Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Vaccinate Your Mind With Positive Thoughts

If you believe in James Allen's metaphor of your mind being a garden, then how are you going to prevent overgrowth of useless weeds that will choke your flowers? Left unchecked, the fear of the unknown can cripple you. This is Emily's second time of taking her final examination in philosophy. She was a brilliant student, but lacked the self confidence to take examinations. The first time she took the examination she failed. It wasn't because she did not know her material, instead, she was scared of failure. Although she had studied enough, she wasn't able to conquer her fear in order to pass the examination.

In my own life, I also have had such moments of doubts and fear. In the 70's, there was only one medical school in Ghana. It only admitted 50 students into its premedical program every year. If you failed the premedical examination, you were out of the program. Many brilliant students' lives were ruined after being thrown out of the program. I was admitted into the program at this time. The weekend before the final examination, I was scared that I was going to fail.
I had a headache which nothing could take care of. I was sweating and my heart started beating like a drum in my chest. I could not sleep, neither could I study. I went to The Methodist Book Store in Accra and found The Power of Positive Thinking. Instead of studying for the examination, I spent the weekend reading the book to weed the thorns from my mind. One quotation that stuck in my mind was "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I would stand in front of the mirror, look at my myself and repeat the quotation several times until my fear was banished from my mind. Though I did not study that weekend, I passed the examination because positive thoughts replaced my doubts.

Positive thoughts alone will not help you if you haven't prepared yourself to face a particular challenge in your life. For example, If I hadn't studied, no amount of positive thinking would have helped me. For positive thoughts to work, you should have a direction and commitment. The positive thoughts just give you wings to fly and provide your sails wind to propel you towards your destination. In Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull , "The gall sees furthest who flies furthest." However the gall who flies furthest did not get there by one leap. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said:
"The heights by great men reached and kept, were not obtained by sudden flight.
But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night."
Finally, recognize that it takes a lot to keep your mind at peace. However, without the peace of mind, nothing can be achieved .

The element of belief is also important. You first have to believe in whatever is feeding your mind. I strongly had a belief that with God's help, within reason, I could do all things. You become like a child who is receiving a pep talk from his parents. There is trust that reassures the child to move on to do greater things. This also can only happen if there is a trusting relationship between the parents and their child. Therein lies the importance of trust and belief. To be a positive thinker and achieve your dreams, you have to learn to trust God if He is your source of positive inspiration.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Mind As A Garden

There are certain books that are timeless. I can read them many times and find a new pearl buried deep inside them each time I open the books. James Allen's As A Man Thinketh
(get a free download) is such a book. In 1987 I was a lonely obstetrician gynecologist in Cobbleskill, a village in Schoharie County, New York. I was the only obstetrician in the county. I could not go on vacation. My pastime was visiting the small bookstore in town and browsing through the books on the shelves. One day, I stumbled on "As a Man Thinketh." I bought it. This book has been my reading material almost every day. I will stand in my bathroom, read one chapter aloud before exercising. It gave me, and continues to give me the strength to stay in the mind body groove. James Allen used a garden metaphor to describe the mind.

"A man's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must and will bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind. Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits which he requires, so may a man tend to the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless and impure thoughts, and cultivating towards perfection, the flowers and fruits of right, useful and pure thoughts. by pursuing this process, a man sooner discovers he is the master gardener of his soul, the director of his life. he also reveals within himself, the laws of thought and understands, with ever increasing accuracy, how the thought forces operate in the shaping of his character and circumstances and destiny."

The book's objective is to impress upon us that we are what we think. That our achievements and failures have one source- the mind. "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." " A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in the right thinking, the effect of long cherished association with Godlike thoughts." How true this is. This free book has more pearls for you. I hope you read it over and over again till you get the gist of it. Add it to the tools you use to prune the thorns from your mind's garden.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Scientific Evidence-Stress Can Harm The Body

I know a woman who takes care of her mother with Alzheimer disease and her sick husband. She has no help and hence carries her load alone. She cannot see her friends. Even going to church is impossible. When she came for her annual gynecological examination, her brow was furrowed with waves of wrinkles. Each wave told a story of her agony and the ordeal she was going through - the stress of watching her loved ones' health slipping away.

Science is beginning to show that stress can depress the immune system , slow wound healing and increase susceptibility to wound infections. Recent experiments on mice show that cuddled mice are happier and live longer and stressed mice aged faster. However, when the stressed mice changed their environment and were stress free, they could overcome the negative effects of stress. This has also been proven in humans where mothers taking care of sick children were found to have accelerated aging.

Have you known anyone who has aged significantly because of stress? In your own life have you noticed any changes in your health when you're under a lot of stress? If you have any examples, please share them with us. We are hungry to hear your stories to turn us into believers. Please help motivate us to attend to our mind and body.

Monday, October 02, 2006

It's Your Mind. Mend It

The mind is at the center of all we do. It can make or wreck us. Have you been nearly hit by a car? Your heart rocks in your chest. Beads of sweat roll down your forehead. Why? Because there is a connection between your thoughts and your body. That center is inside your brain and is wired to your emotions. Happy thoughts evoke well being, while negative thoughts wreck the body. The medical profession has recognized this. Spirituality courses have been introduced in many US medical schools such as George Wahington University Institute for Spirituality and Health., and other spiritual sites such as: Mind body institute , International Center for the Integration of Health and Spirituality, The American Institute of Stress, Center for spirituality and Health

If our mind occupies such an important place in our lives, how can we keep it stress free so it can be our partner for good health? The world is thorny. These thorns prick us day in day out. Like the farmer who prunes the thorns from his flowers, we need tools, not one, not two, but many, to help prune the thorns from our minds to prevent any harmful thoughts that can prick and harm our bodies. Luckily for us many people have thought about this and have written books and songs, or created art work that can help us. In these pages, I hope to build a community where we can discuss and explore how we can use spirituality and religion to help our mind to cultivate optimism and positive outlook in life. This way, we can beat the epidemic of stress that tears our bodies apart to make us prone to diseases that steal the smiles from our faces.