Throughout time, the vast majority of the world’s spiritual traditions and healing systems have viewed the mind and body as one integral unit and considered the mind to be the doorway to a higher consciousness and greater awareness of the Divine, the essence of all things.
The body reflects the state of mind and the two function as one unit. Because of our focus on the external world, our belief system has limited the way we view and perceive our physical world. We are therefore amazed and surprised by the capabilities our minds possess.
For centuries the healing powers of the mind have been harnessed using a variety of techniques, including meditation, visualization, prayers, affirmation, and expressing faith and hope. Throughout the world, engaging the mind was an important aspect of these techniques.
In general the bodily changes that occur are a result of the ability to change one’s awareness from its normal state, one that usually includes stress, to a relaxed and altered one. These altered states are also believed to promote spiritual growth and development.
During the last fifty years, many medical researchers have documented the physiological changes that occur during altered states of awareness. Since the 1960s when transcendental meditation was introduced to the general public, there has been growing interest and use of meditation for health and healing. Today, a growing number of physicians, psychologists, nurses, and other health professionals are seeking to learn more about the interface and unity of mind/body.This is reflected by the increasing research interest in this area and he growing acceptance and use of healing techniques that involve the mind. Many are recommending the use of a variety of meditative practices for a number of diseases.Therapists use it for emotional healing. Even the American Medical Association recommends that meditation be used as the first line of therapy in the case of mild high blood pressure.
Numerous research studies have also shown how using mind body therapies during hospitalization helps to shorten the length of hospital stay, an average of 1.5 to 2 days, which can save patients a significant amount of money!In fact, there is a term used to describe the healing power of the mind in medical circles. It is called, the ‘placebo effect.’ The Latin word ‘placebo’ means, “I shall please.” When a patient is given a drug or fake treatment with no known curative value, often times the body heals and gets well, in the absence of a therapeutic agent! Why? Because the patient believes he or she is taking a powerful drug (or receiving a helpful treatment), the mind agrees and stimulates the brain to help the body heal, due merely to the belief in healing.Please note that I am making a distinction between mind and brain. The mind is present throughout the body and beyond. I remember the attending physician who described to us (during my years in medical school) during a lecture entitled The Placebo Effect, characterized it in a very narrow way, which was generally accepted in medical circles. It did not take into consideration the holistic role the mind plays, but saw the influence of the mind upon the body in a limited way that interfered with a straight forward and physically oriented approach to medicine.