How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

 

The author:  Dr. David R Hamilton has a PhD in organic chemistry. For four years he worked in the pharmaceutical industry developing drugs for cardiovascular disease and cancer.

His research on the placebo effect and mind-body connection ultimately led him to leave the drug industry to write books and educate people in how they can harness their mind and emotions to improve their health. He is now author of nine books one of which is How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body. 

I am very impressed by the amount of mind-body research that is now being done and that are being reported. Today those who still hang on to the outdated idea that is the body is just a mechanical machine and that any faulty part can be removed and replaced with no further implications may want to read this book. When Dr. Hamilton wrote this book he is not just saying things out of the blue. What he said are based on scientific research. Remember, he is a scientist! And he once worked with the drug company which he soon left.

Let me briefly tell you what I have learned after reading this book:

  1. Your brain: use it or lose it. The brain in not just an static, hard wired, jelly-like mass control centre. It is constantly changing. Everything you see, hear, touch, taste and smell changes your brain, and every thought causes microscopic changes in its structure. In a sense, thoughts leave physical traces in the brain in much the same way as we leave footsteps in the sand on the beach.

The brain is a constantly changing network of neurons and connections. And we are the cause of the change. Just like muscles, regions of the brain grow thicker as we use them — as we repeat the same movement, imagine the same thing, ponder the same thoughts, etc.

Let’s say you’ve always complained about  things. You’ll have built up brain maps that process your negative thoughts and emotions. If you decide to think more positively and focus on what you’re grateful for instead of what annoys you … you grow new maps that process your new way of thinking. Complained-based maps begins to shrink and gratitude maps expand.

The word neurogenesis is used by scientist to describe the growth and development of neurons in the brain. While this process is most active in a developing baby, it still happens in adults. We now know that living an active period of life with physical, mental and social stimulation can regenerate (or repair) damage to the brain … when we exercise or experience new things, feel excited, enthusiastic, fascinated, are in awe … experience spiritual states, neurogenesis also naturally occurs.

So learning a new language is a great way …. encourages us to use different brain areas …. learning new dances is also excellent because it involves exercise as well as the mind.

So as we go through life, no matter how old we are, if we retain our curiosity for new things and exercise our body and mind, we can mentally and physically grow younger.

  1. How the mind heals the body: Our thinking produces chemicals in the brain or neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, etc. These neurotransmitters send signals to the relevant part of the body and switch on or off certain genes. The process is rapid. Genes are activated within a few minutes — i.e. the genes have been activated by a state of mind within minutes.

The brain also produces neuropeptides. There are many different types and they’re associated with different experiences, states of mind, emotions and attitudes. For example, oxytocin is a neuropeptide that’s associated with love … feelings associated with kindness.

The neuropeptides are released into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body … and they affect the body.  Many neuropeptides are even produced in the body instead and can make their way to the brain.

Neuropeptides play an important role in the liver, kidneys, pancreas, gut, colon, reproductive organs and skin. Some affect the heart and arteries.

Given that there’s an effect of our mind on our genes, perhaps we needn’t live so much in fear if we have a family history of a disease. A change of lifestyle, attitude, behaviour or mind-set could perhaps overule some of the “bad” genes that we might have inherited.

A positive change in attitude and/or lifestyle would alter the environment in the body, affecting numerous genes in the brain and throughout the body. This could cause some of the “bad” genes to be turned down.

  1. The power of positive thinking. Optimists live longer than pessimists. Optimists … have fewer physical and emotional health problems, less pain and increased energy, and they generally felt more peaceful, happier and calmer than the pessimists.

Optimism protects you from illness …  positive attitude … can boost our immune system and therefore our ability to fight disease. As we go through our lives, our attitudes affect how we react to viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. A positive, optimistic outlook on life is ultimately better for our overall health and longevity.

  • A positive attitude is the best protection against heart disease.
  • Being supportive of another person is much better for health than holding anger and bitterness and constantly criticizing them.
  • Those who are most satisfied with their lives live longer.
  • Complaining about things and criticizing people has become a way of life for so many of us … it affects the people around us … it becomes an emotional virus that we carry around with us, infecting the people that we encounter.
  • Instead of complaining, try to focus on what you’re grateful for. Gratitude begets gratitude. The more things you focus on that you’re grateful for, the more things you notice and experience that you can be grateful for. And it’s good for your heart.
  • People who give money away are happier than those who spend it all on themselves.
  • Earning a small salary but showing generosity with it might lead to greater happiness than earning millions and spending it all on yourself.
  • It’s not just our own attitudes and how we treat ourselves that are important, but how we treat other people.
  • If we learn to see the positive side of things then we might just live longer, healthier, happier lives. A good way to do this is to stop complaining, be more grateful and be kind.
  1. The Power of Love. Love is the power to heal the body and mind.
  • Love nurtures the soul.
  • Love shifts our perception of things .. that’s where the miracle occurs — inside us.
  • Love reaches inside us and stirs something, the soul perhaps. It makes life seem different, lighter, brighter.
  • You can experience love in many ways. You can show kindness to a stranger. You can smile at someone in the street. You can spend time with an animal. Gaze deeply into the eyes of an animal, for example, and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
  • I believe that much spiritual and emotional healing, and often physical too, occurs as we tap into the capabilities we have to love. The more love we can consciously spread in the world, the more we heal ourselves.
  • We needn’t do big things to change the world. It’s the small things we do in large numbers that matter most.
  • A wise physician said to me: “I’ve been practising medicine for 30 years and I’ve prescribed many things. But in the long run I’ve learned that for most of what ails the human creature, the best medicine is love.”
  • Love cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it ~ Kari Menninger.

Through the ages, great spiritual leaders and sages taught us to love one another. Now we know that there is scientific basis for this advice. Now we know why love is so important . No, cutting each other’s throat in the name of Divine will is not going to heal us or the world.

Let me end with this passage from Colossians 3:12-14 (CEV). Paul wrote this: God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.

 

 

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