Emotions, Nutrition & Faith
Worship is the believer’s response of all that he is – mind, emotions, will, and body – to all that God is and says and does. This response has its mystical side in subjective experience, and its practical side in objective obedience to God’s revealed truth. It is a loving response that is balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better. [Warren Wiersbe, Real Worship, p. 26].
Emotions, nutrition and faith are closely related. Healthy emotions support healthy physiological and psychological states. Positive emotions, such as compassion, generosity and love, reduce stress and thereby help the cardiovascular, respiratory and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Hormones are the mediating agents on which our emotions depend. They impact how our body functions and also play a central role in our psychological health.
Through hormonal communications and interactions, our emotions affect food intake, absorption, assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion.
Our emotions and our immune system are also intertwined. Research studies have confirmed that depression accelerates development of cancer and heart disease. For example, the immune systems of individuals who are chronically stressed display abnormally lower levels of natural killer cells, lymphocytes, and T-helper cells. [See: Diet, Stress, and Emotions: The Mind-Body-Diet Connection].
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)].
Bitter Thoughts Make a Bitter Life
By being thoughtless of others, we easily fall into detrimental habits that hinder our spiritual development. Harboring bitterness, enmity and hostility toward family, friends and fellow-workers harms our own souls and ultimately impairs our health.
Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be whole, all the body is whole and which, if it be diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly it is the heart. [Forty Hadith, an-Nawawi #6].
By asking forgiving when we are unkind to others and by forgiving those who show unkindness to us, we cultivate salutary habits that nourish our spirit and promote good health.
We should not delay or avoid reconciliation. Instead, we should make the first move, taking the first step toward restoring friendship and trust in one another.
Whoever, by a good deed, covers the evil done, such a one illumines this world like the moon freed from clouds. [Dhammapada 173].
Emotions & Digestion
A particle of food does not provide the same amount of nourishment under all conditions. Our body is not always disposed to process food in the same way. Our physical and mental states have considerable influence on how food nourishes us.
Our digestive system is affected by our emotions in many ways. Many emotional responses involve the release of hormones (e.g., adrenaline, cortisol) that trigger involuntary reactions.
Our emotions can also cause changes in your digestive system, including lack of appetite, heartburn, nausea and stomach pains. They can also affect the assimilation of nutrients.
People want to feel good and feel God, and the way to get there is through the emotions. They’re the link that connects body to soul, and as such, they’re the key to transforming anything, everything. [Candace Pert, Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d, p. 28].
Since our spirituality affects our emotions, it also affects the manner in which we absorb nutrients. As a car gets poor gas mileage from a poorly tuned engine, so does a spiritually imbalanced person squander nutritionally healthy food.
Can then one who is on a clear (Path) from his Lord be likened unto one to whom the evil of his own doings [always] seems goodly, and unto such as would follow their own lusts? [Quran 47:14].
We can try to manipulate our emotions through dietary regimens. Certain foods can provide temporary emotional comfort by increasing blood sugar and serotonin levels in our brain.
But, diet is a limited and uncertain tool for controlling emotions. Ultimately, only our spirituality offers an established process for attending to our emotions and, thereby, improving our health.
A person whose mind is unperturbed by sorrow, who does not crave pleasures, and who is completely free from attachment, fear, and anger, is called an enlightened sage of steady intellect. [Bhagavad Gita 2:56].
Every lurid thought is a potential distraction leading away from remembrance of God. Moreover, such thoughts can group themselves and become persuasive emotions leading to uncontrolled desires. When fully armed, they become passions that penetrate deep into your inner consciousness producing a psychological labyrinth most difficult to escape.
Whatever is done without faith, whether it is sacrifice, charity, austerity, or any other act is useless. It has no value here or hereafter … [Bhagavad Gita 17.28].
Our intentions mold the spirit underlying our thoughts. We may have evil intentions, charitable intentions, or simply act without giving much thought to what we are doing.
In any case, our moral and spiritual beliefs are spread at the base of our intentions, lining our thoughts. Given adequate authority, these beliefs control our purpose and keep us from negative thoughts and regrettable deeds.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. [Psalm 37:4-8 (NIV)].
Mental & Spiritual Equilibrium
Our mental equilibrium reflects our spiritual disposition. Thinking well of our rivals, remembering God often and bringing to mind our own faults and weaknesses produce healthy physiological and physiological states.
A good practice is to pray for those with whom we are angry or toward whom we feel bitterness. When negativity begins seeping into our thought process, stop it with good thoughts and a humble prayer.
It is wonderful how the exercise of one’s will … will eventuate in the correct emotions. Determining to wish that person’s good; deliberately trying to do something loving for him; and praying for him – all this will some day bring about the emotion of love itself. [Isobel Kuhn, Ascent to the Tribes].
Always be ready to help others. Being predisposed to goodness means that we carry it around with us. It becomes our habit, a way of life, and part of our spiritual immune system.
The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend. And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint,- none but persons of the greatest good fortune. [Quran 41:33-35].