Mind-Body Medicine | Peace Through Action USA

What is Mind-Body Medicine?

Mind-body medicine focuses on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior, and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect health.[1] Many studies have demonstrated that these practices can improve both physical and mental health and can reverse the negative health effects of chronic stress by decreasing levels of stress hormones in the body.[2]

The concept that the mind is important in the treatment of illness is integral to the healing approaches of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, dating back more than 2,000 years. It was also noted by Hippocrates, who recognized the moral and spiritual aspects of healing, and believed that treatment could occur only with consideration of attitude, environmental influences, and natural remedies (ca. 400 B.C.).[3]

[1] Mind-Body Medicine: An Overview. (2005, August). American Addiction Centers. https://www.mentalhelp.net/alternative-medicine/mind-body-medicine-an-overview/

[2] What is Mind-Body Medicine? (2022). UC Davis Health Integrative Medicine. https://health.ucdavis.edu/integrative-medicine/clinical-care/mind-body-medicine.html

[3] American Addition Centers, Ibid.

How do people learn Mind-Body Medicine?

Mind-body medicine is a process that simply takes practice. As we practice this and create neural pathways that focus the mind and body, it becomes easier to integrate this practice in our everyday waking moments, creating a constant prioritization of self-awareness and self-care.

In order for students to understand the potential of mind-body approaches, as well as apply them in clinical practice, we believe that they should experience these approaches themselves. It is not enough to hear about mind-body medicine and to read and comprehend the scientific basis for its efficacy. Rather, for students to appreciate their patients’ capacities for self-awareness and self-care, students should experience and realize their own abilities.[4]

[4] Mind Body Medicine Program. (2019, September 9). Georgetown University School of Medicine. https://som.georgetown.edu/medicaleducation/mindbody/

How do people implement Mind-Body Medicine?

Mind-body medicine includes the use of a variety of different practices such as meditation, breathing techniques, tai chi, or yoga that take advantage of the interactions among the mind, body, and behavior with the intent to promote health.[5]

The techniques exert their effect on the hypothalamus, the switching station in the brain, which exercises control over the autonomic nervous system (which controls heart rate, blood pressure etc.), the endocrine (glandular) system and the immune system.[6]

[5] UC Davis Health Integrative Medicine, Ibid.

[6] The Center for Mind-Body Medicine. (2020, July 28). What is Mind-Body Medicine. https://cmbm.org/about/mind-body-medicine/

For what types of circumstances is Mind-Body Medicine suited?

Mind-body medicine is well suited for developing positive social and emotional behaviors among people who use it.

Does Mind-Body Medicine work for preventing or controlling aggression or violence?

In utilizing practices such as meditation, mindfulness, and active practices such as tai chi and yoga, we are able to expel nervous energy from the body and bring back a sense of focus and grounding. Mind-body medicine helps to control aggression and anger by fostering clarity, peacefulness, and an understanding of using intention with our bodies. When our minds and bodies are in harmony, we react less and respond more.

There is considerable evidence that mind-body interventions, even as they are being studied today, have positive effects on psychological functioning and quality of life, and may be particularly helpful for patients coping with chronic and mental illness and behavioral concerns.[7]

[7] American Addiction Centers, Ibid.

Where else might I go to learn more about Mind-Body Medicine?

Information Sheet-Choose-Mind-Body Medicine (PDF)

Have a suggested improvement to this information sheet? Send it to inbox@peacethroughaction.org

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