All human activities spread over the entire life span are governed by the mind. The subtle and imperceptible thoughts and feelings arising in the mind determine the nature and direction of human actions. The end-results of these actions are also accordingly determined. Together with other aspects of life, physical health too, is to a large extent subject to this power of mind. Our mind can either sap or strengthen the body’s defenses, depending on the nature of its frame. Inner malice and ugliness get reflected in poor health. Conversely, good physical health denotes a healthy state of mind.
According to an English proverb, "A healthy mind resides in a healthy body". Even if the body is not healthy the effects of this condition will not be permanent provided the mind is not allowed to get affected. Feelings of depression and weakness grow into a disease syndrome only when they prolong and rooted in thoughts and feelings for a long time. Unlike an ordinary ailment, which requires only a simple cure, this mental syndrome is difficult to remedy. It requires great effort and determination. Mental depression is like an infectious disease and must not be allowed to take deep roots in the mind. A person with spiritual bent finds happiness and pleasure in every situation. Hence, negative feelings of self-pity, defeat and inferiority should be cast aside and one should try to be optimistic and active and keep himself engaged in positive pursuits. If the mind is freed of unhealthy thoughts, the body, too, escapes their deleterious effects.
Healthy mind is the foundation of physical well being. Many bodily ailments have mental and psychological origin. Hence mental health is imperative for physical health. Only noble thoughts lead to a noble life. There should be a constant endeavor not to fall prey to ignoble thoughts and negative emotions of anxiety, etc.; and if such feelings do arise these must be thrown out of the psyche through constant mindfulness.
We should seek out the possible cause of mental agony. It could be anything - a loss in business, not finding a job, estranged marriage, failure in examination, a bad interview, and so on. If the mind does not resolutely break free of the particular agony, it exerts pressure on the body and adversely affects health. We should try to remove such causes of stress. Even some compromise with the situation is not too bad, but you must not remain entangled in this brooding for a prolonged period. If the problem defies solution, just stop worrying about it. There are so many persons in this world who are poor, unemployed and unsuccessful and yet all are carrying on with the business of living their lives. Why cannot we do with some want or scarcity? If you condition yourself to remain happy in all situations, you will realize that these painful situations are really insignificant and not worthy of much bother. You will thus avoid the resulting complications, which are, most likely, to ruin your health.
Humor gives joy and uplifts the spirits. Full-throated laughter makes the chest and nervous system strong, prevents diseases of liver and stomach and keeps the body, in general, in good condition. Humor dilutes the adverse impact on the body in moments of hardship, anxiety and frustration. To brood over failures is an open invitation to bodily ailments. It unnecessarily burns away mental and physical energy.
Loneliness is another cause of man’s sorrow. This is especially so in times of crises when loneliness magnifies one’s sadness and misery manifold. If a matter is kept repressed for a long time, it builds up pressure inside leading to physical and mental disorders. Like happiness, loneliness, too, is a condition to be shared; it gets lessened this way. Occasional consultations with the spouse, kins and friends on troublesome matters act as pressure outlets. Their sympathy and cooperation gives courage and comfort and prevents emotional problems. When the mind feels buoyant, health acquires extra glow. So a good prescription for sound health is to share one’s pain and sorrow with near and dear ones and make the latter co-participants.
We should be not envy others’ progress. Envy is a deadly enemy of mind. It corrodes the mind and makes it weak. Envious persons lose the capability of balanced thinking and right behaviour. Their mind is always full of malicious and self-constricting thoughts. They waste valuable energy in planning futile plots and schemes. All this results in a variety of health problems like irritability, short temper, vertigo, blood pressure etc. One should feel happiness in other’s happiness and find joy in honest dealings with all.
Laziness is another evil that saps body’s energies, both subtle and physical, internal and external. As the saying goes, an empty mind is devil’s workshop. Devious schemes generally arise and rubbish of all kinds invariably piles up in the minds of lazy persons. So keep the mind free from futile and vile thoughts; the best course is to keep it always occupied in fruitful pursuits.
Just as crooked and mean thinking makes the mind polluted and sick, unrestrained food habits, too, drive the mind on to wrong tendencies and paths. It is for this reason that the Vedic way of a life enjoins Satwik diet prohibiting the intake of meat, wine and pungent and spicy items with a view to keeping the mind and body both clean and vibrant. It is the purpose of daily physical exercise. Both the regimens are equally important for sound health. Neither is to be neglected.
Good health is the prime requisite for leading a spiritual life and everybody should strive to achieve it. Food, exercise and rest are important for maintenance of physical health. But for inner development, self-confidence, long life and happiness much more important is maintenance of mental health. If the mind is unsullied and pure, it will greatly help in maintaining physical well being and health.