This post will look at the difference between managing your MS and thriving from multiple sclerosis. The idea of this post came from an experience I had some time ago with a client. This client had recently broken her leg, and the bones were not mending properly. She wanted to use hypnotherapy to speak to her cells and understand if anything was keeping her body from healing. Her doctor had told her that if they didn’t mend soon, she would require surgery.
In hypnosis, her subconscious represented her accident like an embarrassing cartoon. She was a donkey that kept falling and falling and falling, slipping on a wet floor, while all the other cartoon animals were watching and laughing. What was keeping her from healing was shame and embarrassment! Her negative emotions regarding how she had fallen were blocking the healing process. This was a fascinating concept. What was it about her emotions that were keeping her body from mending her bones?
The Cells Response to Emotions
Some time afterward, I read the book “Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton and discovered why. Dr. Lipton is a cell biologist who studies human cells and their response to our thoughts and emotions. By bringing quantum physics to biology, he has really changed how we understand how cells work. At the microscopic level, our bodies act much more according to the laws of Quantum physics than to the Newtonian Laws of science we are used to.
Coming back to our story on why the bones weren’t mending: In his book, “Biology of Belief,” Dr. Lipton explains that our cells have two main states: they are either closed and in protection mode and open and in thrive and growth mode. Though protection mode has been called fight or flight, it’s not only during those extremes. Anytime we are tense in any way – physically, emotionally, or mentally – our cells are in protective mode. This can be activated by constant urgency and busyness, by a tense relationship, by fear of not doing a good job, by pushing to keep going, by worry, etc. My client’s embarrassment was keeping her cells in this protective mode.
When we are in that state, our cells will close down to the environment, and they will utilize the vital energy of the body. In this state, we expend energy, but we do not generate energy. Thus, in this state, we do not repair, replace or renew our cells. Thus, healing cannot happen.
Every day, however, millions of cells die and need to be replaced. But to regenerate cells, our cells need to move from protection to thrive. This is when the cells can take in nutrients, create daughter cells, clean toxins, repair damages, etc. The interesting caveat is that Dr. Lipton’s book describes a difference between not being in protective mode and being in thriving mode. When we manage our stressors, we slip into neutral and avoid further damage to the body from the constant need for protection, but we do not automatically move into thriving.
Managing MS versus Thriving
One great example of the difference between neutral and thriving can be found in research done from the ’50s to the ’80s on institutionalized children (orphanages, children’s hospitals, etc.). These studies sought to understand why almost 100% of these children died even when all the basic necessities, such as food, sleep, and changing their nappies, were managed methodically. Everything was being ‘done right,’ yet the children were perishing. What was discovered was their need to thrive. And thriving only happens through touch, pleasure, play, laughter, and sensory stimulation.
In one of these studies, one thing that stood out immediately to the researchers was that there was barely a sound when they visited these large institutions with up to 500 children in them. That would be impossible to experience in a normal elementary school! A healthy children’s environment includes a lot of laughter, running around, and enthusiastic voices. However, the children in these well-managed institutes were not experiencing love.
Move from Managing MS to Thriving with MS
So if we look at these three areas to consider how better to manage MS, notice if what you are doing moves you towards tension and protection or openness and thrive. Ask yourself, “Am I in fear, clamping down, and in shame? Or am I welcoming, in the flow, or excited? Am I doing things that nourish me or only feeding myself the foods I “should” be eating? Let’s look at a few examples:
A) Sleeping eight hours of sleep? It is neutral. It is necessary to manage your MS, and less might cause the body to be tired and tense, but it will not regenerate myelin.
B) Meditation. If you are enjoying sitting and being, it can be quite thriving, but if you push yourself and tell yourself you ‘have to’ sit 30-minutes a day, and you don’t enjoy any moment of the process, you can push yourself into protective mode.
C) Eating an anti-inflammatory diet? If you are doing it to manage your inflammation, but there is no joy in the process and say to yourself, “oh my God, I didn’t eat my greens today!” You are putting yourself in protective mode.
D) Watching the sunset? Thrive mode.
E) Chair Zoomba or chair pilates? If you love it and the fact that it’s assisted with a chair makes it easier for you to follow, you are in thrive mode.
F) Sitting on your porch and watching your garden bloom? Thrive mode.
G) Watching someone else doing your garden and worrying they are not doing it, right? Protective mode.
H) Getting two hours of exercise every day? If you are doing it to manage your strength, but it’s excruciating, you are in protective mode. I come across this every day. I have clients wanting to do certain exercises that they heard are good for MS, yet their bodies scream. That is not helping the body heal. On the other hand, if they go out and canoe with friends for two hours and enjoy the experience tremendously, and their bodies are a little sore the next day but feeling good, that is thrive mode.
