Article by Jerry Ryan, Ph.D.
Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of the intercommunication of the mind, the nervous system, and the immune system. The core belief of this science is that the immune system is directly connected to the nervous system and each has a direct effect upon the other. This linking of the two systems means that chemical reactions going on within the brain end up triggering other chemical reactions further out in the nervous system. Every thought that passes through the mind is converted into a physical response within the body.
Each thought is a form of chemical energy. Since the natural law is that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it must take another form. So, this mental energy is transferred to some portion of the body where it either heals or destroys the tissue. Negative thoughts such as guilt, anger, resentment, or criticism create negative energy that translates to illness and disease. Positive thoughts, on the other hand, endow a person with positive energy resulting in increased peace of mind as well as healing of diseased body parts. The bioelectrical activity that occurs is discussed on a scientific level by the book, The Tao of Physics. This book describes the interaction of the mind and body as similar to the relationship of the physics of sub-atomic particles and the physics of relativity. Each of these two sciences requires that you disconnect from your normal beliefs reflected by the five senses and accept a different perspective on natural law.
Dr. Caroline Myss’ book, Why Some People Don’t Heal, says that the events we experience in our lives and how we’ve reacted to them directly affect our overall health. For example, the reactions that we had to our parents telling us that a particular behavior was wrong can lead to body parts associated with that form of behavior becoming diseased, as we grow older. Or feelings that we have about how we were treated by our first girlfriend or boyfriend can result in a wide range of illnesses ranging from cancer and stomach problems to muscular dystrophy and HIV.
This means that we are what we think. Or perhaps that we become what we think. Or as Dr. Myss states our biography becomes our biology. Our past experiences and our interpretations of them can create actual physical responses. We need to forgive those in our past that have caused us pain. It does not matter whether the pain we endured was physical, mental, or emotional. It doesn’t matter if the pain was real or imagined. It doesn’t matter if the person that we feel is at fault is alive or not. It doesn’t even matter if the person that we blame is ourselves. The key to beginning the journey to wellness is the act of forgiveness.
Without forgiveness, the mental energy that brought on the illness will not be addressed. Consider those individuals that receive organ transplants only to find that they need another transplant several years later. Since the organ comes from another person, the answer is probably not that the genes are bad. It is more likely that the thoughts (and subsequent lifestyle) of the transplant recipient are playing a major role in reproducing the same illness in the same part of the body.
It is only through forgiving past wrongs that our mind can be released from the repetitious cycle of blame. Once we have forgiven others and ourselves for our shortcomings in the past, the mind can then turn itself toward healing whatever disease was caused by this stored-up emotion.
This is easier said than done. The difficulty lies in the fact that as a society we tend to speak about our wounds. “Woundology” is our practice of using our past experiences and shortcomings as a form of currency through which we negotiate our current situations. By bringing out a wound from the past, regardless of the situation, we place a barrier to intimacy, constructive criticism, introspection, and other potential techniques to improve ourselves. The trading of wounds as currency allows individuals to finance and reinforce certain behaviors. People are resistant to any changes that may leave them vulnerable because they would have no wound to pull out and ward off others.
Healing is unattractive. The act of healing requires a great deal of hard work, the willingness to change one’s beliefs and the ability to forgive past transgressions. The ease with which we become accustomed to using our wounds as part of our daily life is quite remarkable. It shows that we will do anything to avoid pain but are unwilling to do nearly as much to receive pleasure. It seems that pain avoidance is the strongest characteristic in the human psyche, whether the pain is real or imagined. We are even willing to drag out and relive our old pain to avoid receiving any new pain. It’s a vicious cycle leading us further away from pleasure and ultimately from healing our bodies.
The willingness to change is very difficult work because it depends upon our constant effort in order to avoid returning to old thought patterns that have proven to be destructive in the past. However, without change, the individual suffering from a disease is unable to move from the negative thoughts and consequently, the negative energy that flows through the body in direct response. By changing these thought patterns to reflect a more positive point of view, the person begins to express positive energy. This cascades through the body, triggering immune system responses and other beneficial reactions within the body.
I believe that some people don’t heal because they are not ready to learn the lesson that the disease is bringing to them. Others may simply be content with the amount of control over others that a disease or chronic illness can provide. I also believe that some people do not heal because the people around them are not ready to learn the lesson or that they need the dynamics set up in the relationship by the illness itself. This is not to place blame on a third party for an individual’s illness; however, the energy exuded by those close to a person definitely contribute to that person’s health or illness.
Another difficulty that I believe limits people in their healing is when an accident or other trauma causes the disease. I feel that many people have a difficult time accepting that their personal beliefs and attitudes resulted in an industrial accident, a car accident, or even a gunshot wound.
I personally have had to deal with this since it was a rollover car accident that resulted in my quadriplegia. However, I have realized that I made each decision, however small, that eventually led to my driving in that car, at that speed, on that road, on that day. Every day, I continue my efforts to forgive myself for making those decisions.
Dr. Myss is correct in saying that forgiveness is the key. I look forward to the day that I have forgiven everyone in my life so that I may regain the total use of my body and become a true “walking” advocate of mind-body healing.
Jerry Ryan, Ph.D. is a Natural Health Coach who teaches individuals and group classes on the scientifically documented benefits of natural health techniques. He is also an internationally published author and has been a guest speaker at such places as NIKE World Headquarters. For more information, his website is http://www.JerryRyanPhD.com
Caroline Myss describes how to change your life. How to easily transform your attitude, create happiness, and shine your light onto the world.
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