Disease takes root in the mind, so the mind can unroot disease, a new documentary declares.
Although our thoughts can make us sick, they also can guide us to health, says the film "Heal."
The documentary has had a limited release in Denver and other big cities since Oct. 27. Still in theaters, it is available for purchase in digital or DVD formats beginning Tuesday.
The 105-minute film is the directorial debut for actress Kelly Noonan Gores ("10 Years," "Not Another Not Another Movie") and is produced by Adam Schomer ("One Little Pill," "The Polygon").
Gores said by phone that she developed the idea to make this film for 10 years.
She said Marianne Williamson's best-selling self-help/spiritual guide "A Return to Love" was her initial inspiration, coupled with the fact that she was noticing an overwhelming increase in chronic disease diagnoses in those around her.
Williamson writes about how work is not the path to true success. "As we begin to understand more deeply why love is such a necessary element in the healing of the world, a shift will occur in how we live our lives within and without," she wrote.
Gores said she wanted to explore how positive thinking can improve the lives of those suffering from diabetes, arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, cancer and other diseases.
She said she likewise was inspired by other spiritual teachers. Several appear in the film, including authors Deepak Chopra, Anita Moorjani and Williamson; spiritual teacher Micheal Bernard Beckwith; medical medium Anthony William; and psychiatrist Kelly Brogan.
"At different phases of my life, I would read these teachings, applying them to my life. I really felt that they resonated," Gores said. "I saw more and more people around me were getting sick, and every other commercial on TV was for a pharmaceutical. The thinking was, 'Pop a pill and be done.' If you really learn how the body works, you can break that cycle of fear."
Chopra says, "If you have a chronic illness, believe the diagnosis, but don't believe the prognosis."
Gores said one of the biggest factors in illness is stress.
"We're inundated with information all the time, and the majority of that information is negative and fear-promoting," she said. "Nobody has the space to listen to their own voice anymore. That takes a toll on your immune system. You're literally shutting off your immune system."
Also affecting the immune system - the body's defense against illness and infection - are negative and limiting thoughts and beliefs, plus external factors such as toxins, pesticide and pollution, Gores said.
There are several ways to break the cycle of negatives, including eating an organic, plant-based diet with no processed foods.
"Digestion takes a ton of energy, and you need that energy to heal," Gores said.
"It stems from simply getting yourself to the parasympathetic state," said Schomer. "If you're constantly in fight-or-flight, other things suffer chronically. For me, meditation is the most important thing I've explored in my life. You're more easily in that state where your body can heal. The heart space or gratitude space sends messages to the body."
The film and its experts explain the benefits of visualization, meditation, positive thinking, reiki, emotionally focused therapy and even working with a "neuroacoustic wizard," among other holistic methods.
"Heal" follows two women with severe health problems. Eva, a busy mother, has flare-ups of a painful rash, and doctors can't figure out the cause. Elizabeth, who has practiced yoga and eaten "clean" her entire life, is diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Each is open to different treatments, while also relying on traditional medicine to manage their illnesses.
Gores said she knew Eva before the film and wanted the documentary to follow someone "on an actual journey." At the end of filming, Eva still was seeking relief from her mystery illness through Eastern and Western medicine.
"I had never heard of anyone living from Stage 4," said Elizabeth, who went through chemotherapy while trying alternative treatments.
"The universe, God or whatever aligned Elizabeth with the spiritual psychologist. We filmed all of the Eva stuff and used footage of Elizabeth. I didn't know her before. But I felt I was so blessed to have women so open."
With the diagnosis of cancer or any chronic illness, "Our minds tend to go to the worse-case scenario," Gores said. "But there are so many inspiring testimonies out there that say, 'If I can do it, so can you.'"
Gores and Schomer are traveling the globe to promote "Heal."
"I'm not sure what's next. It's too soon!" Gores said, laughing, when asked what plans she has.
"Right now we are focused on this film," Schomer said. "We're just really surprised and pleased at the reception."