You’ve likely heard the old Ben Franklin adage, “You are what you eat.” Turns out, that Mr. Franklin was correct about that – what you feed your body becomes your body. Eat good food and you’ll have good health. Well, the same thing applies to your thoughts. Many medical researchers now believe that your thoughts have much more power over your health than you know. These researchers believe, as I do, that your mind is the “master” that programs your body to act and re-act. So, if you want to have better health, or a better life, you can use this mind-over-body principle to both stay healthy and heal from illness. It’s all done through a process called visualization. Here’s how it works…
Think About It: Visualization Helps You Achieve What You Want
You might have heard about the Law of Attraction being circulated in a pretty popular book and movie called The Secret. Basically, what it boils down to is whatever you think about the most, whatever actions you do in your life, that’s what you’ll attract to yourself. It follows then that if you’re going around thinking negative thoughts about yourself, your work, your relationships, your life, pretty soon your body is going to get the “negative” message and follow suit. You’ll become sick either mentally or physically – maybe both.
So, to obtain good health, and to be happy in general, you need to change the pictures in your mind and re-script all the negative self-talk that you do. You need to start visualizing good health and happiness by conjuring in your mind’s eye what you want your life, your health, your relationships, your work, etc, to be. Then, you repeatedly reinforce those images by frequently meditating and taking steps in your everyday life to create them.
First, ask yourself, when faced with challenges to your health, or your everyday life, do you:
1. Worry and stress over it, focusing on the most negative outcome over and over?
2. Do you try and solve the problem quickly by researching your options?
If you chose option #1, you tend to be a negative thinker, allowing fear and anxiety to overcome your problem solving capacity.
If you chose option #2, you’re a natural problem solver who can bring about changes in your outer, physical world by “programming”, or directing, your inner thought processes to remedy the problem quickly.
However, even “negative thinkers” can achieve success by first re-scripting their self-talk and visualizing the approaches that would solve the problem. Working it out in your mind first, then putting those thoughts into motion, is the way many successful people achieve what they want. Whether they’re rocket scientists, visual artists wanting to create a masterpiece, or athletes trying to achieve a record goal, visualizing yourself achieving the goal/outcome you want, followed by steps to achieve that outcome, is what brings results. When researchers ask successful people how did they achieve their goals, they almost always answer that they saw themselves doing it. It was “dream” they kept seeing themselves achieving.
Mind Over Body – Visualizing for Good Health
Good health has to be created in your thoughts and actions before it can manifest in your body. For example, if you want to lose weight, you have to first imagine, or visualize, yourself as a thin, healthy person. Start to think like a thinner person would think, look at the clothes a thin person would wear, re-direct your mind and your thoughts to those of a thin person: I’m healthy, I have a normal weight, I can wear whatever clothes I want, in the mirror I see a normal weight, healthy, happy person. Thinking in this positive, goal-directed way also helps steer you away from the negative behaviors (poor diet, little exercise) that caused your weight gain.
Let me share a visualization success story with you. I had a patient with mid-stage lung cancer. In talking to him before his lung cancer was diagnosed, he came across as being down on himself. He was negative, unhappy, a never-gonna do it kind of guy. After getting the diagnosis, he was scared. He was a young man with a wife and kids and didn’t want to lose his life and his family. A motivational friend encouraged him to change his way of thinking, both about himself, and his life in general.
With the support of his family, he started to think like a healthy and happy person thinks. He stopped smoking, started to exercise more, and started to build his body up nutritionally and physically by weight training. He started to spend more quality time with his family, and finally went to look for that perfect place to open his restaurant that he had long dreamed of owning. In the interim, he had the lung tumor removed and a little bit of radiation therapy.
A year had passed and he was just putting the finishing touches on his restaurant when his friend came to visit him. The friend remarked how much stronger and healthier, and even “taller”, he seemed. My patient then passed on the good news of his latest check up – there was no sign of the cancer at all. Today, several years later, he’s still cancer-free. His long-dream of owning a restaurant went on to become one of the most successful, hot spots in that city. His wife and kids help him run it and their family relationships have even improved. My patient attributes all of his healing, success and happiness now to changing his thoughts. Instead of being consumed with thoughts of suffering and sadness, he thinks thoughts of good health, success and happiness. Of which he achieved all three.
How Do I Re-Direct My Negative Thoughts into Healthy Visualizations?
First, you have to believe that your good health, success, happiness will happen. Second, you have to start replacing negative, failing self-talk. Here are some helpful tips how to do it:
1. Don’t let negative thoughts intrude into your mind. Create a mental broom that sweeps them away whenever they start to sneak in.
2. Surround yourself with positive-thinking people that truly want to see your health get better. Negative-drama relationships, whether with friends, or family, can really sap all your efforts to heal. Though it’s hard to imagine, some people in your life may sabotage you.
3. Take at least 10 minutes everyday, away from everything and everyone that can interrupt you. Take a walk in the park, take a ride in your car to a beautiful, peaceful place, some people like going to a church, where you can walk or sit uninterrupted for a while. While you’re there, create all the successful mind pictures and self-talk that go along with your good health:
a. When you think of yourself, imagine a big happy smile on your face and a strong, youthful, healthy body doing youthful/healthy things like running, riding a bike, climbing a tree, whatever. Imagine your smiling doctor reading your medical chart and giving you good news.
b. Create mental “snapshots” of a successful life with a beautiful home, enough money to live comfortably, and happy relationships with friends and family.
4. Commit to visualizing in this manner everyday. Make sure all your dealings with others also reflect your “good health” goals – you can’t act negatively towards yourself (bad habits), or others (disrespectful, demeaning etc), and achieve good health. Reinforce your thoughts that you’re a healthy, happy person, and that you’ll achieve your desired outcomes.
Many have been practicing “visualization” techniques for hundreds of years – some for the good and some for bad. Writings and drawings of Leonardo DaVinci tell us that he created many of his works of art and inventions in his head, then visualized them as drawings in his journals. Michelangelo imagined the Sistine Chapel in all its glory years before he painted it. On the negative side, voodoo spells actually get their power from victims being told and believing that they’ve been cursed. The victims constantly think about the curse and how it’s going to hurt them and eventually they become sick.
Visualization is the conscious creation of your own reality – it’s up to you to decide what reality you’re going to choose and what thoughts you’ll create to get you there.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News