F.M.Alexander – the orator with no voice

Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) was an Australian actor who had made a good living from poetry recitals in the 1890s until he encountered a career-threatening problem: he developed breathing problems and chronic laryngitis, and lost his voice! He went from doctor to doctor, but none could find any physical cause nor any cure.

Since no-one seemed able to help him, he resolved to help himself. He studied anatomy books and surrounded himself with mirrors, carefully observing himself. He discovered that the way he had been been trained to carry his body and project his voice was the very cause of the problem. He was tensing his body as he prepared to speak, dropping his head backwards and pressing his neck into the spine. This constricted the air passages and inhibited his voice box. He noticed that others with voice and breathing problems often did the same.

Alexander was a man with little regard for others’ opinions unless supported by scientific evidence and proven by results. So he experimented on himself. He discovered that eliminating muscle tension in the neck prevents the head from compressing the spine, so the spine is free to lengthen. This frees the windpipe and allows the voice to function properly. Within weeks of starting to apply this to himself, the problems were gone and he was able to resume his profession.

Others began to seek his help, so he applied what he learned and developed a hands-on healing method that allowed all the body’s natural processes to work, thus stimulating its capacity for self-healing.

As his research progressed, he made further discoveries. He noticed that he mind could play tricks on him so he developed methods to increase mindfulness. In essence, the Alexander Technique, as it became known, focuses on attention, thoughts, posture and movement. It centres on:

  • Self-awareness: identifying harmful habits that restrict breathing or result in poor posture.
  • Inhibition: pausing for a moment before acting to interrupt and prevent destructive patterns.
  • Choice: knowing that we have the freedom to choose new responses (i.e. not to follow habitual, conditioned reactions).
  • Primary control (neck, head, spine): positioning the head, neck and spine so that the head is up and slightly forward, allowing the spine to lengthen, releasing tension from the neck and throat.
  • Directions: Oral suggestions, self-administered, which send conscious instructions to parts of the body which he had struggled to control before.
  • Using gravity as a healer; positioning and balancing the body so that gravity can do its work. One example is the semi-supine position: lying on your back with your knees in the air, head resting on several books, arms relaxed at the side. This releases muscle tension and brings the body back into alignment.
  • The whispered ‘ah’: To remove unnecessary effort from using the voice.

Alexander practitioners are known as teachers (not therapists). They explain and demonstrate the technique, and use hands-on methods to bring about change in their clients.

Alexander is best known for his work on movement and posture but he also believed that the mind and body were as one. When we take good care of the body, we fell better mentally, emotionally – and spiritually – too. Many physical problems are caused by our behaviour; people behave according to their way of thinking, so to cure some physical problems means changing our thinking. This is a conscious process which takes effort and determination.

The benefits of the Alexander Technique have been well documented especially for chronic back pain, but in the eyes of the medical establishment he remains a quack. Surgery, they say, backed by drugs, is quicker, cheaper and more permanent, and more in tune with our modern lifestyles. But at what cost? Those of us who believe in natural healing methods must not remain silent!

©David Lawrence Preston, 1.11.2018

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An empty shell

Today’s doctors study anatomy in great detail, aided by constant improvements in microscope technology, electronic scanning and, in recent decades, computers. But what exactly are they studying?

If you want to see what a human body looks like with its mental and emotional energies taken away, look out for Professor Gunther von Hagens’ travelling Bodyworlds Exhibition. Here you will find real human bodies displayed in all their glory (or stripped of their dignity, depending on your point of view).

The Professor is a controversial figure. In the 1970s he developed a technique called ‘plastination’, which removes the moisture from human and animal bodies and enables him to preserve them more or less indefinitely.

I found the Bodyworlds Exhibition a powerful educational experience. Waiting to greet me were over two hundred exhibits. Some were simply displays of body parts, including both male and female brains sliced like ham, a smoker’s black lungs opened up and compared with a non-smoker’s, and the tubes inside a scrotum drawn out to their full length, about a metre or so.

