Power of the Mind
The main basic difference between medical science and holistic healing is the perception of what we are. The holistic view regards man as a trinity, made up of the body, mind and soul. Indeed, the body is only the physical case that houses the mind and soul. Medicine, however, is based on the philosophy proposed by Rene Descartes, a French mathematician and philosopher in the 17th century. He regarded man as a machine that obeys only the physical laws. The mind and soul play no roles in the body.
Given this conflicting view about man, it is therefore up to you to decide what you want to make out of yourself. You may believe that you are just a pile of chemicals, bones and flesh that has no mind and soul. Worry not, for like an old car, you can remove any worn-out parts of your body and replace them with some newer parts from somewhere, if you can. Hopefully by doing so, you can function better. BUT, can you?
I am reminded of an article in Newsweek (Special Issue 1999) about a man who had undergone a heart transplant. After everything is done, the man recovered very well. Modern technology had saved him. However, what surprised the cardiac surgeon was that the man with the new heart did not behave as he did before. He had the tendency to become suicidal.
From the holistic point of view, the mind is the root cause of problems. Carolyn Myss (in Creation of Health) says that cancer is created through excessive fear, guilt feelings, inability to cope with changes, self-hate and self-denial. Debbie Shapiro wrote (in The Bodymind Workbook): “Cancer appears to be the result of many years of inner conflict, guilt, hurt, grief, resentment, confusion or tension surrounding deeply personal issues. It is connected to feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy and self-rejection.”
According to Freud, the mind is an iceberg and only one-third floats above water. However, Avni Sali, a professor of surgery at the University of Melbourne, Australia, said: “But I’m sure that in cancer patients it’s probably 10%. Most of it is under water.” Paramahansa Yogonanda said that “there is an innate connection between the mind and the body. Whatever you hold in your mind will be produced in the physical body. … all diseases have their origins in the mind. The pains that affect the physical body are secondary diseases.”
The holistic healers view pain, sickness or the disease of the body as a signal that there is an imbalance within, perhaps due to conflicts of emotions and thoughts deep down within us, and is threatening our survival. This disease represents a wake-up call for us to do something in order to heal ourselves. However, few ever understood this message.
Contrary to medical views, body-mind healers have pointed out that:
1) The healing power of the body is within us. There is a physician within us and this power heals us absolutely.
2) Many of us are ignorant or are unaware of our own body’s healing potential.
3) Many of us block ourselves off from this potential, preferring to trust others whom we think can cure us rather than trust our own Infinite Intelligence within.
4) Many of us create unhealthy circumstances by thinking negatively and harbouring self-denying thoughts that eventually make us sick. We fail to recognise that these are the root causes of our many illnesses.
5) We are unaware that from the day we are born, we have been bombarded with negative suggestions. Negativity begets illness.
The seat of our real mind is the subconscious. Joseph Murphy (in The Power of Your Subconscious Mind) wrote that we view our world through thoughts in the subconscious mind. “Think good and good will follow, think evil, evil follows. Change your thought and you change your destiny.” Ralph Emerson said that “man is what he thinks all day long.”
From the above, we can conclude that the very first step in healing is for every cancer patient to recognise the influence of his own mind on his illness and recovery process. Many a time, we ask patients if they carry any emotional baggage or harbor any unresolved emotional conflicts within them. Invariably the answer would be: “No, no, I have no emotional problems at all.” They simply do not want to admit or discuss them, perhaps for fear that people know their secrets or they do not see the relevance or relationship between unresolved personal emotions and their cancers. After all, in schools we are taught that illness is caused by some kind of bug, virus or germ and it has nothing to do with the mind. Most patients would tell me that whatever problems they have are all old issues and have long been forgotten.
However, as we began to probe deeper, some of them just broke down and cry. So, my first advice to all cancer patients is to be honest with your own self, especially your subconscious mind. Think again, do you carry any baggage? Remember that you are not just a machine – devoid of mind or soul. You are sick because “something inside is eating you up.”
Let me suggest a list of some active steps that you can take to heal your mind, your soul and lastly, your body and its cancer.
1) Think positively: as you think, so you become!
According to Susan Bannerman, a clinical psychologist working with cancer patients (in As you think, so you become. Proc. 1st World Congress on Cancer, Sydney, 1999, pg. 199): “Illness is a reflection of a person’s negative perception and self-defeating ways of thinking. Hatred, envy, selfishness, jealousy, self-judgement, self-doubt, self-criticism, lack of self-respect, feeling of unworthiness, etc.” All these are negative and destructive thoughts. Do not harbour them for they do not help you at all. On the other hand, cultivate positive attitudes of love, joy, happiness, sharing, caring, self-esteem and self-confidence.
When you see a glass of carrot juice that is not filled up to the brim: how would you see it — as half full or half empty? Our perceptions of many situations can be either negative or positive. Learn to see things positively. Alex is a colon cancer patient. He told us: “I do not consider myself taking herbs. I just drink tea and it brings me a lot of good”. On the other hand, we have patients telling us: “Yuck! The tea tastes horrible!” Think for yourself, do you think you will benefit from drinking a ‘yucky’ drink?
What messages do you think the following remarks convey to you?
“Are your herbs hygienic?”
“You mean I to boil the herbs? I have no time to do so. It is so cumbersome!”
“The herbs are so bitter!”
“My doctor said this … My doctor said that …”
“I have this problem for such a long time already, my doctor said there is no more cure…”
You may want to tell us: “No, I can’t change. Take me for what I am.” We remember one young lady who had breast cancer. She hated her father very intensely. The sight and thought of her father worked her up so much so that she felt pains in the lump of her breast. We told her to go home and hug her father and love him. She was adamant at sticking to her “guns” saying: “No, I hate him.” We then told her: “The problem is this. It is you who have to suffer and perhaps die. It is not your father who suffers if you hate him.” Again here, patients have a choice, to embark on the healing journey rightly or to be left in misery. In our Centre, there is a quotation: “when you hate people, the only person who gets hurt is you, because most people you hate don’t know. And the rest of the world doesn’t care.”
To cultivate positive thinking is simple and easy. It is just like letting go of your baggage. Put it down! This requires no skill at all but you must have a loving heart. Do not insist on hanging onto your baggage. You have a choice. And again, our advice is: Let go!
2) Free yourself of negative thoughts.
Many negative thoughts are ingrained into our subconscious mind and they become a part of us. You and I have similar problems. And more often than not, we do not even know that these negative thoughts ever exist or are causing us all the problems. We are the product of our environment and the experiences of our lives. So to be able to free ourselves from these negative thoughts we must first and foremost be aware and recognise that these negative thoughts are in us. If we keep insisting that they are non-existent, then there is no reason for change or wanting to be free. If we admit that negative thoughts are our problems, the next step is to consciously correct them and replace them with positive thoughts. Keep on doing this correction like cultivating new habits. With time these good values stick in our mind. Always tell ourselves that we want to change and are capable of doing so. In time we will see that we do change. Remember, you need not be trapped in your past. Life is not living in the past, or the future. It is living in the present.