The following was transcribed from a talk given at the 1992 Annual FACT Cancer/Nutrition Convention . Dr. Ribner is a psychiatrist and metabolic physician.
I’m going to start with a little story. About twenty-five hundred years ago in Greece, Plato, a Greek philosopher, was also a prolific writer. In one of his books, Charmides, he tells this little tale. Charmides, a young man, comes to Socrates, suffering from a headache. He asks Socrates if can he help him. Socrates says yes and then, being a talker, Socrates goes into the state of medicine in those days. He tells him this story before he offers him treatment:
“You may have heard eminent physicians say to patients who come to them with bad eyes, that they cannot cure the eyes without curing the head and that it would be ridiculous to try to cure the head without curing the body. Arguing this way, they end up by treating the body and the specific complaint of the patient. Did you ever observe that this is what physicians say?”
Charmides answers, “Yes.”
Socrates continues: “The physicians are quite right as far as they go – that as you ought not to attempt to cure the eyes without curing the head, nor to cure the head without curing the body, you should not try to cure the body without trying to cure the soul and the mind. This is the reason why the cure of many diseases is unknown to many physicians of Bellas, because they are ignorant of the whole, which ought to be studied also, for a part can never be well unless the whole is well. Let no one persuade you to cure the head until he has first given you his soul to be cured…For this is the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body: that physicians separate the soul from the body.”
Which brings me to the topic of my speech, “Heal Your Mind/Heal Your Body.” In holistic healing, a most important concept is that of detoxification, cleansing, getting rid of accumulations of toxic substances in the body. As planetary people, we are also interested in detoxification of our food, our water, the air and our earth. In detoxifying the body we may focus on different systems. We may focus on the liver, gall bladder flush, the urinary system, the skin, and most importantly, the colon – proverbial colon cleansing, the major concern in detoxifying the body.
But now I’m going to focus on another system – the detoxification of our thinking, the cleansing and maintenance of our thinking, and in turn the components of being. It’s an accepted FACT that the way a person thinks has a strong effect on the physical structure and functioning of the body.
There is a strong correlation between thinking and the state of health.
The old adage is true that “as man thinketh, so is he.” Thinking is the most important function of the body. Our lives, our affairs are influenced and shaped by our thinking and by our dominant state of mind. As Shakespeare says through one of his characters, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves.”
I propose to go about this by quoting different authorities in the field of new thought. I start with Ervin Seale. Ervin Seale was a noted lecturer in the Science of Mind movement in the 60’s and 70’s. In his book, Take Off From Within, he stresses the Great Mind Principle: we are sovereign of our thinking. We control what our mind thinks. We are absolute rulers.
Some people think that being possessed by any thought that comes along is inevitable. But that isn’t true. We are in charge and can expel an intruding and obnoxious thought. If someone addresses us in an unkind manner, we don’t have to react. We don’t have to let another person’s ill manners affect our thinking or our feeling. If someone were to call us “bad,” his calling us bad doesn’t make us bad. Just because he says so, doesn’t make it so. We are the ruler of our feeling and our thinking. So don’t let the insult register; let it pass by. The Great Mind Principle: I don’t let someone else control my thinking, nor my feeling.
I remember when we were children, we used to say, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never harm me.” There’s a lot of psychiatric truth in that.
When President Coolidge was Speaker of the House in Massachusetts, two senators got into a heated argument. One senator told the other senator, “Go to the hot place.” The offended senator appealed to Coolidge, “He told me to go to Hell!” Coolidge thought for a little while and said, “But you don’t have to go.”
The mind that adheres to the Great Mind Principle strives to be in the present. It doesn’t wallow in the regretted past nor in the uncertain, fearful future. Be in the Here and Now. The Great Mind Principle curbs the tendency to repeat bad luck, to wallow in illness or criticism. It minimizes the tendency to condemn, to resent and to gossip. Our thinking is maintained in consciousness of health, of understanding and joy. We harness the mind in the yoke of health. Seale says, don’t try to understand it, just do it. Be in the consciousness of health.
When faced with a hurdle or a problem, a cool, objective evaluation of the situation is intelligent and necessary. But running the mental movie over and over again is anxiety-provoking. Going on and on about an illness or disability is counterproductive. When we keep repeating something, it reinforces what we are talking about.
When a negativity is directed our way, step aside. Don’t let the poisonous barb hit the target. The poisonous barb is not just a verbal insult: it is toxicity that comes from the radio, from television, stage plays, movies, and most importantly, the news.
