We bring you the third installment of ‘The 16 Foundations of Health and Healing’. Over the following months, we will be exploring each of these 16 components in more detail, one at a time. These foundations are the pillar of InspireHealth and they will provide you with valuable information and tools that you can start applying immediately in your day to day life. What makes sense when you are living with a diagnosis of cancer also makes sense to help prevent it, so whether you have had cancer or not, this information provides essential ingredients to living healthy, joyous, and passionate lives.
Healing is a Personal Journey
Healing is a very personal journey, unique for each of us. At a deeper level of self, most of us already know many of the most important things we need to do to heal. However, many of us have forgotten how to listen to this intuitive wisdom.
Listen to Discover Your Own Healing Path
While many of us have all the conveniences of modern life, most of us have become too busy to relax. The ‘information age’ has brought with it activities that fill our day, from the time we wake up until the time we go to bed. Modern life is so busy that few of us take time each day to be at peace with ourselves, and the world. It is when we are in a place of peace that we can begin to surrender to our deeper wisdom. Many of the most important things we need to do to support our own healing are waiting there to be discovered. We simply need to quiet our mind long enough so that we can begin to listen to our deeper level of self and discover for ourselves our own healing path.
Recent research in perception, memory and learning has revealed what healers and spiritual teachers have known for centuries: at a deeper level of self, we are far more aware and knowledgeable than our conscious mind. By taking the time to be at peace with ourselves, we can relearn to tap into this intuitive wisdom. Prayer, meditation and yoga are examples of ways in which we can do this.
Prayer and Spirituality Can Play an Important Role
The importance of prayer and spirituality has recently been ‘rediscovered’ by psychoneuroimmunologists who have found that prayer and spiritual connection can play a very important role in the healing process. For many people, spirituality is expressed through a religious framework; for others, spirituality can be equally expressed through connection with nature, connection with others and by connecting with their deepest authentic self. Research has revealed that prayer can activate the immune system, promote healing and increase the possibility of recovery – even from serious, life-threatening illness.
Studies have found that prayer benefits patients even if they are unaware that they are being prayed for.1
Science is discovering that loving intention and prayer can be very supportive of healing -wisdom that many of us have always known. Meditation and yoga have also been found to be of great value in the healing process. By quieting the conscious mind and focusing on the body or the breath, meditation and yoga engender a sense of peace; relaxing our body and leaving our mind open to our own intuitive wisdom. For someone who has never been introduced to meditation or yoga, these practices may seem unusual or may even seem to have religious connotations. Meditation and yoga are actually simple, natural processes that assist our body in achieving a deep state of relaxation and help us connect to our inner wisdom. In essence, spiritual connection is connecting with our deepest values and aspirations – bringing full authenticity to our lives, our work, and our relationships. This connection is a wonderful resource -it connects us with others and the world around us and powerfully supports our health and healing.
Reclaim Your Spiritual Connection
Spiritual connection -in whatever way that has meaning for us -plays a vitally important role in the healing process, creating a solid foundation for recovery. By reclaiming this connection – whether through a religious framework or our own personal sense of spirituality – we live life more fully, maximize our immune response, and become actively engaged in the process of recovery. While emotional and spiritual healing are always possible and can substantially contribute to physical healing, physical healing is not always the outcome of a healing journey. In fact, an open and honest exploration of our fears around life-threatening illness can release these fears, engaging us more fully in life. For all of us, there are substantial benefits to exploring our beliefs about death and dying. And for those who are in a healing process, speaking about our feelings and concerns about dying, rather than suppressing or avoiding them, frees up the mindbody, allowing more space for healing. Expressing these thoughts and feelings creates an opportunity for continued or greater intimacy with our loved ones. At such times relationships can deepen in profound ways and by living fully in each moment life’s richness may be experienced as never before. There are practical reasons for talking openly about the possibility of dying; being financially and legally prepared and making wishes known regarding medical and personal issues allows for a sense of preparedness, which in turn, can support a return of our focus and energy to healing and living. Talking about these important subjects is not about giving up, it’s about being real, open and honest and freeing ourselves up to more fully engage in life.
The Foundations of Health and Healing
All aspects of supporting mind, body, spirit and immune system (e.g., exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, etc.) are interrelated and each contributes to the benefit provided by the others in a synergistic way. By engaging in the many ways we can support mind, body and spirit, we create solid foundations for health and recovery and optimize our body’s healing potential. An optimal integrative cancer care program incorporates all of these important foundations, built one upon the other, foundation upon foundation, as illustrated in the following diagram ‘The Foundations of Health & Healing’.
Stay tuned for the next installment in our Foundation of Health & Healing series: Joy and Laughter.
1 Krucoff MW et al. Integrative noetic therapies as adjuncts to percutaneous intervention during unstable coronary syndromes: Monitoring and Actualization of Noetic Training (MANTRA) feasibility pilot. Am Heart J 2001;142:760-7.