Can doing nothing really change your life?
Recently, my dear friend and wellness celeb, Jonny Bowden interviewed me for his radio show.
[Press the PLAY button below to listen to the interview.]
The big question was: “Dr. Kim, can your thoughts really direct how your life gets created?”
Although Jonny is an avid believer in MindBody Medicine, he was a bit skeptical that just focusing our attention can actually create change in our life.
At one point, he asked me: “How can just sitting there doing nothing create real change?”
“It’s a matter of how our change in focus changes our behavior,” I told him. “People think that focusing on changing our thoughts, means ‘doing nothing,’ but that could not be further from the truth.”
In fact, the types of thoughts we harbor, and the focus of our attention powerfully affects what’s happening in our body. There are chemical reactions, and brain changes, as well as hormones that spur you into action.
It’s literally impossible to be in the frequency of wellbeing, success, and vitality and sit there doing nothing. You will inevitably be inspired to create…and what you create will be dramatically different than what gets created when we act out of stress, worry or fear.
HERE is an article Jonny wrote about my interview with him….
MEET THE GURU: Dr. Kim D’Eramo
By Jonny Bowden, PhD., CNS
Kim D’Eramo shows up for our interview bursting with enthusiasm (which, I’ve since learned, is pretty much how she shows up for everything!) A wiry, athletic blonde dynamo, she’s a ball of contagious energy and vitality.
But the founder and director of the American Institute for Mind-Body Medicine was not always the poster child for health and well-being. Like many of the gurus portrayed in this column, she became who she is today by tackling some significant health challenges of her own.
“During medical school I was tired and sluggish almost all the time. I had fevers, chills, sinus infections, you name it. But every doc I went to had a kind of microscopic way of looking at it—let’s take a thyroid test, let’s take a test for lyme.”
She was diagnosed with a whole bunch of things—all the usual suspects like fibro, chronic fatigue. “But those aren’t really useful diagnoses”, she told me. “They don’t tell you what’s really happening”.
At one point, she went to an allergy doctor who, pretty quickly, declared her allergic to… well, everything. The number of things she’d have to avoid—for the rest of her life, mind you—was staggering.
This was not the life she had in mind for herself.
“I was a third year med student at the time, and I saw my whole life crash before me”, she said. “And then I said, ‘Wait a minute! This diagnosis isn’t necessarily true, and I’m not buying it!”.
Dr. Kim was trained in osteopathic medicine, which has a long tradition of being much more open to natural cures, nutrition, and other healing modalities than conventional medicine does. (Osteopaths are practicing physicians who are legally able to prescribe pharmaceuticals and who go to medical school just like conventional MDs.) “There’s a ton of science and research to show how the body heals itself”, she told me. “And if you understand that the body heals itself, you start to ask a different question in the face of illness, which is: what is preventing my body from healing? And that’s the question I asked myself.”
She started applying the principles of mind-body medicine—about which, more in a moment—and within ten days of her “diagnosis” she was symptom free. “I had no more joint pain, no fatigue, I started losing weight, and my labs were normal. No kidding!”
Intrigued, I asked her for a simple definition of how mind-body medicine works.
“Look”, she says, “every thought that you have creates a chemical response. And those neurochemicals aren’t just in your brain. They interact with your heart, your brain, your kidneys—they even affect what happens with your genes! The type of chemicals you’re creating at every moment can actually turn things on and off. And though you’re not aware of the neural fields that are firing off at every moment, those thoughts will either create an effective well-being, or they will have the opposite effect. They’ll create stress, inflammation, elevated cortisol—all of which are directly related to the illnesses that people are dying from. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, even obesity all have an underlying inflammatory cascade which is actually triggered, in some ways, by your mindset.”
She told me of a time when she really wanted to have a great relationship and marriage, but was, in her words, very far from actually experiencing those things. “But the more I could visualize it—the more I could invite it, the more I could allow it—the more chemical changes I would create in my body”. These chemical changes impact everything—hormones like oxytocin, the bonding hormone, go up, while hormones like cortisol, the stress hormone, go down. “When you change your brain’s firing pattern—and you can see this on an MRI—your thoughts and behavior change. How fast you speak, your tone of voice, what you’re saying in the world—they all change”.
“So”, she continues, “I started singing different song. And began attracting a very different kind of experience.” (Dr. Kim is now happily married.)
Asked for an example of how to make that change in mindset happen, Dr. Kim offered this little gem from her best-selling book, The Mind-Body Toolkit. She calls it the instant elevation technique and it has three parts: A, B, and C.
A is for “aware”. “Bring your awareness into your body. Feel what’s happening in it. Concentrate on your breath. This immediately turns off toxic, negative thinking”.
Next is B, for breathing. “When you’re stressed or guilty or angry you’re in a stress breathing pattern—shallow. Try breathing into the chest, all the way down into the body, slow and deep all the way to the pelvis. Let your body balloon out with the inhale and come in with the exhale.” According to Dr. Kim, this actually turns off the sympathetic (flight or flight) nervous system and turns on the parasympathetic nervous system, releasing calming, positive chemicals like the aforementioned oxytocin.
And finally, there’s C which stands for choice. “Choose something higher”, she counsels. Example: I choose to live in a healthy body at my ideal weight. “When you make that kind of choice, the actions you are going to do will be different”, she explains. “You might stop yelling and just sit there for a minute. You might stop eating the cake and realize you don’t even want it.”
“It’s an incredibly powerful tool for converting your system to one that automatically creates the results—actions, behaviors, and choices—that in turn, bring about your ideal life.”