Stud Health Technol Information 2005;118:247-256. Symposia
for Institute for Future Health Care Technology, Boston,
Mass., 2003. PMID
"It is probably true that, in
general, the most fertile developments in the history of human
thought are born at the intersection of two currents of ideas.
The currents may originate in the midst of totally different
cultural conditions, in diverse epochs and places."
Global Medicine Technology
Cindy Mason, Ph.D.
Visiting Research Scientist
Stanford Research Institute,
In little more than a decade,
linkages between health care technologies of different
cultures and continents have merged, resulting in global
medicine technology. The next generation of young scientists
and clinicians from both the research and clinical communities
are merging established ancient technologies from outside the
In this article
we briefly discuss some key ideas in eastern mind training
technologies and point to some of the ongoing activities in both
clinical and research settings. Most of
the ideas presented here embrace the notion that there is a
relation, in fact a dialogue, between mind, brain and body.
Concepts like self-awareness, mindfulness, forgiveness, and
honesty, are also big players in the ancient technology of
healing and the mind. Also included in
this new health landscape are the ideas that mind, brain and
heart are not separate organ systems, and that mind and body
refer to the same concept. Mind training
technologies were not developed in a laboratory nor do they rely
on silicon chips or pharmaceuticals, rather, they were developed
and passed down by "gurus" or teachers, sometimes religious
leaders, who have developed deep insight into human nature and
human behavior. Culture has preserved the teachings. Clinical
success has kept them alive. They do not replace nor compete
with western technology but are a marriage made in heaven for an
ailing healthcare system, where patients feel alienated,
hospitals are going broke, and doctors yearn for a system in
which they, too, can slow down and provide compassion. In the
article we discuss the role of healthcare culture in global
medicine in the
2. The Culture of Healthcare
A revolution in western medicine, like in physics, will come from realizing that our method of questioning is limiting our solutions. The need to separate mind from body in order to describe and explain them fails to capture the interplay between mind and body. This interplay now appears to be fundamental in theories of healing and disease formation. Without realizing this interplay we will fail to utilize our full capacity to address not only clinical and financial healthcare issues but administrative ones as well. The fMRI diagnostic technique provides much needed evidence for western cultures to understand why and how some of these ancient medical teachings work - not only how they awaken, regulate, and influence the body's own healing mechanisms but how they work together with western medicine. Such evidence provides the key to our ability to integrate these methods successfully and transform an ailing healthcare system and restore the level of standards and scrutiny we have grown to expect from western medicine.
3. Mind-Brain-Body Dialogue
More than 35 years ago, researchers at Harvard were studying the
origins and effects of stress and the cultivation of a relaxation
response via meditation,,.
Recent research in brain and cognitive sciences using fMRI, SQUID, and enhanced EEG show
remarkable and highly positive changes occur in brain function as
a result of prolonged meditation practice.
with these scientific mind and body, mind and brain studies, we
begin to see a picture of interaction between mind, brain and
body. What we in the west are now referring to as the
mind-brain-body dialogue is at the heart of traditional ancient
healing and mind training practices such as Theravadan,
Zen, and Tibetan Buddhist meditation. Other
meditation practices involve repetitive slow body movements or
repetitive thought exercises. These
practices include yoga, tai chi, chi gong, chanting, prayer, and
Clinical studies of these practices, along with positive clinical results of acupuncture and acupressure, and studies of the mind during these practices, indicate there are a number of effects occurring in the mind/body as we engage in these ancient "technologies". The invention of the fMRI provides details of the brain "in action" in a way previously imagined impossible. As shown in Figure 1, the fMRI does not require an IV, thus it is less invasive than PET scans (for an introduction to fMRI, see ,). It also requires fewer brain images to capture brain activity. General information about fMRI and fMRI studies can be found at websites for a variety of places with on-going programs involving fMRI .
Figure 1. Functional MRI pictured below. The man is getting his head examined. Photo source: Radiology Info.
Figure 2 shows fMRI and EEG
images that demonstrate the
influential relationship between
meditation and brain activity. This study
was performed at the Gollub Neuroimaging Lab at
2. Physiological effects of meditation. Functional MRI images
on the left, EEG on the right. Source: Gollub Neuroimaging
The next set of fMRI images in Figure 3, also from Gollub Neuroimaging Lab, shows the influence from body to brain, as an acupuncture needle insertion causes changes in the brain. The figure below illustrates the multiple effects of using acupuncture to needle an area of the body known as the Hoku point, Hegu point, or Large Intestine-4 (LI-4), located on the top side of the hand, in the highest place on the mound of tissue between thumb and index finger (think about the area where children draw faces on their hands and animate them, the inside corner of the mouth on that face points to LI-4). The area is one of the more well known acupuncture/acupressure locations and is commonly associated with pain relief but has multiple uses. The preliminary results of the study suggest that acupuncture needle manipulation on either hand relates to activity in the limbic system and subcortical structures. For more details on this project see .
effects in brain from needle manipulation of the hand area
known as Hoku or Large Intestine
4 (LI-4) point.
