THE BODY ATLAS OF WILLPOWER
We have amazing healing powers – and our thoughts are key to accessing them. sing imagination and willpower alone, doctors have achieved successes throughout patients’ bodies.
Can you control shortness of breath? American studies show that, in more than 50% of cases, asthma is triggered by stress or anxiety. Doctors recommend relaxation techniques such as yoga. These increase the activity in the left frontal lobe of the brain, the area responsible for good moods. The body’s airways then unblock and air circulates.
Willpower can replace migraine medication. In numerous studies, placebo tablets have proven to be as effective as real painkillers for up to 50% of sufferers. The reason? Traces of natural painkillers produced by the body were found in their blood – a dosage equivalent to 8mg of morphine. Several hormones that the brain produces “just in case” are responsible for this.
Heart specialist Dean Ornish showed patients images of their blocked arteries and asked them to imagine blood passing freely through. Studies using CT scanners show that arteries can be reopened using this visualisation technique alone. Ornish’s willpower training has another side effect: the heart is able to produce more cells and heal itself.
Researchers from the University of Liège have had success combating chronic stomach problems using the “biofeedback” method. This teaches patients to direct thoughts specifically towards parts of their body. To achieve this, bodily functions such as heartbeat or blood pressure are converted into visual or audio signals using sophisticated equipment. The patients can monitor the signals, training themselves to find the pain and mentally turn it off.
US doctor Jeffrey Koch told a control group suffering from high blood pressure that he’d only given them sugar pills – with the caveat that they had worked well for other people. Astonishingly, this experiment alone led to improved results in 60% of the patients. Evidently, being told that the placebo had aided others was enough to kick-start the body’s self-healing mechanism.
In an experiment at the University of Georgia, two daily 15-minute concentration sessions helped ease the pain of 50 patients with chronic back issues. Around 70% of backache cases are caused by stress, and meditation is the best way to fight the stress hormone cortisol.
In an experiment, 180 patients with mild osteoarthritis were brought into an operating theatre. However, most of the people who weren’t operated on were later free of pain. Their knee was cut so they assumed a procedure had taken place. Just the thought of surgery caused nerve cells to form new connections, build networks and initiate healing processes. This process is called neuroplasticity.