Compassion, Mind, Body & Healthcare

Compassion, Mind, Body & Healthcare

This is the second post in a series of Dr. Siegel posts regarding his keynote speech and master class I attended at Medx. You can read the first Dr Siegel post here!

537576ab700c673ccf0b70b54a302f54I’ve discussed numerous times with other patients how important a connection with your doctor is. Unfortunately, the health care model we have today puts so much pressure on medical practitioners that they hardly have enough time to see their patients any given day.

Dr. Siegel keynote presentation was focused on how compassion and connection play into healing and health. Medicine isn’t just about giving patients medication to get better. He said our lives are so dependent on connection that even a 30 second empathic conversation can help a patient get better.

Relationships directly affect the molecular structure of the body. Presences leads to improvements in the repair and maintenance processes to the ends of our chromosomes. It’s also been show to be associated with changes in the non DNA molecules that help prevent inflammatory diseases. Connection with others helps to optimize your mind, helps to bring meaning and emotional balance, and helps to develop compassion. “This pattern of healthy living involves the integration of energy and information within the nervous system and between people. Integration is the organizing principle that links the ways energy and information flow is shared (relationships), is shaped (the mechanisms of the embodied nervous system or, termed simply, the brain), and is regulated (the mind).” (Mind, Brain & Relationships, Dr. Dan Siegel) When integration happens in the mind we either get chaos or harmony. Dr. Siegel stated that Integration is the fundamental basis of health and, when made visible, is kindness and compassion.


Dr. Siegel introduced the PART acronym to present the fundamental parts that healing relationships have.

ec8dc8e275f83f3f17f1e0c12a693c1cPresence, Attunement, Resonating & Trust

P- Presence

Providers need to be present. And not just in the physical form, but mentally present as well. A mindfulness practice was suggested to providers to help develop this presence.

A – Attunement

Providers need to focus their attention on the inner nature of the person. If the provider is mentally and physically present then this will *hopefully* flow naturally

R – Resonating 

Providers need to feel empathetic for the patient. In this situation, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Providers and patients need to become a ‘we’ in everything.

T – Trust

If the provider is present, attuned and resonating with you, you then have the foundation of a trustful relationship to form. Social engagement is then turned on between the two of you and this is where you start to see physiological changes occur.

Dr. Lissa Rankin, in her book Mind Over Medicine, talked about how a doctor’s outlook on a situation can influence the patient’s future state. In a Facebook post she wrote on 10 Tips For Finding A Doctor she stated,

“Find a doctor who believes you can get well. The scientific data suggests that if your health care provider believes you will get well, you’re more likely to thrive. Feel free to ask your provider flat out, “Do you believe I can get better?” Pay close attention to the answer. If your doctor reads you negative statistics, insists that the outlook is not good, labels you as “incurable,” and generally considers you a hopeless case, you might think about finding someone else.  Keep in mind that as physicians, we are trained to be “realists” (a.k.a. “pessimists.”) But don’t be afraid to communicate your positive beliefs to your doctors. Offer your health care providers copies of Mind Over Medicine and ask if they’re willing to partner with you as an empowered patient who wants the support of a physician you trust. When invited to approach the treatment of an illness with optimism, many physicians will change their tune and appreciate the reminder that positive thinking does not equal false hope.”Dr Lissa Rankin
So if a doctor’s connection with us can help us heal, can changing our own mindsets help us heal?


 Yes! Yes it can!

You many not have caused your autoimmune disease, but practicing mindfulness can help with integration of your brain, improve your immune system and improve epigenetic control of inflammation.

But the responsibility for healing health care lies not just with doctors, but with patients. If, instead of mindlessly handing our bodies over to doctors, we viewed illness as an opportunity to bring our lives back into alignment with our truth, illness would become a compass leading directly to our true north. As a patient, you must trust that Dr Lissa Rankin

First, you NEED to have a partnership with your provider. You need to be empowered, knowledgable and be able to work together with your physicians to facilitate your healing process. Healing is equated with integration. Integration is forming that connection with your health care provider. Once you create that connection, changes can occur all over the body.

