Healing Through Gardening

One excellent way to “Think Globally, Act Locally” is through the remarkable benefits to you and your community of a few hours a week gardening. I will get to the gardening, but first, with your permission, a little story.

A few days ago, returning from San Miguel de Allende, I paused at one of the magazine stands in the airport. It seemed other cover story complained of the sad state of our planet. But few offered any suggestions as to what we could do about it other than enjoy the royal wedding. I think that we actually can do something about it.

If we truly wish to survive the global collapse that has already begun, we must, as Gandhi said, think globally, act locally.

In my most recent book , I explored the various symptoms we see throughout our culture, and how the prognosis is dire indeed – unless we choose to change. The truth of my main points is even more obvious now: we must recognize on an individual, as well as a national and culture-wide basis, that we need to connect not only with people locally but also with our local environment , and realize we are all in this together.

How To Think Globally

Thinking globally quickly reveals to us that — if we wish to sustain any semblance of our accustomed lifestyles — we must put real energy into creating local community (in addition to the distributed communities we are developing online). That includes establishing a different relationship to our local environment. One thing we can do is to begin buying locally and eating locally – as the “New World Order” collapses we will have to depend our local support system – the big corporations won’t be here to support us, but our local farmers will, if they have not gone out of business

Acting Locally

One of the most valuable ways to do this is to grow your own garden.

During the two World Wars of the last century, we acted locally by growing so-called “Victory Gardens” or “War Gardens.” These gardens helped significantly, providing sustenance for millions by reducing pressure on the public food supply that was brought on by the global war effort. Perhaps our gardens can save us again.

An important step in the Treatment Plan to make things better globally would be for more of us to start growing a garden locally. Now.

Why? I’m glad you asked.

One reason might be the fact that so many more people are doing it, and that the global food price index at an all-time high – and going up, and there are food riots throughout the world. In 2009, 38 percent of the people in the U.S. (41 million households) planted a vegetable garden. An American Gardening Association survey showed a 19 percent increase from 2008 to 2009 in new hobby country farms and urban edible gardens.

Why Grow A Garden?

My Garden

The main reason most people gave for increasing or maintaining edible gardening last year was to supplement household food supply — to help save money on food. And if “locally grown” is important to you, there is nothing more local than food grown in your own backyards, windowsills, or patio containers.

Furthermore, if eating in a healthy and organic way is important to you, growing your own fruits and vegetables means that you know exactly what does and does not go into your food and exactly where it comes from.

Growing your own will make you healthier because not only will you eat more fruits and vegetables (let’s face it, few of us eat as many of these as we should), you will be getting the best kind of exercise, the green kind. Studies show that in 45 minutes of gardening, you can burn as many calories as in 30 minutes of aerobics.

What’s more, diverting your mind to the nurturing of life reduces stress and will make you more creative when you do go back the challenges in your life.

And if you have kids or grand kids, you have a green opportunity to help them make the fascinating discovery that their food actually does not come from the supermarket but from Mother Earth. What better way for them to learn how important it is to protect her?

Even if you are in a city, you can build a raised garden bed and get your garden started!

To learn more about how you can support a sustainable food system, check out the article “ Healthier Food for the New Year “.

For an experiential program specifically to help you develop a holistic perspective and positive motivation towards global healing, check out Healing Our Planet and Deep Healing the Universe .

Shine On!

An Answer to Cancer – How Guided Imagery and Meditation Can Assist in Cancer Treatment [Podcast]

Don’t feel like reading? Listen to the Podcast at the end of this post!

What’s the first thing to do if you get a diagnosis of cancer? Grab a deep relaxation and guided imagery CD!

Really. It could save your life.

When people first receive the message from their physician that their body may be harboring a potentially fatal disease, they are usually dumbfounded, commonly frightened, and often emotionally traumatized. This is unfortunate, since such reactions of helplessness associated with the illness create an internal physiological and psychological state which may actually impair the body’s ability to defend itself against this invader.

