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Total Health From The Perspective Of Life Experiences

Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.

Our living environment is heavily polluted, including the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breath, our homes, and our transportation.  Even the basic survival needs, such as food produced from clean, fertile soil, clean water and air, and sufficient oxygen are difficult to obtain.  Our health is threatened from the time we are in the womb.

To maintain health we need to learn how to handle these hazards and the pollution of the emotions and mind brought about by these factors.  The hazards include millions of synthetic chemicals, televisions, computers, microwave ovens and cell phones, electrical appliances, radio-active wastes, super-viruses (from genetic-engineering of plants), and super-bacteria (from long-term usage of antibiotics in animal husbandry and medicine).  As individuals we can make an effort to reduce the production of these pollutants.  As manufacturers and producers we need to step outside of our specialities and work together for the health of all of us.

For example, the agriculture industry could produce food free from pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and genetically-engineered crops.  The food industry could produce food without chemical additives, food colorings, artificial flavorings, and preservatives.  All industries could practice “green” manufacturing, working toward zero pollution.  Consumers could use buying as an incentive to encourage “green”  businesses.

Every aspect of our lives and especially our emotions, thought patterns, and the development of our will, directly impact our health.  Health is the totality of our physial, emotional, mental and spiritual well being.

At a time when the physical environment is polluted, it is even more important to clean up the emotions and the mind.

Many of the world’s medical traditions have contributed to the understanding of the total health of the body, mind and spirit.  Examples are the ancient Chinese medical understanding of the seven emotions, acupunture meridians, consciousness, soul, and essence, the ancient sciences of Veda, Yoga and buddhism of India.  Modern science, psychology and medicine including psychobiology, psychoneuroimmunology, bioenergy fields, quantum biology, and anthroposophy are also finding the connection of mind and body.

Individual doctors and scientists have made discoveries similar to those of the ancient medical systems.  Dr. R.G. Hamer of Germany, in observing over ten thousand cases of cancer patients, found that cancer, heart diseases, and many other illnesses are triggered by emotional factors.  Often a combination of shock, or conflict and not being able to talk about it will produce lesions in the brain within a few months.  Dr. Valerie Hunt in nearly thirty years of laboratory research has found that human energy fields are related to thoughts and emotions.  Psychics are able to observe changes in the color of the field or aura.

Since these understandings are from different cultural traditions and different times, the terminologies are different but the essence is the same.  For example chi in Chinese medicine, prana in Indian culture, bioenergy fields in Western science, etheric body in anthroposophy.  These all share the common characteristics of nourishing the physical body.

The “consciousness” in Chinese medicine, the eighth sense, subtle minds in buddhism, the astral body, ego body in anthroposophy, and what psychics describe as “aura” are also similar.  The spiritual components although are not of the physical world, they are described as the creative forces for the physical world.  Therefore spiritual energy can change the physical. In the case of human beings, emotions and thoughts can affect the etheric and physical body.

During the past hundred years, anthroposophy as developed by Dr. Rudolf Steiner has become one of the most complete systems for describing the interconnection between body, mind and spirit,  sharing many of the same ideas as that of ancient medical systems.  Dr. Steiner was an Austrian-born material and spiritual scientist, educator, agriculturist, and doctor.  Through his own investigations, he described the human as being made of four bodies:
physical body – mineral, earth element (hope)
etheric body – water, water element (love)
astral body – air, air element (faith)
ego body – warmth, fire (consciousness)

Our attention is usually placed on the well-being and health of the physical body, but in term of energy-interactions, it is the last link.  The ego body affects the astral body, in turn the etheric body and finally the physical body.  Illnesses can originate from injury of any of the bodies, such as injury to the physical body, emotional hurt, injury of the life force of the etheric body by electromagnetic fields and the injury of the ego body by drugs, mistaken concepts, and any activities or thoughts that harm others.  Sometimes diseases come from problems of connection between the bodies such as between the physical and etheric bodies.  Under the influence of anaesthetia, the physical body separates from the etheric.  After a medical or dental procedure, if the two bodies are not brought together in alignment, one can suffer from local pain, back pain, or the part of the body on which the surgery was performed may feel numb and have below normal functionality.

By generating regrets to past wrong doings and cultivating loving kindness, one can repair damages to the ego body, which in turn increase its energy level.  In the buddhist tradition, purification practices such as Confession to the Thirty-five Buddhas, Vajrasattva practice, and keeping of pure vows are found to increase one’s energy.  The energy increase can be measured by bioenergy field strength, or muscle strength.  Cultivation of loving kindness such as saving lives, circumnambulating holy objects, reciting the Amitabha name and the mantras of Compassion Buddha (OM MANI PADME HUM, for example) increase the energy as well.  There are Christian methods of confessing wrong doings and generating love and compassion.  All these practices increase the energy of the ego body.

The health of the astral body(emotional body) depends on the free expression of the seven emotions, and clearing of repressed negative emotions.  Creative artistic activities such as music, painting, and dancing all have a positive effect on the astral body.  Cultivation of lovingness and positive attitude in general produce a beneficial effect on health.  The astral body is most connected with the eyes.  The use of eye movements in psychology to   release traumas seems to validate this view from anthoposophy.  Trauma is usually stored in the right brain stem.  Therefore it cannot be accessed through talking, which is a left brain activity, but can be released through movement of the eyes, observing body sensations, and specific techniques of deep breathing.

The astral body affects the etheric body.  The etheric body nourishes the physical body.  Chi Gong, acupuncture, herbs, walking in nature, and exercises all restore the balance of the etheric body.  The etheric body has fluidity like water.  Plants also have fluidity.  Foods derived from plants are believed to nourish the etheric body.  In the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses, a plant-based diet has proved to be very beneficial.