Beware of the news, especially the news on television where it is repeated over and over again. It’s important that we be aware of what’s going on, but we don’t have to let this be hammered into our consciousness. Let’s minimize our exposure to toxicity, minimize our exposure to degradation, negativity and violence. Another thing that we must be careful of is advertising. They stress negativity – illness, upset stomach, insomnia, etc. We don’t need that.
Wilfred Peterson, the author of The Art of Creative Thinking, states that what we consider new thought really goes back to ancient times. It has its roots in the great minds of thinkers. Twenty five hundred years ago there was another Greek, Pythagoras. He said that hate and fear breed a poison in the blood which if continued affects the eyes, the ears, the nose and the organs of digestion. Therefore, it’s wise not to hear, nor remember what other people say about us.
It’s very easy to tell someone, don’t hate, don’t resent, don’t be critical, contemptuous or condescending. But how do we overcome these negative thoughts and feelings, especially when we think we are justified in our feelings? “You know what she said about me?” “You know what he did after all I’ve done for him?” “Look at them, they think they own the world!” “They’re all crooks, connivers.” “Mr. So-and-So really cheated me.” How do we overcome all this?
Wilfred Peterson says we overcome negative thoughts “by recognizing our own lack of development, our own lack of evolvement, our lack of being centered in our higher self.” The more of these negatives we harbor – negative emotions, negative thoughts – the more limited we are. Sometime soon let’s sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper. Let’s make a list of what bothers us, whom we dislike, whom we even hate. List all the people, organizations that are crooked, connivers, religions and colors that are offensive to us, our abhorrence of the drug users, the alcoholics, the gays, those who differ with us on the abortion question and any other things that bother us. If we have a long list, we have a lot of work to do; not to change the externals, but to change ourselves; not to justify our feelings, but to try to overcome them.
I’d like to emphasize this next statement because the first time I read it, it was difficult for me to understand. Mr. Peterson says, “We do not see people and things as we see them. What we see is our own conception of them.” Which means that if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, ugly is in the eye of the beholder, hate is in the eye of the beholder.
We have a perfect right to disagree and to exert our energies to establish what we think is correct and to eliminate what we think is incorrect, but the negative emotions and feelings that we have about those with whom we disagree is poisoning. Remember what Pythagoras said: “Hate and fear breed a poison in the blood which if continued affects the eyes, the ears, the nose and the organs of digestion.”
Another giant in the new thought movement is Charles Fillmore. He repeats this phrase frequently, “Cleanse, cleanse your mind.” He states that healing is based on mental cleansing and detoxification. We must free the mind from erroneous thinking and the first step is to spot, become aware of our thoughts, so that we can start eliminating erroneous thinking. For example, when the skies are overcast and it’s raining, how many times do we repeat or hear repeated, “It’s an awful day, a horrible day?” There are two errors here: first is the error of repetition; the second, a rainy day is not necessarily a horrible day. It can be a beautiful day if creatively used. In addition, after a drought for some farmers or the people in the Negev or the Sahara Desert it could be a wonderful, a beautiful day.
Why is the repetition of this negative interpretation of the weather an error? Charles Fillmore said, as does every other leader of new thought: Thoughts and words have power. The words we utter with conviction have power, power to influence the cells that make up our body. Billions and billions of cells take up the thought that we are expressing. When we keep saying, “It’s a horrible day, horrible day,” the cells pick that up: a consciousness of horrible, a consciousness of awful. Similarly, if we keep repeating, “I’m so depressed, I’m so depressed,” the cells take that up and the depression may very well be intensified. When we complain that arthritis is killing us, the cells take up the consciousness of arthritic pain and the pain is intensified. In addition, we are surrounded by a universal creative power. This universal creative power acts on the words we utter. When we say, “It is a terrible day,” this goes out into the universal creative power where it is reinforced and it may very well be that we do have a horrible day. Similarly, when we keep repeating any negatives, these may be intensified.
