Baha'i Library Online
Back to Healing through Unity newsletters

June 2005

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 9, Issue No. 6
- Quote of the month
- From the Editor
- This Month's Theme: The Positive Effects of Marriage on Health
- Links for further information
- Tips to Talk Yourself beyond Anger
- The Power of Words/Love and Thanks to Water
- Vice or Virtue?
- Book Review: Pure Gold
- Health in the News
- Letters
- Newsletter format question...
- Purpose of the Newsletter
- Subscription Information
- Web Site

September's Theme (remember, no July or August issues): Education and Health


"...when divers shades of thought, temperament and character, are brought together under the power and influence of one central agency, the beauty and glory of human perfection will be revealed and made manifest. Nought but the celestial potency of the Word of God, which ruleth and transcendeth the realities of all things, is capable of harmonizing the divergent thoughts, sentiments, ideas and convictions of the children of men."

('Abdu'l-Baha, quoted in "the World Order of Baha'u'llah," p. 42)


Dear Readers,

Perception is everything. In matters of health especially, reality is much less important than what we think is going on. How often has the placebo effect provided improvement, and even sometimes cures?

'Abdu'l-Baha, the son of the Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith, said: "There is but one power which heals -- that is God. The state or condition through which the healing takes place is the confidence of the heart. By some this state is reached through pills, powders, and physicians. By others through hygiene, fasting, and prayer. By others through direct perception."

On another occasion He said, with regard to the same subject, "All that we see around us is the work of mind. It is mind in the herb and in the mineral that acts on the human body, and changes its condition."
('Abdu'l-Baha, "'Abdu'l-Baha in London," p. 95)

Adjusting our view of the world can be challenging, since it is often not a conscious choice in the first place, and may be of long standing habit. The good news is that it is much easier to change our own attitudes and self-talk than to make the people around us conform to our expectations!

That very act of choosing the way we perceive and respond to what happens to us is seen by some modern medical thinkers as key to improving overall health, as well as treating specific physical and mental illnesses. It has been the focal point of religious instruction on how to be a happy and healthy person for millennia.

Nowhere is the ability to place a positive spin on distressing events more necessary than in building and maintaining a marriage. We can be intensely irritated with our spouse's flaws, or we can reflect on his/her virtues. We can view that dirty sock on the bedroom floor as a personal affront, or we can remember that the culprit spent all day single handedly filling out income tax forms for the whole family.

For Baha'is, learning to change negative thoughts and attitudes into positive ones is part of the purpose of life.

"I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content. Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness."

('Abdu'l-Baha, "Paris Talks," p. 29)

In my own experience (I have been married nearly 50 years, so far, with children, step-children, fosters and others in looser arrangements), the ability to view my family with the eyes of love instead of judgment and criticism is a great challenge. (If they would only do things MY way, we could live in perfect unity!)

As you will see from the studies and articles included in this month's Healing Through Unity Newsletter, building a good marriage is not only beneficial to your health, but can also be critical. Further, a good marriage can have ripple health effects on family, friends and community.

And meanwhile, I wish you all a great summer (winter!) break over July and August. The next issue of Healing Through Unity Newsletter will be for September, with the theme: The Role of Education in Healing and Continuing Health.

Please consider the ways that your health has improved with access to and integration of information, and become a part of the system by passing this wisdom and advice along through this newsletter.

Remember, we are each important to the whole, because the greater our shared experience, the better our individual and collective health will be!

Cheryll Schuette, Michigan, USA

"Happiness is a choice."

(Source: anonymous restaurant placemat, (c) SPRINGPRINT/MEDALLION(r))


"A marriage between two souls, alive to the Message of God in this day, dedicated to the service of His Cause, working for the good humanity, can be a potent force in the lives of others and an example and inspiration ..."

