Bestselling author David Cuschieri famously said, “The mind is a powerful force. It can enslave us or empower us. It can plunge us into the depths of misery or take us to the heights of ecstasy.”
True to this compelling statement, the mind is an incredible tool that humans possess. It can be used to help you attain success, good health, and happiness, and it can also lead you to feelings of failure, hopelessness, and even illness.
While good mental health is linked with experiencing positive emotional and physical wellbeing, poor mental health can contribute to lack of sleep, energy depletion, disease, depression and negative health complications.
This is why it’s SO important (and imperative!) to keep your mind and body in optimal shape by creating habits that promote your health. Things like:
_ Exercising at least three times a week
_ Eating nutritious, nourishing food
_ Taking your vitamins & supplements
_ Getting a check-up once a year
_ Practicing mindfulness and meditation
You get the drift. ;-)
But in order to create and stick to these healthy habits, you undoubtedly need to have a healthy mindset.
So how exactly does your mind play such an important role in your health and wellness? And perhaps more importantly, how do habits like mindfulness and meditation keep you mentally, emotionally, and physically happy?
In this Ultimate Guide, we'll answer these questions and more, so you can tap into the power of what may be your biggest asset for lifelong health, wellness, vitality, and healing. Let’s dive in!
The True Power Of Your Mind: How Your Mind Controls Your Health
The notion that the mind influences physical health isn't exactly groundbreaking - in fact, it was embraced as a scientific fact as early as 8 BC in Ancient Greece.
However, as the field of medicine evolved to focus more on antibiotics and drugs, this notion was waysided by the mainstream for centuries, until the correlation was eventually regarded as unscientific or fuzzy at best.
But over the past few decades, the progression of medical technology has given us an unprecedented insight into the interplay between the brain, the immune system, and a person's overall health - and it goes far deeper than the physicians of Ancient Greece ever thought.
The simplest way of explaining this, according to Neuroscientist Dr. Joe Dispenza, is that the human brain cannot differentiate tangible physical sensations from perceived thoughts or emotions. Which means that as far as the brain is concerned, disempowering mental states like stress, negativity and self-loathing, all trigger the same chemical reactions as real physical illnesses or injuries.
In fact, some studies suggest that the mind's influence over the body is so powerful, it can even override what's physically going on in the body.
In one eye-opening experiment to prove this 'mind over matter' theory, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer assembled a group of overweight hotel maids who, despite vigorous daily activity, couldn't lose weight.
She then divided the maids into two groups. The first group was told that due to their daily activities, they were more than satisfying the surgeon general's definition of an active lifestyle. The second group was told nothing.
Within a month, Langer found that the first group, by virtue of increased confidence alone, had enjoyed a drop in weight, blood pressure and waist-to-hip ratio.
We now know that the human brain is constantly sending chemical signals that influence the immune system. Whether these chemical signals help or hurt your health depends on the nutrition, drugs, stress and emotions you're subjected to - which in turn influences your vulnerability (or immunity!) to a wide spectrum of physical and emotional disorders.
How wide? Dr. Dispenza suggests it's possible to use the mind to reverse (at least to some extent) not just the gamut of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, but also 'incurable' maladies like Parkinson's, certain forms of paralysis, and even aging itself.
And then there's the emerging science of epigenetics, championed by eminent Stem Cell Biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton.
In the context of health, the key principle of epigenetics is that your DNA, which determines your health setpoint and predisposition to certain illnesses, can be altered on the fly, based on your thoughts, attitudes and perceptions.
Dr. Woodson Merrell, author and Founding Executive Director of the Center for Health and Healing in New York, has this to say about epigenetics:
“This exciting new field of epigenetics--meaning literally "around" the gene--allows us to see how environmental factors alter our gene expression in a specific place within each cell. As a result, we now know that when we take active control of these factors, we can literally help control our health and genetic destiny.”
The takeaway here is loud and clear:
Whether you're looking to heal from an illness, or simply to maintain or elevate your health and vitality, it's crucial you get your mind working for you instead of against you.
Well, we must first understand -
The 3 Measures Of A Healthy Mind & Mindset
A healthy mind is like a well-functioning computer: it's fast and efficient. It does what it's supposed to do. And it's updated with the latest software that keeps you secure and never lets you down.
An unhealthy mind on the other hand is like a malfunctioning computer: glitching, stalling, assaulting your productivity and sanity, and infested by a host of viruses that mess with its functionality.