Others displayed complete cadavers with their skin removed, their bones, muscles and internal organs arranged in a variety of poses, each designed to demonstrate different anatomical features. A variety of athletic poses illustrated the use of muscle systems; there were plastinates riding a plastinated horse, playing basketball, kneeling before a cross and so on.

Juan Valverde

One stood proud, holding his skin in one hand like a blanket and unashamedly revealing his internal organs, mimicking a similar pose on an anatomical plate dated 1559 by Juan Valverde de Amusco in which a man holds a knife in one hand and his own skin in the other.

Another opened his arms like a pope to reveal all the organs of his stomach and chest cavity and another the torso of a pregnant woman sliced vertically in half to show the womb and foetus in situ.

It is easy to see why von Hagens is accused of publicity seeking. Indeed, press reports in 2009 that he was planning a sex show featuring plastinates attracted hundreds of complaints. Politicians and churchmen lined up to label it revolting and unacceptable, and a short video about the exhibit was banned in several countries.

But despite the protests, the Professor insists that his work is educational. Visitors see the structure and inner workings of the human body and the long-term impact of diseases and are brought face to face with the effects of poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, drugs and excessive alcohol consumption.

I certainly learned a lot, and my occasional discomfort never turned into offence. But as I left the exhibition, one thought kept recurring. I had not been looking at whole human beings at all: whatever had kept them alive and made them human – their very humanness – was no longer there. 

Without our non-physical attributes – what some philosophers call the ghost in the maching – we are nothing but an empty shell.

©David Lawrence Preston, 28.7.2018

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10 years hiding in a room

A young friend of mine, Naomi, has spent the past ten years hiding in her room with the curtains closed, scared to go out because she dreads being seen in public. On the rare occasions she ventures out, she smothers herself in makeup and wears a floppy hat or balaclava, scarf and baggy clothing to conceal her features. A slim, pretty woman, she spends a disproportionate amount of time looking in a mirror.


Naomi has been diagnosed with a condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD. BDD sufferers are obsessively preoccupied with thoughts about their appearance. They believe that some aspect of their physical makeup – usually the face, skin or hair – is so blemished they must take drastic measures to hide it.

Now in her early thirties, Naomi’s problems started in adolescence. She was teased for her red hair and puppy fat at school and became excessively shy and depressed. She left school without any qualifications and took a series of poorly paid jobs in shop and cafés before withdrawing from the world. Today she relies on social security handouts and her mother’s generosity to get by.

Nobody knows what causes BDD, although there are likely to be a complex mixture of genetic, developmental and social factors. In Naomi’s case, there is no history of childhood abuse or neglect and no major health concerns. She has always been an introvert. She has a narrow range of interests which she pursues with intensity. She is obsessed by ‘class’ and ‘style’ and is something of a perfectionist. Anything that attracts her interest fully engages her to the exclusion of all else, giving the impression of extreme selfishness.

Her obsession has led her to save up for laser treatment for her skin at an expensive London clinic. Local doctors and psychologists have tried to deter her, stressing that there is nothing wrong with her skin, but to no avail. Experience shows that cosmetic procedures have little hope of relieving her distress and every prospect of making it worse, especially if the treatment goes wrong. But you can’t tell her; she gets extremely angry if anyone points this out.

Clinicians estimate that around 2% of the population suffer from BDD, and it affects men and women equally. It is closely associated with other mental illnesses such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety Disorder and high levels of suicide. Quality of life is understandably poor – lack of natural sunlight can cause major health problems, as can social isolation, few career opportunities and lack of direction.

Diagnosis and treatment are currently problematic. BDD sufferers go to great lengths to conceal their condition and few general practitioners seem to recognise it. Some medications have been shown to help, especially the antidepressant group SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Naomi has been resistant to psychiatric intervention, although Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has a reasonable track record at helping confront and reprogramming irrational fears.