(Shoghi Effendi, "Lights of Guidance," p. 378)

The Rand Center for the Study of Aging published a research brief in 1998 reporting on a study whose intended purpose was to clarify the exact details of how marital status related to health and mortality. Its focus was on men and included a review of longevity studies covering 140 years, and they concluded:

"The relationship between marriage and longevity is more complex than had been generally believed. Clearly, the longer life of married men cannot be explained by pointing exclusively to either protection from ill health or selection into marriage on the basis of good health. What the findings confirm for the first time is that the self-reported health status of men does affect marriage decisions--but not in ways that support the notion of positive selection. Since good health discourages marriage, and poorer health encourages marriage, the connection between marriage and better health can be explained by individual habits and preferences that promote both health and marriage."

A newer report, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests that married adults are healthier than divorced, widowed or never married adults. This report was based on interviews with 127,545 adults aged 18 and over as part of the National Health Interview Survey, conducted by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. The study looked at health status and limitations, health conditions, health related behaviors according to marital status and also by age, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic factors such as education and poverty status.

Among their findings:

- Married adults are less likely than other adults to be in fair or poor health, and are less likely to suffer from health conditions such as headaches and serious psychological distress.

- Married adults are less likely to be limited in various activities, including work and other activities of daily living.

- Married adults are less likely to smoke, drink heavily or be physically inactive. However, married men are more likely to be overweight or obese than other men.

- Adults who live in cohabiting relationships are more likely to have health problems than married adults and more closely resemble divorced and separated adults.

- The association between marital status and health is most striking in the youngest age group although it persists throughout the age groups studied.

("Marital Status and Health: United States, 1999-2002"(Advance Data, Number 351. 33 pp. (PHS) 2004-1250) To read the entire report, go to the CDC/NCHS Web site: )

Neither of these prestigious groups of investigators offered an explanation for why marriage might affect health. Others are not so reticent.

Dr. Dean Ornish, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, established the Preventive Medicine Research Institute to study and provide methods of intervention specific to heart disease. He is famous for having proved that heart attack victims reverse coronary disease by making changes in diet, exercise, and patterns of emotional and spiritual behavior.

Dr. Ornish considers the metaphysical aspects of healing as important, if not more so, than the physical, and has collected huge amounts of data in support of the importance of altruism, love and compassion. Specifically, he credits the development of strong and intimate relationships as the basis of ongoing physical health, as well as preventing and healing heart disease.

For instance, his researchers asked patients if they had anyone who really cared for them, who felt close to them, who loved them, who wanted to help them, in whom they could confide. If the answers were no, there was a three to five times higher risk of premature death and disease from all causes. ("Love and Survival," p. 28)

On the other hand, Psychologist John Gottman of the University of Washington has found that a bad marriage increases your chances of getting sick by 35 percent. ("The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work," p. 6)

Dr. Gottman believes a good marriage is even more important for your health than regular exercise. He told The Toronto Sun, "Working on your marriage every day will do more for your health and longevity than working out at a health club."

What would such a workout look like?

Here again, religion has historically provided goals and behaviors to enhance health. The specific activities along the path to developing character might vary, but the virtues they develop transcend the boundaries of language and time. It is less about what one chooses to eat or do, for instance, than the fact that the act of choosing empowers and makes sacred the choice.

A sampling of virtues such as compassion, honesty, love, trustworthiness, commitment, perseverance, patience, and steadfastness would all be found in religious teaching, and a growing body of research is showing that they are necessary spiritual characteristics for building a good marriage - and thereby, improving health.


The National Marriage Project web site: the mission is to provide research and analysis on the state of marriage in America and to educate the public on the social, economic and cultural conditions affecting marital success and child wellbeing.

US Department of Health & Human Services: Healthy Marriage Initiative has a nice web site: "Our emphasis is on healthy marriages - not marriage for the sake of marriage, not marriage at any cost - but healthy marriages that provide a strong and stable environment for raising children. It is about helping couples who choose marriage for themselves gain access to the skills and knowledge necessary to form and sustain healthy marriages." - Wade F. Horn, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary of the Administration for Children and Families.

