The hot topic in medicine today is our gut. It seems that the gut bacteria or microbiome plays a key role in our health. The balance of gut bacteria is key to the the function and protection of the gut lining. Our gut is the first line of defense against illness housing 70% of our immune system. Research is revealing that neuromuscular diseases like Parkinson’s start in the gut. The gut has it’s own separate nervous system from the brain. The nervous systems of the brain and gut are connected by the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve plays a key role in calming us down. Our breath and feelings of safety are strongly linked to the vagus nerve. Slow deep breaths and meditation have been shown to even lower blood pressure. Another interesting finding is that our gut makes most of our neurotransmitters. Ninety-five percent of our serotonin is made in the gut. Did you know that low serotonin is a contributing factor to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? Studies are showing that often times psychiatric disorders have a coexisting gut problem. Research has determined that over 87% of our current illnesses are stress related. IBS is a stress related disorder. So where did IBS start? Did it start in the gut or did it start in the brain with unhealthy thought life? I don’t have the answer to this question but I know for a fact stress is a contributing factor. Stress is a major cause of illness and has been shown to disrupt the balance of the gut bacteria leading to what many are calling leaky gut. Leaky gut, simply put, is injury to the gut lining that allows harmful substances into our system, increasing inflammation in our body. All illnesses are inflammatory responses, so reducing inflammation is important. Stress increases inflammation and is rooted in fear.
I believe another factor in illness is condemnation either of ourselves or others. Condemnation is a very strong disapproval of something or someone and may even involve punishment. I believe that the root of illness is fear and condemnation, both of which cause us stress. Fear and condemnation cause emotions that cause a physical response in our bodies. Our brain is connected to our immune system through small vessels so negative thoughts produce negative substances that have a negative effect on the body while positive, faith-based thoughts produce good substances that have a positive effect on our body. I do believe that what we eat is important to health, but I strongly believe our emotional health is just as important, if not more important.
There is so much information bombarding the internet regarding health and it is hard to sort it all out out. I have come to the realization that what we are meditating on is key to our health. Getting rid of fear and judgement (condemnation) will lead to peace and joy. Loving ourselves and others brings healing. I love this scripture:
There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love]. 1 John 4:18
The truth is that we can choose our thoughts. The brain is able to heal and change. Studies have shown that prayer and meditation actually change the synaptic activity at the end of our neurons, eventually changing the brain cells. Choosing to meditate on things that cause us to be frighten or angry can actually damage the brain. This type of negative meditation is called rumination and it can be dangerous to our health. The brain can be taught to think on things that are true, honorable, pure, lovable, kind, gracious, excellent, and praise worthy (Philippians 4:8). It’s your choice what you think or meditate on, but remember, your thoughts can affect you positively or negatively, so choose thoughts that bring life to you and not death.
Studies have shown that meditating on love strengthens neurological circuits that allow us to feel compassion for others. Focusing on fear can damage the anterior cingulate of the brain causing us to lose interest in and even act aggressively towards others. Evil foreboding or expecting the worse to happen increases activity in the amygdala and decreases activity in the anterior cingulate, increasing anxiety and neurotic behavior.
I believe a healthy mind will lead to a healthy body. What we choose to meditate on is key to physical and emotional health. Meditation is a powerful tool and believe it or nor, meditation was always God’s idea. We have a choice of which Kingdom we choose to meditate on or which Kingdom we choose to align with — the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of the Devil. You could say the Kingdom of Light or Kingdom of darkness. The Kingdom of darkness host things like fear, hate, condemnation, greed, lust, bitterness, anger, racism, and envy. The Kingdom of God, through His son Jesus, the Light of the world, is love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These qualities are all produced by the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Jesus in each of us who have accepted him as Savior. Meditation without Christ is taping into the wrong kingdom. The Kingdom of darkness leads us more into ourselves and thinking we are rulers of our own destiny. We become self-focused instead of other focused. It becomes all about me instead of all about Him-Jesus. Unfortunately, today many of us Christians are wavering between these two kingdoms. This is what the Bible calls double minded. A mind on the world (kingdom of darkness) will bring fear but a mind on the Kingdom of God will bring righteous, peace and joy and it’s effect is quietness and confidence (Isaiah 32:17). The amplified bible expresses Isaiah 32:17 like this: And the effect of righteousness will be peace (internal and external), and the result of righteousness will be quietness and confident trust forever.
What we focus on becomes our heart and out of the heart the mouth speaks. Paul prayed this prayer in Ephesians 1:17-18–
[I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son]. And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people).
The eyes of are heart are the lamp to our body. Paul prayed that our heart would be flooded with Light or the Light of the world-Jesus. Jesus is the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. Matthew Chapter 6 says that where your treasure is so will be your heart. The eye (heart) is the lamp to the body and if it is sound the entire body will be filled with light but is the eye (heart) is unsound the whole body is full of darkness. This takes us right back to Proverbs 17:22 A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful minds works healing but a broken spirit drys up the bones. A heart that is full light is full of Jesus and will be at peace and will produce the fruit of the Spirit–joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A mind filled with cheerful thoughts will bring healing to the soul.
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words (thought or spoken-my addition) are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body.
Peace and joy are keys to healing. Filling our mind with the word of God will transform us in mind, body and spirit. Jesus told us that His words are Spirit and Life. The word of God is alive. The Hebrew word for spirit is Ruach which means wind or breath. The Greek word for spirit is pneuma which means to breathe or blow. Literally, by setting our heart and mind on the Lord He blows or breathes life into us. The peace Jesus offers is not the peace the world gives. The Hebrew word Jesus used was Shalom. It means peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare, and tranquility. Wow, what a wonderful promises. Peace is in Jesus but we must go to Him. He wants to touch your life. Jesus came to heal the sick and the broken and to reveal to us the Father’s heart. Jesus is the Great Physician but he won’t force himself on you but will welcome you into his arms.
In Mark Chapter 5, we read about the woman with the issue of blood. For twelve years, she had endured suffering under the hand of physicians and had spent all that she had but was no better. She had heard of Jesus and ran to Him for healing. She risked a lot because she was considered unclean but she pushed through the crowd to touch the garment of Jesus. She had faith that if she just touched Him, she would be restored to health. Even though Jesus was in a crowd of people pressing hard against Him, He felt the power going out of His body to heal. Friends, faith has POWER. Jesus wanted to know who had touched Him. The woman trembling in fear came to Jesus and He said this to her:
And He said to her, Daughter, your faith (your trust and confidence in Me, springing from faith in God) has restored you to health. Go in (into) peace and be continually healed and freed from your [distressing bodily] disease. Mark 5:34
Jesus told her to go into peace and be continually healed and freed from distressing bodily disease. Sounds to me that living in peace (internal and external) has something to do with being in health. In summary, it is going to the secret place with Jesus, and allowing Him to fill us with His Life giving Spirit, that we will find rest for our soul. Proverb 17:22 gives us some clues to living in health- a happy heart and cheerful mind. Meditation is the practice of setting our heart and mind on Jesus. Meditation is really practicing the presence of God in our daily. Meditation is intentionally thinking and pondering the wonderful works of the Lord. It involves thinking and speaking (declaring and singing) the word of the Lord. Meditation is worship. It will be different for each one of us. The key is turning our hearts and minds to Jesus the Source of Life, the Prince of Peace.
I will conclude with this prayer for you:
3 John 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers.