I attended a movie screening in Tucson last night. “The Science of Healing” was shown at the beautiful Fox Theater, followed by panel discussion with Drs. Andrew Weil and Esther Sternberg. The film follows Dr. Sternberg to a village on the island of Crete where she personally experiences the power of healing that has inspired her research. It explores the mind-body connection, and how the environment, and emotions can affect healing. You can see a preview here.
Although it seems like common sense that the mind can affect healing of the body, the level of pain experienced, etc. now there is actual research showing the connection. Dr. Sternberg relates her personal experience of having arthritis symptoms that were not well-controlled on the usual medications suddenly improve when on a trip to the Greek island of Crete. Her life before was hectic, busy, and stressful. Eating the Mediterranean diet, (or anti-inflammatory diet), combined with meditation/contemplation, and exercise suddenly gave improvement in all her symptoms. The film shows some of the research that now confirms the connection of how the mind/brain helps us to heal, on all levels.
In the discussion following, it was encouraging to hear that doctors and health institutions are now beginning to realize the importance of the mind-body connection. Hospitals are being built now with art galleries, areas for exercise, and even the layout and design of the halls are made to be more calming and healing. Dr. Weil gave a group teaching session on the power of breathing, and way it can affect your whole being by practicing a simple technique called 4-7-8 breathing.
I touched on how stress in general tends to lower the immune system in a recent blog. Not only can mental stress allow us to become ill, it can impede our ability to heal. Even the words a doctor says to a patient, and more importantly, how they are said-can affect how the patient will respond to treatment and eventually recover, or not. Using positive words of hope and compassion go a long way versus words of fear, doom, gloom, and despair. Teaching a person to use holistic methods themselves in conjunction with the usual allopathic methods just makes common sense.