Dr. Henry Grayson is on the cutting edge of mind/body/spirit psychology. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Boston University and a post-doctoral certificate in psychoanalysis from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health. He has studied neuropsychology, the major psychotherapies, the new power therapies, quantum physics and Eastern and Western spiritual philosophies. This rich background led him to his work in spiritually based, mind body energy psychology and his creation of Synergetic Therapy. He is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, a leading postgraduate training Institute in New York; the Founder and Director of the Institute for Spirituality, Science and Psychotherapy; and continues to appear in numerous documentaries and PBS specials.
Grayson is the author of Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind: Revolutionary Methods to Release All Barriers to Health, Healing and Happiness, Mindful Loving: 10 Practices for Creating Deeper Connections and the best selling CD Audio Series for Sounds True, The New Physics of Love: The Power of Mind & Spirit in Relationships. He has been lecturing, teaching and providing professional training for over 30 years. I first interviewed Grayson for O Magazine a few years back and am happy to count him as a friend and kindred spirit.
Mark: Your new book is called Use Your Body To Heal Your Mind. Why isn’t it the other way around?
Henry: Well, the common way of thinking is upside down. We think that our purpose is to heal the body. But the body is really just empty space. It’s 99.999% empty space. It’s consciousness that rules. That’s the message we get from worldwide spiritual wisdom and what’s emerging more in quantum physics as well. It’s really consciousness that rules, not matter. If we’re trying to heal the body without healing the mind, using the mind to heal the body, we missed the basic healing that’s necessary for us. We need to heal the mind that may have even needed the body to be sick, or the thought it could be sick, that told it it was vulnerable, that it had to be a victim of this or that germ or event. But to recognize that consciousness is the issue, we take back our power and find our true self in the process, then the body just naturally heals in response to that.
M: Does this work if you’re very sick or are you talking about more minor physical problems?
H: Well, I’ve seen two people in the last year that had stage four cancer, and I’ve seen them both do self-healing. And doctors were quite amazed. One of them reduced the size of the tumor way down; when they operated, they found only dead cancer cells. The New England Journal of Medicine pointed out maybe 20 years ago that 80 percent of our symptoms are stress-related. Medicine doesn’t deal with that. It might give a couple of pills, but it just masks the cause and deals with the symptoms. If we get to the source of the stress, then the immune system gets stronger and the body will naturally heal. I don’t have a need for this illness -- if it’s not going to have a secondary gain or if I realize that my stress comes from trauma, or painful experiences in my life, if those are not cleared, they are going to weaken my immune system and illness is naturally going to occur. As long as I believe the power is outside me, I’m going to get sick. But if I take back the intrinsic power of my divine nature, who I really am, my connection to the unified field as it’s called in physics, then I’m more naturally healed. Now this doesn’t mean that I have always been successful. Often I am and sometimes it’s quick, a couple times instant, but once it took me three years to finally get what it was about. Then I was able to heal that particular thing.
M: You mentioned secondary gains. What do you mean by that?
H: Physicians talk about that one a lot. There’s some purpose of my keeping a symptom. For example, with debilitating or degenerative kind of illnesses where one has to end up being taken care of, very often is a symbolic expression of that. This is a person who grew up not really being taken care of as a child. The trauma of that was never cleared and the belief that they could never have loving attention was never dealt with. What the body does is express that and renders you incapable of functioning so you have to be taken care of. The secondary gain is: “I finally get some caretaking.” This does not make a person wrong nor should it make them feel guilty. Guilt would produce illness and make it worse. What we need to do is embrace our power and that’s what most human beings are really afraid of -- fully embracing our internal power.
M: Why do you think that is?
H: Well, Einstein referred to it as an optical illusion that we’re separate. In this human state of mind, we think we’re separate from each other, separate from the universe, separate from what religions have called God or the higher power. That illusion of separateness makes us feel little. We feel afraid, weak, and a void for love. We think love is outside us, that it’s in somebody else, and we have to get it from them. We have to manipulate, cajole or please them to get it. We have to chase after some other thing, some other power, position, house, piece of clothing, or car that we think is going to fulfill us. All of that is a human condition that expresses our intrinsic feeling of smallness instead of our power. For some reason, we are afraid of embracing that because we get attached to our identity of separateness or as Einstein put it, this optical illusion that we’re separate.
