Taoist teachers feel that emotional stress can cause a variety of harm to our physical body and vital organs. They also believe that love and compassion are a natural antidote to stress. Every cell can feel the over-riding emotion(s) of our current state.
Modern life, especially in an urban setting and/or with the constant flow of information stimulation, causes us to feel overwhelmed. Stress directly causes cardiovascular degeneration in the form of arteriosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) and hypertension (high blood pressure). In related data, according to the CDC, these diseases follow trends related to age and race. In the U.S., the prevalence of hypertension is around 30%, with the over-60 crowd at 63% prevalence. Hypertension prevalence is higher among non-Hispanic blacks (40.3%) compared to non-Hispanic whites (27.8%).
Taoists believe that love restores body chemistry by activating hormone centers that harmonize our mental and spiritual faculties. According to the Harvard Health Publishing “A research review published in JAMA Internal Medicine…found meditation helpful for relieving anxiety, pain, and depression. For depression, meditation was about as effective as an antidepressant.
“Meditation is thought to work via its effects on the sympathetic nervous system, which increases heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure during times of stress. Yet meditating has a spiritual purpose, too. “True, it will help you lower your blood pressure, but so much more: it can help your creativity, your intuition, your connection with your inner self.”
One practice for creating the feelings of love and compassion inside the physical body is called the Inner Smile meditation. It is a practice for bringing awareness into the body and programming organs to create and feel positive virtues, such as love in the heart, confidence in the lungs, kindness in the liver, and trust in the spleen, and stillness in the kidneys. The Inner Smile and many other practices can be found in:
The Alchemist’s Tao Te Ching:
Transforming Your Lead Into Gold