Sadly, unless she decides to engage, there is little prospect of her getting better, placing additional pressures on her family. And sadly, diagnoses of BDD are likely to get worse as people are becoming more preoccupied with their image and appearance than ever before.

©David Lawrence Preston 8.6.2018

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What are you?

What are you? When you think, exactly who or what is doing the thinking? When you stare into a mirror, who is doing the looking?

There’s a story of a young philosophy student who went to see his professor. ‘Please help me,’ he pleaded. ‘There’s a question that’s been eating me alive. I can’t sleep through worrying about it. Tell me, do I exist?’

The professor turned to him with a withering look and replied, ‘Who wants to know?’

The question of what we are and why has always occupied great minds. Socrates, for instance, advised anyone who would listen to ‘know yourself’. Someone asked, ‘You tell others to know themselves, but do you know yourself?’ He replied, ‘No, but I do understand something about this not knowing.’

Nowadays, we know a great deal more than in Socrates’ day. Powerful microscopes reveal the building blocks of our physical form at cellular level and quantum level. We now understand the brain so well that we know which clusters of tissue house which types of mental activity. We can even predict whether an individual is at risk of certain diseases from their thought patterns and emotional make-up. And yet how many of us can truly say we know ourselves?

A human being is a complex organism made up a body, a mind, and an energising force that brings life to the physical form. This energising force – call it Spirit, soul or anything you like – is present in every atom and cell, and when it leaves, we die. That’s why we don’t become spiritual beings – we already are.

‘You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.’ (C.S. Lewis)

©David Lawrence Preston, 28.5.18

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Placebos – the Best Medicine

It is well known that pills and potions with no active ingredients can be just as effective as pharmaceutical/chemical medicines. Sometimes they are more effective, depending on how they are administered. They can cure illnesses for no other reason than the patient trusts the doctor and believes they can.  Despite the research evidence, placebos are still treated as a bit of a joke, as if patients are ‘fooled’ into getting well.

Of course, the pharmaceutical industry hates them – where’s the profit in simple, unbranded sugar pill? Or the credit? So the medical establishment – bankrolled by big pharma – considers them unethical. They say that giving patients pills with no active ingredients while pretending they are something else is deliberate deception. They dismiss them as useless and – worse – dishonest. Of course whether they are dishonest is a moot point, but useless they most certainly aren’t.

Placebos utilise the power of suggestion. Suggestion is a major influence on all our lives. Advertisers and politicians know this perfectly well, of course, and so do parents. When you were a child, did your mother ever ‘kiss it better’ when you hurt yourself? And it did feel better, didn’t it, even though there was no logical reason why it should? Doctors’ waiting rooms, white coats, stethoscopes and prescription pads are all loaded with suggestion. So are crystals, incenses, relaxation CDs, coloured lights and massage oils.

Research has shown over and over again that the effectiveness of placebos can be enhanced by skilfully enhancing their suggestive power. The colour of the pill, its name and packaging, the practitioner’s manner, the layout of the consulting room and waiting room, the language used and so on can all be manipulated to increase its healing power.

We may congratulate ourselves that this is a recent discovery, but it’s actually as old as our ability to smelt iron and build pyramids. We’ve always known that there’s a close connection between body and mind. Anxious thoughts can give rise to headaches, an upset stomach and so on. We tremble with fear and feel excitement at the sight of a lover.

So why did the Western medical establishment ignore the mind-body connection for so long? Put simply, you can’t see thoughts and you can’t measure their progress through the body. Then in the nineteen seventies and eighties, mainstream scientists  discovered the physical processes by which thoughts and emotions manifested as physical changes in the body.

Today, most doctors have made the connection. They understand that many illnesses have a psycho-somatic component, but there’s still much work to be done before it is fully understood, and we’re a long way off finding effective treatments for many psycho-somatic conditions.

It’s all a matter of belief. Most treatments only get optimum results if the patient believes in them. On the other hand, some beliefs are toxic. People who believe that illness is a sign of failure on their part, a punishment for wrongdoings and errors they have made heal slowly, if at all. And research shows that those who believe their illness is related to something that happened in a past life heal the slowest of all.

