Mind-Body Medicine

What is Mind-Body Medicine?

From Dr. Ayre,

Sometimes we pose questions of life for which life provides us no answers, and then sometimes life has answers for us for which we do not have questions.

transparent-butterfly2I imagine this is why it is considered wise to always try and deal with life on life’s own terms.

I will leave it up to each reader to determine what this means for him or her.

At a recent medical conference I attended, one of the speakers was asked what he felt was the most important aspect of self-care for a cancer patient. Without hesitation, He replied, They absolutely have to forgive every single person they have ever judged or hated or resented in their entire lives.

There are numerous approaches to Mind-Body Medicine and really no fixed rules. Yoga, Tai Chi, Relaxation-Visualization, Affirmations, Breathing Exercises, etc. There is something for everyone and any lifestyle.

Mind-Body Medicine techniques are tools to help you be happy when you have no good reason to be, and to help make for healing on a deeper level. It is just one aspect of the larger holistic health care approach we take at Contemporary Medicine, whether in relation to cancer or any other physical ailment.

I maintain that one of the great virtues of receiving chemotherapy treatments for cancer using Insulin Potentiation Therapy is the gentleness of the treatments so far as the side effects are concerned AND the opportunity this affords patients to get actively involved in self-care through their Nutrition and Mind-Body Medicine practices in a powerful Comprehensive Cancer Care program.

Steven G. Ayre, M.D.

Mind-Body Medicine Counseling at Contemporary Medicine
website doctor ayreThe most recent cutting edge studies show that treating the whole person results in a much higher success rate of healing as well as an improved quality of life!  Western Medicine typically treats only the physical aspects of a person, ignoring some of the most powerful tools at our disposal. At Contemporary Medicine, you will learn these tools and bring all aspects of you on board in support of your physical healing and in creating your best life! Our Life Coach, Teresa McGrath will gently guide you on a path of incorporating these tools into your healing plan.
She is passionate about sharing them because they have helped her and many others to heal and enjoy life so much more than they ever imagined.  Now is the time to utilize all the tools you can.  Some patients maintain that learning this information was so beneficial that it changed their healing experience from a burden into a gift.

Some of the processes that Teresa utilizes are:
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is acupuncture without the needles.  It is easy to learn and it allows you to dissolve unhealthy emotions that are not in support of your healing.  It can be used for stress, healing past experiences, relationships, or any situation in your life.  When you have cleared out this clutter, there is then room for adding in more supportive tools.

Deep Relaxation/Meditation – The immune system functions at its maximum when the body, mind, and soul are at peace.  Since you need your immune system at its best in order to heal, this tool can help you get it there.

Forgiveness Work – Hurt, resentment, anger and other similar emotions are toxic to the body.  Many people say to forgive and forget.  But, how do you forgive?  Forgiveness does not mean that what the other person did was OK.  Forgiveness is about freeing yourself of that hurt.  What they did is on their path.  How you respond to it is your path.  Learn how to respond in a healthy way for your body and your soul. Using the soothing lessons of Byron Katie and EFT, you will be able to let go of the hurt inside of you and replace it with love.

Affirmations – Learn how to use this tool more effectively to create your goal.  Also, learn how to dissolve obstacles that are holding you back.

Identifying the message – Many patients boost their progress when they uncover the message or the direction that their illness is trying to move them toward.  Physical symptoms and illness are a communication from your subconscious to the conscious.  It is a cry for attention and help to balance or heal something in your life.  Sometimes it involves moving in a different direction or a different lifestyle.  Sometimes it involves healing relationships, eliminating toxins-physical or emotional, or creating a life of simplicity and peace.  We will uncover what your heart really wants and needs to feel peace, love, and joy.  Then, the healing can start.

Joy – The energy of joy is very healing. Start your process by learning to add joy in as many places as possible.

Gratitude and Prayer – These tools can help you to understand your purpose in life and the role that problems and challenges play.

