Ellen Langer

Bringing the Mind and Body Together Again ·

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Listen to Counterclockwise

As recently as a decade or so ago, members of the traditional medical establishment thought eastern methods of healing—no less the emerging western ideas of how the mind may directly affect the body—to be almost a joke. Our views about these ideas have changed greatly, in no small part due to Christiane Northrup. When a well-respected physician such as Christiane considered alternative views of healthcare, many ideas thought to be on the fringe rightly moved to the mainstream.

I have been researching mind/body issues for over thirty years. I’ve learned that, when we set aside mind/body dualism—bring the mind and body back together— we find that wherever we put the mind the body follows. By putting the mind in healthy places, my research has shown that vision, memory, weight, even longevity can and do improve. The results are often startling to people, but that only proves when we give up limiting mindsets, all sorts of positive changes can occur.

Traditional medicine doesn’t need to be in conflict with other approaches, each has their place. We need to understand that medical research is designed to offer us probabilities—if we conduct the same research under the same circumstances with the same kind of people, most will respond in the same way. Yet when it comes to our health, it is of little consequence how most people may respond to a treatment or medication if it doesn’t work for us as individuals.

No research can predict the effects of any single treatment for any particular individual. We shouldn’t be deterred by this fact, it actually opens up enormous possibility as long as we open our minds to it. Established views are slow to change. But we shouldn’t have to wait for them to come around to start being mindful stewards of our health.