by Sinead Fine (MAHA)

“We strive for destinations, never realising the journey is more important!”

Buddha flower For one year I travelled across the world in search of answers, not knowing what the questions were, only knowing I would find them somewhere along the way. The journey took me to Far East Asia, Indonesia, India and Australia. While in Thailand I became infected with amoebic dysentery and after the initial few days of constantly sitting on the toilet I continued to have a milder form of diarrhoea for an entire twelve months and more. Every morning around 5/6 am I would wake with terrible cramps and run to to the bathroom. Afterwards I would be cold, feverish, anxious and exhausted.

Test results from the hospital would come back positive again and again for a very stubborn but rare parasite. I seemed to be doing all the right things to clear it out of my body. I spent over $I, 500 Australian dollars trying to find a cure, while gradually I lost three stone ( 20kg). I took conventional anti-parasitic medication, anti-parasitic herbs and foods, homeopathic remedies, various diets, colonics. Here I was - a healer by profession and I couldn’t even heal myself! (Rule Number One: Just because you are a healer does not make you invincible!). I still had the ability to work - though at a slower weaker pace. I needed the money to continue my journey. I would not return to Ireland, my home at the time - I was not ready.

Now I am grateful for this decision because the teachings I received from this illness will be with me for life. The year became a greater understanding of the link between mind and body. What started off as a physical illness led to profound changes in all areas of my life. I learned that illness could be one of the greatest gifts we can receive. Illness can deliver us back to whom we truly are. (Rule Number Two: But you don’t have to suffer to learn and grow).

When we become ill, we immediately want to know how to cure it, to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Take a pill; cut it out, get some treatments for whatever it is that you have. Less often we ask why we may have an illness. We may blame environment, smoking, diet but do we ever look to our thoughts or repressed emotions as a link to a present illness? Ancient medical systems, which work with the human body as a totality on all levels, believes unresolved emotional conflict, could lead to physiological blockage.

Physics claims energy cannot be destroyed but simply changes form. The Neurochemical Bridge (which relays messages between images and cells) affects the frontal brain, which in turn affects the limbic system, which in turn affects the hypothalamus, which in turn affects the pituitary. The pituitary is the master gland, which controls many functions, among them control of the hormonal system - which indirectly affects every cell in the body. Thus thought becomes a bodily response at cellular level. If an emotion or thought is not expressed it drops into the body, for it must find expression of some kind. If it drops into the body and is stored it will find the weakest spot through which to erupt to the surface.

Weakness of the body can be caused by accident, trauma, abuse of all kinds both self inflicted and from outside of the person. Ancestral memories in the form of cellular code (genetic inheritance) can also create weak energy systems. Repression of any strong emotion and constant negative thinking also creates weakness. For instance according to Chinese Medicine guilt can cause weakness in the bowel, grief creates weakness in the lungs, suppressed anger affects the liver and gallbladder.

In Marc Ian Barasch’s book, The Healing Path - A soul approach to illness, he asks,”…to what extent is our disease inside us, mutable, a wounded part of ourselves which we have never dared approach?”

What about Cancer, which is on the increase in the Western world? Apart from the diet, lifestyle and excessive exposure to chemicals we also have to look at the society we live in. To be truthful many of us are sane people living in an insane world where we struggle to exist as communications grow to a stage we cannot contain. Roles of identity are being lost and materialism often wins over spirituality. Patterns of unhealthy living and being, develop along with chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer and arthritis.  Marc Ian Barasch, who suffered from cancer and researched the connection between the mind and body of cancer patients, came up with the following personality traits, which he said were common in the majority of patients suffering from cancer that he interviewed and worked with:

  • Guilt - extreme guilt that is not warranted
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Low self image
  • Victim mentality
  • Fear of rejection
  • Abuse of some form in childhood
  • Loss of reason for existence
  • Living in comfort rather than following dreams
  • Inability to express anger and resentment
  • Trying to be a good person all the time - a people pleaser
  • A need to make sure everyone is happy over ones own happiness and contentment
  • Inability to say No
  • Suppression of all strong emotions
  • Compulsive need based relationships
  • Addictions or surrounded by addictive personalities
  • Conditional love to or from others

In Chinese medicine each organ has specific emotions attached to it and Chinese Medicine therapists would not be surprised by where cancer arises in a person if they knew of their lifestyle and thought patterns. I am NOT saying thoughts create cancer but I do feel they go a long way towards encouraging its growth. Of course one could argue about young innocent children who develop cancer - surely thoughts are not involved here! Probably not but what about their genetic inheritance?

It may sound ludicrous but more and more people around the world are learning of the profound effects thoughts have on our bodies. The placebo effect is one example in medical research, where sometimes those on placebo medicine improve more than those on the medicine being tested! The mind is more powerful than we give it credit for and I do believe we have the power to heal ourselves in many instances. It is true that illness causes negative thought patterns and research is showing now that these same thoughts also cause illness.

It is frustrating to hear of natural and conventional medicine therapists who often ignore the thoughts of the patients they treat. It is also frustrating that those practitioners who do see the mind body connection often ask why the patient ’wanted’ the disease they are suffering from. The confused patient returns home guilty and defensive! This is not the way to help someone change their negative thinking!

