We humans are complex, to say the least and some of our complexity may forever be a mystery. However, due to discoveries in various fields, we now know more than ever about the intricate connection between the mind, body, and spirit. In her book, Goddesses Never Age, Christiane Northrup, M.D., stresses the importance of addressing the mind-body-spirt connection in healing. She states that “most ailments aren’t simply caused by a virus or single physical agent. They always have mental, emotional and spiritual or energetic aspects to them. The best approach to health conditions is to acknowledge and address them through a holistic mind-body-spirit approach to wellness, not just a physical intervention.”
Opening the Door to Transformation
Current research proves that our thoughts and emotions affect our physical health. Cellular biologist, Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. in his book, The Biology of Belief, shows that genes and DNA do not control our biology. Instead, DNA is controlled by signals outside the cell -- including energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts. Hence, it is important to focus the mind on the positive. Since we have approximately 70,000 thoughts per day, this may seem like a daunting task. However, there are many tools like affirmations, Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and meditation which can help focus the mind and change our thought patterns. Another challenge in addressing the mind is that 90% of the mind is subconscious. Fortunately, there are a number of techniques and therapies which we can use to make the unconscious conscious, thereby opening the door to transformation.
Disease, Health, and the Power of Emotions
The health of the body has a profound impact on our thoughts and our emotions. Anyone who has suffered a long bout of the flu can attest to getting mentally depressed and emotionally frustrated. An example of how physical health affects the emotions is a woman experiencing hormonal imbalances who will report her emotions are all over the board – she may feel happy one moment and angry and erratic the next.
Neuroscientist, Candace B. Pert, Ph.D., was a major contributor to the area of Mind-Body Medicine. She researched how the emotions act like drugs in the brain and body, storing both vital and also fatal memories. In her book, Molecules of Emotion, Dr. Pert states: “Why we feel the way we feel is the result and harmony of our own molecules of emotion that affect every aspect of our physiology, producing good health or miserable disease.” Consequently, it is crucial to heal the causes of our negative emotions as they will affect both our physical and mental health. Again, there are many tools available to heal the emotions so we can enjoy good health on all levels.
The Human Spirit: Achieving the Impossible
The last aspect of the mind-body-spirit connection is spirit. The human spirit is stronger, more elegant and more resilient than anything else. This spirit is what enables humans to transcend our limitations and achieve the impossible: from surviving atrocities like the holocaust, to swimming from Cuba to Florida, like Diana Nyad did at the age of sixty-four. You do not have to be religious or even spiritual to believe in the human spirit; we can all relate to a time when we had to connect with something greater than ourselves to survive a challenge or transcend the ordinary against all odds. Some people find this connection through religious beliefs and others find it through music, art, the mystery of nature, meditation, values and principles, science, exercise, dance, etc. This connection may not only be the way we find meaning in life, but the way we develop tools like hope, faith, courage, strength, love and inner peace. All important tools which enable us to be resilient while navigating and surviving life’s many challenges.
Studies in the field of psychoneuroimmunology demonstrate the effects of the mind and spirit in healing the body. Dr. H. Steven Greer conducted several studies on this topic, including a fifteen year follow-up on women with breast cancer. He found evidence to suggest that attitude is linked to duration and survival of cancer. Research such as this has led the traditional medical community to acknowledge the importance of the human spirit in health and healing and to use a more holistic approach.
Preventing Disease, Maintaining Health and Happiness
A holistic approach to the mind-body-spirit connection is not only important in in addressing disease; but also, it is paramount in preventing disease and maintaining health. Most people today understand the importance of diet and exercise in maintaining physical health. And when we incorporate the health of our thoughts, emotions and spirit into our daily self-care practices, we greatly improve our overall health, happiness and sense of well-being.
MLL Teacher and Transformational Coach