When my literary agent Michele first read Mind Over Medicine, she told me that it changed the whole way she thought about her health. She said, “Before reading your book, Lissa, I honestly thought my body was none of my business. Now, having read it, I know, without a doubt, it is.”
Many of my patients feel the same way. A woman struggling with a health condition once confessed to me that she thought of her body like she thinks about her car. She’s not a car expert, so when her automobile breaks down, she takes it to her auto mechanic, who repairs it and hands it back to her - fixed.
She had the same attitude about her body. When it broke down, she’d hand her body over to a body expert - a doctor - and pray that the doctor would be skilled enough to fix her.
Is Your Body Your Business?
Is that how you think about your body? Do you believe your body is none of your business? As a physician who spent twelve years of training and ten years of practice learning to become a body expert, I used to believe I knew your body better than you do. I now know that, while I may have a better understanding of the arteries in the leg and I may wield a scalpel more expertly than you, nobody knows your very unique body better than you, and nobody is better equipped to prevent or treat illness than your brilliant inner doctor, which I call your “Inner Pilot Light”.
Your Inner Pilot Light is that part of you that knows what’s true for you and can help you align your life with that truth. When you make life choices that are out of alignment with your truth, the body reacts with physical symptoms that, left unchecked, become disease.
Think back to a time when you knew you were out of alignment in your life. Maybe you were out of alignment in a big way - cheating on your spouse or embezzling from your company or abusing your child. Or maybe you were out of alignment in more subtle ways - selling out your integrity in a soul-sucking job or drinking yourself to sleep every night or staying in a relationship with someone you don’t love. If you can remember how your body felt during those times, chances are good that your body didn’t feel so hot. You may have had headaches or gastrointestinal distress or a flare up of a skin condition or allergies. Or you may have just felt fatigued. But I’ll bet your body was signaling to you that you were off course.
No… I’m not talking about prostitution here. I’m talking about honoring the temple your spirit inhabits. What I’ll be talking about is how to be in your body and why. But first, a story about what inspired this post.
Last month, Martha Beck, Koelle Simpson, Bridgette Boudreau, Melanie Bates, and I launched the inaugural class of the 9 month Whole Health Medicine Institute Physician Training with a “Heal The Healers” workshop in Pismo Beach, California. We began the 4 day event by asking the doctors to tell their stories about how they betrayed their bodies in order to become doctors.
How We Traumatized Our Bodies
Picture 16 doctors (17 including me), curled up in our PJ’s, lying on pillows, snuggled under blankets, in my ocean view suite at the Dolphin Bay Resort, where the salty breeze blew in and the sound of ocean waves competed with the sounds of laughter and tears.
We went around the circle, telling our stories and bearing witness to those stories, one by one. I told the story of how I showed up with the flu when I was a second year resident on my oncology rotation, expecting to get sent home because I was throwing up nonstop and had nearly constant diarrhea, as well as a high fever.
But I wasn’t sent home. A nurse put an IV in me, loaded me up with fluids, shot me up with some drugs under the orders from my attending physician, and fitted me with a Depends diaper. I was then ordered to scrub into surgery.
I did as I was told and promptly passed out in the operating room, dropping my surgical instruments into the patient’s belly and falling onto the floor, where I was lifted onto a gurney, taken back to the recovery room, given more intravenous fluids and more drugs, outfitted with a clean diaper, and asked to scrub back into surgery.
How We Dissociate
It’s no wonder I started numbing out from my body. And I wasn’t alone. Turns out that most of us had dissociated from our bodies as a coping mechanism. After all, who wants to feel your body when you’re holding retractors at odd angles that are ergonomic nightmares in the operating room? During your training - and even in practice once you’re done training - you can’t always eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired, or pee when you need to. So you numb out. You stop feeling. And then you betray your body even more because you no longer even feel what you’re doing to it.
My story was the least traumatic of the bunch. The ways in which we doctors sold out our bodies in order to survive our training would shock you. But I suspect it’s not just doctors who have sold out our bodies.
May 7th ends more than three years of gestating my next book, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. Like any pregnant mama, I’m jonesing to bring this baby into the world, not because my back hurts or my ankles are swollen, but because everyone on this planet needs to learn the shocking data I uncovered proving unequivocally how the mind can heal - or harm - the body.
I promise that once you read this book, your mind will be as blown open as mine, and you’ll want to send this book to every sick person you know, every health care provider who cares for you, and every loved one you hope thrives until they’re 100. (Really, I’m not kidding. When you find out the one surprising thing that benefits your health more than exercise, a healthy diet, or quitting your bad habits, you’re gonna want to shout it from the rooftops.)
Is There Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself?
