The Healer Within
We are born with an innate ability to heal ourselves. If this were not true, we would quickly succumb to the millions of deadly microbes that inhabit our lungs and digestive tracts. These bugs are monitored and kept in check by the inner healer, the autonomic nervous system. It also controls how fast your heart beats, the rate of your breathing, how you walk, how you stand, and how fast blood pumps through your veins. It coordinates all functions of the body, including the immune system. Do you have to think about healing a broken bone? No. Your inner self maintains a constant vigil, overseeing every bodily process. We are truly amazing organisms.
You have a new liver every six weeks, and 98 percent of the atoms in our bodies are renewed every year. The power that made the body is ultimately the power that heals it.
Understanding this concept can be intimidating. Medicine has been blinded by science and has largely neglected the profound influence of our higher selves. Health professions are known as the “healing arts,” yet the art of medicine has been too often replaced with brain scans and drug therapies. But true health is more than the absence of disease. It is optimal physical, chemical, and spiritual well-being.
I suggest a new paradigm, one that considers the role of our inner selves in determining our state of health.
Mind Chatter and Responsive Thoughts
Our minds never stop chattering. We – consciously or subconsciously – take in, sort, analyze, and respond to billions of thoughts each day. This constant chatter, if not checked, begins to take its toll on our mental and physical well-being. Negative thoughts can create a blueprint for the subconscious mind to rely on. A few negative thoughts a day aren’t so bad, but 30 years of incessant worry shapes who we become as people, our personality. Your script is being written and rewritten every day by every thought you have.
I could write a lengthy chapter about all the mind-body studies and how they relate to emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, and chemical health, but I think it’s really this simple: Do you feel better or worse when you are laughing? How about scowling? It doesn’t take a scientific study of brain scans and heart monitors to know the answers.
Have you ever tried to stay sad or angry when smiling at yourself in the mirror? You can’t do it. This is because the muscles in the face, when contracted into a smile, trigger the brain to release happy hormones. I’ve found I feel and look my best when I’m physically and mentally rested. When I make the time to tone down the mind chatter and begin to listen to my inner voice, I find health, vitality, and joy are the rewards.
I’m not implying that you can think, meditate, or even pray yourself free of ailments. We can’t always control life’s obstacles, but we can control how we respond to them. Neglecting your inner self – your life essence – while attempting to overcome some life obstacle is like trying to use a magnifying glass to watch a big-screen movie. Remove the magnifying glass and take in the big picture.
Regarding poor health, don’t just focus on covering up symptoms with chemicals or physical therapies.
In order to heal yourself, you must begin to realize that true health comes from within. Your state of health is largely determined by how well you recognize this concept and your willingness to listen and trust your inner self.
The Healing Power of Prayer
Although 95 percent of Americans believe in God, most doctors are uncomfortable discussing spiritual matters. This is sad, since 60 percent of the population would like to discuss spiritual issues with their doctors and 40 percent would like for their doctors to pray with them.
The effects of prayer are numerous: less anxiety, stress, and anger; lowered resting pulse rate and blood pressure; increased production of “happy hormones”; and increased pain threshold.
In addition, prayer and other spiritual practices tap into the mind-body connection. They have a calming effect that involves every system in the body, including the nervous system, immune system, endocrine (hormonal) system, digestive system, and cardiovascular system. One study involving individuals with HIV showed that participation in religious or spiritual activities substantially improved immune function.
One of the most talked-about studies evaluating the positive benefits of prayer was published in The Southern Medical Journal in 1988. It involved 393 hospitalized patients who were equally divided into two groups: one group served as the control and was treated with traditional medical care alone; the second group received prayer along with traditional medical care. Neither group, nor their doctors, knew who was receiving prayer from third parties. The group receiving prayer had these remarkable results: they had fewer congestive heart failures (8 versus 20), fewer of them needed diuretics (5 versus 15), they experienced fewer cardiac arrests (3 versus 14), they had fewer episodes of pneumonia (3 versus 13), fewer of them were prescribed antibiotics (3 versus 17), and they generally required less medication than the control group, who received no prayer from the volunteer third parties.