I used to know a lady who read palms, tarot cards and a crystal ball. Her readings were widely known in the area for their accuracy. I asked her what she actually saw in the crystal ball. She said nothing at all – it was just a ‘prop’ to add a touch of mystique to the proceedings. Smiling, she told me, ‘The information comes to me directly, as thought-impressions, words, mental images and sometimes physical sensations. The crystal ball is just there to impress the clients and make them feel they’re getting their money’s worth.’

I know some complementary practitioners who get excellent results with their clients by intuition. They quickly sense where the problem lies by observing and asking questions, and whatever tools and techniques they use – crystals, reiki, flower essences and so on, even homeopathy – are less important than whether the client thinks they work.

Some very sophisticated appliances – including computerised scanning devices with impressive graphics that utilise the language of energetic medicine and quantum physics – are little more than random number generators. Readings are hit and miss, cannot be verified nor replicated. Some of the ‘remedies’ connected to these devices have no demonstrable effect yet are sold at great expense; they are nothing but placebos. Sure, some clients get well, and that can’t be a bad thing, but many feel no benefit. It all depends on the confidence projected by the practitioner’s ‘performance’ (for this is what it is). If the client is unwilling to suspend disbelief, they get little or no benefit while paying through the nose for the experience.

However, just because there are some sharp operators in the market does not mean that we should dismiss placebos in general. The fact that they can work tells us something very important about illness and recovery. It actually tells us more about the way humans heal than any number of double-blind trials. They are the proof that, given the right circumstances, the belief in our ability to heal and that healing is taking place is all that is necessary.

Rather than polluting our bodies with chemicals and suffering their nasty side effects, wouldn’t it be better for the medical profession to investigate placebos more fully, and find better ways of using them? A medical version of the crystal ball – one that helps people to get well without causing them harm – would surely be a major advance!


©David Lawrence Preston, 18.5.2018

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The Molecules of Emotion

Anyone who has ever felt sick with worry or cried at the cinema knows that there is a close connection between our thoughts, emotions and bodily state, but only in the last couple of decades has the medical establishment acknowledged this connection and begun to take it seriously. The reason was that scientists could find no discernible means by which the brain, nervous system and immune system communicated with each other, and hence could not explain how the mind could possibly bring about physical changes.

Dr Candace Pert changed all that. She discovered the biochemical mechanisms through which mind-body communication takes place. As a result of her work, and that work of other great PNI (Psycho-Neuro-Immunology) pioneers such as Cannon, Ader, Felten and the rest, no serious medic today would deny that our thoughts and emotions affect our health. No longer can we regard the body and mind as distinct from each other – they function together as a single unit, an interconnected whole.

The Molecules of Emotion is an account of Dr Pert’s life and work from her graduation in 1970 until its publication in 1997. The first chapter sets the scene, a scientific explanation of ligands, peptides and receptor sites cleverly woven into her account of how she approaches lecturing to an expert audience.  The next few chapters describe the defining period on her life when, as a young scientist trying to make her mark, she fought off those who said it couldn’t be done and discovered the opiate receptor in the brain. She then found herself at odds with those in power who resented her challenge to established scientific thinking and who weren’t ready to be confronted by – shock horror!!! – a woman shaking things up. Indeed, this episode sets the tone for much of the book. She frequently returns to the 1970’s style feminism, concluding that her difficulties in getting the credit to which she was entitled were due to her gender rather than the dirty tricks and ruthlessness of professional colleagues.

Personally, as one who gave up chemistry and biology at an early age, I found the book tough going in places, but the ‘difficult’ passages soon give way to more reader friendly narrative. Parts are stomach churning; her description of making a frothy milkshake-like mixture from the brains of the recently deceased is not for the faint-hearted, but an essential part of her research. She describes research that would later signpost an effective treatment for HIV, an easily synthesised polypeptide that would block one of the receptor sites by which the virus gains access to the body. Complicated, yes, but even so, the author makes it as clear as possible for the uninitiated like me. I learned a great deal, and, thanks to a clear and comprehensive index at the back, will use the book as a source of reference in the future.

