The MindBody Code by Dr. Mario Martinez is a fascinating book on how cultural beliefs shape our perceptions and affect our biological processes, including our immune system.
These cultural beliefs can result in what he calls primitive emotions which grow from fear – anger, hatred, jealousy, resentment, envy, greed, shame.
While these emotions are valid – they provide important information – they can also keep us from being our best and affect our health.
On the other hand, what he calls exalted emotions, based on love – empathy, compassion, gratitude, awe, inspirations, etc. – are the causes of health.
The way to a healthier body and mind is through a mind/body approach – confront (fears), release (dysfunction), and replace (unworthiness) with these exalted emotions.
What we can Learn from Centenarians
Through his studies of healthy centenarians (people who are over the age of 100), Martinez found that they consistently defy cultural perceptions around aging. Their bodies may be aging, yet they embrace complexity and new learning. They are creative, flexible, persevering, and resilient.
They’ve learned to shift their mindset from passing time to engaging space; from things happen to us to how we can be mindful in our space. ~ The MindBody Code
Our cameras can teach us how to do this. When we approach photography from a contemplative mindset, we cultivate the qualities or habits of contemplative living – openness, attention, acceptance, humility, wonder, simplicity, curiosity, possibilities, and connection. These habits are closely related to the exalted emotions mentioned above – the causes of a happier, healthier life.
For example, in the visual journaling workshop, Once Upon a Time, we discuss why we take photographs. Some say that the process of photography makes them feel more grateful. Martinez says that gratitude – an exalted emotion – promotes receptiveness or openness (a contemplative habit).
Through photography, we embody the experience of gratitude.
I know that photography has helped me to incorporate these exalted emotions on a more regular basis. And, I know I want to continue to grow and learn, despite my aging body. How about you?
Book: The MindBody Code