Sometime in the 1920s, scientist Dr. Walter Cannon identified the fight-or-flight response where a threat, perceived by the mind led the body to secrete hormones. The hormones he discovered quickened the heart rate and increased breathing that provided a person necessary tools to defend themselves and react faster.
Correspondingly, placebos, empty capsules disguised as medication were used to trick the mind into believing it was getting better. In response to consuming the empty capsules, the body healed like the mind intended.
Feeling happier after a rigorous workout, getting sweaty palms when you are nervous and feeling a rush after a satisfying sexual experience are all examples of how there exists an irrefutable connection between the mind and body.
How can you best utilize this connection?
In an era where Western medicine dominates healthcare practices, alternate therapies like yoga and meditation are increasingly and effectively being utilized to treat pain, injuries and even sexual dysfunction. It’s a resurgence of sorts in the healthcare sector.
According to Manasi Thakker, a Mumbai-based Tantric healer, believing in cellular healing is the first step to utilizing it.
Four years ago, when she began experiencing chronic migraines and the pills stopped helping, she started exploring techniques of visualization to soothe her pain. Each time she would experience a migraine, she would imagine herself in a room with cooling colors oozing out of her head. Over time, the pain would subside and finally stop. “It’s a skill you build over time. Some practitioners have gotten so good that they can now even heal others with positive vibrations,” she claims.
It’s a tool that cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson, identified as the “relaxation response.” Dr. Benson demonstrated that meditation and other relaxation techniques can induce physiological changes. For example, during a massage, the heart and breathing rates slow and the blood pressure reduces. The body also reduces production of stress hormones like serotonin resulting in one feeling calmer. As a result, the physical stimulus has an effect on the mind.
The modern medical concept of biofeedback stems from the same ideology. Discovered in 2008, it uses instruments to monitor body function such as heart rate, pressure, muscle activity, breathing, skin temperature, etc. in relation to brainwaves. By making people aware of the changes in the mind that can consequently cause changes in their body, they are taught to better control their reactions.
How does it work?
Techniques such as prayers, hypnosis, Tai Chi and the arts such as painting, singing and music have proven to have delivered results similar to Cellular healing and meditation.
Renowned neuroscientist Dr. Candace Pert propounded that healing is essentially a reaction of biochemicals on the body? According to Dr. Pert, our body is constantly moving from good health to bad. Like our emotions, the body reacts to situations and the environment.
Yoga guru Suneel Singh says this connection is the reason why, at times, emotional turbulence turn into illnesses. “It causes back pain, dry mouth, fatigue, insomnia and weight loss or gain. All we see with the naked eye is the physical illness and not the psychological reasons causing the illness. Treating the deeper, psychological issues will resolve both,” says Singh.
Singh suggests you ensure that you pay as much attention to emotional fitness as you would pay to physical well-being. Without enough time to let the body rest, it begins to ache with fatigue. Similarly, the mind needs rest as well. “Ensure you don’t compromise on ‘me time’. Read a book, take a walk or cook. Doing things you enjoy will help keep your mood elevated,” he says.
Keep at it
One thing both doctors and healers using alternative methods advise is to consistently maintain a balance between body and mind. Meditating even when the body is not in discomfort is a healthy practice. “This increases our consciousness of ourselves,” Manasi states.