Apparently, our beliefs can help us. It's been proven. If we believe we will be healthier, we can be.
Patients in a Baylor School of Medicine study were divided into three groups. Dr. Bruce Moseley performed surgery on the first group. With another group, he used a different surgical technique. Both were standard treatments for arthritic knees.
The third group, however, received a fake surgery. They were sedated and the doctor talked and acted as if there was a real surgical operation taking place. He even splashed salt water, simulating the sound of a knee-washing procedure. Each of the groups was prescribed the same postoperative care, including an exercise program.
This was a designed randomized, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of arthroscopy for osteoarthritis of the knee.
In The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Conscious, Matter & Miracles, Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., professor and cell biologist, describes the outcome of the study:
"The results were shocking. Yes, the groups who received the surgery, as expected, improved. But the placebo group [the patients who received the fake surgery] improved just as much as the other two groups! The results were clear to Moseley: 'My skill as a surgeon had no benefit on these patients. The entire benefit of surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee was the placebo effect.' [Later, television] footage showed members of the placebo group walking and playing basketball, in short doing things they reported they could not do before their ‘surgery.' The placebo patients didn't find out for two years that they had gotten fake surgery."
Yes, apparently, our beliefs can help us. However, it seems, what we believe can harm us, as well. This too has been proven.
In 1974, Dr. Clifton Meador began treating Sam Londe for cancer of the esophagus, a condition considered 100 percent fatal at the time. He received the treatment even though everyone in the medical community believed the cancer was unbeatable. And no one was shocked when Londe passed away just weeks after his initial diagnosis.
It was when an autopsy found no trace of esophageal cancer that the shock set in. Dr. Lipton, in The Biology of Belief, also quotes Meador as saying, 30 years after Londe's death, "I thought he had cancer. He thought he had cancer. Everybody around him thought he had cancer... did I remove hope in some way?"
Yes, evidently, if others and we believe we are on the decline or suffering with a disease, these sickly beliefs can cause us to suffer further and even die.
Don't these two situations hint to how, ultimately, the body is thought-driven, and perhaps, thought-manifest? If this is true, how do we keep from harming ourselves? As well, how do we stop others' beliefs from impacting our own health negatively?
Lipton, in The Biology of Belief, writes, "Learning how to harness your mind to promote growth is the secret of life. ...Of course the secret of life is not a secret at all. Teachers like Buddha and Jesus have been telling us the same story for millennia. Now science is pointing in the same direction. It is not our genes but our beliefs that control our lives."
So, if our beliefs control our health, isn't it important to know how to regulate our beliefs for the better?
Mary Baker Eddy, a Christian healer and teacher in the early 1900s, investigated how beliefs alter health. Her examination of the mental and spiritual nature of existence led her to discover we can harness our mind through improved spiritual understanding.
Her take on this was: Watch what you believe and gain each day a greater spiritual sense of life.
We must admit that we often allow our minds to be filled and governed by fears, hates, and stress. Each of these can apparently impact our bodies in harmful ways.
Understanding that to be healthy, one must utilize spiritual understanding to stay mentally vigilant and active, Mary Baker Eddy encouraged others to "Blot out the images of mortal thought and its beliefs in sickness ...Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action. Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made [you] capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on [you]."
Yes, what we believe, we experience. Shakespeare even claimed, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
With this awareness, can we afford to sit back and let beliefs wreak havoc on our bodies? I don't believe we can, not when it is possible to correct harmful beliefs with spiritual understanding.
Keith Wommack is a syndicated columnist and blogger, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband and step-dad. He is a legislative liaison for spiritual healing and Christian Science in Texas. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith's syndicated columns & blogs originate at: http://texashealthblog.com/