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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. January's Theme: "Health"
Volume 5 Issue 2 ISSN# 1708-3265
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Being Mindful
It's All About Belief

by Janet Alston Jackson

Lately I have been on an alternative health path to heal my knees which have given me much pain in recent years because of arthritis. When my doctor predicted I would need a knee replacement, I became a warrior on a fierce expedition to hunt down a holistic cure. I tried everything, herbs, acupuncture, and acupressure. Yoga, Pilates, meditation, psychic counselling and above all prayer. Nothing seemed to work. I got to a point where I hated to get out of the chair because of the excruciating pain, and the embarrassment of looking like a crippled old woman.

One day I happened to be Internet-surfing talk radio programs, which I enjoy listening to, when I stumbled on a fascinating archived interview with Dr. Esther Sternberg, a Rheumatologist and author of "The Balance Within." Dr. Sternberg is director of the Integrative Neural Immune Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), has been rediscovering the links between the brain and the immune system. She received her M.D. degree and trained in Rheumatology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Sternberg is a scientist whose life work is dedicated to how the brain alters our immune system, and how stress can make us more susceptible to all types of illnesses. We've heard that for years, but her studies and experiments are scientific proof the mind can be a healer or slayer.

I was fascinated listening to her discuss the power of the mind and its effects on healing, although she lost me with the scientific terms of just how the brain organizes cells in our body according to our emotions. But I understood loud and clear that we do have control over our bodies.

Sternberg wrote her book sitting at the bedside of her dying mother who asked her what she was writing. When the scientist told her it was about the scientific proof that extreme and prolonged stress can cause disease, her mother suggested she also focus on how belief can make the body well.

Her mother's advice coupled with Sternberg also contracting arthritis while writing the book, made her think on the opposite side of the coin. A strong belief can make the body well. She experienced this first hand when she took a vacation to the Greek Isles and swam daily in the warm tropical magical waters, totally unwinding from the stress of her research. It confirmed to her that even though we are all exposed to a set of genetic predispositions which affect disease susceptibility, prolonged stress can exacerbate a condition. Even though the spiritual community has known this for thousands of years, Sternberg's scientific studies are one of the first to prove this medically.

What I learned from Sternberg was the stress in my body caused the inflammation which makes arthritis so painful.

I was on the treadmill listening to Sternberg explain just how this works in the body, and I was absolutely dumbfounded. I had never ever, in all the years suffering with arthritis thought about what was happening in the body when arthritis occurs. I thought about the emotional reasons, a few life disappointments which may have helped me to contract the condition, but I never really researched what happens in the body with arthritis present as Sternberg explained. This may not be unusual to some, but my degree is in journalism, my job as a news writer, and me being a news junky, it was natural for me to research arthritis especially since it had caused me so much pain. But somehow I missed or ignored the boat on this one.

From my understanding, I boiled it down to a simple explanation in my mind. The stress had sent my body into inflammation which happens to protect the body, and the emotions locked the neurons, or the cells… or whatever, in an on position so inflammation was on overdrive. The inflammation in our body occurs to protect our body when injury occurs, but then it dies down. With arthritis… the inflammation doesn't go back to wherever it came from. In other words, the body is out of balance.

This was shocking to me. I have meditated for decades, and have taught Mindfulness for years, so I was in denial that I had stress in my body. I knew how to deal with stress for goodness sake. Now there is nothing wrong with some stress. It's our natural built in protector to alert us when something is wrong, and to get us out of the way of a car coming our way. But from what the doctor was saying, I was under some kind of prolonged, constant stress I didn't know I had.

After searching my mind, trying to be open to the idea, I realized the doctor was right. It was a hidden stress. Here's what I realized—I wasn't under the blatant type of tension so much of the world is under in everyday life that makes you scream at loved ones, or makes you addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping or food. No, my stress wasn't that easily detected. Daily meditation and the practice of Mindfulness shields and protects you from that kind of high-end drama. But I realized I was suffering from a more subtle form of stress, the type one gets from being constantly sick and experiencing chronic pain. You don't know it's there because you are so focused on the illness.

I then took it a step further. If I am stressed in the body, for whatever reason, traffic on the freeway, or pain in my body, it's still stress. Therefore, the natural healing energy, the Chi, could not flow freely in my body allowing it to heal. The whole object of all the alternative remedies I tried was to get the Chi flowing with acupuncture, yoga, herbs etc.

As I looked deeper, I was so caught up in researching and undergoing the next best thing to help me that that stressed me out. Even when I tried different things, how could they work because I was tensed wondering if this would cure me. But now I realize what Dr. Sternberg realized when her mother suggested she study how belief makes people well.

I had been like the good doctor… looking at the problem for so long. I was personally stuck in the past, past relationships, and journaling to what was the reason I had arthritis. I even spent hours thinking about my close relatives who all had arthritis and that I may have picked up on their consciousness, or perhaps subconsciously wanted to be connected to them since they all have passed on. Maybe it was my way of not letting them go. Whatever the cause, I was embroiled in the problem.

Then when I tried a new remedy, I sat waiting and watching for something to happen. Was this new thing I tried going to work? Now that's stress. I had no idea I was blocking the natural flow in my body… tensed from waiting. So what was the opposite? I needed to expand my thinking like Dr. Sternberg. If prolonged stress can make one sick, then belief can make us well.

