by Marcel Hernandez, ND
Here’s a quiz question: How quickly can you change your moods?
Answer: It’s not that easy!
When moods strike, particularly if their source isn’t emotional but due to a biochemical imbalance, you may not have a choice but to take a biochemical approach to restoring balance.
Simple and easy – just eliminate the biochemical cause, and the mood swings will go away.
Of course, it’s the non-physical provocations that pose a much bigger challenge, by threatening to throw us into an emotional tailspin.
Years ago, long before I became a naturopathic physician, I helped start a company that sought to influence environmental politics.
My partners and I were young and idealistic. We were committed 24/7 to preserving the health of our planet, and we were unswerving in our focus. But we very quickly discovered that the political arena isn’t terribly interested in nurturing higher consciousness.
The gods of the political environment in which we found ourselves were ego gratification, money, and power.
As our principles were daily battered, they began to falter, to the extent that one of the partners simply stopped trying, declaring that he was done with optimistic idealism and would henceforth approach his work with a cynicism equal to that of the politicos we were trying to influence.
The predictable result was that his cynicism spread like a cancer, infecting everyone around him. I, too, was profoundly affected.
Paramhansa Yogananda said a very interesting thing: “Environment is stronger than will power.” In other words, if you want to hold onto your high ideals, it’s a very good idea to watch the company you keep.
After several years working in my cynical partner’s company, I could no longer avoid noticing how utterly unhappy and unfulfilled I was. My daily activities were being molded by darkness and negativity.
Even worse, I had no idea of how to break the pattern. So I quit the job that had once fulfilled me, and sold my interest in the company. With Dr. Connie, I went to live in Asia, where I spent the next twenty years trying to climb out of the soul-numbing living death I had created for myself.
Let me share some valuable lessons I learned along the way.
- Biochemistry aside, our own perceptions and reactions set the stage for our moods. The world’s spiritual teachings tell us that we need to learn to respond in ways that will create harmony and light in our lives, and that will bring us increasing happiness.
The challenge, of course, is that responding positively is a easier said than done. Too often, our responses are simply knee-jerk emotional reactions. And, unfortunately, a habit of reacting to events is hard to change.
- In my process of recovering from negativity, I found Vipassana (Mindfulness) meditation essential for learning to respond consciously, rather than react emotionally to the events in my life. During a 10-day, 11-hour daily training, we were taught to observe without judgment or reaction.
When a fly landed on my nose in meditation, rather than swat it away, I observed its ticklish journey across my skin until it got bored and flew away. During extended periods of unmoving meditation we learned to simply watch the knee pain and channel it into the earth, rather than shift to a more comfortable position.
- I learned that I could break almost any negative pattern by first finding a spiritual path that I resonated with, and then attuning myself as deeply as possible to the teachings of that path. All true paths tell us basically the same truth: if you want to be happy, seek God in the depths of your being, and learn to recognize God in creation.
A true path will offer you help for achieving “God-consciousness” in every moment. Just as we can surrender knee pain into the earth, we can surrender our emotional and spiritual pain to God and ask for His guidance which has our best interests always at heart.
- When people ask the saints and sages what message they want to give, above all others, they respond, “Be kind.” Kind thoughts, kind words, and kind actions – again, they are easier said than done. But if someone is unkind, and instead of harboring unkind thoughts in return, you consider the pain that their actions will bring them, and offer them a healing blessing instead, you will be amazed by the power of love that streams through you.
Dr. Connie and I ended up spending many years in Japan. We established a spiritual center where people from many countries would gather on Sundays. Among the folks who came was a young American man and his lovely Japanese wife. Each time the man opened his mouth, we could reliably expect that a negative comment would be forthcoming. Finally, after weeks of trying to be understanding and sympathetic, we changed our approach. We responded to each of his negative comments with a positive comment. After many exchanges of this sort, he broke down in tears, finally aware of the level of his expression.
It may take years to align yourself with the forces of Light. But when you become that Light through prayer, meditation, and service, changing your mood becomes simple, because you find that the Light banishes the darkness as if it had never been.
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