The relationship between physical health and the mind.

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The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby Individual » Fri Apr 24, 2009 3:47 am

In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, it is suggested that there is a strong relationship between life and the will to live, mentally. Both Ananda and the Buddha remark, "the Tathagata could, if he so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it" (some translations I've seen say 100 years, but if the word used there is kappa, then that's a considerably longer time than 100 years). Before they both say this, in an earlier passage, the Buddha relinquishes his will to live. Later on, when Ananda finds out about this and asks the Buddha to continue living, but the Buddha says it is something that cannot be undone.

So, is it true that the sickness can be created or overcome by mental discipline? I am extremely disturbed by the claims by Asian Buddhists that meditation or traditional medicine can cure AIDS or cancer. However, there are many strange unexplainable cases in medicine of spontaneous recovery that may suggest this.

For instance, a woman in Northern Ireland was recently diagnosed with a rare form of untreatable cancer which she spontaneously recovered from:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style ... 72237.html

Her immune system was somehow able to destroy a tumor which was inoperable by the doctors themselves. She attributes her recovery to prayer.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:31 am

Hi Individual

I think we should take any claims of miraculous recovery with a grain of salt. I'm not suggesting that it is beyond the realm of possibility and that amongst the untruthful claims of unscrupulous snake-oil salesmen and the misguided attempts of disciples to create hagiographic stories of their revered leader or teacher, there surely are some real pearls.
My own teacher tells a story how he became cured of migranes as the result of vipassana but he also warns against attending a ten-day course with the aim to cure this or that ailment. I also know Bhikkhu Pesala recounted the story of a mae chee (I think) in Burma who was cured from cancer through vipassana meditation.
As an aside, you may be interested in the works of Aldous Huxley. I think it was in Island where a person suffering from cancer was treated through meditation. Of course, Island is a fictional work but no doubt inspired by stories he would have encountered in Southeast Asia.
Metta

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Re: The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby Fede » Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:55 pm

I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Positive, constructive self-therapeutic thinking can and does help with the healing process.
Many hospices have reports of aiding patients improve their conditions through positive visualisation.

In TCM, there is absolutely no distinction between mind and body. the two are completely intertwined and inter-connected....

See these articles below.....

http://ezinearticles.com/?Achieving-Hea ... &id=262527

http://isw.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/45/1/35

I am utterly and completely convinced - at first hand - that this form is healing.....

Edit:
I would never go so far as to say that a person can heal themselves through thinking alone. That's not what I mean.
But I know for a fact that positive intention and visualisation is tremendously beneficial....
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby Mexicali » Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:54 pm

It's my understanding that body and mind aren't two, so if one isn't healthy the other might suffer as well.

That aside, claims of miraculous healing anger me. Seriously. If you can't show a reliably reproducible method of healing an ailment, to make any claims of it is deeply unethical. This is doubly true with serious illnesses; given the number of people who suffer from cancer, to claim you can reliably cure it when this is not a certainty is cruel and wastes their time. This doesn't even get into the ludicrous idea that millions of scientists worldwide have devoted lives and fortunes to study the causes and mechanisms of cancer and can't figure it out, but studying Qi Gong or Tantra with the right teacher will allow you to cure cancer by touching someone.
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Re: The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:04 pm

With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby Nibbida » Sun May 03, 2009 4:55 pm

I think it is safe to say that meditation and the other aspects of Dhamma practice (pañña, sila) will minimize stress and optimize mental and physical health. To even the most skeptically minded, there are dozens of studies to support that. So it most likely will reduce sickness and enhance recovery. But since all conditioned things are impermanent, there are no guarantees.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby delora » Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:27 pm

I have also heard monks talk of the health benefits of meditation, including the Dalai Lama, who uses himself as a prime example.

is there a particular style of meditation that is considered to have health benefits?

I am guess it would be samatha, rather than vipassana.
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Re: The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:02 pm

delora wrote:I am guess it would be samatha, rather than vipassana.

Not necessarily. One of my teachers had a brain tumor removed. This was before he heard the Dhamma, let alone became a monk. He attributes much of his recovery of mind-body coordination to intensive meditation, mostly in the Mahasi style.

