by Dr. Richard E. McKenzie 

I probably wouldn’t get much of an argument from Silva Method graduates if I stated that we all had learned that we could use self-mental control to help ourselves and others.

This self-help includes the ability to improve or maintain our state of health. With the abilities that we have developed, none of us should get sick.

However, at times some of us do get sick, and perhaps we should be aware of why this is so. More important, we should know what to do about it.

In the first place, programming yourself to be well and healthy is an excellent practice that will go a long way as a health help.

However, many of us will find this does not always do the job.

Why? I find that many of my patients become somewhat complacent and do not work at self-help programming as much as they should.

However, the development of self-awareness is probably even more important than direct programming for health, because

Some of us do get sick, and perhaps we should be aware of why

Lack of awareness allows us to become accepting, and sometimes victims, of the stressors and the negative programs that daily, if not hourly, assail us.

If you increase your awareness and then focus it on just a few hours of television ads, you will see how often your conscious (and subconscious) mind is impressed with the image of someone (like yourself) getting a headache, a cold, a stomach disorder and so forth.

Recently we have been assaulted and re-assaulted with the specter of AIDS. The fact that so many people are unreasonably fearful of this disease is evidence that a lot of unconscious programming is taking place because the conscious facts about the transmission of AIDS are being ignored.

We must realize that in a perverse way our culture or society gives approval to being sick. Many of us, as employees, have special days (called sick days) allotted to being sick, and

In a perverse way, our culture or society gives approval to being sick

We have organized many health insurance plans to assure ourselves that we can afford to be sick.

For many people, being sick beats working. I have observed situations where being sick has become a way of life.

These statements are not valued judgments, but point out some aspects of the world of our perceptions. If so many perceive a world of disease and their awareness is focused on being sick, how can they be well?

Further, even those of us trying to use our powers of self-help to keep well cannot afford to ignore the onslaught of negative energy.

Not long ago I found myself in a situation where I was beset by the negative comments and criticisms of someone I could not ignore or evade. I found myself having to use increasing amounts of mental energy to program and then re-program against this verbal barrage.

I began to experience a real depletion of resources, both physical and mental, as I kept trying to keep my balance. Finally, I began to feel the beginning of a sore throat with the obvious interpretation that I really felt like screaming out to the point that I could barely restrain myself.

Fortunately, I realized that the stressor was not just the verbal tirades and negativity but my own anger.

As I began to be successful in releasing myself (and the other individual) from the anger, my physical symptoms began to abate. Largely, this result was due to the ability to produce an altered state of consciousness – a state of controlled relaxation.

How does this relaxation work? Does it have some basis in physical fact? If it is a physical process and can be controlled or affected by mental activity – then it can be learned, and anyone can do it.

Learning can be thought of as a process of acquiring and assembling facts.

Allow me to give you some facts about the relationship between external stressors and the immune system of the body.

The immune system is responsible for guarding all of the cells and organs

All external events are perceived and interpreted by the mind and then mediated by the brain as a cellular or internal event. When external events are perceived as stressors or threats to the person, physical (cellular) changes take place primarily to protect the organism.

However, external stressors do not always produce changes that are helpful, because the vital immune system of the body can be adversely affected.

The immune system is responsible for guarding all of the cells and organs of the body from foreign intruders in the form of bacteria, viruses and the like. It does this by mobilizing special cells called T-cells and NK (natural killer) cells.

Mental self-help possible with awareness, commitment

The T-cells constantly search for intruders or foreign cells, identifying them by chemical “tags” on their surface. When the T-cells of the immune system find an intruder or enemy, a call to battle is sounded. This alarm reaction is responded to by the NK cells which attack the potentially harmful cells identified (and marked) by the T-cells.

Researchers have found that there is a decrease in the activities of T-cells related to grief and bereavement (reactive depression) and that the number of NK cells are decreased under conditions of stress.

Enhanced awareness will help give us the answers to important questions

Therefore, the effects of depression and stress obviously render us more susceptible to disease by weakening or altering our immune system.

Repeated exposure to stress, real or imaginary (perceived or misperceived), without adequate coping mechanisms – the feeling of being helpless (part of depression) – has the further effect of brain catecholamine depletion.

Catecholamines are important neurotransmitters that have to do with the regulation of tempera­ture, blood pressure, appetite and fluid intake. They also play a role in mediating sleep-arousal, emotional response, memory, and learning.

As brain catecholamines are depleted, the mind/body acts to protect itself by releasing corti­costeroids which are basically anti-inflammatory agents. Unfortunately, these steroids can have the undesirable physiologic effect of reducing the body’s ability to tolerate physical stress and can produce unwanted mental/emotional disturbances.

With this present knowledge, we can understand the relationship between stress (actually Distress) and Disease (lack of ease).

Dr. Robert Ley in a presentation at the Power of Imagination Conference (Denver, 1982) sponsored by Marquette University gave similar information and outlined the sequence between external stress and the development of disease:

1. Exposure to a stressor (or something perceived by the individual as a stressor)
2. The experience of helplessness
3. The development of a depressive syndrome
4. The depletion of brain catecholamines
5. The release of corticosteroids
6. Suppression of the immune system
7. The development of a disease syndrome

If we want to engage in mental self-help for medical problems as an aid to prevention or treatment, we will have to use methods to increase and expand our awareness to identify stress and tension and then institute cognitive/perceptual controls to avoid seeing ourselves as helpless.

We can understand the relationship between stress and disease

Along with this, we must alter our emotional responses so that we do not feel despair or depression.

At times, of course, we will need the addition of proper medical intervention to help us avoid the full sequence that can lead to a disease.

Enhanced awareness will help give us the answers to some important questions such as: Why am I sick or getting sick now? What is going on in my life that may be causing this disorder? Why are the effects of this injury or illness being prolonged?

Perhaps we do not really want to be aware of disturbing factors in our lives. Maybe we have developed a distorted expectation (perception) that this misery is the way life is. Maybe we do not want to know that our body’s immune system activity can be increased by controlled mental activity because then we have increased responsibility for our health.

We have undeniable evidence that stress and other psychological factors can affect our physical health by altering the immune system. However, until very recently, we- have not had much direct- evidence that reducing stressors can help the body’s disease-fighting ability.

We have undeniable evidence that stress can affect our physical health

A research study reported by J. Kiecolt-Glaser and R. Glaser from the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Health Psychology, Vol. 4, No. 1 shows that a common relaxation technique used three times per week for a month resulted in significant increases in NK cell activity and other signs of enhanced immune system activity. Their study involved elderly people who tend to have age-related impairments to their immune systems.

Remember that NK cells are thought to be part of an anti-cancer surveillance system that helps prevent the development and spread of tumors and acts to control infectious diseases. Therefore, enhanced awareness acquired by meditation and relaxation related to the same self-controlled process are important weapons in our fight against disease.

Add this Health Help information to your desire, belief and expectancy system and know that you can produce positive health changes in your own life and teach them to others.

Note: Health Help information is only intended to supplement proper medical consultation, diagnosis, and treatment.

Better and better,

Diana