What is mind/body medicine, anyway?

We hear a lot about “mindfulness” and “mind/body” medicine these days. When a word becomes a “buzz word” we often wonder if it’s something that really works, or is just a trend.


Alice Domar, a pioneer in the field of Mind/Body medicine for fertility states: “Mind-body medicine is any method in which we use our minds to change our behaviors or physiology in order to promote health or recover from illness.” (Domar, 2002, pg 41)


So, what exactly does that look like? In The Fertile Body method, a technique that I practice, it involves connecting deeply to the breath (our body’s natural tranquilizer), quieting the mind, creating a hypnotic state (which in itself can be therapeutic) and guided meditations that create balance in body and mind.  


Here are a just a 4 of the reasons why a hypnotic state can be healing and useful for increasing fertility:

  1.  When we are in this state, our parasympathetic nervous system is activated, giving rise to the relaxation response.
  2. Hypnotic relaxation can reduce emotional arousal such as anger or fear.
  3. During hypnosis our imagination and creative abilities are enhanced. We can use this imagination to see ourselves behaving and feeling in a way we would like to in future situations.
  4. Our higher cortical functions are activated and our unconscious resources are more readily available in this state, so we are more easily able to find solutions and resolve problems.


“O.K., sure”, you may be saying to yourself, “that all sounds great, but is there any proof that this works?” Well, not only will you feel the results almost immediately, there are in fact scientific studies to back this up. I am always especially interested in studies that have proven results for women trying to conceive, either naturally or via IVF or other artificial reproductive technologies (ART).


For example, a study published in Fertility and Sterility found a dramatic increase in IVF success rates for those who participated in a Mind Body program prior and during their IVF procedure. The study included 143 women less than 40 years of age undergoing IVF. Subjects were randomly put into either a mind/body program, which consisted of 10 sessions, or into a control group for two IVF cycles. In the first cycle results for all subjects was 43%. Those that had finished at least half of their mind body session prior to their 2nd IVF cycle had a 52% success rate of pregnancy while the control group had 20% sumindbodyblogccess rate of pregnancy. (Fertility & Sterility June 1, 2011)”


There are other studies, but this one is of particular interest to me as my clients are often going through IVF, and I am always seeking out tools to help improve their success.


We have so many opportunities to be mindful in our everyday lives. We need to learn to take the time to put ourselves first, to turn off all our devices and just be. Enjoy the solitude. Breathe in, breathe out. Tap in to your inner wisdom and be grateful for what we have instead of longing for what we don’t. It is not easy, especially in 2015 when we are so connected at all times. But I promise you, if you take the time, even starting at 5 minutes a day, you WILL feel the difference.


“You practice mindfulness, on one hand, to be calm and peaceful. On the other hand as you practice mindfulness and live a life of peace, you inspire hope for a future of peace.” -Thich Nhat Hanh


Happy, Healthy, Peaceful 2015 to all!




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