Economy of the Heart & Forgiveness
An undeniable part of what we do as Naturopathic Doctors takes place on the emotional realm. I’m currently on my first counseling shift at the Bastyr Clinic, and I have a feeling that I’m going to be posting more about spiritual/emotional health than usual this quarter.
A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that positive emotions can lower a person’s risk of developing conditions like diabetes and heart disease. For those of us that aren’t inherent optimists, that might be easier said than done. Change involves risk (you can’t steal third base with your foot still on second); you have to be willing to let go of old grudges and inflammatory emotions to start living in peace.
Optimism: Why? Because you have a choice. Optimists always look for solutions rather than magnifying faults. You don’t have to become a ‘perky, superhuman, gluten-free yoga teacher, blogging about inner peace and beauty‘ to look at the bright side of life on a regular basis. You can be your honest, genuine self, and still put a positive spin on life. (Optimism is not my inherent, natural tendency. If I can do it, so can you.)
Economy of the Heart: As you start your spring cleaning this season you might want to take the opportunity to clear out any unnecessary burdens or griefs. A British playwright, Hannah Moore talks about forgiveness as the ‘Economy of the Heart:’
It saves the experience of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.
The practice of forgiveness enhances the immune system, lowers high blood pressure, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves sleep patters. Check out Dr. Fred Luskin’s The Forgiveness Project at Stanford University for more info. He talks about the negative impacts of holding grudges, toxic emotions and the positive impacts of choosing happiness over resentment. Forgiveness and acceptance do not necessarily mean approval, but they do mean freedom.
One of my favorite quotes when I was in college and wanted to choose a career as a yoga instructor over law school was by The Eagles:
So often in time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key.
I find this to be true for so many situations in life. Taking responsibility for your own internal experience and emotions can be really powerful and can build confidence. Others are not always going to treat you exactly how you want to be treated: Real people make real mistakes. People are going to judge others and make all sorts of erroneous assumptions based on their perception and own personal hang ups. Really, it’s just a reflection on them, not you. How you react is your choice. Forgive anyway and start living your own life. Learn to express yourself creatively and manifest living up to potential. And if you’re finding this difficult, try incorporating yoga and meditation into your weekly regimen. Both practices can help us live in the present moment and see ourselves and the world more clearly.
What are your favorite ways to cultivate your own happiness, creative expression and living in the moment?
On a lighter note – shout out to Fenway’s 100th birthday celebration tomorrow, (and my buddy Karl’s move to Germany tomorrow!):
I told you I wasn’t an inherent optimist 😉
Brain Power, by Michael Gelb
Meditations from the Mat, by Rolf Gates
Wild Mind: Living the Artists Life, by Natalie Goldberg