Rethinking Retirement  

Helping Heal Yourself

By Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D.

Western psychologists and physicians are finally realizing what a powerful influence the mind has over physical illness. We know that a healthy African or Australian tribesman will die within a few days, when he learns that the witch doctor of his tribe has put a "death curse" upon him. His life can also be saved when he is told that the "spell" has been broken.

The power of our own beliefs about physical illness cannot be underestimated. Consider the "placebo effect." The placebo effect occurs when a person is given a "medication" for a specific illness.  The substance given is a harmless substance like sugar, water or some other element with no known medicinal properties. The patient is told the pills or medication he is taking will produce specific beneficial results. The "effect" occurs when the patient believes the medication works and expects it will benefit him. Clearly, the belief of the patient impacts the healing system of the body, because the benefits of the placebo effect indeed occur. The patient "gets better."

For over 20 years, medical research has been focused on practicing yogis. Yogis have powerful mental control over their bodies'
responses. For example, a practicing yogi can jab a large needle into his body and not bleed or feel pain. He can walk on burning coals without developing blisters or pain. He can survive in a sealed container for many hours. Precisely how the yogi controls his body's response is not known, but that he does so is common knowledge.

In her book, "New Mind, New Body," Barbara Brown points out that biofeedback research has provided scientific proof that the mind can relieve illnesses as well as create them. Among the physical processes we can learn to control with biofeedback are: brain-wave activity; heart rate; blood pressure; skin temperature; muscle tension; sweat gland activity; the production of natural killer cells; the stress and relaxation responses.

Here is a mental exercise that may strengthen the placebo effect and help heal you.

1. Relax in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor and your arms and legs are supported so they are not strained. Make sure your environment is quiet, comfortable, and has soft lighting.

2. Relax each set of your muscles from the bottoms of your feet to the top of your head. Breathe deeply, slowly, and from your abdomen.

3. Create a clear mental picture of your illness or injury.  Imagine it in a form that makes sense to you. For example, if you have a stomach ulcer, you might imagine it as an inflamed, raw sore on your stomach wall.

4. Picture a treatment. It can be magical or scientific. Imagine the treatment that will eliminate your injury or illness, or strengthen your body's ability to heal itself. For example, imagine milk or antacids coating the ulcer with soothing, healing white liquid that neutralizes stomach acid and reduces inflammation.

5. Picture your natural physical defenses and healing processes eliminating the injury. See healthy cells multiplying and covering the ulcer. See white blood cells removing the debris and cleansing the area.

6. Se yourself as a healthy person, free from illness or injury.  See how you will act, think, feel and function. Picture yourself as calm, vital, alive and pain free.

7. With photographic clarity, picture yourself as proceeding toward achieving the goals you have for your life. Be as detailed as possible.

8. Finally, congratulate yourself for participating in your own healing and recovery.

Do this exercise three times a day in a relaxed, energetic and alert state. Practice helping to heal you.


Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and Licensed Psychologist. He is available for personal life coaching and can be contacted at (970) 568-0173 or E-mail: or


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