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Articles    H2'ed 2/12/10

The Miracle of Peacefulness

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Once we eliminate feelings of personal blame, we must address hope. Hope is hard to define, though we can immediately recognize those who have it and those who don't, even if we don't know how we make that distinction. Real hope is a by-product of creating a sense of peacefulness.

For many years I thought my job as a physician was to help people get well. I didn't recognize the importance of peacefulness, and of helping people discover meaning and purpose in whatever experience they had. I sometimes humorously described myself as a clinical engineer, matching treatments to patients. My job was to solve the problem of finding a path to wellness. The problem with the engineer analogy was that not everyone got well no matter how diligently I plotted their paths. Some people died regardless of my efforts. Then, the engineer metaphor failed me, and I felt lost. No amount of analyzing or understanding could bring the desired results to some patients, who died despite my best efforts.

We have all grown up believing that science and its expertise will save us, and it is sobering when it doesn't. Our belief in medicine is so strong, that we usually turn to alternatives or to God as a last resort, when conventional treatments have failed. We are trained to believe in the experts and their technologies.

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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and (more...)
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