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Vaishãli is a deeply kind, playfully funny, and modern wisewoman whose path of holistic learning began in her twenties when she was diagnosed with a terminal illness after years of pain, and recovered without the aid of Western medical intervention. She attributes much of her recovery from that illness, and from a life-threatening head injury years later, to Chinese Medicine, an Ayurvedic lifestyle, and an ancient form of organ massage, which continue to keep her vibrantly healthy today. A radio show host and columnist for the Huffington Post, she is author of numerous online articles and three books: You Are What You Love; The You Are What You Love Playbook; and Wisdom Rising. One of Vaishãli’s primary messages, from the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg (a brilliant 18th-century scientist, inventor, and mystic often called the Swedish DaVinci), is this: You are what you love, and you love whatever you give your attention to.

In anticipation of her Omega Institute workshop, “Making Your Mind Your Friend: Detoxify Your Mind, Body, and Emotions” (June 13–18), Vaishãli shared some of her perspectives by telephone, excerpted below.

You have learned from Eastern health and spiritual practices that what we say to ourselves is foundational to our physical health. Can you tell us a little about that?

What I most appreciate about the Eastern systems of healing is that their paradigm includes our spiritual identity. They understand we are spiritual creatures, having a human experience—that the human experience is a learning and an evolutionary process for our spiritual essence. Our consciousness is in the driver’s seat. It directs our body. I like to use the metaphor of our body being like a rental car. The car does not navigate on the highway of its own accord. It’s responding to the consciousness of the driver. The body is responding to your ego, your beliefs. So if your mind is holding on to something, your body is going to reflect that. It mirrors what you are doing with your mind.

Allopathic medicine has a very different value system. It does not recognize that we’re spiritual creatures. That takes out the relationship between consciousness and the body.

So the consciousness is in charge, which is why you emphasize how important it is that we choose what we pay attention to—that we make our minds our friend.

Yes, when we take accountability for what we give our attention to, we are now deliberate, free-willed navigators of our human experience. Our body doesn’t decide if our consciousness is giving it something useful or not, something healthy or unhealthy. It simply responds to what we are giving our attention to. The body does have its own form of intelligence, and of healing wisdom, but it is neutral. The direction of intention and perspective that our consciousness holds will ultimately determine how our bodies respond to each stimulus we encounter.

From a spiritual point of view, we come to the Earth to recognize who we are, to answer the big questions: Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life? What is the purpose of my relationships? What’s my value, my power? Our bodies are our vehicle for finding those answers. And they carry whatever we have not healed, or digested, and released. They carry that until we get the full evolutionally gift of our learning experiences. If you have the experience of being injured or getting ill, there is something in it for your spiritual growth. It’s a lifelong love affair.

That phrase—a “love affair”—is not exactly the phrase a lot of people would use to describe their relationship with their body. There can be a lot of judgment.

When we are wrestling with the body issue—feeling that the body is not giving the result we want—we need to stand back and consciously acknowledge we are not our body. Our consciousness has an intimate relationship with the body, and we are aware of what it’s going through—we feel hungry, sleepy, in pain, excited, and so on—which we perceive through our neural network. And because of that neurological, intimate relationship, we confuse our selves with the body. But we are not our body. We are divine love.

Consider what the body goes through for us—all the things that can happen to our fragile, delicate container. The body gets injured, it gets ill, it ages, goes through surgeries. How many people would go through this for you? What relationship do you have, all life long, that would go through any unspeakable thing the body goes through for you? It loves you that much. Your body never leaves you, until you leave it. When you think about that, it reframes our previous myopic judgment about our bodies.

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