The Power of Suggestion

Suggestions have a big influence over our lives. Tell anyone something convincingly enough and they’ll accept what you say. Tell them over and over again and sooner or later they’ll start to believe you.

Unfortunately it’s often the suggestions of others that we allow to control us. For instance:

  • Advertisers use them to persuade us to buy their products. Promotional suggestions are often recalled years after they ceased to be used.
  • Politicians use them too with catchy phrases (whether or not they’re true) as we’ve recently seen with the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum.
  • Parents use them all the time. Young children tend to believe everything their parents say. E.g. when a young child gets hurt and Mum ‘kisses it better’ it does feel better, even though there’s no logical reason why it should.
  • Placebos – pills and potions with no active ingredients – can cure illnesses for no other reason than the patient believes they can. Placebos were once treated as a bit of a joke – as if the patient were ‘fooled’ into getting well -but now they’re taken very seriously indeed.
  • Suggestions don’t necessarily have to be direct: parents who receive a letter from school about head lice in their child’s class often feel itchy!
  • Nor do suggestions have to be verbal. Non-verbals (gestures, facial expressions and so on) can be even more powerful, and verbal suggestions backed up by visual, taste, tactile or olfactory stimuli can be extremely compelling.
  • Some hospital radio stations do not play certain records because of the effect they could have on patient recovery. For example, ‘My Way’ (‘And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain’), ’ ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’,  ‘I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight’ and ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ contain some unhelpful suggestions!

You’ve used suggestion many times, and it has also been used on you. You can learn to make good use of this vital tool to:

  • help internalise your goals.
  • replace negative attitudes and beliefs with positive ones.
  • relax and combat stress.
  • cultivate better relationships with yourself and others.
  • change unwanted habits and personality traits.
  • build confidence in yourself and your abilities.

… and for many other purposes.

Suggestion, Affirmations and the Law of Attraction

Affirmations are simply suggestions made to ourselves – statements that represent how we are or how we want our lives to be. They help bring into effect the great Universal Law of Attraction:

Whatever your mind dwells upon, with feeling, you attract into your life.

Think about it – do you know anyone who is always talking about their illnesses and who is always ill? Or anyone who is always running themselves down, and who consequently never achieves very much?

Affirmations are powerful tools that use the power of structured repetition. One of the best known was formulated by Emil Coué in the 1920’s: ‘Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.’ He helped many people to heal themselves using this simple phrase. Try it for yourself!

Properly phrased affirmations make a big impact on your unconscious, but be aware you must observe certain rules, otherwise they may backfire.

The following rules apply to affirmations. They’re even more effective when used in conjunction with deep relaxation (this is called ‘autosuggestion’) – but slightly different rules apply.

Personalise your affirmations

Affirmations which attempt to change other people are totally ineffective. Repeating ‘Jim loves me’ does not work, because only Jim can make this choices. But you can affirm ‘I am attracting a wonderful person into my life who has… (all the qualities you’re looking for)’ You may not win Jim over, but you will find someone to your liking.

A simple way to personalise your affirmations is to use the first person pronoun, ‘I’. For example:

  • I accept, love and approve of myself.
  • Every day, I am becoming more calm, peaceful and relaxed.
  • I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, peaceful and happy.
  • I am a positive person. I think, act and talk positively at all times.

Another way to personalise – and strengthen – your affirmations – is to use the ‘first, second and third person’ technique. Let’s suppose you want to be a calmer and more confident person. Add your first name and affirm:

  • I, Chris, am a calm and confident person.
  • You, Chris, are a calm and confident person.
  • Chris is a calm and confident person.

Use positive words and phrases

It’s important to always use words and phrases that express what you want, not what you don’t want. Otherwise you might inadvertently end up with the opposite of what you intended.

The unconscious often overlooks a negation if it occurs in the middle of a sentence. If you affirm, ‘I will not fail’, only the word ‘fail’ registers. It’s far better to affirm, ‘I am a success’.

