Can Thoughts Really Transform Your Health?
By ecoNugenics founder and formulator, Dr. Isaac Eliaz, MD, MS, LAc
We’ve all heard it before: “Just think positively — everything will work out.” But does consciousness really affect the world around us, including our physical state? If so, how? Answers to these and other related questions have been sought for millennia. Can we make tangible changes to reality simply by focusing our thoughts and emotions?
Science is now telling us that the answer is yes. Fascinating mind-body research continues to emerge from global institutes, illuminating the many ways that our minds can influence our physical states, for better or worse. We now understand that our thoughts and emotions can be directly linked to many different biochemical reactions in the body. Studies are showing that specific mind-body practices, including “guided imagery,” can actually result in significant shifts within the body’s core functions.
Raising Core Body Temperature
One recent study investigated a highly advanced meditation practice – called g-tummo – which is known to significantly increase core body temperature in experienced meditators who practice over time. G-tummo is a very rare, ancient and highly revered spiritual practice, traditionally performed in a small number of monasteries in Tibet. Advanced meditation practitioners in below freezing temperatures wrap a cold, wet sheet around their mid-sections, and through this meditation practice, they are able to dry the sheet completely. When performed by other, less experienced meditators, the results were similar, though not as dramatic.
Focus on the Practice
An interesting point illuminated by this and other research, shows that more meditation experience correlates with a greater ability to focus the mind and influence core body functions.
Through regular meditation and quieting of the mind, we can start to peel away layers of doubts and distractions, and open our hearts to rest in true inner peace and a sense of wellbeing. Essentially, this is the gateway to effective guided mental imagery, positive affirmations, and other mind-body practice, allowing us to generate authentic positive thoughts and feelings which can result in concrete positive changes, including greater healing capacity.
Healing with Guided Imagery
Mental imagery in simple words is using the mind’s power, the “thinking process,” translating it into an image with a specific intent, and focusing on it, using different methods. We often don’t realize that we can think in images, because we’re already bombarded with so much sensory visual input, there is “no room” to experience image-based qualities of thought. We’ve sort of lost the ability to do it.
So in order to experience mental imagery in an effective and meaningful way, we need to go through a number of steps.
- Allow ourselves, our system, to relax. Certain positions like lying down or sitting with our back straight are useful, together with breathing slowly, and turning our attention inward to our breath.
- Create an opening in our awareness — a greater field of perception, and recognize that everything around us and inside us is constantly changing – nothing is permanent.
- Focus on whatever mental imagery you choose, in a clear, vivid, but transparent way (transparent meaning you still hold awareness of your surroundings). Allow the image to strengthen and imagine the positive outcome.
With the right training and practice, we can repeat these visualizations while we do our daily activities. This can be more easily achieved if we practice initially with opened eyes.
Improvements on all Levels
Essentially, we are under the “control” of our minds — of our thoughts, our feelings, etc. But by changing the way that the mind operates through regular meditation and mind-body disciplines, we gradually gain greater control over our consciousness, and improve the way that we function physically, mentally and emotionally. This translates to changes in our hormonal and nervous systems; improvements in cortisol and adrenalin-related hormone levels; balanced metabolism; better insulin function; reduced blood pressure; stronger immunity; greater physical and emotional well-being and much more.
Body of Research
The regular practice of guided imagery offers proven physiological effects and supports clinical outcome in multiple areas of health and illness. Here are some links to several published studies on guided imagery (GI) in different areas of health:
Mental imagery is an essential and pivotal element of meditation practice. I have spent many years doing these practices for hours a day, and for weeks during longer meditation retreats. Regular meditation and mind-body practice has had a profound effect on my clinical work and in my patients. Some of their compelling stories of survival against the odds have been featured in the TV documentary series, The Incurables. These and other stories offer an uplifting message of hope and triumph over chronic illness, thanks in part to the healing power of the mind.