Redefining the mind-body connection
PETALUMA, Calif., March 23, 2015 – As trailblazing as it may seem, the field of mind-body medicine may actually be stuck in the mud, trying in vain to extract itself from the idea that matter is the be-all and end-all of existence.
Even as it acknowledges decidedly non-matter-based factors like compassion, companionship and an absence of stress as essential to our health, the approach is still pretty much centered on the idea of a largely matter-based brain generating matter-based chemicals that help to improve a matter-based body.
No doubt this is a huge improvement over the days when the body was seen as little more than a biomechanical construct, altogether separate from the mind. But until we’re willing to consider an entirely different basis of being – one that’s not in the least bit matter-based – it’s doubtful we’ll be able to make it much further down the road.
“The question is, when is that? Is that next Tuesday or is that 500 years from now? I don’t think it’s next Tuesday,” says Dean Radin, chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. “The investments in medicine and science have a huge amount of inertia built into them, and so it’s not likely to change any time soon.”
Nevertheless, things do appear to be moving in the right direction. Ever since the days of Jesus – described by Mary Baker Eddy as “the most scientific man that ever trod the globe” – we’ve gotten glimpses of a radically different method of taking care of the body, one that acknowledges first and foremost a singular divine Mind governing its own divine creation as opposed to a collection of matter-based brains in need of adjustment.
For Eddy, matter wasn’t so much a thing as it was a perspective, a “human concept,” a limited view of reality. She writes in her book Science and Health: “Paul says: ’The flesh [matter] lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.’ Who is ready to admit this?”
How many of us are ready to admit that the world as we know it is not made up of conflicting forces, but rather of differing perspectives: one that tends to limit our outlook and cause pain, another that tends to extend our mental horizon to the point where we begin to see our lives as the essential and complete expression of a wholly spiritual Being?
The problem is, most of us would prefer hanging on to both perspectives – the familiar if vulnerable matter-based view and the less-familiar but infinitely reassuring Spirit-based view – regardless of the fact that the two are fundamentally incompatible.
No wonder it feels as if we’re stuck in the mud.
Perhaps the answer can be found in Eddy’s question itself: Are we willing to admit? That is, are we willing to at least entertain the idea that life isn’t the physical aggregate it appears to be on the surface but, instead, the indestructible expression of what the one divine Mind is causing us all to see and to be? This is no leap of faith but a reasonable and immensely practical step in the right direction that we’re all capable of taking.
Although he’s referring to a more human and less divine sense of mind, Radin nevertheless asks and answers an important question of his own: “Is there a time we will discover that healing responses and mind-body medicine really moves more toward the mind side than the body side? I would say, given our research on mind-matter interactions, that the answer is, yes. We could go there.”
Not only could we go, but we must and we will. Both “there” and beyond.
Eric Nelson writes each week on the link between consciousness and health from his perspective as a practitioner of Christian Science. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. Read similar columns on his website and follow him on Twitter @norcalcs.