Health is not simply about medications. For some, it may not be about that at all. Health is about health.
Modern medicine proffers cures to disease, where health seems absent, deficient, or awry. It primarily involves physical intervention, either by chemistry (drugs) or surgery. It implies that without such interventions, health will be lost relative to the pathology in question. The public expect that the goal of medicine is the regaining of health for the individual affected. That’s good. I have certainly known and worked with very well-motivated MD’s. This is the world of health recovery that is generally accepted and presumed as authority.
But there is so much more to health. Integrative medicine understands this by organizing healthy outcomes around multiple modes of healing. The Center for Integrative Medicine (CIM) at the University of Arizona, under the leadership of Dr. Andrew Weil, is at the forefront of this work. In a conversation I had with the director of research at the CIM, I learned that their courses for MD’s included many modalities, including prayer and metaphysical healing. Putting into practice their commitment to the integrative approach, they have joined with Maricopa County (Arizona’s most populous county, including Phoenix metro) to provide this broader approach to healthcare in the insurance coverage for its employees. (See Arizona Republic, November 28, 2011, “Study to Use County-Worker Data”, by Michelle Ye Hee Lee.) It is a study that will be completed June 30, 2015.
In the Friday section of The Arizona Republic, entitled “Healthy Living”, there are articles that deal with more than conventional medical remedies, often pertaining to lifestyle choices and diet. One column refers to “mind, body and soul”. The topics are not as far-reaching as CIM’s scope, but it is a beginning.
An Arizona friend, who is a naturopathic physician, in fact he is the current President of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, among other contributions to his field, joined with me in a discussion of the spectrum of approaches to health. The axis of the spectrum was defined by degree of physical involvement. Traditional modern western medicine, spoken of in the second paragraph of this article, was the mode he placed at the “wholly physical” end of the spectrum and he placed prayer and metaphysical healing at the other, “wholly spiritual”. Along the spectrum were such modes as osteopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, homeopathy, message, yoga, reiki, mental therapies/counseling (of course, psychotropic drugs would push this toward the more physical end of the spectrum), shamanism, prayer, and provable spiritual healing. There are many, but this is illustrative of the spectrum. All modes would probably assert that they are both prophylactic and therapeutic.
Why should anyone care about this spectrum of modalities? Efficacy. If someone is not finding their health either established or maintained by the mode they have tried, then it is good to know that the possibilities are not limited by the modes that dominate public thought and have the appearance of authority.
I have found my health and its maintenance at the least invasive end of the spectrum, that of prayer and spiritual healing. It has been effective and the proof has been a life primarily without medical intervention. More importantly, the spiritual end of the spectrum works with ontology, the metaphysical nature of being, and learning to live with less focus on physique per se. The physical becomes subordinate and conforming to spiritual insight and a sense of divine reality. This mode of health is not new. For several thousand years humanity has recorded events of healing by spiritual means alone; and we still do so today. These healings lead to a love for God and man and break from the fear-generating limitations of an abject material existence.
Health is what we think it is, and more than that.