The Emmett Miller MD Story


Internationally acknowledged as one of the creators of the field of Mind/Body Medicine , Dr. Miller has played a central role in the development of modern concepts of complementary medicine, wellness, stress management, psychoneuroimmunology and guided imagery /visualization approaches to human change.

Dr. Miller spent the majority of his youth in the inner city of New York, an experience that contributed enormously to his discovery of the power of the mind to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, a discovery he was destined to share with millions. Determined to succeed in spite of his environment, he chose an academic path, earning a degree in Mathematics, and election to Sigma Pi Sigma, the National Physics Honor Society. His areas of special interest, topological transformation and computer programming, were to prove of seminal value in his later work. His interest was soon distracted from the “hard” sciences by a deep desire to learn about this mysterious thing called Life , and he was soon drawn to the study of medicine.

After obtaining his Medical degree at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine , Dr. Miller opened his practice of Primary Care Medicine in Northern California in the late 1960s. Early in his work he was to make a discovery that profoundly altered his professional career:

Mental, emotional, behavioral, spiritual and social factors play a crucial role in human health and disease. When these are directly addressed in health care, healing is faster and more complete. Indeed, a large portion of our illnesses can be prevented!

In fact, as Dr. Miller was to help the medical profession learn over the next two decades, most of our illnesses and dysfunctions are not caused by external factors (infections and injuries), but are the result of our thoughts and attitudes, emotions and behaviors, expectations and stresses . Mainstream medicine tended to treat human beings like machines, attempting to treat disorders by removing, replacing, or adjusting parts.

Recognizing that the missing ingredient in health care was the mental, emotional and spiritual participation of the patient, he embarked upon a unique path of healing and performance enhancement .

The Birth of the Holistic Approach

One of Dr. Miller’s first contributions was the development and integration of a powerful set of healing tools relatively unknown to physicians and psychologists at that time. These included deep relaxation , hypnotherapy , guided imagery , movement and music therapy , meditation , and cognitive behavioral and self-affirmation techniques . Through the study of numerous spiritual and religious disciplines, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Taoism and Islam, he discovered the common ground in their wisdom and the importance of accessing spiritual resources through a deeply relaxed state, often called prayer or meditation. His goal was to integrate the phenomenal advances of medical technology with these new approaches to create a holistic approach that would treat body, mind, emotion and spirit as an integrated whole.

While exploring the incredible ability of the human mind to use internal tools to improve health, healing, performance and the ability to enjoy life, he came upon the astounding discovery that the brain/mind could be viewed as a kind of biocomputer. Indeed, the computer can be considered an excellent emulation of the cerebral cortex. In line with this, in trance-like states such as hypnosis, meditation, and prayer, remarkable feats of healing, performance, and personal achievement can be obtained. This occurs through a careful sequencing of instructions, fed in as mental images and positive self-talk (affirmations), much as a program is fed into a silicon chip-based computer. The resulting “program” now directly influences the behavior of mind, body and emotions.

Dr. Miller became convinced that these new discoveries could lead to a virtual revolution in health care, accelerated healing, greater happiness, and a deeper, richer, more fulfilling experience of life.

Inventing a New Healing Tool—The Audiocassette

In the early 70s, Dr. Miller published his first book, Selective Awareness, firmly establishing him as one of the founders of modern Mind-Body Medicine. In this groundbreaking work, he introduced the medical and psychological professions to a new paradigm, one that went beyond the Cartesian/Newtonian approach to human health then in vogue, and also to a totally new healing tool, the audiocassette. By recording his voice, along with music and nature sounds, he found listeners could be guided into deep states of stress-relieving relaxation. With relaxation giving access to the “programming” level of the deeper mind , listeners could learn to use their emotions and spiritual resources to create imagery for self-healing . The power of this approach has been widely documented in subsequent controlled studies.

The power of these recordings to create change, healing, and high performance, was recognized at once by forward-thinking physicians, athletes, performers, yoga teachers, and psychologists, among others. Although these principles and techniques can be written down and studied, it soon became clear that the effect of Dr. Miller’s soothing voice produced results that were dramatically better.

These inexpensive tools gave the power of self-healing directly to his patients and to the many healthcare professionals who recommended them.

The full effect of these products, millions of which are in circulation, is only now being felt; they are helping to catalyze a fundamental paradigm shift. Worldwide, a gradual acceptance of the power we have to heal ourselves now shakes very foundations of the technological approach to medicine that characterized the 20th Century.

The use of this powerful new tool spread rapidly through their use in the practices of professional colleagues, and later through bookstore and Catalog sales. Dr. Miller’s extraordinary voice, sensitive guidance, clinical experience, technical expertise, musical talent, and healing wisdom enabled millions to experience, for the first time, the potential of the mind to heal the body. Users of his tapes and CDs soon began to refer to him fondly as “ .”

By the 1970s, Dr. Miller was applying his approach with great success to a wide variety of physical disorders and illnesses, maladaptive behavior patterns , (habits, dependencies, addictions), emotional imbalances (depression, anxiety, anger, fears), as well as personal and professional fatigue, depression, and anxiety. At the time, most of those willing to accept the role of the mind in healing their bodies and in coping successfully with life challenges were the people who had serious and life-threatening diseases. Together with Maggie Creighton, who had designed the original training programs for Carl Simonton, MD, and oncologist William Buchholz, Dr. Miller founded the Cancer Support and Education Center, one of the nation’s first mind-body centers, the oldest continually operating one in the country.