Part of the challenge with inviting empowered patients to use mindfulness to prevent or deal with their conditions, is the feeling of guilt. When we start to realize that our thoughts can manifest as these diseases, we start to think we brought these diagnosis’ on ourselves. That’s why, within our mindfulness practice we need to work on reducing guilt and realizing that correlation is NOT causation. We’ll never be able to say for sure if we did or didn’t cause our health problems, so isn’t it better to skip that argument all together?

Dr. Siegel talked about how researchers KNOW that what you do with your mind directly affects your body.

498fab032c42ec10c4ddad98ea336256He went on to explain that you can. . .

~ Reduce Cortisol

When you reduce your stress levels, you reduce the stress hormone levels.

~ Improve Immune System Function 

By just practicing mindfulness, your body’s immune system will improve. It’s thought that because your stress response is lowered and you initiate relaxation response, you flip your immune system up! “A study performed at the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin–Madison showed that health care practitioners who are empathic seem to be able to reduce the duration of the common cold in patients and boost their immune systems.”(Dr. Dan Siegel)

~ Create Brain Shifts 

When you’re facing a challenge the way you deal with it activates different parts of your brain. If you retreat, then your right side is activated. If you approach the challenge and say ‘BRING IT ON!’ then you activate the left side of your brain. By creating these brain function shifts you can actually start to change the function of the brain.

~ Integrate Your Brain 

When you form connections and experience relationships, create empathy, build trust, etc your brain is integrating.

~ Regulate Telomerase Levels 

When you practice being present, when you’re in an acceptation state, instead of a reactive state, the enzymes that repair the ends of your chromosomes (telomerase) are able to repair your chromosomes.

We know that the placebo effect works. But what are the physiological mechanisms that explain how thoughts, feelings, and beliefs may translate into physiological change? Researchers argue over the answer to this question, but several theories have been postulated. Thinking positively about getting well may stimulate natural endorphins, which help ameliorate symptoms, relieve pain, and lift your mood. The reverse is also true: when patients who responded positively to placebo were given the opioid blocker naloxone, which blocks natural endorphins, the placebo suddenly stopped being effective.20 Believing you’ll get better and being nurtured by caring clinical researchers may also relieve physiological stress, known to predispose the body to illness, and initiate physiological relaxation, which is necessary for the body’s self-repair mechanisms to operate properly. As first described by Harvard professor Dr. Walter Cannon, the body is equipped with what Cannon named the stress response, also known as the fight- or-flight response, a survival mechanism that gets flipped on when your brain perceives a threat. When this hormonal cascade is triggered by a thought or emotion in the mind, such as fear, the hypothalamic- pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis activates, thereby stimulating the sympathetic nervous system to race into overdrive, pumping up the body’s cortisol and adrenaline levels. Over time, filling the body with these stress hormones can manifest as physical symptoms, predisposing the body to disease over time. But as we’ll discuss in more detail in Chapter 8, just as the stress response exists as a survival mechanism designed to help us stay alive in emergency situations, the body also has a counterbalancing relaxation response. When the relaxation response is elicited, stress hormones drop, health-inducing relaxation hormones that counter the stress hormones are released, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over, and the body returns to homeostasis. Only in this rested, relaxed state can the body repair itself. Anything that reduces stress and elicits a relaxation response not only alleviates the symptoms the stress response can cause, but frees the body to do what it does naturally—heal itself. Dr Lissa Rankin

So I hate to ask this question, but do you need any more evidence to prove that compassion, positivity and connections are directly related to the outcome of your diagnosis?

Whatever the mechanism, it’s clear that the mind and body communicate through hormones and neurotransmitters that originate in the brain and then leave the brain to signal other parts of the body.Dr Lissa Rankin
122bce4360755beab3ced53f0fe14b16My challenge to you is to start small. Pick a positive saying that resonates with you and start to say it to yourself everyday.
When you wake up.
When you brush your teeth.
When you tie your shoes.
Write it on sticky notes.
Write it on a chalk board.

Whatever you do, start to train your brain to think more positively!

And, very importantly, find a doctor who BELIEVES you WILL get better and live a great life.

Because you totally deserve to live your best life possible!


Wishing You A Pain Free Day!