Retooling the mind
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” —John Milton
Many consider him America’s greatest magician, illusionist, endurance artist or extreme performer, or all these, for all time. One thing for sure, David Blaine successfully spent decades training himself to do once-believed-impossible things with his body.
Live on the “Oprah Winfrey” show, Blaine held his breath for 17 minutes, 4 seconds.
For all to see, he went 44 days in a row without food while dangling in a see-through cage over London, drinking only water not laced with supplements.
For 35 consecutive hours in Manhattan, he stood atop a 90-foot pole, two feet wide, ingesting no food or water.
Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson wrote “The Relaxation Response” after studying individuals who learned how to use their minds to affect great bodily changes, including patients with diagnoses like cardiac arrhythmia, bronchial asthma, angina pectoris, duodenal ulcers, joint aches, constipation, side effects of cancer and AIDS, and mild or moderate depression.
Benson insists, “More than 60% of visits to physicians in the United States are due to stress-related problems.”
Benson and his researchers even traveled to the Himalayans to study monks who used ancient meditation techniques to survive a February night on a rocky ledge 15,000 feet up, temperatures around zero, wearing only woolen or cotton shawls. The monks fell asleep promptly, did not huddle together for warmth, showed no signs of shivering and slept until dawn before rising and walking back to the monastery.
When we feel a pain or slightest unease, our first resort may be to pop a pill or three. How satisfying would it be if we learned how to retool our minds to neutralize the stressors, calm our souls and heal our bodies?