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Even if you drink your green juice and exercise daily, something still might be missing from your health regimen. Let me explain.
I eat nutritious meals and I love my daily hike, but I don’t think those practices alone make me healthy.
Despite the apparent benefits, it seems health professionals are also saying there’s more to health than green juice and yoga. …
For the past year I’ve been following Dr. Lissa Rankin’s research and writings. I’m fascinated by her journey to find answers about “the how” behind health and healing—a journey that’s taken her from her conventional medical practice to integrative medicine and now to more of a mind-body practice.
She makes the compelling point that the health care she’d been taught to practice in medical school was missing a vital component: the power of the mind and the human spirit in healing. She recently released her findings in a new book, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, which has quickly climbed to the coveted New York Times best-seller slot.
I like Dr. Rankin because I think she’s gutsy. She’s trying to do her part to heal a health-care system in the United States that ranks higher on sickness than on health. And she’s digging deep to find answers that have taken her away from her former medical practice. This new—and, to some, radical—approach to wellness takes into consideration the component of healing I find to be vital to health: a person’s thoughts.
It’s encouraging to note that integrative medicine practices are beginning to catch on in the United States.
Dr. Rankin lives and practices in Marin County, California—an area that’s considered a hub for the health-conscious in the United States. I know because I grew up there. Nestled in the redwood groves at the base of Mount Tamalpais with the beauty of the Pacific Ocean nearby, people exercise regularly, eat natural foods, and drink their green juice! But despite most of her patients “doing the right thing” when it came to caring for their health, Dr. Rankin discovered many were still dealing with health conditions that couldn’t be explained physiologically.
That’s when she turned a corner in her research. She writes in her book that she “set out on a mission to prove that each facet of how you live your life affects the health of your mind and, with it, the health of your body.” She concluded, “It’s not enough to focus solely on the body without taking into account the health of the mind … the body doesn’t fuel how we live our lives. Instead, it is a mirror of how we live our lives.”
It’s encouraging to note that integrative medicine practices—those that combine conventional with alternative approaches for better patient health outcomes—are beginning to catch on in the United States. According to the recent article “Integrative Medicine Making Inroads,” “During the past 30 years, nontraditional medicine has transformed from a health-care approach primarily done by those on the fringe to almost mainstream medicine” (Patrick Massey, DailyHerald.com, May 27, 2013).
And more medical schools are beginning to teach courses in the very area that Dr. Rankin had to investigate on her own. For the first time, Boston University School of Medicine offered an 11-week course last spring called “Embodied Health: Mind-Body Approaches to Well-Being.” Third-year medical school student Alison Bond, who participated in the class and its effects, said, “Our study provides compelling evidence that mind-body approaches have benefits for medical students and could have a positive impact on their interaction with peers and patients” (“Mind-Body Course Has Positive Impact on Well-Being of Medical Students,” ScienceDaily.com, May 1, 2013).
Perhaps this new crop of med students will follow in Dr. Rankin’s (and others’) footsteps towards more than just analyzing the body to prescribe the right antidote. I’m hopeful that our health-care system will turn around—but I don’t think it will happen without a great recognition of the power of thought in bringing about needed changes in one’s health.
While it’s encouraging that a growing number of health professionals are considering their patients’ spirituality as a component of their health, what if patients led the way instead of waiting for their doctors? From my experience helping others find solutions through prayer, I’ve seen how beneficial a spiritual practice is to find the peace and wholeness we seek mentally and physically.
Ingrid Peschke is the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Massachusetts. She’s also a Christian Science practitioner.
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