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LESSONS FOR LIVING

     You may know that forgiveness is good for your peace of mind because it involves a letting go of anger and resentment. However, recent psychological research has found that forgiveness may also be good for your physical health.

     In a study of people who had experienced betrayal in romantic, family, or work relationships, it was found that the more forgiving individuals tended to have lower blood pressures and also demonstrated less physical tension. Two factors related to improved health.

     Holding on to the anger and hurt of betrayal is understandable, but eventually it leads to chronic resentment, which has been described as the poison that you take yourself in the hope that the other person will die. Resentment only poisons you with emotional distress, and frequently it aggravates physical symptoms such as headaches, backaches, and stomach problems. To be healed of resentment's negative effects, requires the letting-go that is forgiveness.

     However, forgiveness is difficult, and its first requirement is clearly understanding that forgiveness is for you. It is not done for the benefit of the person who hurt you, but in order to make your life better.

Second, forgiving is neither forgetting nor approving. It's a letting go of emotional pain. Furthermore, to forgive does not wipe the painful event from your memory and certainly doesn't imply condoning what happened.

     Third, and most importantly, forgiveness is a choice. It will not simply come with the passage of time or through a fading of emotions. Forgiveness is an act done with intention, and often it isn't a once-and-for-all event. The same hurt may resurface in many forms before forgiveness is complete.

     Nonetheless, it is only through forgiveness that you will be released from resentment's grasp and, ultimately, it's forgiveness that improves not only your mood but, perhaps, your physical health as well.

NATURAL NEWS

     (NaturalNews) Everyone knows that being angry feels terrible. When we feel angry at someone, we get a tight feeling in our chest and body, and our minds aren't free. Feeling angry at someone who cuts you off when you are driving is bad enough. Long term, chronic anger can ruin peoples' lives. Feeling angry for something that happened in childhood can literally make people prisoners of their own emotions.

     Dr. Luskin of Stanford University is studying how forgiveness can help people become healthy. The 150 volunteers who have taken part in the Stanford Forgiveness Project say that letting go of the hurt caused by other people or by forces they see as being outside themselves, is not just one of the greatest emotional releases; they feel better physically, as well.

     "Getting angry and needing to forgive are universal phenomena, but the skills to forgive are inadequately taught."

Holding on to anger for too long can obviously affect a person's emotional health. But hanging on to that anger, Dr. Luskin says, can also seriously affect people's physical health.

How is the Body Affected?

     Lack of forgiveness, which often occurs as a result of having been hurt, humiliated, angered, or having suffered fear or loss, feelings of guilt, or envy, can have profound effects on the way your body functions.

     Physically the body is in a state of stress. Muscles tighten, causing imbalances or pain in the neck, back and limbs. Blood flow to the joints is restricted, making it more difficult for the blood to remove wastes from the tissues and reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Normal processes of repair and recovery from injury or arthritis are impaired. Clenching of the jaws contributes to problems with teeth and jaw joints. Headaches can become a problem. Chronic pain may get worse.

     Blood flow to the heart is constricted. Digestion is impaired. Breathing may become more difficult. Anger can seriously impair the immune system, increasing the risk of infections and illness.

Luskin cites several studies that show how anger can affect the cardiovascular system by adding to a person's general level of stress. Other studies have indicated that patients who have had heart attacks have been able to improve their physical health by practicing forgiveness and working to feel more tolerant and less angry.

     Additionally, Dr. Luskin says, when the body releases certain enzymes during anger and stress, cholesterol and blood pressure levels go up, not a good long-term position to put the body in. Forgiveness has been shown to lower blood pressure naturally. The bottom line, we can eat healthy and take care of ourselves on a physical level, but if our hearts are filled with anger, our bodies are not in optimum health.

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