06/18/2013 04:04 pm ET Updated Aug 18, 2013

Regrets and Your Health

Regrets. Do they hinder your health? What are regrets? Let's say they are the things you wish you had done, or things you wish you had never done. We all have regrets. It is part of human nature. However, hanging onto regrets takes up space and keeps us from enjoying the present moment. The regrets we have for the things we have let go and the regrets for the things we have done are the very things that have brought us to our present life. We made choices, and these choices led us to our present experience. The ones we let go opened us up to other possibilities and those possibilities are, in yoga terms, exactly where we are supposed to be. It is our evolution. For the things we regret doing, if we look carefully enough, we will see that they hold a lesson and if we learn from our regrets then the regret has served us well. All regrets lead somewhere and that somewhere is found in the present moment.

Regrets are negative emotional states. We mourn, feel sorry and long for things that have past. Living in the past negates the present. Negative emotions compromise the health of the body-mind and dampen the spirit. Regret is a form of stress.

Negative and prolonged stress is unhealthy. That is a factor that has been well documented and substantiated.

The stress factor plays havoc on the cells of the body. It affects our blood pressure, bio-rhythms, energy levels, hormones and immune response. It also affects the mind. Our thinking process becomes clouded, mistakes are made and poor choices lead to increased stress. All of these things affect our overall health. Negative thought processes affect the chemistry of our brain and when you affect the chemistry of the brain in a negative and stressful way you affect your overall health. In this way regrets have a negative effect on your health.

Regrets appear when we feel discontentment with our present life or are holding onto guilt for something we did in the past. We lose the present and side back into the past, which of course can never be retrieved.

So, how do we release them? From a yoga perspective it is about finding contentment. Contentment simply means being happy with what comes into your life, while realizing that what does not come into your life or leaves your life is simply replaced by something you need more. This is a lofty goal and not easily realized.

Herein lays the nature of contentment. It means to be content with what you have and stop desiring that which you have not earned while at the same time reaching out into life to grow and prosper. Be content with what you have earned today and let the contentment be the source of your happiness.

When we let go of regrets we open up space within our being. This space then has the opportunity to bring creative endeavors into our lives. The present moment becomes realized as we release ourselves from the chains of the past. In the present moment, all of life unfolds. We make decisions that affect our future, such as paying attention to our health and sharing our love. We appreciate what we have today. The focus becomes one of value for what we have in our lives and not regret for what we have let go. We will always be challenged with the need to release and let go and that is why practicing yoga is such a wonderful art. It simply teaches us to let go of regrets and embrace with observation, and not judgment, the wonders of life as it unfolds in the present moment. In this we find health in body, mind and spirit.

Doctor Lynn

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