Paramhansa Yogananda said that the root cause of illness is the conflict between the soul and the ego: the soul trying to draw us toward an awareness of our unity with God, and the ego trying to convince us that we are separate individuals. The subconscious tension created by this opposition produces blockages in the flow of life-force, and ultimately, disease. Good health results from a strong unobstructed flow of life-force to all areas of the body; illness, moods, apathy—in fact, all negative states—are symptoms of a conflict or blockage of the life-force. One of the great benefits of meditation is a gradual freedom from these conflicts, as we achieve an integration of our consciousness. We are then free to experience our natural state of vibrant health and energy.

This is not to say that there are no physical causes for disease, for certainly there are. Rather, we should recognize that physical symptoms usually have their root cause in consciousness or habit patterns. Along with meditation, here are a few things you can do to start living a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Expansive Consciousness

Problems can easily get out of proportion, whether they concern health, finances, relationships or whatever. Self-involvement makes even small things seem huge — a simple cold feels as if it will never end. It is important to have a broader perspective. Expansive consciousness makes concerns about health shrink to their proper size. Try to see everything in its broader perspective, against a backdrop of eternity.

To be effective, expansiveness needs to become a daily habit. When we think only about ourselves, it is like holding out a little cup to be filled. But when we help others, grace flows through us like a springtime stream, which has no limit. We are blessed and healed, not by what we possess, but by what flows through us. Expansive consciousness will both benefit the world and make you truly well. Serving others is, in a way, the most beneficial thing you can do for yourself.

Try this: Live with a sense of expansion

Beauty

We intuitively understand that beauty is helpful to healing, which is why we bring flowers to the hospital. We relax in the presence of beauty, and our hearts soar when it surrounds us. A recent study showed that even ADS (attention deficit syndrome) was reduced when the sufferers spent time in nature. Try regularly to walk out of doors in a beautiful garden or park. You can magnetize even more strength if you consciously draw in the beauty around you. Feel that you are drinking the colors or expanding into the sunset. A beauty bath refreshes your soul the way a warm shower cleanses your skin.

Don’t ignore your indoor environment. A little effort to create a beautiful home will repay itself many times over. Walk through your home or office as if for the first time. Get rid of anything that depresses you and accentuate those things that give you delight. Imagine yourself in a really happy environment. Visualize it clearly, even hearing the sounds, and smelling the odors. Now try to add those colors and sounds to your home or office. Life is beauty and a beautiful environment will give you a better life.

Try this: Take an inventory of your home, office, and life. Eliminate the ugly and accentuate the beautiful.

Laughter

Laughter is an antidote to worry and depression. There are many examples of laughter producing healing, even a popular book called Laughter is the Best Medicine. Healing results from a positive flow of life-force. Anything that gets your energy flowing positively will help you become well; a habitual positive flow will keep you strong and vibrant. The ability to laugh at life, and particularly to laugh at ourselves, is one of the universal healers, right up there with aspirin and the placebo effect. Find books or movies that tickle your funny bone.

Here is a prescription from your wellness doctor, and you don’t have to wait in line to get it filled: Take five minutes of laughter three times per day until well. Can also be taken as a preventative, (Note: Drug companies hate this medication.)

Try this: Five minutes of laughter, three times per day.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is another attitude that can make you well. Everyone suffers disappointment or even betrayal in life. But holding on to a negative past experience produces illness by acting like a time-release dose of poison in your system. The antidote is to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to condone wrong behavior. It means, rather, to realize that people are complex. It means also that you have the maturity to be willing to see their potential for growth.

One of the most beautiful things I ever witnessed was a friend, who, on her deathbed, called everyone with whom she had ever had any discord. She went far beyond forgiveness, expressing deep love to one and all. Don’t wait until the end of life. Today, forgive everyone who has ever done you harm. If feasible, let them know by a note or call. You will be amazed at the sense of freedom this simple act will give you. And those you touch may reach out to others. Who knows, you may start an avalanche of kindness and forgiveness that could reach around the world.

Try this: Right now, take time to forgive everyone who ever did you harm. If feasible, let them know that you’ve forgiven them.

Contentment

Contentment is often called the supreme virtue. It is where your heart can finally find rest. A pernicious cycle begins with desires and expectations. The world is inconveniently arranged to fulfill all of our desires, so we inevitably experience disappointment. This leads to frustration, which leads to anger, which leads to physical and psychological illness. Contentment short-circuits this cycle.

There are two things you can do to increase your contentment. The first is to release desires. Visualize them as strings attached to the heart and cut them away. Start with little unimportant threads and move up to the cables of the obsessive desires that bind you. It is especially effective to release attachments before going to sleep at night.

Another way to short-circuit desires is to cauterize them before they can gain momentum. As soon as you become aware of a little desire release or mentally neutralize it. It helps to involve both the body and the mind in this process – take a deep breath and feel that your exhalation is carrying away the desire. Then, as you inhale, affirm a sense of deep contentment.

Try this: Before sleep tonight, release all desires. Say, “I am free, I am free.”

Love

Love is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. The power of attraction holds families together and keeps planets in their orbits. A lot of what passes for love has a kind of merchant quality to it – “If you give me this, I’ll give you that.” But true love is not about receiving. It is an expression of the universal desire for connection and unity. The deepest love is universal – simply a resonance between your heart and the heart of all else.

Here is a technique for expanding your love. It is best practiced in meditation, but can be done anytime you are calm and aware. Sensitively feel for the quality of love in your heart. Now expand that sensation to fill your whole body, bathing every cell. This alone will be a potent healer. But don’t stop here. Let your love continue to expand outward, until it embraces each person in your life. Let it continue to expand until it touches everyone and everything on the planet. Make your love a powerful, active force, so potent that it uplifts the whole world. Now take that powerful force, condense it and share it with everyone you meet today. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone would actually do this. Love alone would cure the world’s ills.

Try this: The world is thirsty for your affection. Embrace everyone and everything in your circle of love.

Harmony and Cooperation

A life filled with harmony and cooperation is likely to be healthy and happy. There is a lovely line from an American Indian ceremony in which a young maiden enters “Walking in a sacred manner.” Try “living in a sacred manner” with the environment and the people around you. Try to see behind the forms, whether faces or flowers, to the underlying unity of all things. Be more aware and less like a sleepwalker in a hurry. If you treat the world as a conscious friend it will begin to play with you. Give full attention to this moment and whatever is in front of you. Create an expanding bubble of friendship and cooperation by treating everyone as your friend. The world gives back to us the kind of energy we give out. The great saints and sages of this world take this concept to its ultimate – they see everyone as an extension of their own true self, the God that resides in the heart of every atom.

Try this: The next time you go into a store, treat all as if they were close friends.

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