The miraculous thing about the human body is that it seems to function on autopilot. But does it, really? Or does our thinking influence the physical body, perhaps in more ways than one might fully recognize?
According to an article by Arjun Walia of Collective Evolution, our thoughts can have a powerful effect on the physical body, including our immune system.
Meet the Autonomic Nervous System
The body’s automation is controlled by the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is responsible for regulating internal organs and bodily functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, urination, body temperature, metabolism, and the immune system.
There are two arms of the ANS:
- Sympathetic nervous system
- Parasympathetic nervous system
Featured Image Credit: Merck Manual: Overview of the Autonomic Nervous System
The Power of Thought
Factors of consciousness “include observation, measurements, human intention, perception, and our thoughts,” says Walia.
As an example of the power in thinking, Wim Hof, aka “Iceman,” submerged himself in ice for two hours while using concentration and meditation to keep his core body temperature in balance.
Hof was also engaged in a study with 240 other subjects, all injected with a flu-like bacteria. Again, using the power of meditation and concentration, the results showed the stress hormone cortisol was higher, which occurs as a direct response of ANS activity. Likewise, levels of inflammatory markers were lower, showing a decreased immune response of 50% compared to other subjects. While all the other participants developed flu-like symptoms, Hof did not.
Scientists argue that although these results were remarkable, because it was only a singular experiment, it didn’t provide proof.
Hof then went on to train 12 male volunteers who were then subjected to experiments, and again, the results showed that they were able to control ANS and immune activity through concentration and meditation.
The fact that thinking stuff can influence physical reality is nothing new. Quantum physics has shown it to be real. In fact, quantum physicists dating back to Max Planck believe all matter is derived from consciousness. Think of every great invention, business, or health recovery story – without the first thought, without the will, without the dedication, the thought would not become a reality.
Another example is the many scientific studies using placebo. According to Walia, “researchers all over the world have found that placebo treatments can stimulate real biological and physiological responses.”
Participants get similar results to those taking medication, just because they think they are receiving the intervention.
In his article, Walia provides a huge list of references where science has shown that the “thinking stuff’ can and does influence the physical body.
Since the ANS is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain, it’s not really such a big stretch to imagine that thoughts have a major influence, especially because of the concept of neuroplasticity.
According to Active Memory, “neuroplasticity is an umbrella term, commonly used to mean that the brain and nervous system is plastic (or malleable), and can be remodelled or ‘re-wired’ in response to experiences over a lifetime.”
Just like the group experiment with Hof showed, concentration, meditation and new thinking skills can be learned, which can then contribute to a person’s ability to positively influence their ANS and immune system.