Besides, for me, the science is not the only point of the book, for behind the technical details lies a fascinating human interest story of a determined young woman doing unconventional research in a staid and conservative environment. Indeed, her first major breakthrough would not have happened if she’d obeyed her superior’s instruction to discontinue that line of research. Then as the story unfolds, we learn how she was denied her share in a prestigious award, even though she did most of the research; her difficulties combining he professional life with her family life; her 10 year struggle to get funding for research; and how she founding of a research institute with a state-of-the-art laboratory only to have the funding withdrawn after falling foul of the intriguingly unnamed ‘Second Biggest Drug Company on the Planet’. She tells how she sabotaged her chances of gaining a Nobel Prize nomination by refusing to support the nomination of a group of (male) rivals who she felt had stolen her ideas.

Later breakthroughs in HIV/AIDS and cancer treatments followed, each as hard-fought as the last. By then, she had become more resilient, and her anger and frustration had given way to mindfulness and acceptance. For out of her research had come the realisation that forgiveness and a positive attitude in the face of adversity are important for maintaining wellbeing, and that toxic emotions must be expressed and worked through.

meridiansThe final chapters offer an eight part programme for a healthy lifestyle. By then, she had discovered meditation, consciousness and chakra-based energy medicine. She had become an apostle for integrating mainstream, science-based medicine with holistic healthcare, and acknowledged the interaction between ‘healer’ and ‘client’ as an important part of the healing process. She had also stumbled across the notion of information exchange as the basis of understanding biological life, referring to neuropeptides and receptors as ‘information molecules’.

The Molecules of Emotion has been criticised by the more scientifically minded as focussing too much on the human interest story and veering too far towards the ‘woo-woo’ in its final chapters, and by science-phobics as too heavy on technical detail.  But science is an unfolding process. Scientifically, the world has moved on since The Molecules of Emotion was first published. We know a great deal more about the mechanisms by which our mental and emotional processes affect the biochemical make up of the body and manifest as health and wellbeing or dysfunction and disease. As a result, health practitioners (including doctors) are no longer reluctant to discuss with clients how their beliefs and lifestyle choices impact on their health, and more and more clients readily embrace holistic healing approaches alongside conventional medicine.

Dr Pert made some important discoveries, then, not content to keep them to herself, fought hard to bring them to our attention. Her work validates what common sense has always told us – that the mind and body are intimately connected. For me, this book is an essential read for anyone engaged in medicine/healthcare and/or healing, either as a practitioner, educator, policymaker or administrator.

Dr Candace Pert, The Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel The Way You Feel, Pocket Books, 1999, ISBN- 13: 978-0-6710-3397-2


Copyright David Lawrence Preston, 25.3.18. All rights reserved.

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Working in Nature Improves Mental Health

A study by the University of Essex for the Wildlife Trust has revealed that doing voluntary work in nature improves mental wellbeing. 95% of the 139 volunteers reported an improvement in their symptoms within six weeks. The work included shrub clearing, conservation work, tree planting and food harvesting.

The results demonstrate once again that the larger the role played by nature in our lives, the healthier we are – physically and mentally. The benefits of exercise, fresh air, sunlight and natural earth-based EMFs are so great that many doctors are now urging their patients to get out into nature as often as they can.

It seems that any system of healthcare that does not rely solely on medication and other conventional approaches can only be a good thing.

©Feeling Good All the Time, 30.10.17

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Mind-Body Healing the Quimby Way

All illness has a psycho-somatic component. Often it’s hard to tell where the boundary lies between the mind and body. One great pioneering healer knew no bounds; his name was Phineas Parkhurst Quimby.