Source: Gollub Neuroimaging Lab,
In summary, we are now in a position never
before experienced to understand how the mind creates changes in
brain function over time, to watch the ways our mental and
emotional lives affect our brain function, and to see the body's
relationship to the brain. It is now
possible to watch how persistent mind training produces enduring
changes in the brain, beneficial for physical, emotional,
cognitive and behavioral health. They are not separate but are
in relation and in dialogue. Because many of the
mind-body-brain technologies are relatively inexpensive, these
studies have positive implications for medical practitioners and
a medical system pushed to its limits to find economical ways to
help patients find solutions
4. Transformation of a Medical
To become a practitioner who works with prana, or qi, one of the more important aspects of training is to develop your own meditation practice. The strength of your practice and the quality of the teachers you encounter are central to the quality of care you will ultimately provide as a practitioner who works with qi or prana. Knowledge about meditation practices is passed down through oral teachings. As a result, the lineage of the teacher as well as access to the teacher is important. The path to health prescribed by lineage teachings includes systemic mind training such as meditation and spiritual practices as well as certain types of body meditation including yoga, qigong, tai qi, which work with the mind-brain-body dialogue using movement and breath together. Body meditation practices release tension in the body, freeing the breath, and uses postures and movements that open the spine, joints, and limbs, encouraging body fluids to move, at the same time relax the mind.
What type of
meditation practices work for an individual is not a
one-size-fits-all prescription. Generally, styles of meditation are a result
of recommendations by friends or a result of personal inquiry. Often more than one type of meditation is
explored before finding something satisfying, as there are many
aspects to showing up for such teachings on a regular basis
including location, availability of a teacher we feel
comfortable with, the surroundings and social support offered in
meditation community, family support in allowing time and space
to develop the practice. Often there are weekend retreats and
cost is still sometimes a factor when housing or travel is
involved. Many hospital facilities and
HMOs are beginning to offer education and support for these
activities as a means of addressing patient needs.
The idea that
meditation and mind training can influence health is not new. As long ago as 1975, Dr. Herbert Benson
studied meditation and the development of a practice for
cultivating the "relaxation response" as a means for combating hypertension. What
is new is the invention of technologies that allow us to see
changes in brain activity as a result of such mind training
practices. Recently Tibetan meditation
has drawn the attention of neuroscientists and is the focus of
studies at the
5. Self Care
An important aspect of the soft technologies is that of self-care. Many lineages encourage individuals not to become dependent upon a healthcare practitioner but to learn self-care methods. While these techniques are not in fact a substitute for seeing a practitioner, they are useful until that can be arranged, and help extend the benefits of other medical treatments. It is interesting to note that many individuals report being naturally drawn to taking better care of themselves as a result of their meditation practices, gaining the courage to make changes in habitual behaviors, increasing personal happiness that seems to spill over into every aspect of their life including their health.
Destructive behavior is at the root of many health problems, ranging from obesity and diabetes to domestic violence. The relation between emotional and physical health is most obvious among patients with heart problems  which are rated as the leading cause of death in this country. Although it is common sense to many of us reading this paper, there is now considerable scientific evidence that letting go of anger and resentment can reduce the severity of heart disease. In some cases, the release of anger has been shown to prolong the lives of cancer patients. Considering the relation between stress and the immune system, or stress and the adrenal response, the results of such studies are not surprising. Technological advances in surgical instruments, anesthesia, artificial hearts and heart valve materials may help patients manage symptoms of heart disease, but without fundamental changes in habitual responses, including emotional health, in a manner of speaking, we are pissing in the wind.
Destructive emotional lives have a price not only on health, but on social structures. Families, workplaces, and schools all feel the price of violence, suicides and bullying that accompany emotional disharmony. Public institutions and school systems that cope with these problems are pressed to their limits to understand and prevent them(e.g.
