Saturday, December 08, 2012

Mind ~ Body Connection

The thoughts we choose to think are the tools we use to paint the canvas of our lives. –Louise L. Hay

     Let’s look at this thing called the ‘placebo effect’. Deepak Chopra loves using this starting point to explain psychosomatic (mind-body) links. Every objective scientific study of a drug / nutrient’s effect on disease includes one set of people being given the healing substance while another similar set of people receive something they think is the cure. Why do scientists do this? It is based on the fact that if someone just believes they are being cured, there is a statistically significant chance that they will become well.

     Scientists have known for decades that stress raises blood pressure and increases risk of having a heart attack. Emotional or Mental Stress, in fact is a major contributor to ill health and chronic disease by virtue of the hormonal changes it causes in the body. Cortisol, adrenaline and nor-adrenaline (steroid hormones) are the main causes of this slow rise in inflammation which in turn causes many other complaints and conditions including the common cold. These hormones trigger a domino effect involving most of the important systems in our body, ultimately leading to acute and chronic disease.
     Imagine a child living in an environment with parents fighting constantly, separated or even divorced. How about the school environment? They are vulnerable to bullying, corporal punishment, being snubbed by peers, etc. If the effects of stress can be severe for adults, they are devastating for children. There are many instances when a child presents with symptoms of illness, the doctor is puzzled because there is nothing physically wrong. In such instances doctors and parents should investigate into the stress levels of the child and invite him / her to communicate what they are feeling and dealing with.

     Sometimes stress levels increase after being diagnosed with a disease. You start worrying about the future and whether you’ll overcome it. There may be many treatments with side effects which can cause additional alarm. I’ve noticed many times with couples that if one partner has Diabetes, the other partner develops hypertension – my theory is that it is stressful to live with, take care of and be concerned about your life partner.

     This may not just be limited to blood pressure and Diabetes, many other conditions can also manifest. In fact doctors report the highest rates of cancer among caregivers (nurses, carers of invalids, etc). Keeping a positive outlook, laughing often, communicating freely to your loved ones while taking treatment often works miracles.

     There is a branch of science which deals with the effect of mental and emotional state on the immune system. It is called Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). It’s been around since the 1800’s but is only now being explored with studies confirming the points made in the previous paragraphs.

     How do you now implement this knowledge in your lives? What steps can you take to maintain health right up to the end? It starts with being open, being aware that life works in mysterious ways to give you what you want. 

     Look at the list of recommended reading, try at least one of these eye-opening books and actually practice what these teachers suggest. What else can you do? Take the time to create balance and develop resilience to the hard knocks that life frequently deals out. Work at being calm in trying situations by meditating for some time every day. Work to overcome any addictions (food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, etc.) and above all – take care of yourself. Do things that please your inner self, invest in your hobbies and passions and laugh heartily at least ten times a day.

     If you are still sceptical at this point, maybe it’s not time for you to begin this journey. However, if you or someone close to you has an illness / condition or even have a family history of some disorder, consider giving this path a chance. Dig deeper and find a profound new way to care for your health.

Some good starting points:

Louise Hay: ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ also a movie with the same title.

Deepak Chopra: ‘Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’, ‘Creating Health’, ‘Perfect Health’.

Rhonda Byrne: ‘The Secret’.........also made into a movie.

Paula Horan: ‘Abundance through Reiki’....while you can learn more about Reiki through reading, you have to undergo ‘Attunement’ from a Reiki Master to actually begin practising.

This article was published in 'Life in Adyar', October 20, 2012.

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