He was born on February 16, 1802. He was a clock-maker in Belfast, Maine, where he lived most of his life. Although others called him ‘Doctor’ he had little formal education, and no medical training or qualifications. But he had a practical, enquiring mind.

As a young man, he became desperately ill with tuberculosis. His lungs were wasting away and doctors couldn’t help. He decided to try and help himself. Someone suggested horse-riding – the fresh air would do him good. But he was too weak to ride a horse, so be borrowed a horse and cart. One day the horse refused to pull the cart up a hill, so Quimby walked up the hill with the horse. When they got to the top, the horse suddenly started trotting. Quimby couldn’t get back on the cart and ran down the hill with the horse – which, strictly speaking, he shouldn’t have been able to.

When he got home, he realised he was breathing freely and the pain had gone. It never returned. He dedicated the rest of his life to understanding what brought this spontaneous healing about. He reasoned there must be something within us, that we’re not normally aware of, that can make us well.

He learned of the work of Anton Mesmer, the hypnotist, who had gained a reputation for remarkable healings in Europe. By 1840, Quimby was an expert hypnotist. He met a young man called Lucius who was an excellent hypnotic subject. Under hypnosis, Lucius could apparently diagnose patients’ illnesses and suggest a cure.

Later, Quimby realized that Lucius was tuning in to what the patient believed he had, not what he actually had. So after his early experiments, he gave up hypnotism. Instead, he focussed on curing disease through the mind (mental healing). His emphasis was on getting his patients to see causes for themselves. He wanted to help the patient see life in an entirely different way. About this time, his own clairvoyant faculties began to develop.

He dedicated himself to discovering the truth behind the New Testament healings. In the gospels, Jesus was said to heal first the mind, then the body. He removed the cause of the disease and the physical effect ceased. Quimby did not regard Jesus’ healings as miracles, but as scientific applications of Universal Law.

Many thought him a charlatan, but those he helped saw him as a pioneer, a mystic. He healed thousands of people of a wide range of illnesses. He also carried out distance healing. Most of his cases had not responded to conventional treatment. Some thought he was most successful among the credulous, but there’s no doubt he brought about many marvellous cures.

He died of over-work and self-neglect on January 16, 1866. It is said he saw over 10,000 patients in his last seven years. Later writers attributed his success to four main factors:

1.       He had a deep sympathy for human suffering.

2.       He was an authentic and original thinker. It took a great deal of courage to do what he did and teach what he taught in 19th Century New England.

3.       His approach was rigorously scientific. He demanded proof and did not trust opinions, only knowledge.

4.       He understood the harm that organised religion of his day had done to people and the need to reverse this thinking. He believed that the Church had abdicated its interest in healing and that his purpose was to resurrect it. His interest in the New Testament was mainly to understand the negative thinking of his patients – especially those who believed that ill health was normal or that they were ill because G_d was punishing them for some unpardonable sin.

Quimby’s Healing Method

Quimby believed that the healing power is present in the mind of the patient. He sat down with his patients and put himself in rapport with them. He addressed his comments to the ‘spirit within’. He held that the spirit within is at one with G_d and never sick.

He used his intuition to discover the real source of the problem. He visualised the person’s spirit form standing beside the body. The spirit form imparted to him the cause of the problem. Often he felt every symptom of the disease in his own body.

He described the cause of disease in his own words:

“The trouble is in the mind, for the body is only the house for the mind to dwell in. if your mind has been deceived by some invisible enemy into a belief, you have put it into the form of a disease, with or without your knowledge. By my theory or truth I come in contact with your enemy and restore you to health and happiness….

A sick man is like a criminal cast into prison for disobeying some law that man has set up. I plead his case, and if I get the verdict, the criminal is set at liberty. If I fail, I lose the case. His own judgment is his judge, his feelings are his evidence. If my explanation is satisfactory to the judge, you will give me the verdict. This ends the trial, and the patient is released.”

