Understanding the Emotional Roots of Disease Can Help Us Cure Them

It is my dearly held belief that the mind and the body are inextricably linked in the way that they function, impact each other’s functioning and cause disorders. Researchers are also finding merit in the view that the functioning of the mind and body impact each other; that one can be used to heal the other. This is a view that is increasingly supported by study findings as well. It is a fact that our emotions impact our wellbeing; even cause disease, pain and infirmity.

Psycho-emotional roots of physical conditions

It goes beyond cinematic tropes such as the melodramatic depiction of the old patriarch clutching his chest and collapsing in a heap from a heart attack triggered by some tragic news. Our emotions do impact us at various levels and may be responsible for problems such as addictions — the connection here is pretty obvious to see. They are even thought to be linked to diseases such as diabetes and life threatening diseases such as cancer — the connections we understand less of right now. We are only now beginning to understand how and to what extent our historical traumas, emotional experiences and even our belief systems impact our physical wellbeing.

If one is skeptical about the psycho-emotional roots of physical conditions, here is a simple identifiable example — do you feel pain more acutely when you’re feeling ‘blue’ — for instance is your back or knee pain worse on days when you’ve had an argument or fight with someone or suffered a setback? Are you more likely to feel physically exhausted on days involving a lot of mental effort? Do you have a throbbing headache when you have had a particularly stressful day? Chances are you’ve experienced at least one of the above.

The body has emotion

Many experts on the subject have opined that our emotions and our thoughts produce certain vibrations that impact our bodies at the cellular, the biochemical level. Our thought processes affect the structure and the functioning of the body’s cells. If you have been using positive affirmations to bring about certain results in your life, this is one of the best illustrations of the impact vibration has on health. Even hypnotherapy can have some palpable impacts on health and wellbeing for this reason among others.

Certain feelings such as revulsion, jealousy or fear can actually make one retch and throw up. Mental stress gives us headaches and indigestion and over time can even compromise the immune system of the body. In fact prolonged stress is strongly linked to shorter lifespans.

Research also supports this

A study published by the PNAS in 2013 examined how different parts of the body ‘felt’ emotion. It was found that certain emotions were consistently associated with specific body sensations. In other words, certain emotions triggered specific body changes. Phrases such as ‘having cold feet’, ‘heart fluttering in anticipation’, ‘shiver down the spine’ are clearly more than just a clever arrangement of words — they likely have their basis in actual fact.

A 2002 study of the Swedish population between 50 and 80 years of age published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found that negative life events — especially those that resulted in depression, such as the loss of a spouse — made people more susceptible to periodontal disease.

The way that stress triggers some skin conditions such as psoriasis are well documented too. Of course the reverse is true as well, as one study discovered. Sufferers of severe psoriasis reported high levels of personal distress and disability as a result of their disease.

Harnessing subtle energy

It is not something that is easily discernible, so many refer to it as subtle energy — what we call prana in Sanskrit, what the Chinese refer to as chi and what others refer to as the vital force within us all. It is this subtle energy that connects us to the web of universal energy. That matter can be interchangeable with energy is evidence of this. Is it not conceivable then, that warm, soft, positive emotions can have beneficial impacts on the body and that anger, hate and resentment are destructive and corrosive upon the body?

Now, armed with the knowledge we have of the way the mind and body are connected; does it not make sense to guide our emotions in a way that heal us? Should we not attempt to engage in mind body practices that make us mindful of our bodies as well as our thoughts and feelings? Removing negativity from your life and looking for positive aspects of situations as well as other people can be very rewarding.

Engaging in activities that engage the mind and the body — such as yoga, meditation, mindful breathing (Pranayam techniques), and guided imagery could have very beneficial impacts on the physical and mental self. These techniques can help to reduce pain, improve healing and also mental processes such as memory consolidation and concentration.

You can empower yourself to manage your emotions at the same time as you enhance strength and physical health; you create a healthy internal environment for yourself.