The body is a reflection of the subconscious mind where emotions determine your physical body. The average person thinks 60000-72000 thoughts a day, mostly negative, repetitive, past or future related. So what are the consequences, if any, on our health?
Emoto (2004) studied the molecular structure of water when subject to different conditions. Emoto’s water crystal experiments consisted of exposing water in petri dishes to different words, pictures or music, and then freezing and examining the aesthetics of the resulting crystals with microscopic photography. The results were extraordinary. The water exposed to the positive thoughts/words/music transformed to symmetrical, complex crystalline structures and the molecules exposed to the negative thoughts were electrochemically disoriented, malformed and fragmented. Apply this concept to the fact that our bodies are made up of around 70% water and maybe alternative psychological and spiritual practices do not seem so far-fetched.
The Placebo Effect
Arthroscopic knee surgery was no better than placebo surgery in a randomized controlled trial described in the New England Journal of Medicine (2002). In this study, 180 patients with knee pain received either “real” surgery where cartilage debris was removed or simulated surgery in which small incisions were made without inserting instruments or removing cartilage. During 2 years of follow-up, patients in both groups reported moderate improvements in pain and functional ability and at certain points during this time, subjects receiving sham (placebo) surgery reported better outcomes than those receiving debridement!
Lower Your Expectations
Low expectations about impending pain can actually lower a person’s perception of it (Koyama 2005). In this study, 10 healthy participants were told to expect 3 different levels of pain after a designated signal during an experiment in which heat was applied for 20 seconds to their legs: mild pain (46°C), moderate pain (48°C), and severe pain (50°C). Researchers mixed up the pain signals in about one-third of the 30 different trials so that participants were expecting one temperature and received either a higher or lower one. Positive expectations produced about a 28 percent decrease in pain ratings (equal to a shot of morphine). Expectations of decreased pain powerfully reduced both the subjective experience of pain and activation of pain-related brain regions, as seen via brain scans where results suggest that the brain allows expectations of pain to shape the processing of actual pain signals from the body. This is a pretty simple and cost-effective way to reduce aches and pains.
Elite sportspersons include a psychological component to their overall performance regime. Common techniques include visualisation, modelling, goal setting, getting in “the zone”, centering, positive thinking as well as meditation and relaxation during recovery. It has been documented several times that athletes who visualise an injury remodelling and rehabilitating efficiently actually recover quicker.
Clearly, our thoughts and beliefs have an incredible impact on our physiological and biochemical processes, and the mind is a powerful contributor to our wellbeing. We have seen repeatedly that we can positively heal and transform ourselves through the thoughts we choose to think and the ways in which we implement them. Various medications and treatments have produced significant effects when given as a placebo dose, meaning the patient only had to believe the pill/operation/therapy would work. Having a positive outlook on life really is becoming recognised an essential component of our overall health, vitality and not to mention, sports performance.
Click here to read How To Meditate.