By Marilynn Preston- These days, most of us have a vague sense that, yes, our bodies and minds are somehow connected. Difficult day? Crushing headache? Reach for the Tylenol.
But when Dr. Candace Pert, a molecular biologist and pharmacologist studying and mapping brain peptides, worked as a research scientist in the early ’70s — the mind-body connection was, well, a thing of the past.
For thousands of years, Eastern medicine — influenced by chakras, meridians and subtle energies — has believed in the intrinsic interconnection of mind and body.
For hundreds of years, Western medicine — influenced by Descartes, the Church and too much processed food — rejected the mind-body connection, insisting they were distinct, unconnected entities.
That’s all changing now, cautiously but dramatically. It’s been scientifically proven time and time again, by Dr. Pert and many illustrious others, that the mind and the body are inextricably biochemically linked. The two form one formless mind-body — a vibrating, pulsating, intelligent system. If your primary doctor doesn’t understand this, kiss him goodbye and find one who does.
Our mind is not only in our brain, Dr. Pert discovered. The mind is actually our entire body. It exists in every cell. Our emotions are in our bodies, too. (That’s why a great massage can give us a deep emotional release.)
And furthermore, your emotions — both your feelings and your thoughts — are the links that connect your mind and body, which is why a shift toward positivity can help heal. Difficult day at work? Crushing headache? Reach for the meditation cushion.
“Even when we are stuck emotionally, fixated on a version of reality that does not serve us well, there is always a biochemical potential for change and growth,” says Dr. Pert.
She demonstrates that and much more in her groundbreaking work “Molecules of Emotion: The Science behind Mind-Body Medicine.”
It’s been translated into 10 languages. It stayed on the bestseller list for 15 years and has helped establish her as a leading guru in a field that is evolving and in some places exploding, thanks to consumer demand.
By her own account, Dr. Pert went from hardcore conventional scientist to New Age diva, a doctor of pure science who came to believe in intuition, intention and spirituality as powerful healing forces.
“How you think and feel — your emotional state at any given moment — can actually impact the movement, division and every other activity of your cells,” she wrote.
“There is no objective reality,” I watched Dr. Pert tell her audience in 2012, captured on YouTube. “Reality is what you make it.”
Dr. Pert died of a heart attack on Sept. 12, 2013. You can follow her unfolding story on www.candacepert.com. During her lifetime, she authored more than 250 scientific papers, started a company to advance peptide T therapy for AIDS patients and was featured in the 2004 documentary “What the Bleep Do We Know?” It’s an eye-opener, now free on YouTube.
I didn’t know Pert, but I know her work and have a sense of her journey. At the start of a huge career, she was the chief of brain biochemistry at the National Institute of Mental Health. By the close, she was convinced that if we do the work of tuning into to our vibrational energetic mind-bodies (through chakra work, music, breathing, attention), we can help make healthy change happen. Her latest work? A meditation/relaxation CD called “Healing the Hurting, Shining the Light,” a collaboration with her musician son.
“It’s really about internal bliss,” she summed up in a public talk. “We’re hard-wired for bliss. It’s our natural state.”
Dr. Pert’s natural state was troubled from time to time, according to her second and final book, “Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d.” In it she writes about the highly addictive nature of sugar, about the dangers of excitotoxins (such as MSG and the artificial sugar called aspartame) and about the importance of telling your mind-body — your whole self — a good story.
“We all get to create our own version of what’s going on,” she whispered, and sometimes yelled, in our ears. It’s useless to blame others. To feel good, she concluded, you must harmonize your mind-body best you can. And then — deeply, emotionally, authentically — tune into the joy of living.
Deep bow, Candice Pert.
“So often, folks today are unnecessarily stressed out instead of blissed out.” –Candace Pert