The Power of Belief|
by Dr. Karen Wolfe
How do our thoughts and beliefs affect our health? Are our bodies and minds distinct from each other or do they function together as parts of an interconnected system? There is a biomolecular basis for our beliefs and scientific evidence of the power of our minds and our beliefs to affect our health and well-being.
Because beliefs and emotions are largely ephemeral and imperceptible, Western medicine has largely assumed that their effects are nor physical or measurable. Western medical science, in its passion to reserve life, has neglected the motivations that drive us, the meaning of life that makes people thirst for health and longevity.
Every day, whether we know it or not, we alter our brain chemistry. We do this through what we eat, what we do, and what we think. These changes in brain chemistry cause transformations in mood and intellectual performance that range from the subtle to the profound. As science has proven, if we change the condition of the brain’s neurons and chemistry, our thoughts and emotions change. The reverse is also true: change our thoughts and emotions, and the chemicals within our brains are also changed.
Thoughts and ideas that are maintained consistently over time cause changes in brain chemistry and function. We are shaped by what we think - especially if we think those thoughts consistently over a long enough period of time.
One of the secrets to making long-term changes in brain chemistry is through consistent types of thinking – optimism, for example, or faith. Certain daily practices, such as meditation, prayer and relaxation exercises, can foster these long-term, positive changes in biochemistry. In The Three Pound Universe, by Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi, they say that thoughts "call the plays, exerting downward control over the march of nerve-impulse traffic."
What is Health?
The root meaning of health is "wholeness". The word health comes from the same Anglo-Saxon root that gives us whole, hale and holy.
Western medical doctors have narrowed their view of health and pay most attention to the physical body and the material aspects of illness. Many doctors would define health as the absence of disease. This is based on a system of pathology.
With the emergence of Complementary and Alternative medicine (which I prefer to refer to as Integrative Medicine), spiritual and religious influences upon health have re-emerged as important factors for scientific inquiry. I say re-emerged because throughout recorded history, healers were often the tribal or community leaders that were religious figures. Health is now being embraced as a dynamic and harmonious equilibrium of all the elements and forces making up and surrounding a human being.
The mind is a powerful determinant of our health.
In many ways this new view is harder since it is not clearly measurable. But we can no longer ignore the huge body of research that is showing us a new way of understanding our health.
A new branch of medical research began in the 1970’s which began the scientific study of how the mind and emotions (psyche), the brain and nervous system (neuro) and the body’s cellular defences abnormal invaders (immune system) interact in health and disease. This branch of medical research is called psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). This proves to us what many of us have intuitively known.
Psychoneuroimmunology shows us that there is a biochemical basis to our beliefs, thoughts, emotions, self image and expectations which impacts, physically every cell in our body.
Copyright Dr. Karen Wolfe. All Rights Reserved.
Karen Wolfe is a national and international speaker, author and coach. She is the author of:
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