It’s good for your mind and body
By Karen Frye
Do we take seriously the power the mind has on our health?
The way we see the world can be of great benefit and, maybe with a little effort and daily practice, this year can be a shift in your health in a most beautiful way. This unique way of thinking is a quality we are all born with, but the challenges of life can diminish the gift. Children are quick to laugh and find amazement in the most ordinary things. We all possess this condition of wonder and awe and it doesn’t have to fade with age. Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley conducted a study with a group of freshmen in the field of positive psychology that provided valuable insights on how strongly our emotions influence our overall health. With positive feelings we actually increase the power of our immune system, and reduce inflammation in the body.
Studies in the positive psychology of emotions and physical health are often combined with the common thread of the negative effects emotions such as anger, fear, sadness and so on can have on us. At UC-Berkeley, the participants with feelings of happiness, contentment and awe with life had stronger immune systems and lower inflammation markers. The strongest of these were the feelings of awe — information that we can use in our lives daily to improve our health. It’s as important as taking your vitamins, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and getting regular exercise.
Feelings of awe can happen when you see a sweet baby, a beautiful flower, a stunning sunset, any of the miracles of nature. There are so many things all around us that can produce “awe” if we allow ourselves to experience the beautiful things life provides. Perhaps you are one of those people who feel great amounts of awe, but never thought about the physiological benefits your body is receiving. Or, if you need a little help in creating more of these powerful emotions, this is the perfect time of the year to practice. Awe is linked to a feeling of social connectedness. So, the first step is to get out and become more engaged with others. Make an effort to plan things with friends on a regular basis.
Encourage positive relationships. We are never too old to learn how to be a better listener, friend, parent and so on. Join a church or a club of interest. Volunteer your time and energy toward something you feel passionate about. The opportunities to find healthy, positive places to socialize are all around us.
The benefits are waiting to happen for you. Find the things that create a feeling of awe daily. It’s very easy. Just look around you and see the incredible beauty in nature, or your children, and especially your grandchildren. Whatever it is that can give you an awe-inspired new year. PS
Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.