by Don Ingwerson
Everyone seems to be affected by fear in some way or another, but looking at fear and its causes isn’t intended to create more fear, but to show that it need not be harmful. Fear is self imposed but so intimately entwined in the individual that it seems as if it were as much a part of the individual as a body part. But let me assure you that you do have a choice with respect to fear.
Lissa Rankin states, “that even more than smoking and alcohol or eating fried food or being a couch potato, fear is bad for your health. But we experience fear for a reason. It’s meant to protect us, so that when we’re in a dangerous situation, our fear response triggers the body’s fight or flight mode and we’re better able to overcome what is challenging us.”
I experienced first hand how fear creates a fight or flight response when I was at a conference. The conference leader gave each of us a thermometer to hold between thumb and forefinger and asked each of us to take an initial body temperature reading. He then asked us to think of the most horrible and fearful thing that had ever happened to each of us. After a few moments he asked us to look at the thermometer again to see how our thoughts had affected the thermometer reading. When I looked at the thermometer, the temperature reading had lowered by 5 degrees, indicating that circulation in my hands had lessened and that most of the blood was surrounding my heart. My body was ready to respond to the thing I was afraid of.
But fear is important to the health of the body only in that by being aware that fear affects the body both mentally and physically, a person is able to work beyond fear, which brings inspiration on how to solve the fearful situation. When fear is allowed free rein, the body is under stress (fear is definitely stressful), and the body cannot repair itself. Maintaining a state of calm through thoughts of love, faith, and pleasure allows the body to repair itself.
The concept of being in control of and caring for your health through mind/body practices of prayer and meditation is not a new idea. During the last century, noted writer on health and spirituality, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote in her seminal work, Science and Health, “As human thought changes from one stage to another –from fear to hope and from faith to understanding, the visible manifestation will at last be man governed by [spirituality], not by material sense.” According to Deepak Chopra, MD, one of the main themes of alternative medicines is to return the power of healing to the patient. Self-treatment is providing healing, which releases the patient from stress, tension, and the unknown – all which are intimately tied to fear.
Fear governs the health of the body when spirituality isn’t present. Taking control of my own health needs by going beyond fearful thoughts through prayer and meditation, I have prevented and corrected health problems. I’ve found thoughts of goodness and harmony begin to dissipate fearful emotions. Continuing to perform this exercise helps to create a healthy experience that changes attitude as well as improves health.
Article originally published February 18, 2013