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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
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Breathing Pure Air

Breathing polluted air not only causes coughing, chest tightness, and eye irritation, but actually impairs lung functioning and weakens the ability of white blood cells to fight infection. Thus affected, the respiratory system may become the weak link in the body's chain - and a receptive environment for diseases such as influenza, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

Emphysema, which is principally linked to smoking, occurs when the lung tissues lose their elasticity. The lungs are no longer able to expel air on their own, so breathing becomes more difficult and even impossible. Since we generally use less than a quarter of our lung capacity in normal breathing, a heavy smoker may become aware of lung damage only when exercising. The slow, subtle progression of this disease makes it more serious because it may not be detected until it is too late. Emphysema is a major cause of death in the United States.

Asthma is another condition that affects the ability to breathe. It is a reaction triggered by allergenic substances as well as by threatening emotional situations.

The whole planet is breathing - through its lakes, forests, mountains, and fields. The planet's needs are identical with those of human beings - a clear and ready input source and an unrestricted channel. It's not easy to be a healthy fish in a polluted lake. It's hard to remain a healthy person while breathing polluted air. And the sad fact is that the planet is gasping. Air pollution has reached crisis proportions. Where will the planet turn for help in releasing its tensions? Where can it go for some fresh air?

If all things are connected, and all beings are literally breathing the same air, then self-responsibility means social responsibility. We are all dependent upon one another. We need to examine many of the details of our lifestyle with this realization in mind. With respect to the environmental crisis created by air pollution, we must weigh our decisions about the size of the car we drive and how much we drive it. We need to look at the type and quantity of the fuel we use in heating our homes. We can involve ourselves in local efforts to improve the environment in which we live, as well as voice our support for political candidates who represent a consciousness about pollution-control issues.

Keeping yourself balanced will help you focus on your own real needs and those of the planet on which you live. Despair, panic, and compulsiveness in approaching any problem only serve to intensify it - and often divert you from the real issues.

Remember the basic principles of wellness: trust, compassion, self-responsibility, and the positive value of illness." Well used, these can bring about health for yourself and for the entire planet as well.

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