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The Mind-Body Connection Essay, Research Paper

The mind has an incredible power. We see

it as we go through our everyday activities,

constantly displaying the wonders of logic,

thought, memory and creativity. Yet, can

the mind be more powerful than we know?

Is it possible to reduce or even eliminate

pain, illness and disease by using the

natural powers it possesses? Can the mind


Many of our finest researchers and

scientists have explored that question, and

while the exact answer still eludes us, the

facts seem to bear out that the mind does

have the power to assist in both healing,

and conversely, bringing on "disease" as

well. Two such examples of mind and body

healing are hypnotherapy and meditation.

There are others such as ionization, which

focuses on thinking positive instead of

negative. But first, I will describe the

reasoning behind the mind-body


Psychoneuroimmunology is the name for

the study of the min-body connection, or

PNI for short. PNI has been around for the

last 20 years or so and has revolutionized

the way we look at health and wellness.

There was a point in human existence when

the connection between the mind and the

body was taken for granted. A couple of

centuries ago, science had grown to

understand the "mechanical universe"

concept. The laws of Sir Newton and the

science of physics had begun to infiltrate the

science of medicine. If the universe

followed mechanical laws, so might the

body. To prove this theory, scientists

needed to open a body up to observe how it

worked. The Church was very adamant

about the body being the temple of the soul

and could never be desecrated. After much

haggling and several smoke-filled back

room discussions, an agreement was

reached. The Church would maintain it?s

jurisdiction over "the mind" for that is were

the personality and soul "truly" resides and

science could have the body, which is just a

"machine for the mind" and upon death,

would become simply an empty vessel.

Furthering the rift, more recent science has

discovered that specific diseases can be

"cured" through specific medicinal formulas

or drugs. This "magic bullet" mentality

spread throughout medicine and science.

Truly the body was a mechanical thing that

responded to specific stimulus and could be

counted on to respond the same way every

time. Wonderful news, the body did not

respond as intended. Science has tried to

brush aside or explain away this

phenomenon y saying, "Oh, it?s just the

placebo effect" or "It?s spontaneous

remission" as well as other innocuous terms

seemingly to lessen it?s importance. It is

human nature when something is not

understood to either dismiss it, diminish it

or ignore it all together. This search to seek

out answers to this reoccurring

phenomenon is the basis for PNI, the way

the mind-body connection is made and how

we can utilize it for greater health and


Over the past decade, we have come a long

way in understanding the psycho-biology of

mind-body communication and the

mental/emotional processes involved. To

begin with, most of us have a basic

understanding of how psycho-biology

communication occurs through the nervous

system. Messages are transmitted through

electrical impulses along a system of nerves

that connect the brain to every system,

organ, gland, muscle, etc.. When we want

to lift our arm, the specific signals race

along the nerves to the required muscles,

ligaments, etc., in order to accomplish the

task. There is, also, the "autonomic"

nervous system that sends the electrical

impulses automatically, without conscious

thought, to such parts as the heart, lungs,

digestive tract, etc.. That way we don?t have

to worry about things like forgetting to have

our heart beat.

There is another facet to this seemingly

automatic activity. The "autonomic immune

system". The immune system cells, which

free-float throughout our bodies, act all on

their own, automatically. When you get an

infection, the immune system kicks in and

takes care of the problem. How do they

know when to go into action? New research

is pointing that there is another open line of

communication. A biochemical, molecular

code that is transmitted to each cell. This

code is in the form of hormones or

neuroceptides. Each cell of the body has

receptors for these neuroceptides. The code

contained in the peptide is then

communicated to the cell. The cell then acts

according to this communication, just like a

muscle acts according to the signals it

receives. The cell then sends biochemical

responses back into the system. This allows

for the two-way communication not only

between itself and the brain, but also

between itself and other cells. This shows

itself openly the well coordinated immune

cells attacking an invading bacteria.

Communication is paramount to a

successful immune system defense.

This biochemical connection must also have

a direct link to the mind. Researchers have

found that link. If you were to draw a line

through your head starting just behind your

ear going to just behind the other ear, at the

middle of that line you would find a

clumping of glands and blood vessels called

the Limbic-Hypothalamic System which

consists of the limbic system, hypothalamus

and the pituitary gland. The connection

works this way. A mental/emotional state

exits within the mind, the mind transmits

the image of that state through the nervous

system and to the Limbic-Hypothalamic

system. Every system, organ, gland, fiber

and cell of the body receives the message.

Then they each act according to the

message. To illustrate a point, a university

study was done on the immune system of

persons whose long-term partner had

recently died. Having factored out all other

affecting stimulus but grief, it was

discovered that the immune system in the

state of deep grief operated at 70% decrease

of activity. In other words, the immune

system was running at only 30%. That can

explain why the widowed spouse, who was

never sick in their life, would die of

pneumonia or such related disease, 6

months after their spouse?s death.

You know yourself, how emotions can

boost your energy level or drain it to almost

nothing. The images and experiences that

we fill our mind with, get communicated

and then translated physically. This is how

stress operates. The major stressors (like job

loss, death, divorce and etc.) while having a

significant effect, are not the major culprit of

stress related health problems. It seems that

the little stressors (like being late for work,

a car cutting you off on the expressway,

etc.) have more effect on us physically. The

theory is that the little stressors are judged

to be of little or no importance, so we tend

to ignore their effect. All those little

frustrations, unconsciously remain

frustrations even when they are forgotten

long ago to our conscious awareness. They

linger on and their effects never diminish.