Since guided imagery in the state of deep relaxation has been shown to assist the healing process in many illnesses, including cancer, it should be made available as soon as possible to anyone newly diagnosed with cancer – as well as those with other chronic illnesses. It’s the least expensive, fastest, and possibly the most important single thing you can do.

A patient’s physical comfort and perception of pain can often be markedly altered, as can their attitude, mood, willingness to undergo invasive procedures, or to participate actively in the treatment – even their ability to successfully survive the treatment. All these are profoundly influenced by the attitude and the mental self image he or she has, of the disease, of the treatment, and of those who are rendering care.

Certain ways of approaching the illness are far more likely to produce a successful outcome, cure and complete healing. Well-designed guided imagery and deep relaxation – what I call “ Software for the Mind ” – functions to enable the person to move through acceptance, to awaken the inner potential to heal and become whole, and to free the body of the stress that could otherwise worsen the illness. And the sooner an individual begins this process, the better.

I will describe some of the most important ways that these tools can be used as valuable adjuncts to treatment in a moment, but first lets look at the role of your mental imagery in preventing cancer.

Guided Imagery and The Prevention of Cancer

Of course the best use of guided imagery in confronting the challenges of cancer is to employ it at the stage of prevention Sometimes, for example, a woman with breast lump or unusual bleeding, or a man who notices an abnormal mole on his skin will avoid seeing a health professional because of fear they experience when they consider that this might be a cancer. Yet by avoiding that cognitive dissonance they fail to have the mass removed before it spreads, and while it is still curable. A different mental image can be developed, one which could tolerate the idea of having an unknown mass checked out, and save their lives.

Another example is represented by the person who needs to change their inner imagery is the person who engages in behaviors that can lead to the development of cancer – such as smoking or exposing him or herself to other toxic substances, or eating an unhealthy diet (fat, charred meat, low vegetable intake). Guided imagery techniques can help resolve the emotional states that underlie such self-destructive behaviors. A few counseling visits and/or the use of the appropriate CDs are often all that is needed. (For example, see Weight Loss/Management and Smoke No More )

The Power of Imagery and Meditation in the Clinical Setting

One of the physician’s first challenges is how to inform the person that they may have cancer. The mental image the doctor creates in the mind of the patient is very important.

Because of this natural reaction of fear, rather than face the emotions, the doctor will sometimes try to be matter-of-fact about it, saying something insensitive, like, “Your tests showed that you may possibly have a rapidly-growing cancer that could kill you within 6 to 12 months. I will take another biopsy today to confirm the diagnosis. Come back in a week and I will let you know what we find out.” Imagine how news delivered that way affects a patient! Yet it happens far more often than you’d think it would.

Now, compare how different the mental image and resultant inner experience are when, instead, the physician says, “We’ll have to repeat the tests we did last week. They are inconclusive. There’s a possibility that there are some atypical cells, and we want to run another test. The first one may be in error. I’m certain, whatever the result, that we’ll find a way to deal with it.”

Remarkably, I have heard dozens of stories from patients who were treated like the person in the first example, and sometimes even more crudely. The mental, emotional and physical shock they experienced at this time often proved to be quite catastrophic to their lives, leading to acute emotional problems, and often persistent depression and/or anxiety. It is not uncommon for this kind of shock to create serious disruption of relationships, social and work life – and, as you can imagine, fear of doctors and medical procedures, even when the first diagnosis turns out to be a false positive!

How a person is treated by his or her health professional is critically important, and the skills of empathetic communication and guided imagery are most valuable. I have always started my training of medical students with this wisdom. After all, what we want most is a happy, healthy patient. ( Verbal First Aid by Dr. Prager is an excellent read for Health Professionals and laypeople alike.  Listen to the Healing Times Radio Archive of my interview with Dr. Prager on my show, Healing Times Radio).

