"Aging is a disease," my friend said as we sat at the pool recently. I was preparing my lesson for a health psychology course that I was to teach online in the fall. We were discussing health and aging. "No, it is reality," he replied. "At about 26 years of age our cells stop growing and producing and start to decline".
I had recently been inspired and re-inspired while reading current research on mind body psychology and had taught a college course called mind body psychology for the second time. The new research about aging and health is exciting and encouraging. There are ways to facilitate more creativity, health and build a better brain.
Genetics of the brain and body are being unlocked revealing that we can not just live longer but live a high quality of life as we age. "Aging is a disease and we are all going to die," my friend repeated. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Has our culture been so brainwashed by the pharmaceutical companies and commercials on television that we now believe that everything is a disease, incuding aging? How many new diseases have been created during the past ten years? Why are they created? Every new disease is followed by a new medication. It is a big profit industry and we are buying into it. It is brainwashing. If you are tired, overweight, too hungry not hungry enough, sleeping or not sleeping at night, stressed, overwhelmed, addicted to food, drugs, sex, shopping or cigarettes, depressed or just not happy ...there is a diagnosis and a pill for it!
Are we becoming numb or unmotivated to make healthy decisions for ourselves? Have we given our health and wellness over to pharaceutical companies and doctors who dole out the prescription samples like free candy? We get hooked on or have side effects from the medication and guess what? There is another pill for that! We are not a disease process as the pharmaceutical ads would like us to believe.
Aging is part of a continuum from optimal wellness to death. It is not a disease and there is no pill to cure it. Aging is part of life just as toddlerhood, adolescence and adulthood are part of the continuum. If you plant two fruit trees, one in the shade, in a shallow hole, with no room for the roots to grow and it receives no nutrients, not much sun and there are other bushes around that crowd it, the growth and health will be stunted and it will produce little if any fruit. The other tree is planted in fertile soil with plenty of room for the roots to receive nutrition, sunlight during the daytime and is watered and cared for regularly. It has plenty of space to grow and it grows strong and bears much fruit.
Our bodies, like the trees have genetic material encoded but there are many other factors that affect growth, development and health. Recent studies in mind body psychology indicate that enriching life experiences that evoke newness acutally stimulate new brain growth. New brain patterns occur during creative moments of art, music, dance, drama, humor, literature, spirituality, awe, joy and cultural rituals. They can positively affect healing and the aging process.
Studies show that a mother's touch creates stimulation of the immune system, growth hormones and neural growth in her baby's brain. Yes, we may be living longer but quality of life begins every day with making choices to promote health, creativity, neurogenesis or new brain neural pathways and a strong immune stystem. How? We can choose to live a more creative healthy happy and stimulating life at any age.
Jean Pollack is a psychologist, life coach, mediator, author and teacher of Mind Body Psychology. In addition to being a prominent EMDR therapist, Dr. Pollack has written a book, Tango from Chaos to Creativity, in which she shares the story of her "dance" with a particular patient, Jacen, who comes to see that dancing is a means toward self-knowledge, creativity, and self-expression. Dr. Pollack is an interactive, solution-focused therapist. She provides mediation to couples and small businesses. Her unique mind body therapeutic approach provides her clients a unique opportunity to search deeply while changing their lives. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client. With compassion and understanding, she works with each individual to help them build on their strengths and attain the personal growth they are committed to accomplishing. She teaches her methods to other therapists.
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