Universal creative power acts on what we say, what we think, and as Fillmore says, “Yes, absolutely, we get what we talk about.” Fillmore, Ernest Holmes and other leaders proposed this idea at the beginning of the century. Now the scientific world also says that the universe is a mass of energy. The body is energy. We are in a sea of energy surrounded by universal energy. There’s a law of energy such that when a certain vibration is manifested, it is met by a similar vibration so that the initial vibration is reinforced. When we make a statement that goes out in the universal energy, that statement is reinforced because it is matched by a like vibration. Whatever we put out into the universe in thought or in words, will be reflected back to us. “As you sow, so shall you reap.” When I was a child, if I came down to the kitchen with a sad face, my mother looked at me and said, “Oh, we got a sour face again.” I had to recite: “The world is like a mirror, reflecting what you do and if you face it smiling, it smiles right back at you.” What we put out into the universal energy, we get back. We attract into our lives what we think about the most, what we believe in most strongly, what we expect at the deepest levels and imagine most vividly.
Some other examples of erroneous thinking are these negative bromides that we tend to repeat: “If something bad has to happen, it happens to me.” “Bad luck comes in threes.” ” Don’t run, you’ll fall.” That’s not true, because millions of people run and they don’t fall. “Sit in a draft and you’ll catch a cold.” For years I believed that and I caught colds. I no longer believe that; I no longer catch colds. “A broken mirror means seven years bad luck.” (I even hate to repeat these negatives.) “Walk under a ladder, bad luck.” Phrases like, “I’ll be damned,” “knock me over,” “I’m a mess,” “It has to get worse before it gets better,” “I’m so stupid when it comes to …computers or mechanical things… (Fill in the blank), “It breaks my heart,” “It knocks me over,'”I’m afraid I can’t” (why be afraid? Either you can or you can’t), etc., etc. We can make our own list. Remember, the universal creative intelligence doesn’t have a sense of humor; it will act on what we say.
We have to spot these bromides and eliminate them. The way we eliminate negatives is by positive affirmations. Affirmations are of the utmost importance in cleansing the mind, in neutralizing negative thoughts, in correcting erroneous thinking. To affirm means to make a statement in a strong, positive manner, alleging that something is already so. It’s a strong statement, alleging – to allege something it’s as if you are under oath – we are alleging that something is already so. We can affirm silently or aloud; we can write affirmations; we can sing them. But remember, an affirmation has to be a positive statement. We can make affirmations during a regular practice period, or whenever our mind isn’t occupied constructively: waiting for the elevator, in the bus, jogging, or doing the Stairmaster. Put the mind on positive affirmations to antidote any negative thinking.
It is important to counter negative thinking, foggy thinking, to counter the worn-out negative mind chatter that keeps going on. Ervin Seale says that the mind is like a little monkey, always running around, always picking up dirt.
Here are some examples of affirmations. (But you can make your own affirmations.) A very simple one, “Everyday, in every way, things get better and better and better.” “I’m a radiant being, filled with light, I’m naturally enlightened.” “I have everything I need.” These are general. Now I’d like to go to some specific ones.
For fear, to negate fear: “I am safe wherever I go, I’m protected and guided.” “Nothing but good can come into my life.” “I’m surrounded by universal love.” If you experience lack: “Everything I really need, I have.” We also want to get the mind to work with the body, so for illness we tell ourselves: “This body is perfect, it’s functioning perfectly.” “Every cell in this body is functioning perfectly, working in unison.”
“Every time I breathe in, I’m breathing in health.” “When I breathe out, I get rid of the poisons, the toxicities.” “Every organ and cell is functioning in perfect harmony.” “I’m healthy, wise and whole.” “My body is detoxing, getting rid of poisons.” “My body is healthy.”
For those of us who are skeptical, that’s wise. A person should be skeptical. But the only way we’ll ever know ff these affirmations work, is to try them. For indecision (this really applies to me, especially in trying to make up my own mind): “I know that everything I need to know is supplied to me. I am guided and led to do the right thing.” “All is well in my life; nothing but good comes into my life.” “I’m healthy, I’m wise, I’m in love, I’m love, I’m life.”
We must be very careful as to what issues from our mouths. I’m Jewish and was brought up in an orthodox home. We were told we had to be very careful what goes into our mouths. Now, conversely, I’m learning that we have to be very careful what comes out of our mouths. For those of us who remember the Broadway musical, Fiddler On the Roof, Golda was always aware that something that may have been uttered may be negatively interpreted and she tried to cancel it out so that the universal creative power would not act on words that might be construed negatively.
