Ensuring a Healthy Body and Mind-Part I


Understand How Body and Mind Work

If we want a healthy body and mind, the first step is to observe and understand how they work. We really understand very little about our own bodies and minds. We know that cellular metabolism does not stop for a moment, but we do not actually sense it. We seldom think about how the food we eat affects our health. We seldom pay attention to how many thoughts come and go in a single day or even in a minute. At the end of the day, we may have some impressions of a few major concerns we may have dwelt upon, but we are never clear about the actual number of thoughts in our mind at any given moment.

We Constantly Waste Energy

Worse, we constantly waste energy. Establishing a career, engaging in study, or contributing to the community requires considerable mental and physical energy. But in the process of doing these things, we are tense, nervous, and scattered, and, consequently, we lose a tremendous amount of energy and fail to replenish it. We must conserve our energy in order to use it wisely. Scattered thoughts cause us to lose energy; they consume not only physical energy but diminish mental acumen. Harmful thoughts, such as strong desire, hatred, arrogance, and despair, stir our emotions and disturb physiological balance.

Maintain a Relaxed, Focused, and Clear Mind

Chan meditation reduces scattered and harmful thoughts, so in all situations we learn to maintain a relaxed, focused, and clear mind. This state of mind is reflected in our bodies. Whenever a situation or problem requires attention, we will respond to it with our fullest attention and ability.

Chan Meditation Enhances Physiologically

Physiologically, Chan meditation enhances the endocrine system, which supports the coordination between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The pituitary, pineal, parotid, and thymus glands of the sympathetic nervous system can cause the constriction of blood vessels, thus increasing the sympathetic tone of the body. Its outward expressions are alertness and quickness in reaction. On the other hand, the adrenal, ovarian, testicular, and pancreatic glands of the parasympathetic nervous system can cause the dilation of blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and reducing sympathetic tone; the outward expressions are calmness and stability. Nourishing a balanced coordination of both systems will ensure a healthy personality. Inclination to either side will lead to defects in how we behave and relate to the world.

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