What is Mind-Body Medicine? I tell people it is where biology, chemistry and physics meets psychology and philosophy. But it’s much more than that. As a family nurse practitioner, I look at at the whole body, mind and spirit. Because clients arrive in my office with physical issues, I start at that point and then move forward into the emotions and finally into the spiritual realm. So let’s see how that looks for a client with heart issues.
Jess came to see me to get her thyroid medication refilled. While I was reviewing her medical history she told me about a recent bout of atrial fibrillation. This is a condition where the heart fibrillates or quivers. The heart rate is high, over 120 beats per minute. It’s dangerous because if blood pools or sits in one place for too long, clots can form. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks and death. Jess told me matter of factly about what had happened and how she was treated. See seemed detached from the whole experience.
The heart is the location of the fourth energy center of the human body. This energy center deals with love, joy, sadness and the expression of love. This is where we get direction that is aligned with our truth. It is the most powerful source of electromagnetic energy in the human body, producing the largest rhythmic electromagnetic field of any of the body’s organs. The heart’s electrical field is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain. The heart is electrical, neurological, and chemical and functions all on its own. It answers to no other organ in the body. In fact, the heart has its own brain; an intricate network of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells just like those found in the brain and the gut.
I asked Jess if she ever talked to her heart. She looked at me and tears came to her eyes.
“No” she said. “I’ve never talked to my heart. I never paid attention to it until this happened.”
“Well”, I said, “It’s time you talk to your heart and hear what she has to say.”
So, I took Jess on a short meditation to quiet her mind and help her tap into her heart. I had her do an exercise called dialogue with a symptom. She spent a few minutes conversing with her heart and then she told me she was stuck. Here is a synopsis of what her heart told her: “I am sad. You don’t pay attention to me. If you really want love and joy in your life, you have to tune into me, open me up and being to really feel.” At this point Jess told me she was stuck, more specifically she told me “It’s stuck in my throat. I can’t say anything else.”
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits in the neck, in front of the esophagus. You can see and feel the thyroid gland if its swollen, but when it’s healthy, its small and unnoticeable. The thyroid regulates temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and metabolism. It works in conjunction with other endocrine glands to keep the body running smoothly. This is the location of the fifth energy center of the body, where energy moves from the body up through the neck, into the head and back down. It is the center of communication, expression, speaking ones truth or authentic expression.
So, when Jess told me “it’s stuck in my throat.” I knew she was having trouble voicing her hearts desire, literally. So we talked about that too. She told me how she has avoided her true feelings for a long time. “It’s easier to work than to address the emotions” she said.
In my experience, people get help when the pain of staying where they are is greater than the pain of moving forward. I asked Jess “Is your heart quivering to get her attention? Are you afraid of speaking your truth, your heart desires? Are you afraid of listening to them?”
‘I am avoiding feeling sadness because it’s painful” said Jess.
‘It’s only in feeling the sadness that one can fully express and appreciate joy” I said. “You are not acting in the best interest of your spirit.” She nodded, unable to speak, her eyes filled with tears she didn’t want me to see. At this point in our visit, Jess told me she was grateful for this work, the information she had learned here today. “It’s painful”, she said, “but I’ve been avoiding it and I know I need to do some things differently.”
We discussed some tools she could use at home; I refilled her thyroid medication, gave her some homework, a link for a meditation and a hug.
Mind-Body medicine is about connection: connection to self, to spirit, to others, to the Earth and to the Universe. When we get in touch with our body, mind and spirit we attune ourselves to something far greater than the physical. It is in this place that we have the power to see and to change…change our thoughts, our emotions, our mind, our body and our behavior, our way of being. This is where the healing exists.