Jesus answered, “. . . ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. —Mark 12:29, 30
In this brief passage Jesus tells the disciples what the two greatest commandments are, the first being loving God with our whole selves: mind, heart, strength (body) and soul. This is a powerful commandment that insists we bring all of who we are to our relationship with God. The second commandment follows with the instruction to love our neighbor—like we love ourselves. What would it look like to love ourselves by giving full attention to our total wellness? We could partner with our healthcare provider, explore therapies that are holistic and less invasive, and approach our health joyfully and with curiosity.
Years of scientific research has proven that integrated medicine works. When I worked as chaplain at the Vanderbilt Cancer Center for Integrative Health, cancer patients told me they found increased peace and less anxiety when they “integrated” some of the therapies we offered into their medical treatment. We referred patients to a selection of integrated medicine practitioners: a nutritionist, music therapist, art therapist, psychologist, an energy worker (Healing Touch/Reiki), massage therapist, an acupuncturist, and a yoga teacher. I sat with the patients and provided a spiritual presence. Unfortunately, the funding ended after a year, but the patients benefitted from having access to a range of therapeutic approaches that brought healing to their whole being. Here in Houston, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center continues to have a vibrant Integrated Medicine program.
Integrated medicine is holistic, less invasive, patient focused, and offers the opportunity to explore what works. Here are a few links to integrative approaches. Some you may have tried and I hope the others will pique your curiosity enough to try. You might enjoy the benefits. Please consult with your physician before trying something new.
Acupuncture: From its inception in China more than 2,500 years ago, acupuncture has been used traditionally to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease, as well as to improve general health.
Massage: Massage is a “hands on” treatment in which a therapist manipulates muscles and other soft tissues of the body to improve health and well-being.
Nutritional Counseling: Nutritional counselors analyze a client’s eating habits and health concerns and then make recommendations based on the results.
Prayer and Spirituality: There is evidence that praying and having spiritual beliefs can be an effective tool for combating illness and isolation.
Yoga: A series of postures and controlled breathing exercises that build flexibility and calm. In the traditional yoga practice there is a “yoking” of body and spirit.
- Asked to facilitate a support group for people in recovery from Hurricane Harvey