By Richard A. Peterson, ND
From our book Bypassing Bypass, published in 2002.
Recently my grandmother died. She lived one month shy of 104 years. Although no one who has ever been born has escaped death, there were times when I thought she might beat the odds.
In recent years I have thought of her quite often. She was not only an exceptional human being, she was also the keeper of secrets. And not just any secret, but ‘The Secret.’ By looking at the way she lived we can discover ways that can help us live long and healthy lives. We can unlock the mystery of the secret potion of longevity.
Over the past few years there were a few things in particular, which I felt contributed to the long and joyful life that she lived. When I reflected upon her life I usually focused upon these factors – her childlike quality and a strong spirituality.
Grandma was a pleasure to be around because she had a tremendous zest for life — she was a little ‘wild.’ This positive enthusiasm rubbed off on everyone around her. You wanted to be close to her. And she made you feel special. After the funeral I was talking to Uncle Bob and he said that Grandma and he had this ‘special’ bond (when all along I thought that it was Grandma and me). Bob reflected upon this and said that Grandma had the ability to make everyone feel cherished, like they were important. And, of course, they are.
As a family we had a lot of fun when we were together. We would laugh a lot. And that is one of the secrets. Lee S. Berk, DHSc, M.P.H., Loma Linda University, found that laughter could effectively reverse the harmful effects of stress (a leading cause of all disease). He discovered that after a good laugh the levels of adrenaline and cortisol in the body were significantly lowered. A good laugh enhances the immune system and helps to relax muscles and blood vessels. Dr. Kathleen Dillon, Western New England College, discovered that even viewing a humorous movie will increase the IgA levels of the saliva (IgA, or immunoglobulin, is important in the protection against viral infections).
Grandma saw the positive in everything. She would often say that it was just as easy to smile as it was to frown. Not surprisingly, scientific studies have found that optimists are healthier than pessimists. It has been found that the blood of optimists has higher levels of T-helper cells (T-helper cells stimulate the immune system) than do pessimists. A pessimistic attitude can easily lead to depression. Pessimists have twice as many infectious diseases and are twice as likely to visit a doctor than optimists. Because our lives are a reflection of our mental attitude, it is not surprising that optimists seem to find themselves in more positive life situations — things just seem to go right.
America prides itself on being a ‘religious or Christian’ nation, and a majority of its people belong to a Christian denomination. According to Christianity (and really all religions) death is not the end, but rather the beginning of life in another form. According to Sogyal Rinpoche, “But despite their teachings, modern society is largely a spiritual desert where the majority imagine that this life is all that there is. Without any real or authentic faith in an afterlife, most people live lives deprived of any ultimate meaning.” That was not the case with Grandma. She was not a person who saw religion as going to church once a week. She read scriptures every day, and she lived by those teachings. Over her lifetime she wore out many Bibles from repeated use. One of Grandma’s Bibles was displayed at the funeral service — it was completely worn out.
An important part of Christianity, as well as most other religions, is the relinquishing of the self, the ego. Only in this way are we truly able to help others. This is extremely important — not only as a philosophy but because it has huge rewards in itself. It has been found that one’s health can improve through the act of giving of oneself to others, such as being a volunteer or being active in a group as did Grandma. One study found that 13% of the volunteers at a particular nursing home felt that their aches and pains had decreased since the beginning of their work and 90% of volunteers felt that their health was better than, or as good as, others their age. During one near death experience, an individual told researcher Kenneth Ring: “I was asked — but there were no words: it was a straight mental instantaneous communication, “What had I done to benefit or advance the human race?” And this is one of the keys to longevity.
Dr. Bernard Jensen has met many of the world’s oldest people. He thinks that one of the greatest factors in longevity is moderation. Most of the centurions that he met ate very small meals. This was Grandma Peterson’s way as well. Over the years there have been a number of studies supporting this idea. And this is another key.
The night before the funeral, Grandma visited me during a dream. We sat on some large rocks on the shores of Lake Superior. She said that this was her favorite spot for she loved to sit by the lake. As we talked she mentioned that she was blessed to have such a wonderful family. At that moment I realized something I had never considered — Grandma was very humble. I had to tell her that her family was the product of herself, that they are who they are because of her. This is karma, the law of cause and effect — good causes can only produce good results.
During this conversation we were well aware of the fact that she had died a few days before. Death is not the end — as consciousness continues at a different level. This is clearly evidenced by countless people who have died (in the scientific sense of word through monitors not registering life signs — flatline) and come back to report their experiences. In any case, I asked Grandma if she needed any help moving beyond this earthly plane. She said that she did not, and that “she would stay for the funeral so that she could be with everyone one last time.” Then the dream shifted to the church. I went to the altar to see Grandma’s physical body one last time. As I walked around the coffin I discovered a couch. Grandma was a pretty young woman with long dark hair. She was lying on the floor in front of the couch. In her hands were some music CDs and a small personal CD player. Although she was still she moved a little bit — opening her eyes to wink at me ever so briefly. That was the dream.
Grandma was definitely at the funeral, and she got a chance to spend a little time with everyone there — a little more time with some of her children who needed her help and comfort. During the final song, The Eagles’ Gift, Grandma left. But she will not be forgotten. She left many pleasant memories. And secrets that only the most wise truly understand.
Richard A. Peterson, N.D., was a Natural Health Doctor,
Reiki Master & Healer,
specializing in Qigong and Reiki Healing,
Nutrition, Herbs, Dreamwork, Shamanic and Spiritual Healing.
You can visit his web site:
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