THE MIND BODY CONNECTION
Have you ever heard of the placebo effect? In a typical experiment to test a new drug patients with the targeted disease are split up into two groups: one group gets the drug and the people in the second group are told that they are getting the drug but they actually get a sugar pill that has no active ingredients. In virtually every experiment the second group shows a great improvement in their condition, and at times they show as much or more than the people who took the real medicine. Remember, these were the patients who thought they were getting the real drug but actually took a meaningless sugar pill. Clearly it was the power of their belief that activated their bodies to heal with no outside intervention. Welcome to the mind/body connection.
There are hundreds of scientific studies that conclusively prove this incredible connection between what people believe and how their bodies react.
In one such study all of the patients were warned that the drug they were being given could have toxic side effects including the loss of hair. As expected many of the people who took the real drug did experience these effects, but the stunning result was that 30% of the people who took the fake drug lost all of their hair! How could that be? You can’t lose your hair from taking a sugar pill… unless you believe that the pill is a toxic drug.
How is it that your mind alone is capable of creating amazing physical and chemical respon-ses in your body? What is the process that transmits the power of your feelings and emotions from the brain to your cells? A simplified version of what happens goes something like this: Your brain employs a very efficient messenger service that immediately alerts the cells in your body whenever it is experiencing a thought or emotion. So for example, when you are having a joyful feeling your brain automatically sends special messenger molecules (called peptides) throughout your body spreading the good news that a happy emotion is being felt. When each of these molecules arrives at a cell it plugs into the cell wall at a special receptor point – like a key going into a lock. Once this “key” fits the messenger is then able to communicate with the DNA in the nucleus of the cell. In this example it “tells” the DNA that you are feeling joy and instructs it to produce the specific chemicals that are associated with that delightful emotion. This happens in trillions of cells at the same moment creating changes in your body which reflect that happy feeling.
All of your thoughts and emotions trigger this same process – first they are experienced in the brain; then they are communicated to your cells; finally the DNA in the cells is instructed to change your body chemistry. Positive ideas and beliefs send messages that help to create health and healing, while negative ones do the opposite. Perhaps if we can learn how to transmit the right signals to our DNA by managing our thoughts and emotions we will be able to treat many physical conditions without the use of harmful drugs or surgery.
This mind/body connection could be the foundation of a revolutionary new way of promoting good health and healing, yet conventional medicine has been slow to embrace it. Healing through non-physical means does not fit within their prevailing philosophy. One is reminded of the famous quote from Schopenhauer:
“All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as being self-evident.”
It would seem that with regard to the mind/body connection we have passed through most of the first stage and are now firmly within the second stage. Yet despite the resistance of some in the scientific community there continues to be considerable research into how we can learn to use our intentions, beliefs and perceptions to create health and well-being.
Some day this work will lead us to Schopenhauer’s third stage when everyone will acknowledge that the human body is not merely a complex machine, but is in fact a vibrant energy center which responds holistically both to physical stimulation and to the power of consciousness.
Text: Jerry Brownstein