Showing posts with label healing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healing. Show all posts

Thursday, August 15, 2019

How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body - Book Review

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Every once in a while you come across a book that reawakens the intentional use of a power you had forgotten you possessed.  Anyone dealing with chronic illness, pain, a life-threatening disease, or another condition seriously impacting quality of life could benefit from reading How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body.  This is a book I would also recommend to those who support others who are experiencing critical health challenges.

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.

The mind: Do we even have the slightest inkling of what it is doing for us at this very moment?  I hadn't gotten very far into this book before I was completely captivated.  As I write this review, and as you read my words, we are changing the very structure of our brains.  Every thought we are having is reshaping the most marvelous instrument ever created.  We are becoming something new even as we share this experience.

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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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Dog Medicine - How My Dog Saved Me From Myself - Book Review

Dog Medicine - How My Dog Saved Me From Myself - Book Review
Dog Medicine by Julie Barton
Most of us have so much going on in our own lives that we seriously question reading a book that will immerse us in someone else's unrelenting anguish.  Why would we want to do that?  We already know from reading the reviews that Dog Medicine is going to make us cry.  When reviews use words like raw and brutal honesty, we know we are in for a read that will demand something from us.

Perhaps that is the point.  Could it be that the demanding, heart-wrenching accounts most grow our humanity, our compassion, and our capacity to connect with others in the ways that are most authentic and useful?  In a genre overflowing with I-was-saved-by-my-dog books, what does it take to transcend it — the genre and what cynics would say is the same old, same old story?

Well, here's the thing: this story matters because Julie Barton and Bunker matter.  Without Bunker, the author's Golden retriever puppy, Julie would surely not have lived to write this book.  And this book needed to be written just as much as we all need to read it.

When initial therapies failed to lift Barton out of the deep, dark depression unleashed by long-term childhood trauma, it took the powerful medicine of Bunker—his unfailing solace—to bring Julie back from the brink.

It is in how the author captures the first glimmers of healing that this book soars.
Perhaps what began to save me was that I started creating this sacred, safe space where he and I met.  In this space, there was no ridicule.  There was no doubt or loneliness.  There was no sorrow or anger.  It was just pure, beautiful being.  It was looking at the world with wide-eyed, forever hopeful puppy wonder.
Could it be that we share in vicarious healing in reading about the transformation brought about by the kind of love that can only be known in relationship with a dog that has chosen his human?  Ultimately, I chose this book because I cherish my animal relationships and the healing they bring me.  I deeply related to the purpose Barton found in caring for a dog with special medical needs.  When Julie's broken psyche bound up Bunker's broken body, the result was a unified whole that the two of them could not have found by any other means.  We are all broken in ways that call for us to find our healing in offering up the gift of compassion... in being the sacred space needed by another.

Given my recent launch as a therapy dog team member, I found inspiration in knowing that, like Julie, the good medicine in my life, in the form of my dog Finn, will make itself manifest in the lives of those who enter the sacred space he and I share.  For what is the sacred, if it is not that which exists to bless others?

It is my hope that Julie and Bunker's story will bless you in whatever way you most need at this point in time.  I will close here with a reviewer's blurb that I found compelling when deciding whether or not to read Dog Medicine:
Read it for the voice, read it to savor the power of love, read it to enjoy an inspiring, hopeful story, read it to learn about healing, read it if you're depressed and want to get better, read it if you're happy and want to stay there.  Whatever else you do, read it.  ~Peter Gibb
Yes.  Read it and savor the power of love.




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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
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