A Beautiful Medicine – A Radical Look at the Essence of Health and Healing – David Mercier


Excerpt from

 A Beautiful Medicine – A Radical Look at the Essence of Health and Healing

By  David Mercier

From Chapter Four:  Health as Transformation, Medicine as Catalyst

At its core, health is one face of transformation. When Pablo Neruda wrote, “I want to do with you what spring does to the cherry tree,” he gave us an image that captures the heart of this idea. Similarly, Nikos Kazantzakis wrote, “I said to the almond tree, ‘Sister, speak to me of God,’ and the almond tree blossomed.”

Health is not what remains after we correct a problem; it’s more than the useful but now slightly feeble notion of prevention. It’s not a static state. Instead, it’s the flowering of human possibility that occurs in the way springtime draws out cherry and almond blossoms. The pink and white of the flowers are not solutions for a problem. When a small seed grows into a big chiseled tree, nothing was fixed. The seed was all blueprint, pure potential, only needing the right nourishment to sprout and reach for the clouds and to manifest its gift.

So it is with a human being on the often-arduous passage from infant to elder, becoming someone who, in the end, bears virtually no resemblance to how she looked and behaved as a baby.

Health includes being joyful, energetic, conscious, and authentic. It’s the harvest that follows tilling, planting, and reaping in the terrains of body and spirit. It depends on respecting those ingenious messages called symptoms, whether they’re subtle as an itch or blatant as a migraine. As we’ve seen, health is not about band-aids and substitutions, but about evoking our power to become a force of wellness and inner beauty.

The rational scientific mind is clearly necessary for the evolution of medicine and society, but the intuitive mind is better suited to savor, digest, and absorb the full meaning of a multidimensional vision of health and wellness. The image of the flowering almond or cherry tree conveys a world of meaning beyond the descriptive abilities of logic and reason.

An integrative medicine includes both mind and heart, science and art, medicine and poetry, logos and eros. A revolution in our approach to health and our healthcare system will occur when this reconciliation happens. Then a symptom will not be merely physical, nor will it be a meaningless, random event or an opponent to vanquish.

Instead, it will be seen as part of the evolutionary impulse thrusting against our inertia and our resistance, shoving us with strong but gentle hands toward the fullest expression of human possibility. The symptom is related, through and through, to the spiritual imperatives flowing in our veins. It represents our family ties to the spirits of nature. It’s woven into the challenges of reclaiming our birthright of growing into a happy, fulfilled, healthy self.

A healthcare system that appreciates the intelligent role of our symptoms in the schematics of nature will help us grow in this regard. Sadly, we are wasting billions of dollars on healthcare aimed at symptoms that are only encouraging us to love more, hate less, relax more, drink less, sleep more, exercise, and eat our vegetables just like Mom said. The country spends a big percentage of its budget on the repetitive, unproductive cycle of repairing broken windows—time and time again, year after year.

We need instead to develop public policy and economic incentives that feed the roots of wellness. Doing this will be a whale of a task, but at the least, it’s a conceptual starting point. The system at large will change when the corporate world can make gargantuan amounts of money by keeping people healthy, vibrant, and out of the hospital. Right now, hospitals, as well as the entire pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries, profit only when people are sick. This is a fundamental flaw in design.

Health professionals in the clinic can exercise skills that evoke the same catalytic power that spring grants the rolling hillsides of oak and dogwood and sweet gum. When necessary, the patient can be repaired, as broken branches should be pruned. But as appropriate, health professionals can also help invigorate the patient’s potential to live a vibrant life.

The ancient healing traditions knew that medicine, art, spirituality, diet, and exercise all had to be woven into a single cloth for healing. In those times, health was not the sole province of the body.

As one example, the word yoga is Sanskrit for union with the divine. While this approach to health has become popular and even chic today, it originally intended for the well-honed body to be a stepping-stone for spiritual development, a physical floorboard for building the spirit. It included diet, meditation, the study of ancient scripture, and a relationship with a teacher. In another example, Tibetan medicine is practiced not just for healing an individual patient, but for the sake of all beings. Its ultimate purpose is to help people achieve a final freedom from earthly suffering.

In integrative medicine, we can enfold the conversations of science into the understanding that, in the end, the real work is to help people reach their highest potential. We would help push this forward by insinuating the ethos of art and poetry into the semiconscious daze that permeates much of our culture and our schooling. A fusion of art, science, and morals into a new integral vision of health will ideally be both cause and attribute of medicine’s transformation.

The arts are flesh and science is bone: science needs art and morals—the poetry, spark, and bluster—to find its true place in the world. With regard to health, the artistic self needs science. The unbound aesthetic self can fly off on the balloons of fancy, and the itchy lust for creativity can ignore the value of hard thinking, of logic and reason, of screwing nuts onto bolts. In an integrative world, all these necessary pieces of the puzzle can fit together neatly into a single whole—with medicine as catalyst and health as transformation.

A Beautiful Medicine—A Radical Look at the Essence of Health and Healing

Visit www.ABeautifulMedicine.com


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