The Marriage Transformation Project (publisher of "Pure Gold: Encouraging Character Qualities in Marriage," reviewed below) has a free e-newsletter. To view a graphical, html version of this month's issue:


Both research and experience show that when people change their self talk, their anger de-escalates and they regain control. When you feel yourself starting to get angry, take a TIME OUT and read these statements to yourself. Transfer them to 3x5 note cards and read them several times a day as well as during your Time Outs.

- People put erasers on the ends of pencils for a reason. It's OK to make mistakes.

- People are going to act the way they want to, not the way I want.

- It's impossible to control other people and situations. The only thing I can control is myself and how I express my feelings.

- If I'm feeling angry, that must mean I have been hurt or scared.

- My anger is a signal. Time to talk to myself and to relax. What is really happening here?

- Most things we argue about are stupid and insignificant. If I'm angry, I can recognize when it's just old bad feelings being re-stimulated, and it's OK to walk away from this fight.

- I don't need to prove myself in this situation. I can stay calm.

- As long as I keep my cool, I'm in control of myself.

- No need to doubt myself, what other people say doesn't matter. I'm the only person who can make me mad or keep me calm.

- Time to relax and slow things down. I can take a time out if getting up tight.

- I don't need to feel threatened. I can relax and stay cool.

- Nothing says I have to be competent and strong all the time. It's OK to feel unsure or confused.

- It's OK to be uncertain or insecure sometimes. I don't need to be in control of everything and everybody.

- If people criticize me, I can survive that. Nothing say I have to be perfect.

- If this person wants to go off the wall, that's their thing. I don't need to respond to their anger or feel threatened.

- When I get into an argument, I can stick to my plan and know what to do. I can take a Time Out.

- It's nice to have other people's love and approval, but even without it, I can still accept and like myself.

(Source: Learning Assistance Center, California Polytechnic State University, (c) 1976, by permission)

THE POWER OF WORDS/Love and thanks to water...

Contributed by Alyce Blue

I suffered an injury at the end of February, causing ... restrictions to my activities. While I have been restricted, I have been reading and studying healing from different cultures and viewpoints.

The most amazing book in this series was ... called THE HIDDEN MESSAGES IN WATER by Dr. Masaru Emoto, who has discovered and proved in his research that molecules of water are affected by our thoughts, words, and feelings.

Since humans and all other living things, and the Earth itself, are composed mostly of water, his message is revolutionary to all of us in our personal and our combined ability to renew and heal the Earth and all that dwell on it.

I promise if you read this book that you will never again want to say or even think a negative word about anyone or anything. Water molecules that are exposed to negative thoughts will not form crystals, but forms that are deformed and misshapen, reflecting the energy of the negative word or thought.

Imagine what the impact of these negative thoughts and images have on us, our loved ones, the earth, and humanity! Then imagine what power we have to change the negative with beautiful thoughts.

Dr. Emoto discovered that the most powerful emotions and thoughts are gratitude and love; with gratitude actually being about twice as powerful as love. Dr. Emoto feels that today's materialism has somewhat destroyed our ability to feel gratitude, because the feeling we have in a sea of materialism is always wanting more, and not being able to feel grateful for what we already have.

I think he is right, but I agree with him that we all have the power to reverse this trend, especially if we do it together. I observed the beautiful jewel-like crystals that were formed under beautiful words, music, and prayers, and from water that was taken from natural clear springs and other natural sources. It is unbelievable!

I encourage you to get and read this book. It will change your perspective no matter what culture or faith you are from.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dr. Emoto's research was included in the recent movie, "What the Bleep Do We Know!?" The physics and math experts in my family were not much impressed by the allegories used in the movie, but the rest of us were, and all of us loved the lush and loving attention to creation and how human beings make our reality and then respond to it. For more information, and to view some of his great photographs, go to:


What if you had a spouse would could not be trusted to take care of his/her clothes? What if you were constantly having to buy replacements? What if it got so bad that there wasn't even a clean pajama to change into on his/her deathbed?

Vice? Such carelessness can certainly be vexing and frustrating. Especially when you have told him/her over and over that it drives you crazy!

