Mind-body medicine has been a staple of traditional medical practices in Asia
You can find this same approach in the traditional healing and medicinal practices
of a wide variety of societies. Aspiring to unify mind, body and spirit is one of the
higher goals of traditional martial arts training, as well.
Involving the mind as well as the body in the prevention or treatment of illness
is a relatively new concept in western medicine. But each year it seems that more
and more research confirms the existence of an indisputable link between our
mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
Dr. Herbert Benson, who runs the Mind Body Institute at Harvard University,
has demonstrated that people with the strongest belief systems have greater
rates of survival and optimal healing from surgery than those with no belief system.
Many studies over the years have linked positive emotions, such as a high level
of hope and an attitude of optimism with a stronger immune system. Negative
emotions, such as stress, anger, and depression decrease the body’s ability to
deal with disease and heal itself.
You can even laugh your way to better health.
For a fascinating look into the healing power of laughter and humor, read Norman
Cousin’s book, “Anatomy of an Illness”. He describes his self-healing from serious
disease by watching humorous movies, Three Stooges episodes, and generally
bringing more laughter and optimism into his life.
What does all this mean for you?
Well, as one example, I suffered for years from a very debilitating case of asthma.
Hence my interest in the power of breathing.
I can tell you that my recovery from asthma did not truly begin until I put my mind
and heart, as well as body, into it.
You see, I beat my head against the same wall for years, trying in a sense to
“bull” my way through my asthma. For example, I would ignore symptoms and
try to pretend that they were nothing, or only in my mind. I would try to train
and exercise at a high level, even though I wasn’t physically able at the time.
These practices backfired on me. I ended up causing some pretty serious asthma
attacks, and often made my symptoms worse.
I think that most of us react in a similar fashion to any type of health problem, or
even serious issues in our lives.
Well, I finally wised up and realized there had to be a better way. One of the
first things I did was to turn my mind away from the anxiety, frustration, anger
and stress of my condition.
I’m not talking about “positive thinking” here.
When I began to feel the frustration and anxiety, and suffered from the stress
of not knowing when the next asthma episode would come….I adapted an old
martial arts technique I had been taught. I would shift my attention to my body
and begin to calm it down.
I found that working on myself physically calmed me much more quickly and
deeply than just trying to “think” myself calm.
This method can work for anyone. To test it, next time you are feeling anxious
about a particular health problem, or are stressed out about something (or about
life in general), try the following.
First, focus on your breathing. Slow, deepen and extend your breathing. Do this
naturally, don’t try to strain too much. Just focus on it.
Next, focus positive, calming energy on your heart, solar plexus area, and head.
Then extend the positive, calm focus to your neck, shoulders and lower back.
These are the areas in which stress, tension and anxiety manifest themselves.
Feel these areas loosening and relaxing as you infuse them with calm energy.
You can even visualize these areas glowing with a soothing color. Pick a color
that represents calm and peace to you, such as blue or green, or even pink.
This principle of focusing on the physical first to control and improve the mental
works in a variety of situations.
For example, many creative types, such as writers, artists and musicians,
will include deep breathing and mental imaging as part of their “pre-creative”
Next time you have to sit down and crank through a piece of work, practice
some deep breathing for a few moments. You’ll really feel a difference in your
attitude and ability when you sit down to work.
If you’re into meditation, follow the same routine. Focus on the physical first,
including deep breathing and light movements or stretching. You’ll feel
invigorated. And your ability to focus your mind and enjoy your meditation
will be enhanced.
This same principle is part of the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise
Course, Volume 1, available at the Best Breathing Exercises website.
In this course, I teach you how to coordinate your breathing to specific
exercises that help calm and loosen your breathing and your body. It’s
a natural antidote to anger, frustration, stress and tension.
It also helps to rejuvenate and invigorate you, both physically and mentally.
Remember, the quickest path to the mind is through the body.
You Can Do It!