I have recently written a short chapter for a local author/publisher’s book on health for older adults. My chapter is titled ‘The Mind Matters’, though I believe he will re-title it ‘Mind-Body Medicine’.
He is not opposed to us publishing it here on these pages, so we will do so in 3 Parts, beginning right here:
THE MIND MATTERS (Part 1.)
Could your thoughts make an illness worse, or better, or go away altogether?
What are we to make of the New York newspaper editor with an incurable, painful condition , making a full recovery after some months of belly laughing from viewing comedy movies?
What about a Pennsylvania hospital records that show post-heart surgery patients having shorter hospital stays, fewer complications and fewer pain-relief drugs if they are in a room with a view of garden and trees, compared to those with a view of a brick wall?
And how about Australian veterinarian Dr Ian Gawler, who recovered from terminal, “one-month-to-live” metastatic bone cancer using intensive meditation practice?
These examples at least raise the possibility that a person’s attitude, or how they think and feel may be an important factor in recovery from illness.
Henry Ford is credited with saying: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” Does the influence of mind on health boil down to this observation by the man behind mass production of automobiles? There may well be more to it than that, but it is a good starting point. Let’s look further at the well-publicized case of Ian Gawler.
We know that Gawler practiced meditation for many hours per day during those few years that his health and life were hanging in the balance. In this he was trained and advised by Melbourne doctor Ainslie Meares, author of Relief without Drugs (1967), as well by other meditation teachers and books.
Meditation primarily works upon one’s state of mind. Dr Meares believed that many cancers grew because the patient’s immune system activity was being impaired by stress. He offered a type of meditation that could profoundly reduce anxiety and stress.
Ian Gawler also reports that he made some important mental decisions following his terminal prognosis. He decided that the medical specialists were basing their prognosis for him upon averages and the norm, and there was no good reason he should acquiesce to being an average or a norm (personal communication with Ian Gawler). Some time later in his continuing quest for recovery a ‘holy man’ looked into his eyes and soul and told him “You are already healed“. Ian reports that from that moment he was ready to fully believe it. Over the next 12 months his extensive cancers broke down and resolved.
This ability to see himself as being well in the face of the gloomy medical prediction may have been the decisive factor. If so it is very much in keeping with Henry Ford’s simple statement about the power of our minds. It is an example of mind influencing body, but somewhat different from attributing his recovery to the effects of meditation. In fact Ian himself believes both factors played a part, along with other influences such as a rigorous ‘healing food program’.
END of Part 1.
We will print Part 2. on these pages in a few days time. It goes into what we know of the medicinal effects of humour and laughter, and several other issues.
Be Well, David