One of the most renowned experiments on the close connection between the body and the mind is the placebo effect. Simply put, the placebo effect holds that when a sick person is given a counterfeit pill or one that resembles an actual pill but has zero effect, the patient will be cured, not because the medicine has any effect, but because of the patient’s unreserved belief in the efficacy of that pill.
The Starting Point
That will form the starting point as we seek to understand the powerful effect the mind has on other faculties of the body. Dr Lissa Rankin, a physician and researcher established in a study that the prevalence of diseases and concomitant expenditure was almost as high in poor neighbourhoods as they were in posh California areas.
The Poor And The Rich, Alike, Get Sick
While everybody would expect poor folks to have higher risks of falling sick due to poor dietary practices, lack of exercise, smoking and drug abuse among other practices, people in wealthier areas were also at risk, to the surprise of many. This study brought to the fore the fact that contrary to the teachings of conventional medicine, it was important to unleash a holistic approach to treatment of illnesses, especially to embrace the marvels of the mind.
The Law of Attraction
Another important issue to consider when pondering how strong the power of the mind is lies within the law of attraction. Over the years, philosophers, theologians, quantum physicists and other professionals have come to the conclusion that when the mind consistently holds on to a thought pattern, whatever is being thought about comes to pass.
There have been many reports of people who have transformed their financial fortunes as well as other spheres of life by using the law of attraction. Some terminally ill patients, who had been informed by physicians that they would not live for long, have been known to walk out of their hospital beds into flourishing wellbeing.
Now, To The Immense Powers Of The Mind
These and other developments in the study of the mind illustrate just how powerful this organ is. However, in order to understand, to a greater depth, the powers of the mind, let us delve into the specifics.
1. Healing Of Diseases: For many years, faith healing has been practiced but is always dismissed by most medical practitioners. The field of medicine or conventional healing has been aided to an extent by the discovery of the power of the mind. According to experimental studies carried out at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine, located in Massachusetts, patients who underwent a number of mindfulness techniques (e.g. meditation, and mantra) demonstrated significant gene changes, which helped to decelerate ageing, improve metabolism and relaxation, and regulate insulin in their bodies.
The practice of mindfulness created changes in the DNA that led to remarkable health improvements for participating patients. In essence, the power of the mind was called into action to aid conventional medicine and what resulted was more than could have been accomplished through common therapeutic means. With more experiments, we could witness a decrease in global expenditure on medicine and healthcare. The irony is that this power has always been with us yet medical practitioners did not find it prudent to try it on human beings.
2. Assuaging Of Physical Pain: The study of the mind has also led to interesting findings that have impacted the way we understand and deal with pain. To begin with, the placebo effect indicates that the mind actually has control over the body. While pain is real and cannot be wished away, it is evident that the human body has its own healing mechanisms which are domiciled in the mind. It is possible now to understand how faith-healers work, whether they (faith-healers) understand the rationale or not. The moment one believes that they are going to be healed, the mind starts to work towards the healing of that person.
The connection between the mind and the body, though unseen, is very powerful to the point of bringing relief from pain. This discovery has led many to believe that what we call ‘miracles’ of healing are merely the manifestations of the healing power of the mind on body maladies. Again, if such a discovery is actualized people will spend less on medicine and healthcare systems will not be as strained as they are today.
3. Emotional Healing: Did you know that emotional pain is as excruciating as physical hurt? The fact that people who hurt emotionally may not exhibit physical injuries does not mean that they are hurting less. Studies have established that the same mechanisms that work in emotional throbbing are the ones involved in physical pain. The brain is created in such a way that it does not differentiate between sources of pain. When people lose a loved one or go through a breakup, the aching they feel has the same potency as if they had been hurt physically.
But there is something that should worry you more. While physical pain lasts for certain duration and disappears, emotional pain stays for a longer time. Every time a person is reminded of the hurtful event that stung their feelings, chances are that the wound will become fresh again and pain even more. It takes time and deliberate acceptance of circumstances for the mind to bring about healing. Need we be careful about the emotional pain we inflict on other people? We should.
4. Managing Stress: Another important area of medical research that has benefited a lot from understanding the power of the brain is stress management. One fact about the brain is that it cannot differentiate between real threats and those that don’t exist. We all know the reality of stress even when it emanates from genuine issues that put the lives and comfort of those we love and ourselves at risk. And life has so many of these, many of which emanate from the people we interact with daily.
However, we need to understand that even imagined stress can have a devastating effect on our lives because the brain considers it stress. Whatever we imagine that can bring pain into our lives eventually hurts us. The solution, thankfully, lies in the same mind. We can visualize ourselves doing away with both real and imagined stress and it will be gone as simply as it came. The moment we realize that we can change our thinking and change our circumstances, we rid ourselves of negative stress that can easily destroy us.
5. Learning Through Visualisation: The mind is so powerful that we can use it to learn without actually being in a learning environment. The brain has a capability called neuroplasticity, which implies that it devices new pathways on a continuous basis. By repeating a routine when learning a skill, we strengthen the pathways which carry the respective action. That happens when you are in a classroom trying to learn a skill. However, the brain does not differentiate between what you actually perform and what you visualise.
According to the great Albert Einstein, you are better off with imagination than with knowledge, if you were to choose between the two. In essence, if you imagine carrying out some action using your brain, the mind will react as if you are in actual practice. Visualization is, therefore, a very important aspect of learning. This should be of great interest to educationists.
6.Goal Achievement: Now, this may shock many because it is unprecedented. Did you know that when you speak about your goals, your brain believes you have achieved them? Wow! Your mouth may be your downfall, after all. Experts have established that the moment you start telling others of the goals you intend to achieve, the brain confuses your talking for action, thus depriving you of the motivation to achieve an ‘already attained’ goal.
Talking about your goals gives you satisfaction and sends the signal to the brain that you don’t need any more inspiration and inner strength to reach out. Methinks we should keep quiet about our dreams and wait until we have accomplished them. Once again, a goal in mind tells the brain to give you the resources you need to achieve it. What a discovery!
7. Boosting Your Mood: Put a smile on your face now because there is good news. Did you know that your facial expression affects your emotions? The brain (how “confused” this organ is) cannot differentiate between a fake and a genuine smile. This means that the moment stress engulfs you, you can laugh your way out of it. A fake smile has the same effect on your brain and relieves stress the same way a real smile does. When you facial muscles move to form a smile, the brain interprets it as a positive emotion and stress takes a flight.
Something is the matter and you are stressed? Laugh at your problems. Hide from people and smile your way out. Someone is stressing you out, pretend not to be upset and smile instead. Don’t frown because this will strengthen bad moods. Make it your reaction to always meet stress with a smile because you have a brain that is so powerful that it does not realize you are pretending you are happy!
The Parting Shot
This space is not enough to elaborate exhaustively just how powerful the mind is. However, with this knowledge, you can live a better life because you can handle physical and emotional hurt as well as ubiquitous stress.
Hopefully, scientists and other interested parties will continue to discover other marvellous capabilities of the brain that would help us live happier and longer lives. Until then, let us toast to the most powerful computer ever created – your brain!
Your Grace Guru