THE BODY ATLAS OF WILLPOWER
We have amazing healing powers— and the key to them is the power of thought. Using the activation of imagination and willpower alone, doctors have achieved astonishing successes throughout the bodies of patients.
Is shortness of breath a question of mind over matter? U.S. studies show: In more than 50% of cases, asthma is triggered by stress or anxiety. Physicians recommend relaxation techniques such as yoga. This increases activity in the frontal lobe of the brain’s left hemisphere, which is responsible for good moods. The result: Airways loosen up and air circulates better.
Researchers at Belgium’s University of Liège have had success combating chronic stomach problems using the biofeedback method: It teaches patients how to focus thoughts on specific parts of their body. To facilitate this, technical devices convert bodily functions like heartbeat or blood pressure into visual or audio signals. The patients then train themselves to find the pain and mentally turn it off.
3 HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Internist Jeffrey Koch explained to his high blood pressure patients that he’d only be giving them sugar pills— but with the provision that this had worked very well for other people. Astonishingly, in 60% of his patients this strategy alone led to better numbers. Evidently the mental certainty provided by the assurance that the process had helped others was enough to ramp up the body’s self-healing capabilities.
Our will can replace medication: In numerous studies, placebo tablets have been shown to have the same effect as real painkillers for up to 50% of subjects. Add this was verified through measurement: Traces of natural painkillers produced by the body were found in the subjects’ blood— an amount that corresponded with a dose of 8 mg of morphine. The credit for this goes to the various hormones the brain produces as a precaution in case the need for healing should arise.
Thoughts flowing freely: Heart specialist Dean Ornish guides his patients in transporting themselves to the interior of their body by way of images. Accompanying analysis with a CT scanner shows: Clogged blood vessels can be reopened by using this visualization technique. And Ornish’s training of the will yields an additional benefit: The heart is primed to produce more cells and thus to repair itself.
In an experiment at the University of Georgia, two daily 15-minute concentration sessions helped significantly relieve the pain of 50 patients with chronic back pain. In about 70% of back pain cases the condition is induced by stress, and meditation is the best opponent of stress hormones.
Thought experiment: 180 patients with mild knee osteoarthritis were brought into an operating room. Most of the people who were later free of pain weren’t operated on, though their knee had been cut to provide the appearance that a procedure had taken place. The mere thought of healing prompted neurons in the brain to form new connections, establish networks, and initiate the healing processes. This is known as neuroplasticity.