Health is not a static position. Healing is an active process, where we are constantly involved in maintaining and improving our physical, mental and emotional condition. Proper diet and exercise are necessary, as is the mental and spiritual nutrition we also provide for ourselves. Taking in or harboring bad thoughts and feelings can be just as unhealthy as eating bad food. Likewise, by reducing negative thoughts and replacing them with positive, affirmative beliefs, we can add considerably to our overall health.
heal: to make whole
Our minds, when properly used, can be incredibly powerful healing tools. The placebo effect proves that the power of suggestion can be just as effective as a pharmaceutical compound. Meditation and conscious breathing exercises can reduce stress and help the body return to a natural healing state.
I became acutely aware of the Mind-Body connection (also called the ‘hard problem’ of science) when I suffered a spinal cord injury. Although my mind was still sending the messages, and my muscles were still functioning, my legs experienced paraplegia because the signal wasn’t getting through.
Modern medicine has only had minor success with treating paralysis, but there have been some recent exciting results in clinical studies that also incorporate Virtual Reality, which ‘tricks’ the mind into thinking the limbs can move.
Most of us have had the experience of being stopped in a car or train, when the car next to us starts to move. Even though we are standing still, we feel vertigo and are thrown off balance because our mind thinks we are moving. We have an actual, physiological reaction to something that isn’t ‘real’. Or is it?
This is the concept behind a mind-body approach to reconnecting the mental signal with the physical muscles that I believe may prove significant with overcoming paralysis.
Old Meets New
While virtual reality is at the cutting edge of computer science, mental (or faith) healing is probably the oldest form of medicine in human history. Shamans and other indigenous healers envision the patient already healed, and then work backwards to ‘return’ to this state. The point is to get the mind to believe and accept that the healing has already taken place and we are just catching up to it.
This is a totally different philosophy and way of looking at things but it has worked for thousands of years. I believe that mental and faith healing, self-hypnosis, meditation and visualization are actually compatible with the modern scientific worldview of medicine, and when combined, these therapies will become even more effective and helpful for all kinds of people with all types of ailments – spiritual, mental and physical.