The Power of the Human Brain and Mind, and the “Integral” or “Holistic” Approach for Health and Success in Life Through the Science of Psychoneuroimmunology
Humanity is going through an important period of social, political, emotional, economical, and environmental change. Such a period automatically creates in the outer material world a state of confusion and in the inner emotional world of almost everyone a state of insecurity, worry, anxiety, fear, and instability. As a result there is a high rate of health problems within the working-force, and within the public in general. Consequently, the cost of health services are rising. Businesses and industries are suffering economic losses due to lower productivity, and higher rate of absenteeism, eventually even leading to shut downs and there-by creating a higher rate of unemployment. This turmoil, and change within the outer world is a contributing factor to various problems that in turn have significant impact on human health, and on human well-being in general. Good health and well-being are the cardinal factors for the survival, growth, and evolution of this “Divine Creation” (our world), and therefore “Healthy Human-beings” are the starting point for everything else on this planet earth.
My definition of good human health is based on what I personally feel and experience physically and emotionally. It is also based on what my patients and clients personally feel and experience physically and emotionally. However, good health is not just the absence of disease or illness from the physical human body. In very simple terms, I define “Good Health” as a state of well-being within which an individual feels totally satisfied with her or his physical, mental, emotional, psychological, economical, material, social, and spiritual life; a life that I call an “Integral Life”. In other words, good health is a harmonious combination of various physical and nonphysical factors within and outside the anatomical body.
The Medical Science of Psychoneuroimmunology – Powers of the Human Brain and Mind
Your brain is molecular, whereas your mind is non-molecular. “Thoughts” originate in your brain, they are “cerebral”. Your brain is the source of your “emotions.” Your “Mind” has its origin in the “Soul” (life energy). Your noble “inspirations” arise from your mind. I call “Mind” the voice of man’s “Soul”. The various faculties of brain and mind interact with one another through processes involving diverse physiological and biological reactions, and through personal and cosmic “Occult Energies” (occult or invisible because one can’t see them with human eyes).
Your “Brain” and your “Mind” are the major players involved in the process of attaining and maintaining a harmonious balance in your body, and for you to live a life of “Integral Health,” a life of lasting satisfaction. However, they are also the major conspirators and instigators of disease and illness. Historically, medicine in modern society has defined its mission in terms of curing disease (the medical disorder) while overlooking illness (to treat the medical condition while ignoring people’s inner state of being). In other words, ignoring the relationship and interaction between mind, body, matter, social and spiritual factors.
The interrelationship between the various functions and systems within the body were relatively unknown until Robert Ader in the US, rather recently, discovered that the immune system, like the brain, could learn. His finding was a shock; the prevailing wisdom in medicine had been that only the brain and central nervous system could respond to experience by changing how they behaved. Ader’s finding led to the investigation of what are turning out to be myriad ways the central nervous system and the immune system communicate – biological pathways that make the mind, the emotions and the body not separate, but intimately entwined.
Francesco Varela, at Paris’s Ecole Politechnique, discovered that the immune system was like the “body’s brain,” defining the body’s own sense of self – of what belongs within and what does not. Immune cells travel in the bloodstream throughout the entire body, contacting virtually every other cell. Those cells they recognise, they leave alone; those they fail to recognise, they attack. The attack either defends us against viruses, bacteria, and cancer or, if the immune cells misidentify some of the body’s own cells, creates an autoimmune disease such as allergy or lupus. Until the day Ader made his unexpected discovery, medical science believed that the brain (along with its extensions throughout the body via the central nervous system) and the immune system were separate entities, neither able to influence the operation of the other. For example, that there was no pathway that could connect the brain to the areas of bone marrow that manufacture T cells (immune cells). Or so it had been thought for a century. The analogy between the immune system and the nervous system is that they both are self-regulating and control the responses of the body to the environment. The immune system, like the nervous system, can remember, learn, and so can adapt, not in a cognitive sense, but in a physiological one. The interaction between the mind, the nervous system, and the immune system provides a physiological basis for the influence of emotions on health. This interaction takes place through an energetic process within which the brain plays a very significant role. Evidence for the strength of this interaction conclude that stress experienced by the nervous system hampers the functioning of the immune system, and that immune responses can be conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs learning to salivate at the sound of a bell.
Over the years since then, Ader’s important discovery has forced a new look at the links between the immune system and the central nervous system. The field that studies this, Psychoneuroimmunology, or PNI, is now a leading edge medical science. Its very name acknowledges the links: psycho, or “mind”; neuro, for the neuroendocrine system (which subsumes the nervous system and hormone systems): and immunology, for the immune system. This young medical discipline has made it quite clear that the person’s interior states (emotions, psychological attitude, imagery, and intentions) play a crucial role in both the cause and the cure of even physical illness. In other words, an individual’s inner state is a key ingredient in any comprehensive medical care. Visualisation, affirmation, and conscious use of imagery have been shown to play a significant role in the management and cure of most illnesses, and outcomes have been shown to depend on emotional states and mental outlook. The “mind” and the “brain” play a cardinal role within the process of management and cure of all illnesses, and also for resolving various problems in life.