I’m life coach and culturalist Peter Winslow, and thank you for joining me. We’re headed into Hallowe’en and the moon grows pale as the last gasp of summer’s sun acquiesces to winter’s chill.
Once upon a time, long before the Christian festival of All Hallow’s Day, most Europeans observed a much older tradition. It was at this time of year that people began to celebrate the memories of their deceased ancestors, and some even invited the spirits of past generations to return and offer guidance.
From this tradition we get the image of ghosts, frequently mentioned in the holy scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and widely recognized by many cultures around the world.
What (or whom) is haunting you? Could it be… an aspect of your self? It’s time to stop struggling and make ready for a shift. Now is the time to acknowledge the hidden underbelly of your sequestered sub-persona and bring it to the light of day.
The reason many people dress as goblins and demons, devils and fiends, and other characters of dubious virtue at this particular holiday (read: “holy day”) is to play and frolic with the shadow self within them. Their “dark side” must find a healthy outlet of expression, lest it never cease to haunt and to hound them.
Truth be told, the shadow has a purpose and a mission: to assist with our spiritual ascension. It’s cathartic and cleansing to end the battle we fight with the part of ourselves we keep hidden, and develop inner peace through self-acceptance. Oftentimes and amazingly, what is revealed, is healed.
I’m life coach and counselor Peter Winslow. Welcome to part four of our series on the science of natural healing from chronic pain. We have so far learned that the key to recovery from chronic conditions is found in the phenomenon of “neuroplasticity.”
Neurologists have discovered that neuroplasticity works in two ways; it can be either positive or negative. An example of negative plasticity: many elderly people are understandably afraid of falling. Trying to avoid an accident by looking down at the ground in front of them while they walk narrows their field of vision which in turn trains the brain to decrease physical coordination and balance. The resulting changes in the brain actually impair physical mobility and increase the likelihood of a fall, the one thing they were focused on, but trying to prevent.
Researchers tell us that chronic pain is also an example of negative plasticity. It’s the result of the brain repeatedly firing signals on specific neural pathways over time until what was once temporary information becomes an ingrained habit.
It’s like driving a truck on a muddy dirt road; the more you drive over them, the deeper the grooves become. The repeated pain sensations in your body construct an “information superhighway” on the roadmap of the brain, but it is not necessarily a permanent fixture.
Researchers have learned that chronic pain in the body can be reversed through neuroplasticity in the brain. You simply have to adopt the specific habits, behaviors and exercises that replace the old habits and patterns of the past.
If you want to build a healthier body than the one you’ve got now, you can certainly do it. Incorporating mind-body techniques into your exercise regimen is proven to reverse chronic pain and illness, and the sooner you begin, the better off you’ll be.
I’m Peter Winslow, a health and life coach in private practice. I experienced first-hand the healing power of the human body when I recovered from the pain and symptoms of a chronic autoimmune disorder called Ankylosing Spondylitis, or AS.
It’s important to point out that the word “chronic” when applied to disease means that doctors and drugs cannot cure it. AS is considered to be “incurable” because there isn’t a medical treatment to reverse it. Yet people have recovered from this and other chronic conditions through the healing power of their own bodies. How is it possible? Neuroscientists say it happens through a phenomenon called neuroplasticity.
Webster’s dictionary defines neuroplasticity as “the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.”
“Neuroplasticity is an umbrella term that describes lasting change to the brain throughout an individual’s life course. The term gained prominence in the latter half of the 20th century, when new research showed that many aspects of the brain can be altered even into adulthood. This notion contrasts with the previous scientific understanding that the brain only develops during early childhood and from then on remains mostly unchanged.
Neuroplasticity can be seen at multiple levels, from changes in individual neurons to larger changes such as cortical remapping in response to injury. Behavior, environmental stimuli, thought, and emotions also cause neuroplastic change which has significant implications for healthy development, learning, memory, and recovery from illness and injury.”
So behavior, environmental stimuli, thought, and emotions cause neuroplastic changes. That is where natural recovery from chronic pain begins.
I’m Life coach Peter Winslow. In an interesting bit of science news, research studies found in medical journals have reported that there are anti-depressant medications on today’s US market that register no measurable results in clinical trials. It has been accepted that a “placebo effect” is responsible for all the benefits that the retail users of those medications reported to their physicians.
You likely realize that the placebo works only because you believe it will. The placebo effect happens when you think a neutral substance will have a positive effect on you and just because you believe it, it really does.
In modern medicine, there have been studies conducted on the effects of placebos for decades, reporting confirmed cases of the placebo effect in action. One of the more astonishingly invasive studies from 1959 conducted by the National Institute of Health concerned a “mammary artery ligation” procedure used as a cure for angina pain.
The heart surgeon makes an incision in the chest and ties off two arteries, causing an increase in blood flow to the heart. The cardiologist hired for the study performed “sham surgeries” in which 8 out of 17 patients got incisions and stitches, but nothing else. 100% of patients who got the sham surgeries reported being cured.
Such invasive studies are not as common today, but are still being done. In 2002 at the VA Medical Center in Houston, 180 patients with osteoarthritis in their knees were treated with either arthroscopic procedures to remove damaged cartilage or placebo surgery which simulated arthroscopic surgery by making an incision but not removing any cartilage. After two years, and not being told who did and who did not receive the “real” surgery, there were no differences between the placebo and non-placebo groups. Every patient reported improvement in pain and in the ability to use their knees.
Dr. Bruce Moseley, the orthopedic surgeon who performed the surgeries reported: “I was initially very surprised… I could not imagine anybody suggesting that anything we do in surgery would benefit from the placebo effect. I associate placebo effect with pills. In my simple explanation of this outcome, the magnitude of placebo effect is directly proportional to the patient’s perceived intervention.”
In light of this information, you won’t find me volunteering for any surgical clinical studies.
– Peter Winslow