M: Let’s backtrack a little bit to the person with cancer who was able to heal him or herself through thoughts. Can you give me a sense of how they did that? What sort of techniques did they use to do that?
H: There are several approaches. We need to identify un-cleared traumas that a person has had. Often there are a lot of cumulative ones in childhood. Experiences with deprivation, rejection, criticism, judgment, being ignored, sometimes being abused -- all of those remain there as encoded information in our bodies. And our limbic system, our old reptilian brain, as a neuroscientist put it to me, is 15 to 18 times more active than it needs to be for our stage of evolution. Therefore, it takes very little to produce stress and repeat that stress. And so, one of the first things we need to do is make sure our childhood traumas are cleared. In fact, we know that if they are not cleared when there’s a serious illness that occurs in the early twenties. If we have one in adult life, often an illness will develop in a year or two, a serious one if it’s a major one.
What this person did was clear the childhood traumas and the adult traumas, identify the negative beliefs that grew out of those and that would be that I’m no good or I’m not good enough, or I’m going to be rejected, I’m not loved or loveable, I can’t do this, I can’t succeed.. Because all of our thoughts are always producing an effect, every thought is always affecting every one of the 70 or 80 trillion cells in the body through the instant messaging system called the neuropeptides. Every thought we think does that. So I’d have a person identify those thoughts. Then we need to clear those thoughts sort of like deleting information from a computer like an unwanted program. Then you need to install new programming, which is essentially opening up new neural pathways or new systems of thinking about oneself or what thought patterns we allow to be in there. When we don’t do that, we keep letting those anchors hold us back.
A few years ago I was doing a seminar in Boston and I had the training seminar for therapists. I asked at the beginning how many people want to have a totally healthy and happy life? Everybody’s hands went up. I thought I could quickly do what’s called muscle testing from applied kinesiology. For those who are not familiar with it, nutritionists use it, and have you hold a substance in your hand and if your body needs it, it becomes strong, if you don’t need it, it becomes weak. I use it because it touches into what the inner wisdom knows to be true or false and if you make a true statement, your arm becomes strong. If you know it to be false, the arm instantly goes weak. I said, I’d like to see if you believe you deserve to be totally healthy and happy or if it’s safe to be totally healthy and happy; just two issues. The results blew my mind. I found that 82 percent had both beliefs that I don’t deserve to be totally healthy and happy and it’s not safe to be totally healthy and happy. And the other 18 percent had one or the other. A month later I was doing a seminar in New York City and I found New Yorkers have the same thing. I repeated it in Chicago; Raleigh, Durham, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Seattle, Washington; San Francisco; Portland, Oregon -- all these places I got the same results everywhere. About 80-82 percent had both of these beliefs. That says to me, these are only two barriers against healing. I think of it as like trying to sail a boat. If you’ve got anchors there holding it back, the boat’s not going to move. But if we cut the anchors loose, our nature is for total health and happiness, and identification with love.
M: So it’s not that talk therapy is useless, it’s just a beginning.
H: It’s just a beginning. It’s a piece of it. And it’s an important piece because it’s wonderful to connect with somebody who hears you, understands you, has compassion for you, can listen to you, and you can share it with them, but it does not, most often, clear traumas. In fact, brain scan studies show it might even reactivate them. So we need to use some other procedures like bilateral stimulation of the brain, which is commonly known now as EMDR. Or maybe meridian stimulation where you touch or tap on certain acupressure points but you don’t need to use needles. You use consciousness and the stimulating of those energy points and find it’s even more effective to clear out the effects of the trauma or a negative belief system in just a few minutes. I find that it works and I’ve studied most of the major forms of psychotherapy and taught them through my decades of practice. With these methods I’m just amazed. If we don’t clear the traumas, negative beliefs or even negative downloads from our parents where we downloaded behaviors and attitudes, they’re like software in a computer. They’ll only just keep printing out what’s there. They’ll just keep printing it out and we all feel like we’re victims of it but it’s not necessary.
