Mind-Body Medicines: An Essential Component For Health And Healing
Did you know the mind is among the most powerful tools you could utilize for healing and health? Mind-body Medicines (or MBMs) are among some of the most effective treatments for improving psychological, emotional and social health, work or school productivity, addictions, criminal rehabilitation, and many – perhaps all – physical ailments. MBMs address the root cause of illness, involving the mind’s subconscious beliefs, perceptions, and decision surrounding separation rather than oneness. MBMs help people release separation and its results (such as illness) while revealing greater union with the heart of life.
What are Mind-Body Medicines?
Mind-body Medicines are a group of personal practices which apply mental, emotional, behavioral, physical, and spiritual methods to enhance overall health and recovery from many types of medical conditions. MBMs focus on healing the mind first, in recognition of its essential nature for all healing and the most advanced levels of health. MBM’s have been utilized for thousands of years by practically all cultures, including every type of spiritual master. However, we have yet to experience the full capacity of MBMs as healing catalysts. We are still learning about what MBM’s have to offer.
All MBMs share a common aim, to encourage a universal experience centered around relaxation, peace, happiness, quietness, contentment, completeness, alertness, expansiveness, health, unification, present moment awareness, timelessness, life, and love. To those inclined to spiritual language, this equates to union with the universe; to others, enlightenment, nirvana, the one Mind and/or Higher Self.
Combining different types of MBM’s may create a synergistic effect. The most common and effective MBMs include meditation and other relaxation techniques, mindfulness, yoga, tai chi/qi gong, other forms of mindful movement, acupuncture, forgiveness, spirituality/religion, the 12-step program, hypnosis, breathing exercises, mindful eating, self-help literature, journaling, using the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or other psychotherapies. Specific MBMs are more effective than others depending on the individual’s needs and medical condition(s). MBMs are very safe and effective therapies, with generally much lower side effects, risks and cost than medications and surgery. Their health benefits also go far beyond treating the medical condition.
Mind-body Medicines are most effective when used alongside additional standard medical treatment, where they can support and even catalyze recovery and overall well-being. MBMs should rarely be used as stand-alone treatments. Research evidence is now showing how beneficial MBM’s can be when used within healthcare settings. Healthcare usage of MBMs is established and continuing to grow exponentially.
Research supporting the use and integration of MBMs today:
- For over a decade, CBT has been considered first-line therapy for insomnia and most psychological conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety, stressful events, etc.) as well as a secondary treatment option for over 100 additional medical conditions.
- Standard of care guidelines for chronic low back and other pain conditions recommend that several MBMs (i.e., CBT, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture and progressive relaxation) be tried prior to medications and other conventional methods.
- Meditation, breathing techniques and other relaxation techniques are commonly recommended for anxiety and stress, and mindfulness is among the top tools for overcoming panic attacks or other stressful situations.
- Transcendental meditation is endorsed by the American Heart Association for blood pressure reduction support and preliminary evidence shows that it may drastically reduce risk of heart disease related events and mortality.
- CBT, 12-step program, meditation, mindfulness and forgiveness therapies have proven themselves generally effective for addictions to tobacco, alcohol and/or drugs in compliant participants.
- Hypnosis can drastically improve surgical outcomes, irritable bowel syndrome, addictions, and other conditions.
- Yoga practice is associated with better overall health outcomes than any other behavior yet studied, it can significantly support pregnancy outcomes, and was recently endorsed by standard guidelines to support depression remission.
- Yoga, tai chi, CBT, mindful eating, acupuncture and hypnosis can support weight loss.
- Breathing exercises are customarily recommended for lung conditions like COPD as are relaxation techniques for headaches.
- Studies show that transcendental meditation, MBSR and the relaxation response can each reduce medical costs by about 30-50%.
- Meditation and mindfulness can drastically improve work/school productivity and program are becoming increasingly available within schools, corporations and prisons.
- Acupuncture can also be very effective for nausea, sinusitis, headaches and supportive for mental-emotional health and most medical conditions.
- Several MBMs have been shown to improve immune status including skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and shingles as well as infection risk and recovery.
- Several MBMs are also conventionally recommended as supportive care during cancer, HIV and other chronic disease treatments, where improvement in quality of life is consistently seen as well as drastic improvements in remission and mortality (e.g., in some breast cancer studies).
Top Mind-body Medicine resources for my patients include discussing principles of and reading A Course In Miracles and related texts, Zen Teachings on Transmission of Mind by Huang Po (free pdf available online), mindfulness, forgiveness, yoga, tai chi, Pilates, mindful walking/movement, being in nature, service to others, Transcendental Meditation, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, vipassana meditation retreats, Kriya yoga, kundalini, mindful eating, other meditation techniques, EFT, gut directed hypnotherapy and hypnosis.
Very helpful are teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Yogananda, Dr. David Hawkins, Edgar Cayce, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Eckart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, Gary Renard, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nahn Hahn, PhD, PsychD and other spiritual teachers, as well as referrals to licensed psychologists specializing in CBT and other psychotherapies.
It is recommended that you seek out MBMs that resonate most strongly with the core of your being, including your particular personal and medical needs. Consider trying multiple MBMs and understand that each one helps to cultivate the universal experience briefly described above. It is also important to utilize MBMs and this experience practically, so that they can help you find greater peace and success within and through life’s obstacles. MBMs are here to support our personal and collective healing and health, and experience the ever-expanding joy, inspiration, love and amazement that life has to offer.
Dr. Robert Lee, ND, MS, MA is a naturopathic physician and director of the Pain Relief Program at The Life Center of Connecticut in North Haven, CT. Previously, Dr. Lee worked for 10+ years as a research investigator of integrative and MBM through Yale, Helfgott and other groups. He has practiced meditation for 25+ years, has received training in mindfulness, meditation, forgiveness, CBT and other MBMs discussed above, and given presentations on MBMs at hospitals, international research conferences, academic, CME, and public settings. At The Life Center of Connecticut, Dr. Lee offers patients individualized MBM training programs based on their healthcare needs and preferences with support from additional therapists licensed in hypnotism, acupuncture, massage, exercise therapy, emotional freedom technique and naturopathy.