Creating the ideal environment with strains of faith, healing, health and vitality.
From late September through early October, the largest fair of any kind in the world, Oktoberfest, takes place in Germany. The 223-year-old festival celebrates the fine art of beer-making. Like fine wine production, artisan beermaking requires a scientific understanding of bacterial and yeast strains, and the process of lacto-fermentation. Beer-making, you see, is really microbiology.
I learned these same principles while I was studying microbiology in college. My professor, Brigitte Goehler, was from Germany and well-trained in the old world art of fermentation, making things like kefir, yogurt, kvass and sourdough. One of our first assignments was to make yogurt. It seemed a strange assignment for pre-med students, but the purpose was to teach us the power of enculturation. I remember making the mother culture that would be used to populate the milk. The milk had to be boiled to eliminate all the existing bacteria that might compete with the new cultures for food and space. After boiling for just the right amount of time, the milk reached an exact temperature before the new cultures were introduced. As if that wasn’t enough, the milk had to be maintained at a constant temperature for a certain number of days. Even temperature fluctuations in the room could spell success or failure. In the end, Brigitte would make her rounds and give us a pass or fail on the assignment with just one taste of our yogurt.
“Words are like bacterial strains proliferating quickly for good or ill depending on the conditions of the mental environment in which they find themselves.”
What amazed me about this experiment was that, under the right conditions, just how little of the mother culture it took (barely a spoonful) to completely populate nearly a quart of milk and turn it into yogurt. That’s because the boiling process had destroyed all the milk’s natural defenses. It was rendered completely vulnerable so the bacterial strains in the mother culture could proliferate uncontested.
To me, words are like bacterial strains proliferating quickly for good or ill depending on the conditions of the mental environment in which they find themselves. Last month, we discussed the power of words on the water in our cells. This month’s principle works in tandem with that understanding because negative words can only resonate inside our cells when our mind is vulnerable to the enculturation of negative ideas. Like bacteria, it often only takes a tiny sample, sometimes just a comment or single word, to start the proliferation of negativity in our thought process.
We are often most vulnerable when visiting a doctor. Vulnerable in Latin is vulnerare or “to wound”. We’re in a wounded place mentally and physically. Our psychological defenses are down; we’re worried and unsure about what’s going on with our bodies. Our minds are wide open to the enculturation of anything doctors may say. We put them on a pedestal and their word is absolute truth to us. This is dangerous because all too often, doctors speak out of turn and share things with patients that are far from conclusive. They think out loud and say things that may enculturate our minds with quickly proliferating fear, wiping out our faith and positivity.
This has much to do with the culture in which doctors were educated, which then informs how they practice. Doctors who know that words have the power to heal or hurt understand the No-cebo Effect. It’s the reverse of the Placebo Effect. The Placebo Effect happens when a patient takes a powerless sugar pill in a medical experiment, believing it will heal him and it does. The pill didn’t do the healing because it was useless. It was the healing thoughts that proliferated in the patient’s mind because he was told the pill would heal him that did the real work.
The No-cebo Effect happens when the same process occurs, but to a negative end. Documented cases exist of doctors accidentally reading from the wrong file and telling patients that they have a certain dis-ease. Guess what? The patients can end up developing that very dis-ease, even though they never had it in the first place. Patients are put at risk when doctors say that just because a family member has a certain disease, that the patient is “highly likely” to develop it, too. Patients told they have “X” number of months left to live die almost on cue at the exact end of that time period.
“Create the ideal environmental conditions with just the right people around you, so thoughts of health and happiness flourish.”
Don’t allow your mind to become defenseless against the enculturation of fear. Cultivate your mind with strains of faith, healing, health and vitality. Create the ideal environmental conditions with just the right people around you, so thoughts of health and happiness flourish. Know that the first and last word on your health is always you and if your physician doesn’t practice in a culture of caring and careful words… find one who does. I’ve taken special care to create such an environment at the Be Hive of Healing Medical Center in Agoura Hills. Aside from the beautiful facility and expanded services, my first priority has always been to create a culture of patient empowerment to eliminate vulnerability and maximize healing vitality. That’s why I have healing messages and art posted all over my office walls. I created it as a museum of inspiration to keep patients’ minds enculturated with positivity. In fact, I have one patient who comes by occasionally just to soak up the uplifting energy. As I see it, the most powerful drug any doctor can prescribe is his own words.
Dr. Habib Sadeghi is the co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles. He provides revolutionary healing protocols in integrative, osteopathic, anthroposophical, environmental, and family medicine, as well as clinical pharmacology. He served as an attending Physician and Clinical Facilitator at UCLA-SM Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Instructor of Family Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Sadeghi is a regular contributor to Goop, CNN, BBC News and TEDx. He is the author of Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss, as well as the foreword to Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, and is the publisher of the health and well-being journal, MegaZEN.