Imagine being able to heal for free, with no help from medications. It sounds crazy but it’s possible. It can be accomplished by incorporating the practice of mindfulness into our everyday lives. Mindfulness is essentially the practice of consciously focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019). The practice of mindfulness in everyday life can stimulate the healing process. Every individual has the natural capacity to heal on their own. Mindfulness healing originates in the Eastern world, specifically from Buddhist meditation. As addressed by Buddha, “every man and woman is the architect of their own healing and their own destiny” (Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). In Eastern medicine, it is recognized that as human beings we’ve learned to hold on to all of our emotions and thoughts and in doing so we create density in our body. Things that Western medicine has labeled as cancer, migraines, headaches, depression, and anxiety (Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). Needless to say, we have more power over our health than we have been taught to believe. The medical establishment has been slow to recognize the value of mindfulness simply because it doesn’t serve their industry.
In order to heal, one must get to the root cause of the disease. The root cause of a disease is from one’s mindset. The body will believe what the mind believes therefore, to convince the mind, one must think positive thoughts while also accepting the negative ones. As stated by Michael Beckwith in Heal, “tonic thoughts produce tonic chemicals, toxic thoughts produce toxic chemicals”(Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). When one lives in the present and chooses not to judge things as good or bad, it puts less strain on the mind. According to the article, The Healing Power of Mindfulness, “When you’re more accepting of what’s going on in the present moment, you bring less resistance” (Boyce, B. et al., 2017). Mindfulness of thoughts allows you to be aware of a thought (Boyce, B. et al., 2017). “By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past” (Boyce, B. et al., 2017). The fundamental cause of disease is stress. When one is constantly worrying about the future and the past, it puts one at risk because anxiety is related to worrying about future events while dwelling on the past can cause depression. The practice of mindfulness meditation plays a vital role in the treatment of depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019). The healing process involves being in tune with what one is experiencing and to avoid shutting off from it, which can be achieved through the practice of mindfulness.
Not only does mindfulness improve one’s mental well-being, but it also enhances one’s physical health. It can help treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019). In Heal, Anita Moorjani discusses her experience with lymphoma. After slipping into a coma and experiencing a realm with her deceased father, she reached a state of clarity and accepted why she had cancer and how every decision she ever made in life was caused by fear. She felt herself coming out of the coma and in about a week the doctors saw the tumors disappear faster than they’ve ever seen before. At the end of five weeks, she was free of cancer (Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). It’s amazing what miracles the body and mind can do. “Mindfulness works, in part, by helping people to accept their experiences—including painful emotions—rather than react to them with aversion and avoidance” (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019). It’s very easy to be in denial about a transformation in one’s body, most of us don’t want to believe we are diagnosed with a severe illness, usually we attempt to avoid it for as long as we can. This only hurts us in the long run because we have to accept our illness so we can heal (Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). A very important aspect of mindfulness is attentiveness to what is happening in your body, your mind, and your environment (Boyce, B. et al., 2017). Jon Kabat-Zin and his peers conducted a study on people with psoriasis, a skin disease that is an uncontrolled cell proliferation in the epidermis. They found that the skin of people who meditate while receiving ultraviolet light therapy cleared four times faster than in people who were getting the ultraviolet light by itself (Boyce, B. et al., 2017). This is one example of a study suggesting how mindfulness awareness can make an extreme difference in the healing process. Mindfulness helps bring negative thoughts to awareness, when you accept your suffering and negative energy, it influences the health of the mind and body thus strengthening the healing process.
