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Published on Nov 1, 2009
Research on the significance and health benefits of sharing and group support has been extensive. One well-known study by Dr David Spiegel looked at the effect of group support meetings for women with metastatic breast cancer all receiving the same medical treatment. Five years after diagnosis, the women who had met once a week for 90 minutes over the period of one year were found to have twice the survival rate of the control group who had received the same medical care but no support groups to share their feelings and challenges.
Whether the studies focus on group support meetings, family ties, people involved in community or church activities, relationships and friendships, ethnic and cultural unity, or even pets, the results are impressive. Sharing and support can be one of the best complementary medicines to have at your disposal.
For most people the thought of sharing their lives revolves around finding a mate with whom they will spend the rest of their lives. In health enhancement, sharing our lives has a much wider perspective. It involves getting together with people who may be facing a similar challenge to the one we are facing, and sharing our ideas and experiences with them.
The importance of the group dynamic is witnessed time and time again, whether it be with self-help groups that target a specific theme, the team spirit as motivation for sport, or the camaraderie that develops among soldiers during conflict situations to help them through. A shared experience with someone who can relate to what we are currently going through seems to resonate deep within our soul, and can begin to break down walls of isolation.
Many of us have experienced this nurturing sense of comfort and belonging at some point in our lives, and when we reflect back on that time it can still bring a glow within us. We are social animals, and the key to our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being comes from this feeling of being integrated in body, mind, and spirit with all that is around us.
This talk by Neal Hoptman on group support and communication has been influenced by the teachings of Swami Satchidananda and Swami Sivananda who always reminded their students that the most important tool in experiencing greater peace and joy in life was the company you keep or sangha. Sharing, supporting and the energy of your peers can have powerful effects on one's state of mind and wellbeing.
How our thoughts, words and actions trigger our physiology and mental and emotional states has been documented in the western medical and scientific literature as well by such pioneers as Dr. Candace Pert and her book "The Molecules Of Emotion", Dr Bernie Siegel, Dr Ian Gawler, Dr. Joan Borysenko, Dr Dean Ornish, Jon Kabat Zinn, Dr David Spiegel, Dr George Solomon, Dr. James Gordon, Dr. Herbert Benson and many others pioneers in the fields of mind/body and integrative medicine.
For tools you can use at home and a number of online resources, vist http:/www.virtualhealthresort.com and have a look at the books by those listed above.
Sincere thanks and appreciation to Martin Amada of www.sitca.com who produced and edited this podcast. which was shot at Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa (www.kamalaya.com) on Samui Island in the Gulf of Thailand.