The Health of Our Relationships and the Health of Our Bodies

The Health Of Our Relationships And The Health Of Our Bodies

The Health of Our Relationships and the Health of Our Bodies

Our culture leads us to think of our health mostly as a physical phenomenon. But an abundance of solid scientific research tells us otherwise: our thoughts and emotions have a direct and major impact on the body.

The first relevant observation is that a quick look at the stresses in our lives suggests that they often revolve around relationships, whether at home or at work. So learning the skills to create healthy relationships in both environments is important not only for peace of mind, but for a healthy body.

When you’re dealing with anger, depression, anxiety, and any other emotional stresses, they immediately start affecting chemical substances such as serotonin, dopamine, cortisol, adrenaline, and so on. When there’s too much or not enough of these chemicals, you feel unwell emotionally.  Over the long-term, this can affect the health of the body. Conversely, the experience of love, joy, beauty, and tranquility have profoundly positive effects on human physiology. For example, it’s been shown that the experience of compassion lowers cortisol, a stress hormone.

So how you do you begin to improve your relationships? One of the most important things to consider in a conflict is the difference between how “right” you feel about your position and how your body feels. No matter how egregious the offense, any sort of resentment, anger, or judgment you hold on to are a form of suffering for you. When you’re besieged by resentment, it helps to take note of how distressing that feeling is, and then to ask, “Why would I want to make myself feel this way?” By focusing on the bare phenomenon of the distress as it shows up in mind and body, and putting aside for the moment the question of right and wrong, it’s easier to realize that we create our own suffering when in conflict.

While there’s always more to the story of any conflict, the understanding that you, and not the other, is generating this feeling of strain, stress, and unhappiness in your mind-body makes it easier to take responsibility for how you’re feeling, and to start from there in creating opportunities for healing the conflict.

To learn more about this and to learn skills to improve your relationships, you are warmly invited to a 5-week session on mindfulness meditation and relationships starting Monday November 7th.  Please see this link for more details: 

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David Mercier, M.S., L.Ac. studied mindfulness meditation as a monk in Sri Lanka from 1975 to 1977. He has had a practice in life coaching and acupuncture in Easton, Maryland since 1983, and is the author of the award-winning A Beautiful Medicine, now the textbook a course he teaches at Johns Hopkins University.