By Leah Lewis, MPH
It has been said that, we are what we think about the most. Is this true? Do you believe that you are the way you are not because of your circumstances or your genetics, but because of the state of your mind and the quality of your thoughts? I’m here today to tell you that whether or not you believe this to be so, science has proven such things to be true, at least when it comes to the connection between the mind and the body.
In recent times, science has caught up to what many have known for hundreds of years previously– that the mind (consciousness of thought) influences the body and our every action, and is a strong determinant in our state of physical health. Many extraordinary, well-researched studies have shown an unquestionable link between our thoughts, beliefs and emotions, and the health of our physical bodies, including the expression of our genes. This is a relatively new field known as mind-body medicine.
While the lifestyle that you live, including your daily diet and exercise regimen still play an extremely important part in your state of health, from today, I want you to see the value in thinking about what you think about, because what you think about the most is what your body will respond to and ultimately become. Sounds interesting? Let’s go a bit deeper.
Diseases Linked to Thoughts
Did you know that there are certain negative emotional states that over a prolonged period of time can manifest themselves as various diseases and health conditions? Studies have shown the undeniable links between the following mindsets, emotions, and diseases:
Bitterness and unforgiveness are linked to arthritis and cancer.
Anger, hatred, malice and depression are linked to heart disease.
Worry, fear, anxiousness, regret and rejection are linked to digestive issues, hypertension and immune disorders.
How can this be? It’s simple, really. Our cells and DNA respond to the signals that we give to them, and those signals are our thoughts. How we respond to the environment around us also determines how our genes are expressed, if we get a disease or develop any physical ailment.
What is a thought?
Simply stated, a thought is an electrical impulse. It is actually a real, tangible structure that takes up space in our brain, where it looks like a little tree with branches. Every time you have a thought, your brain releases chemicals that are sent throughout your entire body. When you think positive thoughts of love, gratitude, faith and joy- the right chemicals are released that make you feel energized, happy and relaxed. On the other hand, negative thoughts like anxious, fearful or resentful thoughts cause the release of toxic chemicals and cause your DNA to be expressed incorrectly. These chemicals affect every cell in your body as well as your emotions and attitude. So when you meditate and constantly think about your problems, you are creating neural pathways that physically get wired into your brain, and they become a part of who you are.
This is all wonderful information, but how can you use it to improve your health?
Allow me to share three actionable techniques that you can use to change how you think and improve the quality of your life:
Focused thought and repetition.
It has been scientifically proven that it takes 21 days of focused thinking about one thought to form that neural pathway. It takes 63 days of thinking about that thought every day to have it become permanently wired into us and form a natural part of who we are.
Action: Create a set of positive affirmations to verbalize daily to yourself, and repeat them out loud for at least 21 days. If you want to improve your health, say to yourself that you are healthy, you are healed, your body is strong etc. Be creative, and be sure to believe the words that you are speaking.
Even though toxic thought causes cellular damage, prayer can reverse that damage and cause the brain and body to thrive. According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, “It has been found that 12 minutes of daily focused prayer over an 8 week period can change the brain to such an extent that it can be measured on a brain scan.”
Action: Set aside a peaceful, uninterrupted session of prayer where you deeply focus on connecting with your God. Release all of your cares and burdens, and communicate your sincere desires, while believing that you receive whatever you ask for, with humble gratitude. Make this a part of your daily life.
This is the art of using your imagination, or your mind’s eye, to internally visualize any scenario or desired outcome. Your brain will then form the necessary neural pathways to help you to achieve your goal. Use this method to improve your health, change a habit, start exercising or to achieve anything else that you genuinely desire.
Action: Close your eyes, and with as much detail as possible, imagine a warm light or some positive energy flowing through your body. How does it feel? How do you want to feel? See yourself being healthy. What do you want to look like? What do you want to be able to do? Do this for at least 10 minutes every night before bed. You can imagine any scenario that you like that lines up with your goal. Simply visualize it.
And there we have it. This is quite an interesting field with a wealth of information available. If you would like to learn more, you can look up the work of Dr. Caroline Leaf.
Remember, you can think your way into getting ill, and you can also think your way into better health and a wonderful life. The choice is yours, and it all starts with your mindset.
Best wishes on your journey to better health.