Placebos can be very powerful things. In many drug trials, some of the participants are given placebos and told they are medicine. I was shown one study in which 50 percent of the people taking the placebo showed improvement, while 79 percent of the people taking the new drug showed improvement.
Doctors attribute the relative success of placebos to the fact that when people think something good is going to happen, it actives endorphins that fight illness and make people feel good. So, yes, there is a physiological connection between feeling good mentally and staying healthy. As every molecule in the body has emotional receptors, it is important to choose happiness and feel good.
The relative success of placebos suggests that we may be able to change what takes place in our bodies by changing our state of mind. Therefore, when we experience mind-altering processes — meditation, hypnosis, visualization, psychotherapy, love and peace of mind — we open ourselves to the possibility of change and healing.
As Dr. Bernie S. Siegel writes in Peace, Love & Healing, “The placebo effect can only be understood by believing in the unity of mind and body. Can our mind really affect physiological functions of the body? Close your eyes and fantasize. Make it something very sexual.
“Take your time and imagine…well I will leave that to you. Does something begin to change in your body? (If not try the Spice Channel). This happens strictly through your mind visualizing it and activating a physiological response. At the Center for Creative Imagery, where Dr. Bresler teaches people to assist others in creative imagery, people are often asked to go inward, find appropriate ‘beings’ (or allies as Don Juan-Castaneda called them) and seek their cooperation in healing. Some people refer to them as ‘inner selves’ and often they take an animate animal-like form. I personally have a rattlesnake named Bob that operates my immune system. I speak with him daily (please don’t report me to psycho wards) while I meditate on my favorite-beautiful pond in Mendocino County. I have other selves, but they prefer to remain anonymous.“All provide me with the sense that I can reach in deep and have a greater control of my biological and physiological processes. Plus they are fun to talk with, as there is no greater honesty than being told by an inner self, ‘What was that crap you ate yesterday?’ I, for one, am often tempted by the world in ways that are not always healthy, mental and physical, so they provide guidance and support. They are non-judgmental, they just want to help; after all they have a lot at stake too.”