His son George (who acted as his secretary) described his father’s method of cure like this (I paraphrase):  ‘A patient comes to see Dr Quimby. He renders himself absent to everything but the impression of the person’s feelings. These are quickly imprinted on him. This mental picture contains the disease as it appears to the patient. Being confident that it is the shadow of a false idea, he is not afraid of it. Then his feelings in regard to health and strength are imprinted on the receptive plate of the patient. The patient sees the disease in a new light, gains confidence. This change is imprinted on the doctor again and he sees the change and continues. The shadow grows dim and finally disappears, the light takes its place, and there is nothing left of the disease.’

Sometimes barely a word was spoken – Quimby’s thoughts somehow impacted on the patient. Quimby’s highly developed intuition and powers of concentration were vital in his success. Today he would be called a medical intuitive, because he could ‘sense’ what the problem was and sometimes apply a remedy by telepathy.

He knew – predating Freud by half a century – that many of the patient’s unhelpful beliefs were located in the Unconscious Mind and must be brought into consciousness before they can be dealt with. The Unconscious is directly responsive to thought and embodies our fears, beliefs, hopes, errors, and joys. Thought, emotion and belief all impact on health, and these can be changed. Quimby found that the most harmful belief – which he encountered a great deal – was that G_d was punishing the person for their sins by making them ill.


Quimby left behind detailed journals which explained his philosophy and methods. In addition, some of his clients published their own books and devoted their lives to spreading awareness of his discoveries. The main one was Rev Warren Felt Evans. He wrote the definitive contemporary account in his book, ‘The Mental Cure’ (1869). His ideas also found their way into the writings of Mrs Mary Baker Eddy, whose most famous work, ‘Science and Health’, was published in 1875. (more on her later)

Quimby didn’t publish his writings. After his death, his son George held on to his manuscripts but refused to publish them until after Mrs Eddy’s death. Only in 1920 were edited excerpts published (by Horatio Dresser, son of Julius Dresser, a patient), but it was not until 1989 that Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: The Complete Writings were published, edited by Dr Ervin Seale, who devoted much of his life to this task.

Every New Thought thinker and writer has been influenced by Quimby, and so have many of the great psychologists and philosophers including the Louise Hay, Milton Erickson, Caroline Myss, Bandler and Grinder (NLP), Ernest Holmes, the Cognitive-Behavioural therapists and many others. Most acknowledge their debt.

Piano keys

Quimby was far ahead of his time. One of his most famous sayings is, ‘Take a piano. The same keys that produce discord will produce harmony.’ What did he mean? Simply that the same laws  of thought and belief that can produce discord and misery can also produce harmony and happiness.

At last people are waking up to the incredible contribution he made. Science is still catching up, and one day – hopefully before too long – it will.

©David Lawrence Preston, 2015

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Healing the body with the mind

Following the success of Barbara Mohr’s ‘Cosmic Ordering’[1] and Rhonda Byrne’s ‘The Secret’[2] in 2006, the ancient spiritual Law known as the Law of Attraction has come to the fore. It is enshrined in Buddhism, Taoism and the Vedic and Hebrew scriptures. In the Hebrew Scriptures King Solomon went so far as to say, ‘For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,’[3] a message constantly reiterated in the New Testament.

At first glance these modern interpretations appear to suggest that you can enjoy perfect health, acquire massive riches and perform miracles just by asking the ‘universe’ for what you want and believing without question that it’s already yours – despite any appearances to the contrary. Don’t concern yourself with the ‘how’ – let the universe take care of the details. When the time is right, you will receive exactly what you asked for.

In the context of healing, this recipe has appeared to work for some people, but, of course, nothing is ever that simple. Sure, the same universe that makes a person unwell also has the means to cure them, as long as they are willing to do something for themselves. When the right causes are laid, the right effects surely follow.

The problem is, we are never in control of all the causes. You can eat all the right foods, exercise, regularly detox, control your thoughts by denying illness and affirming health, constantly assure yourself that you are fit and well, young and healthy, and still contract a seriously illness.

