Many of you may know that my bachelors degree is in religious studies. I’ve always loved different religions but never really agreed with one myself until I took a course my sophomore year of college on Asian religions, which is the course that made me a religion major instead of a chemistry or math major. I had been doing meditation and yoga since I was 12 (thanks Seventeen magazine!) to help with my pain but I only knew vague bits of the religions that made these practices common.
Buddhism is a wonderful religion that, much like Christianity and Islam, has different sects and different focuses depending on where you are and who you learn from. The professor I had for this class was one of my favorites and the next semester I ended up taking two or three classes in a row with her. She herself practiced Buddhism and Christianity together – something easy to do as most schools of Buddhism don’t really address at all the notion of gods. It’s not that Buddhism is atheistic, but instead it is non-theistic. Many call Buddhism more of a philosophy than a religion, and it definitely can be both.
Buddhism rests upon the Four Noble Truths:
- Life is suffering, plain and simple
- The origin of that suffering is attachment – cravings, wants, material goods, etc
- We can end that suffering through attaining Nirvana, or freedom from the cycle of rebirth (samsara)
- We end the suffering and reach Nirvana through the middle path, a balance between being over indulgent and an ascetic. This path is outlined in what is called the Eight-fold Path (right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration).
- Richard Davidson: Stress decreases growth of new brain cells and inhibits connections between cells
- RD: There was a 2012 study on 2500 health plan members over the span of one year. For each increase in well-being an individual was less likely to go to the hospital due to an illness and had overall better health. Well-being was measured as emotional – self-respect, etc. These people spent on average $1185 a year on healthcare as opposed to those who did not have these improvements, who spent $5172 per year on average – two and a half times the annual expenditure on healthcare.
- Don Berwick: Despite what our senses would tell us, the best health is in places spending less money on health care.
- DB: Often we believe that more is better – with healthcare that is often false. We focus on more technology which is so costly and does not help as many as focusing on other areas might. We falsely believe that the way to get healthy and stay healthy is through the health care system. Environment and our own actions are 400% more of an influence on our own health than the health care system. We almost always separate mental health from physical health also and we just cannot do that – our minds are so integral to how our bodies do that these two are just too intertwined to really separate.
- Ilona Kickbusch: People create their own health and the health of others in their community through support.
- IK: We at the WHO are seeing an epidemic of non-communicable diseases (i.e., chronic illnesses).
- IK: In order to move forward and improve we have to focus on the past and engage in reverse innovation – looking to countries and communities with more communal views on health.
- The highest obesity rates are in the United States for those in poverty. However, the WHO is seeing obesity rapidly rising in developing countries due to the lower costs, longer period of food preservation, etc, of junk foods.
- Richard Layard: The British government’s new focus officially is the well-being of people in the nation. Most departments have a well-being section focused on the employees and how to help those concerned with that field.
- RL: Income only explains 20% of the variation on who is happy and who is miserable according to studies. Instead the most important factors include family and community relationships, and mental and physical health.
- RL: Most chronically ill people develop mental issues caused by their illnesses.
- RL: According the the workplace wellness alliance, an organization that works with several big and successful companies, up to 40% of disability cases and absences from work are more mental than physical.
- RL: Only one-third of those with mental illnesses are really getting treatment, and some of that is sub-par.
- DL: When asked why he thinks so many people assume mental illness isn’t something to be focused on, he said that he believes a lot of it has to do with the societal religious beliefs. The Judeo-Christian tradition focuses on faith not on discussion or action. If you have a problem, you pray and you ask for help and guidance versus making a strong decision based on what you think and what you talk about. In Eastern religions there is a huge focus on you as a person from your overall well-being to actions, etc, instead of just on faith. It is more secular, focused on tolerance and respect for others and yet containing humanistic morals as well. Here in the US secular is almost a dirty word for people see it as removing their morals. Since every person sees his or her religion differently, the best way to combat this would be to focus on really cultivating ethical and moral humanism instead of relying specifically on religion for guidance. If for you religion guides your personal life, that is fine and no one is saying that is wrong but we all need a common ground to stand on not founded on religion because of how it can cause competition, hypocrisy, and hate for some.
|Thanks for reading!|