The following question is one I hear a lot and indeed have asked myself for many years. It deals with the whole mind/body issue: If the mind, emotions, belief systems, mental thought and behaviour patterns can really have such a profound effect on the physical body, then why isn’t person “X” ill, when they are obviously emotionally unhealthy?

Here’s what a friend of mine asked me recently:

I’m about halfway through the book, When The Body Says No. Am totally convinced in one aspect from various life experiences, but totally skeptical on the other hand – because if it were 100% true, my mother would have been riddled with cancer or some other chronic, fatal disease long ago. But other than having some kidney issues the last couple of years, she is totally fine.

Here’s my reply:

Yes, I understand exactly what you mean about your Mom – she’s a prime example of the holistic nature of the body: Every single person is an absolutely unique system. And what may cause rampant disease “X” in one person, does not even cause a blip in another person.

This is because illness is not a straightforward, linear phenomena. Rather it is a circular, spherical thing; composed of many spheres, often interlocking, with multiple possible combinations and ramifications. In my experience, some of the main influencing, or contributing factors that simultaneously, or in varying combinations, can produce either health or dis-ease (imbalance) in the body are:

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The nutrients you received in utero and during your growth and development years can have a tremendously protective effect for the rest of your life. It’s like the difference between a house built of wood and a house built of stone. On the outside they appear the same, but their infrastructure is incomparable. The closer your mother ate and fed you to a “traditional/primitive” diet, the stronger you are. And therefore, you can withstand a LOT more toxins, trauma, stress, etc. than an inadequately nourished person. Dr. Weston A. Price covers this extensively in his work with tribes worldwide in the 1930’s (www.westonaprice.org).

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Next is the importance of emotional health. And this is not so much determined by what happens to you, but rather, by what you think and feel about what happens to you. Again, this is where we get into the specificity of each individual.

Alice Walker writes about this in some of her work about female circumcision in Africa. The girls/women do not break down and manifest the trauma in their physical body – due to the genital circumcision – until they either reach America, where it is confirmed that what they suffered was an atrocity, or, when someone talks to them, hears them and mirrors back to them, that yes, this is a very terrible thing. THEN they break down.

Left uneducated and unaware in their tribe, most show no manifestation of trauma – because in their tribe, it is regarded as normal and NOT a bad thing. Remember, stress can be positive or negative – it is our minds/spirits/individual personalities that define something as positive or negative and either manifest a damaging stress response, or not. And as evidenced by scientific disciplines such as psychoneuroimmunology and psychoneurogastroenterology, emotional stress has been proven to produce marked, measurable biochemical results/events in the physical body. These biochemical responses can then result in increased health, or illness.

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Another aspect of the psyche and emotions resulting in health or dis-ease (imbalance) is your emotional attitude towards all the aspects of your life. For example, let’s just take one aspect: Your attitude and beliefs about food. The Dalai Lama once said, “You can eat anything, as long as you eat it with love, and it will benefit your body.” So even though your diet may not be so good, if you are bathed in and radiating love most of the day, each and every day, your health is probably not going to suffer.

Of course, the flip side of this paradigm is the person who, although they eat good, healthy food, they do so with a host of negative beliefs and thoughts, anxieties, recriminations, etc.

Here’s an example of how absolutely muddled this can become: I saw a book on veganism that was written by a fellow who used to be a vegetarian. Originally, he had been diagnosed with some disease (can’t remember what it was) and so became an organic vegetarian and thus cured himself of the disease.

Then after a number of years as a vegetarian, he was diagnosed with cancer. He concluded that he got cancer because his diet was not pure and healthy enough, so then he became an organic, raw food vegan and that cured his ca