These tools and more are shared with gentle and caring hands to help you through this challenging time.  Teresa listens carefully and provides understanding and support wherever you are at.  Progress will be made at your pace and customized for your health and happiness.

What is Mind-Body Medicine?
cupidMind-Body Medicine is the practice of medicine based upon the scientific understanding of the biochemical underpinnings of awareness and consciousness. In their book Cancer Report, authors John R. Voell and Cynthia Chatfield clarify it as the practice of medicine with an understanding that the “mind and the body are one, and that our emotions and feelings are the bridge that links the two.”

Put simply, in the words of Candace Pert, PhD., body and mind are “flip sides of the same thing.” When managing and treating illness and disease, the condition of both the mind and the body must be addressed as they are one and the same.

Candace Pert, PhD., the neuroscientist whose groundbreaking work created the foundation for Mind-Body Medicine as a science, remarks on the relationship between the mind and the body:

We might refer to the whole system as a psychosomatic information network, linking psyche, which comprises all that is of an ostensibly nonmaterial nature, such as mind, emotion, and soul, to ‘soma,’ which is the material world of molecules, cells, and organs. Mind and body, psyche and soma. (Chatfield, Voell 65)

Pictured above is the work Cupid and Psyche by Antonio Canova, which resides in the Louvre. Psyche means both soul and mind in Greek. Of additional interest:

The Greek name for a butterfly is Psyche, and the same word means the soul. There is no illustration of the immortality of the soul so striking and beautiful as the butterfly, bursting on brilliant wings from the tomb in which it has lain, after a dull, groveling, caterpillar existence, to flutter in the blaze of day and feed on the most fragrant and delicate productions of the spring. Psyche, then, is the human soul, which is purified by sufferings and misfortunes, and is thus prepared for the enjoyment of true and pure happiness (Bullfinch’s Mythology: The Age of Fable, chapter XI)

Psyche is often depicted in ancient Greek art as having butterfly wings. The Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche is the story of the love between the body and the soul. Read Thomas Bullfinch’s story of Cupid and Psyche in its entirety here.

The Science of Mind-Body Medicine
c_pertThe scientific basis for Mind-Body medicine was established through the work of Candace Pert PhD. Over the course of fifteen years, while heading a laboratory at the National Institutes of Health, Pert published over two hundred scientific articles developing the concept of “neuro-peptides” and their receptors.

Pert compiled the results of her work in the book, Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine. First published in 1997, this book explains human feelings and emotions in terms of chemical happenings that can be measured within time and space. These happenings are physical interactions between molecules called neuro-peptides and receptors. Most significantly, Pert explores how the interaction of these powerful molecules affects our immune system and our bodies’ relationship to disease.

Uniting Mind and Body

Pert’s research is revolutionary in terms of Western scientific trends. The Western mind has long relegated emotions and feelings to a place separate and outside the realm of science and medicine. According to Pert, this schism of mind and body was instituted by 17th century philosopher, Rene Descartes.

In the article, “NIH Challenged to Integrate Alternative Medicine” appearing in the online edition of Psychiatric News, author Richard Karel describes a hearing on Capitol Hill, titled “Healing and the Mind.” Pert, one of the panelists, explained that in order, “to get permission to use cadavers for dissection, Descartes had to promise the Pope that he wouldn’t have anything to do with the soul, the mind, or the emotions – those aspects of human experience heavily under the church’s jurisdiction – but would stick strictly to the physical.” The result of this agreement, she expounded:

Set the tone and influence for the future of Western science over the next two centuries, dividing the human experience into two distinct and separate spheres that could never overlap, creating the lopsided mainstream medicine we know today.

By gathering measurable, quantitative data proving the existence of human emotion, Pert united what was once put asunder by the “Cartesian Split.”

The Application of Mind-Body Medicine: Lawrence LeShan, PhD. and Susan Silberstein, Ph.D.