Early Cancer Treatment

Once a cancer has actually been diagnosed, there are several opportunities for the use of deep relaxation and guided imagery – to improve healing function and eliminate unnecessary emotional stress (for the diagnosed individual and their support network). As you probably know, stress has been shown, in many scientific studies, to inhibit healing. By using guided imagery you can enable yourself to maintain a positive self-image, a feeling of empowerment, and confidence in your ability to tolerate your treatment well – and to heal.

Depression and anxiety due to personal fears or cultural expectations add to the inadvertent negative imagery the patient experiences from health personnel, family, and the environment. These have been shown to interfere with the inner healing process. Such emotional states can cause a person to fear valuable and even curative therapies – and that same fear may interfere physiologically with the effectiveness of any that are tried. (see Freeing Yourself From Fear )

The purpose of guided imagery and relaxation is:

· 1. To enable identification with the strong, successful part of the Self – the part that believes/knows healing and wellness are possible.

· 2. To understand at a deep level the meaning of the Serenity Prayer , the role of acceptance, courage, and wisdom, and how to access them

· 3. To experience the confidence and empowerment that is gained by coming into the present moment

· 4. To discover how to let be what is, and to access the inner ability to respond mindfully, and not merely react .

In our culture we use denial a great deal. Every physician gets to see at least one person who was so fearful of finding a lump they refused to have the recommended regular examinations. Deep Relaxation provides an excellent way for the psyche to be prepared to accept the truth of the moment – it is the antidote to fear, and it eliminates the reason to avoid seeing the truth. After all, the acceptance of what is true in the moment gives you the power to use the resources you have available to successfully address the situation and gain the best possible outcome. And when it comes to cancer, the outcome is what really counts the most . ( Abolish Anxiety is an effective program for dealing with unnecessary fears of this kind). Once relaxation has been achieved positive image outcomes can be suggested and visualized.

Imagery and Interventions

You will also find that deep relaxation and guided imagery are extremely useful before, during and after therapeutic interventions – such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. (see Cancer Support Programs including Optimizing Chemotherapy and Optimizing Radiation Therapy )The use of these Software For The Mind tools can help reduce the discomfort and side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, thus allowing the use, in some cases, of even larger doses, thereby ensuring better chances of complete success. Imagery such as a shield protecting the normal cells of your body from radiation – or from toxic chemicals – tends to increase your sense of empowerment and involvement in the healing process, markedly improving outcomes, whether or not there is a direct impact upon the actual membranes of the cells in question. ( See Healing from Cancer, )

Guided imagery, along with deep relaxation, is also effective for dealing with the surgery that is sometimes needed by the cancer patient. By using image rehearsal techniques for days or weeks before the surgery, you train the mind and body in how to respond to the anesthesia, the surgery, and the healing. By the time you are in the operating room, your body is primed to go into anesthesia quickly, thus reducing the amount of anesthetic agent your body will have to take in and detoxify – making the surgery safer, and recovery faster. Further, when this is combined with the use of these techniques after surgery there is less pain and swelling, ambulation is faster, and healing time and hospital stay are shortened by about 25% (and that means 25% less opportunity to acquire a hospital-based infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria). (see Surgery, Operations, and Procedures and ).

Can The Mind Really Fight Cancer?

It is important that when someone gets injured or sick, we see two separate, but related, phenomena – the disease and the illness. In the case of cancer, the disease is represented by the abnormal cells that are attempting to grow without bounds. The illness is the loss of weight, the fatigue, the pain, the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, the fear that treatment will not work, and the other unpleasant experiences represent the illness .

While it has not been conclusively demonstrated, a positive attitude and effective imagery can directly kill all cancer cells, studies have shown they are enormously effective defeating the illness. And when a person is less ill, they have a better chance of responding to any threat to their balance of health, and of surviving treatment that is powerful enough to cure the disease.