M: When did you have your epiphany that traditional psychotherapy was limited?
H: Back when I was doing my post-doctoral training, I originally went through four years of psychoanalytic training and I had to be in psychoanalysis three times a week. I thought there was a lot of value in it and there’s value in recognizing that 95 percent of our behaviors are not conscious. Freud tried to find ways to get to that, through dream analysis, free association, hypnosis and so on, but they only touched the unconscious a little bit. And I found as good as my analyst was, that it didn’t touch a lot of the deeper areas I needed to work on. So I started getting experience personally, training and other modalities at the same time and she just incorporated it into my psychoanalysis and we worked with it there and I grew from it. Whereas most analysts would have said, you’re acting out, you‘ve got to stay away from those things and stay here. She didn’t do that and encouraged me because we both found that it really helped my growth. And that’s why I founded the National Institute for the Psychotherapies shortly afterward. I wanted there to be a training institute that would train people in multiple modalities. It’s the realization that there’s some value in each of the modalities and different ones fit different people for different problem areas.
M: Wasn’t there a real philosophical, spiritual awakening for you as well, regarding quantum theory and non-dual philosophy?
H: Yes. This was in the ‘80s and I had read a little bit of quantum physics. I was invited to spend the weekend with David Bohm, theoretical physicist from the University of London, who wrote Wholeness and Implicate Order and other books, and about 40 other therapists. That weekend helped me see that everything is interconnected and that there’s nothing that is separate in the universe. Hearing this from a physicist just blew my mind. This means I’m affected by everything around me but I can be more the affecter if I identify with the higher energy of love and compassion whereas, if I am identifying with fear and littleness or anger and resentment, then I’m going to be more the victim of everything that’s around me. My energy goes way down. There’s a realization that there’s a whole other world that I hadn’t seen. I had just seen the old world of Isaac Newton of the science of 350 years ago, which most medicine and most psychologists still live by. But when I did that, boy, it opened up a realm of spiritual wisdom as well. Since then, I’ve been totally immersed in quantum physics and in worldwide spiritual wisdom and not so much with doctrines of religions.
M: What would Freud say about this ?
H: Well, Freud had a wonderful sense of curiosity. He had discovered the role of the unconscious mind. As I said, he kept trying to find ways to access it. He tried hypnosis. He even found that if you use hypnosis you could remove physical symptoms but he’d find it pop up somewhere else if he didn’t get to the cause. He found dream analysis helped a little bit to get to the subconscious mind, but he was curious. He kept being curious all of his life. Unfortunately his followers made a doctrine out of his conclusions. They did not follow the spirit of the man. It’s the spirit of Sigmund Freud we needed to follow of continual inquiry and openness to what helps people change and grow. Instead, psychoanalysis became a doctrine like an orthodox religion and it got stultified that way as we do with most theoretical systems. We make them a doctrine and they’re entrenched, and you have to be certified in it and then that’s the be-all end-all. But we need to keep an openness. The spirit of Freud was really the one I wanted to identify more with, and I guess my philosophy’s always been that I’m interested in what helps people be free of their suffering, change and grow faster as long as it’s legal, ethical and has no harmful side effects. Those have been my criteria.
M: Let’s talk about applied kinesiology.
H: They say that the first year of life is one of the most important. But we don’t remember it. With muscle testing we can determine the amount of disturbance in that first year of life on a scale of zero to 10. If it’s a 10, we know that that is really important to clear. We clear it because it’s just encoded information. If we go through that, do the equivalent of a wireless web search, go to where that information’s encoded, and do one of these energy stimulation processes with intention, you can release that.
M: This is a huge thing for some people to get their minds around, that we have muscle memory, that information is encoded in the body.
