For decades, medical researchers have studied the Placebo Effect. Most people understand placebos to be "sugar pills" given to research participants in medical studies; oftentimes, medical research groups will be divided into two groups: one group will receive the actual treatment being tested, while another group will be given an impostor treatment, or placebo. Researchers use this method to test the efficacy of potential drugs by comparing and contrasting the results of both groups. Something that has fascinated researchers is that, sometimes, the placebo subjects' medical woes will dissipate or even disappear, especially in psychiatric trials. Now, new scientific data suggests that the Placebo Effect is much stronger than was previously recorded, which scientists are calling placebo "drift".
While some of this data is correlated with pharmaceutical research fraud, overall, this shift is significant enough to warrant concern in the research community. In the NPR report, The Growing Power of the Sugar Pill, data suggests that faith is a powerful medicine. Now, when some people hear the word "faith", it stirs serious emotions. Atheists and agnostics might fiercely defend their right to non-faith; while others whom welcome spirituality and religion, might welcome the concept.
But this faith doesn't require God or an absence of God. Rather, this faith deals with believing in science. People have faith when they go to the doctor that modern medicine will cure one's ails. Well, according to researchers, having faith that you're being cured might actually work. It's enough to skew data and make some scientist scratch their heads, because faith cannot be measured using the scientific method.
This news is welcome for people like me who would not consider themselves religious or sometimes frown at conventional spirituality, but who also accept that there are answers science cannot measure or answer. I consider myself a realist who takes full responsibility for my Self. This also means I believe that I can control every aspect of my Self, and not just deciding on whether to make a left or right turn, or choosing to treat people with common courtesy. I'm talking about the micro too: I should be able to control every aspect of my life down to a molecular level, and all with a thought. I can manipulate my external environment, so why not the internal?
Aside from placebo drift, I'm not the only one who believes this to be true. Tibetan Buddhists have believed the mind and body are interconnected for thousands of years.
Now, the test for me is to learn how to do it. How can I, with a thought, make myself hot and then cold? How can I, with a thought, heal diseases of my mind and body? If I can choose to control my external environment deliberately, I must also be able to use the same deliberation and presence of mind to control what is within.
We can already master our internal selves when we choose to be happy or sad, angry and passive- logically, I must also include the minute, microscopic, subatomic particles that make me who and what I am.
What effects do your beliefs have on your life? Perhaps a lot more than you think.
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