All the images we carry with us are

communicated to all parts of our body all

the time. You tell yourself something often

enough, you will start believing it. The body

hears that you "don?t have a leg to stand

on", or you?re dying of cancer", or that

argument you had with your parents

twenty years ago is still eating away at you.

It will then respond to that communication.

If you have an internal image of " I only

seem to take time off when I?m sick", your

body will make you sick when you need

that time off. You can be sure your body

will give you what you expect. Think

negative and bad things can happen, think

positive and good things can happen. It?s all

within the mind and body connection.

Now we understand the communication

between the mind and body, let?s go back to

how the mind can assist the body in healing.

One method of accomplishing that is

through hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is

the reconditioning of certain sensory

reactions to the stimuli of anxiety so that

physiological symptoms such as ulcers and

headaches will not be produced. Habitual

reactions of the patient are altered under

hypnosis. After the therapist has changed

the patient?s anxiety-producing sensation

system, the subject is trained in the use of

the new responses in life outside therapy.

The problems that hypnotherapy is best

placed to help with, fall into thoughts and

ideas, feelings and habits. People can suffer

from thoughts of low self-esteem, or

obsessive thoughts about someone or

something. They may not be able to get out

of their minds the idea that they are

suffering from an illness.

Hypnotherapy can help the person to

change such ideas. Sort of like altering the

mind. Other people can suffer from a wide

range of distressing feelings, such as panic

attacks, anxiety, jealousy, guilt, anger and

inadequacy. Whatever the problem feeling,

hypnotherapy can deal with it more

specifically than can a drug and without

side effects. On the other hand, people can

find themselves in the grip of many habits

that they seem unable to control, from

something like nail-biting or smoking to

more deep-seated compulsions.

Hypnotherapy, using hypnotic techniques,

can help to remove habits with precision

and a freedom from side effects. There is of

course, a considerable variation in the

difficulty of the various problems, and there

is no general rule which makes it possible to

say how much improvement can be

achieved and in how much time. The

simpler problems can at times be overcome

completely in one session; hypnosis can be

extremely effective. More deeply rooted

problems may take longer.

On the contrary, meditation is taking the

time to get in touch with our true nature. It

is a simple effort that becomes effortless as

we do it more and more. True effort comes

in simply taking the time out of our hectic

lives. The rest is easy. When we first begin

to meditate, our minds resist. We are used

to a constant chatter in our minds. Our

thoughts are often uncontrolled. We worry

about our jobs, finances, relationships, out

"to do" list, and the list goes on. All of this

belongs to the physical world. The practice

of meditation helps us temporarily let the

physical world go so we can begin to see

ourselves as we truly are ? spiritual beings.

Meditation helps us in many ways. You will

begin to notice some benefits right away,

while others will occur gradually. Beyond

the purely physical benefits, which have

been scientifically proven, meditators

receive emotional and mental benefits as

well as spiritual enrichment. When we

meditate, we are focused only on the

experience of meditation. We are living "in

the moment." There is no room for our

worries or fears. The stresses and tensions

we have been carrying around are

suspended. We become relaxed and are

able to experience inner peace and joy.

Some of the results of meditation show we

gain: increased clarity of mind, improved

emotional well-being, increased happiness,

increased intelligence, increased creativity,

improved memory and improved

relationships. Meditation has been used

successfully in the treatment and prevention

of high blood pressure, heart disease,

migraine headaches, and autoimmune

diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. It

has proved helpful in reducing obsessive

thinking, anxiety, depression and hostility.

Learning to meditate takes only a few

minutes and your body will immediately

start to respond. However, regular

meditation is needed to gain the full

benefits of meditation. With practice your

level of relaxation will deepen. Your

attention span will increase. You?ll become

more skilled at living in the present

moment. Many of the mental and spiritual

aspects of meditating will become apparent

over time.

This ability to heal ourselves lies within

each of us. It is just a matter of learning to

tap to this incredible resource, to make the

mind-body connection, to reach within

ourselves and discover how much power

we have over our bodies and ourselves.

This is what will ultimately lead us all to a

higher quality of life, true health, and

wellness. I think the future of the

mind-body connection is gaining a lot more

respect than it used to. Conventional

physicians want to learn a great deal on this

phenomenon. Doctors and practitioners are

becoming aware that we, the patients, just

don?t want conventional medicine anymore.

We want to heal ourselves. To be able to

use our mind and body to prevent disease

and become a lot more aware of how our

bodies function. There is always something

that can be done to help us improve the

quality of our life. Maybe even make strides

toward ending the condition. By studying

the self-images, understanding the way we

think and feel about the world and how we

fit into it, we can adjust them and change

the outcomes, both mentally and physically.

By understanding the process, we can take

the necessary action to change what we

don?t want and create what we do want.

Benson, Herbert. The Mind/Body Effect.

New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979.

Bosworth, Patricia. "Can the Mind really

heal the body?" Self Feb. 1996: 126-


Kelly, Sean F., and Reid J. Kelly. Hypnosis:

Understanding How It Can Work for

You. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1985.

Kwako, Jerome E. "Ask your body-mind for

healing." Northern Sun June 1997:


LaPatra, Jack. Healing: The coming

revolution in holistic medicine. NewYork:

McGraw-Hill, 1978.

Mieszkowski, Martin. "The Healing Mind."

Wholestar Journal May 1996: 1-4.

Mandelbaum-Schmid, Judith. "Prophets and

Pioneers." Self Nov. 1996: 166-167.

Weil, Andrew. The Natural Mind. Boston:

Houghton Mifflin, 1972.

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