What does it mean to be healthy? We usually think of the physical aspects of health first. A perfect body. The imagery that bombards us daily illustrates healthy as thin. As tanned. Flashing a blinding white smile. Tossing back thick, glossy hair. But this is merely marketing. Health isn’t based in appearance. And it isn’t limited to our physicality.
Myrtle Fillmore, cofounder of Unity, diagnosed with tuberculosis, was sickly as a child and young adult. Then from a New Thought lecture by E. B. Weeks, she came away with a life-changing affirmation: I am a child of God, and therefore I do not inherit sickness.
Myrtle knew this to be true and she was eventually healed of tuberculosis. She said of the experience, “It was a change of mind from the old, carnal mind that believes in sickness to the Christ Mind of life and permanent health. I applied spiritual laws effectively, blessing my body temple until it manifested the innate health of Spirit” (Myrtle Fillmore’s Healing Letters, Unity Books).
Myrtle knew without question that prayer works. She also taught that there is more to the healing process than just prayer for physical recovery. Myrtle believed in daily practices for mind, body, and spirit: “Daily, declare that your spiritual life and world, your mental life and world and your physical life and world are unified and that you are expressing harmoniously the ideas of the Christ Mind on these three planes.”
The practices Myrtle espoused for wellness still ring true today.
Attitude matters. In the January/February 2018 issue of Unity Magazine®, columnist Dawson Church, Ph.D., writes, “Your beliefs are powerful determinants of your health and well-being. That’s not a metaphysical proposition; it’s a scientific fact.” Church notes the great volume of research that links beliefs to biology, showing that beliefs affect blood cells, stem cells, muscle cells, and hormones. “When you fill your mind with an image of a benevolent universe and your heart with compassion for all living things, you’re doing more than basking in the majesty of creation. You’re sending signals to your cells that make you healthier and happier,” Church says.
Myrtle stressed not only the importance of faith and prayer but of being optimistic, of practicing positive thinking for positive results. “Prayer is an exercise to change our thought habits and our living habits. … When some of our thought energy is expended in negative beliefs and feelings … we get those old negative results.”
Take care of you. Myrtle embraced healthy living. She taught the importance of self-care and believed eating right, exercising regularly, and resting were key to a healthy body. “The body responds to changes of the mind; and when this is accompanied by truly wise living habits, the conformity to true ideas … will renew it and make it every whit whole.”
Health expert Susan Smith Jones, Ph.D., says, “Sometimes we just need gentle guidance and daily reminders about how to invite more vibrancy into our bodies and lives” (“Dr. Susan’s 11 Healthy Living Tips”). She encourages a diet that is at least 50 percent fresh, raw foods each day along with getting plenty of sleep and staying hydrated for increased energy, restored vitality, and radiant health. And she recommends simplifying our lives: “You will increase your joy and zest for living … it doesn’t necessarily mean restricting activities, but it does mean ‘uncluttering’ … Put your energy into activities you really care about and enjoy.”
Faith matters too. Myrtle taught that God is inward: “Sometimes we pray to a God outside of ourselves. It is the God in the midst of us that frees and heals … You need to think of God, the all-powerful Healer, as being already within you, in every part of your mind, heart, and body.”
Myrtle’s faith practice focused on prayer. Unity offers a five-step prayer process, a gentle guide to quiet the mind and turn inward.
Close your eyes. Relax, breathe deeply, and let go of outer concerns.
Quiet your mind. Begin to focus your thoughts on the spirit of God within you.
With an open mind and a receptive heart, feel the peace of God’s presence. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 RSV).
Embrace the Silence
In the silence of your soul, know that you are one with God. Allow this realization to permeate your being.
There is no one right spiritual practice. Find what works for you. But keep in mind the admonition of May Rowland, director of Silent Unity for more than 50 years, who said, “Faith is never passive. Do not delude yourself, get busy.”