Let's take a closer look at spiritual healing and its meaning. (Clever rhyme). If you take the word “spiritual,” its meaning in both Hebrew and Greek refers to the wind and the breath, neither of which is very solid. If you take the word “health,” it is etymologically related to “whole” and “holy,” which suggests a non-physical, or spiritual nature.
Until the 20th Century, healthcare was not solely focused on the physical.
In the late 19th Century, there was strong interest in spiritualism and mesmerism, or hypnotism. Physicians would actually use massage directly on their patients. Homeopathy was widespread. Even today, in Germany, 40% of the doctors practice homeopathy, rather than allopathy. Even in the most conventional American environments, physicians are found to frequently pray for their patients.
In one way or the other, you and I get affected by a variety of ‘negative energies’ every single day. Here is a great visual explanation of how it impacts us and why we should take such healing seriously…
In the 60’s and 70’s with the Counter Culture, we saw the revival of Swedish massage in such institutions as Esalen, along with the increasing popularity of hatha yoga and Transcendental Meditation (TM), even Tai Chi. When President Nixon travelled to China to open up diplomatic relations with Chairman Mao Tse Tung, he was impressed by the demonstrations of the effectiveness of acupuncture, which has increasingly won recognition in the U.S. in the most conservative establishments.
Globalization intensified this whole process, as more and more Asian immigrants went to U.S. colleges and universities to study engineering. In the 1990’s, the South Asian population in America dramatically increased, partly due to the pending Y2K crisis, which demanded a large pool of software engineers trained in early computer languages. These Indians stayed on to help fuel the dotcom boom. In the process, they introduced more and more restaurants, theaters, temples and gurus, making the riches of Indian civilization readily accessible across the U.S.
Spiritual healers like Dr. Deepak Chopra, influenced by the Maharishi, took on Transcendental Meditation, and became increasingly enthusiastic, while a surgeon in a Boston hospital. Deepak went on to become the chief proponent of TM, which has an impressive library of clinical research demonstrating the effectiveness of meditation on physiology. Deepak went on to pioneer Mind / Body medicine. You can learn more about a group of specific spiritual healing methods here.
Dr. Andrew Weil, originally from Harvard University, emerged as a though leader in the late 1990’s, having studied herbology around the world and developed the field of integrative medicine, which combined allopathic treatment with many other modes, including yoga and meditation, as well as recommending a vegetarian diet, in concert with such physicians as Dr. Dean Ornish. Dr. Weil’s credibility and stature continued to grow through the first decade of the 21st Century.
People like Dr. Mimi Guarneri, formerly Director of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, directly influenced by Dr. Ornish, and an accomplished heart surgeon who prided herself in her ability to rapidly put stents into blood vessels, shifted her entire professional direction toward a mind / body / spirit approach. Dr. Guarneri recently came out with a brilliant video course from The Teaching Company, The Science of Natural Healing, where she introduces a full range of therapies to complement conventional medicine, including meditation, yoga and Tai Chi, group therapy, acupressure, healing touch, massage and even prayer. She goes to India no less than twice a year. Ironically, she grew up as a competitive New Yorker preoccupied with climbing to the top of the ladder. Dr. Guarneri vows that she, herself, was profoundly transformed in the process, that she can’t go back to the former orientation.
Finally, Dr. Mark Hyman, physician to former President Clinton, has become very outspoken about the inadequacy of the current medical establishment and attempted to introduce legislation in Congress to fund alternative medical care. Dr. Hyman pioneered functional medicine after being heavily influenced by yoga and Chinese medicine, even studying in Beijing.
He uses pattern analysis to identify the underlying cause of the problems suffered by the patient. Dr. Hyman looks at symptoms only as a sign of a fundamental imbalance in the various body systems. By rebalancing the systems, the patient spontaneously gets well.
He has enjoyed remarkable success with especially hard cases. His best-selling book, The Blood Sugar Solution, is an eye-opener.
Dr. Guarneri and Dr. Hyman have both pointed out that conventional Western medicine is highly effective for acute care and emergency situations, but ineffective in treating such chronic illnesses as diabetes. Dr. Hyman went abroad and found that treatment for chronic conditions tended to prevail over interventions for actual injuries, even in the most impoverished developing countries, such as Haiti. He predicated that as current rates, one in three people worldwide is prone to develop diabetes. Dr. Hyman recommends shopping for fruits and vegetables at the local farmer’s market. He refers to whole food stores as “farmacies.”
We are increasingly drawn to the conclusion that all healing is spiritual in nature. As many cutting-edge scientists and physicians have underscored, the human body is an organism, rather than a machine. For example, machines are conglomerations of parts, whereas bodies start with a fertilized egg, or two cells which fuse, and then keep dividing 50 times to produce billions of cells in the full-grown person. Each cell coordinates in baffling ways with every other cell in a genetic transmission of energy.
We have the viable option of a complementary approach including non-traditional therapies with allopathic medicine, or even replacing allopathic medicine with homeopathy, herbology, or even metaphysical healing, reserving medical intervention for extreme emergencies. We would be wise to seek out allopathic physicians who have actually studied or incorporated other modalities or who work with health practitioners in their clinic specializing in other approaches, like energy medicine, including acupuncture. Dr. Guarneri is emphatic that all healing is something of a miracle. She has cited dozens of actual clinical studies documenting the power of prayer, meditation, community, nutrition and other approaches.
Perhaps you will come to see that spiritual healing IS healing…and that all healing is spiritual in nature.