I watched an interesting documentary recently, entitled “Heal.” It is an apt title, as the thesis of the film focuses on the impact our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions have on our health and the ability of the body to heal itself.
In the movie, leading scientists and spiritual teachers such as Deepak Chopra, Bruce Lipton and Joan Borysenko provide new understanding of the miraculous nature of the human body and its power to restore the degenerative effects of even the most fearful prognosis. The fact is we have more control over our health and life than we have been taught to believe.
It surprises me when people are skeptical when contemplating the concept that a physical pain/ailment might by psychosomatic. Are not the mind, body and spirit connected?
As I explain to my clients, we think in our minds. It is the storehouse of our thoughts both conscious and subconscious.
We feel in our bodies. What we call feelings are our thoughts experienced as physical sensations, or emanations of energy.
And our spirit is our witness. It is our conscious awareness of the unconscious, as in the part of us that in the morning reports our dreams of the previous night.
Just as the mind, body and spirit are interconnected, so are their manifestations: beliefs, feelings and behaviors (how we respond to that which we have witnessed).
If we separate these interconnected aspects of who we are, the absence of one from the other keeps us from being fully balanced. Consequently, if you have a negative thought, the feelings will also be negative and the behaviors that ensue will validate the belief. Fortunately, we can change this adverse result by understanding the relationship of the triad; we can choose to change one part of the trio and the other two will follow suit.
When fully equalized, mind, body and spirit functioning in harmony, we perform at our full potential; i.e. capable of restoring ourselves to health!
Because these concepts are new for most of us it’s helpful to expand a bit on the explanation of ‘feelings as energy waves.’ (Think e-motion, energy in motion). Problems occur when we cling to energy in our bodies without discharging it in a benign way. The trapped energy is what causes stress.
And when we are under stress, the body’s biology goes under the influence of what is known as the sympathetic nervous system, which controls most of the body’s internal organs as part of the body’s visceral, or unconscious behavior mechanism. Let’s use as an illustration a situation where we are put under the most extreme instance of the body under stress. A predator – let’s make it a giant crocodile – is speeding towards you. Immediately the sympathetic nervous system kicks into survival mode. In order to protect you it offers four choices of behavior: fight, flight, freeze or fragment and to save yourself from the gaping jaws you select one based on your temperament.
The stress that you feel during a normal day is not likely to involve a fearsome crocodile. But the body doesn’t know the difference! It only knows that you are under ’attack.’ And responds to the trapped energy – the stress you feel – accordingly. You are left to fight the problem, flee from it, become immobilized by it or go to pieces!
Now let’s introduce the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system that controls the body’s internal organs when the body is at rest, relaxed rather than under stress. Whereas the sympathetic nervous system typically functions in actions requiring quick responses, the parasympathetic division functions when immediate reaction is not required. One is complementary to the other, accelerator working as partner to the brake.
Ideally (unless there really is a predator nipping at our heels) we would want to dissipate the stress that is limiting our choice to flight, fight, freeze or fragment; preferable is the triggering of the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows us infinite choices of benign rather than menacing behavior.
How do we make that shift? How do we release stress and thereby change our behavior and our thoughts by changing the way we feel?
Back to the premise of the documentary: accept the connection between our mind, body and spiritual energy as do many eminent medical doctors and academics that have authored studies that make the case for self-healing and the role our mind plays in our own curative process.
There is a lot of research that makes the case for the connection. It’s been shown that if the body is stressed an excess of cortisol is released making healing difficult; conversely, the shift to a more relaxed emotional state releases the healing hormone, serotonin.
For over twenty years I have been using various processes that incorporate these principles: hypnotherapy, Psych-K, EMDR, Mindfulness and Kundalini Yoga. I am heartened to see that what once was considered voodoo has become more mainstream.
My book, “The In-Sourcing Handbook: where and how to find the happiness you deserve,” further explores the premise of the documentary, “Heal.” Investigating how our beliefs and attitudes, both positive and negative can affect our health, makes for a fascinating conversation that can lead to unexpected healing. Call me if you are interested in scheduling a session.
With love and light,
Arlene Englander, LCSW