This week marks the sixth year since Massachusetts passed a law mandating that every citizen be covered with health insurance. And today, more than 98 percent of residents are covered according to Kaiser Health News.
Whether you agree or disagree with the state-mandated health insurance law, I think the sound of people standing up for their health and the care of their health is getting louder. Especially since the current health care debate has heated things up a bit.
At a recent panel discussion I attended in the Boston area on the intersection of spirituality and medicine, I listened to a doctor who'd been practicing medicine for 40 years say that even if we used our entire GNP it wouldn't be enough to care for our nation's health problems. Instead, he said we need to be investigating alternative methods to traditional medicine.
I've been a journalist for prayer-based health care for a number of years, and I've been interested in the intersection of consciousness and health on a personal level for even longer. To me, exploring the spiritual side of healthcare is one alternative method that's beginning to get traction.
It's both surprising and exciting to see how doctors and patients are questioning how things have "always been done." Some medical professionals are hitting on an approach to healthcare that looks at patients as more than just a collection of parts.
Take for instance Dr. Mark Hyman. One of his patients came to him after suffering a decade of health problems. She'd seen 12 doctors and was taking medication for every inch of her body. In Dr. Hyman's Huffington Post blog, "Should you fire your specialist?" he logically claims that with that much medical attention she should have been the healthiest person on the planet. Except she wasn't.
He treated her in large part to get her off of the multiple prescriptions she was on and get her on a healthier track. "There are more than 12,000 diseases known to medicine, but there is only one Evelyn. Instead of thinking about her as a hodgepodge of 29 different diagnoses, I shifted the paradigm." In six weeks she was leading a healthier, happier lifestyle than she had in ten years.
He helped change her perception of herself from an unhealthy person to a healthy one. Not as a collection of diseases, but as a person who deserved to be healthy.
A recent TEDMED talk claimed that one of the best ways to change health behavior is to change a person’s self-identity. “When a smoker begins to view herself as a nonsmoker or a teen sees binge-drinking as something “people like me” don’t do, behavior change is typically more lasting than if the person’s sense of identity is not invoked."
These examples show how vital it is to consider a person's concept of themselves--and to contribute to it in a health-giving way--if the result is to be a positive one.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the scientific system of healing I practice, wrote in her seminal work Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
"A patient's belief is more or less moulded and formed by his doctor's belief in the case, even though the doctor says nothing to support his theory. His thoughts and his patient's commingle, and the stronger thoughts rule the weaker."
As more medical professionals recognize the mental and spiritual nature of every case they treat, isn't it possible that the ratio of positive, healing outcomes would proportionally increase?
Perhaps a good place to start is to begin thinking of yourself as healthy. Try it. It's a powerful thought.