The Father of Mind-Body Therapy

lawrence_leshanLawrence LeShan, PhD. is a clinical and research psychologist with over fifty years of experience in counseling cancer patients. Over those fifty years, he has achieved extraordinary results.

According to Cancer Report, “approximately half of his cancer patients with poor prognoses have experienced long-term remission and many are still alive decades later. Nearly all these patients dramatically improved their emotional state and quality of life. (133) He is the author of several key books, indispensable in the genre of mind-body medicine and cancer. Most notable of these are Cancer as a Turning Point: A Handbook for Cancer patients, Their Families and Health Professionals; You Can Fight For Your Life: Emotional Factors in the Treatment of Cancer; and How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery. Additionally, he has been honored for his work in the field of psychotherapy with the Gardner Murphy Award (American Society for Psychical Research), the Pathfinder Award (Association of Humanistic Psychology) and the Norman Cousins Award.

A Joyous Approach
In his approach to psychotherapy, Dr. LeShan seeks to bring out what would give his patients the most joy and fulfillment in their lives. In his words, the emphasis of the work is on, “What is right within me? What brings me joy and a sense of purpose in me?” He seeks to guide his patients on a path of inspiration and discovery. He seeks to generate in them a sense of excitement and enthusiasm for the life they live.

The psychotherapy approach taken by Dr. LeShan is by no means meant to cure cancer. Rather it serves to augment whatever course of medical treatment conventional or alternative that a patient has chosen. The therapy is meant to mobilize an individual’s immune system and give him or her a reason to make life worth getting out of bed in the morning.

To summarize his approach, “Getting cancer can become the beginning of living. The search for one’s own being, the discovery of the life one needs to live, can be one of the strongest weapons against disease.” Counseling sessions and workshops with Dr. LeShan and his associates are available through www.cancerasaturningpoint.org

silbersteinThe Center for Advancement in Cancer Education (CACE)

In 1977, Dr. Susan Silberstein founded The Center for Advancement in Cancer Education (CACE) upon the death of her husband at the age of 31 from cancer. In the fulfillment of her mission to help others who experience the pain and uncertainty of cancer, Dr. Silberstein has counseled more than 25,000 cancer patients, relying solely on tax-deductible donations.

In addition to her counseling services, Dr. Silberstein has dedicated her energies to a multitude of projects. Notably, she has presented at many national and international conferences on mind-body and nutritional topics in the approach to cancer care. For more on Dr. Silberstein and her efforts, visit the CACE website.

Mind-Body Counsel
In counseling sessions with her clients, Dr. Silberstein is sensitive to certain emotional or environmental patterns that could be contributing to an individual’s malignancy. She develops counseling sessions around the idea that thoughts and emotions directly affect an individual’s immune system.

She stresses, however, that while it might be evident that a client in some way contributed to the development of their disease, she deals with this subject in an innovative way to avoid creating feelings of guilt and stress. In an interview with Silberstein, as published in Cancer Report, she describes her approach:

If you tell patients they have a “responsibility” for creating their illness and their wellness, it implies some blame and leads to guilt. If you spell it the second way”Response Ability” you create an awareness that leads to power. This second way can lead to opportunities for the awareness of many theories, research results, clinical observations relating to emotions and behaviors that might control or reverse their illness. (111)

We all have an ability to respond to the circumstances that rise up in our lives. How we respond is entirely our choice. Mind-Body Medicine is about helping one harness the inherent power and freedom in personal choice.

Dr. Silberstein also acknowledges that not everyone will survive cancer and that is an issue that is acceptable within the expanded parameters of Mind-Body Medicine. In her interview from Cancer Report, Silverstein shares:

Some patients just want to let go and be with a loved one who has passed, we help them to die spiritually at peace because they have gotten in touch with where their spirit really is. Because sometimes it has already crossed over long before the body goes and that’s ok. (111)

When applied to our perception of human disease, the tenets of Mind-Body Medicine allow for an infinitely expanded understanding of who we are as living beings. Disease is an opportunity for growth and self-discovery, not something to be feared. Death is a passing from this form of existence, not a failure. Mind-Body Medicine allows us to embrace life on its own terms.

