We hear nowadays that our thinking has an impact on our physical health. How does that happen? Negative thoughts and the emotions they trigger lead to the creation of neuropeptides, which are chemicals that act as neurotransmitters, which carry electrical impulses across nerve cells, and also modulate the action of other neurotransmitters. These neuropeptides reach cells through the blood vessels and lock on to their receptors. They accelerate chemical reactions in the cells, activate our sympathetic nervous system, and as a result our heart rate increases, blood pressure goes up, arteries are constricted, blood becomes thicker, and stress hormones are released. This produces feelings of fear, uneasiness, and lack of energy. When these processes occur day after day, year after year, due to a pattern of negative thinking, the body is repeatedly bombarded with stress hormones, which gradually affect various organs in the body, leading to diseases.
When we change the quality of our consciousness, there is a corresponding impact on the body. Regular practice of inner self-consciousness leads to positive thoughts. These thoughts have been found to trigger the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural morphine, which is the strongest painkiller. Not only does it reduce pain but it also produces a feeling of well-being and lightness. When we have good wishes for everyone, remain calm and happy, endorphins are produced in the body and the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which relaxes the body.
Many of us would have experienced that when we were tired after a long day’s work, a piece of good news suddenly energised us. Where did that energy come from? The feeling of joy triggers a hormonal response that makes us feel charged and light. This teaches us that if we can develop disease by negative thinking, we can also cure it by making it a habit to think positively. Conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can be mitigated, even reversed, by changing the quality of our thoughts.
A major cause of physical illness are the hurts we carry in our mind from childhood onwards. We nurse feelings of rejection, unfair treatment, or injustice suffered in the past. Unhappy experiences later on in life are added to those feelings. This is because most people tend to focus on the painful or wrong things that have happened in their lives. They repeatedly recall those experiences and suffer the pain again and again. The cumulative effect of such thinking and feelings is manifested in the form of blocked arteries, high blood pressure, diabetes, and pain in the joints, among other ailments.
On speaking to heart patients, more than eight thousand of them, I have found that all of them carry the feeling that life has not been fair to them. They see only the negative in their life, as if nothing good has ever happened to them.
What is the remedy for this? The first step is to recognise the truth that we are not bodies, we are souls – sentient beings of light that think, speak, and act through the physical medium of the body. The soul is immortal – when the body dies, the soul goes on to take birth in a new body. The soul carries a record of all that it has done in past lives, and our experiences in the present are the result of our past actions. The principle that every action has an equal and opposite reaction applies to the soul as well. When we remember this, we begin to understand and take responsibility for our circumstances and experiences. We are no longer victims, and realise that we can sow the seeds of a better future by living in a way that brings happiness to the self and others. This does not require much effort. All we need to do is to live in alignment with the innate qualities of the soul, such as peace, purity, love, and truth. When our actions are guided by these values, we earn peace, love, happiness and health in return. The hormonal response to positive experiences gradually brings about healing in the body.
Dr. Satish Kumar Gupta is Director, Medicine & Cardiology, at the RMM Global Hospital Trauma Centre in Abu Road, Rajasthan.