Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Timeless healing

I want to type a para from this book Timeless Healing by Herbert Benson, M.D from Harvard university. It is about how beliefs alter our body and mind states and how doctors can utilize them for patients recovery. Beautiful book for mind/body self healing.

A patient of mine, seven years old when I first met him, experienced a liberation of his own by evoking the relaxation response. Andy had been diagnosed with congenital migraine headaches. He had suffered from them since birth, crying almost constantly as a baby. Soon after he could talk he told his parents that his head hurt.

By the time I saw him, Andy was in the third grade, but he had fallen behind in school and had trouble making friends. In great part this was because Andy often spent full days in darkened rooms, his migraines exacerbated by exposure to bright light. Andy's parents were beside themselves, having pursued the most up and coming treatments, but none of the medications or treatments seemed to work.

Andy and his family were also Catholic and we decided on a prayer he could use to activate the relaxation response. Andy made pact with me to spend ten to twenty minutes silently focused on this prayer twice a day and to use the same approach for a moment or two at the first twinge of a headache. Within a few weeks, Andy could shorten the time the headaches lasted and lengthen the time between headaches. Several weeks later, the severity of the pain decreased. A few months later, Andy's headaches disappeared entirely. His grades and social skills soared, and soon he was playing on the school's hockey team.
When I last spoke to the family, Andy was taking no medication and considered the migraines a thing of the past.

No matter what method individuals use to elicit the response, the physiologic changes are the same. The human body is geared to react by providing this calming state- the opposite of the fight-or-flight response-whenever the mind is focused for some time and disregards intrusive, everyday thoughts. In other words, when the mind quiets down the body follows suit. pg 127

No comments: