What lead to your interest and quest to find out more about Mind Body Medicine?
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease when I was a 24 year old journalist at the beginning of my dream career. Over a number of years I tried everything from drugs to alternative therapy. After spending $30,000 I was still sick. There was one thing I did know. When I was going through stressful times, my illness was worse. Taking that as my starting point I began to investigate the connection between my mind and body when it comes to health. I came across the work of leading scientists from places like Harvard and Stanford and began applying their research findings to my own life. My health started to improve. I felt compelled to tell other people about what I had found and decided to invest the profit from my production company into a film. The result of three years of work was The Connection. It's been nearly a year since we released the film and I'm happy to say it's now done a sold out world wide tour and been seen by thousands of people, some of whom have written to me to tell me how their lives have been changed. It's amazing.
Why did you choose infertility as a topic of your film?
I wanted to represent a cross section of ailments in the film, so telling the infertility story was a must, but the mind body component of infertility is especially compelling. There are constant waves of hope and disappointment. There's so much stress and pressure on relationships; and while the mental side of things can become consuming, the physical side - especially for women going though fertility treatment or who experience miscarriage - is also taxing. It was a hard story to condense into the film. I could have easily made an entire film about this.
Why did you choose Ali Domar to be included in your film?
Ali Domar's research credibility is impeccable. Some of her early research was with Dr. Herbert Benson who is considered to be the father of evidence based mind body medicine. But one of the striking things about Dr. Domar is her even keeled interpretation of her findings. Dr. Domar is careful not to overstate the findings and is happy to talk about what the science doesn't show which is an insight into her integrity, especially given her work revolves around women in desperate need of hope.
From your discussions with Ali, what do you consider the key successful elements of her program?
The elements of the program have a foundation in scientific research and it's impossible to say which is the key to the compelling results. That said, I think the power of the group support element is likely to be significant. Human beings have evolved to be social creatures and for many women the infertility journey is very lonely. I think the other major thing that likely occurs for women during the program via the various techniques that are taught (journalling, meditation etc) is a perspective shift. The mindset changes from being 'I can't get pregnant. What's wrong with me? Will it ever happen?' to 'I hope I get pregnant but I'll be ok if it doesn't happen.'
What sort of feedback have you received from women struggling with infertility who have watched the film?
After screenings of the film I regularly have chats with women and their partners who feel they've finally been given a path to follow. It's a sense of empowerment and that there are things they can do for themselves rather than just leaving it up to fate or to medical professionals. I've heard from people who sought out mind body programs for infertility after seeing the film and have had their lives change as a result. It's incredible to hear stories like this because it's exactly why I wanted to make the film.
What do you think about Positive Mind Body Australia bringing the Mind Body Program for Fertility to Australia?
It was music to my ears when I heard that Positive Mind Body had taken the initiative to bring the program to Australia. It is such a gift to the women who will do the program. I was stunned a few years ago that the program wasn't already here and thrilled when I first heard about the visionary women who have made it happen. So many women's lives will take a dramatically different direction as a result.