Or Virtue? What if the reason you had to keep making new clothes was because your spouse insisted on literally giving the shirt off his/her back to anyone who needed it?

Aha, you say! It was a trick question.

Not really. It just shows that we can change our point of view. With added information, or by just concentrating on possible virtues, a piece of really annoying behavior in a loved one can become understandable, and maybe even exemplary.

'Abdu'l-Baha's wife, Munirih Khanum, had this very problem with His constant practice of giving away His pants -- not to mention His coat, His bed, the family dinner, and even, at the last, His spare nightshirt. **

As the Exemplar of the virtues Baha'is are exhorted to develop in themselves, 'Abdu'l-Baha actions studied as a guide to daily living. He patiently explained to His distraught family that He only needed one of anything, but that if they provided extras, it would make Him happy because then He could continue to help others less fortunate.

Always, His purpose was to be of service. He defined himself as the servant of others, and put their material needs before His own.

That perspective is far different from where we started with a spouse who couldn't be trusted to take care of business, isn't it? We didn't change the behavior, but we changed the way we looked at the problem, so that it became one we could live with, and even admire.

Now, not everything someone does that drives us mad can be easily converted into a benefit. Sometimes, a dirty sock is just going to be a dirty sock!

But, could we not benefit in other ways by rethinking our attitudes? Could we find a way of improving both our own and others' health, simply by trying to change our response instead of their behavior?

For a good resource on ways to achieve such a goal, see the book review below.

(**Source of the anecdote: "Vignettes from the Life of 'Abdu'l-Baha," collected and annotated by Annamarie Honnold. George Ronald, 1982, p. 63)


"Pure Gold: Encouraging Character Qualities in Marriage (Second Edition)" by Susanne M. Alexander, Craig A. Farnsworth, and John S. Miller.

Here is a resource for ways to strengthen marriage by influencing one another's character (virtues) development. Its purpose is to support couples who are working to strengthen their marriages by encouraging and supporting one another's character qualities, as well as building their communication skills. It provides a structured and realistic framework for turning good intentions into a happy, lasting marriage.

Author Susanne M. Alexander says, "Researchers have found that character attacks, such as saying your spouse is irresponsible or untrustworthy, are distressingly common and seriously disrupt relationships. We're giving them the tools to effectively build their marriages with qualities such as love, trustworthiness, faithfulness, and more instead."

Character coach and coauthor John S. Miller shares vital insights from his character-based Solving Conflicts(tm) system. Miller, of Lincoln, Nebraska, assists couples to identify and appropriately use their dominant character strengths.

Cleveland-based Alexander is a marriage educator, character expert, journalist, coauthor of "Marriage Can Be Forever-Preparation Counts!" and author of "What's Character Got To Do With It?" She and coauthor/husband, Craig A. Farnsworth, facilitate marriage preparation and marriage enrichment workshops internationally.

Alexander and Farnsworth founded and operate Marriage Transformation LLC, a global social and economic development project committed to marriage education and relationship skill building.

For more information visit their web site:

For more on John and Cindy Miller's Solving Conflicts(tm) program:


- Downsize Me

An editorial in the May 21-25, 2005, issue of 'New Scientist' makes some comments about two new drugs whose developers hope will help to stem the tide of obesity in 'Western' cultures. "One is a vaccine against ghrelin, a hormone that tells the brain you are hungry. The second is a drug that binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, blocking the craving for food. [See page 9 of that issue for a more detailed article.] Both demonstrate our new found expertise in targeting individual circuits within the brain."

"It would be premature to get too excited about these compounds until they have been more widely tested...[but] thing sets these substances apart [from previous experiments]. Almost all past weight-loss drugs have worked by stopping the absorption of nutrients in the gut or by boosting metabolism to burn off fat. Both allowed people to eat pretty much as usual. By contrast, the new approaches are designed to lower the desire for food."

