The Power of the Mind in Healing

Many of you have been working to improve your health. You’ve overhauled your diet, eliminated bad habits, and added supplements. You make sure to get eight hours of sleep, you exercise, and you try to manage your stress. And while these changes have brought about some positive results, you’re still not where you want to be. You haven’t gotten down to your target weight or rid yourself of whatever disease ails you. What do you try now?

How about searching your mind for the answers.

The mind is the most powerful part of your body and an ally in your healing. It can also be the cause of your illness. All day and all night it directs your bodily processes. It tells your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and the alimentary canal to digest your food. So it stands to reason that the mind is responsible for what’s going on with your state of health, too.

If you have tried everything else, examine what is happening in your life. What is your mind telling your body?

As you read this story, think about what this man’s mind was subconsciously telling his body.

Brian’s* wife was deployed to Afghanistan, leaving him with three small children at home. He worked full time, took care of the home and finances, and cared for the children. He felt relief when her tour of duty ended, but then she signed on for a second deployment. He began to resent that he had to carry the brunt of their family life alone. Barely able to hold on until her second tour was over, he was looking forward to her picking up the slack around the house–but then she returned with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Now, instead of getting some much needed help, he had one more person to take care of.

Suddenly Brian was struck down with a mysterious illness that left him weak and with massive headaches. He could no longer work. He couldn’t drive. He spent most of his days in bed. He went from doctor to doctor, but none of them could figure out what was wrong with him.

When I learned about Brian’s story, it became clear to me what was going on. He was angry at having to carry more than his share of the load. His mind probably told his body, “I’m tired of having to do everything and take care of everybody. I want someone to take care of me for a change!”

Well, his body created exactly that scenario. His wife was forced to do more around the house. Relatives pitched in to help with the kids. Neighbors provided meals and drove Brian to doctor’s appointments. He got exactly what he asked for.

Sometimes the body heeds the mind’s message quite literally.

A very caring psychologist developed debilitating back pain, for which there was no obvious cause. It’s not a big stretch to see how this empathetic doctor, who probably tells her patients, “I feel your pain,” might have manifested this ailment. Every day she listens to others’ problems, absorbing the pain in their stories and internalizing it.

So what can you do if you find you’ve been unconsciously sending such messages to your body?

Tell your body you want it to get well. In Brian’s case, he could tell his body he wants to be able to care for himself. He should then express his frustration with the situation to his wife and together they should work out a plan for how to manage their home life so he is not so overwhelmed. It may mean asking for help from others or cutting out some activities to simplify their lives.

Change your belief system. This doctor felt the need to share in her clients’ emotions in order to relate to them. Can she find a way to help them without taking on the negativity of their lives? It might mean adopting new therapeutic techniques; perhaps she could encourage them to find what is good about their lives, rather than dwelling on what’s wrong.

Stay positive. Above all, think happy, positive thoughts. Happy thoughts raise your vibrational frequency, facilitating healing. Cancer patients have cured themselves with laughter by watching funny movies and engaging in activities they find fun.

So the next time you hear yourself saying—or thinking—something like, “I feel bad that you can’t come to the party” or “it pains me to have to do this,” you might want to find some other words that don’t wish illness upon your body.

* Name changed for privacy

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About Abby

I am a fictional literary character. I work as a massage therapist in Ellicott City, MD, and in my spare time I help the local police solve crimes. In my former life I was a corporate lawyer. I graduated from Cornell University, Harvard Law, and the Baltimore School of Massage. To keep fit I run and practice yoga.
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