Physicians and scientists all acknowledge a mind-body connection, that our thoughts and feelings affect our immune systems, our hormones, our digestive systems, and so on. Every day, there are new discoveries about the relationships between thoughts, feelings, and physical reality. Even so, many people underestimate just how much thoughts and feelings affect their bodies; they might get to this point in the book and say, “What a bunch of woo-woo nonsense.” I get it. But let me explain why the medical community, the media, and most people are just a bit behind on all the evidence for this connection—and why I’m not crazy!
Science has its own rules, and I respect them. We’ve all benefited greatly from scientific discoveries that came about by following those rules. However, science is a tool for understanding that’s also influenced by human weaknesses, like greed, fear, and discomfort with anything that’s new and unfamiliar. One of the rules of science is, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” That is, what you and I know through experience isn’t enough to satisfy a researcher. It takes many research studies, all showing the same results, for scientists to agree that the findings are reliable.
Some of you are old enough to remember how, years ago, many male gynecologists told their female patients, “There’s no such thing as PMS. It’s all in your head.” That was easy for them to say—they hadn’t experienced it themselves. And why pay attention to a bunch of women’s complaints? Yes, sexism was quite a big factor in preventing research into women’s health. Female patients managed not to leap out of their chairs and throttle their doctors for being so obtuse; and eventually, enough people figured out there might be something to this PMS stuff, that it might make sense to research it. Surprise, surprise—women weren’t nuts after all, and there were physiological reasons for brain fog, mood swings, and cramps. Lesson learned: just because YOU haven’t experienced something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
So, if you were to say to a doctor, “Boy, your last patient was really upset before leaving this exam room; I can feel it,” your physician might look at you funny, but if enough people made these kinds of observations, scientists might decide that sensing the emotional energy that remains in a room after a person has gone is worth studying. But then scientists would have to find someone willing to invest money in research that would provide the evidence that we’re not crazy when we say that emotional energy remains in a physical space after someone has become angry or scared, and that energy can be sensed by highly empathetic people. Why invest money in this research? What’s the payoff? Where’s the potential for a profitable pharmaceutical drug or procedure that would come out of it? Much of our scientific research is driven by the need for a financial payoff down the road, so there’s a lot we don’t study simply because there’s no money to be made from the potential findings.
These days, when research uncovers new discoveries, it may make the news or be posted on social media and websites, and it get around much more quickly than years ago. Even so, it takes, on average, seventeen years for research to make its way into mainstream clinical practice. If your doctor tells you today about some health treatment that has lots of scientific evidence to back it up, chances are that the treatment was discovered back when DVDs were the latest thing.
So, while you may not have heard about neuropeptides, or the findings of the Intention Experiment, or Dr. Bruce Lipton’s groundbreaking work on cell function, these will be common knowledge to the next generation – the science behind the mind-body connection. Meanwhile, it’s nice to know that there’s some scientific evidence that our experiences as people who feel too much are real! Knowing that we actually are taking in more energy than others are helps us to recognize why we feel overwhelmed so often. The trick is to learn how to have control over our porous boundaries so that we can benefit from them without feeling that we need to curl up in a ball in a dark room with a nice box of chocolates.