I recently heard a woman telling how she stuck little notices all over her house one morning reminding her not to forget her son’s team’s football kit for the match that afternoon. The notes said, ‘Don’t forget the kit’. Guess what happened!

Make your affirmations credible

This is one of the biggest secrets for using self-suggestion. The purpose of self-suggestion is to impress your unconscious with empowering beliefs which reflect the way you want to be. This is why some writers recommend stating all your affirmations in the present tense, i.e. beginning your affirmations with ‘I am’, ‘I can’, ‘I have’, ‘I do’ etc.

The problem, though, is that an affirmation which totally contradicts your current belief system alerts a mechanism in the brain known as the Reticular Activating System (or ‘Critical Censor’). It can assert itself in many ways, such as an uncomfortable feeling in the chest or solar plexus or a quiet but persistent voice in your head saying, ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ This is your old programming and conditioning trying to reassert itself.

How do you get round this?

Firstly, consider affirmations as a tool for change rather than statements of absolute truth. Think of them as planting seeds. You won’t see the results immediately, but have faith in the technique, and you will.

Another way is to choose your wording carefully so the suggestion will bypass the Critical Censor. This is how:

  • Put all weaknesses and limitations in the past tense.
  • Affirm your willingness to change.
  • Affirm that you are making good progress towards your goal, and this continue.
  • Affirm your determination to do whatever you can to improve.

A useful form of wording is:

‘I used to be… but all that is changing. Now I am becoming more and more… ‘

For example, if you’re shy, affirm: ‘I used to be shy, but all that is changing. I am becoming more assertive every day. I know I can and I will continue to improve.’

More examples:

  • I used to believe that I was weak, but all that is changing, and I am now becoming stronger and stronger each day.
  • I used to be negative, but that attitude is now behind me. Nowadays I think, talk and act positively at all times.
  • I used to be judgemental, but that is now changing. Every day, I am becoming more open and accepting of myself and others.

Say your self-suggestions as if you really mean them

The Law of Attraction is widely misunderstood. Just wishing or hoping – even believing – are not enough. You must invest some energy into the conditions you wish to create. In other words, you must do something.

As a first step, invest some emotional energy into the affirmations themselves. Say them out loud, enthusiastically. Mean what you say. A thought alone has little power, but when expressed with genuine feeling, it has real impact. Emphasise your words with passion, a strong tone of voice, movement and firm intent.

For maximum impact, also:

  • Write them out every day – this reinforces them in your unconscious.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror as you speak them.
  • Jot them down in your diary, list them on cards, programme them into your mobile phone, carry them with you and read throughout the day.
  • Record them onto a recording device and listen frequently.
  • Write them on sticky labels and place them anywhere you routinely look.
  • If your goal is something tangible, carry a reminder of it with you and affirm that it is yours every time you look at it.
  • You can increase the effectiveness of your affirmations by adding, ‘This, or something better, I accept for myself, for my greatest good and the greatest good of all’.

Keep at it

The unconscious loves repetition. The more you use self-suggestion, the more effective it is.

It takes about a month to change an old thinking pattern, so don’t give up. Affirm whenever you can, wherever you are, especially during those times when the mind is naturally most receptive. Last thing at night is a good time – give it something uplifting to work on while you are asleep. Another good time is first thing in the morning. If you can find a few moments during the day to relax and unwind – terrific!

 

© David Lawrence Preston, 23.11.2018

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Encouraging News on Placebos

In one of the most encouraging articles I’ve read for a long time[1], 97% of a sample of 783 UK family doctors reported in a study carried out by the Universities of Oxford and Southampton that they had given a placebo to at least one of their patients. Some said they do so on a regular basis. Half had told their patients that the remedies had helped other patients, without specifically telling them they were prescribing a placebo.

This is a huge step forward towards general recognition of the role of the mind in health, ill-health and healing, and acceptance of the potential of informational remedies. Apparently even the UK Royal College of General Practitioners now acknowledges that there is a place for placebos in medicine.

