Our family enjoys coming together at least once a year to share past experiences and hopes for the future. Occasionally, the discussion veers into politics, opinions on public personalities, or health. Good intentions at the beginning of discussions don’t always end with good results, though.
photo by Glenn Euloth
H. Gilbert Welch expressed a similar parallel in a New York Times Op Ed article about disease prevention and early diagnosis to foster better health. Although prevention is well intended, prevention efforts may create bigger problems. He suggested that by not spending our time on healing actual illnesses, we unintentionally end up searching for disease.
Instead, our energies need to be spent on more positive and constructive ways of treating the actual disease. The title of his article, “If You Feel O.K., Maybe You Are O.K.,” gives us a real hint as to what he is thinking. Welch makes the point that the fastest way to get heart disease, autism, glaucoma, diabetes, and vascular problems is to be screened for them. In other words, the problem is about diagnosis and over-treatment.
So what should be done in place of this searching and screening? What can be done to help our bodies stay healthy instead of searching for what could go wrong? One answer is that individuals are increasingly encouraged to participate in activities that help keep them healthy. But according to Welch, this is the individual’s responsibility and it can’t be successfully contracted out to professionals. In other words, the individual must be responsible for his own health.
Welch states, “We would all be better off if the medical system got a little closer to its original mission of helping sick patients, and let the healthy be.” To keep healthy, research is indicating that happiness, lack of stress, and prayer (to name a few) are important to health. I’m encouraged to note that these important qualities affecting health are actually under my control. It’s been eye-opening to learn of discoveries by a growing number of medical researchers who are beginning to take a close look at evidence once cast aside as nothing more than anecdotal observations. These observations are increasingly being called alternative therapies or complementary alternative medicine.
Dr. Andrew Weil in “Spontaneous Happiness” wrote of the body’s innate abilities to maintain and repair, regenerate, and adapt to injury. He expressed that if more people trusted in the body’s potential for self-healing there would be much less need for costly health care and interventions.
Schiffman in a University of Rochester study commented that prayer was the most widespread alternative therapy in America and that over 85% of people confronted with a major illness pray.
The National Prayer in Medicine Survey reported that across multiple studies and polls, most Americans indicate that they believe in a higher power (90-96%).
Not only are researchers and medical personnel increasingly supporting the use of alternative therapies, religious thinkers have long advocated the use of prayer in one’s health considerations. One such individual, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote in Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures, “The highest prayer is not one of faith merely; it is demonstration. Such prayer heals sickness….”
I have found the use of prayer very helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for decades and I continue to benefit from the helpful insights of others who are demonstrating a deeper understanding of this divine consciousness.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, polite conversations on certain subjects may raise uncomfortable points, as in the case of health care decision-making. But as Mark Twain said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got”.