I was amazed. Somewhere along the line of getting the next best cure, I had lost faith and belief I would get well. I was waiting to see if it would work… not allowing it to work. It all boiled down to a simple act of faith. Belief is the healer and that alone can make one relax so the Chi can flow and the body can heal itself.

I realized I had been so caught up in researching on the Internet I not only claimed arthritis as my own… it became who I was. It was now integrated with my personality. And as I thought of this, my body got more tense. This was insane. Now I was angry at myself for not being able to heal myself from the natural remedies… and here I was berating myself again. No wonder I wasn't getting well!

After I went through a mild depression, with this all on the table, I realized there was some serious spiritual work which had to be done. I put all of my tapes, CD's, and books aside, turned off the Internet, and asked God for more faith. I turned away from all of the remedies… and made faith and belief my doctor. I put the energy I had put into researching an alternative cure, into meditating on faith - believing that inside of me lives the healer. The healer who needs none of the crutches I was leaning on and looking to. I simply needed faith, because without it, nothing would work.

After realizing all of this, I surrendered. I let go of trying to make things happen. When I did, things started happening, I began feeling better and a higher wisdom came through. I had been putting off going to my doctor. I feared what he was going to say, that I needed knee surgery, and I didn't want the pain medication I detested—nor the same anti-inflammatory medicine which hadn't worked before, or the cortisone shots. But, in the end I was still compelled to go back to the doctor with this renewed faith. When I called up for an appointment, he was on vacation, and I saw a substitute doctor instead. This doctor gave me a different viewpoint and hope along with anti-inflammatory medicine with cortisone shot which for the first time in months, left me pain free.

After leaving the office, I was able to walk normally. I had let go. I had surrendered and my Higher Power guided me. I wanted an alternative solution, and instant healing, but the answer came in the form of traditional medicines… and that was ok. I realized to have complete faith is to let my Higher Power direct me which ever way was best for me. And if it means this is the way I am to find relief, so be it. Perhaps alternative medicine wasn't right for me.

One week after the doctor's appointment small signs of pain began to return, which meant the medication was not helping. A part of me feared that within a week I would be in excruciating pain again. But then I remembered my vow to surrender.

I was watching a late night show when I dozed off and woke up to this beautiful scenery on television. A man with a soothing voice was directing exercises. I recognized it as Qi Gong, which has healed people for thousands of years in China. I had been practicing, but I really didn't receive the relief I had expected.

Half-heartedly I taped the program because of the incredible scenery in the background. I promised myself in the morning I would try these different types of Qi Gong exercises. The next morning, half way through the video, the pain in my legs disappeared. I was overjoyed. I did two sessions that day and not only did I feel a deep bliss… but I was walking normally. It's been weeks now and my legs continue to get stronger and better, but most importantly for me, pain free.

My right brain wants to analyze and tell me it was the difference in the types of Qi Gong exercises which made the difference. But I know in my heart, it was surrendering to the Higher Power that showed me the way. This all reminded me of the Buddha's teaching - attachment to anything brings suffering. I was attached to making my healing come through alternative methods. When I released and let go, my healing finally came.

Janet Alston Jackson is the author of "A Cry for Light: A Journey into Love." To order books and CD's, schedule Janet for speaking engagements, or subscribe to Janet's newsletter, visit her website, email, or call Self Awareness Trainings toll free 1-877-796-8288. You can order Janet's book: click here.

Janet Alston Jackson, a certified seminar leader, has facilitated self-awareness workshops to a variety of audiences since 1993. She often teams with her husband Walter Jackson (author of "Sporting the Right Attitude"), to facilitate fun, high-energy motivating trainings for which the couple is known. This unique husband-and-wife team have been guests on numerous radio talk shows around the country, and have made appearances on KCET, public television.

Janet is a certified behavioural consultant, a certified anger management consultant, and a certified seminar leader. Through their motivational company Self Awareness Trainings, the Jacksons have given numerous workshops on "How to Effectively Communicate," "Releasing Stress," and "Mindfulness Trainings" to a variety of audiences including corporate executives, parents, teachers, women in recovery, prison personnel, health care workers, and entertainment industry executives.

Janet co-founded with Walter, Believe In Yourself Inc, a non-profit self-esteem program for children and their parents.

Janet earned her B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the California State University at San Jose. She started her television career as a production assistant for the Los Angeles local CBS station, and she was a news writer for the Los Angeles CBS owned radio station, KNX Newsradio.

A strong advocate for children, Janet was a Court Appointed Special Child Advocate (CASA) and a board member for their fundraising arm, Friends of Child Advocate. Today she is a board member for Child Care Resource Center, which serves thousands of families in Los Angeles County.

The author and her husband Walter, have three teenagers; Ryan, Devon and Jada, and one very loveable Chow named Simba. They live in Los Angeles.

Be sure to read the reviews of her book in our January 2007 Issue.

Copyright (c) 2007 by Timeless Spirit Magazine. All articles are the copyright of the particular writers and cannot be reprinted without their expressed permission. All rights reserved. International copyright laws prohibit reproduction of or distribution of this page by any means whatsoever, electronic or otherwise, without first obtaining the written permission of the copyright holder. We retain legal counsel to protect our copyrights.

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