A co-author of the study, Dr Jeremy Howick, was quoted as saying, ‘This is not about doctors deceiving patients,’ (which is how Big Pharma has often characterised the use of placebos) but that ‘doctors clearly believe that placebos can help patients’.

Evenso, the BBC report still refers to ‘sham’ treatments’ and ‘unproven treatments’ as if the author, Michelle Roberts, is still not really convinced.  She writes that three quarters of doctors claimed to offer ‘unproven treatments’ such as complementary therapies on a daily or weekly basis, and even refers to ‘fake’ acupuncture (which has been used successfully for over five thousand years)  in such terms. She misses the point – in most cases it is not the medicine that brings about healing, but the patient’s own healing abilities restoring equilibrium and removing the resistance to full health.

Research shows that placebos are most effective a relieving subjective conditions such as pain, and their effect is based on cultivating the patient’s expectations of a cure. Hence the size, colour and packaging of placebos all play a role, as does the presentation and manner of the practitioner who prescribes them.

There are still those who consider the use of placebos as ‘fooling’ patients by giving them ‘useless’ pills and potions, even if they help bring about a cure. Some consider them dangerous because they deny the patient ‘effective’ treatment (by which they mean bio-chemical intervention), and others that they damage to doctor-patient relationship. Others claim that some ‘placebo’ treatments, such as prescribing vitamin supplements, are not inert, in that taking too much of some vitamins is harmful.

Then there are those who dismiss phenomena such as ‘spontaneous remission’ as pure chance and unworthy of investigation when in fact they could throw invaluable light on the healing process.

But in the longer term there is much more at stake here than whether placebos are unethical or ineffective, or whether this person or that person gets better and stays well. Our view of mind-body and informational medicine is related to our understanding of what human beings actually are and how we function. This is the greater prize.

©David Lawrence Preston, 18.10.2018

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[1] BBC website 21st March 2013, also widely reported on radio and TV.

Healing power is in the mind of the patient – the work of Dr P.P. Quimby

I’ve been to many healers in my time, and it seems to me that the techniques they employ say a great deal about the practitioner’s beliefs about what constitutes a human being. This – explicitly or implicitly – is what guides their healing methods. If you think a human body is simply a physical, mechanical thing, as many doctors used to do, you treat it accordingly. If you see it as intelligent, responsive, self-regulating, then your approach is entirely different.

Dr Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, a real groundbreaker of healing, was in no doubt. He saw humans as mind, body and spirit, and showed that our healing power comes primarily from within. Nowadays, few people have heard of him and yet his influence is reflected in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and well known writers such as Louise Hay, Dr Wayne Dyer, Dr Bernie Segal, Byron Katie, and many others.

Quimby

Quimby was born on February 16, 1802. A clock-maker by trade, he lived most of his life in Belfast, Maine. New England. Although others called him ‘Doctor’ he had little formal education and no medical training, but he had a practical, enquiring mind and unparalleled determination.

As a young man, he contracted tuberculosis. Doctors couldn’t help, so he decided to help himself. Someone suggested horse-riding as the fresh air would do him good, but he was too weak to ride, so he borrowed a horse and cart. One day the horse refused to pull the cart up a hill, so Quimby got down and walked with the horse. When they got to the top, it suddenly started trotting. As Quimby couldn’t get back on the cart he ran down the hill with the horse, which, strictly speaking, he shouldn’t have been able to due to his illness.

Back home, he realised he was breathing freely. The pain had gone (it never returned) – he had experienced a spontaneous healing. In that moment he dedicated himself to understanding what brought this about. He reasoned that there must be something within that can make us well, of which we’re not normally aware.

First he studied the work of the hypnotist Anton Mesmer, who had quite a reputation in Europe. By 1840, Quimby was an expert hypnotist. He worked with a young man called Lucius who, under hypnosis, 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 and instead focussed on curing disease through the mind, getting his patients to see causes for themselves.His approach was evidence-based and rigorously scientific. He trusted no opinions, only knowledge.

