Mind Over Body
"Whoever controls the media, controls the mind"- Jim Morrison
In times like these, where the mainstream media is exposed to us 24/7, we see the effectiveness of how our beliefs create our reality. If we see a picture of a street in Tel Aviv, Israel, of a bomb explosion, we believe that all Israel is in war. The reality is that on the other side of the camera an old man still sells his falafel while in a neighboring street three young boys play football.
Joris Luyendijk, a Dutch anthropologist who worked as a war-journalist, researched this phenomenon and gave detailed examples of how reality was so different from what mainstream media shows us. So if the media affects our beliefs, what happens if everyone tells us that we are in danger because we are falling sick as a result of an unknown virus? How many of us are falling sick due to the virus, and how much of us are falling sick as a result of fear or the belief that we are infected?
In this article we will discuss the work of Caroline Myss who wrote about the connection between the energetic and the physical body, we will analyze the psychology of fear, we will learn about the placebo and nocebo effect and last but not least we will use Wim Hof as a living case study to create more insight in how we can heal ourselves, boost our immune system and allow our minds to have a positive influence on our lives.
After years of research, Dhr. Myss (1978) came to the same following conclusion, as many Eastern philosophies did before: disease is the physical manifestation of an underlying energetic problem. She shows how our energetic body is related to our physical body and how mental problems, in the long run, cause different types of diseases. Although critics will always say she has no scientific proof, numerous case studies have proven the effects of her approach to be real. Of course, this is nothing new. But before I open the Pandora box of all studies done around this topic, I would like to take a different turn: if our energetic body affects our physical body, what does fear do to our immune system?
From a spiritual point of view, we all know if we give fear to something, that something grows. If you are afraid of falling off your bike, you will fall. The question then arises: would you have fallen if you weren’t afraid? This question can never be proven scientifically but let me show you an example. When I was little and learned how to drive a bicycle in Holland, my dad would hold my bike and run next to me as I would paddle with all my strength. Every time he said that I was ready to do it alone, I would fall immediately. One day he ran beside me, holding my bike carefully, and without saying a word he let go of my bike and stopped running. I was so focused on biking that I didn’t notice that he stopped and I fully trusted he was right there next to me. When ten successful meters ahead I found out he wasn't there anymore, I smashed to the ground. Why? Because I was scared. My body was capable of biking; my mind was not. The other way around is true as well. Because I thought that I was capable while I imagined him next to me, I biked those ten long stretched meters. In science, they call this the placebo effect.
The placebo effect has been known in medical and psychological thinking since the early eighteen hundred but only in recent years could they do clinical studies to prove this real. In 1995, an important study showed how patients healed because they thought they were being given medicine . The opposite effect is the so-called nocebo effect. Clinical studies have shown how people started having negative effects when they thought they were giving medicines that would cause side effects, while these medicines were nothing but empty pills. It was their mental conviction that they would be sick, that actually created sickness in their bodies. This phenomenon is better understood if we look at the power of visualization and the effects it has on our reality. When people visualize themselves sick, they fall sick as both Dhr. Myss and the nocebo effect show us. When people visualize themselves fully healed, they recover faster from their sickness. So what does all of this have to do with the media and the fear of falling sick?
If we follow this line of argumentation it would mean that if we are bombarded with messages about symptoms, people dying and falling sick massively, we start to (un)consciously visualize ourselves affected and we become fearful about it. Our immune system lowers, and our bodies start to show all kinds of bodily effects that occur as a result of the visualization and panic, while the actual virus or sickness hasn't even arrived in the body. When we are trusting our bodies, visualizing our immune systems healthy and our bodies capable of fighting whatever virus or sickness, our antibodies go up and we become healthier. One of the most interesting examples of someone who embodies this theory is Wim Hof, better known as the iceman.
Wim Hof became known when he started breaking records of exposing himself to extreme cold like ice baths and climbing the Kilimanjaro in underwear. While science said that he was probably a genetic exception, he proved that anyone - even those who suffered from various diseases like auto-immune disease - could climb mountains with him or lay in ice baths. A study of the Radboud university conducted in 2014 on a control group showed that the Wim Hof technique and practices (breathing, meditation and exposure to cold) upgrade the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells and B-lymphocytes. Furthermore, they proved that by mentally preparing (visualizing) your body for an experience, the body reacts positively and improves functions rapidly. He is one of the many examples who evidently shows that when we control our mind, we control our body, and we perform simply better. And this leads us back to where we started: what happens if we are exposed to panic and fear and what can we do differently to protect ourselves?
In conclusion, we have shown how our energetic body and physical body are inherently intertwined and influenced by one and another. Using case studies and clinical examples, we have shown how we create a bodily reality based on what we believe, and finally, we have demonstrated the power that visualization practices have over our systems. Bringing that back to an unknown virus that has been brought into our reality both physically, emotionally, mentally, and visually, we can conclude that this doesn’t leave us untouched. On the one hand, the virus can be real and tangible causing serious harm to the body if our immune system is low. On the other hand, our immune system lowers and false symptoms are created simply by exposing ourselves to the fear and visualization around it. The responsibility thus lies somewhere in between taking a fact seriously (there is a virus or disease) and controlling your mind by withdrawing yourself from any panic or fearful information that alters your own reality. While taking recommendations seriously, you can work on boosting your immune system by doing strong visualizations, breath-work, meditation, positive thinking or whatever works for you to maintain your vibration high. And maybe most importantly, keep on smiling. Science has proven your smile benefits you and others.
This article has been written by Iris Muller, anthropologist and healing practitioner, together with Namo Inc. This article is not against any governmental or medical recommendation, it is written with the ultimate goal of informing and protecting our bodies and minds in times where we are exposed to a lot of misleading information.
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Wim Hof online library to be found through the website www.wimhofmethod.com