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The mind-body connection: Spirituality’s role in healing from cancer

The connection between faith and healing has been well-studied: more than 3,000 studies indicate that religion has a potentially beneficial effect on health, reports Neal Krause of the University of Michigan School of Public Health. At Hope4Cancer, we believe emotional health matters just as much as physical health — in many cases, it could actually be the pivotal factor in the healing process.

While conventional cancer treatments often ignore the spirit-mind-body connection in lieu of a purely technological approach, our treatment process uses spirituality as an important component in the healing process from disease. That is why Spiritual and Emotional Integrity is one of our Seven Treatment Principles. We can address cancer in a variety of ways when we treat the body, but we cannot overlook the role that our minds and spirits play in the healing equation.

The fact is, we are more than just our physical bodies. We are even more than our thoughts and connected emotions. Even beyond that, our overall spiritual context gives our persona an identity and our life a sense of meaning. All of these factors work together and can have direct biological consequences affecting our health. A strong and healthy spirit-mind-body connection could be the key to freedom from disease. Let’s explore this connection and its role in healing from cancer.

How emotion impacts the body

Emotions like stress, fear, anger, regret and sadness, when held in the body, can affect the immune system — weakening the body’s ability to heal itself. Dr. Kelly Turner, researcher and author of the book Radical Remissions, found case after case of cancer survivors who learned to release the suppressed emotions of their past. With a renewed focus on joy, love and happiness, they saw healing from their cancers.

“When we feel happy and loving, our physical bodies are flooded with cancer-fighting immune cells,” she says. “Our emotional lives are free of stress and worry, and our social and work relationships improve.”

Turner identified nine key factors that appear to help heal cancer. In our own experience at Hope4Cancer, we’ve also witnessed these nine key factors at work in the healing process:

    • Radically changing your diet
    • Taking control of your health
    • Following your intuition
    • Using herbs and supplements
    • Releasing suppressed emotions
    • Increasing positive emotions
    • Embracing social support
    • Deepening your spiritual connection
    • Having strong reasons for living

Notice that, of these factors, two-thirds have more to do with our minds and our spirits than our bodies. We simply cannot ignore the potential impact of spirituality in our body’s ability to heal itself.

Spirituality’s radical impact

If you believe in a higher power, you are not alone. Research by the Pew Charitable Trust reports that 71% percent of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit. Spiritual practices of any nature, not limited to organized religion, have an impact too: there is increasing evidence that mindfulness techniques like focused relaxation, repetitive prayer, yoga and meditation can cause physiological and psychological changes.

Those 3,000+ studies on the connections between faith and healing overwhelmingly report that belief in a deity brings a stronger sense of hope, which has been linked to positive physiological changes. And those who attend religious services additionally benefit from having a community to help cope during difficult times.

Patients who are spiritual frequently utilize their beliefs in coping with illness, pain and life stresses. Studies indicate that those who are spiritual tend to have a more positive outlook and a better quality of life. Patients with advanced cancer who found comfort from their religious and spiritual beliefs reported greater satisfaction with their lives, a stronger sense of happiness — and even less pain.

Spiritual and Emotional Integrity at Hope4Cancer

We employ the BEST Healing program method at Hope4Cancer to help patients build their spiritual and emotional integrity. Emotional and Spiritual Healing presents a different way of seeing health and life. It brings to light an understanding of who we really are from a biological point of view. BEST Healing program helps patients access a new level of awareness, facilitating a quantum leap in our understanding of life, health and disease. The process itself encourages the patient to commit to a deep dive into their past, looking for hidden traumas and experiences that may have a bearing in their health responses today. Uncovering those traumas, bringing them forward into the conscious mind, and letting them go is a key step in removing the disease stimulus.

At Hope4Cancer, we don’t shy away from spirituality. Patients come to us with a wide variety of spiritual backgrounds, beliefs and practices, and everyone is welcome at Hope4Cancer regardless of their faith. And yet, we believe the strength and resilience of your spirit can often determine the outcome of your challenge. That is why we always encourage our patients to call upon their faith even as they go through their cancer treatments.

We at Hope4Cancer are here to help you or your loved one on the cancer journey. Contact us today to learn more about our alternative approach to healing.

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