He studied the healing methods described in the New Testament. Quimby did not regard the gospel healings as miracles, but as scientific applications of truth as represented by Universal Law.

Ironically he was vehemently anti-religion. He believed that the Church had irresponsibly abandoned any interest in healing and that his purpose was to resurrect it. He studied the New Testament because he wanted to understand and correct the negative thinking of his patients – especially those who believed that ill health was a punishment for some unpardonable sin.

His healing methods were highly unusual. He sat with his patients until he had a mental impression of the problem and its cause. Often he felt every symptom of the disease in his own body. Then he silently challenged the cause in his own mind, addressing his comments to the spirit within which, he argued, could never be sick. Sometimes barely a word was spoken as Quimby’s thoughts somehow impacted on the patient.

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.

‘This I do partly mentally and partly by talking till I correct the wrong impressions and establish the truth, and the truth is the cure. . . . 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 as follows (I paraphrase slightly):

‘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.’

Quimby knew that one mind can influence another, and believed that most disease is due to false reasoning. To remove disease permanently, it is necessary to know the error in thinking which caused it. ‘The explanation,’ he said, ‘is the cure’.  Half a century before Freud, he explained that many of the harmful beliefs are located in the unconscious mind and must be brought into consciousness before they can be dealt with.

Quimby healed thousands of people of a wide range of illnesses, most of whom had not responded to conventional treatment. In the end, it was his very success that killed him. He died of over-work and self-neglect on January 16, 1866, having seen over 10,000 patients in his last seven years.

PPQ

Quimby left behind detailed journals, and some of his clients devoted their lives to spreading awareness of his methods. Rev Warren Felt Evans wrote the definitive contemporary account in his book, ‘The Mental Cure’ (1869), but it was not until 1989 that Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: The Complete Writings were published, edited by Dr Ervin Seale, who devoted most of his working life to the task.

Nowadays we have scientific proof that our thoughts and emotions affect our physical health. Placebos illustrate the effectiveness of suggestion as a powerful healer and CBT and NLP have proved their worth in many situations. Perhaps it is also time for Quimby to receive his due credit. If his ideas and methods were investigated anew, who knows how many people could benefit?

© Feeling Good All The Time, 8.10.2018

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Is religion just a form of placebo?

Our beliefs rule our lives and help to create our experience of life. They influence us whether we are paying attention to them or not and it doesn’t matter if they are true – the effect is the same. An untrue belief has just as powerful an effect as a true belief. The world we see is the sum total of our perceptions filtered through our beliefs.

We humans can convince ourselves of anything if we really want to. When we do our minds close, then we seek and find ‘evidence’ to support our views. That’s when beliefs run the risk of turning into prejudices. We even seek out people who agree with us and turn away from people who do not.

The Placebo Effect demonstrates how powerful beliefs can be. When people believe strongly enough that something is right, wise and useful then it usually has a positive effect on them. So if they believe that a personal G_d is watching over them, supporting and comforting, then they feel supported and comforted. It’s a nice feeling.

Similarly, when people believe that they are riddled with sin and that if they don’t reform a nasty fate awaits them after death, then their psychological (and in all probability their physical) welfare is negatively affected. Guilt, regret and despair are never healthy when carried to extremes. This is the Nocebo Effect.

Placebo and nocebo have been demonstrated time and time again in the medical world. In experiments, inert substances can heal or cause harm simply because the recipient believes they can. Coupled with the power of suggestion, placebos can give miraculous results.

So what about religion? Religion is all about belief, whether or not substantiated by factual evidence. Karl Marx famously referred to religion as the ‘opium of the masses.’ Perhaps ‘placebo’ or ‘nocebo of the masses’ would have been more appropriate.

 

Copyright David Lawrence Preston, 22.8.2016

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Creating a wonderful life with Creative Imagery

We all have a goal-seeking mechanism housed in the unconscious which takes us where the unconscious believes we want to go.  It is best influenced by:

1. Repetition – continually and consciously focussing on positive thoughts and images – effective if you persist going long enough; and

2. Creative imagery – relaxing into Alpha State (deep relaxation) and feeding in positive pictures, words, sounds and sensations.