See here: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=774&start=220#p73010

:anjali:
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Re: The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby octathlon » Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:07 am

Mexicali wrote:It's my understanding that body and mind aren't two, so if one isn't healthy the other might suffer as well.

That aside, claims of miraculous healing anger me. Seriously. If you can't show a reliably reproducible method of healing an ailment, to make any claims of it is deeply unethical. This is doubly true with serious illnesses; given the number of people who suffer from cancer, to claim you can reliably cure it when this is not a certainty is cruel and wastes their time. This doesn't even get into the ludicrous idea that millions of scientists worldwide have devoted lives and fortunes to study the causes and mechanisms of cancer and can't figure it out, but studying Qi Gong or Tantra with the right teacher will allow you to cure cancer by touching someone.


I totally agree with this. Telling people they are expected to think positive all the time, implies that a mental slip into negative thoughts will doom them, or that if they just meditate or think the right thoughts that they can cure themselves, is cruel and stressful, making the ill person feel that they are a failure if they don't get better. Also it puts pressure on them to suppress or deny their actual feelings and causes even more stress.

I also agree with the person who said meditation can help relieve stress, which is always good, and might also help the healing process. I wasn't meditating yet at the time, but I just tried to stay in the present moment as much as possible and deal with things as they arose, let feelings come and go, and did not try to make anything happen or not happen.

I do accept that some people's diseases heal in what appears to be a miraculous or spontaneous way, according to causes and conditions of that instance, which cannot be universally applied to everyone.
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Re: The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:48 am

Hi Octathon,

You make some extremely good points. I'm not impressed by meditation being sold as a cure. However, as you say, it does seem to have helped some who have taken it up, such as my teacher. Goenka apparently used to suffer from bad headaches, and my recollection is that when he asked if meditation would cure it his teacher told him that he should not take it up as a cure for headaches. However, his headaches did vanish after a time...

:anjali:
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Re: The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby octathlon » Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:52 pm

Hi Mike,

That reminds me... Years ago, we lived next door to a doctor who worked at the Menninger Clinic, who said that he would have his migraine patients concentrate on their hands or feet. This apparently causes the blood to go to those areas (maybe by relaxing them and allowing the blood vessels there to dilate). Since many migraines are caused by dilated blood vessels in the head and too much blood up there, doing this helped relieve the condition, for some people at least.

I used to have very bad headaches frequently that no OTC pain killer would help at all (still get them but not nearly as often). I tried all kinds of things, including the concentration on feet technique which would only help me a little, and only while doing it--the minute I stopped the pain was back full force. Anyway, one time while doing this I suddenly saw a mental picture of a closed door and knew I should open it, which I did, and bam!, the headache stopped immediately! I was amazed and delighted. Unfortunately, I was never able to reproduce that cure again.
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Re: The relationship between physical health and the mind.

Postby Annapurna » Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:36 am

Mexicali wrote:It's my understanding that body and mind aren't two, so if one isn't healthy the other might suffer as well.

That aside, claims of miraculous healing anger me. Seriously. If you can't show a reliably reproducible method of healing an ailment, to make any claims of it is deeply unethical. This is doubly true with serious illnesses; given the number of people who suffer from cancer, to claim you can reliably cure it when this is not a certainty is cruel and wastes their time. This doesn't even get into the ludicrous idea that millions of scientists worldwide have devoted lives and fortunes to study the causes and mechanisms of cancer and can't figure it out, but studying Qi Gong or Tantra with the right teacher will allow you to cure cancer by touching someone.


However, Mexicali, there are several well documented cases of healings we have little explanation for.

Some people said they prayed, and had others praying for them, or they say they traveled to a "Madonna" or other places they attributed powers to, or they say they changed their complete life, ate a certain diet, or did this or that.

In any human being, also in an animal, we are dealing with a combination of physical material, and a mind that 'lives in it', with a potential that is not easy to behold in it's entirety.

If it is possible to activate this inner potential, the power of will, a lot is possible. Arahantship, Buddhahood, and, if the physical material is still able to regenerate, physical healing.

It all depends on the material and how it will be led by the potential.

Dhammapada:

Phenomena are preceded by the heart,
ruled by the heart, made of the heart.
If you speak or act with a calm, bright heart,
then happiness follows you,
like a shadow that never leaves.


I hope that made a little bit of sense? I tried. :smile:

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