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Controversies surrounding mind-body-spirit medicine

Lately in this blog, I have been featuring articles connecting the role of our outlook, attitudes, personality and how we deal with emotions on how they affect health ailments that we may have in our bodies. The mind-body-spirit connection in health and healing has many controversies and in this article, I will attempt to address at least some of it.

In writing on these topics, I am not advocating that we should turn away from conventional treatments. In view of rising cost of living- mostly attributed to factored medical expenses, there is an urgent need to find another form of effective cure that can compliment the conventional treatment that we are already receiving.

When there is a serious health condition, we need to seek medical treatment. Regardless of whether the condition had its origin in the mind, we still need to consider prompt treatment. But our chances of complete recovery from any condition will be wrecked if our mental and emotional health are not strong.

A close friend of mine was diagnosed with nephritis in 2002 or 2003…. the time when she was at the top of her life and had everything she had wanted.  Nephritis is a scarring of the kidney(s) caused by the immune system attacking its own kidneys. Left untreated or uncontrolled, the kidneys may eventually fail and the patient will spend his/her entire life depending on dialysis. My friend sank into depression for a few months and stayed away from socializing. She only told me about her condition when I asked her the secret of her sudden weight loss (she had grown very thin while initially trying hard to control her diet). At first she bought some supplements, fevishly controlled her diet and later tried Chinese medicine, but these only offered temporarily improvements before her conditions went back to where they were before.

Then one day she decided she had a lot to live for in life. She was determined to live to watch her small boy grow up, graduate and have a family. She cannot just allow her condition to deteriorate. She started going for seminars on “The Courses in Miracles” and was inspired by the speaker, who himself is a cancer survivor. She started reading books written by Louise Hay, Wayne Dryer, Abraham Hicks and many others. She put these principles to use.

She turned to a positive and optimistic person. The change in her attitude and outlook in life took the span of a few years- after all, you cannot change a lifelong conditioning overnight. You cannot release anger, learn to forgive and accept your life overnight. But with an open heart, she was willing to learn and go through the lessons slowly.

I have full admiration for her because she practices what she preach- and is able to stay positive even in an extremely challenging work environment. Because the nature of her job is so stressful, everyone around is constantly stressed and sometimes it’s hard for her colleagues to remain positive. But despite of that, she was able to stay and remain positive.   I witnessed with my own eyes on how her physical health (indicative from scans, blood and urine tests) are well under control despite the fact she no longer need to strictly control her food (she still eats what she like but in moderation and keep the portions small).

When she first introduced me to the writings of these authors years ago, I was very skeptical. Like many others, I had dismissed her and told her that I don’t believe in these hocus pocus new age stuff. But she told me, “one day when the time is right, you will be ready.” But today, I must say that she has been one of my initial influences in having faith and taking an active role into our own journey of healing.

Please note that in spite of all this, she still go for her regular checkups with the specialist. She still took the required medication. But to be able to conquer the challenges at work and her personal life and to keep her condition from degenerating towards kidney failure, the change of her attitude and her view in life had played a vital role. Of course, both her traditional Chinese medicine doctor and myself had told her that had she leave her current job, there is a high possibility of reversing the condition totally. The stress in her workplace is totally crazy….hardly anyone could last as long as she did.

Medical conditions can give us a hint of certain inner issues that we would probably need to work on. I’ve read about a well known activist who suffered from multiple sclerosis and feel greatly insulted when told that her condition is ‘her body’s unwillingness to heal’. She felt that these authors who focus on changing life outlook are downplaying these medical conditions and are out there cheating people’s heart and money. I understand her concerns because I’ve had these concerns too for many years.

But, during my almost 1 year stay in Thailand, I had witnessed many cases of health conditions that were put under control, some being reversed due to a change of mindset and attitude. Cases I can remember including diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer (including a case where the secondaries spread to the brain), fibrosis, depression, schizophrenia, hepatitis, arthritis and severe pain due to a dislocated hip joint. Of course, in some of the conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, these people still took medication.

Reading about success stories in the internet and books is one thing. Witnessing them first hand with my own eyes is another. It’s hard to remain skeptical.

When we are diagnosed with a long term health ailment, we know that the medical cost will be ongoing. Not everyone can afford expensive health care. In the rural areas of Thailand, many people do not have the means to even pay for the transport to go to the government hospital and the nominal charges of subsidized medicine. In the modern world, rising healthcare costs also is a huge concern- even for wealthy people.

I’ve sadly seen wealthy people who are gripped by fear with diagnosed with cancer and spent their entire fortune going about the globe to see the very best specialists and researchers for the most ‘promising’ clinical trials. For those that I’ve known personally, they are sadly not alive today.

On the other hand, I have seen cases of poor people who cannot afford anything more than what the government hospitals can give them- and at the same time, they turned inwards for their own soul healing and turned to spirituality and prayers. Their cancer went into remission. Some, whose cancer are too advanced learned to accept their conditions, did whatever they had to do and passed away peacefully and with much less fear.

Of course, the word ‘stress’ is really overrated. Even doctors and researches know that stress plays a great role- it affects our immunity, affect our quality of life, make health conditions worse, etc. Most people will not know how to relate ‘stress’ to their conditions and therefore not able to start working on their inner healing. In this blog, I am trying to zoom into the precise message our body is trying to tell us and then from there, we could at least know where to start.

Our body is not our enemy. Every illness, pain, discomfort, weight gain/loss, and a host of other conditions are trying to tell us a story. However, being long tantalized by external sights and opinions of other people and the media telling us what we need to be happy had long learned to shut out these inner voices from the heart. Continue to ignore them, and even with the best medical care, at most you may be able to suppress it, but soon, another condition will crop up. Understand and learn to listen to these messages, we not only learn to heal our bodies, but our mind and spirit.

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