Since we are aware of the mind body connection, we may question, which part is more influential, the body or the mind? That is a question that science is slowly beginning to answer.
My personal experience has taught me that the body affects the mind as well as the mind affects the body although I believe that the mind is the true source of the things that go on inside the body. For example, when a person experiences mental/emotional trauma, it not only alters their state of mind but also the condition of their brain and body as well. Science has proven this therefore we cannot separate the mind from the body.
EMOTIONAL STRESS AND THE BODY
There is clear research to indicate that emotional stress has a tremendous effect on the body. The question becomes, is stress harmful or helpful? If you ask the question, most people would say that stress is bad for you. Interestingly though, through my own studies I have come to realize that not all stress is bad and can even be viewed as good. There is a name for good stress, it is called “Eustress.”
According to Merriam Webster, eustress is a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being. If you think about it, some stressful events like planning a wedding, having a baby, getting a huge promotion or taking a vacation, all have some form of stress involved. Although they can all be stressful events, they also can bring much joy and happiness to our lives. The interesting thing about stress is that it can be used to help us or hurt us and that depends on the way that we look at it.
PERCEPTION IS KEY
A few years ago, one of my psychology students sent me a video that changed the way that I perceived stress in my own personal life. According to this YouTube video on Ted Talk about stress, a study was done that tracked 30,000 adults in the U.S. for 8 years. According to this study, something great was discovered.
What researchers found was that 43% of those participants were found to have an increased risk of dying due to stress. More importantly, the researchers also discovered that those same participants only had an increased risk of death because…. THEY ALL BELIEVED THAT STRESS WAS BAD FOR THEM! If you want to watch the video CLICK HERE.
As a psychologist who is interested in health and the affect that thoughts have on our health, this study really got my attention. Do our thoughts and beliefs have the power to cause disease? If you believe this study, the answer is yes!
THOUGHTS AND PHYSICAL DISEASE
More studies are being done and we are discovering how the brain and the body interact. When most people think of the brain they also think of the mind but they are not the same.
The mind involves many aspects like thinking, emotion, attitude, memories, our will, etc. On the other hand, our brain is an organ through which thoughts are transmitted. According to MedicineNet.com, the brain is a portion of the central nervous system that is located within the skull. It functions as a primary receiver, organizer, and distributor of information for the body. It has a right half and a left half, each of which is called a hemisphere.
Through my studies, I have come across some profound teachings concerning the impact of thoughts on our health. It is education that may seem unbelievable to someone that holds a strong opinion to the contrary.
One of the teachings that I have come to believe is that most, if not all, of the physical disease that people encounter come from a person’s thought life.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology and a BSc in Logopedics and Audiology, specializing in metacognitive and cognitive neuropsychology, has made some groundbreaking discoveries in mental health.
Dr. Leaf has written many books, including one entitled Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health. According to Dr. Leaf, the vast majority--a whopping 75-98 percent--of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. She also states that 87-95% of all mental, emotional and physical illness is a direct result of our thinking and that 98% of cancers come from our thought life.
You can imagine the opposition that she must face from those in the medical field, who believe physical disease comes from environmental influences, diet, infection and genetics. I believe that there is much more to the equation. Based on experience, I personally believe that toxic thinking causes physical changes of toxicity in our bodies. Furthermore, I believe that you must deal with it at the root level if healing is to occur. The root is the mind.
If you believe that thoughts create emotions and emotions affect our physical health then you might tend to agree with the teachings of Dr. Leaf.
OVERCOMING THE MENTAL STIGMA
More people are realizing the impact that our thought life has on our health and science is disproving some of what the medical model has taught us for years. We have become more open minded concerning our health. With the promotion of natural medicine and spirituality, there is much more hope that healing is possible. My motto is “do not accept a diagnosis of disease unless you are also told that you can be healed as well!”
Finally, one last thought that I would like to suggest. If we are to believe that the source of physical disease stems from a mental source, can we further conclude that everybody that has ever lived could have been considered mentally ill at some level? Let that thought sink in for a moment. If you can grasp it, then you must agree that our society should adamantly reject the whole stigma of mental illness. Let’s face it, we all have stuff, most of us just don’t want to admit to it because of the shame and disgrace associated with it. In fact, a major part of the healing process comes from revealing what has been hidden.
A teacher and personal mentor of mine by the name of Dr. Ed Smith, Founder of Transformational Prayer Ministry, has often stated, “it takes a lot less energy to admit that we are a mess than to pretend that we are not!”