We've all heard the old adage that laughter is the best medicine -- and it turns this often-heard piece of advice has scientific evidence to back it up. At the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, laughter therapy is just one component of the integrated cancer care found at CTCA hospitals.
"There are both psychological and physical benefits to laughter therapy," says Katherine Puckett, PhD, national director of mind body medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. "Laughing together helps people feel more connected and supported, and it offers a distraction from difficult situations. I've heard patients say at the end of Laughter Club, 'I didn't even think about cancer for the last hour!' "
"Physically, laughter (i.e., experiencing and expressing mirth) can increase endorphins, the 'feel-good' hormones that can improve mood and decrease physical pain," Dr. Puckett explains. "This is of particular interest to cancer patients for whom pain is often a significant issue. There is also preliminary evidence that experiencing mirth and laughter can offer a boost to the immune system."
The mind-body connection also factors heavily into the work of Dr. Dean Ornish, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He and his wife Anne, who is vice president of the institute, have experienced excellent results using meditation therapies with their patients.
According to Dr. Ornish, lack of love and intimacy are at the root of what makes us sick, and are likewise what makes us well. "Connections with other people affect not only the quality of our lives," he adds, "but also the quantity of our lives – that is, our longevity and our survival."
Our bodies take cues from our minds, and can subsequently affect our physical condition accordingly. Even for those who might not put much stock in the metaphysical, the mind-body connection is constantly in play, like it or not.
The psychology of healing lies in the ability to set your mind toward health, happiness and successful repair. And who knows? It might just save your life.
Christopher Lee May takes you through this mindfulness meditation exercise. It's a simple but powerful exercise that anyone can do. If you're looking for a relaxing meditation this is perfect -- enjoy.
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