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Ultimate Mind-Body Detox

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Radical Forgiveness:

The Ultimate Mind/Body Detox

By Colin Tipping

Are emotions toxic? You bet they are! But ONLY when they are suppressed. Emotions fully felt and expressed actually strengthen the immune system. The movie Patch Adams reminds us that laughter is an example of how emotion heals.

A good working definition of an emotion is
‘a thought attached to a feeling.’ Since we need a body to register feeling and a mind to create thought, it follows that emotion is very much a mind/body phenomenon. It cannot be talked about in any other terms.

My skepticism about the reality of a mind-body connection vanished when I read the research about people with multiple personality disorder. I was shocked to learn that it is not unusual for a ‘multiple’ to exhibit all the symptoms of a particular disease like, for instance, diabetes when one particular personality is “at-home,” only to have the disease disappear as soon as a different personality takes over. Not only that, the new personality might exhibit symptoms for a completely different condition. The moment the other personality returns, the original disease reappears. And the switch can happen in minutes!

Even though cancer seems so intractable and so much a physical disease, there is probably no other illness so connected in peoples’ minds with the mind/body issue. Ever since O. Carl Simonton, M.D., an oncologist, began working with guided imagery back in the 70’s, the question of how much of a role the mind plays in both the causation and the progress of the cancer rages on.

There’s a huge amount written on the subject and the new science of synchro-neuro-immunology is producing a great deal of scientific data to support the idea that thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings all have a very big part to play. Emotions in particular have been shown to have a dramatic effect on the immune system–for better and for worse. Since  cancer is a condition that arises out of an immune system compromise, it is not unreasonable to connect the onset of cancer with an emotional event that weakened the immune system.

However, it is not a question of whether the emotion is positive or negative. It’s a matter of whether the emotions are allowed to flow freely through the body–or not. In this respect there is no such thing as a negative emotion. It only becomes negative–and toxic–when it is denied, suppressed, or repressed. That’s when it can become a real killer. Society teaches us not to show emotions. Unfortunately, the price we pay for that insane lesson in ‘nice’ social behavior is enormous. It kills thousand of people each year.

A landmark study which is a well-respected piece of  research (Greer 1986), proves conclusively that the extent to which people tend to “stuff” their emotions as a strategy for dealing with life is a clear predictor of who will get cancer and who will not.  (There are many other risk factors in cancer, of course, but besides this emotional one, the only other proven predictor is genetic predisposition).

My own experience with working with cancer patients bears this out. I have yet to meet a person with cancer who has not experienced either or both, (a) a severe loss that they haven’t properly grieved, or (b) an emotional trauma that they haven’t yet fully processed, between two and seven years prior to the onset of their disease. 

This might be the loss of a job, the death of a spouse, or a serious emotional shock that they just can’t get over. Whatever it was, their strategy was to “stuff” the feelings. They buried the anger, guilt, shame, and the hurt and largely went on with their lives. But deep down they  carried a huge amount of resentment and were never able to forgive. (Forgiveness is always a big issue with  cancer patients. I am clear that my workshops on Radical Forgiveness—and even my book—count as cancer prevention measures).

I have come to regard  forgiveness as a ‘first-line primary’ treatment for cancer, not as an alternative to standard medical treatment, but certainly adjunctive to it. I now know that anyone with cancer who doesn’t include forgiveness in their treatment protocol is ignoring a huge part of the problem, if not the very cause of the disease itself.

Current medical methods of treatment for cancer address symptoms only.  Assuming the treatment itself doesn’t kill the patient, it does at least buy them some time. The question then becomes–time for what?

Well, certainly not to go back to ‘business as usual.’ The message of cancer is always that there’s something about our life that needs changing. It’s up to each individual to decide what most needs altering; but, in general terms, a sensible way to use that time is to do everything we can to detoxify our life. That means eliminating toxic foods from our diet. It means detoxifying our body and  taking supplements to strengthen the immune system. 

This much people now almost take for granted. But it is not so well understood that all this is for naught if we don’t also take drastic measures to clean out (detox), our emotional closet. It is absolutely crucial that we do this if a recurrence is to be avoided. (Even better that we do the emotional work as a way of preventing cancer from happening in the first place).

But, doing emotional work seems to be scary for a lot of people, and many won’t go there. It’s just too painful, they think. If only they knew how easy it generally is. Seldom do they carry trauma of the kind that requires deep psychological treatment and the re-experience of deep emotional pain. Mostly, it is a matter of having a compassionate professional therapist help them deal with the relatively ordinary problems that life dishes up from time to time. A betrayal, a death, a burglary, a bankruptcy, a failed relationship, and so on.

It’s amazing how much is achieved by telling the story and being listened to. It just goes to prove what we have always known about the mind/body connection. That is, you can have all the medications, supplements, and nourishing food in the world, but if the love connection isn’t there, none of it matters. Love is the greatest medicine, and the extent to which we are willing to open our hearts to other people is the degree to which we heal ourselves and those around us. That’s the real mind/body connection and in the last analysis, the only one that matters.

Radical Forgiveness Website

The Radical Forgiveness Experience

Radical Forgiveness: Colin Tipping

If you would care to express your desire for a world of forgiveness, and for racial reconciliation in America, visit Radicalforgiveness.org and read the 'Spiritual Petition.' Then add your name to the petition. Thanks!


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Last updated: 08/15/08

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