Joan & Miroslave Borysenko, both Ph.D.’s

Joan Borysenko, a cancer-cell biologist at Harvard and now a therapist, has authored “The Power of the Mind to Heal” (“PMH”). Her husband, Miroslave Borysenko, a professor of anatomy at Tufts U., is listed as a co-author, but he never speaks in the first person and is rarely quoted. Joan is clearly the author. It offers specific suggestions for ways to use your mind to heal yourself and devotes the last half to inserting prayer as an integral part of mind-control.

PMH supports all forms of medicine (the purely scientific, alternative, natural and mind related) and urges “telesomatic” treatments. “Tele” is Greek for “far off” and “somatic” for “body”; hence, telesomatic means “affecting the body from far away”; i.e., via the mind – or thoughts (of ourselves and of others). The authors begin by recalling the often-cited comment of John Lennon: “Life is what happens to us while we’re making other plans.” The authors continue, “The entire pageant of life is a drama about learning to love.” The commodity that counts most in life is love. This universal truth should probably be burned into our foreheads at birth.

The Power of the Mind to Heal (“PMH”) makes a long list of suggestions. Not given in any particular order, they might be summarized by saying, “If you wish to heal (yourself or help others), here are some helpful guidelines”:

(1) Calm down your body and mind; “Take two meditations, and call me in the morning,” as one doctor sagaciously admonished. (2) Change your negative perceptions about events in your life and convert them to positives. “The glass is half full” rather than half empty. (3) Let go of your regrets and your tendencies to be critical (of yourself and others). (4) Anger Kills is the title of a book by another doctor and is spot on; you must master anger. Even our dictionaries tell us that excessive anger is madness or insanity. (5) Be creative in as many things as possible; creativity is birth and re-birth; it is restorative, regenerative. (6) When your body hurts, actively reject the pain; hypnosis (and self-hypnosis) are now frequently recommended by doctors to fight chronic pains and pains that no longer respond to even the strongest pain-killers. (7) Every thought and attitude are forms of prayers (wishes) for good or bad effects. Thoughts, like electrical currents, have unknown boundaries or, perhaps, no boundaries, no limitations. (8) Health care relies on our ability to communicate with our own wisdom. (9) When fully relaxed, use mental imagery to see yourself being the way you want and doing what you want (which we also learned in self-hypnosis 101)

“The Egg-of-Light Exercise” is a system of meditation (similar to yoga and hypnosis) that the authors recommend to help you think lovingly and positively and to protect from the negative, polluting thoughts of others; they define this Exercise, in brief, as follows: (1) Lie down; allow your eyes to close; breathe deeply, in and out; focus on your breathing and becoming more and more relaxed. Count backwards, from 10 to one, counting on each breath out, reaffirming your relaxed, totally peaceful state. (2) Imagine a great star of loving light, and allow it to cascade through the top of your head and over you and to run through you, washing away any fatigue, illness or negativity, expelling all of same the souls of your fee. (3) Envision a river of light encircling your body, filling you, and creating a large, illuminating egg around you. (4) Make a firm, mental declaration that (a) you will generate only thoughts of love and (b) any thoughts of love and encouragement from others will penetrate the egg and reach your heart, while any negative thoughts will bounce off the egg, away from you and return them to the sender as loving blessings or well-wishes. Any time of day or night that you feel assaulted by negative thoughts, of your own or from others, place yourself mentally and immediately in The Egg-of-Light.

