Twenty-First-Century Healing ©

by Lonny J. Brown

If you expect to live well into the 21st Century, look for big changes in the way your health will be determined and maintained. We are in the midst of a major paradigm shift - a revolution - in medicine. While discarding some sacrosant medical assumptions (for example, about female biology, dietary needs and under-eating) the new health model combines some ancient methods, like yoga and meditation, with new, hi-tech approaches such as biofeedback.
Today, personal fitness and healing practices once considered the province of the freaky fringe are gaining mainstream credibility, because they work. Dr. Dean Ornish, director of the Preventive Medicine Research Center, in Sausalito, CA, has demonstrated that vegetarian diet, yoga, and meditation can reverse coronary heart disease. Large corporations are underwriting relaxation courses to reduce employee absenteeism and medical costs. Insurance companies are offering financial incentives to non-smokers and aerobic dancers.

Healing in the 21st century will witness the final convergence of science and psychology, body, mind and soul. This direction is epitomized by the new hybrid science, "psychoneuroimmunology," the study of the interaction between the mind and body, acting through blood cell chemistry. This research, and the pioneering work of Dr. Herbert Benson ("The Relaxation Response") and others, demonstrates that beliefs influence physical health. Positive affirmations, for example raises the immune system's white blood cell count. 

The new medicine differs from the old in several important ways:

  • It is PROACTIVE, emphasizing education, prevention, fitness training, and self-healing practices.
  • It is BEHAVIORAL, recognizing the health implications of diet, livelihood, relationships, stress, beliefs and expectations.
  • It is ENVIRONMENTAL, understanding our dependence on clean, unpolluted air, water, and food.
  • It is HOLISTIC, addressing your body, mind, and spiritual nature. 
  • It is TRANSPERSONAL, working with loved ones, your religious community, and the more universal dimensions of life, and supporting the healing power of, prayer, ceremony, and ritual
  • It is CO-OPERATIVE, enlisting doctors, patients, therapists, families, and support groups as therapeutic team members.

    Upon taking ill, the salient question is not "why me?," but "why now?" In addition to physical examinations, we need personal self-examination. Hospitals of the future will have rooms for meditation, grieving and loving, plus audio/video libraries, biofeedback training labs, green houses, gardens, and pet quarters; all these have been shown to be therapeutic. If love is good for you, a hospital should be where we can get more of it... a therapeutic community.

    Real health comes from within. Tomorrow's healing centers will supplement today's precision diagnostic services with equally scientific self-care and wellness training. Inevitably, professional patronizing and obscure terminology will give way to cooperative educational approaches, and client-oriented therapies. Future medicine, like future world politics, will increasingly acknowledge the empowerment of the individual. 

    No matter what condition you're in, there is much you can do to optimize your own health. Eat well. Eat less. Avoid fat, sugar, starch, alcohol. Don't smoke. Exercise and play regularly and relax thoroughly. Your well-being is your birthright to keep and protect. A long, healthy life is a reasonable expectation, if you begin now and train everyday. But nobody else can do it for you. Don't give away your authority over your own body. In the information age, knowledge not only liberates, it heals.