Elements of Mind-Body Medicine

There are a multitude of activities and practices that can be incorporated into daily life as part of a Mind-Body approach to health. A few are listed here. All of these practices and more can be expanded upon in sessions with Life Coach Teresa McGrath.

Relaxation/Visualization – Stress can have devastating physical and emotional effects on the body and mind. There are many techniques for reducing and even eliminating the physiological effects of stress on the body, such as therapeutic massage, controlled breathing, meditation, or music therapy (the use of music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages).

Regular practice of relaxation techniques is of great benefit for a variety of reasons. Of primary consideration, a relaxed body is a body in which the immune system operates with optimum efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, once physiological relaxation has been achieved, the mind is then available to engage in a variety of visualization exercises.

MandelbrotVisualization is defined by Merriam-Webster as the formation of mental visual images, the act or process of interpreting in visual terms or of putting into visual form. Visualization is integral to the practice of math, science, business, geography, architecture and a host of others. Images are used in these fields as a powerful means for representing and interpreting abstract concepts. For example, mathematical formulas can be represented graphically; the intricate and complex Mandelbrot set is created by the simple formula Z = Z * Z + C. The results of visually representing abstract concepts such as mathematical formulas are both powerful and beautiful.

Visualization facilitates the manifestation of abstract concepts into physical reality, whether applied to math, science, or business. A builder wouldn’t dream of going forward with construction without first having a visual representation of the project created by an architect. Likewise, creating visual images representing disease and healing can have powerful and real effects on the body. These personal images can be created either in the mind or on paper, whichever form is most relevant and meaningful to the individual who created them. For detailed visual images of cancer cell death through the actions of the immune system, Click here.


hay_houseAn affirmation is a declaration that something is true. Minister Barbara King elaborates, “To affirm is to make firm in your mind. It is stating something to be true regardless of all evidence to the contrary.” Prayer, regardless of religious context, is a form of affirmation. Affirmations are closely linked with the act of visualization, attaching words and added layers of meaning to the images created.

One of the foremost practitioners of affirmations is Louise L. Hay, author of Heal Your Body and Your Can Heal Your Life. Louise Hay has been involved in promoting physical healing through emotional work for over thirty years with a variety of diseases, including HIV/AIDS and cancer. Louise herself developed cancer and opted to follow a course of healing affirmations, psychotherapy, and nutritional cleansing to work through her illness. Within six months, she was healed of all evident disease. Visit Hay House, a publishing company that offers books and gifts on affirmation and prayer.


In his book Radical Forgiveness, author Colin Tipping M.Ed urges cancer patients to consider the following:

Science, particularly psychoneuroimmunology, is showing that forgiveness and other forms of emotional-spiritual healing, is extremely powerful and that anyone with cancer who doesn’t include forgiveness in their treatment protocol is ignoring a huge part of the problem, and by extension, a large part of the solution.

little_girlIncorporating forgiveness work into a cancer treatment regimen reveals new dimensions and perspectives on an individual’s disease. Tipping invites the cancer patient to consider cancer as a friend and loving messenger, a radical outlook, but one which allows the individual to work on their disease from a place of love and compassion rather than fear and dread.

Tipping elaborates on cancer as a “loving messenger”:

Almost invariably, the loving message it brings concerns releasing repressed or suppressed emotions connected with something that happened in the past. This might be loss of a spouse or child through death, loss of a relationship, loss of a job, etc. Something that could easily have been the starting point – the cause even- of their disease.

Forgiveness work can be done with the aid of a counselor or through personal initiative. There are a wealth of print resources available to guide you through forgiveness work. See the Recommended Reading section on this website. Also, consult your local cancer resource center for any group counseling sessions they might offer.