The author’s positive thinking specifics are boundless and very helpful. “If you believe you are stupid and a failure, you have little chance of becoming anything else…Choose peace; reject chaos…Seek peace and love first, and good things will be attracted to you…Peace and love are the vehicles to discover the mind’s true power…” She continues: “There is no such thing as an incurable illness…The immune system responds positively to our minds…The road to healing has two parts: The first is simply learning to calm down [and by] ‘taking two meditations a day’, as one physician admonished…The second is by changing our mental perceptions…Anger and fear drive our automatic responses into high gear [left unchecked by meditations or hypnosis]…Creativity brings us to life…letting go regrets and resentments and the tendency to be critical…Love and respect ourselves and others…The Dalai Lama explains Tibetan Buddhism as ‘compassion’…The quantity [of life] that counts the most is love…[We must] establish a link between our thoughts and the function of our immune cells…The people who lose the will to live often die within hours…[P]ractice forgiveness…leave old resentments in the past…Feel joy and connectedness [to others] to enhance our immune functions; keep pictures of loved ones, beautiful scenes, to forge thoughts to keep our immune systems functioning optimally in our minds…Our minds then affect our own bodies and might affect the bodies of others as well [healing]…The power of thought [to heal] has no boundaries…Placeboes sometimes work as well as medicines…The power of suggestion is great…Appropriate health care, then, relies on our ability to communicate with our own wisdom…Partnership [with a spouse], rather than exclusivity, sets the stage for healing…Psychiatrists can help with depression…scientific medicines…alternative medicines too…yoga for obsessive compulsive disorders…biofeedback for diabetes…massage for bone marrow transplants…macrobiotics for cancer…intercessory prayer…hypnosis for chronic pain…The best medicine is often ‘both and’ rather than ‘either or”…[i.e., use all methods to heal]…” She openly admits that she knows very little about hypnosis (or self-hypnosis), which seems odd to this observer, as it is simply a much deeper form of yoga or meditation.

The author was influenced by her grandmother, who was “both a Jew and a Christian Scientist”, which should not be confused with Scientology. (The writer of these book notes was raised in a family of C.S.’s and practiced that faith until age 30.) C.S.’s do not use medicine but, rather, rely on their minds to heal them; they do this by meditating, in a manner of speaking, daily, reaffirming that they are “made in God’s image and likeness” and are, therefore, perfect and, thus, not affected by illnesses. Founded in 1870 or so, C.S. was well ahead of its time; it has fallen out of favor due to the incredible advances in medicine, which offer “crutches” too meritorious to ignore. As Joan Miloslav urges, it’s best to use all of the available techniques. – from scientific medicine to alternative medicines to yoga, meditation, hypnosis and, for theists and deists, prayer.

In sum, the first nine chapters or 70 pages of this 200-plus page book are positive, refreshing and extremely helpful – and they motivated this reader to return to self-hypnosis techniques that have helped him throughout his life – literally producing positive results within days.

Unfortunately, PMH then devolves into a focus on prayer, “being born again…reliance on the one God…”, converting the medical and mental aspects of healing into a treatise on the virtues of reliance on supernatural to heal. In support of this mystically supernatural approach, the author cites her first-hand, second-hand and even third-hand (hearsay) observations of such miracles as near-death-experiences (“NDE’s”), clairvoyance, necromancy, hand-to-head healings by evangelists, epiphanies, and even visitations by Saints and angels, reminiscent of the citing (by Midwestern farmers) of Unidentified Flying Objects and extraterrestrials. Gradually, the Power of the Mind to Heal becomes the power of the mind to heal through prayer, and the remaining two-thirds of the book attempt to prove that, in the final analysis, healings will take place best, fastest and perhaps only if the mind focuses “the central guiding force of the universe…the one God…Christ, our Savior” (or whatever other name you may ascribe to the one Creator. Theism, in its most cosmic form, becomes the author’s “Answer”.

For those who have not shared the author’s NDE’s, epiphanies, visitations by Saints and angels, etc., this denouement stains credulity and logic; i.e., it isn’t really “the mind” that heals; it’s the Creator who does so. The title of the book tells us that the “mind” heals, but the text ultimately gives the healing power to the supernatural. Such chicaneries leave the reader feeling a bit cheated and misled, an ending based on legerdemain rather than on logic. Thus, both the key thrust (mind-healing) and the authorship (as noted early above) are misrepresented, imposing a lingering, rather sour aftertaste.

Regardless, since I truly enjoyed, and profited from, the first nine chapters, upon finishing the book, I re-read those first 70 pages, leaving my mind full of helpful data and logic.

So, is PMH worth reading? If you believe in a Creator who looks over our planet, you will love this book”; if you do not believe in a Creator, you will still likely enjoy the first nine chapters. Some readers will grade the prose as unduly prolix and mediocre (especially for one who has taught anything at Harvard). Indeed, the 70 worthy pages might be condensed to twenty with editing. Still, as said, the book helped me get back to my basics (meditation via self-hypnosis). So, I’m grateful to my kind friend, Roman Brunner, for giving me this book. I found The Brain That Heals Itself by Doidge, which deals with a similar subject, to be much more helpful.