The mind-body principle has been at the foundation of every healing tradition of the world, for millennia. In the last 300 years Western Medicine moved away from this ancient principle. And yet, the father of Western Medicine, Hippocrates, twenty five hundred years ago said, “I would rather know what sort of a person has a disease, than what sort of a disease a person has. He understood that people’s inner environment, their emotional, social, and spiritual life is as important as their physical symptoms. And a conflict or lack of balance on one level of being is always mirrored on all other levels.
Scientific research of the last two decades confirms this wisdom. Twenty six years ago Dr. Jankins, at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare of Massachusetts conducted a study on the factors that increase the risk of heart attack before the age of fifty. The factors that are commonly identified by modern medicine as being at the root of the problem are: smoking, diabetes, excessive weight, high blood pressure, and a high cholesterol level. To his amazement, Dr. Jankins found that 85% of over 900 people in the study who had their first heart attack before the age 50 did not smoke, did not have diabetes, did not have high blood pressure, did not have high cholesterol, and were not overweight. Dr. Jankins found the best predictor that a person will have a first heart attack before the age of 50 was…JOB DISSATISFACTION! This was one common feature that united them all.
The former chief of biological psychiatry at the National Institutes of Health, Candace Pert, said, “In every cell interpretations are registered as physical events.” Being unhappy with one’s job is hardly a physical problem, and yet the body does it’s own interpretation.
After reading this study on heart attacks, Dr. Muller at the National Institutes of Health did something that he himself called a crazy idea. Dr. Muller did a computer search on the distribution of heart attacks on different days of the week. He found that more people die on one particular day of the week. Guess what day? That’s right--Monday. This is a great achievement of civilized human beings. Apparently animals do not know the difference between Monday and Wednesday. What time, do you think, on Monday? Yes, between 8 and 9 in the morning. The MEANING behind this sad fact can be identified as people using their willpower to get up and go to work but their hearts literally said, “NO” or “I would rather be dead than go to work.”
It is no news that our emotions play a role in how we feel physically. We are much more than physical machines--bundles of nerves, muscles, bone, and blood vessels. We love, we resent, we regret, we forgive, or we have difficulties forgiving. We live in the emotional reality as much as the physical reality. But the link between physical and emotional realities is MEANING.
For example, imagine you are taking a shortcut through the park after a late night movie. Suddenly you hear quick steps behind you… A thought, “Someone is after me,” produces an instant response: digestion slows down, breathing becomes faster, and heart rate increases. Sugars and fats pour into the blood to provide fuel for quick energy. This physiological cascade is automatic. It is commonly called the" flight-or-fight" response. Now, think of a similar situation, but when you hear the steps you recognize, they are from your dear, long-lost friend. You smile. Your heart rate increases, but this time your blood is flooded with interleukins, which strengthen your immune system. The difference between these two responses lies only in the way you interpreted the meaning of the steps you heard behind you.
Remember, as Candace Pert says, “In every cell interpretations are registered as physical events.” Consciously or, most often, unconsciously we interpret the meaning of our life circumstances, our relationships, the obstacles that arise in our lives... And if our inner interpretations are registered by our bodies… think of what our body does if our mind is saying, “I have no way out,” or, “I can not live through this,” or, “it is heartbreaking,” or, “I can not take it, or swallow it, or digest it."
Our inner life is literally charting the course for the body to follow. The physical symptom most of the time is the last factor of the imbalance to be manifested. As Dr. Scott Peck said, “The symptoms and the illness are not the same thing. The illness exists long before symptoms. Rather than being the illness, the symptoms are the beginning of cure.”
How can it be, you may ask, that the symptoms are the beginning of cure? Simply because the symptoms not only tell you that something is off balance, but also reveal the meaning of the illness.
It is not too difficult to identify the meaning of the physical symptoms. One needs only to think of the meaning of the organs that are afflicted.
Let’s say THE EYES. What is the MEANING or the function of the EYES? To see. So, if one has problems with vision, there might be an issue about being able to see something in one’s life.
It has been my experience that people who have digestive problems often have in their lives circumstances or people that they have difficulties to stomach, or to digest.
Woman with breast cancer often have issues with nourishment (not having been nourished as children, not nourishing themselves in the present time, not having nourishing relationships, etc.). One way or another the issue of nourishment is often involved.
Ovarian cancer or prostate cancer often reflects the issues around children or procreation.
Heart problems are often associated with grief or issues around love.
Notice many times the word “OFTEN” is repeated. That is because since each person is unique–the meaning of organs, life events, relationships is also uniquely individual, and we have to look at every person and every illness within the context of their unique individuality and life circumstances.
It is absolutely important to treat the physical symptoms of the illness, preferably using natural, non-invasive methods. But it is my belief that when illness re-occurs, it is because only the symptoms were cured, the root of the illness was not addressed. Regardless of what modality for dealing with the physical symptom we chose, unless we identify and address the meaning that lies at the genesis of the illness, there might be a temporary cure but no healing of the whole person.
In the Mind-Body Approach to Healing, first and foremost, people are guided to find the meaning of their illness. Then, the are taught mental techniques necessary for making life changes, techniques that enhance the healing process of the body, and techniques that integrate physical and emotional healing.
This approach to healing is an ancient and comprehensive tradition. But then, how do we know that I can be helpful to you? We don’t. There is no way one can be taught about the process, unless one experiences it. So, you are invited not to trust the writer, but to trust your own feelings, your intuition. If what you just read about the MIND-BODY CONNECTION does not resonate in you as true, well, then you spent a few minutes on reading about yet another approach to health and healing. If it does resonate--I am looking forward to meeting you in person.