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Anyone interested in the mind-body connection is likely to find something of value in Dr. David Hamilton's examination of the enormous healing capacity we hold within. My hope is that today's book review will encourage the one reading this who is searching for a way to positively deal with an issue that is making life difficult or less satisfying than it could be.
Starting with a review of applicable medical research, Hamilton provides the fuel to launch us into a place of wonder. The studies he shares took me well beyond my earlier Psychology 101 introduction to the Placebo Effect. I was especially intrigued by those control group participants who knew they were taking a placebo (a substance that has no intended therapeutic effect) and yet did nearly as well physiologically as the group getting the real medication. This was something entirely different from the psychological effect of believing in a new treatment. This was the mind actually healing the body without the assistance of any external chemicals.
You won't be surprised when I say this is not a beach read. I found that I needed a change of pace after wading through the introductory chapters. There was much of interest, but it was a lot of information. Right when I was about to skip ahead, the author shifted gears and moved on to what it looks like to heal the body with the mind. The profiles of individuals who used the mind to help shrink cancer tumors, to gain strength and mobility after a stroke, and to activate the immune system are the types of stories I find interesting.
It's all about visualization. The brain doesn't discriminate between what is real and what is imagined. In other words, what becomes real to the brain is what we imagine, and what we think becomes the basis for regenerating cells within our mind and body. The good news is that we can experience regeneration every day of our lives. This isn't a process that shuts down when we reach a certain age.
As an athlete, I was taught the importance of visualization. Most of us have watched Olympic athletes, during their competition warm-ups, go through a visualization exercise (imagining the race, or gymnastics routine, and every move they will make). I never really knew exactly why that worked or how the benefit came about. Reading this book provided me with a better grasp of the why. It really was astonishing to learn how imagery can elevate performance and strengthen muscles before they are even used.
For those of us who have worried at times about the health inheritance from our parents, there is encouragement about how we can use the power of the mind to impact whether or not certain DNA switches turn on or off. We don't have to accept that it is inevitable that we will suffer from the same poor disease outcomes. Where once we felt doomed by our DNA, we can now experience a greater sense of hope, knowing that we are not powerless.
There are many mind-body connection books from which to choose. I felt this was a worthwhile read. It set the stage for taking my learning even farther. Anything that keeps us on the path to healthier living is worth the investment of time and energy. I'm glad I read How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body. It reminded me that there is more I can do to be an active participant in my own healing. It also caused me to celebrate the wonder of the mind and to feel a sense of gratitude for what I have been given. What more can you ask from a book?
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