Psychosomatic Wellness: An Antidote to Stress by Dr. Candace Pert

What is psychosomatic wellness? There is an intimate connection between your frame of mind and the physical condition of your body. You know about psychosomatic illness—it is also possible to strengthen and develop your psychosomatic wellness to feel more joy and creativity in your life. On one hand, this means we can reduce the suffering we experience from diseases and injuries by cultivating a healthy mental outlook. Equally important, though, is the concept that practices such as meditation, guided imagery, prayer, and yoga that have been scientifically proven to reduce stress can actually prevent disease.

What is stress? I have said that your body is your subconscious mind, based upon the fact that emotions run every system of your body. A psychosomatic network of the molecules of emotion—endorphins, other peptides, hormones, neurotransmitters—bind to receptors on every cell in your body. Thus, stress is a property of the entire bodymind, not just the brain. Scientists define stress as a dysfunction of homeostasis caused by constant challenges or stressors which require adaptation. The molecules of emotion, which mediate homeostasis (the bodymind's ability to stay in balance), take time to work their changes in the body.

Today we have so much more stress than our ancestors did because we have so many more challenges to meet, so much more information coming at us, and so many more choices to make. Remember, we are walking around with essentially the same brains and bodies of people who lived 30,000 years ago! I believe that today, our healing functions can't catch up with our stressors. When we slow down via contemplative disciplines, we can control the way information travels through our bodymind. With practice, we can teach ourselves to release “stuck” emotions, open the flow of information, and ultimately experience the joys of psychosomatic wellness.

Candace Pert

Candace Pert Return to top of page

Candace Pert, PhD (1946 – 2013), was a research professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, best known for her discovery of op...

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