Here’s a question:
Physical Health or Mental Health?
What’s more important?
While you think about it, I will tell you a story.
Remember the character called Peter Pan? The free spirited adventurous boy who always remains a boy and never becomes a man, no matter how many years go by. Now does this character only belong in the fairy tales?
This is a true story from 16th century England. Once upon a time, in England was born a prince. His mother, the queen, died in childbirth. Unfortunately in those days, the kings were not the best single dads. Hence the prince was passed on from one maid to the next.
At age 2-3 years, it was noticed that the prince was not growing normally. His height and weight remained much below normal.
A whole host of doctors and physicians were called in. But no one could diagnose what was wrong with the prince.
The king decided to send the prince to a hospital care facility. Once there, the nurse started raising him as her own child. The prince loved the nurse and received boundless affection from her. Suddenly he began to grow normally.
One day the nurse went away on a holiday for 3 months. And the prince stopped growing. Upon her return, magically the prince once again returned to normal growth.
Think about this. The rate at which calcium can deposit on the bones of a child is dependent on the love he receives?
This condition is called Psychogenic Dwarfism. It occurs when excessive stress stops the secretion of growth hormones. Psychogenic Dwarfism is a clear example that mental health and physical health are inextricably related. Every thought and emotion that we feel has an impact on our mental as well as the physical health.
When we are mentally healthy, we also become physically healthy. And when we achieve this balance in mental and physical health, our spirit rejoices.
This is what we call inner peace.
How can we achieve this state one might ask. What do we need to do? To KNOW the answer is easy. We have 3 great superpowers residing within our minds. To DO it is difficult. It takes a lot of work to be done on ourselves.
So let’s KNOW these superpowers one by one.
First Superpower: The Power of Calmness
What happens outside is not in our control. What happens inside CAN be in our control. Each hour we will go through different emotions – envy, anger, curiosity, optimism, compassion, thrill and so on. Given the range of human emotions, is it absolutely necessary that we react to every emotion? Or can we summon this power of calmness in the face of distressing emotions?
Easier said than done. But here are some quick fixes that can be used in that moment when we feel like lashing out.
Count to 10 before you react: This allows our emotional mind to calm down and our thinking brain to activate.
Take 5 deep breaths: The emotional mind is oxygen hungry and uses up every energy resource. More oxygen powers up thinking brain
Know your triggers: We all have triggers. Which means it’s the same kind of stimulus/situation that will elicit certain kinds of emotions. Especially fear and anger. Having awareness of those triggers reduces reactions.
But these are only quick fixes. The long term solution is only one. We all know it. It is meditation.
Here’s what happens when we meditate:
Mediation makes our thinking brain much stronger and weakens the emotional brain. Not that we won’t feel the emotion, but we won’t feel compelled to act upon it.
Secondly, it helps us situate ourselves in the ‘right now’. Not going into past which sets us into ‘regretful mode’. Not future which induces anxiety by making us ‘fearful’ about outcomes. ‘NOW’ is a powerful time. It’s the only time when we can take an action.
Thirdly and most important, it helps us to focus on ‘one thing at a time’ so that we become more productive and do everything more mindfully.
Second Superpower: The Power of Acceptance and Letting Go
Let’s think about this question. What do we do when someone cheats us, hurts us, lets us down or says mean things?
They hurt us once. But, when we think about it and feel the anger – again, that’s when they are hurting us the second time. Oftentimes we keep visiting our past, which means we keep hurting ourselves over and over again.
When we accept it, we accept all the emotions that surround that event and then we ask ourselves “What do we want to do next?” That’s when we are ready to let go.
There are three rules to letting go:
Leave the past: The past feels burdensome when we carry it for too long. It’s a sack full of sorrows, hurt, regrets. That sack is tied to the big iron chain and we are dragging that chain through the journey of life. When we CHOOSE to leave that chain we are free – feeling 20 pounds lighter and the journey of life becomes joyful.
Want to be here: Wherever that might be, if you don’t want to be there, then you have built a cage around yourself. If you feel like “I want to escape this boring meeting or the traffic jam” you are in a prison of your own mind. So accept the situation and WANT to be there and you have escaped the prison. You are free. The Master of your fate. The captain of your soul.
Giving and expecting nothing back in return: When we expect back we get attached to the result and that takes us in the infinite loop of ‘give to take back’. Do know that what is owed to you, the universe will find a way to get it to you. If not from this person, then someone else.
So to be free from all burdens, accept and let go.
Third Superpower: The Power of Tenacity/Resilience
Tenacity is our ability to bounce back every time we fail.
Here is a story of tenacity or a resilient mindset. We have seen many wrists adorning the ‘LIVESTRONG’ bands. The story of this wrist band is of a cyclist called Lance Armstrong. Very passionate about cycling, Lance wanted to not only wanted to participate, but also win the Tour-de-France title. Three months before the tournament, he was diagnosed with cancer.
Most of us in this situation would have given up. But Lance Armstrong increased his efforts manifold. Every time he felt his faith shaking, he made a tight fist and said to himself ‘Live Strong’. That’s the power of a strong positive self affirmation statement. The words that we say to ourselves have a profound impact on our thoughts and actions. It can alter the situation to a whole new outcome.
One thing is for sure. No amount of wealth will help when we are faced with adversity. It’s only a tenacious mindset that will propel us towards our goals.
To sum up…
These three superpowers – Calmness, Acceptance and Tenacity put together can just alter our life course.
But if we think about it, are these three separate super powers? Or is it just one power. Our Power of Decision.
So when we:
Decide to Stay Calm
Decide to Accept and Let Go
Decide to be tenacious
We decide to have INNER PEACE.
Shruti Varma is a Counselling Psychologist. She is a Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Alumnus. Having held several leadership positions in various MNCs, Shruti is a leading Counsellor, Coach and Trainer in Emotions Management and Emotional Intelligence. Having been a practitioner of Yoga, she combines Yogic Sciences in her Counselling practice, Coaching as well as Trainings.