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Mind-Body Medicine Spiritual Version Of Health In The West

Updated: October 2, 2010 11:30 am

Mind-Body Medicine is a new approach in the health care management, which has evolved in the recent past, in the west. Treating doctors of the western world realised that despite the availability of best diagnostic tools, sometimes right diagnosis is difficult to establish. Also, patients diagnosed for the same definitive ailment, respond differently to the conventional treatment approaches, which is gold standard for that disease management, across the world. This could be attributed to some extent to the individual’s resistance power for that disease, which is further related to the nutritional and immunity status, of the individuals. However, it was also observed that control of mind, individual’s perception towards life and intense personal desire to come out of the existing health problem, has also impeccable impact on their health status and their capacity to cope with any disease ailment.

                It has also been observed that patients having positive attitude towards life and a strong will power to come out of the suffering ailment, show speedy recovery and unprecedented results. It holds true also, for a very contented, happy and productive life. Therefore, attaining right attitude and positive mind set has also been considered crucial, in the recovery of patients from all the ailments. Such observations and guiding factors led to a systemic approach for a healthy and positive mind, in the form of “Mind-Body Medicine”, in the west. Similar approach in healthcare is mentioned and practiced in orient under the umbrella of “Spiritual Health”. Control of mind and an effective, integrated lifestyle management, is also central to the “Spiritual Health” approach, originated in India, more than 5000 years back. Exploring the methods and systems, for attaining the mental peace and effective control of mind along with the development of right coping mechanisms for recovery from all types of diseases, is the core issue of Mind-Body medicine. It in turn, helps in attaining a good health and speedy recovery from all types of ailments. It also equips the individual to cultivate the mental strength to face the challenge of even non-curable ailments, effectively.

                Mind-Body medicine has been developed as an integral part of general medicine or internal medicine, in the premier healthcare institutions of USA. It comprises counselling sessions along with breath-control exercises and meditation practices. Two-three contact sessions are held in the hospital to sensitise the patients for such practices and then they are encouraged to continue the prescribed practices, at home.

                This discipline has given very encouraging results to the promoters of such facility. Spiritual practices have been found an effective adjunct with the conventional medical management of the many difficult and subtle disease ailments. It is on this account that takers of yoga and alternative therapies have significantly increased in USA, in last few years. Specially, youth has been found more receptive and forthcoming in spending their funds for such practices. One data of Mayo Clinic (USA) reveals that in the year 2007, adults in USA spent $33.9 billion on out of pocket visits (not covered under medical insurance) to Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners and purchase of related products. Surveys have also found that between 2002 and 2007, there was a definite increase in the use of acupuncture, deep breathing exercises, massage therapy, meditation, naturopathy and yoga by the American youth. It clearly indicates that there is also a great public awareness and liking for “Mind-Body Medicine” approaches.

                It shows that this area has great promise not only in the positive outcome of disease management but also in reducing frustrations of life and in attaining desired happiness, contentment and mental control, which is the need of the hour. Many western medical scientists have researched practical applications of many yoga and pranayama-related techniques, useful for the cure of selected organic and functional ailments. Their work on such approaches has been presented on many international professional forums for data sharing and discussions.

                Western medical and social scientists have taken a big leap in this direction. Now it is the turn of Indian medical and scientific community to take definitive steps in this arena and integrate Spiritual Health modalities with the medical management systems, for the better treatment outcomes and desired social health of the Indian nationals.

By Dr Dipak Shukla

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