So how healthy is the 'computer' controlling your life? These three questions hold the answer:
1. Are your beliefs helping or hurting you?
Your beliefs are the subconscious pieces of programming that dictate how you feel, act and react in specific situations. Beliefs implant themselves in your mind as a reaction to certain experiences and observations throughout your life, most often in your childhood.
Healthy beliefs - are beliefs that serve, empower and inspire you. For instance, the belief that you can make a positive difference to your health, or the belief that nutritious food is delicious.
Unhealthy beliefs - are beliefs that disempower you, and push you towards unhealthy life choices. The notion that sickness is inevitable, or that you are unworthy of good health are two examples.
2. Are your emotions poisoning your body?
Each time you experience an emotion, a corresponding group of neurotransmitters are activated in your brain. These neurotransmitters relay this response to your hormones, immune system and organs, which in turn influence your health.
Healthy emotions - like positivity, joy and self-confidence have been shown to facilitate emotional healing and activate a variety of positive effects in the body, including faster healing, pain reduction, and stronger immunity.
Unhealthy emotions - like negativity, guilt and fear can trigger stress and a more vulnerable immune system in the short term, and in some cases even chronic conditions in the long term.
3. Is your lifestyle damaging your mind?
Your mind is an intricate and perfectly balanced ecosystem of chemicals and processes. Whether it stays in pristine condition or gets knocked dangerously off balance depends largely on the daily lifestyle you create for yourself.
A healthy lifestyle - is characterized by balance, purpose, fulfilling relationships, adequate nutrition and plenty of rest. A healthy lifestyle often includes reading up on personal development practices and inviting positive, educational material into your life. Doing work you love, surrounding yourself with empowering people, and keeping your mind in peak condition through specific mind-body practices are all characteristics of a healthy lifestyle (more on this shortly).
An unhealthy lifestyle - is off-balance, soaked in stress, overrun by poor habits, and lacking in purpose, direction and self-love. You know you're risking your mind's well-being when you're stuck in a soul-sapping or exhausting career, you're surrounded by the wrong people, or when your daily habits are misaligned with your personal goals and values.
The relentless world we live in today makes it even more crucial that you discover your answers to the above three questions immediately.
Whether you're running from saber-toothed tigers or running after impossible deadlines, life on Planet Earth has always presented stress-inducing challenges for your mind to navigate; which in turn can have a negative effect on your health.
But modern life, although less likely to put you in the path of deadly four-legged predators, has its own sneaky ways of harming you - often through elements that in theory should make your life easier, not harder.
For instance -
1. Fast-paced living
The problem: From high-powered smartphones to demanding careers, modern life moves at breakneck speed, and we often forget to BREATHE!
The unwanted side effects? Skyrocketing stress levels. Degraded attention spans. Lack of sleep. And severe information overload (studies even suggest the technological multitasking most of us engage in daily triggers the stress hormone cortisol, and damages our memory more than marijuana).
The solution: Limiting your exposure to technology and getting yourself organized are, in my experience, the best ways to reclaim your mind and your health from the pressure of modern life.
Effective strategies include keeping your smartphone out of your bedroom, taking no-internet weekend vacations, having a daily to-do list, and setting aside quiet me-time for meditation and relaxation.
2. Junk Food
The problem: The root cause of our modern dilemma with food is a corporate agenda not to nourish us, but to force-feed us with hazardous additives, chemicals and flavor enhancers that get us addicted to fake food in the same way we get addicted to drugs. The documented side effects of this nefarious scheme include brain shrinkage, depression, high blood pressure, weight gain, and a wide spectrum of illnesses.
The solution: I could tell you to start eating healthy, but everyone already knows that, right? I have found that one of the most common reasons people don't stick to a healthy diet is lack of preparation: they get busy, they get stressed, and for the sake of convenience and comfort, they roll up to the drive-through. Instead, try pre-preparing all your healthy food for the week on a Sunday night, and take it to work with you. Also, personal growth blogger, James Clear, recommends a "5 ingredient rule" when buying foods at the store: if a food item has over 5 ingredients in it, toss it.
3. Medication & Supplements
The problem: From aspirin to synthetic vitamins to sleeping pills, Big Pharma wants you to believe there's a bottled solution to every problem. And the marketing works - with America spending at least $21 billion a year on vitamins, and $300 billion on painkillers alone. Unfortunately, many widely used medications and supplements are either ineffective at best, or at worst, come with a host of dangerous side effects that cause chemical imbalances, addiction patterns and damage in your brain and body (each year 4.5 million Americans are rushed to the emergency room due to drug-related side effects).
