Probably most people would not object to living a long, healthy life. Today we have more information available than ever on ways to achieve this dream of healthy longevity. But who do we believe? Which approach is the right one? I can understand that our familiar healthcare system in the U.S., has great influence on our choices about caring for ourselves and our families. We see it as solidly scientific and some may say that makes it superior to any other therapeutic approach. I believe, though, that if we close our eyes to what sometimes is called “holistic” or “alternative” medicine, we will lose out on the dream of good health and long life.
For me, the term “holistic” just means that health involves our bodies and our minds—the whole person. Once we recognize the amazing power the mind can have over our bodies, we can accept the importance of strengthening our ability to focus the mind. Holistic medicine practices such as meditation and yoga are wonderful examples of using the mind and body together to create a stronger immune system. Depression and anxiety can wreak as much havoc as an organic disease process, but we have seen that certain meditation practices can “re-wire” some of those neural, or brain, connections and be important complements to any other treatment we may receive.
You needn’t reject what can be offered by our familiar healthcare system, and we can all be grateful for the significant strides in research and clinical care that have been made over the last century. I encourage you to also embrace holistic medicine practices (now often called “integrative medicine”) that will help you make and keep that all-important mind-body connection. While the U.S. healthcare system we are so familiar with is moving toward integrative medicine, it can still be hard to find complete support for the idea that good health involves the whole person—body and mind. But the true meaning of the word disease (or dis-ease) could describe what we all are ultimately after in terms of our health—that is being at ease and not without (dis) ease.
Holistic medicine practices expand our chances of reaching healthy longevity by adding the dimension of the mind’s role in how the body works. Including them also humanizes our healthcare system. It provides a way for patients and physicians to come together and create a healthcare system devoted to, as I titled one of my books, “Peace, Love, and Healing.”
SO WHO HAS THE ANSWER TO A LONG AND HEALTHY LIFE? You do.