How Quieting the Mind Heals Body and Spirit
When Dr. Wendy Schlessel Harpham was a practicing internist in Dallas, Texas, when she learned she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an incurable cancer of the immune system. Over the next 15 years, Dr. Harpham underwent treatments and relapsed eight times. But rather than allowing herself to get lost in hopelessness and despair, she focused on happiness and hope.
She surrounded herself with people who lifted her spirits, kept a daily gratitude journal, made a concerted effort to do good things for others, and watched funny, uplifting movies.
Her cancer has been in remission now for more than 15 years. “Fostering positive emotions helped make my life the best it could be,” Dr. Harpham says. She has devoted much of her professional life to writing books for people facing cancer, including Happiness in a Storm.
The link between our mental and physical states is so profound and closely integrated scientists have even coined a term for it – the Mindbody. The late Dr. Candace Pert, a globally respected neuroscientist and pharmacologist, broke new medical ground with her research on the connection between the body and the mind. She discussed this research in her 2000 book, Your Body Is Your Subconscious Mind.
When our brain is stressed with worries, fears, and visions of all the things that could be or are wrong in our life, our body will respond accordingly. Back and chest pains, high blood pressure, insomnia, constipation, fatigue, headaches and weight gain or loss can frequently become physical manifestations of poor emotional health.
So much of what causes us worry or stress is the meaning we choose to give things that happen in our lives. If we’re passed over for a promotion at work, for instance, is the boss intentionally sabotaging our chance for success, or do we have more time to develop new skills, or even move our career in a direction that brings us more joy and satisfaction?
We get to decide if the experience is a demoralizing snub, or an exciting new opportunity. Our body will likewise reflect the emotional charge – either positive or negative – of the meaning we choose.
Besides making a conscious decision to choose positive, optimistic meanings for things unfolding in our lives, adopting a meditation practice is another excellent way to quiet the mind, increase our optimism, and nurture the body and spirit.
Meditation advocates from spiritual teachers to cardiologists encourage us to make the practice a regular part of our daily lives. MRI brain scans show that taking time daily to enter into a deep meditative state measurably changes the brain’s structure. Meditators had increased gray matter in the area of the brain for learning and memory. They also experienced a reduction of gray matter in the region associated with anxiety and stress.
Practice quieting the mind and feel your body de-stress during your visit to the OHI missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas. At OHI, you can learn how to relax, develop a positive attitude, and focus on what matters most to achieve a happy, fulfilling, and healthy life. During your stay, our caring team will support your journey to optimum health and share the tools you need to continue the holistic healing lifestyle program at home.