"If the drugs do prove safe for large numbers of people the consequences could be ... [that] demand for food would fall, which would ease pressure to increase production down on the farm. 'Supersize' meals would fall from fashion as smaller portions became a virtue. It might even signal the beginning of the end of the obesogenic environment."

However, "...hunger and greed are such central human impulses that manipulating them at this most basic level is bound to have major ramifications."


- Correction

I always enjoy this publication and too infrequently write to tell you so. This time is no different.

However, I am writing a correction this time. In the section: A PERSPECTIVE FROM 12 STEP PROGRAMS, there is a prayer of the Baha'u'llah's attributed to Shoghi Effendi:

"God is sufficient unto me; He verily is the All-sufficing! In Him let the trusting trust."

Thank you for your important and continuing service.

Loving greetings,

Elizabeth R
EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks Elizabeth; we should have caught that. Shoghi Effendi is the translator of 'Nabil's Narrative: The Dawn-Breakers', and one of the stories in it quotes the prayer revealed by Baha'u'llah while imprisoned in the Siyah-Chal of Tehran, Persia, in 1853.

- Margins!

I enjoy your newsletter very much and share it with those who do not have a computer. However, may I suggest that you adjust your margins as this last letter was 19 pages long and I cannot afford to run off more than one copy. I am able to forward it on to those who do have a computer.
Thank you,

Isobel W., New Brunswick, Canada
EDITOR'S NOTE: a techie explained that this narrowing of margins is a function of the email client software. The Healing Through Unity Newsletter is formatted to have word wrap so that it could adjust to whatever window size without messy short sentence tags. If you cannot convince your email software to widen its window, you can convert the file and make some changes by hand, which is tedious, but do-able. To make the margins wider and shorten the resulting length, save the message to a text file and open it in a word processor. Set the margins you want and the screen to show all the hard carriage returns the email software puts at the end of the lines, then remove them till you have only one per paragraph (assuming you have word wrap turned on).


So far, responses to last month's question of providing the Healing Through Unity Newsletter in a different format have shown some interest in having a pdf version on the Web site, but keeping the e-mail version text only.

Please take a moment to let us know your preference, or it will be assumed that you like things just the way they are!

EDITOR'S NOTE from May: We are exploring the possibility of providing the newsletter in multiple formats. Presently, the newsletter is sent as part of the body of an e-mail message, as that was the easiest and most universal way for people to receive it.

However, for those who can receive attachments, the newsletter could be sent as a pdf document, which could allow for improved formatting and even occasional graphics. It would also be easier for those who want to print out and distribute copies.

Please contact the editor ( and let us know if you would like to:

a) receive the newsletter in pdf as an attachment instead of in the body of the email message,


b) would prefer to continue to receive the newsletter as is, and to download a pdf or Microsoft Word document version from the website when you need it,


c) keep it simple just the way it is.


"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. None of the material published in this newsletter is intended to be a substitute for the advice of your physician.

You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Distribution of this newsletter is free by email. Please email requests for all new subscriptions, subscription cancellations and email address changes (please include old address along with new one) to


You can visit our Web site, obtain back issues and the Healing Through Unity Course at:


All of us have had healing experiences, as well as climbed out of low points along life's way - physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Please share your stories, tips, useful links, and quotes from the Baha'i Writings about staying healthy in a stressful world. Your articles do not have to be long - even a few paragraphs in length is fine. Baha'u'llah gave us each other as a big part of a healthy lifestyle, and sharing stories and ideas that work for you brings encouragement to others. Asking for information and support from others can bring encouragement to you!


Many thinks to all of you who share helpful ideas for the Healing Through Unity Newsletter. The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor. We welcome submissions from everyone.

Please e-mail your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to the newsletter editor, Cheryll Schuette, at:


Founding Editor - Frances Mezei
Editor - Cheryll Schuette
Medical Reviewer - Dr. Diane Kent
Contributing Editor - Lynn Ascrizzi
Circulation Assistant - Kathy Yonash
Web Master - Russ Novak

Back to Healing through Unity newsletters