I) What about stress? It actually depends. It’s usually protective mode. However, this great Ted talk called “How to Make Stress Your Friend” by Kelly McGonigal challenges us to think differently about stress. She discovered that if you are stressing and believe that it’s bad for you, your arteries will constrict, and the stressors will be detrimental. On the contrary, if (1) you believe stress is exciting, (2) a challenge you enjoy trying to pull off and don’t feel any pressure to get it right, and (3) you welcome the racing heart and sweaty palms as your body meeting the challenge with enthusiasm, your arteries will actually expand and pump oxygen optimally. Thus, stress becomes good for you, and you are thriving.
J) What about disease? Multiple Sclerosis? If you believe that disease is bad and it means you’re unhealthy and you have failed, then you are contracting and in protective mode. On the other hand, if you believe that disease is life-giving you permission to live it better, an opportunity to make real changes that will make life more authentic and worthy for you, disease can help you thrive. Thus, disease can make you healthy! This is something experienced by those that have had spontaneous remissions of cancer. If someone embodies that when they are diagnosed with cancer is a loving wake-up call (their bodies are loving them and telling them, “darling, you’ve got to stop. You know, you’ve got to open up to something better. You’ve got to focus on yourself”), they will actually thrive through the experience.
K) What about hope? Again, hope can be in any one of the modes, depending on how you hold it.
How are you Hoping?
If you are hoping someone will find a cure and you sit back and don’t worry about it, you are in neutral. If you are saying to yourself, “oh my God, I hope someone finds a cure! I pray I am saved from this. Please, please, please go away!” Your cells are in protective mode. But if you’re are hopeful thinking, “well, you know, there’s a possibility. I’ve read accounts in books and articles, I’ve watched interviews of people successfully healing their MS. I believe there’s a chance, a real chance!” That moves the cells into thriving.
Hope can Heal
There is a famous story of a man with an advanced stage of cancer. He was desperate to find a cure and went to his doctor seeking to take a new cancer medication that was still in trial. He was sure that it would help his cancer.
His doctor tried to tell him that he was not qualified to participate in the trial because of his advanced condition. But Mr. Wright was so persistent about taking it that the doctor pulled some strings and was able to get his patient the medication. And his patient thrived! 10 days after beginning treatment, Mr. Wright’s cancer was gone. Sometime later, the results published regarding the new drug were poor. When Mr. Wright learns of this, he quickly returns to his doctor’s office, worried. The medication does not work! His cancer promptly returned. Thus the doctor, wanting to help his patient, decided to bring him hope again. He tells his patient that it was not the medication but how it was administered, resulting in such poor outcomes in the studies. The doctor, however, had a very pure batch of the medication. He promptly gives his patient a placebo (water injection). His cancer, once again, disappeared. When the study’s final results determined, only a few months later, that the medication was useless, the patient lost all hope. Two days later, he died.
Having genuine hope is important for healing. Thirty years ago, the outcomes from having MS were much worse than today. Today we have many different treatments, including nutrition, supplements, neuro physiotherapy, medications, homeopathy, acupuncture, and hypnotherapy, to name a few powerful tools to manage MS. And 30 years ago, we weren’t aware of the importance of thriving!
Regenerate Myelin through Thriving
There is one more thing to understand regarding the importance of thriving rather than managing your MS: Our myelin is constantly regenerating. Unlike our peripheral myelin formed by the age of two, our central nervous system myelin continuously regenerates throughout adulthood. So when you are thinking about, “what can I do to heal or improve?” focus on helping your myelin regenerate. To do that, they need to be in a state of thriving!
Thriving through Multiple Sclerosis
Thus, to move from managing your MS to truly thriving, you must prioritize moving your life, behaviors, emotions from tension, pushing, and fear to thrive. The body can take care of the rest. Think about my client and her broken leg. She is not responsible for physically mending her bones. Her responsibility is to stay in thrive, and her bones mend on their own. So, stop trying to manage the body’s job, stress over how many hours you exercise, and if you ate enough kale today, and focus on creating the most optimal environment for the body to heal – by thriving.
Remember the institutionalized children – don’t just manage your food, supplements, sleep time, and amount of exercise. Instead, increase the number of things you do for the sole purpose of connecting with another, being in joy and laugher, sensory stimulation and creativity, and be in the flow because that is what will truly nourish your body and regenerate myelin.
Where Do You Go from Here?
Are you ready to thrive and not just manage your MS?
Contact me (click here for email or call (+1)415.699.2574) for a FREE 30-MINUTE CONSULTATION
to explore if medical hypnotherapy can support you. Medical hypnotherapy sessions can be used to work with one issue or to address all areas that might be affecting your health.
Additionally, the Creating Health Series has loads of information to help you on your journey.
This presentation was produced by Eva M Clark and recorded at the National MS Society Self-Help MS Group in Santa Cruz, CA. The National MS Society respects the rights of people with MS to obtain any and all information they want related to MS, including information on wellness, medical treatments or complementary therapies, and products or services. The information presented at these meetings does not necessarily reflect the views or official position of the Society, nor carry the endorsement or support of the NMSS. Read our disclaimer here.