As trailblazing as it may seem, the field of mind-body medicine appears to be stuck in the mud, still trying to extract itself from the not-as-widely-accepted-as-it-used-to-be notion that matter is the be-all and end-all of existence.
Even as we see a greater acknowledgement of decidedly non matter-based factors like compassion, gratitude, and a sense of spiritual connection as being vital to our health, the assumption remains that all it really takes is a matter-based brain to generate matter-based chemicals in order to maintain a matter-based body.
No doubt this is an improvement over the days when the body was seen as little more than a biomechanical construct, altogether separate from one’s consciousness. But until we’re willing to consider an entirely different basis of being – one that’s not at all matter-based – it’s doubtful we’ll be able to make it much further down the road.
“The question is, when is that? Is that next Tuesday, or is that 500 years from now? I don’t think it’s next Tuesday,” says Dean Radin, chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, Calif. “The investments in medicine and science have a huge amount of inertia built into them, and so it’s not likely to change any time soon.”
Nevertheless, things do appear to be moving in the right direction. Ever since the days of Jesus – described by Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy as “the most scientific man that ever trod the globe” – we’ve gotten glimpses of a radically different approach to taking care of the body. Rather than treating humanity as little more than a collection of matter-based brains in need of adjustment, such an approach acknowledges first and foremost a singular divine Mind or God as governing its own divine creation.
For Eddy, matter wasn’t so much a thing as it was a perspective, a “human concept,” a limited view of reality – a view that, to the degree it was challenged and ultimately undermined by the spiritual insights she was gaining through her study of the Bible, resulted in mental and physical healing, both for herself and her students. “Material beliefs must be expelled to make room for spiritual understanding,” writes Eddy in Science in Health with Key to the Scriptures. “Who is ready to admit this?”
How many of us are ready to admit, for instance, that the world as we know it is not made up of conflicting realities but rather differing perspectives: one that tends to limit our outlook and cause suffering, the other that tends to extend our mental horizon to the point where we see ourselves as the very reflection of God or Spirit?
The problem is, most of us have gotten into the habit of hanging on to both perspectives – the familiar if perpetually unstable matter-based view and the less-familiar but infinitely reassuring Spirit-based view – regardless of the fact that the two are fundamentally incompatible.
No wonder it feels like we’re stuck in the mud.
Perhaps the answer can be found in Eddy’s question itself. Are we willing to admit – or at least consider – that life isn’t the physical aggregate it appears to be on the surface but, instead, the eternal expression of what the one divine Mind is causing us all to see and to be? This is no leap of faith but a reasonable and immensely useful step that we’re all capable of taking.
And what will be the result?
For me it’s meant a lifetime of healing through reliance on Mind alone. Healings of infections and flu, of backaches and headaches – all of which have come about to the extent I’ve been willing to step out of the mud onto a solid path of daily growing my understanding of the Divine.
Although it’s uncertain if the whole of mind-body medicine will ever head in this direction, the path remains open to one and all, regardless of background or religious affiliation. All it takes is the willingness – and the commitment – to keep moving forward.