Researchers have long known that there is a strong link between stress and overall health. In fact, the American Psychological Association suggests that we’re on the verge of a stress-induced public health crisis. The American Medical Association has also noted that 80 percent of health issues are stress related! So how does stress affect your health?
It’s no secret that the mind plays a key role in health. Internalized stress equals dis-ease. But it actually goes beyond just stress. At the core of every symptom is an emotional pattern; the body speaks the mind. Trapped emotions in the nervous system are at the root of what ails us. Some sources believe that the liver is known to be connected to anger and the lungs produce emotions of grief. The emotions that we do not respect, honour and release are stored in anatomical sites and consequently can affect physiology, often leading to dis-ease and dis-comfort.
Did you know that the seven chakras are associated with specific body parts? Modern literature from both Western and Eastern cultures highlight the connection between each chakra and the endocrine and nervous system as well as organs. Additionally, each chakra is connected to mental and emotional issues as well as physical dysfunctions. The first chakra, which is located at the base of the spine, is connected to the physical body by the spinal column, legs, bones, feet, rectum and immune system. This is emotionally and mentally connected to physical family and group safety and security, the ability to provide for life’s necessities, the ability to stand up for self, feeling at home and social and familial law and order. The physical dysfunctions associated with the first chakra are touted to include chronic lower back pain, sciatica, varicose veins, rectal tumours/cancer, depression, immune-related disorders.
In Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life, she provides a list with the correlations between dis-eases you may have had or are having now and the probable mental causes. She links lower back problems with fear of money and a lack of financial support. Sciatica is linked to being hypocritical and having a fear of money and the future. However, in Western medicine, the general consensus is if you don’t see it, it isn’t there. So instead of going to the root cause of what ails us, drugs are given to manage the symptoms.
The literature on mind-body medicine comprises over 2000 peer-reviewed studies published over the last 25 years. Other research has shown clinical improvements in patients treated with placebos, which can be interpreted as evidence that expectation and belief can affect physiological response. The mind has the power to heal.
Learning to manage stress can significantly reduce the risk of disease. Learning to express all emotions instead of burying them can significantly reduce the risk of disease. It is proven that happy people live longer (some sources say as much as 10 years). Optimistic people have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well. Some would argue that is doesn’t matter what the odds are. If you have a body, emotions, a mind and a spirit, it’s possible you can recover.
Meditation has been greatly studied for its ability to recalibrate the nervous system, making you less reactive. Brain imaging has been done during meditation and has shown changes in actual structure of the brain. The amygdala gets turned down by meditation. In a study done on mice, the amygdala grew under stress. When the stress was removed, the amygdala stayed large. So the fact that meditation can turn down the amygdala is significant. In another study, meditators had four times the healing rate for psoriasis than non-meditators.
Self-care and integrative medicine is the future. Only the body can heal itself. Doctors can set broken bones back together, but they don’t heal them. The body does. I try to meditate as often as I can – typically 4-5 times per week. I don’t worry any more if I am “doing it right” – because the only bad meditation is the one that you don’t do at all.
E-motion The Movie
The Connection: Mind Your Body
Anatomy of the Spirit
You Can Heal Your Life