The techniques I’m about to share have been used by many people in all walks of life, and the results can be astounding. For instance, Clare was on the verge of a breakdown. She’d recently completed a lengthy training course, but had been unable to find suitable work. To make matters worse all the others on the course had found what they wanted. She was also desperate to resolve her accommodation problems. She shared a flat with an ex-boyfriend who was verbally abusive and occasionally violent. Above all she wanted to find a partner who would treat her well.

She learned to relax deeply every day and visualise herself doing the job she wanted and being well-paid for it; enjoying a caring and loving relationship; and sharing her flat with someone she liked. At first, she was sceptical, but after a couple of weeks she was getting the hang of it.

I didn’t hear from her for several weeks. Then I received a letter out of the blue. The ex-boyfriend had moved out, she’d found a well-paid job, joined a health club and made a new circle of friends. She had also struck up a good relationship with a man she’d met at the club. Things were definitely on the up.

I’ve taught these methods to people suffering from fear of flying, needles, dentists, lifts, reptiles and insects; people about to take examinations, driving tests or face difficult interviews; sportsmen and women keen to improve their performances; people with sexual problems or addictions of one sort or another, and many, many more.

1. Make Creative Imagery a habit

Find twenty minutes every day when you will be undisturbed. Go to a quiet place, switch off the mobile and put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door. Any time is good, but first thing in the morning and last thing at night are especially beneficial because the mind is naturally most receptive at these times. It is also a good idea to ‘visualise’ the way you would like your day to go when you’re waking up.

2. Be clear on what you’re trying to achieve

Plan each session in advance. Choose one or two goals at a time, or, better still, concentrate on one or two for a whole week.

If you find you have difficulty remembering your routine, record it onto a suitable device and listen while you’re relaxed.

3. Relax deeply

Use your favourite techniques to relax into Alpha Level.

4. Imagine a mental screen

Imagine that you have a screen inside your forehead, just above eye level, rather like a cinema screen. Practise making images until you are totally comfortable with it. In time, you’ll be able to use it at will.

5. Allow your chosen images etc. to materialise

Creative imagery is a passive process. The unconscious cannot be hurried. Be patient, don’t force it, and don’t get frustrated if results don’t come immediately.

6. Give them impact

If the images, sounds and feelings you create are to have impact on your unconscious, they must be as clear and vibrant as you can make them.

  • Create colour images and make them as bright as possible.
  • Visualise moving images rather than stills.
  • ‘See’ them in three dimensions.
  • Place them at the centre of your mental screen.
  • Use all five senses if possible. In most cases, you’ll be able to use at least three. For example, if you’re mentally rehearsing a tennis match, ‘see’ the court, the ball, your opponent, etc., ‘hear’ the strings striking the ball, ‘feel’ the racquet in your hand, the sun on your face and the sweat on your forehead (fill in as many details as you can). Project as much feeling as you can.

7. Reinforce with auto-suggestion

Reinforce creative imagery with auto-suggestion. One effective form of words is: ‘I’m so happy. Now I see myself with/doing…’ etc.

8. Imagine a perfect outcome

Imagine exactly what you want to impress on the unconscious –  choose thought-forms and images that symbolise success – the medal round your neck, the crowd applauding, signing the contract, enjoying your ideal relationship, breaking the winning tape, starting the job, etc.

9. See it through your own eyes

Even if you feel at this stage that you can’t achieve perfection, don’t let this deter you from imagining it. You wouldn’t programme a missile to strike somewhere near the target, would you? The fact that your desire is registered in your unconscious will guide you closer to the real thing.

When you ‘visualise’, you could either ‘watch’ yourself like a spectator, from a distance (‘second position’); or ‘picture’ or ‘experience’ the situation through your own eyes as if you were a participant (‘first position’).