Some of the imagery approaches that have been found to be effective involve visualizing the cancer cells as being weak, confused, disoriented mutant bodily cells that need to be eliminated. Correspondingly, the cells of the immune system are seen as powerful, wise, and capable of attacking and destroying these cancer cells. Sometimes the imagery used is realistic, and sometimes metaphorical (which is how the mind impacts the body anyway). So a given person may see the cancer cells as mice and the immune cells as hungry cats, or see the cancer cells as outlaws wearing black hats, and the immune system’s cells as the good guys wearing, of course white hats. Still other people have less violent imagery, such as coming into harmony and simply halting the growth of the cancer cells, creating a safe long term balance.  In this way the healthy body establishes a balance with a tuberculosis bacterium, thus preventing its spread while not eliminating it completely (a kind of New Paradigm solution). Healing From Cancer guides imagery in this way, while the DVD, Immuno-Imagery , shows how this happens using photomicroscopy as well as interpretive animation.

(For more information about the roots of disease and its symptoms, and how to address them, see Deep Healing – The Essence of Mind-Body Medicine .)


In Conclusion

So, once again I say (only a little tongue-in-cheek), maybe the first and best thing to do in dealing with cancer, before or after it is discovered, is to use deep relaxation, meditation, and guided imagery tools. Through them you can “Change Your Mind – And Change Your Life.”

Discussion, comments and questions: A t the end of this post you will find a place ‘Join the Conversation’. I would love to hear from you.  Feel free to answer some of the questions below or let me know whatever is on your mind.

1. Have you used alternative therapies in Cancer (or other chronic illness)?

2. How about Guided Imagery? How did it work?

3. Feel free to ask questions

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Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Miller’s Cancer Support Guided Imagery and Meditation CDs, MP3 Downloads, DVDs and Books.

The first podcast below is the recording of Dr. Miller reading this article ‘An Answer to Cancer’

The second podcast below is a recording of Elizabeth L. Richeson, Ph.D., M.S. PhysPharm speaking about her own use of Dr. Miller’s Guided Imagery recordings in her profession and in her personal battle with Cancer.

Ask Dr. Miller: Dealing with Stress in the World Today

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 stress?  In this podcast I explain the difference, give examples of each and provide simple ways (affirmations) to quickly release stress and enter a relaxed state of mind, body and spirit.

This audio excerpt is from my program Stress Fitness Volume 1. Please visit my online store at ShopDrMiller.com for more information about this and my other audio programs.

Healing Times Radio Archives: What is Verbal First Aid?

Verbal First Aid – The Power of Words, Images, and Stories to Help and Heal

Airdate: July 1, 2010 11am-12pm (PST) at OpenMindRadio.com

You will be fascinated and entertained as Dr. Prager and I explore the power of words to impact beliefs and engender healing. Learn about the power we all have within to transform not only our own lives but the lives of others. Everyone has the opportunity to create miracles by choosing carefully the words they use and how they speak to others (and especially themselves) in calm times as well as in high-stress situations.

We will examine some of the ideas presented in her very popular book, Verbal First Aid Helping your Kids Heal from Fear and Pain – and Come Out Strong , as well as in her newly released book, . Then we will learn some simple ways to turn a scare into a comfort, a hurt into a healing, and a potential trauma into a memory of courage. You will hear some valuable perspectives on major life challenges and learn how to transform crisis situations into positive, empowering experiences (by adjusting your attitude through your self-talk, changing the images you hold in your mind, and the stories you tell yourself).

You will be especially charmed by the beauty and wisdom of her approach to communicating to children, especially in emergency situations. Make sure all the parents you know get to hear this one.

Dr. Prager will share her observation that far too many of today’s hospital-born babies are quickly taken into sterile nurseries and hooked up to beeping machines. Her suspicion is that, instead of bonding with the mother, this generation of newborns is bonding with machines.

And, most of all, you will get to meet a woman who is truly a healing spirit, her mission – to help create a better future where we are all aware of the energy field around each of us, and between all of us.   This energy field is so easily enlightened or shattered. Just to experience her positive energy makes this interview worthwhile.

