Medicine Is A Spiritual Practice
By Lissa Rankin on November 22, 2011
When I went to medical school, nobody ever taught me that medicine was a spiritual practice - but it is. Or at least, in Pink Medicine, it will be.
You might not think so. After all, philosophers like Descartes have been perpetuating the notion of mind-body dualism, suggesting that body, mind, and spirit have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
But I beg to differ.
For millennia, healing has been a spiritual practice. People are called to be healers the way others are called to the priesthood. Whether we’re talking about the traditional medicine woman, the shaman, the faith healer, or the modern doctor, this holds true.
Sure, some doctors and other health care providers are nudged into medicine by mentors or pushy mothers motivated by the promise of respect, money, and social status. But that’s not the case for most of us. These days, there are much easier ways to make money and the financial payout is significantly diminished, while the cost of receiving a medical education and running a practice continues to skyrocket. And while doctors still lead the pack among most respected professionals, that respect is dwindling, as evidenced by the massive uprising of support I got from my Facebook followers when, in a passionate bout of frustration, I threatened to title my next book Up Yours, Doc: An MD’s Battle Cry To Reclaim The Heart of Medicine. (No offense, docs! I was having a bad day.)
In my opinion, people are frustrated and dissatisfied with the health care they’re receiving because of the rupture that has happened in the past century between the healing process and the technological advances of modern medicine.
My aim is to reunite the two once more and empower you to do your part, to help your health care practitioners, and to assist in mending the broken heart of medicine so we might all be more vital.
It takes all of us - patients, doctors, nurses, alternative health care practitioners, coaches, psychologists - all of us who participate in the healing process.
I’m inviting you to consider your body as the home for your spirit and consider your health care providers as tenders of that spirit’s home.
When I see patients, I literally pray for guidance before I enter the room each time. (I am now blessed to have extended sessions so I’m not rushed between rooms the way I once was - so if you’re a doctor, I get that you may not have time to do this. But what if you could do it each morning before you start your day?)
I literally ask the Divine to use me as a vessel for healing so that whatever comes through me is exactly what my patient needs. I pray that my own ego gets out of the way, so the visit is about me being in service to the patient, as it should be. I pray that my words and hands be guided so that they touch what needs to be touched and go to the heart of what needs to be healed. I pray for the strength to hold whatever comes up, without giving into the temptation to run from it if it becomes too emotionally heavy.
I pray for a healing bubble of love to surround me, not just so my patient feels held in that bubble, but so I can protect my own energy - to go all the way emotionally with my patient without having to suck up their junk and wind up with a headache of my own.
And then I enter the room.
Medicine Is Not Just An Art - It’s A Spiritual Practice
Medicine is a spiritual practice - always has been, always will be. Those who have forgotten that are lost, and patients are suffering and traumatized as a result.
If you’re a healer who believes that medicine is a spiritual practice in today’s current health care industry, it’s no wonder you’re frustrated. We’re offering up our gifts at a time when delivering healing services isn’t easy. Time and time again, I have witnessed the pulsing, beating heart of medicine as it bumps up against the cold hard steel of technological advances and managed care limitations. I can relate to the struggles health care providers face when trying to practice their art - and yes, practicing medicine is still more art than science, no matter how much research we do.
In truth, the very fact that we call it the “practice” of medicine imparts a great deal of information about what it means to be a healer. We don’t “sell” medicine. We don’t “deliver” medicine. We don’t “give” or “impart” or “teach” medicine.
We practice it.
As in, medicine is something we will never fully master. We will practice it as we practice loving kindness and forgiveness, as we will meditate or pray. They never taught me this in medical school, but medicine is a spiritual practice, as are all healing arts.
At least, they should be.
Personally, I practice love, with a little medicine on the side. After all, science may cure, but only love heals.
A Call To Action
This is a call to action. I’m begging you to take a closer look at what it means to heal or be healed. I’m on my knees asking you to consider healing as a spiritual practice, rather than some purely science-based, body-centered phenomenon. I’m suggesting that we think about health in more expanded terms.
If we’re going to change the system in any way, we must band together with a shared vision, for this affects all of us. As people in need of healing, we are patients, doctors, nurses, naturopaths and medical assistants. We are OR techs, Reiki healers, herbalists, and midwives. We are massage therapists, physical therapists, nutritionists, and psychologists.
We are life coaches, lactation consultants, spiritual healers, Chinese medicine doctors, and homeopaths. We are intuitives, therapists, shamans, hynotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, and yoga teachers. We are Quigong masters, guided imagery practitioners, iridologists, radiology techs, art therapists, music therapists, dance therapists, energy healers, and biofeedback specialists.
We are kinesiologists, chakra balancing therapists, faith healers, NLP practitioners, spirit coaches, soul retrieval practitioners, sweat lodge leaders, 12-step program coordinators, ayurvedic practitioners, and workshop facilitators. We are sound healers, cranio-sacral therapists, nurse practitioners, astrologers, physician’s assistants, and crystal healers. We are spiritual counselors, reflexologists, pet therapists, and creativity coaches.
We are also store clerks, lawyers, accountants, writers, mothers, nuns, and artists.
We are every individual who is willing to do the inner and outer work necessary to be as whole as possible.
We come to our healing gifts in different ways. Some are born with a gift. Others earn it through years of study. Some just follow the light wherever it leads them. And yet, we all have access to the immense capacity to heal ourselves - and facilatate the same in others.
According to the dictionary, “to heal” means “to restore to health,” which covers a lot of ground when you expand the definition of “health” the way I do to include, not just the physical body, but your relationships, work life, creativity, spirituality, environment, mental health, money issues, and your authentic self. In other words, “to heal” means “to become whole.”
Don’t you want to feel whole?
Are You On Board?
Do you believe medicine is a spiritual practice? Do you wish it was more that way? Are you a fan of the Doctor-Patient Relationship of Pink Medicine? If so, show your support by becoming a Pink Medicine Revolutionary.
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.