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Rational health care approaches are not
just for people facing the challenges of
surviving chronic illnesses! Let’s learn to
preserve what we already enjoy ... before
we are faced with the greatest challenge
of our life.
Correctly channeled, it has enormous
power says Dr. Chopra. The power to
make us sick or well, depressed or joyful,
sluggish or dynamic. The mind body
connection is the gateway to unlimited
creativity and happiness. Unfortunately,
our society has not taught us how to use it.
Practices to Promote Health and
Well-being
Your personal wellness plan may include
a range of lifestyle and mind-body
practices to support maintaining a
higher level of health and wellness and
it will change over time to focus on the
areas of your life you are currently most
motivated to change. Some of these
practices carry little or no cost, while
others carry heavy costs. For example,
paying attention to how you breathe,
move, eat your meals, process your
feelings, communicate with others,
and taking daily walks, carries no
costs. Other practices, such as yoga,
Pilates, qigong, tai chi, and some ftness
routines, can frst be learned in class and
then later practiced on your own (or with
video instruction). These have small up-
front instructional costs and sometimes
some ongoing costs if you enjoy the
class environment.
Finally, there are practices with heavy
associated costs, such as ftness club
memberships and dietary supplements,
as well as trips to your massage
therapist, acupuncturist, nutritionist,
energy healer, naturopath, chiropractor
practices, or holistic physician to help
monitor your state of health and wellness
and help bring you back into balance if
necessary. Most of these costs will be
in the frst 12–18 months of your plan
as you are learning and choosing the
wellness practices that you would like to
integrate into your life.
The beauty of this approach is that
you are investing time and money in
your health and well-being by creating
a long-term, strategic wellness plan
which allows you to see the holistic
health practitioners you most trust to
guide you to a higher level of health and
well-being, and to pursue the wellness
practices which address the areas of
your life you are most motivated to
change. Your greatest reward will come
from the wellness practices you pursue
on a daily basis until they become part
of the fabric of your life.
Mind/Body Communication
Our thoughts and feelings infuence
the body via two kinds of mechanisms:
the nervous system and the circulatory
system. These are the pathways of
communication between the brain and
the rest of the body.
The brain reaches into the body via
the nervous system. This allows it to
send nerve impulses into all the body’s
tissues and infuence their behavior. The
brain can thus affect the behavior of the
immune system with its nerve endings
extending into the bone marrow (the
birthplace of all white cells), the thymus,
the spleen, and the lymph nodes.
It also reaches into all the glands of
the endocrine system, all the bones,
muscles, all the internal organs, and
even the walls of veins and arteries. It
can infuence the behavior of the heart
with its nerves penetrating the heart
tissue, affecting heart rate and other
aspects of the heart’s functioning. The
entire body is literally “wired” by the
brain.
The brain is also a gland. It
manufactures thousands of different
kinds of chemicals and releases them
into the bloodstream. These chemicals
circulate throughout the body and
infuence the activity and behavior of all
the body’s tissues. The brain could be
described as the ultimate apothecary,
producing many more drugs than
science has ever invented.
The cells of the body have receptors on
their surfaces that function somewhat
like satellite dishes. These receptors
receive the chemical messages being
released by the brain and respond
accordingly.
Finally, the mind/body connection is a
two-way street. In addition to sending
messages into the body’s tissues, it also
receives feedback, both in the form of
nerve impulses and its own receptors
that sense what chemicals are being
released by other tissues in the body.
Lifestyle Change
The use of mind/body medicine takes
place within a broader context of
changing one’s lifestyle to promote
health. Making a daily practice of mind/
body techniques is but one of several
areas of lifestyle change that work
together in a synergistic way. Other
In recent years,
medical scientists
throughout
the world have
discovered
exciting insights
about supportive
approaches to
traditional medical
care. These are the
fndings (published
in leading medical
journals) that can
enable us to take an
active, meaningful
role in our health
and well-being.
Jan/Feb 2012 63