However we have to bear in mind that our surroundings, environment and our own particular response to it, can lead to illness. According to many holistic health therapists, fear and an inability to deal with ones issues affect the kidneys. Problems with the bones lead one to ask how they are using their ability to be useful to themselves and others. Ulcers are caused by worry, heart disease by over achievers. Every cell in our body, is affected by thought, and repetitious thought over decades leads to impaired cells and their ability to function.

In Western society we always feel we are missing out - not enough money, not having the perfect partner or job. There is always something we are lacking because advertising and society tell us this, hundreds of times per day. Thus we feel we have to gain more and more in order to feel peace and contentment. We create masks around ourselves to be the people we believe we have to be in order to obtain these wonderful accruements. We put ourselves under pressure to get approval from others to affirm to us that what we are doing is right even though it gives us no lasting satisfaction. Because most other people are doing the same we conclude that we are normal as we run ourselves into the ground gaining possessions and titles while being desperately unhappy underneath.

What we need to learn is that the journey is always much more important than the destination and true wisdom allows us to enjoy life because our self worth is not attached to how much we earn or own. True wisdom, acceptance and satisfaction comes with the belief that right now we are where we are meant to be for our own evolution and every incident does not necessarily have to be negative if we can see what we have gained from the situation.

World-renowned health guru Louise Hay also believes changing thoughts changes your body. I agree but I don’t believe it’s enough. Sometimes we have to feel the emotion generated at the time of past incidences and release it from the body fully and safely. This can effectively be done with Breath work and Bodywork or therapies such as Homeopathy, Flower essences, Acupuncture etc. Cellular healing may take place then at a greater pace. Only then may positive thoughts really take hold.

According to Brandon Bays, “Once you learn what the disease/physical block has to teach you and you finally let go of the emotional issues stored in the cells, then only can real healing take place.” In this day and age there is a great need to look inside - to face ourselves, to allow years of denial, repression, suppression to come to the surface. With this come awareness, truth and the open path to ourselves.

Marc Ian Barasch asks, “Does the expression of powerful emotions, even dangerous ones, create a state of autonomic arousal that boosts immune function?” We may have to suffer to get the message - and often it is the suffering that eventually makes us start to take steps to affect changes in our lives. The thing you want to hide from may be the very thing you need to focus on in order to grow. Barasch came to believe that in some cases this process is part of a persons “developmental crisis - an attempt by the evolutionary body to reorganise the self, resynthesize and reintegrate along new lines”. If we do not listen to our souls and intuition and do not follow our true path - illness and neurosis will show. The greatest truth an ill person can realise is that illness proves upon closer scrutiny to be an invitation to become a whole person.

While I was working in various clinics and centres over the years, I came across the link between mind and body over and over again. Each day I had clients with a myriad of conditions from simple sports injuries to complex cancers, strokes and depression. I treated symptoms, not ailments and took the totality of the patient into consideration. The correlation between the client’s thoughts and the illness they presented with could not be ignored.

As time went on I could not refute the fact that the clients thoughts were aiding (if not creating) their problems. Thoughts and repressed emotions stored in the body - over time manifested as dis-ease. For example there was Samantha, an attractive woman who had severe constipation. She was constantly stressed and worrying over the past - she basically couldn’t let go! Fiona had M.E and was stunning, wealthy and successful with her own company, yet was severely depressed, and often told me all she really wanted was to get married and have children. Then moments later she would claim she had no time to be running around after children when she had a prosperous business to run!

Depression can often be a sign we are not listening to what our soul really wants and instead we do what we think is the right thing to do or do nothing at all! There was Patrick who never relaxed or sat and enjoyed life - he was always constantly on the go. He suffered from a serious stroke and after months of physiotherapy managed to stumble around again for hours every day, not heeding what his body was trying to tell him - ’slow down, notice what is around you’! Another client often cried during therapy and had come some months before complaining of terrible pains in the hands, which tests showed to be arthritis. One day in a session she wailed telling me of the terrible time she was having with her husband and said, “I can’t handle it anymore….”. I then reminded her that her only physical problem was her hands and asked her was there any changes she felt she could make at that time to see would it help the arthritis. What about Sandra who had experienced a very abusive childhood - her physical problems ranged from heart disease, arthritis, multiple allergies, infertility and skin problems - all at the age of 32.

I am not saying that thoughts and repression of emotion are the sole cause of dis-ease, but it is a factor, which creates weaknesses that invite in sickness, bacteria and viruses. Often, if not always, the person is not aware that thoughts and repressed emotions can create disease. Often when they ask questions about the illness, skeletons come out of the cupboard that they forgot about or thought they had dealt with before.

During the process of healing, you may heal from your illness, but then again you may not! Emerging from illness with greater awareness does not necessarily mean cure of that illness. Sometimes it is too late for the body, but it is never too late for the mind and emotions.

A connection to our sickness and asking the deeper meanings behind it without guilt or blame can lead to greater clarity of ourselves and our place on the planet in this lifetime. Illness according to Annette Noontil, “…leads to being the best we can be at whatever we come here to do”. One can learn to accept ones flaws and yet totally love oneself, accepting that honesty and truth with oneself is always the best way to go. Life is the greatest gift one can be given.

To read more about how thoughts affect our biology, check out Bruce Liptons website here.

(Names in this article have been changed to preserve anonymity)