From Dr. David Hamilton:
Your brain cannot tell the difference between something that’s real and whether you are just imagining it. Check out the brain imaging scans below.
Harvard scientists taught a simple 5-fingered combination of piano notes to a group of people – thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger, little finger – which they played over and over again for 2 hours a day. They did this for 5 consecutive days.
Another group of volunteers didn’t actually play the notes, but just imagined playing them. So they imagined the combination – thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger, little finger – for 2 hours a day on 5 consecutive days.
As you can see from the brain scans, the changes to the brain are almost identical. The scans for the volunteers doing actual physical practice and those doing mental practice are the same. The brain can’t tell the difference between real and imaginary!
To the brain, we really are moving our fingers as we play notes on the piano.
From the research that I’ve collected, I am convinced that the same type of thing occurs when we imagine ourselves healing. The brain thinks that we really are healing. It then changes as if healing is happening, and this stimulates the actual area of the body that we are imaging at the cellular level. I am convinced that this causes cellular and genetic changes at that site, which eventually leads to what we are imagining happening (a healed body) actually happening.
This is how the placebo effect works at the cellular level. ( For those of you who don’t know, I used to be an R & D scientist with one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, but I resigned to study the power of the mind after learning so much about the placebo effect. ) Recent scientific research into the placebo effect clearly shows that what happens in the body is what we expect to happen. Our own thoughts and expectations drive what actually occurs, causing cellular and genetic changes.
Dr. David Hamilton is the author of It’s The Thought That Counts: Why Mind Over Matter Really Works