In an unusual example of global medicine, patients at Stanford University Hospital, Lucille Salter Packard Children's Hospital, Kaiser Permanente of Redwood City, Mills Peninsula, California Cancer Center of Marin, and other hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area, are using the Japanese art of self-care known as Jin Shin Jyutsu physio-philosphy, to help manage side effects and emotional upheavals that adversely affect patients during major health projects, such as chemo, heart surgery, or transplants, and the treatments they involve ,,,. Used in support of whatever treatment regime the patient is undergoing, patients subjectively report less fear, worry, and depression. During sessions with practitioners, individuals learn to monitor feelings and use simple recipes on themselves involving gentle touch to harmonize difficult moods, attitudes, or symptoms. These self-care methods can be used by even the sickest patients throughout the day and evening or when other treatments are unavailable to help with nausea, sleeplessness, pain, and anxiety, and other signs and symptoms. Practitioners quietly inspire a philosophical focus on reducing dependence on care providers by self-care training/instruction that guides individuals to use self-care exercises based on how they are feeling - physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Interested readers are encouraged to try the Japanese exercises in self-care found at the end of the chapter. There is also an exercise that supports harmony of the spine and related functions. Jin Shin Jyutsu self-care is taught around the world by self-care instructors and can be found on CD-ROM .
progress in solving some of the most pressing issues in
healthcare will come by innovation and adaptation of ideas and
methods that work. Healthcare access
(especially preventative care) for a large number of uninsured,
shortage of nurses, and the rising cost of healthcare in an
aging population explosion are among just a few of the reasons
to consider using global medical technology along side
high-technology. Self-care education and
meditation training are comparatively cheap ways of reducing the
current pressures on our medical systems in the
It is likely that not long after this paper has been published or read, there have been many more advances in this area. It is even likely there will be a prosthetic mind or model of mind that can help those with limited mental capabilities as a result of our inquiries into this area. That is possibly the next step in the intersection of east and west.
JIN SHIN JYUTSU SELF-CARE EXERCISE
4 illustrates a self-care exercise called the "Main Central"
for harmonizing spine functions as perceived in the Japanese
healing art known as Jin Shin Jyutsu
physio philosophy. As prevention or maintenance, this
exercise may be done upon waking, and/or before retiring at
night. Use pillows as necessary for
comfort. It may also be used as needed
when working with health projects. It
usually takes about 20 minutes when done properly, but may be
interrupted and resumed without difficulty or loss of benefit. As this exercise proceeds, it is useful to
visualize the breath coming up the back as you inhale, and
down the front as you exhale. Figure 4a
shows the physical locations for hands. Figure 4b gives
directions for six hand positions referenced in Figure 4a. Fingertips are often used, but palms, back
of hands, or entire hand can also be used. It
is important to be comfortable during the application of the
exercise, avoiding noise, drafts, etc. Quiet
music may be useful if you have trouble relaxing.
Figure 4a Diagram shows hand positions used to administer self care described in Figure 4b. R1 refers to Right Hand position in Step1. L1 is the Left Hand position in Step 1, L2 is the Left Hand position in Step 2, and so on. Source: Jin Shin Jyutsu Insitute .
Figure 4b. gives the directions for a self care "recipe". There are six steps that move the hands according to descriptions below and follow the illustration in Figure 4a.
Step 1: Place the fingers of the right hand on the top of the head (where they will remain until step 6). Place the fingers of the left hand on your forehead between your eyebrows. Hold for 2 to 5 minutes or until the pulses you feel at your fingertips synchronize with each other.
Step 2: Now move the left fingertips to the tip of the nose. Hold them there for 2 to 5 minutes, or until the pulses synchronize.
Step 3: Move the left fingertips to your sternum (center of your chest between your breasts). Stay there for 2 to 5 minutes, or until the pulses synchronize.
Step 4: Move your fingers to the base of your sternum (center of where your ribs start, above the stomach). Hold them there for 2 to 5 minutes, or until the pulses synchronize.
Step 5: Move your fingers to the top of your pubic bone (above the genitals, center). Stay there for 2 to 5 minutes, or until the pulses synchronize.
Step 6: Keep your left fingertips in place and move your right fingertips to cover your coccyx (tailbone). Hold for 2 to 5 minutes or until the pulses you feel at your fingertips synchronize with each other.
Notes: The right hand remains on the top of the head while the left hand moves down the body until the final step. The practice is typically performed while lying flat, using pillows as necessary to maintain comfort. General instruction regarding the breath during the self care practice is to envision the breath inhaling up the back of the spine/body and exhaling down the front of the spine/body.
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 The word mind, as used here, refers to mind and body. The brain and heart are also considered inseparable.
A term coined by Dr. Mehmet Oz,
heart surgeon at
 Qi (also called CHI, or KI) and prana are concepts that occur in most medical systems outside the west but appear to be difficult concepts in translation due to the differences between eastern and western thinking.