A lie detector is something that many people associate with attempts by law enforcement to determine whether someone is telling the truth. Separate from that use, the lie detector can tell us a lot about the power of our thoughts.
According to Dr. Amen, "the deep limbic system is responsible for translating our emotional state into physical feelings of relaxation or tension." Activation of the limbic system, as in when someone is lying on a lie detector test or when they are having repetitive negative thoughts, among other things leads to measurable changes in our body such as cold hands, high blood pressure, heart racing, faster breathing, and muscle tension. Your body reacts to every thought you have.
There is also significant evidence that our thought patterns are associated with the stress/anxiety we feel in our lives which can contribute to or be causative in many chronic conditions including chronic pain. According to Dr. Hanscomb, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in back pain, anxiety/stress are key contributors to promoting pain signals and perpetuating chronic pain anywhere in the body. Conversely, when patients with chronic pain learn to manage their anxiety and stress many find significant or complete resolution of their pain over time.
One technique to get people out of chronic negative thoughts is to be "present" or mindful. Mindfulness helps us be be more aware of the present moment instead of being focused on past failures or future hurdles.
Some common things we can do everyday to be more present is to:
1. Focus on your breath for just one minute. You can use a auditory or visual cue to help you focus on your breathing which means to be aware of your breathing.
2. Choose a natural object in your environment and focus on it for a minute or two. This could be a flower, insect, or the sky.
3. Take time to appreciate a normal activity such as taking a shower or touching a doorknob.
4. Just listen to those you speak with without interjecting your own thoughts or judgments.
5. Pay attention to the detail in one activity you do daily. For example focusing on the different activities involved in cleaning the dishes.
6. Appreciate five things in your day that normally go unappreciated.
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