You betcha. There’s proof that you can radically alter your body’s physiology just by changing your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. There’s also proof that you can make yourself sick when your mind thinks unhealthy thoughts. And it’s not just mental. It’s physiologic. How does a thought, feeling, or belief translate into real physiological changes in your cells and organs? Don’t worry, I explain exactly how unhealthy thoughts and feelings translate into disease and how healthy thoughts and feelings prevent disease, increase longevity, prevent aging, and help the body repair itself when it breaks down.
The Media Loves It
This book has been blessed with great national media attention (an O Magazine feature, a special that will be featured on PBS, Health magazine, Shape magazine, Women’s Health magazine, interest from the Dr. Oz Show, and more trickling in every day.) This kind of attention affirms what we already knew - that learning how to activate your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms for both prevention and cure is something many people are ready to learn, and that healing our broken health care system from the inside out is high on everyone’s priority lists.
Soon, I’ll be debuting a video trailer - and hitting the road to meet many of you in person, beginning with Hay House’s I Can Do It! 2013 in Atlanta on May 3. But first - A SALE!
The Mind Over Medicine Preorder Sale!
Because I’m so committed to helping this book reach as many people as possible in the first week of its birth, I’m offering a special sale for those who’d like to pre-order the book - just for yourself or to share with friends, family members, or even clients who you think might benefit from the self-healing message of Mind Over Medicine.
In exchange for your book purchases, I’m throwing in some extra special goodies meant to help you apply the gems in this book to your life and the lives of your loved ones.
It was a big week in New York City. I gathered with my Hay House author colleagues - Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay, Kris Carr, Gabrielle Bernstein, and many other radiant beings - to speak at the Hay House I Can Do It Ignite conference. My publisher announced that they’re producing a public television special about my work that will appear on PBS stations around the country - and that I’ll be going on a live tour with PBS. Hay House is also going to film a documentary DVD about Writing Your Own Prescription, based on what I teach in Mind Over Medicine.
Plus, the Dr. Oz Show producers met me and asked me to appear on the show to talk about healing health care. O magazine asked to do a feature on my work in the June issue. I spent four hours pow-wowing with supermodel and genius philanthropist Christy Turlington to noodle how we could combine our influence to spread the message of her nonprofit Every Mother Counts, as well as the message of my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine.
Then there were the bright lights of Broadway (we saw Mary Poppins), the buzz of 8 million people, my first glimpse of the new World Trade Center tower, the chaos of the Natural History Museum on President’s Day (I think all 8 million New Yorkers were in that museum on that one day), and the fact that I wasn’t able to work in my daily meditation or take my daily hike in nature.
It was a lot for this introverted country girl from a teensy little coastal town where the closest grocery store is a 20 minute Highway 1 drive away…
I told a few people that New York tends to “spin me out,” and that putting Lissa in New York City is like dosing Lissa with amphetamines, when Lissa needs Valium.
When Your Body Speaks
After talking about how “spinny” I felt, I hopped on a Virgin America flight back to San Francisco, and about halfway through the plane, I started feeling dizzy - first just a little bit, then very dizzy, so dizzy I felt severely nauseated. The only way I made it through the rest of the flight was by sitting rock still, closing my eyes, and breathing deeply so I wouldn’t throw up. When we got home, the Highway 1 car ride home only made things worse.
I’ve never had vertigo, and I’ve never been airsick, and I’m used to windy country roads that rarely make me motion sick, so the whole thing was disconcerting.
As a physician, I’ve been exposed to a variety of wellness models, most of them pie charts and pyramids detailing what it takes to be optimally healthy - a nutritious diet, an exercise regimen, enough sleep - you catch my drift.
But something about these wellness models always left me feeling like something was missing. First, it was the format. A pie chart implies that you can take out a piece of the pie and still keep the rest of the uneaten pie intact. The same is true for a pyramid - if you take a strip out of a pyramid - you wind up with a shorter, but still stable pyramid.
Some wellness models are more holistic than others, accounting not only for conventionally “healthy” behaviors, but also for other facets of what makes a good life - social network, professional life, etc. Even still, I never found one that spoke to my soul. None of them ever felt expansive enough, comprehensive enough, or acknowledging of the interdependency of all the facets of what makes us whole and how these life factors affect the body.
From the day I launched OwningPink.com on April 26, 2009, my intention was to create a blog that explored all the facets of what I believed led to a healthy life - relationships, work/life purpose, creativity, spirituality, sexuality, your environment, finances, mental health, and physical health. My hypothesis was that each of these facets had to be in balance, not only with each other, but with the truth of who you are, the part of you I call your “Inner Pilot Light.” In other words, it’s not enough to be in a relationship if your relationship is out of alignment with your truth. It’s not enough to be having sex if you’re selling out your authentic sexual desires. It’s not enough to go to church if you really find communion with Source in nature instead. For years, my blog focused on helping people understand health in this kind of expanded way, but it didn’t fit neatly into an elevator speech or any wellness model I’d ever stumbled across.