For example, if you were mentally rehearsing yourself on stage, you could either watch yourself as if sat in the audience (this is ‘second position’), or you could imagine on-stage looking out into the auditorium, hearing the audience applauding, feeling the boards beneath your feet etc. ‘First position’ has a much more powerful effect on the unconscious.

If your aim is to acquire a material object, imagine yourself already in possession of it. E.g. if it’s a new car you want, imagine the view from driver’s seat rather than looking in at yourself behind the wheel.

10. Generate as much emotion as you can

Hold your goals in your mind until you can literally feel them coming true. Emotions attract and create energy. The more power and energy you put into your creative imagery, the more quickly your desires will manifest.

11. Practise

Practise every day, even if nothing seems to happen. The results cannot fail to materialise and your confidence in the technique will grow.

12. Take action

Creative imagery eases the way to success, but you still need to do whatever has to be done. So do something every day that takes you closer to your goal. Action also strengthens your self-confidence.

Creative imagery is like planting seeds. First clear the weeds (the doubts and fears), prepare the ground, sow the seeds, add fertiliser, water frequently – and wait. Your creative and intuitive powers will be awakened. It may take a while to take root and for the first shoots to appear, but if you trust in nature and keep up with the watering (lots of positive thought-forms and constructive action), your faith will be repaid every time.

 

© David Lawrence Preston, 12.5.2016

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Consciousness and Healing (2)

In a previous blog, I observed that the discovery long ago that we could heal ourselves was a great step forward in human evolution, and the healing methods used at each stage of our advancement are a direct result of the consciousness which prevailed at the time. Healing consciousness is about how we experience healing; our awareness of the healing process and what healing could be. It also says a great deal about our view of what a human being actually is and what it means to be human.

I have identified seven levels of consciousness in healing – the mechanic, the naturalist and the microbe carrier are the first three; in this blog I discuss the next two, the biochemist and the mind-body healer.

Level Four: the biochemist

Biochemical consciousness is the prevailing medical mindset in the West today. In the media, finding a ‘cure’ for any condition is synonymous with inventing a new drug or, more recently, manipulating the genetic makeup of the body in some way. Biochemical consciousness assumes that human beings are basically cocktails of chemicals and we function by means of chemical reactions. Some neuro- scientists think that even our thoughts are just manifestations of chemical reactions.

Healing is therefore reduced to adjusting our biochemistry like a cook adds a little more salt or spice to improve the food. Manipulating genes falls into the same category.

Biochemical consciousness encompasses not only drugs, but also anything ingested with the aim of altering the biochemistry of the body. Thus biochemical and natural consciousness overlap, since natural remedies such as herbs and dietary supplements have the same function. Once, drugs were simply extractions of the active ingredient of a natural substance; nowadays they are more likely to be artificial chemical compounds synthesised in a test tube, then tested to see if they have the desired result.

This is hit and miss  medicine par excellence – it takes no account of individual differences, its effects are indiscriminate, and the side effects are often worse than the disease it’s supposed to cure. Moreover, it is prohibitively expensive; most of the world’s population simply cannot afford it. And it is manipulated by commercial concerns often at the expense of other, more suitable modalities.

Drugs do have a place, of course. Many people enjoy a better quality of life than would be possible without them. But how often are hard-pressed doctors too quick to reach for the prescription pad when there are better, less harmful alternatives? How often are drugs merely suppressing symptoms while masking the real cause?

Those at the biochemists’ level of consciousness are still on the lower slopes of the mountain. They will never understand the higher levels unless and until a shift in their awareness takes place – but a shift towards the next level is already taking place among some health professionals. Top doctors are realising that  many of the ills that plague the so-called advanced societies are stress related – and we know that stress is mainly a result of our beliefs and ways of thinking (there’s nothing new in this – the Greek philosopher Epictetus said as much 2,500 years ago). Hence Level Five.

Level Five: the mind-body healer

We’ve always known that there’s a close connection between body and mind. No-one doubts that anxious thoughts can give rise to headaches, muscle tension, impaired performance, an upset stomach and so on.

