I recently read a very interesting book by Lissa Rankin, M.D. The book was entitled “Mind Over Medicine”, and it really got me thinking about my own life, as well as my own strengths and abilities, at least in regard to my health. The basis of the book, which was written by a medical doctor who became frustrated with modern medicine, focuses on the amazing and powerful abilities we all hold within ourselves to heal. Don’t get me wrong; Dr. Rankin believes modern medicine most certainly has its place in the world. However, she advocates that we also have the ability within ourselves to heal and change certain circumstances.
Have you ever believed something so strongly that it felt true? Have you ever been convinced of an outcome ever before you engaged in an activity, and then you found the outcome you predicted was, indeed, the outcome you experienced? The mind can be a very influential force in your life. Rankin points this out in her book, citing a variety of studies. She talks extensively about what is known as the “placebo effect” – the effect of a treatment (actually a non-treatment passed off as a treatment) to heal people. She discusses the success of these “treatments” based on how these treatments are given to the patients. For example, she points out two different examples of how the placebo effect works. In one study, patients were given a saline solution and told it was chemotherapy – 30 percent of the patients actually experienced nausea and hair loss (side effects of actual chemotherapy). In another study, patients who were told their conditions were “terminal” or treatment options were limited actually got sicker; however, when doctors were optimistic and gave their patients hope, the patients showed significant improvement.
So, can the mind heal us from terminal illness? Well, there certainly are stories of miracles, of people recovering from a death sentence from which there was supposedly no treatment. Rankin truly believes that the mind-body connection is a strong one, and it is one we can learn to harness and use to our advantage. So, just how can we harness the power of our mind and live a healthier life? Here are a few suggestions:
There is great power in positive thinking. It reminds me of people who suffer from the common cold; if they mope around and believe the sickness has “got the best of them”, well, it usually does. They feel worse and it takes them longer to recover. But, people who fight through the cold, believe they will recover quickly and go about their daily life tend to experience fewer symptoms and do have a shorter recovery time. Practice positive thinking on a daily basis – wake up and recite a positive affirmation, and then do so at other times throughout the day (whether you think you need it or not). You’d be surprised how this makes you feel better – both mentally and physically.
Know your purpose
Having a purpose and focus in life gives you meaning and incentive to live. In fact, a study done involving patients with terminal lung cancer found that those who had a sense of purpose and spirituality lived longer and felt better than those who did not. I’m not saying you need to start attending Church every Sunday to live to be 100; rather, I am telling you to find something in your life with meaning that you feel comfortable standing for – a connection of sorts. Having that connection can act as a “life line” and provide you with comfort and stability when times get tough.
Daily meditation has healing powers for many people. Studies done on the impact of meditation demonstrated that it can boost immune system functioning, slow down the aging process and trigger changes in a person’s amygdala, the portion of the brain that deals with the stress response.
If you are interested in learning more about how to unleash the healing power of your mind, I recommend reading Lissa Rankin’s book, “Mind Over Medicine”. Although it might not changed your life as it did mine, it still helps you understand that mind-body connection in more detail, and it gives you a solid base for understanding how to utilize your own mind as a healing entity.