Sometimes life can take a very unexpected path. Healing with the mind is really about the last thing I ever thought that I would be doing or teaching in my life and definitely not anything that I ever would have taken seriously. But, even further from that, was the thought that I would ever be disabled. I had always been an athlete.
It was definitely something I never saw coming.
The accident, the injury, or the excruciating pain. I definitely didn’t see myself using a wheelchair, a cane, or a walker to get around for years! It never occurred to me that doctors would say there was nothing further they could do. Based on the way my life had been going, this turn of events was the last thing I expected.
At the time of my injury, I worked in the technology industry in network engineering and operations. It was the life I wanted, at least at that time. By my definition I was successful. I had a great job, had bought my own house, wonderful friends and family, traveled frequently. I was young. My life had momentum and was off to an amazing start.
Then life changed in an instant.
I had a car accident that had resulted in an ongoing lower back injury. Then, the final straw… I slipped on a wet floor and fell (just wrong or just right, depending on your perspective) but after that moment, life would never be the same.
I went from living a full life, to just trying to make it through each day.
My doctors did everything they could, yet there was nothing they could do.
I was given a long list of ailments, from nerve lesions, spondylosis, sciatica, spinal end-plate fractures, synovial cysts in my lumbar spine, and something called reflex neurovascular dystrophy or RND — a condition subsequently renamed “complex regional pain syndrome,” or CRPS.
Over the next couple of years, my health and life just continued to decline.
I spent most of my time each day in bed, propped up on pillows, suffering not just extreme pain but in frustration. On a good day, I could push through the pain and use my cane or a walker to get around for very short distances. For longer distances, I had to use my wheelchair. And on a bad day, I didn’t make it out of bed. Everything in my life felt like a struggle and there was nothing that my doctors could do about it.
For years I sought out one specialist after another in search of a cure, going to top hospitals and yet one doctor after another I heard those same words…
“I’m sorry, Miss Gillmore, but there’s nothing else I can do for you.”
Every time I heard those words, I felt like I was going to fall apart. I would choke back tears, along with a heavy lump in my throat, and ask for a referral. Surely there had to be some doctor or treatment that could help me, or so I thought.
Finally, there was nothing left. I had traveled to the best hospitals and seen the top specialists. I had done everything I could think of. I was told I had exhausted all options and there was no one to refer me to.
Impossible. How can I just give up?
It wasn’t like I could just move on to doing something else. This was my life and I was physically able to just move on. I was stuck with no hope of ever actually living my life the way I thought I would.
Over the next couple of years, I tried everything I could think of: diet, supplements, every diet I could possibly find, you name it. Nothing worked.
Eventually, out of frustration, I began diving into the data on the human body, reviewing medical studies and researching on my own.
The more I read, the more I began to see that our healthcare system just didn’t make sense.
There were so many unexplained anomalies. Or, rather, they did not make sense with the current way we look at health. Remember that prior to my injury I worked in network engineering and operations? My expertise was troubleshooting networks. So I knew that if something didn’t make sense, something was missing. My mind went to work.
Einstein’s words, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them,” floated into my mind. What was missing?
Then I started to see the patterns and hit me. The solutions seemed to be pointing to the same place: the mind.
- The Placebo Effect: This has been proven repeatedly. A person taking a fake pill can experience actual, documented changes to their physical conditions! When I really stopped and thought about it, based on our view of our physical body that was simply “impossible” Yet, it has been proven over and over that our brains “somehow” have this incredible ability. In fact, since every drug is tested against the placebo, ultimately that means the placebo has been proven to work more than any form of treatment ever. During this time when I was researching, I thought, if our minds “somehow” have this ability, then I wanted to figure out how to use it. At the time, the idea of actually figuring out the placebo seemed like a long shot, but I had heard neuroscientists say repeatedly that ‘we know very little about the brain.’ Since it was a proven fact that the mind “somehow” had the ability, this gave me at least some hope that I could actually get my life back. I wanted to figure it out to be able to use it. How could I purposely implement the mind’s healing abilities?
- Multiple Personality Disorder (shortened: MPD or DID): This shocked me! As I continued to research the mind, I came across research on MPD. Research has shown that a person with multiple personalities can have different pain, ailments, body temperature and more depending on which personality was expressing. This research felt empowering to me because it showed clearly that the mind didn’t require an actual placebo to generate changes in the physical body and again, it spoke hugely to the power of the mind. These people were not changing their physical body, they were changing their minds!
- Amputee pain: Another very unfortunate, but the blaring situation was the amputee. More than eighty percent of amputees still experience pain in the area of their missing limb, a phenomenon called “phantom pain.” At the time I initially read this, I felt compassion for those who suffered from this. And, I also felt frustrated. Again, this makes no sense based on our beliefs about the physical body. And, when I took it into my reality, I thought to myself, that basically means that I could literally amputate parts of my body and there is an 80% chance that I would still feel pain. Ugh. Of course, amputation was not a serious thought for my situation, nor anything I would ever want, but this really put it into perspective for me. Again it pointed to the missing link being in the mind, not the physical body. This also made me think about all of the people who still have their physical limbs and yet they are told that nothing is wrong with them or that the pain is just in their head. I dove even deeper into research and began studying pain and nociceptors, the spinothalamic pathway, the thalamus and the brain in general, just trying to figure it all out.
All of this pointed out clearly to me that the mind was definitely the missing link. Though I was a bit stuck at the thought of how it was possible for the mind to affect the physical body, especially since I’d had a physical accident.