In 1970, while Dr. Miller was practicing Family Medicine in Carmel, CA, his interest in the role of the mind and emotions in human disease and dysfunction led him down the Big Sur coast to the Esalen Institute. Since the 1960s, Esalen Institute has been a world leader in addressing the defects in the medical model, which has tended to see mind and body as being separate. Instructors and leaders at Esalen focused on approaches such as Gestalt therapy, which emphasized growth through awareness of the body and its movements, as well as awareness of inner psychological phenomena, using massage, meditation, and yoga. In the 1960’s, Esalen was one of the primary points of entry into the U.S. of Eastern meditative disciplines. The freedom and openness there provided a uniquely nurturing environment in contrast to the rather chilly reception accorded his mind-body concepts and approaches in traditional hospital and clinic settings. Dr. Miller still offers seminars at the Institute, alone and with Sandra Miller.

At Esalen, Dr. Miller was discovered by Richard Price, Esalen’s co-founder and director, and he soon became a kind of protégé of Mr. Price; they began teaching seminars and leading workshops together. In addition, Dr. Miller had an opportunity to study with a wide range of people, such as philosopher Gregory Bateson, Taoist-Buddhist writer Alan Watts, Moshe Feldenkrais, inventor of the Feldenkrais technique, Milton Trager (Trager body work), Ida Rolf (rolfing), Chungliang Al Huang (Tai chi), and other prime movers in the body and spirit-centered therapies. Their influence can readily be found in Dr. Miller’s approaches.

In addition to developing the techniques of deep relaxation and guided imagery with individuals and groups, Dr. Miller studied music therapy and movement therapy, and incorporated their perspectives and techniques into his individual and workshop presentations.

In 1975, Dr. Miller met Sandra Ferreira . She was soon to become not only his life partner, but also, due to her skills in bodywork and in teaching meditation and massage therapy, they began leading workshops together.

Healing Families and Beyond

Over the next 20 years, while developing his practice and lecturing at numerous universities and medical schools, Dr. Miller broadened his perspective. He focused on creating strategies for creating high-level wellness, peak performance, and for applying these new approaches to healing and behavior change in families, groups and organizations. His work with his colleague, Virginia Satir , led to an expansion of the concept of “Family Therapy,” and their work gained National and International prominence through his contributions to the California Task Force on Self-Esteem. This groundbreaking group demonstrated clearly the profound effect that self-esteem (or the lack thereof) has on success, social adaptation, scholastic performance, drug and alcohol abuse, and violence.

To explore the effects of applying the principles of healing he had discovered to organizations, he joined forces with Dr. Juanita Brown and a highly regarded group of organizational development specialists. Together, they developed strategies (evocative technologies) for catalyzing second order change in corporations, government, and education. Some of those explorations are reflected in such current movements as The World Café . They also have served well in developing the principles that have inspired the development of LIGHT, the Leadership Institute for Global Healing and Transformation.

During this time he authored several other books, including, “Feeling Good; How to Stay Healthy,” and “ Software for the Mind ,” which introduced the theory and practice by which the human biocomputer can be self-reprogrammed.

Awakening the Power to Excel

By the 1990s, his expertise had been discovered and put to use by such performance-oriented entities as the championship San Francisco 49ers and United States Olympic Track and Field Team. “World’s Greatest Athlete,” Dan O’Brien made use of Dr. Miller’s tapes on the way to his Olympic decathlon gold medal performance. In 1997, Dr Miller published Deep Healing: The Essence of Mind/Body Medicine , which chronicles his 30 years of work studying the process of human healing.

Dr. Miller’s vision for the future includes using the World Wide Web to share his discoveries and healing tools with as many people as possible, for as low a cost as possible. In addition, LIGHT has been a primary focus for several years, with the goal of healing at the societal and global levels, and the prevention of incidents like September 11, 2001 through addressing the source of such symptoms and healing the cultural imbalance.

Current Practice and Challenges

Dr. Miller now practices in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada (Nevada City, California), and in Los Altos (San Francisco Bay Area), by appointment . He continues to produce experiential audio and video that are widely recommended by caring health professionals world-wide. His tapes, CDs, and videos are in daily use, for instance, at Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, the Mayo Clinic, and are featured by McGraw-Hill in their Stress Management texts, in use in university courses. Dr. Miller also speaks at conferences and offers workshops and seminars on many topics in his field of expertise.

Dr. Miller’s current book, Deep Healing, the Essence of Mind-Body Medicine , provides not only an excellent training guide to heal and empower your mind/body software, but also offers a fascinating tour through the mind-body complex. Further, it gives a personal glimpse of Dr. Miller’s journey of the last 30+ years of his work in this field.

Dr. Miller has been an active participant in the parenting of his three children, of whom he is inordinately proud, and spends as much of his free time as possible walking in the hills and sleeping under the stars.

For more information, to arrange for an appointment in person or by phone , for a schedule of upcoming events , or to book Dr. Miller for your group, call (530) 478 1807 or FAX, (530) 478 0160.

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