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Lighten Your Soul

In tuning in to subtle moments of love and joy we satisfy the spiritual yearning within us, says Deepak Chopra in this extract from What Are You Hungry For?

After every other hunger has been satisfied, there is still going to be a spiritual yearning that dwells inside you. It, too, can be satisfied once you know where the right nourishment can be found.

The key is inspiration. When you feel inspired, you bring in spirit.

When you bring in spirit, you feel inspired. This is the subtlest of feedback loops, yet it connects mind and body in the same way as other feedback loops. When your brain receives spiritual input, it sends messages to every cell in the body.

These are chemical messages that decode inner peace and love into a language that can be understood by heart cells, the digestive tract, the skin, and every other organ.

It’s not correct to separate spirituality from the body. When you think about God, the soul, or spirit (however you define these terms), you are exposing trillions of cells to a hint of spiritual experience. The experience becomes deeper when thoughts turn into direct contact with the following:

The experience of feeling loved Communion with nature
Physical sensations of lightness
Being at peace
Expansion of the heart
Feeling unbounded and limitless
A sense of unity with all things
A surge of awe and wonder
The experience of bliss

Sometimes it takes only an accident to expose one’s inner nature.

When I was a boy in India, I fell down while playing, hit my head, and passed out. When I came to, I found myself in a strange reality - the surroundings hadn’t changed, but I felt an immense expanse everywhere I looked (unwittingly, I was experiencing something that Don Juan says in one of Carlos Castaneda’s books: that for a sorcerer - one who really sees - there is infinity in every direction).

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Nova View:
Powerful health properties of Ayurveda’s spices

Along with so many NOVA readers, I have to admit to being fascinated with India. It’s been some years since I was last there and even with all the tumult of recent times I have a yearning to go again - soon!

I’ll never forget my first impressions 14 years ago when we stepped off the plane at Trivandrum Airport in Kerala to be greeted by a giant pile of suitcases, bags and boxes marked ominously “mishandled baggage”, immigration officials who seemed mystified by an Australian passport and, most of all, the aroma that pervaded everything on a still, warm, tropical night. It was cloying and dense, a heady mix of damp vegetation, manure, cooking fires, diesel fumes and, as I’ve come to discover since, Kerala’s fabulous spices. India has changed dramatically since then - but the mystery remains.

Ayurveda, the wonderful 5000 year old “science of life”, is still widely practised in Southern India and Sri Lanka and spices are an integral part. Not only in cooking! As I discovered in a memorable massage in Sri Lanka some years later, leaves and oils from medicinal plants are placed on your body before you are enclosed in a heated box to gently steam in a cloud of intoxicating aromas. According to traditional Ayurvedic practice, the oils permeate your skin to infuse lifegiving energy while the steam detoxifies - and afterwards a communal shower allowed us all - men and women, tourists and locals, to compare notes and share our experience. It was amazingly reinvigorating and fun.

Now this wisdom of the Indian subcontinent is well accepted in the West - at least when it comes to spices in our food. Turmeric, ginger, cumin, chilli, saffron, cinnamon and cardomom have made their way into our kitchens for more delicious food with powerful health giving properties.

Our Nutrition feature this month is “Eight Ayurvedic Superfoods” by Byron Bay-based Ayuvedic cook Nadia Marshall. You probably have a few favourites of your own to add to this list but it all goes to prove that the recipe for good health starts with what we eat...

Margaret EvansRead the Nova View
by Nova Editor
Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans
NOVA Editor
July 2014

Pollution and Heart Disease
Antidepressant Overload

It’s largely overlooked that our environment, even the air we breathe, can be affecting our cardiovascular health, says Peter Dingle PhD

Our environment is where we live. In fact, the word “environment” has its roots in 14th century Middle English and means, “that which surrounds us”. The biggest advances in our health and longevity are the result of improvements in our environment - not through medication, despite what we are often led to believe. There’s overwhelming scientific evidence (and it’s also common sense) that if you have a sick environment, you are also likely to be sick.

Environmental factors generally receive little attention concerning how they influence the development of cardiovascular disease yet they can play a major role. Large numbers of studies now implicate environmental toxins, particularly air pollution and persistent organic pollutants (POPs), in many of the risk factors associated with CVD, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Considerable evidence exists to prove that air pollution contributes to inflammation and oxidation throughout the body and, in turn, leads to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and a number of chronic diseases including diabetes and asthma. Put simply, air pollution has a similar effect on blood vessels as smoking cigarettes.

Air pollution from traffic and other sources is an established cause of premature mortality.(1) Acute events such as heart attack or stroke can be triggered by short-term exposure to air pollution.(2)

Exposure to air pollutants, particularly pollutants caused by motor traffic, increases the risk of a fatal heart attack.(3) These environmental agents can influence the heart, as they can change a person’s heart rate and rhythm, alter the heart’s excitability and the contractibility of heart muscle, and cause atherosclerosis.(4)

The association between air pollution and intima media thickness (IMT), an established marker of subclinical atherosclerosis, was reported for the first time in volunteers participating in two clinical trials in California.(5) Two population-based cross-sectional analyses (6) also reported associations between air pollution and IMT...

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