What is Mind-Body-Spirit Medicine?
Mind-body-spirit practitioners look at the way a client experiences wellbeing from an integrated holistic perspective. Mind-body-spirit medicine uses the power of the mind, thoughts and emotions to influence physical, mental & spiritual health.
Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine wrote, "The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well."
What is the history of Mind-Body- Spirit Medicine?
Ancient healing practices and ancient wisdom have always emphasised the links between the mind, body and spirit. However until a few decades ago, contemporary western medical views believed the opposite, that the mind and body are separate.
It wasn’t until the 1960’s, that the American Dr and Scientist George Solomon noticed the link between the emotions and the body’s immune system. His studies showed that people with rheumatoid arthritis became worse when they were depressed. He began to investigate the impact emotions had on inflammation and the immune system in general. The new field was called psychoneuroimmunology.
‘The mind and body are inseparable’ he said. ‘The brain influences all sorts of physiological processes that were once thought to be centrally regulated.’
His discoveries ushered in a new generation of scientists in this area of research.
In the early 1970s, Dr Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School coined the term "relaxation response," revealing how meditation can affect and lower blood pressure. More understanding of the mind-body link came in 1975, when Psychologist Robert Ader showed that mental and emotional triggers affect the immune system.
While phrases such as "mind over matter" have been around for years, only recently have scientists found solid evidence that mind-body techniques actually do fight disease and promote health.
In 1989, for example, a clinical study by David Spiegel, M.D. at Stanford University School of Medicine demonstrated the power of the mind to heal. Of 86 women with late stage breast cancer, half received standard medical care while the other half received standard care plus weekly support sessions. In these sessions, the women were able to share both their grief and their triumphs. Spiegel discovered that the women who participated in the social support group lived twice as long as the women who did not. A similar clinical study in 1999 showed that in people with breast cancer, helplessness and hopelessness are associated with lesser chance of survival.
Today, there is renewed interest in ancient traditions and healing techniques, including Reiki, Yoga and Meditation. No longer viewed with suspicion, Mind-Body programs are now established at prestigious medical schools in the United States and around the world.
The key to any mind-body-spirit technique is to bring the mind and body into a state of deep relaxation. Thoughts are energy and clear focus in a state of peace and harmony brings an acceleration in healing. When you’re in balance, you’re not in dis-ease.
Energy and Relaxation Techniques include:
· Reiki and Energy Healing
· Meditation and Mindfulness
· Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi
· Sound Healing
· Art and Music Therapy
· Crystal healing
· Autogenic Training
With biofeedback, people are trained to control certain bodily processes that normally occur involuntarily, such as heart rate or blood pressure. Biofeedback is effective for a number of conditions, but it is most often used to treat tension headache, migraine headache, and chronic pain.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is used to help people recognize and change harmful thoughts. For example, people who are depressed can learn to counter negative thoughts and feelings with positive ones.
How does Mind-Body-Spirit Medicine work?
When you are physically or emotionally stressed, your body releases stress hormones that can affect your emotions and the natural functions of the body and its organs.
The goal of mind-body techniques is to allow the body and mind to relax, and to reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body, so that your immune system is better able to fight off illness.
How effective is it?
Many studies have proven how mind-body-spirit techniques such as Reiki, meditation, CBT etc relaxes the mind, body and spirit, affecting mood and reducing symptoms in people with different conditions (such as high blood pressure, pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer). It also improves quality of life. More recently, researchers have found that 70 primary care physicians who participated in a mindfulness education program over one year showed dramatic improvement in mindfulness skills, burnout, mood, disturbance, and empathy.
What is Mind-Body-Spirit medicine used for?
Mind-body-spirit techniques can be helpful for many conditions because they encourage relaxation, improve coping skills, reduce tension and pain, and lessen the need for medication.
Mind-body-spirit techniques may help treat many different diseases, including:
· High blood pressure
· Coronary heart disease
· Pain and nausea/vomiting related to chemotherapy
· Stomach and intestinal problems (including indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, heartburn, and Crohn disease)
· Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, depression, and irritability
· Mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression
· RA and other autoimmune conditions
· Chronic fatigue
In conclusion, when you view and practice the connection between Mind, Body and Spirit in a holistic, integrated way you are more likely to be happier, healthier and able to deal with Life’s challenges more easily.
Mount Sinai- Mind-Body Medicine www.mountsinai.org