Right Thinking Brings Healing

by Caroline Leaf

Can you believe that your thinking can dynamically impact your physical, spiritual and emotional health? As a Christian neuroscientist, this information is transformational.

We cannot afford not to ”bring all thoughts into captivity to Christ Jesus (2nd Corinthians 10:5)!

Proverbs 23:7:”What man thinks is what he really is.”

The above statistics concerning the impact of your thought life on your health are staggering and eye-opening because it also means that only 2-25% of human mental and physical illnesses come from the environment and genes!

Scientists are discovering the precise pathways by which changes in human consciousness (thinking) produce changes in our brain and bodies. This consciousness activates our genes and changes our brain. Science even shows that thoughts, with their embedded feelings, turn sets of genes on and off in complex relationships. We take the facts, experiences and the events of our lives and assign meaning to them through thinking—we are reacting to the events and circumstances of life.

We may have a fixed set of genes in our chromosomes, but which of those genes is active and how they are active has a great deal to do with how we think and process our subjective experiences, i.e. our reactions. Our thoughts, with their intertwined emotions, produce words and behaviors, which in turn stimulate more thinking, choices and thought building. We are constantly reacting to the circumstances and events of this life and as this cycle goes on, our brains become shaped in a process that will either be in a positive direction or a negative direction. So it is the quality of our thinking and choices, our reactions, which determine our brain architecture. This means that the quality of our thinking (consciousness) affects the shape or architecture of the brain and resultant quality of health in our minds and bodies. Science and scripture show how we are wired for love and optimism (scripture: “we are made in His image”; scientifically: see my book “The Gift in You”), and so when we react by thinking negatively and making negative choices, the quality of our thinking suffers, which means the quality of our “brain architecture” suffers, and, in turn, our health.

Taking this to a deeper level, research shows that DNA actually changes shape according to our thoughts. As you think those negative thoughts about the week ahead that hasn’t happened yet, or that person who hasn’t actually said or done anything yet, (even in the absence of the concrete stimulus) the toxic thinking has changed your brain wiring in a negative direction and thrown your mind and body into stress. According to Dr Herbert Benson, MD, and president of Harvard Medical School’s Mind-Body Institute (http://www.massgeneral.org/bhi/research/), toxic thoughts lead to stress, which affects our body’s natural healing capacities. Toxic thinking literally ‘wears down’ the brain and the rest of the body.

The Institute of Heartmath discusses an experiment titled “Local and nonlocal effects of coherent heart frequencies on Conformational Changes of DNA.” This study showed that thinking and feeling anger, fear and frustration caused DNA to change shape according to thoughts (that is thoughts with their intertwined feelings). The DNA responded by tightening up, becoming shorter and switching off many DNA codes, which reduced quality expression; we will feel ‘shut down” by negative emotions and our body feels this too. What was really exciting about this study is the fact that the negative “shut down” or poor quality of the DNA codes was reversed with feelings of love, joy, appreciation and gratitude! The researchers also found that HIV positive patients with these positive thoughts and feelings had 300,000 times the resistance!

So when we make a poor quality thinking decision—i.e. a toxic thought—such as unforgiveness, bitterness or irritation, we change the DNA and subsequent genetic expression affecting the shape of the wiring in our brain in a negative direction. This immediately puts the brain into protect mode and the brain translates these poor quality toxic thoughts as stress. This stress will then manifest itself in our bodies.

Stress on the Your dictionary website, is defined as “a condition of mental and physical tension or strain, as depression or hypertension, which can result from a reaction to a situation in which a person feels threatened, pressured etc. Synonyms for stress include anxiety, nervousness, fearfulness, apprehensiveness, impatience, fear, tenseness, or restlessness. It is our mind and body’s response to toxic thinking, and even a little bit of stress from a little bit of toxic thinking has far reaching consequences for mental and physical health. There is much research proving this.

Reaction is the key word above, which I discussed in the first few paragraphs. And here is the caveat: you cannot control the events or circumstances of your life but you can control your reactions. And controlling those reactions means the difference between healthy minds and bodies and sick minds and bodies because, according to research, 75-98% of mental and physical illnesses come from our thought lives!

Here are just a few statistics confirming this number: A study by the American Medical Association found that stress is a factor in 75% of all illnesses and diseases that people suffer from today. The association between stress and disease is a colossal 85% (Dr Brian Luke Seaward). The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Health Organization has concluded that 80% of cancers are due to lifestyles and are not genetic, and they say this is a conservative number (Cancer statistics and views of causes Science News Vol.115, No 2 (Jan.13 1979), p.23). According to Dr Bruce Lipton (The Biology of Belief, 2008), gene disorders like Huntington’s chorea, beta thalassemia, cystic fibrosis, to name just a few, affect less than 2% of the population. This means the vast majority of the worlds population come into this world with genes that should enable the to live a happy and healthy life. He says a staggering 98% of diseases are lifestyle choices and therefore, thinking. According to Dr H.F. Nijhout (Metaphors and the Role of Genes and Development, 1990) genes control biology and not the other way around. According to W.C Willett (balancing lifestyle and genomics research for disease prevention Science (296) p 695-698, 2002) only 5% of cancer and cardiovascular patients can attribute their disease to hereditary factors. According to the American Institute of health, it has been estimated that 75 – 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems (http://www.stress.org/americas.htm). Some of the latest stress statistics causing illness as a result of toxic thinking can be found at: www.naturalwellnesscare.com/stress-statistics.html

An undisciplined mind is one filled with a continuous stream of thoughts, worries, fears and distorted perceptions, all of which trigger degenerative processes in the mind and body.

Paul described the power of being proactive with our thought lives in his letter to the Philippians:

Philippians 4:4-8:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

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