I used to sit at the edge of the ocean to find my rhythm. When planning my annual vacations, it was the water that called me--not so much to be in it, but to be by it. Maternal and soothing, the comings and goings of the tide was my "reset" button--you know, the one that allows you to deal calmly again with the world. Along came twins, and my exotic vacations were replaced with ventures closer to home. Being in a land-locked state, sitting by the ocean was no longer an option. How was I going to hit my reset button now? The answer was right in front of me--massage.
My friend Ellie and I were driving to the beach when she asked me to pull over. She was experiencing sharp pain in her chest. We stayed quiet as she put her hand to her heart and focused on her breathing. The pain eased and then stopped within a few minutes. I suggested going to the emergency room, but Ellie insisted she was OK. Earlier that day, Ellie had shared the details of a daughter in crisis, a relationship that was bringing up unresolved issues, and her mother’s mental illness and steep decline in a nursing facility.
Journalist Loolwa Khazzoom traveled recently to San Diego to speak with David Simon, MD—co-founder, CEO, and medical director of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing—about the concepts in his book, Free to Love, Free to Heal (Chopra Center Press, 2009). In it, Simon addresses the connection between emotions and physical health. In this conversation, Simon shares his thoughts about how individuals can utilize the power of the mind-body connection to empower themselves and transform our health-care system.
Anyone with recurring, unyielding back problems knows the beast that is called back pain. While most of us have experienced back pain that comes from overexertion or muscle pulls, the effects of back pain for many can be debilitating, excruciating, and life changing. Experts say back pain accounts for $100 billion in lost productivity and health-care costs each year and is one of the primary causes of work-related disability. Managing back pain can be a daunting and exhausting proposition. One natural avenue for finding relief is massage therapy.
I believe what we say to and about ourselves, becomes ourselves. Here is a depiction of that concept. Which list sounds most like you?
All beings want to be happy and secure. All beings want to be free of pain and suffering. But how do we attain this ideal, earthly goal? Massage goes right to the heart of the matter. It can elevate us without alienating us from reality. Through massage, we can reach beyond the affliction of our mortality and embrace our impermanence.
How much time do you spend thinking about your body? Are the thoughts positive or negative?
In her book, Transforming Body Image (The Crossing Press, 1985), Marcia Hutchinson, EdD, suggests body image has little to do with the physical body. “Image and reality are separate,” she writes. And if body image is a product of the imagination, Hutchinson proposes that it can also be changed using the imagination.
It’s no secret that proper nutrition, exercise, and living a low-stress lifestyle are among the keys to good health and longevity. If we pay close attention to these three cornerstones of our health, our body will reward us with vitality and well-being. Amazingly, even when our body gets a little out of balance—a sore tennis elbow, an irritating cold, or an achy neck from a tense business meeting—we are each equipped with a high-performing immune system miraculously designed to heal our body and protect us from disease.