Research has revealed correlations between certain ways of thinking and believing and the restoration of good health after illness. For example, the Institute of Noetic Sciences identified the factors that characterise ‘spontaneous remissions’. Among them were taking full personal responsibility, facing up to the crisis, looking for meaning in the illness, choosing a new, more fulfilling way of life, learning to express their emotions, close family relationships, setting one’s own goals and reappraising old beliefs that are no longer helpful or appropriate to their situation. Emphasis was also placed on relieving stress and seeking a renewed spiritual awareness through a spiritual practice such as prayer or meditation.

These are correlations; nothing is certain. These physical and mental disciplines massively increase your chances of good health, but they can never guarantee it. Because life’s not like that!

©Feelinggoodallthetime 28.3.2017

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How to Books, 2007

[1] Barbara Mohr, The Cosmic Ordering Service, Mobius, 2006, ISBN 978-0340933329

[2] Rhonda Byrne, The Secret,  Simon and Schuster, 2006, ISBN 978-0340933329

[3] Proverbs 23: 7 KJV

Healing and the Imagination

The imagination can be a potent force in healing.

It’s no exaggeration that patients who cannot imagine themselves well are unlikely to be or stay so, and an increasing number of doctors and complementary practitioners agree. For example, in pain control clinics patients are taught to imagine the sore area going cool and numb, and visualise a dial or slide control representing the degree of pain and turn it down. It works because pain is a subjective experience highly susceptible to mental processes.

Try this: sit down comfortably, take a few deep breaths and focus your attention on your dominant hand. Imagine it getting warmer. What’s happening? Now imagine it getting cooler. Any difference? Experiments using sophisticated measuring equipment have registered significant changes in skin temperature when people use their imagination in this way.

Leading physicians such as Dr Carl Simonton, Dr Bernie Segal and Dr Dean Ornish have written and lectured widely about their experiences using the imagination to assist the healing process. Dr Simonton teaches his patients to visualise tumours shrinking and the cancer disappearing. Dr Ornish uses creative imagery, nutrition, exercise and group therapy to clear coronary heart blockages. Dr Segal uses a range of techniques to galvanise the healing power of the mind, including visualisation. In each case, the results are well documented. This author, too, has used it (with hypnosis) to relieve a range of conditions including eczema, frozen shoulder, muscular aches and pains, blushing, allergies, eczema, headaches, obesity, bed wetting and a variety of fears and phobias.

Using the imagination, especially the creative visual imagination, works because of two quirks of the unconscious mind (where the body’s automatic regulation systems are located). The first is, the unconscious processes pictures and feelings better than words and ideas. Tell your heart to speed up and nothing happens.  Imagine yourself waking down a dark alley with the sound of footsteps getting louder behind you and suddenly a heavy hand on your shoulder…..

The other is even quirkier: the unconscious can’t distinguish between fact and fantasy, ‘real’ and imagined. That’s why people wake in a sweat after a bad dream and cry at the cinema. So if you create a mental image of yourself healthy and healed, your unconscious works to make it a reality.

Creative imagery has proved its worth in healing time and time again. Katy came to see me after suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for many years. It made her days miserable and kept her awake at night. IBS is a stress-related condition exacerbated by poor diet.

I took her through a couple of guided visualisations and encouraged her to practise at home. She relaxed deeply and imagined she was examining her bowel from the inside. In her imagination she created a vivid mental picture of the problem area. It looked rough, angry, red and sore. She then imagined herself smearing the affected area with healing oils and balms, sensing the discomfort melting away, seeing the angry red change to a healthy pink. Finally, she turned on a make-believe tap in the bloodstream which provided extra nutrients and oxygen, to encourage healthy bacteria to flow in.

Within two weeks the IBS had almost disappeared. After a month, it was completely clear.

Try it yourself, but first a word of warning: no amount of creative imagery alone will cure you unless you change bad habits and take necessary action in other areas (e.g. diet, exercise, rest etc.) too.


©Feelinggoodallthetime, 27.3.2017

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