May 28, 2010
Where is the Care in Conventional Health Care?
Our system of medicine is excellent in emergencies and immediate life-saving procedures. If there is an emergency, I want conventionally-trained doctors on my case. However, beyond emergencies, there is nothing done to heal the whole person or address the root cause of an ailment. We are separated into little parts, our humanity cast aside. The incredible power and influence of the mind, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions to make us sick, and help us heal, is ignored.
When we arrive at a hospital or doctor’s office we are most often viewed as a file folder, an insurance card, and someone who needs to be dealt with as fast as possible because there are just too many other important things to do, like get on to the next patient (i.e. bring in more money), make sure to avoid being sued for malpractice, and bill insurance.
My mother is in her 70’s now. She said when she went in for a physical exam the doctor seemed puzzled that she wasn’t on any prescription drugs - not that she would be, since she is in great health, exercises daily, and eats well. I wonder why a doctor would be surprised that a 70-something person is not on a drug. Is this because almost everyone over a certain age has multiple bottles of prescription pills sitting in their cabinets?
I would like to see more holistic-oriented doctors coming out of medical school. The training for doctors is heavy on left-brain proof and scientific method, very light on heart, intuition, and what it means to be in service to others: the human side of healing. To be more holistic would require a different orientation from doctors: less devotion to needing everything proven by linear, limited science before it can be acknowledged, and more of an open mind to the mysteries and complexities of how a human being can heal; less of a need to get rich while fostering a desire to serve and be a healer.
Our training in this society is to trust science and refute intuition and inner knowing. I understand this, being trained in the system myself. It is valuable to have facts and figures we can see and know. It was drummed into me that you don’t say a word about anything unless there have been studies to back it up. But I’ve learned in practice with real, live human beings the deeper value of keeping the heart open and engaged, the mind flexible to human mysteries – to keep active within the thought, “Although I am well-trained and understand the value of science, I don’t have all the answers and am willing to entertain the improbable.”
What we now call “alternative” medicine is traditional medicine, used far longer than the very recent advent of a multi-billion dollar industry with profits on the mind. (Note that Americans seem less healthy now than ever before.) Only lately has it begun to make its way into conventional medicine. Reiki, acupuncture, massage, prayer, and energy healing are inching their way in - thankfully so - to help patients get something deeper that can touch the core of who they are, where true healing exists.
In my community there are multitudes of holistic healing resources including medical doctors that are aware of holistic practices and utilize these resources with their patients. My own conventional medical doctor is holistic in his approach. His office is quiet, comfortable, and warm. Not overwhelmed by frenzy, nor the standard tacky medical office furniture, or white, stark walls and artificial light, the environment itself puts people at ease. I appreciate that he is very conscious of the fact that a real, live, human being has sat down in the chair next to him. He sits, leans back, relaxes, looks at the patient as if he has all the time in the world to listen. And that he does, with his heart. He is gentle, wise, and not the least bit arrogant, rushed, or too busy. He never gives the impression that he is on a higher plane. Consequently, he is a beloved figure in the community.
One of the ways we can foster more doctors like this is to balance the male-dominated medical system (left-brain, linear) with the ancient, traditional healing arts of the feminine (right-brain, intuitive). And that is another subject for another day, because there is much to say about it. But keep it in mind. The only reason we’ve lost our connection to extremely powerful, nurturing, effective, and deeply healing practices is because we pushed the feminine underground. She’s on her way back, not to dominate, but to integrate. Meanwhile, seek out holistic, heart-centered practices to complement your healing the next time you have the need to see your doctor. You just might find the whole medical system works better for you when you have options and various healers devoted to your well-being.