By Gilbert Ross|
The idea that the mind affects the body to varying degrees has been a widely established fact for a long time. From simple pain relief to anesthetic-free surgery performed under the effect of hypnosis, there is countless evidence that shows the extent at which the mind can affect the body’s system and functioning. If all these cases were compiled under one body of knowledge or research, it would supersede all the medical archives we have available. But should we even be surprised?
There’s Nothing Exceptional about Self-Healing
Some of these cases are unexplainable within the parameters of Science or medical research. Most highlighted are cases where people with medically certified terminal illnesses such as cancer or tumors have unexpectedly healed despite not being cured when standard treatments were applied. Baffled doctors, scientists and researchers relegate such cases as unexplainable exceptions or a ‘miraculous’ twist of fate. Yet such cases are far from marginal or exceptional. They sum up to thousands beyond thousands of cases.
The Limits of Western Science & the Placebo Effect.
So what is going on? Are these cases quirks of nature or undeniably clear examples of mind over body? Can self-healing be put under a scientific lens? I believe that this is one of the many areas where the materialistic view of Science clearly fails to explain recurrent phenomena. The western scientific view on health is too narrowly dissected. It lacks perspective on the wider framework. For instance there is very little understanding on how the body processes information at an energetic, cellular, organ and up to system level. Also, how consciousness affects these information processes.
In blind test studies, a control group is given an non-active substance or therapy while they believe they are given the real thing. When positive results are observed in the control group, they are said to manifest the so-called Placebo affect and the effectiveness of the cure is measured in how much greater it is than the Placebo. Here is a list of some extremely powerful placebo effects:
Depression: Placebos reducing depression affect many of the same areas that are activated by antidepressants with the addition of the prefrontal cortex.
Caffeine: Placebo-caffeinated coffee causes an increase in bilateral dopamine release in the thalamus.
Glucose: The expectation of an intravenous injection of glucose increases the release of dopamine in the basal ganglia of men (but not women).
Methylphenidate: The expectation of intravenous injection of this drug in inexperienced drug users increased the release of dopamine in the ventral cingulate gyrus and nucleus accumbens, with this effect being largest in those with no prior experience of the drug.
Depression (again): In 1998, a meta-analysis of published antidepressant trials found that 75% of the effectiveness of anti-depressant medication is due to the placebo effect and other non-specific effects, rather than the treatment itself.
Of course what is funny is that the Placebo effect is a powerful phenomena of mind-body healing staring scientists right in the eyes and should be a most important subject of study in itself!
The Bio-Energetic Information System
Ancient Eastern medicine was more forward in understanding health holistically and seeing the mind-body unit as a wide information network with ‘information’ passing through energy meridians that interface with the physical body in certain energy centers known as the chakras. Modern medicine can only see a tumor to the extent of cells reproducing under a microscope or in a CT scan and limits itself to see the cause and effect of how such cell proliferation can be slowed down through radiation or a administration of drugs.
Scientists from Finland have recently been able to use topographic methods to see what the effects different emotions have on body temperature and other sensations in the body. What’s interesting is that after five experiments and over 700 participants, there was an outstanding degree of accuracy between where people said they felt a certain emotion on their body and where that emotion showed up on their body using topography. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
Most basic emotions were associated with sensations of elevated activity in the upper chest area, likely corresponding to changes in breathing and heart rate (1). Similarly, sensations in the head area were shared across all emotions, reflecting probably both physiological changes in the facial area (i.e., facial musculature activation, skin temperature, lacrimation) as well as the felt changes in the contents of mind triggered by the emotional events. Sensations in the upper limbs were most prominent in approach-oriented emotions, anger and happiness, whereas sensations of decreased limb activity were a defining feature of sadness. Sensations in the digestive system and around the throat region were mainly found in disgust. In contrast with all of the other emotions, happiness was associated with enhanced sensations all over the body.
Mental and emotional states greatly influence the body, and vice versa. These causes and effects have been known to be there for millennia and many ancient practices such as Yoga and Tai Qi were refined over centuries to hack this vital bio-energetic information system.
Merging the Old and New Data
Not all is gloom and doom for western medicine though. Apart from large steps forward in technology, there has also been a good amount of research – especially in neuroscience – that consolidates ancient knowledge with scientific data. For instance, there has been a lot of research data over the recent years which sheds more light on the link between meditation practice and a host of health benefits such as improved cognitive functions (memory, learning, focus and attention), emotional health (ability to manage emotions, openness, creativity, positive attitude, general happiness, low stress levels) and improved body health ( less risk of heart problems, increased immunity and improved longevity). All these links have been corroborated by hard scientific data in rigorous experimental environments ( meditators were connected to fMRI and EEG devices with proper controls and data measures).
Communicating in Waves
The bright side of the coin is that both scientific research on meditation and also close observations in hypnotherapy are a big step forward in understanding how the mind affects the body by accessing certain trance states and talking directly to the subconscious.
In hypnosis, for instance, the hypnotist induces the patient into a trance state in which there is an open communication with the subconscious. This is a very powerful and effective way of re-programming the mind to change habits, attitudes and do all sorts of psychosomatic effects such as alleviating pain, managing anxiety and completely healing different disorders and conditions (ex. gastrointestinal, dermatological, cardiovascular and respiratory disorders).
Both meditation and hypnosis access what is known as Alpha and Theta mind states. These are deeper states of consciousness where the communication between mind and body (and also between left and right brain hemispheres) seems to be more fluent and coherent. In an Alpha state, the brain emits slower and longer brainwaves than normal waking consciousness – a reflection of a calmer, mindful state. In deep meditation, for example, EEG maps show that the brain is predominantly in a Theta state, an even deeper state than the Alpha and which borders between wakefulness and sleep. In this state, the brain is even more suggestive to whatever the mind focuses its intention on – most interesting example being self-healing.
These Alpha and Theta states of mind can be accessed in meditation, self-hypnosis or what is called brainwave entrainment (a method I use regularly with success). However it’s not only about accessing these states of consciousness but how to channel them into practical application such as self-healing. For example, I have on several occasions alleviated pain (such as sciatic nerve pain or mild migraines) using brainwave entrainment. Brainwave entrainment is basically using certain sound tracks to entrain the brain to enter into the alpha, theta or delta state. Although I do it myself, I am no expert to give step by step instructions. I have learned how to apply brainwave entrainment in programs such as this which I highly recommend if you want to expert guidance.
The Future of Self-Healing Technology
I believe the future holds grand promises in understanding our inner capacity for self-healing. As more science research merges with ancient knowledge we are beginning to get a grasp of the mind-body-energy communication as a holistic and transformative effect rather than a Placebo effect.
We will gain more insight into how deeper levels of consciousness read and write information in the bio-energetic field of the body at the quantum, cellular and organism levels. Moreover, with technology at the hands of the masses such as EEG headbands, bio-feedback devices and brainwave entrainment technology, you and I can both be users and experimenters at the same time thus enriching the body of knowledge by sharing personal experiences and discoveries.
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