The solution: Education is key; both on the effectiveness and side effects of any medication or supplements you put in your body, and of the natural alternatives that may be available - such as chiropractic treatment for pain, meditation for anxiety, and good old fashioned diet and lifestyle change for weight loss and diabetes. Of course, certain types of medication and supplements are in fact irreplaceable, so please don't make any changes until you've consulted your doctor and done your research. For starters check out David McCandless' excellent chart that shows the level of scientific evidence behind most of today's most popular supplements.
How To Heal Your Mind, So Your Mind Can Heal You
Changing your diet, exercising regularly and sleeping more are all proven ways to heal your mind from years of accumulated stress and toxins.
The challenge with these methods is that they take time and require considerable willpower - which is why studies show the vast majority of people who try diet and fitness plans end up failing or falling back into their old habits within weeks or months.
The solution? Supplement your efforts with mind-body healing modalities that condition your brain to work for you instead of against you - and in turn, trigger lasting, effortless and even enjoyable transformation from deep within. For instance, you could try:
Meditation: One of the world's most popular and scientifically validated holistic health modalities is meditation.
It’s been known to melt away stress, slow aging, and strengthen the immune system.
Recent studies even show meditation positively alters human DNA. Many people find it hard to concentrate when they meditate, or they fall asleep - which is why the correct meditation technique is vital. Plus, many studies reveal that meditation is the best, natural way to relieve severe anxiety.
Visualization: By visualizing specific positive images and situations in your mind's eye - such as a healthier and more fit you - you can train your subconscious mind to develop the thoughts, actions, habits and beliefs that will turn those visualizations into reality. The science behind it is that since the human brain cannot differentiate between thought and reality, conditioning it with these positive visuals is an extremely effective way of turning thought into reality.
Affirmations: Affirmations work in a similar way to visualization - except instead of images, you're programming your subconscious mind by repeating a series of positive statements such as "Every cell in my body is healthy and energized."
Chakra Healing: For thousands of years, Eastern medicine has pinpointed the existence of the Chakras - a 7-part energetic ecosystem in the human body, each part controlling a different aspect of life. Given that blockages in the Chakras can lead to illness, stress and other challenges, Chakra Healing trains you to energize them through mind exercises, meditations and other mind-body tools.
Breathwork: If you’ve been to a yoga class, I’m sure you’ve heard an instructor talk about the importance of controlling your breath. Breathwork is often used as a means of building self-awareness, focus, and intention, and can be applied to many personal development techniques.
Additionally, breathwork is used to relieve mental, physical, and emotional tension. If you’re interested in discovering how it can benefit your mind, body, and soul, make sure to claim your free breathwork gift right here!
Mind Movies: Our own in-house technology. Mind Movies are 3-minute videos that combine visualization, affirmations and multimedia technology to reprogram your subconscious mind for any desired outcome.
With our easy-to-use Mind Movies Creation Kit, you can even create your own Mind Movies, laced with your own positive statements, images and even videos to help you achieve your personal goals. Mind Movies are used and loved by over 5.8 million people worldwide.
In the addition to the above, you can find more personal development tips, advice, and more by signing up for our Mind Movies Newsletter!
Ok, so now I want to discuss -
How I Trained My Mind To Heal My Body For Ultimate Holistic Health
Allow me to share a personal story that will demonstrate the incredible healing power of the mind - and remind you that there are countless personal paths you can take to start awakening your natural healing abilities.
You see, a few years back I was the furthest from healthy. Wholesome food was a rarity; the norm was junk food, comfort food and convenience food.
I worked 14-hour days (this was back when I was building the Mind Movies movement from scratch). I didn't sleep enough. I drank and partied too much. And as for exercise? What exercise?
My body reflected my lifestyle. I was flabby all over, I felt sick way too often, and I was always at least a little tired.
Deep down inside though is where the real problem was. My self-hatred and bad habits were an unstoppable bullet train, fuelled by the self-defeating thoughts circling around in my head every moment of the day.
"You're too far gone," I often heard my inner voice whispering as I looked in the mirror. "You'll never get healthy." "You just don't have the discipline." "You're too old and your best days are behind you."
I even felt compelled to mentally judge other women for being too fat or too skinny or too health-conscious or not health-conscious enough - when in reality, the person I was truly judging was myself.