In the 1940’s a noted speaker for new thought was Emmet Fox. He wrote a popular booklet called Mental Equivalence. Mental equivalence means, whatever we are holding in our mind, we experience the equivalent in life. So if we desire love in our life, we must be loving. Our mind must be filled with loving thoughts. It becomes an attracting beacon that will bring circumstances of love into our experience. We will then experience the equivalent of love. We can substitute other words ….health, wealth, companionship, etc. for love. Whatever experience we desire to have in our life, we must have in our inner life. Repeat with affirmation, say it with conviction. The mental equivalent always manifests itself as a life experience.
Some years ago there was a popular refrain to a song, “You got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative and don’t mess with mister in between.” But that idea was not original, because way back in 30 B.C., approximately two thousand years ago, Marcus Aurelius Antonius, the Roman Emperor, said, “When you wake up in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy. Therefore, it is not wise to hear and remember the unkind things that others may say about you.”
In the October 4, 1992 issue of the New York Times I think there was a major breakthrough. The New York Times had a special section titled, “The Good Health Magazine.” The lead article was, “The Mainstreaming of Alternative Medicine.” To me it was a major breakthrough, the FACT that the New York Times recognized alternative medicine and that it reported that there may be some benefit to alternative medicine. The article talked about a 43-year-old woman with lymphocytic leukemia, who had been increasingly debilitated and depressed in spite of all the medications she was being given. She was referred to the Department of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts to enroll in a program of meditation and affirmations. The article goes on to report that the woman started to feel better, was able to cut down on Naprosyn, an anti-inflammatory medication, and to discontinue taking Atavan.
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, teaches meditation and affirmations. I don’t know if you realize how marvelous this is that these establishment hospitals are accepting and utilizing these forms of treatment. He has treated thousands of patients referred to him by physicians all over the country. He has been having success in cases of AIDS, muscular dystrophy, hypertension, back pain, anxiety disorders, etc. John Zawacki, a gastroenterologist at the University says, “They’re having significant results with the toughest patients, with those that the system is not helping.”
The Harvard affiliated Mind/Body Institute in Boston also uses meditation and affirmations to achieve the proved responses. The Institute offers programs for cardiac patients, infertility, insomnia, chronic pain, AIDS and cancer. The Institute has published results of their studies in various establishment journals showing that the alternative treatments have enhanced results.
Dr. Dean Ornish, Director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California had the results of a study published in the prestigious journal Lancet showing that affirmations and meditations along with a low-fat diet can reverse coronary heart disease with actual reduction of the plaques in the arteries. So I do really believe that the Messiah is coming!
In the October 1992 issue of Unity there’s a short article by Kay Douglas Bottoroff, the author of the book Practical Guide to Meditation. He says that a very effective healing activity is to relax the mind. A tense mind basking in negativity and playing host to mental hoodlums produces a tense body. We have the power to clear away every mental and physical restriction. We can choose at any moment to experience peace and calm.
So, for those of you who are interested, if you will, I’d like to go through an exercise showing that you can, you do have the power to relax your mind. If you will, get yourself into a comfortable position, become aware of your breathing. If you wish to keep your eyes open, that’s fine. Or, you can close your eyes. As you breathe normally, be aware of your breathing and visualize “R-E-L-A-X” on a 3″ x 5″ card, as if it were typed in capital letters “RELAX.”
Become aware of this word “relax” and feel the process of relaxation. Visualize your forehead, let your forehead relax. Visualize your eyebrows, let them relax. Send a message of relaxation to your brain: “relax.” Relax the back of your neck. Visualize your shoulders, relax your shoulders, your arms, your forearms right to the tips of your fingers. Send messages of relaxation to your chest, your abdomen, hips, thighs, legs, right to the tips of your toes. Just imagine that each time you breathe in, you’re breathing in this wonderful prana, the universal energy.
When you breathe in this universal energy, it circulates throughout the body, balancing every cell in the body, every cell working in unison and perfect harmony. When you breathe out, you’re breathing out the waste material, the toxicities. Hold on to being balanced, being centered, knowing I’m a healthy, intelligent, relaxed mature adult. I’m able to cope with any situation, any difficulty in a healthy, intelligent, relaxed way. Each day that goes by, I’m developing this ability, knowing that I have the strength to deal with any problem in a healthy, intelligent, relaxed manner. I’m surrounded by a wonderful aura which leads me and guides me. No matter where I go, I’m being protected, I’m being led to do the right thing.
Now, holding on to this good feeling, feel yourselves being energized so that when you open your eyes, you’re refreshed, invigorated, and feel good.
Bless you all and thank you.