You don’t want to miss this one!

Listen to us Thursday, July 1st, 2010

11am-12pm PST at OpenMindRadio.com

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Subscribe to Healing Times Radio Podcasts (with iTunes or with web-based podcatchers ) at Healing Times Radio Archives

Make sure you don’t miss another show!

Ask Dr. Miller: What is Software for the Mind?

Software for the Mind is the name of the book I wrote in 1987 and the set of audio tools for self-healing and optimal performance. Both were the results of my technical and clinical studies, and those of my colleagues.

I had noticed that, seemingly unbeknownst to the mainstream medical community, a persons habitual thoughts, emotions (anxieties, frustrations, etc.) could lead to the development of sufficient stress (internal friction, cognitive dissonance) to produce physical disease, behavioral (and creative) dysfunction, and poor performance and productivity. In addition, it could worsen existing disease or illness. The problem was that these patterns (programs, subroutines) were encoded into the deeper levels of the nervous system (subconscious, subcortical), and not available to direct conscious intervention.

I discovered that there were a number of techniques that showed great promise in overcoming this limitation, including hypnosis, autogenic training, meditation, and prayer. I soon realized that the deeper levels of the brain/mind operated much like the computers I had programmed. The behavior of the body (including thoughts and emotions) is controlled by this “biocomputer,” whose “source code” consists of a series of mental images that have been learned in a certain sequence, in combination with certain emotions. To create desirable change, then we need to reprogram the biocomputer. This led to the development of “Software for the Mind” (SFTM).

The deeply relaxed state, as is produced in meditation or hypnosis, makes the deeper levels of the mind available through the intentional temporary slowing of its processing. I realized that these tools could be used to put people in control of their own lives (a surprisingly uncommon goal of our culture). Once a person has entered the “healing state,” a different sequence of images and emotions can be intentionally presented and recorded by the biocomputer. By regularly practicing this imagery one can then produce profound change in health, mood, performance, productivity, and happiness. Teaching people how to do this has been a mainstay of my medical practice since 1972.

When audiocassettes were invented, they provided the first convenient means for a person to practice imagery on an ongoing basis. I invented the meditation/relaxation cassette as a way to enable my patients and coaching clients to take charge of their lives and their health. By accompanying carefully constructed sequences of images with soothing music and nature sounds, these tools for transformation became enjoyable and easy to use.

As they gained worldwide distribution, the concepts they embodied and the techniques they taught were gradually adopted by health care specialists, business people, and athletic coaches everywhere. And although I have continued to refine my art and science, producing newer programs, these original ones are still available on my website as part of the “Classics” series.

A Compassion Meditation – Rebooting Compassion Podcast

Pema Chodrun pointed out the paradoxical truth that “Being able to tolerate a broken heart is the medicine for the pain of existence.” Yet, with all the images that will be flooding our tv and internet screens, it is wise to strike a balance. We will almost certainly be treated to 24 hours of a long string of secondary disasters ranging from starvation and water-borne epidemics to violence and even deeper poverty. So it is wise to make sure you don’t overdo it.

I have offered some suggestions in the Rebooting Compassion audio clip.  The key is to stay in touch with your heart, and your potential for the acceptance of the truth . . . as the Buddha pointed out, the cause of all suffering is wanting things to be different than they are, right now! This acceptance provides the inner peace that can allow us to see deeper, through the pain to the potential.

One sign that you may have the right balance when, in spite of the pain you feel by empathizing, there will arise a deep sense of connection to these people, an awareness of what you can do to help, and a greater understanding of what needs to be done in the world to prevent even more of these “Katrina-like” disasters.

“The evil in this world is not done only by those who commit it, but by those who stand back and watch it happening.”
–Albert Einstein

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Further explorations of the Principle of Compassion can be found in the following two articles by Dr. Miller:

•Why Bother Feeling Compassion? Compassion is Hard.

• Is God Punishing Haitians for the Sins of Their Ancestors?