Monday, 15 June 2009

The mental side of healing



In recent weeks I've been watching a very close friend go through a really traumatic problem with his back. I'm happy to say that most of his troubles in this area are now either over or past their worst. I just want to share with you what the problem was and how he dealt with it in just 10 weeks!!!

The purpose of writing this blog is as a case study. To talk about something that I still find hard to believe but know it happened. There's medical evidence to back it up. MRI scans etc. He fixed a severely herniated disc in record time. He was supposed to have a limp for the rest of his life but he can now walk fine. Even jog along.

It's stories like this that teach us so much and so we both wanted to pass this on to anyone who can learn from it.

For personal reasons I'm keeping his identity private along with the dates. I've changed his name to John for ease of reference. It's worth mentioning that I've included almost verbatim the response John sent to me to put on the blog. The changes were merely to his name and personal details and to shorten the account slightly. So make of it what you will

One day John woke up with terrible pain in the lower right of his back which continued all the way down the back of his leg. John suffered excrutiatingly painful spasms whilst trying to move. Later that day he called NHS direct and was visited by a GP. The GP initially thought it was a pulled or torn muscle and simply prescribed him with very powerful painkillers.

A few days later, the pain became worse and John lost all feeling in his right leg and right foot. He was then visited by his GP who then arranged for him to be urgently taken to hospital.

Four days later, he saw a specialist at the hospital who carried out an x-ray and an MRI scan to determine the extent of the damage to his back. The tests showed that John had a herniated disc (L4). The initial pressure and nature of how Johns disc herniated, had resulted in damage to his sciatic nerve, which is why his right leg and foot were numb and could barely support him whilst standing.

The specialist showed John the MRI as he informed him of the damage. The disc itself was almost completely herniated and in the specialists opinion, there was an 80% chance that Johns right leg would never return to full health and that he would walk with a limp.


Over the next month, John set out to heal himself by using postural alignment exercises that he had found in a book called pain free, by Pete Egoscue. However, extremely minimal, if any, progress was being made if any. In addition to this his personal circumstances took a turn for the worse. All these challenges, left John feeling very depressed and he came to a real "rock bottom" in his life.

It was at this point where in deep prayer, that John came across a realisation. He decided he would meditate and try to access his inner healing power.

He then began meditating once before bed and first thing in the morning. During meditation John talked to his mind and asked it to heal his back. He then visualised the tear in his back healing. During meditation, if he felt any anger or resentment toward his current situation, he used that energy to fuel his healing process.

Within a matter of days John was able to walk better. Then over the space of 2 weeks, the feeling in his right leg and foot returned and he was able to walk large distances. At present, John is still in the healing process. Despite this he has managed an 8 mile walk and performed many physical activities that according to his specialist, "he shouldn't be able to do".

John sent this account to me a week or two before the 10 week MRI scan. At this point he stated
At the point of writing I have achieved in 2 months, what doctors thought would have taken years and even then, for other patients, the MRI clearly showed a "permanantly" damaged sciatic nerve.

10 weeks after the back pain presented John then had another MRI scan. He was waiting with baited breath for the results. At the time Johns back felt much healither but he couldn't be sure whether any real healing had taken place.

The results were simply astounding. The MRI showed that not only had substantial healing occurred but where, 10 weeks before, the jelly inside the disc had begun oozing out of the disc and the disc itself had started to collapse. The latest scan showed the jelly back inside the protective casing of the disc and the disc itself had rebuilt it's outer wall providing much more structural support than before.

This was proof that the regained health that John had felt reflected actual health of his lumbar discs. Naturally John was over joyed. He is now well on his way to full recovery. He's been analysing why the hernia happened in the first place and is convinced it's down to a general neglect of his body, particularly his core. To address this he's putting activity back on his daily routine and looking for things to do that he enjoys that push him in different ways to build a strong core and back.

So, in summary, whether you believe in meditation and inner healing powers is up to you. I'm interested in the idea that believing something is possible, is essential to making it a reality. There is evidence of mental practise actually firing muscles and nerve fibres so why could it not have some kind of impact on injury and healing. Whether the impact is direct in terms of sending blood and nutrients to the recovery site or in-direct by helping you gain control over the situation, giving you a positive attitude and helping your body work around the problem, get back on your feet and do the necessary recovery work. I can't say. That's for the scientists to figure out.



What is fact is that an MRI scan showed the presence of a severly herniated disc and then just a few short weeks later showed an almost completely healed disc. That isn't up for debate. That really inspires me and questions a lot about what we assume about recovery.

I hope this account inspires you as much as it did me.

edit 20090807 09:44
Turns out it's not such a crazy idea after all. Or atleast this isn't the only example of such an amazing thing happening. I've just read an article and reprogramming your genes through reprogramming your mind. Talks along similar lines as this post. Interesting.


edit 20091208
Looking at this again I still feel the basic ideas are sound. So how could you re program you genes with your mind? maybe your mind can write dna code? It could be possible but I can envisage more straightforward solutions that evolution may have developed.


The idea that every cell in our body has exactly the same DNA doesn't sit well with me. I've blogged about this before, since viruses and other things can change the DNA structure in any cell at any time. I do believe that our DNA may degrade over time and this would lead to problems.It makes sense that  evolution would give us a way to figure out what DNA should be present in a cell and what shouldn't. There may even be methods to correct the DNA.


One simple approach is to get rid of cells with damaged DNA but what if the cells that create new cells have damaged DNA. Then you've got a real problem. So either the DNA of these core cells is protected vigorously, many of these cells are produced so when a damaged one is found it is removed with another created to take its place. Or, which I feel is more likely, there is a mechanism by which the original DNA structure can be figured out.


Being an IT guy I know about RAID technology. It's a technical term which just describes the ability to restore a set of information when there isn't one complete copy in one place but there's enough information from a number of sources to rebuild the original information. I'm talking about RAID for cells. If we can do it in computers then maybe cells can do it. If so this describes a truly advanced healing process for the fundamental blueprint for who we are.


If this we the case then all we need to do is create the conditions in our bodies that promote this. I'm increasingly leaning toward being regularly active, physically, mentally and spiritiually,  to get our bodies used to restoring themselves. And also creating inner calm. finding ways to keeping external stresses external. Never taking anything too seriously. that kind of thing.


If you do these things then you'd create, in theory, an optimal restorative environment. Then, using raid for cells, we might even be able to reconstruct damaged DNA in our most important cells and be able to correct mistakes introduced by normal use and daily stress.


Again I'm theorising that the biggest healer is active R and R. No surprise but the way I'm envisioning it does surprise me.
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