This piece was published in the Naperville Sun print edition and The Chicago Tribune online edition. Thanks for the publishing! Here is the link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/opinion/ct-nvs-mitchinson-column-st-0514-20170512-story.html
More and more individuals are considering detoxing and cleansing their bodies of impurities for health reasons. But interestingly, some of the most toxic problems we suffer are negative mental states.
For instance, research, as well as common sense, is increasingly showing the health risks of anger. An Ohio State University study showed that those who had less control over their anger tended to heal more slowly from wounds. In another study, researchers concluded that anger problems have been linked to all major causes of death (stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/anger_problems).
For many, negative feelings can sometimes accumulate to disturbing levels. During those times, we need a good mental detoxing to clear out unhealthy emotions, such as jealousy, stress and irritation, which can poison one’s good nature, upset his mental balance, and damage health.
Here are some helpful tips I have found in my spiritual practice that are important in mental cleansing:
- Don’t let resentments fester and grow – eliminate them with forgiveness
- Cleanse away hatred with affection and compassion
- Purge past disappointments with gratitude for good things in your life today
- Don’t rehearse cruelty – practice empathy and tolerance instead
St. Paul lists nine important ingredients that can help detox any hatred: patience, kindness, generosity, humility, courtesy, unselfishness, good temper, guilelessness and sincerity (see I Cor. 13: 5-8). I have found that these qualities act as antidotes for anger and its health threats.
Early in my spiritual healing practice I went to visit a homeless man who was living temporarily in a motel. He was suffering from extreme mental distress and intense fear. I talked to him for a while, sharing ideas I hoped would calm and comfort him, but he only became irrationally angry with me, and as I got in the car to leave, he slammed the car door on my leg.
As he pushed and pushed, he said, “I am going to push this door until I break your leg.” I was just quiet. Soon, he let go. I got out of the car and sat down in the parking lot with him and he talked for over an hour. I listened, and we prayed together. He quieted down, and stated he just needed someone to listen to him and pray with him. He was much better when I left. Shortly after that, he found an apartment he could afford and lived there happily for quite a while. From that experience, I learned the importance of patience, unselfishness, courtesy and sincerity (the fruit of the Spirit) in detoxing harmful situations.
If you’re combatting anger, jealousy or hatred, or know someone who is, try a mental cleansing. Give yourself and them a good mental detox with humility, patience, kindness and love. See for yourself how it helps eliminate stress and gain better health.
©2017 Christian Science Committee on Publication for Illinois