Is the mind-body connection real or is it just another extreme philosophy?

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Answered by: Charles, An Expert in the Mind-Body Connection Category
If he could pick one day to do over again, Jared would choose the day fifteen years ago when he made the mistake of moving a large refrigerator freezer by himself. That morning, he had resisted offers of help from his neighbors and tried to load the 400 pound antique into a truck, without any assistance. The end result was a back injury that now, years later, threatens his ability to provide an income for his family.

In the intervening years since the injury, whenever Jared was under extreme stress or pressure, he would experience severe back spasms, making it impossible to sit at his desk. Not educated in the science and discoveries of the mind body connection, Jared has yet to recognize the connection between his stress levels and his back spasms. He simply believes he is on the receiving end of some very bad luck, that by sheer coincidence, at the times when he feels most stressed he's also stricken with debilitating back pain.

Knowing Jared's history, it would be easy to conclude that medical intervention is indicated. Who wouldn't advise prescription drugs, physical therapy, or even surgery? But those options alone fail to recognize an emerging understanding in the healing arts, an understanding of the ways emotional stress can attack the body. In Jared's case, the injury merely created a weakness in his physical frame, a vulnerability waiting for just the right stressors to trigger a crisis.

If we view wellness as a chain containing "links" like cardio-vascular health, digestive health, muscular health, skeletal health, respiratory health, etc., it isn't so hard to realize that in every person, some links are stronger than others. Stress functions as a force pulling on the "chain" that is our physical wellness. Picture two large trucks pulling on a chain in opposite directions. Something has to give, and the weakest link will dictate if and when that chain will break.

If Jared only knew that, under stress, his brain produces a cocktail of over 1,400 chemicals to prepare his body for "fight or flight," he would understand why the muscles in his back are contracting. If he knew that every single thought in his brain produces a chemical reaction, and that the key to his back problem lies somewhere in his thought processes, he would soon realize a surprising truth - the mind body connection means he can be in control of his own wellness.

Strangely, in a world of fast food and quick fixes, the idea that we can have more control over our own wellness is not necessarily good news to everyone. Some find it easier and more comforting to believe that illness and disease are randomly acquired, and that it is better to rely on outside treatments than on an internal collaboration between our minds and our bodies. The additional accountability that comes with enlightenment can feel too burdensome to some. But a new world awaits those who are ready to accept responsibility for their own wellness.

We are born with innate healing properties, some of which are automatic. Our immune systems, for instance, function largely without any conscious action. But with an understanding of the principles of mind-body health, we can add our own will to the equation. And in so doing, we may unleash healing properties that we may never have thought possible.

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