Wellness Post Sample
Why Belief is the Foundation for Healing
(informed by original client content)
Perceiving is Believing.
If you are walking down a dark alleyway, alone, and hear rapid footsteps coming up behind you, what’s going to happen in your body? An entire fight or flight cascade unleashes, complete with racing heart, sweating, shortness of breath, and paralyzing fear. You see, feel, think: danger. Your body responds without any conscious input from your mind.
If you hear your friend’s voice emanating from those footsteps, what happens then? The fear dissipates; you may even laugh. A sense of ease floods your body, and tension releases. What triggered these changes?
Your mind, now aware, tells your body that it’s safe. Your body begins changing its response to reflect a sense of calm, the belief that all is well.
The Power to Heal
I want you to consider a culture that believes in the vital power of the body to heal itself. That under the right conditions, spontaneous remission is possible – conditions of health and affirmative beliefs, rather than the belief that the body is broken, requiring man-made chemicals to repair it.
A contemporary example of this power of belief was carried out at via a trial at Harvard Medical School. Twelve patients with fractures were randomized into two groups, both receiving treatment with x-ray (usual treatment). One group was taught healing hypnosis, which they were instructed to use, and the other group was not. Over the course of twelve weeks, the hypnotized group healed 2.5 weeks faster, according to a blinded radiologist observer, than the non-hypnotized group.
Then there are the patients from a UC Davis spinal surgery trial who were randomized to practice a brief visualization technique pre-surgery, resulting in 45% less blood loss than the control group. What’s the bottom line? Mindset matters.
The Healing Mindset
Do you believe that we are born with our destiny set by our genetic inheritance? That our bodies are finely calibrated machines that are prone to break-down, requiring repair and routine maintenance?
Or, do you believe that the body has an innate wisdom that guides its performance? Do you view illness as evidence of imbalance somewhere – physically, mentally, spiritually, interpersonally, nutritionally – and as an invitation to engage with active change in the service of restoring this balance? Going deeper, do you believe that your health and wellness are important for the health of everyone on the planet, and even the planet itself?
What Studies Show
In medicine, the study of this phenomenon is called the placebo effect. Dismissed as a nuisance confounder in primary clinical research, it is a poorly understood but very powerful factor in healing. So powerful that sometimes the only information that comes out of a sophisticated and expensive trial is clear support for the power of belief in symptom resolution.
In an effort to acknowledge the legitimacy of this phenomenon, the New England Journal of Medicine reports:
“Placebo effects rely on complex neurobiologic mechanisms involving neurotransmitters (e.g., endorphins, cannabinoids, and dopamine) and activation of specific, quantifiable, and relevant areas of the brain (e.g., prefrontal cortex, anterior insula, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, and amygdala in placebo analgesia).”
What this means is, not only can we see and measure the effects of placebo on the brain, placebo activates the same pathways that are affected by medication and/or other conventional treatments.
Let that sink in for a minute.