Why You’re Not Getting Better

Many years ago, it came as a shock to me to notice how my parents, both in their 60’s at the time, had several bottles of pills that they were each scheduled to take throughout the day. They may not have had a regimen of exercise and healthy eating but they weren’t sickly, either. Exercise and vitamins were available then, but the people who used them were considered “health nuts”. My parents were just doing what they were told to by their doctors. Everyone did.

Gradually, I began to notice the same situation was being repeated over and over in my chiropractic practice. My patients would come to me for what I considered a holistic approach, but most of them would additionally be on medications. At first I thought it was a generational thing, until I noticed my friends and neighbors were sharing analgesics, antacids and who knows what else with each other.

This may not have been considered shocking to most people, but to me — a doctor having been holistically educated — this was something very weird. People weren’t taking responsibility for their own well being — they weren’t even curious. They were willingly giving away their own power.

They still are.

We’ve been talking about the body/mind connection for years, but we continue to be treated by most doctors as if there is a separation between the body and the mind, with some sort of pipeline connecting the two. And the doctors aren’t alone in this misconception — even people who are taking very good care of themselves nonetheless go to their yoga classes, psychotherapists, chiropractors, nutritionists and other practitioners to make sure they have all of their holistic bases covered. But it’s all done in different places at different times. When you bake a cake you don’t go from place to place adding ingredients (however healthy they may be) and then bake it at different homes incrementally.

No wonder our health recipe is failing us. Holistic doesn’t mean healthy — it means whole.

If we look at how children are educated it starts to make sense. Those who excel at chemistry and mathematics are the ones encouraged to become physicians. That’s because the main modality in modern healthcare is the pharmaceutical model, more chemical than compassion, more mechanistic than vitalistic. Add to that the incestuous relationship between allopathic medicine and the pharmaceutical industry and you can see why healthcare is the way it is today — a type of disease management that treats people from the outside in, rather than the inside out.

Very rarely are the mind and body worked with in the same room. But the real power in galvanizing the body’s ability to heal comes from all of the horses pulling at the same time in the same direction. In a true mind/body approach to health, the person with the most influence over one’s health is that person him or herself.

Most people who are serious devotees of meditation, yoga, martial arts or other mind-body practices discover this concept after many years — that the mind and body are one. They start to feel the connection between their state of mind and the state of their body, and grow healthier as a result.

Make no mistake — moving forward in these arts requires devoted effort. To the uninitiated this is a very hard concept to understand and difficult to maintain, because it cannot be understood intellectually — it can only be learned through the body and mind working together for many years.

That said, how can we expect doctors who have never trained in a mind-body art to understand this — let alone apply this concept to their methods of working with their patients?

The resurgence of complementary physicians in the past few years is a good step forward. These practitioners treat the whole person — or is it the whole body? The psyche may be considered here but even in these practices the mind is still considered a separate entity. Even the most ‘holistic’ doctors continue to treat either the body or the mind — in fact even the term ‘holistic’ implies that the practitioner uses herbs or vitamins or some other nutritional modality in addition to their usual methods.

There is a time to visit an allopathic doctor — when the holistic process has been exhausted. That’s the time for lotions, potions and notions. But until that time, there are many things one can and should do for his or herself to live a life of exceptional health. I see us moving toward a time when our health providers don’t just ‘work on us’ but guide us — all of us, not just parts of us. Working with the mind, body and spirit at the same time in the same place.

To do that, we not only have to change the way we educate our doctors, we have to change our thinking. Health practitioners usually graduate from school, pass their boards and are immediately licensed to practice. This may work in the pharmaceutical model, but in working with the deeper aspects of a person’s mind and body, wisdom is essential. This is best gotten from the master/apprentice model, all but lost in western culture. A doctor must be a master of his/her own body and mind to be able to teach others authentically. They must know.

People deserve to have symptom-free bodies and peace of mind. This can be had, if we pay less attention to profit and more attention to developing health practitioners who are motivated by the passion to relieve suffering — through the purest and most empowering ways possible.

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