The Mind-Body Connection: Not just for Hippies, Yogis, & Saints

Posted On Monday, 21 January 2013
The Mind-Body Connection: Not just for Hippies, Yogis, & Saints
Simply put, my patients are intimidated by the phrase "mind-body" connection. As a cardiologist, the majority of my patients are in their 5th-8th decades of life, and they look at the "mind-body" connection in three ways.

The first is as a 70's pot smoking, acid dropping rebel. The second is as a pagan (not necessarily bad as many of my seniors have embraced eastern religions) monk who lives a simple life and meditates on a daily basis, or third as a pious Christian holy person who hits their knees in supplication on a daily basis and is a regular confession.

I explain to them what their simple mistake is; the mind-body connection does not have to be a mind-body-spirit connection; especially at first.

With any chronic disease there is either a life threatening aspect to it, a quality-of-life threatening aspect, or both. A person's perspective on their disease state can be doom and gloom, a hand-over of power, or an embracement of the issue to learn about who they are.

Medically, we know that negative emotions decrease the healing systems of the body, including the neurological system with neurotransmitters (hard to get well with adrenaline shooting though veins all day), the immune system, the endocrine system, as well as the inflammatory/anti-inflammatory components of the body.

That's a lot of damage from a poor perspective, which means that the body has to get well despite the mind.

Other patients hand over all their power to their doctors and practitioners and pray that their knowledge and strength can get them through. While this is far better then doom and gloom in reference to the body systems, the body is still missing a key component it needs to recover. For the rare patients who embrace their medical challenge, learn breathing, prayer, and medication techniques to calm the mind and administer a dose of hope which can lead to an infusion of empowerment, all of those body systems we spoke of before start working as a recovery engine to stimulate healing.

Every day now becomes an opportunity to improve rather than decline. It's huge.

Where to Start

In my opinion the first place to start is with laughter. Despite how serious your condition is, try and bring laughter into your day. There is always a funny movie or show, or speak with uplifting funny people. Next, go to a class; see your Healer, Pastor, Hippie, Lama, Rabbi, or Priest for direction. Books can be wonderful including EMBRACE, RELEASE, HEAL by Leigh Forston. In addition, if possible, exercise.

So those four steps:
  • Laughter
  • See someone who can help you
  • Read inspiring books
  • Exercise
None of these steps have to be performed in any particular order. As a matter of fact, the key is to start someplace that you are naturally attracted to.

For example, if you have always been a reader, start there. If you where a gym rat, go there. Places, which gave you comfort in the past, like a great book in a coffee bar, can still provide comfort after diagnosis.

The key, like anything in life, is to get started.

If you find yourself paralyzed like many of us get when we are scared, then reach out for a reach up. Fear is real, and can intimidate and destroy recovery. Beating fear is not a one step process. For most; it takes a collection of positives to overcome it as well as a commitment to work at it.

Yes..that is right. For most of us, beating fear requires hard work. But on the bright side, today there are more tools than ever, including all the items listed before along with a group of no cost support groups.

The key is starting.

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