The practice of mindfulness should be taught and used more in the medical field because of the benefits that reside from it. It’s shown that developing a mind-body connection can cause significant chemical, physiological and biological changes in the body (Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). Over time, mindfulness meditation builds more connections between the areas of the brain while slowing down the reactivity and increasing the sense of the body as a whole (Français, 2013). From studies and evidence shown, the practice of mindfulness aids to improve your mental and physical health. Kabat-Zinn states in Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Context: Past, Present and Future, ‘Perhaps it is only strange in a society that persists in devaluating the present moment in favor of perpetual distraction, self‐absorption, and addiction to a feeling of ‘progress’” (Kabat-Zinn, 2006). We shouldn’t devalue the present moment, being aware of the present and being in tune with our body and mind is what helps our healing. In America, modern medicine is what we are familiar with, so why introduce a somewhat foreign practice? Ultimately because it has the potential to contribute to the further development of the field of clinical psychology, behavioral medicine, psychosomatic medicine, and health psychology (Kabat-Zinn, 2006).
Do we rely too much on someone in a white coat? In America, we have a healthcare system where doctors and insurance companies are treating symptoms but not getting to the root causes. They give a drug that has side effects and sometimes only worsens the disease (Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). Medicine is useful and does miracles with physical trauma but for chronic illnesses, a holistic approach, such as mindfulness is the best choice (Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). In a doctor’s office, you can believe the diagnosis but don’t believe the prognosis. You can’t believe the prognosis without considering the different options you have, you will ultimately lead yourself to failure (Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). Joe Dispenza discusses in Heal, the tragic biking accident he had been in. The powerful force compressed six vertebrae in his spine. He was told he’d probably never walk again and needed to undergo radical surgery. Dispenza thought to himself, “the power that made the body heals the body” (Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). After he left the hospital, he decided to create a plan, once he was satisfied with his plan he surrendered it to a greater mind. At the end of six weeks he had went through a whole entire thought process of reconstructing his vertebrae. He began noticing changes in his body and was back on his feet within 10 weeks. Dispenza now studies the mind-body connection and mind over matter (Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). When you are seeking a negative outcome, it makes it easier to achieve that outcome. When you focus on the process and positive qualities, it reduces the likelihood of anxiety and depression, increasing the healing process (Kabat-Zinn, 2006). Medical students aren’t taught that your body has the ability to heal itself given the right environment and attitude. With more research conducted on mindfulness, it should be shown to influence some aspects of the medical practice in America. Organic chemist, David R. Hamilton, discusses his interest in how in order to test drugs, you give 100 people the drug to show the efficiency of the drug then you give the other 100 people the placebo. It’s remarkable how the group that received the placebo is shown to improve because they think they’re getting the drug. This explains that belief itself shifts biology. When they accept the belief they are getting the actual treatment, they feel as though they are being healed (Schomer & Morrissey, 2017). In modern medicine, it’s the bodies natural capacity to heal more than the substance doing the healing.
As humans, we often search outside of ourselves for the answers to life’s challenges. However, the answers to those questions reside within us. For example, when you fell off your bike as a kid, you scraped your knees and had a few bruises but your body automatically healed. We seem to forget how intelligent our bodies are. Though doctors have a place in our journey, they only help us create the environment to heal, it’s ultimately up to us to do the work. The whole point of mindfulness is to be in a relationship with everything you’re going through, to accept the good and the bad and to use the power of your mind and body to your advantage. This is where we can discover the healing power of mindfulness. If we all incorporate the practice into our everyday lives, it will enhance our well-being and health. Also promoting it in the medical field will help patients who feel they’ve hit rock bottom, a chance at hope. We shouldn’t feel like victims of biological genes or panic from the doctors prognosis, our own healing capacity is found within ourselves.
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, August 19). Benefits of Mindfulness. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm.
- Kabat‐Zinn, J. (2006, May 11). Mindfulness‐Based Interventions in Context: Past, Present, and Future. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1093/clipsy.bpg016.
- Boyce, B., Kuyken, W., Hunter, J., Sofer, O. J., Bullock, G., & Alexander, A. (2017, May 22). The Healing Power of Mindfulness. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from https://www.mindful.org/the-healing-power-of-mindfulness/.
- Klinic Français. (2013). Mindfulness. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from https://trauma-recovery.ca/recovery/mindfulness/.
- Schomer, A., Morrissey, R. (Producers) & Noonan, K. (Director). (2017) Heal. USA