H: Well, the unconscious is good and it’s difficult. For example when you’re just learning to drive and a car pulls out in front of you, you’ve had an accident before you can think about what to do whereas, if you’ve been driving for a while, it’s automatic. Your unconscious mind calls you to swerve just the right way and put on the brakes to avoid the accident. So our unconscious mind is also very, very helpful. We just want to identify the pieces of it that are not helpful and get those cleared out. But we want to be grateful to our unconscious mind. We’d be overrun with information if it was all in consciousness all the time. So we want to hang onto the part that’s positive. It’s just the negative part that produces pain and illness, , that makes us think we’re empty of love, makes us depressed, anxious and sick and so on. That’s the part we want to deal with.
M: One last question. When I first interviewed you, you had just written your book about love and the idea that you can affect the behavior of the person you’re with simply by changing your thoughts. Could you tell me a little bit about how that works?
H: Well, the physicists call it the non-local mind. That means it’s not retained in your skull. The brain is within your skull, but mind reaches forth. In fact, there was one interesting study done by the Army Central Intelligence Command decades ago where he took a person and had him make a donation of saliva, then centrifuged it, put it in a test tube, and planted an electrode connecting it to a polygraph machine, and conducted a lie detector test to see if the saliva would react as well as the person. They put the person down the hall, had him watch videos with scenes of violence. Whenever he would experience a scene of violence, which would bring tension or fear in him, the electrode five rooms down the hall would react as if it was in terror. What’s even more amazing is over the course of the next month they moved that test tube farther and farther away from that person up to 55 miles away and up to a month later, and the test tube would still react when he experienced scenes of violence where he was back in the original location.
M: That seems impossible.
H: And yet, if everything is interconnected, it’s not impossible because we’re not separate from it.
M: So how does that work in a relationship? If I’m in stress or a conflict with someone are you saying the most important thing is to change the way I’m thinking about that person?
H: If I change my thinking and my perception, I will begin to send forth different energy to that person. We all say we pick up vibes from a person, we like this person’s happy vibes, we don’t want to be around their depressed vibes or their negative resentful vibes. We all pick up that sort of thing. But what we don’t get, is they don’t even have to be in the same room as us to pick them up. We can pick them up anywhere because mind is non-local. It’s everywhere. We are part of the one unified field so, what I’m thinking about a person is going to affect that relationship. I’ve experimented with that myself repeatedly in various situations with people I’ve had issues with and as long as I held onto my hurt, anger or resentment, there was a wall that would continue between us. But if I started seeing that person differently, knowing that there are basically just two emotions in the world, love and fear, and if this person’s not being loving, then it has to be out of fear. So if I could see it that way and I could just have and hold a thought of love and compassion --that that person’s fear will heal for the sake of themselves and for everybody, I would often see things transform in that relationship. MI can give many stories about how people have done that with a very difficult boss, spouse or child. When they change their thinking about them, the whole relationship often begins to change. If it doesn’t, maybe the person is too entrenched in their negativity, but I find most of the time, people see a very definite positive change as a result of changing their thoughts and perceptions. If we can realize our thoughts are not so much observations or facts, which is what most people think, but are all acts of creation. First of all, in my body, in my mood, in my attitude and then it reaches forth and affects everything and everyone around me.
I remember some guy I worked with is a student at the University of Connecticut years ago. He told me about an experiment that his professor had them do that just blew his mind. They took four plants that were very, very similar, as close to the same as possible, put them in four different rooms in the university. Each had the same exposure to sunshine and gave them equal water and plant food but on the door was instructions. These students were supposed to go around when they had breaks in between classes and, follow the instructions. On one, they were supposed to go and shout obscenities at the plant. The next group, they were supposed to go in and have loving thoughts about the plant. In the next room, they were supposed to play melodic, soothing, lovely music like Mozart. In the next room, they would go in and play acid rock.
The student’s mind was blown away by the fact that in the room where they had the lovely music or the positive thoughts, the plants just thrived and grew and blossomed. The other two rooms, the plants started shriveling, and ultimately died. If we apply this principle in our own lives, imagine what could be possible.