Recommended Readings

These selections are a good starting point for approaching health in general and cancer care specifically from a mind-body perspective.

book_Cancer_ReportCancer Report: John R. Voell and Cynthia A. Chatfield

This instruction manual features interviews with some of the most influential and active practitioners of psychoneuroimmunology such as Candace Pert, PhD., Susan Silberstein, PhD., Lawrence LeShan, PhD, and Lydia Temoshok, PhD. to name a few.

In the words of Louise Hay, Even the well can benefit from this information. Filled with inspirational stories, the latest scientific research, and a comprehensive resource directory, the intent of the book is to guide people with cancer towards permanent recovery.

lessons_from_body_bookLessons From Your Body: What Your Body Can Teach You: Phillipa Norman, MD

This book is available from Contemporary Medicine or through Amazon.com. We also offer Dr. Norman’s relaxation exercises on audiocassette.

This wonderfully engaging book presents many personal case studies as well as a wealth of practical guidelines and suggestions for incorporating mind-body medicine healing into your life.

book_Turning_PointCancer as a Turning Point: A Handbook for People With Cancer, Their Families, and Health Professionals: Lawrence LeShan, Ph.D.
Given the honorary title of “the father of mind-body therapy,” Lawrence LeShan Ph.D. has dedicated over fifty years of his life to working with cancer patients as a research and clinical psychologist.
Dr. LeShan gives this powerful perspective on cancer, Getting cancer can become the beginning of living. The search for one’s own being, the discovery of the life one needs to live, can be one of the strongest weapons against disease.

For those looking to improve their emotional state and overall quality of life, Dr. LeShan’s book offers invaluable information and guidance.

For more on Dr. LeShan’s work visit this website. www.cancerasaturningpoint.org

book_Heal_Your_LifeYou Can Heal Your Life: Louise L. Hay

Published in multiple languages and countries, this bestseller now features colorful artwork by Joan Perrin Falquett.
More personal and accessible than the typical self-help book, this work focuses on self-love and healing affirmations for creating a joyous existence.

Featuring a directory of physical ailments and their corresponding emotional counterparts, Hay offers specific affirmations to heal and flourish.

book_Hungry_for_HealthHungry For Health Susan Silberstein PhD.

Concerned with the ever-increasing rates of nutrition and life-style related illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, Dr. Silberstein put together this recipe book of easy to make and healthy recipes.

Based upon her four tenets of nutrition: Eat Colorful, Eat Organic, Eat Primitive (non-processed), and Eat Alkaline, this book is suitable for cancer prevention as well as management.


Rethinking Cancer: Non-Traditional Approaches to the Theories, Treatments, and Prevention of Cancer: Ruth Sackman

Ruth Sackman is the co-founder of FACT, The Foundation for Advancement in Cancer Therapy. This thirty-year old organization provides information on alternative cancer therapies, with an emphasis on non-toxic approaches.

In this book, Sackman seeks to educate consumers on the treatment options available to them so they can make informed decisions regarding their own health. She approaches the causes and management of cancer from a whole-body point of view, regarding cancer as a disease with multiple causes and multiple treatment approaches.

book_ForgivenessRadical Forgiveness Colin C. Tipping M Ed.

Whether dealing with cancer or not, this book offers a context for framing one’s personal past in a way that is conducive to growth and happiness. It provides an opportunity to bring healing and resolution to one’s life.

Forgiveness is not something that ordinarily comes easily or without effort. It takes work. This book can serve as a guide for working through the process of forgiveness.

book_MoleculesMolecules of Emotion: The Science of Mind-Body Medicine: Candace B. Pert, Ph. D.

The culmination of her career as a research psychoneurologist, this book presents groundbreaking perspectives on the relationship between the human body and mind.

For more on Candace Pert Ph.D. and her unique perception of human physical existence and health visit her website here. www.candacepert.com