The Mind-Body-Faith Connection

mind body connection

Certainly we all know people who live with what may be considered to be a stress-related mind-body illness. They may have unexplained chronic gastric upset, debilitating, unrelenting headaches, pain, psoriasis, unexplained seizures, an auto-immune condition, cardiovascular disease, etc… These conditions can flare up during times of stress, but may be lurk just below the surface during calmer, less stressful times. The real discovery is when we come to understand and embrace the fact that we ourselves, not just others are prone to have our very own challenges to mind-body wellness. Depression, anxiety, and stress-related illness, we all have them at some time or another. It’s not just something that happens to other people.

Part of accepting ones’ own mind-body disconnect lies in the recognition that each of us has a body-mind chemistry that is shared by the brain and body. That is, the mind affects the body, and, conversely, the body affects the mind. In as much as these conditions often appear out of the blue, without rhyme or reason, most mind-body dysfunction can be healed with medical treatment and sometimes even by changing ones perspective, and/or praying, as the mind is a powerful healing agent.

Sure, the mind and body work closely together, but prayer has also been credited with improving the health of many. Why? Well consider this. Hope, prayer, rest and relaxation, as well as, a positive outlook, have been reported by medical research to be very healing on a number of levels. There is hardly a condition that is not provoked or initiated by stress. Stress makes one feel vulnerable, sometimes anxious and fearful. It can provoke pain, exhaustion, thyroid dysfunction, cardiac conditions, hair loss, hives, and even exacerbate neuroimmune conditions such as myasthenia gravis or multiple sclerosis-and even some cancers. It can also bring about neurological conditions such as seizures of unknown origin, neuralgia, Bell’s palsy and the like.

On the other hand, hope, prayer and meditation can calm the storm waves of unrelenting tension and pain. It can dilate blood vessels for better oxygenation, calm brain waves, ease the tensions that one experiences on any given day, and quell even the most severe headaches. In essence, combining optimism, hope, and prayer can help to restore the body and mind to a condition called homeostasis, thereby paving the way for maximal health and well-being.

Yes, mind-body-spirit wellness often benefits from adding prayer to the mix, as is the case with the Mind-Body-Faith Phenomenon. For some people, prayer is an integral part of their plan to realize optimal health in body, mind and spirit that results in quicker healing as it changes one’s physiology for the better.

When striving to make positive health and attitudinal changes, it is important to remember that ones’ physical health, mental health, and spiritual health may depend on putting aside negativity and opting for a more positive lifestyle. This is not to say that all illnesses are controlled by the mind; they are not. But as an RN, I am hard-pressed to find a single medical condition that is not affected in some way by stress beyond the appendix. With that said, when the mind is worry-free and fear-free, as is the case when one prays, it is subsequently possible to adopt a more optimistic, hope-filled perspective, as endorphins are released into the body and travel across the brain and body to promote mind-body healing.

We have all heard the saying, “It’s all in your head.” Well, that is a very harsh thing to say to anyone, let alone someone who is not feeling well. However, when we recognize the mind as the ‘head of the mind-body connection,’ it pulls a lot of weight, as it challenges us at times to change our thinking, and adjust our attitude for maximal wellness in body, mind and spirit.

Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, a glum, negative outlook will likely reap poor results-socially, emotionally, mentally, and physically–especially in terms of general health and wellness. If you suffer from insomnia and say aloud you know you won’t sleep that night, you probably won’t. If you are given a new medication and are convinced it won’t work, the same is true as you may be allowing negativity to enter the situation. Positive thinking is central to realizing positive health outcomes. What we think and say matters, as they both affect our belief system, and the ability to heal.

On the other hand, positive thinking is necessary for optimal health and wellness in body, mind and spirit. With a positive attitude, you are able to look ahead with hope and certainty. A positive outlook, fueled by prayer, can allow a person to believe there is a power greater than themselves to help them at every turn, and to heal. It allows people to look forward with hopefulness rather than hopelessness and despair. This new found optimism not only opens wide the gates to improved health and quality of life, but it has, time and again, changed people’s body chemistry and promoted healing.

Adopting a positive-thinking lifestyle can allow almost anyone to change their perspective and be more at peace, hence boosting their metabolism and ability to heal. To a large degree, positive thinking alters body chemistry, and decreases the amount of cortisol in the body, effectively promoting maximal health in mind, body and spirit, hence the Mind-Body-Spirit Phenomenon, thus enhancing overall health and the promotion of maximal health.