The health damaging effects of stress have been well documented. Heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, gastro-intestinal problems, and auto-immune disease are only some of the diseases that are closely linked to increased stress. Our immune system is especially susceptible to negative emotions. Deepak Chopra says in his book, Quantum Healing, “Our immune system is continuously eaves-dropping on our thoughts and feelings. Studies have corroborated this notion: major depressive disorders are associated with increases in infectious disease risk as well as the incidence of inflammatory disorders. Declines of natural killer (NK) cell activity are reliably found in depression, whereas other studies report evidence of inflammation in depressed patients. Other studies showed that emotional stress correlated with impaired DNA repair mechanisms in cells that were subjected to radiation. Another trial suggested that anxiety, anger, and negative attitudes are a 30 times stronger risk factor for cancer thank smoking.
These and other studies show is that inner balance is one of the most important keys to healing. This means that you want to make sure that what you see, hear, smell, taste, feel, and think are supporting your healing. Start with choosing a team of doctors and health care practitioners that are in alignment with your intention to completely heal. It is still a mystery to me why most hospitals look so sterile and impersonal. Even Motel 6 is able to create a more inviting and friendly atmosphere. Although you may not be able to be too picky about the looks of the facility, you need to choose your healing team wisely.
Many times I have been told stories of doctors, who were bombarding their patients with discouraging and strongly limiting messages. “You will always have to live with the pain,” “there is nothing anyone can do,” etc. Being a physician myself, I know that there is a positive intention behind these rather negative and disempowering messages-whether it is the idea to “be realistic” or “not encourage false hope,” or simply to prepare the patient for the “inevitable”. However, doctors rarely consider the destructive and deflating effects on the patient’s psyche that outweigh any possible positive outcome. In our society, a physician is such an authority figure, that whatever he or she says has enormous impact on the patient.
As a physician, I often felt that patients gave up faith in their self-healing abilities, completely surrendering and trusting in the abilities and wisdom of the doctors. Many young physicians are not prepared for this and don’t know how to deal with the power that is handed to them by their patients. The movie, The Doctor, should be a requirement for medical students. William Hurt plays a doctor who realizes how little he knows about healthcare when he himself is diagnosed with throat cancer. As a doctor he was mighty and all knowing, but as a patient he has to endure being treated as a helpless kid, without regard for his feelings and his dignity.
Unfortunately this is not only a Hollywood story; I am sure that many of you have had or are having similar experiences. Doctors and health care providers aren’t the only culprits. Family and friends can also be the source of “gloom and doom” messages. A colleague of mine told me the story of a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer. During their first session, she was feeling more and more encouraged and determined to focus on her healing and get well again. As soon as she came home and told her family that she would heal, they warned her not get her hopes up, that she’d heard the diagnosis and should know that there was not much that could be done. A few weeks later she died.
Here are a few suggestions that will help you to establish more emotional balance that can in turn support your healing.
Take the messages from the medical field and others with a grain of salt-especially if they are limiting and disempowering. Avoid obsessive “Googling” on the Internet, which can often lead to more fear and discouragement.
Choose a medical support system and personal environment that are in alignment with your beliefs about your healing.
Focus on what you want, which is health and well-being! Rather than identifying yourself with a diagnosis, see yourself as a person who has the potential and the ability to heal and create well-being.
Find ways to regularly relax and bring your body into a parasympathetic state, which is the healing state. Meditating, listening to calming music, being in nature, and taking a bath are just some examples that can help you to achieve this state.
Learn more about the mind-body-spirit connection and how to use it to activate your self-healing abilities. Remember that you are ultimately in charge of your body and your health. Whatever your body has created can be uncreated. Use visualizations and self-hypnosis as ways to utilize and activate your mind-body-spirit connection. Books by Deepak Chopra and Dr. Bernie Siegel can be excellent starting points.
Identify and resolve the emotional root causes, inner conflicts, and significant emotional events that are connected to the illness. The work of Dr. Hammer, Dr. John Sarno, and Louise Hay can also provide you with more information on the deeper meanings and messages of illness.