Deep Connections: The Relationship Between Mental and Physical Wellness Unit 5 Project Renee Masse May 25, 2010 Dr. Kirsti Dyer HW420-02
The human mind has been studied for millennia and there has long been since a recognized relationship between the process of our mind and its connection to our body. In the 1970’s, a research scientist by the name of Candace Pert was able to prove that this relationship is factual and its influence is boundless through the extraordinary discovery of specialized body proteins called neuropeptides. Neuropeptides have been identified as unique messengers that work within the vast human network (Dacher, 2006). <ul><li>When the mind is at peace, the body is at peace. When the mind is in chaos, the body is in chaos. Adopting healthy practices that cultivate and develop the human mind to unfold its beautiful mysteries enhance our physical wellness and allow us to flourish as human beings. </li></ul>
The Healing Studies: Study 1 One study in the mid-1990’s demonstrated the influence of prayer and meditation on reducing the blood pressure of patients living with hypertension. One group of people were instructed to maintain a constant focus on breathing, prayer, sounds, or images that would induce a state of relaxation. They had to banish any protruding thoughts that took away from the prayer and the results were astounding. Their heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing proved to be lowered and controlled, while the opposed group that had not participated showed they had not changed their condition and remained on their medication (NYTimes.com, 1995).
The Healing Studies: Study 2 At the University of Michigan, researchers were conducting an experiment on inducing physical pain in the jaw of participants by an injection and then leading them to believe that they were also to receive an injection of pain medication. Instead of a pain relieving dose they were injected with saline solution. Researchers witnessed the subject’s endogenous endorphin system within the brain was highly activated and the pain was reported to be alleviated. The participants did not realize that they had received a placebo and the pain had subsided due to their own will (NYTimes.com, 2010).
As several studies indicate throughout Western science, and countless examples in the East demonstrate, there is an intertwined relationship between the mind and body. Rather than focus on the benefits of relaxation and human flourishing on the mental self and physical body, it is important to cite examples of how negative emotions and stress can impact the human body.
The Healing Studies: Study 3 This particular study was based on women that care for others in chronic conditions and how this stress of their daily lives reflects in their ability to physically heal from wounds inflicted on the body. Scientists gave each woman a cut the size of the eraser on a pencil, and the wounds of women who experience frequent stress healed nine days later than others who were not under chronic stress. This is an important study that draws much attention to surgery patients because those that are about to have anxiety and stress prior to surgery are also more likely to prolong their healing process, while also facing complications because of it.
<ul><li>Practices That Support Mental Fitness: yoga & prayer </li></ul>
Yoga is the ancient Indian practice of connecting one’s body, mind, and spirit through a series of intentional movements that are coincided with the breath, while yoga is the Sanskrit word for “union.” The stillness that is created through the breathing in connection to the mind offers a stabilizing relaxation to the body. (About.com, 2010)
Meditation is a conscious relaxation that promotes inner stillness and tranquility by focusing on the breath traveling in and out of the body. Just as there are many different types of yoga, there are different ways to meditate. Through meditating one can locate the innermost self that is transcendent to space and time. This practice requires patience and discipline to block out the noise and distraction of the mind. (Dacher, 2006)
To summarize, the mind and body are not separate entities, but are united. The mind has great influence over what occurs in the body, and this is proven through the discovery of neuropeptides and several studies conducted to understand this relationship. Exercises that help to promote mental fitness are yoga and meditation. Physical wellness is promoted through these practices, which is also translated into spiritual wellness.
References About.com. (2010). Retrieved on May 24, 2010 from, http://yoga.about.com/ Dacher, E. (2006). Integral health: the path to human flourishing . Laguna Beach, Ca: Basic Health Publications, Inc. Microsoft Office Online. (2010). Retrieved on May 24, 2010 from, http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/clipart/FX101321031033.aspx?pid=CL100570201033 NY Times Archives. (1995). Retrieved on May 24, 2010 from, http://www.nytimes.com/1995/12/27/science/health-maintenance-organizations-turn-to-spiritual-healing.html?scp=2&sq=spiritual+healing+studies&st=nyt NY Times Archives. (2010). Retrieved on May 24, 2010 from, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/magazine/25Memoir-t.html?pagewanted=2 Ohio State University: Research News. (2010). Retrieved on May 24, 2010 from, http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/wound.htm