two! This just does not seem healthy.

The more clever and crafty the men,
The oftener strange things happen.

This line speaks to me on the use of pharmaceutical medications and the “strange things” that frequently “happen” as side effects of use, or sometimes as a consequence of mixing multiple prescriptions.

The more articulate the laws and ordinances,
The more robbers and thieves arise.

I interpret this to mean, metaphorically speaking, that the more information and advice that becomes available on new, “super” practices to cure disease and/or reduce stress, the more practices you may try out and play with that only rob you of true wellness by either real physical distress (as can be caused by some products), or less intense but just as important, they rob you of true health by distracting you from the natural, integral path of spirit-mind-body wellness.

Therefore, the Sage says:
I do not make any fuss, and the people transform themselves.
I love quietude, and the people settle down in their regular grooves.
I do not engage myself in anything, and the people grow rich.
I have no desires, and the people return to Simplicity.

You are the Sage! Do not make a fuss, remain calm and happy, you will transform yourself. Love quietude and you will settle in a regular groove of experiencing harmony and health. Do not engage in anything that does not bring joy, and you will grow rich in all the things in life that really count. Have no desires, and return to the simplicity and perfection of wellness as Nature intended.

 

[Rev Michelle K. Wood holds a degree in Holistic Relaxation Therapy from Natural Health Institutes, has been a student of the Yijing since the early 1990s, and embraced the philosophy and shamanic roots of Daoism at the beginning of the 21st Century. Two years of participation in kirtan led Michelle to study the archetypal vibrations found in Sanskrit mantras and develop a wellness program utilizing Sanskrit bhajans (devotional songs). Knowing that all wellness has its foundation in strong spiritual connection, Michelle’s Everyday Enlightenment programs and services help you transform emotion and attitude into positive, life-enhancing lessons through Consciousness and Awareness Development techniques such as qigong and meditation. She also teaches meditation and qigong classes and workshops for wellness through Central Oregon Community College. Website: http://www.everyday-enlightenment.com ; email: michelle@everyday-enlightenment.com]

 

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