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Health Care Needs a Fundamentally New Approach

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Spiritual intelligence comes into play whenever the individual dwells on his 'self' or "the individual's perceived reality', a process that happens on and off and underlies our consciousness. The "inner self' (also called "pure consciousness' or "Self') is reached and experienced as pure bliss in deep sleep. While the "self' perceives duality and is subject to a variety of feelings, the "inner self' perceives unity and experiences pure bliss. Once this core reality of blissful "being' is reached, all information in a person's life is reconciled around it. A person waking up after a good deep sleep feels refreshed and blissful. This feeling of pure bliss fades once the individual starts perceiving the world of duality. Shortfall in the process of reconciliation around the core of pure bliss, results in stress or absence of spiritual wellbeing.

Maintaining Spiritual Wellbeing:

Thus we understand that the state of spiritual wellbeing and the total health encompassed by it ultimately rests on our spiritual intelligence, though most of us are not aware of this faculty. A person in normal health subconsciously maintains his spiritual wellbeing through his built-in spiritual intelligence. He is able to enjoy the bliss of his "self', which is refreshed and sustained by the pure bliss of his "inner self'. However spiritual intelligence can also be voluntarily cultivated to heal stress related disorders.4 Meditation is basically a method of cultivating spiritual intelligence. It is a method of consciously transcending one's "self' to reach the "inner self'. Meditation enables the individual to perceive in reality the pure bliss of the "inner self'. A fleeting perception of this bliss occurs in the twilight zone between a good sleep and the fully awake state. Keeping the mind focused on this subtle perception of pure bliss is a simple method of meditation that can be practiced by all. Constant contemplation of the pure bliss of "inner self' helps to restore spiritual wellbeing and heal stress.

While we understand the value of meditation for healing stress in a given patient, we also gain insight on how physician's themselves can enjoy lasting spiritual wellbeing and thus stand to gain personally and professionally by practicing the technique of meditation in their daily lives.

The Pathophysiology of Diseases:

While the disruption of spiritual bliss and its healing through the process of meditation can be easily appreciated in stress-related disorders, the new science of psychoneuroimmunology indicates that spiritual wellbeing needs to be taken into consideration while understanding the pathogenesis of nearly every disease,5 6 7 including the so called physical diseases. Studies indicate that the psychoneuroimmuno axis is at work in many disease states and this may determine the outcome of disease processes.8 9 Since the state of the mind largely depends on the state of spiritual wellbeing, it is evident that all diseases need to be considered not merely from the body or mind-body perspective but from a wholistic mind-body-spirit perspective.

The Art of Healing:

It is well known that good practice of medicine is both a science as well as an art. The "art of healing',10 largely depends on the quality of empathy11 present in a physician. A compassionate physician presumably acts a catalyst for healing through the patient's own built-in mechanisms. The role of the physician in providing the humane touch is crucial, which cannot be replaced by any technology. Being a good listener, speaking a few kind words and spending a few more minutes with a sincere body language may be all that is needed to have a healing effect on the "self' of the patient. Modern medicine becomes "modern mind-body-spirit medicine' when the physician incorporates the "art of healing' in his professional practice.

From being considered merely as a desirable virtue, it is time for the "art of healing' to be considered as a basic component in any attempt to restore normal health from a diseased state.12 Ignoring this fact and viewing disease merely from a body or a mind-body perspective would amount to intervening into a problem that may be causally downstream while a possible cause upstream is left unattended. The current bio-medical approach, which considers body and the mind as the basis of health is truth but not the whole truth.

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Vijayaraghavan Padmanabhan is a Former Professor of Medicine at Madras Medical College, Chennai, India.

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