MIND OVER BODY
I guess it has happened to all of us that we were supposed to attend an event, go and visit someone, or even go to work or school and absolutely didn‘t want to go? Like when we knew that we weren’t prepared enough for an English or math test in school and we’d rather stay at home, but had no idea how to avoid it. And then, very suddenly and conveniently, we got sick overnight. We came down with a cold or some other sickness that made it impossible for us to go to school and sit through the test.
Now let me ask you this: What do you think has triggered this cold? Was it sheer coincidence or was there something deep inside of you (your mind?) that was actually responsible for you coming down with the cold or flu? Well, the truth is that – even though you may not have had the conscious thought that becoming sick would be the solution – your subconscious mind “thought” that if you were sick you couldn‘t go to school or attend the event and “created” the cold. You were most likely completely unconscious of that thought, but your body responded to it nonetheless.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could actually use this ‘feature’ of your mind in a conscious and positive way to create health and well-being and cure your body of any disease? Well, the good news is, you can. Unfortunately though, for many people, the concept of having the ability to heal themselves by using the power of their mind is still foreign. Yet more and more scientific evidence suggests that it is our mind, or rather the thoughts and the beliefs that we hold in our minds, that decide whether we get sick in the first place, how fast we recover from a disease, or whether we recover at all.
Every medical student learns that the mind can override the body. They learn that some people get better when they are given a “sugar pill”, even though this pill has no medical value whatsoever. It is their belief that this pill is going to help them that does the trick. In the medical field, this phenomenon is called ‘placebo effect’. However, in some scientific fields, this effect is called more appropriately ‘perception effect’ (Rob Williams), or ‘belief effect’ (Bruce Lipton).
Personally, I think that the term ‘belief effect’ is the most appropriate one, as it emphasizes the fact that it is the ‘belief’ that a person holds in their mind that determines the outcome of the treatment. So far, most people believed that this kind of ‘placebo effect’ only worked for patients given drugs or painkillers. However, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients who received a placebo surgery, an arthroscopy for osteoarthritis in the knee, had the same improvement as the patients who had undergone a real operation. Dr. Mosley, the surgeon who executed the operations, says: “My skill as a surgeon had no benefit on these patients. The entire benefit of surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee was the placebo effect.” (For the full article, go to http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa013259#t=articleTop )
We know now that placebos can relieve depression as effectively as Prozac, ease pain with a sugar pill, and even reduce knee or back pain as much as surgeries. Unfortunately, the same process also works in the opposite way, which is then called ‘nocebo’ effect. Nocebo, derived from the Latin meaning ‘to do harm’, is a negative response to something that should cause no harm. For example, if doctors tell patients that a certain procedure will be extremely painful, the patients tend to experience significantly more pain than patients who did not get that warning. Or, if patients were given either a drug with serious side effects or a sugar pill, the patients on sugar pills experienced the same negative side effects than the people on the drugs, if they were warned in advance that those negative effects are likely.
In extreme cases, patients who were mistakenly informed that they have only a few months to live died within the time frame they were given, even though postmortem examinations showed that there was no physiological explanation for their early death. It seems as if the expectations of the patients’ physicians, their families or friends, as well as their own expectations contributed largely to their early death by ‘suggesting’ that there is no hope for them and they are going to die soon.
All these examples clearly demonstrate that it is the mind that is responsible for whether we get sick or not, whether we recover or not, and even, in extreme cases, whether we die or not.
I guess it has become very clear by now that it is absolutely essential that we make our mind our ally in our healing process.
Probably the easiest way to use our mind to heal our bodies is by using our imagination. We all use imagination daily, whether consciously or unconsciously. We use it when we plan a surprise party for a friend, our vacation, or even a business meeting. We see pictures in our mind when we describe an event, explain to someone how to get to a certain street, or write a story. And yet most people never think of using their´imagination when it comes to healing. The reason for that is that nobody ever told us about this powerful tool and explained to us how to use it.
You are creating in your mind an image of something you would like to occur or achieve in real life, such as being pain free, or moving your body fluidly and freely again after an injury, or being free of cancer, to name just a few. You could imagine, for example, that your white blood cells are an army of fearless warriors that are fighting successfully against the cancer cells in your liver, killing each one of those cells with their swords. Or you could imagine that your pain is like snow melting away on a warm spring day. It‘s like creating your own movie in your mind. You are using all of your five senses, sight, sound, touch, smell and taste, to create this image or recreate an experience of being healthy, fit and pain free. You also try to bring in strong positive emotions that would represent the achievement of your goal. This mental experience is helping your body to actually recover much faster and/or getting rid of the pain, or even destroy your cancer cells.
Using creative visualization and imagery can help you manage your pain or control your illness and complement your physical rehabilitation and other treatments. Your unconscious mind cannot distinguish between what is real and what is vividly imagined. By doing this practice daily you suggest to your unconscious mind that what you experience in your mind is real and thus installing the belief that you are already healed, healthy and pain free. And, as you know now, it is your belief that is responsible for your healing, not the pill or the surgery.