Practicing Health Care

A few weeks ago, I taught a weekend continuing education seminar for acupuncturists on the channel divergences, which have central importance for both understanding and reversing progressive and degenerative disease. Early in that seminar, I posed the following question, which I believe lay deep in the soul of many health care practitioners:

Do you want to participate in the disease management industry or the art of healing?

Has the idealism to help others, which continues to inspire many young people to enter the health care fields, been overwhelmed by the “scientific” doctrines students must learn and later the practical challenges of making a living? While that idealism appears well beaten-down in most, I believe it continues to smolder in the hearts of many. Can we gently fan those embers with the knowledge that the healing potential of the embodied spirit (jīngshén (精神)) dwarfs the efforts of scientific medicine to control the expression of pathology?

Modern medicine relies on fear.

Allopathic medicine portrays patients’ bodies as “broken” — in need of permanent physical repair through surgery or ongoing physiological control with pharmaceuticals. Yet, embodied spirits that exhibit various diseases aren’t broken; they’re simply congested with stagnation, which blocks the natural flow of vital function. The symptoms and signs of disease are a cry for help; they are the embodied spirit’s gesture to express the nature and extent of its distress.

While western medicine sets the tone for our health care system, most proponents of “natural” medicine conform to its passive care model. And why not? — it makes SO MUCH SENSE economically. What could be better than selling people on the need to take a certain supplement for the rest of their lives, or come for three treatments per week for the next six months? Excuse me while I price a new BMW.

Practicing Health Care is a Sacred Trust.

People come to health care practitioners with their pains and their fears. I believe our work challenges us to discern the sources of each individual’s suffering, and find ways to stimulate the transformations of healing. Often that takes more time initially than simply controlling the manifestations of distress, but careful work to discriminate an individual’s blocks to healing can pay substantial dividends. The financial value for both individuals and our society of empowering patients to resolve their ailments is enormous. The non-financial value is even greater!