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Heal Thy Self, Heal Thy World

By on April 15, 2018 in Spiritual Awakening

by Sarah Smyth,
Contributing Writer,

With developments in science and medicine Western civilisation became influenced by the Cartesian dualism view of humanity/nature and body/mind as being separate from one another and anything relating to the soul or the spirit, such as higher consciousness was considered superstition (Halprin, 2003).

With this onset of thought, humanity not only became divided as a collective, humanity became divided within itself.


In his 2010 book ‘Heaven on Earth’ Joseph Aurelio Mendoza looked at the impact the separation between mind, body and soul is having on our lives.  He used the example of a scale to represent the weight/focus the material age places on each of these 3 components. Mendoza (2010) believed that each should be equal in weight/balance with one another, however in our current age the scale has become so heavily tipped towards the body that “there isn’t much concentration on the mind and soul” (Mendoza, 2010, p.33).

The consequences of such focus being placed on the body is that our body has taken so much physical abuse as we have become “out of balance” with ourselves (Mendoza, 2010, p.33).

This is evident when we see how many people try to control negative thoughts and emotional states by abusing their body by through various means e.g. starvation, binge eating, eating highly processed foods, gruelling fitness regimes, living a sedentary lifestyle, being on our phones 24/7, busying ourselves to the point of nervous exhaustion, cosmetic surgery, promiscuous sex, using/abusing legal, illegal, prescribed substances, the list is endless.

As with any relationship, forcing things, poor communication and not actively listening to one another only creates stress and distance thus leading to an intensification of problems. Why should it be any different if we are out of touch with our mind, body and soul? “When two parties (body and mind) do not cooperate, there is unhappiness on both sides. This leads to fragmentation and dis-ease” (Iyengar, 2005 p. 28).

How do we create a relationship of harmony and balance between mind, body and soul? By recognising who and what it is we truly are.

As discussed earlier the separation of mind, body and soul has left us divided not just as individuals but as a collective. With so much emphasis on the body our mind (higher consciousness) and spirit have yet to be awakened.  For example, the body (unlike the soul) is material, it is not made to last forever and this is a constant reminder that aging and death is inevitable leading to humanity operating from a place of fear rather than love.


This fear causes us to live in a system that values survival of the fittest over survival for all. And in doing so, it has led us to forget that we human beings are part of something much greater than what our society has reduced us to e.g. our job title, qualifications, possessions, appearance, physique etc.

We are nature. Our bodies and souls are a part of the cosmos, and are governed by the same laws of the universe as any other living organism, including earth. A basic example of this is the 5 elements of nature; water, air, fire, earth, ether are all found in the human body e.g.  Water (blood, semen, urine, also found in organs, muscles and bones), Air (breath, movement), Fire (digestion, metabolism, energy, heat), Earth (bones, teeth, hair, nails), Ether (sound, vibration, space in the body e.g. cells).

Our body is roughly made up of the same percentage of water as the earth. Like the rivers and tributaries of the earth, we have blood vessels in the body, of over 100,000. Similarly the earth’s crust contains most of the mineral nutrients our body needs such as: oxygen, iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium e.g.  The chemical composition of a rock such as granite, is similar to the composition of the human body.

Thus the earth is like our human body: “The air is like your breath. The trees are like you lungs…The streams and rivers are like the blood circulating in your body. And just as you move, the earth spins in outer space” (Chopra, 2007). And the ether within the human body can be considered inner space, consciousness; “Just as with your eyes closed we can view and admire the inner sky. Sometimes in the deep concentration of silent meditation, dazzling lights and starts are visible in that inner vastness” (Prajnanananda, 2005 p.7).

In other words, everything that exists in the universe (macrocosm) exists within us (microcosm) and vice versa.

Our external world is currently a reflection of our internal struggles. Our constant striving to be better than everyone else and have more than everyone else, has led man with the belief that he can gain control over nature in the same way as he tries to control his physical being, by demolition for betterment, where too much of our most required necessities have been taken for granted.

 “We shunned the freedom man had been gifted with, we ran away from it…started building small or huge cages made of steel and concrete…which keep us firmly imprisoned until we die. We have shun wide open spaces…we hide away in our burrows like frightened rabbits, emerging only to eke out our livelihood in similar burrows or to shop for necessities. We have built huge malls, where to spend our free time…How can the glitter and glamour of the man-made world compare to the majesty of God’s creation?” (Prajnanananda, 2005, p.2)

Just like the division between mind, body and soul the division between man and nature has led to serious consequences. In his book Last Child in the Woods Richard Louv (2005) details the divide between young children and the natural world through children being encouraged to spend more time indoors. His focus is primary on those born in the last two decades who are  spending less and less time outdoors living a more sedentary lifestyle then their parents and grandparents due to the rising use of technology and fear around ‘stranger danger’.

He described children as suffering from “nature deficit disorder” which he stated was “the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses” (Louv, 2005, p.34).