The essence of the etheric body is love.  If a person did not receive love during the time in the womb and early childhood,  the etheric body will be weak.  When one has no love for life itself, the etheric body will shrivel and death will follow.  Dr. Dean Ornish in Love & Survival reported many medical studies showing the importance of love in health.  One study involved following over one hundred Harvard college graduates for 35 years. Those who responded to questionnaires indicating that they were not close to their parents all suffered from serious illnesses by middle age.  Those who indicated closeness to their parents had less than half of the incidence of chronic illnesses in their forties.

Another source of information comes from following unwanted births.  In studies involving three areas (Sweden, northern Finland and Prague), ranging in time from 16 to 25 years, children of mothers who were denied abortions were observed.  These children’s physical, emotional and mental health were less than normal.  Their risks of premature birth, birth defects, and infant death were higher than average.  In school these children more often had learning difficulties, and social and behavioral problems.  As young adults they were more likely to be involved in crime.

The emerging fields of prenatal and perinatal psychology and traumatic stress are finding that those who suffer from childhood traumas, especially neglect and constant criticism have six to twelve times the risks of substance abuse, suicide, smoking, obesity, cancer, chronic lung problems, hepatitis, liver problems, bone fractures and diabetes.  The etheric body stores the memory of life experiences, including early childhood.

To strengthen the etheric body, besides cultivating loving attitude, and being in a loving environment, a rhythmic lifestyle helps.  The etheric body is part of nature, and is strengthened by being in harmony with the natural rhythm.  Ancient Chinese medical science advises living in accordance to the season in waking and sleeping patterns.

The nourishment of the physical body depends on the etheric body.  The food that we eat must be transformed before it can be used.  The roots of the plants nourish the head, the leafy greens the chest, and the fruits and flowers the lower body and limbs.  Carrots, for example, improve brain function; greens are good for the lungs and heart;  Lycium berries and Chinese chrysanthemum flowers are good for the liver.

The astral and ego bodies belong to the spiritual world.  At the time of death, they will separate from the etheric and physical bodies.  They store the accumulated energies of many lives. Our innate abilities come from the astral and ego bodies.  The memories of past lives are also stored in these two bodies.  Some illnesses come from memories of past traumas.  For example, a person with lung cancer remembers through regression an experience of being killed by an arrow.  The location of the pain from the arrow wound is the exact spot of the current cancer.

Dr. Ian Stevenson has documented thousands of cases of children from around the world who remember their previous lives.  He observed that death experiences often influence the health of the newborn.  They may suffer from the same illness from which they died or have a scar from a gunshot wound that killed them.

Dr. Brian Weiss helped many people overcome unusual symptoms that could be traced to traumatic death experiences.  Once they relived the trauma and released the emotions, they were free of the symptoms.

Waking up in the morning is like being born; the astral and ego bodies incarnate into the physical and etheric bodies.  Going to sleep is like dying;  the astral and ego bodies separate from the physical and etheric bodies.  During sleep, the etheric body is left alone to repair the physical body without interference from emotions and thinking.  Unfortunately in modern times, there are many interference to good sleep.  Many people are chronically sleep-deprived.  This is an important factor. often overlooked, which contributes to disease.

In summary, the totality of our experiences shape our body, mind and spirit.  Some of the factors that interfere with health are listed below in the form of questions.  The more “yes” responses to the questions, the more likely it is that one will become ill.  These are offered as suggestions for prevention and healing of disease.



1. Mother and/or father smoked and drank alcohol before and during pregnancy?
2. Pregnancy was unwanted by either or both parents?
3. Mother was ill, stressed, depressed or felt emotionally alone during the pregnancy?
4. Born by Caesarian birth?
5. Given cow’s milk or formula as an infant?
6. Was neglected or constantly criticized during the early years?
7. Bad reaction to any of the vaccinations?
8. Solid foods introduced before 7 months of age?
9. Flesh foods given before three years of age?
10. Watch more than 30 minutes of T.V. daily before 14?
11. Work with computers for more than 30 minutes daily before 14?
12. Given antibiotics on a regular basis for any period?
13. Smoked or drank alcohol?
14. Exposure to regular indoor or outdoor spraying of chemicals: terminate treatment, pesticides, air-freshens, cleaning agents, herbicides, D.D.T., etc.?
15. Eat mostly meat of any kind, seafood, refined foods and chemically-grown fruits and vegetables?
16. Live erratically, i.e. wake-up and sleep at different times and eat meals at different times?
17. Received anesthetics for surgery or dental work?
18  Experience frequent or long periods of stress:
a.disharmony between parents or family members?
b.loss of loved ones?
c.moving frequently
d.change jobs or schools frequently
e.not feeling loved or have someone to love?
f.forced to do what one dislikes?


Avoid polluted environments.  In all aspects of living, conserve and recycle.  Eat a natural vegetarian diet of foods from organic and natural farming.  Exercise daily in a natural setting.  Drink clean water.  Take in foods that are rich in friendly bacteria such as sauerkraut, miso and rejuvelac.  Keep a rhythmic schedule of work and rest.  Surround oneself with loving relations and do meaningful work.

Use salt water baths, color visualizations, breathing techniques, artistic painting, moving of the eyes to clear traumatic memories and negative emotions.  Also through gentle tapping of the entire body, one can help to clear traumatic experiences stored in the right brain stem.

Avoid harming living beings through thought, speech or action.  Be loving toward the world.  Apply different methods of confession to clear past negativities.  When faced with new information, refrain from making arbitrary judgment.  Maintain an open-mind and continuously increase one’s wisdom, love and creativity towards attaining perfection.


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