Being a student of personal growth, I was lucky enough to know from the start that the solution to my healing began on the inside. So the day I realized I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, I drafted up my gameplan.
I called it the I Love You plan - and it was simply about training my mind to love me again.
Why? Because when you learn to truly (and I mean truly) love yourself, the lifestyle choices you make start automatically aligning with a healthier and happier version of yourself.
Here's a list of steps I took to transform my diet, my self-image and my daily habits, from the inside out:
1) I would walk into the bathroom every morning, strip naked, look at myself in the mirror, and say I LOVE YOU. Not once, not twice, but until I had tears in my eyes, knowing this was my truth. First, I would focus on my breath, honing in my focus and intention, and then I would recite this truth.
2) I reframed my thoughts. So instead of thinking I was "depriving" myself of delicious food and fun nights out, I made a conscious effort to believe that I was choosing to love myself. And so every green breakfast smoothie, every morning bike ride on the beach, every early night in bed, was an act of love.
3) I made it a point to spend a few minutes every morning visualizing a healthier me. I visualized all the activities I'd be doing with my newfound fitness and energy, how good I'd look in the mirror and to others, and the positive emotions I'd feel from it all. The morning visualization left an 'afterglow' in me that lasted the whole day, helping me stick to my healthy habits and meals.
4) Speaking of meals, preparation was key! Every Sunday night I'd prepare my I Love You meals for the week: wholesome, organic and delicious food that tastes as good as it makes you feel. I reminded myself that I was taking the time to prepare these meals because my health was worth it, my body was worth it, and I was worth it.
5) I ended each day with an empowering guided meditation that reminded me of my goals, my inner strength and my deep love for myself. These sessions not only helped me clean out any accumulated 'junk' from the day - they also helped me sleep better, which is an essential step to any kind of healing!
The results of incorporating the above were limitless:
* Within the first few days, I found the quality of my thoughts and self-image improving (the negative self-talk was disappearing!)
* This in turn helped me stay the course with my healthy habits, meals and exercise - no more resistance or relapses
* My skin cleared up and I no longer felt bloated
* I stopped getting sleepy and lethargic in the middle of the day
* I started falling sick far less often - my immune system was strengthening
* I returned to my ideal body weight within a few months
* I began craving more personal development tips and techniques, and created a new desire to be constantly educating myself (and in turn, others as well!)
* Most importantly, I was able to sustain these results over the long run
As you can see, my game plan involved a number of mind-body healing techniques and they really worked. But of course you're completely free to experiment with your own until you find a combination that works for you.
Just remember to stay patient, consistent, and committed - and before you know it, you too will be healing yourself with the sheer power of your mind.
Now before you go, I have a special treat for you.
You already know that meditation is one of the single most effective ways to create the healthy, energetic, youthful life you desire -
By guiding your mind into a deeper state, meditation allows you to enjoy rapid elevations to your health: including lowered stress hormones, an increase in disease-fighting antibodies, improved organ function, and much more.
The catch? You need to meditate properly and consistently in order to enjoy these benefits. The good news? You don’t need to be a meditation expert, or spend months or years mastering this life-changing practice.
In fact with our Neuro Meditation technology, you can enjoy the healing benefits of meditation almost instantly.
Which is why I want to introduce you to my VITALITY Neuro Meditation program:
VITALITY is a 20-minute guided meditation that's ultra-focused on instantly elevating your health and immunity. Just sit down, relax, press play, and follow the soothing sounds and instructions as it guides you into a deep meditative state, and literally programs your mind to heal and protect your body.
The subliminal commands and statements in this guided meditation cover virtually every broad area of your wellbeing, including:
* Protecting your body and mind
* Strengthening your immunity
* Turning negative thoughts into positive ones
* Choosing healthier food and exercise
* Healing existing illnesses
And so while your VITALITY Neuro-Meditation is naturally lowering your cortisol levels and boosting your antibodies, it's also rewiring your mind with countless 'upgrades' to your health and immunity.
You only need to use your VITALITY Neuro Meditation for a few minutes a day, and a few days out of the week to experience a real positive transformation in your health. It's an amazing complement to your existing health and wellness practices.
I guarantee it will be life-changing!
Are there any specific ways you keep a healthy mind and body? Be sure to share them with our community in the comment box below!
Natalie Ledwell is a best selling author, speaker and successful entrepreneur. She's passionate about helping others to achieve their greatest dreams and ambitions through her personal development programs and her online TV show, The Inspiration Show.