This was backed up by the 2012 the Natural Childhood Report which cited numerous research into the  health consequences caused by the decrease in time spent in nature for children in England e.g. approximately a quarter of children between two and 10 and one third of 11-15 year olds are overweight or obese (HSCIC, 2015); increase in the childhood disease rickets due to vitamin D deficiency (Davies et al.,2011), short sightedness (BBC, 2011) and asthma (BBC, 2009) ; reduction in children’s ability to do physical exercises e.g  sit-ups (Guardian, 2011) ; a decline of approximately 10% in children’s cardiorespiratory (heart and lung) fitness (Guardian, 2009); 10% of children aged between five and 16 suffer from a clinically diagnosed mental illness (Public Health England, 2016).

Development of manmade landscapes such as cities and towns has negatively impacted our earth and ecosystem by causing fragmentation, isolation, degradation of natural habitats (Alberti, 2005), air pollution, noise pollution etc. In 1973 a study was conducted to assess the impact of air pollution on plants. The results showed that plants growing in chambers receiving unfiltered air were severely injured (Heagle, Body and Heck, 1973).

Urbanisation is also having the same effects on our own health and well-being.  Research by Kelly and Fussell (2015) revealed that many of the population in urban areas breathe air that does not meet either the European standards or World Health Organisation Air Quality Guidelines. And over the last 10 years, there has been a substantial increase in findings (Rosenlund et al 2009, Viegi et al, 2006) that particulate matter air pollution is associated with a number of disease outcomes such as cardiovascular, pulomary respiratory and recently our brain.

In a study by Calderón-Garcidueñas et al (2002) compared the brains of dogs who were living in areas that were highly exposed to air pollutants compared to dogs in less polluted areas. They found neuropathology such as neurodegenerative disorders, observed in brains of canines that were highly exposed to pollution.

This led them to pursue further research into the effects of heavily polluted areas on the brains of young children. Their finds showed that healthy children with no known risk factors for neurological or cognitive disorders residing in a polluted urban environment exhibited significant cognitive deficits and delays ( Calderón-Garcidueñas et al.,2008)

All this shows us that nature, including our bodies, refuses “to perpetuate forced or artificial conditions in any sort of life…Nature, after all, knows best what to do with her own. Man makes no real improvements on nature. Let the spirit alone to its own impulses, let the spirit alone to its own direction, and it will do all things well. When we meddle with it, we bungle.” (Mulford, 1887)

This is something we must respect in order to heal ourselves as individuals and as a collective. Fortunately many people are becoming aware of the positive power of nature and there is compelling evidence that human beings have an innate need for nature which can help them heal.

Studies have shown that getting out in nature has numerous benefits such as improvements in physical health, cognitive performance and psychological well-being, as well as social connection and spiritual benefits.

Results of research on children who interacted with nature found when in green areas, children engaged in more creative forms of play and also played more cooperatively (Bell and Dyment, 2006). Other studies found that, play in nature is important for developing creative and problem-solving skills, and intellectual development (Kellert, 2005). And with regards to physical health, time spent outdoors was related to reduced rates of near sightedness in children and adolescents (Wu P-C, 2013).

Not only having indoor plants, access to green spaces that can prove beneficial, even just a view of green settings, having plants indoors and listening to natural sounds can have a positive impact on our lives.

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A study by Ulrich (1984) demonstrated that patients post cholecystectomy surgery whose windows faced a park recovered faster compared with patients whose windows faced a brick wall.  Another study looked at the effects on youths having access to or even just having a view of a green space on inner city youth results found that both led to enhances peace, self-control and self-discipline (Faber-Taylor, Kuo and Sullivan, 2001).

Other scientific studies have documented the numerous benefits of indoor plants such as; air quality is improved (Wood et al., 2002), stress is lowered (Dijkstra et al., 2008), decrease in mental fatigue (Tennessen and Cimprich, 1995), and an increase in productivity (Lohr et al., 1996).

AlvarssonWiens, and Nilsson (2010) wanted to test whether auditory stimulation (listening to pleasant nature sounds versus listening to sounds from urban environments) had similar results on facilitating recovery after psychological stress as the visual impact. Their results suggested that after psychological stress, physiological recovery is faster during exposure to pleasant nature sounds such as birds tweeting and sounds from a fountain, than to less pleasant noise e.g. traffic noise recorded close to a densely trafficked road.

In order to find heal the divide within ourselves we need to heal the divide between ourselves and nature “As we explore the soul, it is important to remember that this exploration will take place within nature (the body), for that is where and what we are” (Iyengar, 2005 p.5)

We must remember that all life is connected. How can our relationship with our body be any different from our relationship with the earth? If we listen to what our body is trying to tell us, just like if we learn to see how our lifestyles are impacting mother earth, we can use this information to help us learn about ourselves and in doing so make the world a better place for all “The union of nature and soul removes the veil of ignorance that covers our intelligence” (Iyengar, 2005 p. 9-10).

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