By Lalitha Sridhar
If pills were all that were needed for healing, then pharmacists would be billionaires. It is increasingly believed that the magic of healing lies in the vital component of spirituality.
The last is the key question, for people often use illnesses to avoid confronting the issues that lie behind them – a form of denial.
This exercise is not a panacea; a cancer won’t disappear, nor will a mother-in-law. But often the exercise will alleviate symptoms, and occasionally a miracle occurs and a cure is effected.
A few months ago, a 63-year-old psychotherapist suffering from colon cancer made a call to Malathi Kuppuswamy, a homeopath and alternative medicine practitioner who practices regression therapy. ‘It was a Monday,’ recalls Malathi, ‘and she called me saying her doctors had recommended that she go in for a colostomy the following Friday.’ A colostomy involves the removal of the colon, and the consequence of such a procedure is that the patient, for the rest of his or her life, lives with a bag around the waist, carrying body waste. ‘Instead of living with this constant humiliation, she came in for hypnosis, and we called the guides who were insistent that there was no need for surgery. Over the next few days the guides explained that cancer is the result of suppressed anger and hatred. This lady had been angry with the mistreatment of her husband’s ailments and had never been able to forgive allopathic doctors.’ The guides wanted her to replace the anger with love. Only that would cure her. Subsequently, faith and self-effort with the techniques offered by the healer helped the process of healing. Malathi’s patient later went to the United Kingdom taking along with her fresh MRI reports. The doctors whom she consulted were certain there never had been any need for surgery. There was a lesion, but not one that was large enough to require surgery. Radiation was recommended but not insisted upon. During hypnosis, as Dr. Malathy explains, the masters explain the reason for the illness, and with their assurance, the person’s healing takes place and can even get accelerated.
Dr. Brian Weiss, a Miami-based psychiatrist, has regressed several patients into the past and believes that journeys into our past lives can cure physical and emotional wounds in the present. In his book Same Soul, Many Bodies, Dr. Weiss writes, ‘Regression therapy is the mental act of going back to an earlier time, whenever that time may be, in order to retrieve memories that may still be negatively influencing a patient’s present life and that are probably the source of the patient’s symptoms. Hypnosis allows the mind to short-circuit conscious barriers to tap this information, including those barriers that prevent patients from consciously accessing their past lives.’
Most importantly, it is the body-mind connection that affects the body’s health. Prayer and healing are inter-linked and the results often inexplicable. In an Australian study of patients with cancer of the colon or rectum, researchers found that the respondents who saw themselves as most religious had higher survival rates than those who reported themselves as non-religious.
According to Dr.Dayal Mirchandani, a psychiatrist, ‘Any kind of spiritual practice plays a significant role in healing, particularly in patients with heart problems or rheumatoid arthritis. The reasons for this are not known, though there are many theories. Healing through spiritual experiences helps the person to live life normally in spite of the pain.’
Spirituality is a kind of a psychological resource that helps individuals to adjust to a life with a chronic illness. It is associated with better overall coping irrespective of the nature of the ailment or stress involved.
A study at the East Carolina University in the USA revealed that maternity patients with a strong commitment to faith, along with their newborns, have fewer complications than those patients without any spiritual affiliations. A study of patients with breast cancer at the University of Texas found that deep faith was a strong predictor of spiritual well-being and hope, both of which are important factors for successfully coping with cancer.
Dr. Larry Dossey’s book, Reinventing Medicine, points to a number of studies which discovered that amongst heart patients, those who were prayed for had a better chance of recovery than those who only received medical therapy. A study of AIDS patients revealed that those who were prayed for experienced fewer and less severe AIDS-related illness. Jer Master, a Christian Science practitioner and a spiritual healer, used to suffer from bouts of severe migraine. But, ‘when I read the first chapter of the book Science and Health with a Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the headaches, vanished. They did occur off and on even later, but the frequency and intensity diminished.’ She believes that healing through Christian Science takes place through science, not as in miracles. ‘I say God didn’t give it to me (the headache). So I don’t have it. We are made in God’s likeness because he loves us. He is powerful. That is the cure. It is a question of having a scientific understanding of God.’ She offers an explanation of the problem of arthritis, ‘A joint is one bone connected with another bone. When the joint is well-lubricated, movement is free and easy. Just like our unity with God. But an individual’s friction with others causes pain and inflammation. Understanding our primary relationship with God is the key to having love, harmony and peace in our lives.’
There are several factors which could explain the link between spirituality and well-being. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, author of the book, and The Total Health Program, ‘More spiritual individuals are less passive, show greater restraint, have more faith in others and drew more strength from others than their less spiritual peers.’ His findings held true even after his researchers took into account the participants’ level of disease, activity, age, education, fatigue and ability to function independently.
Holistic researcher, Kenneth Cooper, author of It’s Better To Believe, says that having deep personal convictions and values can work wonders for almost any aspect of your physical and emotional well-being. Specific health enhancements have been linked to moral principles, social values, God and even oneself.
Having a spiritual foundation, a belief in the Universal Good provides a sense of connectivity with others and an understanding that life is essentially about relationships People’s perceptions of themselves and how they are doing play a major role in their happiness. If a person with a chronic illness uses the opportunity to learn and grow as a person, it may be easier to reformulate life priorities and adapt to living with an illness.
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