The body has the ability to heal itself. How? I was preparing for a health talk last week to do with mind/ body connection when it comes to healing. The talk required a lot of research and that’s how I stumbled on Kelly Turners research on radical remissions; How people spiritual, emotional, mental and physical aspects to bring their ailments into remission. Her work was inspired by Andrew Weil who believes that each one of us was created with a natural healing system. Drawing on fascinating case histories as well as medical techniques from around the world, Dr. Andrew Weil shows how spontaneous healing has worked to resolve life-threatening diseases, severe trauma, and chronic pain.
Why did I find this study fascinating you may ask? Well, During the study, Kelly identified more than seventy-five factors that cancer survivors said they used as a part of their healing journey. Nine of these factors were used by almost every one of them. They are as follows:
· Radically changing your diet
· Taking control of your health [My personal favorite as I have heard it described as an important element by so many empowered patients]
· Following your intuition
· Using herbs and supplements [Kelly is careful to state that this should be done under a doctor’s supervision]
· Increasing positive emotions
· Embracing social support
· Deepening your spiritual connection
· Having strong reasons for living
Now I know Kellys research was based on cancer patients; however, this study was able to shine a light on healing tactics that can and probably should be employed by anyone facing a serious illness. In fact, most of these tactics are ones that healthy people should use too. Look at the factors listed once again and you will be amazed that only two factors are physical, the rest touch on mind, emotional and spiritual aspects.
The strong connection between the mind and the body cannot be ignored.
Kelly uses of case stories to illustrate how the people she interviewed used each of the nine key factors listed above. Under the Intuition factor, Susan, was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer with metastases to the lungs. She was told that she probably only had a year or two to live. As her doctors were explaining that she needed immediate surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation, she heard a voice telling her this was not what she needed to do.
In her words:
“At that diagnosis, I was sitting on the [examination] table and I–are you ready for this one? I heard a little voice in my head! I had never heard voices before. But I heard a voice that said. Not that way, not this time. [My doctor] told me that the diagnosis was very serious and that I needed to follow his exact rules and guidelines in order to get myself better. If not, I did not have a good prognosis. I smiled then, because a yoga teacher had once told me that if you smile, you can sense danger fifty feet away. The smile incensed the doctor, at which point he became verbose and authoritarian. That’s when I knew that the danger was there–in that diagnosis, in that office. I never told him that I was not going to do what he recommended. I simply slipped from the table and left the office.
Susan set about changing her habits and applying the other factors listed above to various degrees. She is symptom-free five years after her diagnosis, but she has not confirmed the disappearance of her cancer with medical imaging, such as MRI or CT
I speak a lot about the importance of self love and how it relates to our well-being. Choosing to eat what nourishes your body, having massages, choosing to forgive, being in nature more often, hydrating your body, choosing to let go of what you cannot to change etc are all forms of self- love. How do you learn to love yourself?" Now that's a good question; most of us don't know. The first place to begin is to just notice how you relate to your body's physical needs in general. Start listening to your body.
Remember every time you stay up just a little longer when you need to sleep (because you have a deadline), or "hold it" when you really have to pee; rush through breakfast or lunch (not chewing your food) so that you can attend to a call/ email/ meeting etc. you send the message to your body that it's not important. That we are not important. Then we expect the body to perform for us, like a dog doing tricks. That’s how we end up getting sick. The body/ mind/ spirit just shuts down.
I totally love the nine key factors highlighted in Kelly’s research. It’s a great reminder that we all need to start treating our bodies with respect; we must start feeding our minds with joy, gratitude, nutritious food and all positive vibes because the mind and the body speak. They communicate deeply. Your thoughts will affect emotions/ state and vice versa. Listen to your intuition; this will not happen if your body always feels rushed. You need to be present; here; now. Invest and cultivate your relationships- this is your social support which is key for your well-being. Deepen your spiritual connection, incorporate herbs and spices in your food- great immune boosters.
Here is a challenge for you for the next 7 days. At the end of the day before you go to bed, get a piece of paper (I use a journal) and write a thank you note. Give thanks for life and allow your body to feel the gratitude. Part of the research highlighted that there are about 1200 different chemical reactions that go on in the body that begin to restore and repair the body in a state of gratitude. So, take only 10 minutes, and just feel it with all your heart, that’s it! Oh wait one last thing. Take a moment during the day. Be still, Close your eyes and just breath. Become aware of the space around you and just sense it. This act of opening your awareness begins to reduce the stress hormones and creates more coherent brain waves states. Its amazing. Its healing.
I hope you are inspired to read more about the mind/body connection. Kelly has written a book- radical remission. Whether you are a person whose life is touched by cancer or not, I think you will find her book, a fascinating read.
Start paying attention to your body’s intelligence and experience spontaneous healing.