Dr. Emmett Miller is acclaimed as one of the father’s of holistic and mind/body medicine, and is a practicing physician, psychotherapist, musician and bestselling author of books including “Deep Healing: The Essence of Mind Body Medicine.” He joined Elevated Existence Magazine founder, Tammy Mastroberte, as part of the “Living an Elevated Existence Mind, Body & Soul Summit” to discuss the power of the mind and spirit to heal yourself.
“The old paradigm of healing is the thought of our illnesses being caused by something from the outside – caused by germs or bacteria. Western medicine as we know it is about attacking the illness, we have anti-anxiety, and antidepressant and antibiotic and ‘anti’ everything, but in fact, nowadays 90 percent of our illness are not caused by things that attack our bodies or traumas from the inside, but have to do with the imbalances within ourselves,” Dr. Miller explained on the call.
Our poor diets, lack of exercise and sleep deprivation all play a part, but the psychological stress of living in the world today is responsible for 90 percent to 95 percent of our illnesses, he explained.
“What we treat in Western medicine are the symptoms of illness, and what it is that we need to be doing, and what I’ve been fighting for 50 years now, is we need to begin to treat the source of our illnesses, which has to do with how we are thinking, how we are feeling, how we are dealing with the stress in our lives, how we’re relating to other people, and the choices that we make on a daily basis,” said Dr. Miller. “That is at the root of most of our illnesses, from heart disease to diabetes to respiratory problems to digestive difficulties right on up to cancer itself.”
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There are two nervous systems in the body – the sympathetic and the parasympathetic, and the parasympathetic kicks in when we are relaxed. This is the mode in which the body can heal and build up the organs of the body and the brain to a healthy state. But the deeper part of the mind – the one we share with animals – is where the body shifts into the sympathetic mode of fight or flight, anxiety and stress.
“Any time there is a threat, the body shifts into this sympathetic mode, which means you pump out adrenaline and cortisol, and that is only meant for emergencies, like once every week or so when your body is really threatened, then you go into this emergency mode where the bodies chemicals secreted break down all of the tissues of the body and turn them into glucose so that you can escape from whatever the danger is and that is what we call stress,” said Dr. Miller.
However, because of the stress we live under and the emotions it triggers – whether it’s anxiety, anger, resentment or jealousy — we are kept in this constant state of chemicals and stress hormones. This makes the body more susceptible to the illnesses that are out there, he noted.
“We have tens of thousands of controlled experiements now and studies, which demonstrate that this is true. This is no longer a theory. When I began it in the ‘60s and ‘70s, it was a theory, but now we know that it’s true,” he said on the call. “Ultimately the stress comes from our belief that we are in the midst of a conflict. That somebody is after us, we’ve got to figure out this, we’ve got to get to work on time, we’ve got to avoid the idiot driving next to us. When you believe that you are in conflict that throws you into a stressful condition and starts the body to breaking down it’s tissues and inhibiting the immune function, and those are some of the reasons that we get ill.”
Part of the problem is many people have learned to suppress their emotions, so they don’t even realize they are under stress. This continued state is what is causing us to not only become ill, but stay ill.
“Whatever your condition, the greater the amount of time you stay in this unbroken cycle of stress, the more quickly you are going to become ill, and the slower that you heal when you become ill,” said Dr. Miller.
Tapping Into Healing
During his clinical work following medical school, Dr. Miller realized that mental, emotional, behavioral, spiritual and social factors all play a crucial role in human health and disease. When these are directly addressed in health care, healing is faster and more complete – and a large portion of illnesses can be prevented. He created self-healing tools including guided imagery, meditation and deep relaxation to activate the body’s inherent ability to heal itself.
“What I found is if a person becomes ill, if you are able to practice these techniques for quieting yourself, for going into the health state, then the organs of your body can heal yourself more quickly,” he explained. “That means even if you are recovering form surgery or a heart attack, you can get better one-quarter to one-third faster, just by going inside and taking care of yourself in this way.”
What keeps us healthy is when the body and mind are in coherence or in harmony with one another. This creates conditions for the body’s inherent healing ability to kick in. It’s stress and anxiety that take us out of our coherent state and begin to break the body down.
Dr. Miller studied meditation, prayer, hypnosis and hypnotherapy, and began to use them in his practice with patients in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and he realized it was possible for people to enter a certain state of mind to relax deeply and activate the body’s power to heal. He created audio cassettes, and today he has CDs and mp3s available, which are in use at the Mayo Clinic and more.
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“Our brain’s are functioning the way they functioned 100,000 years ago, but we live in a very different world because it’s not saber-toothed tigers that are causing our stress. We are dealing with social stresses and the responses we are using make us sick,” he said. “They don’t enable us to deal well with the stresses around us, and they make us very susceptible to the things we become addicted to — alcohol, drugs, food, shopping and gambling — are all behaviors that bodies are using to try to relieve the unremitting stress, which is within.”
Once this stress is gone, and people can find a place of calm and serenity in the present moment – and gain the wisdom to accept what they can’t change, and make decisions on what they can change – then the addictions and the negative behaviors go away, he said.
“Instead we can focus on healing, optimal performance, being happy, and the ultimate of all is to really learn how to love because that is what we came here for. And that is the new software for the mind,” Dr. Miller shared on the call.