The evidence for mind-body consciousness is strong indeed. Firstly, there’s the placebo effect – the disturbing (to allopaths) fact that in some circumstances a pill or potion with no active ingredient is as effective as the best the pharmaceutical industry can offer. The medical mainstream dismiss placebos as illusory, even unethical, whereas in reality they tell us more about the ability of humans to heal than any amount of double-blind trials.

The second is the power of suggestion. Placebos are actually a form of suggestion. So are doctors’ waiting rooms, white coats, stethoscopes and prescription pads. But suggestion is most closely associated with hypnotists placing healing ideas and images in the subconscious mind of the patient. I can personally vouch for its effectiveness when used by a trained practitioner such as myself with the right person in the right circumstances. The great Milton Erickson, the inspiration behind Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) took this to a whole new level, and while we may congratulate ourselves that this knowledge is a recent discovery, it’s actually as old as our ability to smelt iron and build pyramids.

So why did the Western medical establishment ignore the mind-body connection for so long? Because of their blind reliance on the kind of science that confines itself to those things that can be observed and measured through the five physical senses (a case of limited consciousness if ever there was one). In a nutshell, you can’t see thoughts and you can’t measure their progress through the body. Hence there was no proof that the supposed causes and effects between thoughts and physical aspects were linked.

Then about thirty years ago, mainstream scientists such as Dr Candace Pert and the founders of Psycho-Neuro-Immunology (PNI) –  Hans Selye, Robert Adye, Nicholas Cohen, David Felten and others – began to discover the bodily processes by which thoughts and emotions manifested as physical changes in the body. In Germany, Dr Ryke Hamer showed how an emotional shock can affect the physical make up of the brain and result in illness (he was banned from practising in his native Germany and thrown into to jail for some of his ideas, but not this one). Now, I believe, most doctors understand that many illnesses have a psycho-somatic component and some even believe that  all illnesses are psycho-somatic in origin.

Patients who don’t realise their emotions affect the physical body will often fail to seek the right help, e.g. I once met a young man who suffered from serious eczema. He relied on creams to alleviate the condition (which was only partially successful), whereas anyone with half an ounce of awareness could see that the problem was emotionally driven.

Of course, mind-body healers work on the basis that we are shaped mainly by our thoughts and beliefs. Again, this is not a new idea: King Solomon said as much in the Hebrew Scriptures, as did the Buddha, Lao Tsu, Yeshua the Carpenter from Nazareth,  Plato, Hippocrates, numerous Roman scholars, and the great psychologist himself, William Shakespeare.

Some go further than this and say we are our thoughts, but this is far from the whole truth. If we are our thoughts, which thoughts are we talking about? The ones I’m having now? Or this morning? Or yesterday? Or long ago?

We are not our thoughts. We are not our beliefs. We are not our emotions. Something inside is not only aware of our thoughts, but is aware that we are thinking and can observe the activity of thinking; is aware that we are experiencing an emotion and can observe its effects. There is even an observer who observes ourselves observing our thinking! Experience this, and we are perhaps then we are approaching pure consciousness.

Awareness, intention, attention, imagination and belief are the keys to mind-body healing. Taken in combination, they increase the effectiveness of all forms of healing. For instance, F.W. Alexander – best known for teaching his patients to stand, sit, walk, hold their heads correctly and so on – taught his patients and students mindfulness and affirmations to accompany each healing movement.

I sum this up in my I-T-I-A Formula – intention, thinking, imagination and action. When all of these are applied to any given situation, the results can be astounding.

Mind-body consciousness is much more than just healing the body, though. The Great Teachers always said that we manifest our experience of reality through our thoughts, perceptions, beliefs, emotions and so on – and today’s leading scientists (e.g. quantum physicists) agree.  When we observe the world, all we see are billions of particles and waves moving and spinning haphazardly – what Deepak Chopra calls the ‘quantum soup.’ It is the attention and meaning we give them that brings them into form. Our minds – our consciousness – actually create the world we live in. And perhaps they create our bodies too.

© David Lawrence Preston, 7.5.2016

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