- Body Self-Renewal: That’s when I began to look even further at the physical body, it’s repair process and also the atoms of the body. I happened to come across an article from 1954, in Time Magazine in which Dr. Paul C. Aebersold was quoted from the Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution saying, “About 98% of the atoms in the human body are renewed each year.” His conclusion was based on experiments with radioisotopes. I looked even more into the body’s natural healing and repair process. I had heard that the body was constantly repairing and replacing cells, but I had not previously given it much thought. Aebersold’s study was interesting in that it focused specifically on atoms themselves—the smaller constituents of cells. There have been a number of more current studies that similarly conclude that most of the body is constantly repairing and replacing old cells with new ones. The research is conflicting as to exactly how long it takes for each different body part to completely renew all of its cells; however, all researchers seem to agree that the majority of the human body is constantly renewing itself. You’ve probably seen dead skin cells before. Maybe you’ve even heard that even our bones are constantly repairing and replacing cells: older cells are dying off while new cells take their place. This renewal is a constant cycle.
But wait!? I had been injured for several years. So why was my body not repairing?
…And further, if the body is constantly repairing and replacing cells, then how is it possible for anyone to have an injury that is 10, 20 or 40 years old? Does that even make sense? Well, when we look at it, even though the majority of the physical body is repairing and replacing cells. The brain is not. Sure, the brain can create new neurons, and in some cases, the brain can repair itself from an injury. It can also reorganize or create new synaptic connections which is referred to as neuroplasticity. But as a whole, the brain cells are not constantly dying off and being replaced with new ones in the same way the cells in the physical body are.
Finally, something made sense at how it could all fit together!
It was like the mind held the drawing or blueprint for the physical body! And, if the blueprint was kept the same, then the body kept recreating the same thing. But, if the blueprint was changed…then rapid changes could occur like with MPD. At first, the idea of healing with the mind had seemed irrational. Yet, after looking at the placebo, nocebo (the same concept with negative results from negative expectations), multiple personality disorder and spontaneous remission, it became clear the mind has the ability to heal the body. I just needed to figure out what was really going on at a deeper level. And, more importantly, how to develop the skill.
Is it Mind Over Matter?
My first attempt at healing myself with my mind was based on the idea of “belief,” and the placebo that I simply needed to believe that my self-healing was going to work. After all, I had read so much about placebos working solely because of a person’s belief. Even though belief in various medical procedures and remedies had not worked, I was willing to try again.
I spent the next year working to convince myself I was already healed, and that there was nothing wrong with me. I gave it everything I had, writing three- to four-hundred times per day, or more: “I am already healed.” Then I would concentrate on the words, “I am healed” or “I am already healed” in an almost meditative state, trying to convince myself, in the depths of my mind that these words were true.
After a while, when I realized that method wasn’t working, I added metaphysical healing practices to the mix.
In addition to “believing,” I added meditation, seeing/imagining, trying to act as if, and affirmations about how I was perfect and healthy. I spent hours each day trying to picture my body healthy, with a perfect spine and nervous system. I stared at images in an anatomy book of an anatomically perfect spine, then closed my eyes to get the image deep into my brain.
I worked so hard to convince my mind that I was healed that I developed an altered sense of reality. At times, I felt like I was going crazy. I didn’t know which “reality” was real.
But it still didn’t work.
In both “realities” I was still really in pain.
When my exploration of placebos and metaphysical healing didn’t succeed, I started to question everything. That is, everything except the insurmountable mound of data, which I could no longer ignore or simply label as an “inexplicable phenomenon.”
Even though I had no idea how to get out of pain and heal my body, it was clear that my mind somehow possessed the ability. I was determined to figure out how.
Now, I do want to take a moment and stop here as to not overlook this critically important step on my healing journey that I feel would be invaluable for you as well: Even though belief itself did not heal me, it was still a very important part of the process. The more I saw that it really was possible and made logical sense that the mind could heal, the more it drove me to follow-through to figure it out.
If you are going to be successful at this in your own life, then you will need to be driven and follow-through as well. And, let’s be honest, most people cannot get themselves to follow-through which means that, even if the answer was sitting right in front of them, if they did not genuinely believe that they could really do it likely they would not even use it fully. Why would they? Or why would you? Would you have taken your time each day to fully follow through with something that you didn’t think was going to work? Likely not. I know I wouldn’t.
You may recall, I recently wrote a blog post on this very thing: the importance of belief. 3 VERY simple things that can help you make things EASIER to change your life & health as we step into the New Year!
That said, to best serve you and make this easier for you, I am going to stop here for today and continue to share with you the rest of my healing journey next week.
My best suggestion would be to do this 1 thing:
Take a bit of time ( 5 or 10 min) each day to skim over the information above and fully take in how powerful your mind is. Neuroscience has not said, “we know everything with the brain” in fact they have said the opposite, that we know very little about the brain. That said, if you could take in the information and allow yourself to fully understand it, that would be very empowering. If we have lived our entire lives with a perspective of looking at our health in one way, then we want to really change it and open our minds, it does take some repetition. Personally I did exactly that but in a different way. If you think about my situation, I was laying in bed, in pain – going over this data, again and again, racking my brain trying to figure it out. Knowing it was somehow possible, because the data all pointed at the mind, and yet, not sure how. So, my suggestion is not that you have to wrack your brain, but to just allow your mind to absorb new information and take in a new perspective that your mind is truly amazing!
Sending hugs and happiness!
PS. If you are more of a visual learner and would like an even deeper level of understanding to further process this information, you can go to my website and enjoy my free deep-dive training.
PPS. Also, I do understand that for many of us our lives are very busy. If you know yourself well enough that you are thinking that you will miss the rest of this blog post when it is released next week then you are welcome to enter your email below to register for updates and my team will notify you as soon as it’s released.