This is a brief excerpt from my book, A Beautiful Medicine – A Radical Look at the Essence of Health and Healing, that will be published within the next couple of months…….
After nearly three decades and over thirty thousand patient visits, I feel fortunate to have peered deep into the heart of the healing process itself. Time and time again, I’ve observed in my patients what leads us to vitality and vibrancy, and what puts us on the highway to misery.
The world of integrative medicine has been variously called complementary, alternative, natural, and holistic. I’ve chosen to describe a way of looking at health and medicine that I’ll call a beautiful medicine. While it overlaps these natural healing approaches, it’s more. It’s more than a different set of techniques.
A beautiful medicine is about going beyond, while including, the mechanical, biological view of the human body. It embraces the soft underbelly of our humanness along with the outer shell of hard scientific data. It holds out a vision for medicine that respects the soul and spirit at the core of human experience. When art and science—the subjective and objective—are combined, we have the makings of a richer medicine, a more complete picture. For example, by understanding a person’s sorrows, loves, fears, and dreams, we have more coordinates for pinpointing the diagnosis. This helps us treat not just organs and other body parts, but the living, pulsing soul of a human being. It’s a humanistic medicine, but it’s also much more.
In the end, we want more than just knowledge and information. We also want a result with feeling, with the textures of joy and passion. No one wins a championship game and feels blasé, no one makes a breakthrough scientific discovery without a thrill, and the end of all our search, we hope, is not a bland, insipid place but one of gratification—with a feeling, a tone, a mood. Similarly, at the end of our lives, most of us would like to sigh with the satisfaction that we’ve lived a life worthwhile, not to go out with a shrug. But whatever form it takes, it’s a feeling—not just a flicker in our brains, but a flush of warmth in the heart and soul. Folding our search for fulfillment into the biological puzzles of the body can lead to a richer understanding of health and healing. Health is as much about the condition of our souls as it is about our physiology.