I first witnessed the successful alternative treatment of a serious illness way back in 1978, and it literally blew me away. The Mind-Body Connection is so powerful.
I had heard about a husband and wife medical team: Carl and Stephanie Simonton, and knew that they were cancer specialists who had pioneered a 5 day cancer treatment program.
Denounced by many as rebels, mavericks and heretics, the Simontons were truly cutting-edge. As a young man starting out in psychosomatic and psychodynamic transformation, I was inspired by their courage, and their work opened up a whole new world for me.
The Simontons identified a key link between emotional trauma and cancer. They stated that the single biggest emotional factor which was common across all cancer patients, was that they had each suffered a significant loss in the 6 to 18 months before their diagnosis.
However, it was not the loss itself that was the critical factor, but the way it was perceived by the individual.
If the person responded to the event with a deep sense of hopelessness or “giving up”, this caused the patient’s body to suppress its immune system and they were more susceptible to producing abnormal cells.
The Simonton method integrated powerful visualisation together with a very healthy diet, counseling, and meditation. Participants were asked to picture themselves as a knight on a white horse.
They imagined that they were holding a sword and killing their cancer cells; empowering their immune system to overcome the enemy.
For a number of patients, this focus on visualisation and emotional support enabled them to significantly outlive their initial prognoses, and their quality of life was considerably enhanced.
The Mind-Body Connection
The Simonton method has evolved significantly over the years. However, the fundamental premise underlying their work remains unchanged: most disease originates from the mind.
Let me explain in simple terms, how emotional pain affects the body’s healthy functioning.
Let’s suppose you have a family member or boss who constantly criticises or suppresses you over a long period of time.
They could do this in subtle ways: a comment here and there, a certain disapproving look every time you eat too much or make a mistake.
Or, they could do it in humiliating and overt ways, putting you down in front of other people and making you feel small and worthless.
This is known as invalidation.
In many cases, invalidation can come across as well-intentioned concern about your welfare. However, intuitively you know the difference: invalidation makes you feel “bad” about yourself.
Over time, constant invalidation can cause us to contract our muscles.
We hold our body in particular positions so that we can ‘protect’ ourselves, and this causes constant stress reactions in our bodies which can make us sick and eventually (over many years) manifest in the form of chronic pain.
The poison that lies within invalidation is that after a while, without realising it, we start to believe the invalidating statements.
They become deeply entrenched and we give our power away. We lose contact with our self-love, and we start to habitually betray ourselves and the vibrant potential locked up inside our souls.
Break Free From The Invalidation Cycle
The problem is that you may love the person who is invalidating you. However, as hard as it may be, you need to cut the emotional cord between you and them.
The culprit may be threatened by your greatness or might be co-dependent and scared that they’re going to lose you if you pursue your own dreams.
This is your life: It’s yours to claim and, if you stay in this toxic environment, your health, vitality and dreams will all be jeopardised.
Healing The Pain Of Invalidation & Embracing The Mind-Body Connection
Over the centuries, a number of doctors and spiritual teachers have studied and enriched our understanding of the powerful connection between the mind and body. Here is a helpful summary of the main ones. They’ve each written a number of books which are fascinating and shed light on our health and happiness in a holistic way.
Dr Wilhelm Reich – Character Analysis and Life Force
Dr. Reich was the creator of Character Analysis and discovered Orgone Energy. This is also known as Universal Energy, Life Force and the Energy of Life.
Reich contended that as human beings who have been hurt and betrayed at some point in our lives, we all have a raft of “character defences” that we have set as a form of armour, in order to survive in the world. He stated that underneath all of these defenses is a blind, murderous rage and hatred.
When this is suppressed and left unresolved, it causes a complex tangle of psychosomatic illness and pain, including serious illness. Reich said that 7 segments of energy needed to be opened in the physical body before emotional negativity could be released and the energy of life, restored.
His methods are facilitated today by trained Reichian therapists and some Core Energetic, Bioenergetic and Somatic therapists. It remains a deeply powerful option for people who want to take their power back and restore their emotional and physical health.
Dr. John Sarno – Emotions & Pain
Dr. Sarno is a famous back pain specialist from New York. He was as conservative a western medical physician as you can get. Then he noticed certain inconsistencies in the treatment of back pain.
His theory is that pain stands as a “distraction” which helps us to repress deep, unresolved emotional issues. Effectively, the mind distracts us from unconscious emotional pain by withdrawing circulation from certain areas of the body. The resulting pain and chronic illness can lead to life threatening illness.
Sarno states that chronic pain is most common in people who are perfectionists or people pleasers or both. His solution is to get patients to identify the unconscious anger, shame, guilt and self-hatred that they have been avoiding. When the patients perceive their illness and symptoms for what they are, the symptoms no longer hold any purpose and the physical symptoms disappear.
Eckhart Von Hochheim and Eckhart Tolle – Attachment is the source of all pain
In the 13th Century, Meister Eckhart, world renowned mystic and theologian, declared that detachment is the highest state one could achieve. Our attachment to this temporary, physical world is the cause of all pain, suffering and illness.
His answer to the suffering of humanity is that we must learn to detach ourselves from the outer world. He explained that this could only happen if we emptied our hearts and souls of all the turmoil and worry. In doing this, we would then be able to access our divine “inner most being”: Our souls would be ignited, and by leading from this place, we could share our soul’s greatest gifts and talents with the world.
Similarly and more recently, Eckhart Tolle focuses on the ego’s attachment to the mind, and how this forces us to live in the pain of the past which we then project into the future.
He teaches us eloquently about the “Power of Now,” and how it is only in the present moment can we live a life of fulfillment, high energy, optimum health and creative expression.
Honouring The Bridge Between The Body & The Mind
I believe all of these great teachers have given us a piece of the pie that is part of the bigger picture. The starting point for maintaining optimum health and preventing disease, is knowing and accepting that we are all perfect in our imperfections.
The source of all creation is unconditional love, and by recognising that our emotional pain deserves to be held to the light and healed, we can all take the first critical steps to restoring and retaining wholeness and balance within ourselves.
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Robert Kirby – Mind/Body Transformation & Integration Expert