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The author explores how our mental terrain affects our well-being.

From the February 2009 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Factors in human thought such as fear or selfishness compromise spiritual sense, and therefore health. 

WHAT CONSTITUTES HEALTH OR WHOLENESS? What compromises it? These questions have framed the focus of the healthcare community from earliest times. And today, we see an upswing in interest related to mental influences on health. For example, one recent book I found fascinating, Why People Get Sick: Exploring The Mind-Body Connection (Darian Leader and David Corfield), explores this discussion, long debated in the healthcare field, concerning mental factors that influence an individual's health. Along these same lines, I recall reading somewhere that when Louis Pasteur, considered the father of modern medicine, was asked why the same medication affected patients differently, he remarked that it had to do with the "terrain" of the patient, meaning his or her mental outlook. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, was a contemporary of Pasteur, and through her practice of spiritual healing she delved deeply into the mental influences that affect health for better or worse. She ultimately learned that spiritual consciousness, or an awareness of God and his wholly good nature, establishes health; whereas factors in human thought such as fear or selfishness compromise spiritual sense, and therefore health. Her discovery of Christian Science shows that health has always been dependent on our growing comprehension of the divine nature and our commitment to living consistently the qualities that we naturally reflect from this good and loving God. Understanding our spiritual identity as the expression of God's being can bring amazing transformation. And this transformation comes not only to ourselves, but to those we hold in our thoughts, as my grandmother discovered years ago.

At the turn of the 20th century my grandmother, who longed to be of greater use to others, began to study a new book that she found advertised in a store near where she shopped for groceries. Having limited resources, she was unable to purchase the book, but each day on her daily shopping rounds she stopped in and read a few pages. The book captivated her hopes and desires for a more fulfilling life, and it explained a lot of the questions she had gathered from her ardent study of the Bible. She would return home each day filled with eagerness and enthusiasm to share what she had learned. No one in her household, however, was particularly interested. Each afternoon she would go outside and hang up the laundry that she took in to make ends meet. Next door lived a young boy who was regularly placed outside in a playpen to take in the fresh air; his appearance and inability to communicate like other boys his age caught my grandmother's attention. (She later learned that the boy had been born with this condition.) Unable to find a willing audience inside to share what she had learned from Science and Health, my grandmother began talking to her captive audience outside. She explained to the boy what she was learning about the nature of God and how this little boy, as the very image and likeness of God, expressed this wholly good nature by divine right.

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