Tag Archives: mind-body medicine

New Body, New Mind, New Medicine

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By Deepak Chopra, MD and Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD

Since one of us (Deepak) began advocating the mind-body connection thirty years ago, a time of great opposition among physicians to the very notion that thoughts have physical consequences, the trend has been entirely against the physicalist position, i.e., that the human body is a machine that needs fixing when it gets broken.  One research after another has validated what should have been obvious in the first place: mind and body are too intimately related to be seen as separate entities.

Several principles can be listed that are backed by the best science, and yet which have had minimal impact in a doctor’s daily practice.

  • Every cell is in some form of communication with the brain, either directly or indirectly, is receiving messages triggered by all of our thoughts, feelings, moods, expectations, and beliefs.
  • Experience gets transformed and metabolized, exactly as food, toxins, pollutants, air, and water get metabolized. In a word, if you want to see what your experiences were like yesterday, look at your body today. If you want to see what your body will be like tomorrow, look at your experiences today.
  • The body is a verb, not a noun. In other words, it’s a continuous unbroken process.
  • Cells are born and die; atoms and molecules fly in and out of each cell constantly. Yet despite this constant flux, the blueprint of the cell remains intact. This blueprint is invisible, intelligent, dynamic, and self-organizing.
  • Lifestyle choices make the dominant difference between wellness and chronic illness. Years, sometimes decades before symptoms appear, cells can be gaining negative input that lead to the onset of disease.
  • Our genes are dynamic and respond to everyday experiences and lifestyle choices. Habits lead to longer term changes in the programming of our gene expression via “epigenetics”, as explained in our book “Super Genes”.
  • If we knew the pivot point that creates positive cellular activity out of positive experiences, a state of radical well-being is possible.
  • Purely mental practices, especially meditation, have been shown over and over to improve various physical functions, and these improvements are now known to extend all the way down to gene activity.

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Deepak Chopra on The Higher Health, Part 4

One of the most exciting changes that could mean a breakthrough in health centers on the term mind-body medicine. Twenty years ago, the equation was definitely body-oriented. If it was conceded that the mind plays a part in health, doctors generally had disparaging things to say about psychosomatic illness and the placebo effect. Neither seemed like “real” medicine, and no medical school curriculum taught otherwise. It was a source of dismay, in fact, that alternative approaches even existed.

What was not realized, as the mind-body connection turned into hard science, is that the polarity needs to be reversed entirely. It is the mind that dominates the body, that acts as chooser, controller, and governor. Instead of being incidental, your state of awareness plays a huge part in how your cells function. We need to reinvent the body as a creation of consciousness — that step, which was taken thousands of years ago in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, would clarify so many mysteries surrounding faith healing, energy work, acupuncture, Qi Gong, and spontaneous remissions of intractable disorders like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

So far, the breakthrough hasn’t occurred, not on a completely reliable basis, secure enough so that using the mind as healer becomes more predictable and efficacious than drugs and surgery. The reason that we don’t have mind-based therapies at every hospital are complicated. Rather than go into them, let’s ask the most salient question.

What can you and I do to promote wellness based, first and foremost, on consciousness?

To answer that question, you need specific goals, as with any long-range project.

Goal #1:  Free yourself from the past.

Goal #2: Address bad habits and addictions.

Goal #3: Find the core of the self.

Goal #4: Maintain a program for personal growth and evolution.

Goal #5: Become aware of how your environment – at work, at home, in your closest relationships – mirrors who you are inside.

 

I’ve tried to state these goals as objectively as possible, without leaning toward one method or another. There are countless techniques available in the American supermarket of medical and health advice.  But the reason that people come away frustrated and confused is that the specifics of what they are doing today — going to yoga class, drinking wheat grass juice, reading Buddhist sermons — becomes haphazard without an overall vision. These five goals give you the bare outline of a vision, which you can fill in by turning each into a question:

 

1. What am I doing to free myself from my past?

2.  Am I honestly confronting my bad habits and addictive tendencies?

3.  Do I make choices from a secure center, knowing who I really am?

4.  Do I have confidence that I am evolving and will continue to evolve?

5.  Looking around, how does my world, including everyone I relate to, reflect what’s going on inside?

 

These should be approached as medical questions, because even if you aren’t asking them — especially if you aren’t asking them — your body is eavesdropping all the time. There are three levels of reflection that give feedback to you: your thoughts, your physical condition, and the external world. They are linked and fused, which is what makes holism possible. If you could ignore your thoughts, your body, or your circumstances, letting one or two go while concentrating only on what’s left, holistic medicine, or holistic living, would be a delusion. Consciousness isn’t compartmentalized; it is whole. Your self is the hub from which everything emanates. All experience, physical, mental, and spiritual, occur in consciousness.

I think we’ve outlined a good beginning for switching the mind-body polarity. (Readers who wish to approach these issues in depth may want to look at my book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul.) We are immersed in a materialistic worldview, and although skepticism has been quieted somewhat by the flood of research confirming the mind-body connection, there will be resistance to seeing consciousness as central to well-being.  But even if you decide to put your faith entirely in mainstream medicine and its focus on drugs and surgery — a choice that fewer informed people make nowadays — there is no doubt that positive lifestyle changes are unassailable for preventing more and more illnesses. You can’t make such changes without confronting most if not all the goals I’ve outlined.  They are key if you want to send the best messages from mind to body.

Since you are sending such messages constantly, why shouldn’t they be the best?

 

www.deepakchopra.com

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Depression: It Can Harm a Woman’s Heart

It’s been a while since researchers discovered that depression is a key predictor of heart disease—even of not surviving a heart attack. More and more, though, studies are revealing that depression can be a precursor to coronary heart disease (CHD)—especially for women. We know this, because researchers at Columbia University reported this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that depression may actually lead to heart disease, as well as increase the odds of a heart attack in women with existing CHD.

Underlying causes

The most recent study to link depression and heart disease is based on the Nurses’ Health Study, which tracked 63,000 women between 1992-2004. Though none had signs of heart disease at the start of the study, about 8% were diagnosed with serious depression. And it was these women who were more than twice as likely to die suddenly from a heart attack.

A growing body of investigative work is exposing the underlying causes of the depression-heart disease link: Some point to poor adherence to medical regimens (such as for diabetics who are noncompliant with home glucose monitoring), alterations in hormone levels, and increased risk for arrhythmias, while others suggest that obesity, tobacco use, and physical inactivity play key roles.

 Lifestyle lessons

While causes may vary, the most proactive step you can take both to defeat depression and to halt heart disease, is to make the lifestyle changes your emotions and heart need to be balanced and healthy. This means: eating optimally, de-stressing, exercising regularly, and integrating social support into your life. In the next post, I’ll tell you more about how foods you choose can combat depression, while future posts will give you the lifestyle insights you need to take charge of this emerging risk factor for heart disease.

 Deborah Kesten, MPH, is an international lifestyle and health researcher and Certified Wellness and Cardiac Coach. She also is the award-winning author of The Enlightened Diet, Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul, and The Healing Secrets of Food. Call her at 415.810.7874 or visit her at www.Enlightened-Diet.com to take her FREE What’s Your Eating Style? Quiz, and to learn more about her Whole Person Nutrition Program for wellness, weight loss, coaching, and books.

 

 

 

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