Health Consciousness: Working Together

Health Consciousness: Working Together

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by Don Ingwerson

It seems to me that people’s attitudes are changing as they become more conscious of the need for health goals to be achieved through interrelationships and world connectedness. People are finding that personal health goals like losing weight, eating better, exercising, and quitting smoking, while very important to the individual, also need to be considered in the context of world health issues.Continue Reading

Treating Alzheimers Through The Creative Arts Brings Results

Treating Alzheimers through the creative arts brings results

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The arts play an important role here in Southern California and I for one enjoy the creative expression of beauty artists exhibit. My colleague Anna Bowness-Park of Canada writes how the arts can transform lives of those with dementia. Her article was first published in the Vancouver Sun.

Watching her mother Hilda Gorenstein slowly disappear into the labyrinth of Alzheimers diseaseBerna Huebner asked her: “Would you like to paint again?” Her mother, a celebrated and acclaimed painter known as Hilgos, responded: “Yes, I remember better when I paint.”

This small comment inspired her daughter to seek ways to help her mother reconnect with her artistic life, and with those around her. The doctor suggested to Huebner that she could link her mother with some students from the Art Institute of Chicago, and following this advice, several became involved with Hilgos. Slowly and patiently, Hilgos rediscovered what she loved to do best – paint. It was through her painting that Huebner was better able to communicate with her mother – not in the same way, but differently, and with a new language.

Following this experience, Huebner was inspired to make a documentary that explores how the arts can transform the lives of those living with different forms of dementia. Produced in collaboration with film director Eric Ellena, the movie, “I Remember Better When I Paint,” celebrates the courage of her mother who rediscovered her painting gift, and explores the experiences of others who are discovering the influence of art on cognitive ability.

Read the complete article here.

 

Thinking Outside the Brain About Health Care

Thinking Outside the Brain About Health Care

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by Don Ingwerson

Is it important to focus entirely on the body in order to know how to maintain your health? Is health exclusively dependent on material things (blood, bones, etc.), as has been generally accepted over time? Or does the fact that the body is comprised of energy suggest that health is affected and controlled by something else?

An article in the Huffington Post, “Thinking Outside the (Skull) Box,” really got me thinking about the quantum physics view of what makes up existence. In this article, the five authors discuss the universe and man’s relationship to it. Their view bonds man and the universe in a mental construct that weaves all together. The authors note: “Once physicality ends at the Planck scale, something must hold the universe together, and this something can’t be in time or space, nor can it be made of physical ‘stuff.’ …this something sounds an awful lot like God.”

An early 19th-century health researcher and theologian, Mary Baker Eddy, thought a lot about that “something” that might be holding the universe together. She saw the creation of man and the universe as one when she wrote: “There is but one creator, who created all. Whatever seems to be a new creation, is but the discovery of some distant idea of Truth;” A few years later, physicist Erwin Schrödinger declared, “To divide or multiply consciousness is something meaningless. In other words, consciousness is one. It only appears to be divided up into billions of human minds. In short, either consciousness is unbounded or you haven’t looked deep enough.”

Though Schrodinger wrote this some decades ago, today efforts in quantum physics are underway to break through the accepted ideas of explaining the nature of mind and its relationship to the brain, which is usually equated with our body. However, mainstream science is reluctant to move forward when faced with the notion of mind outside the brain. In other words, scientists have spent as much time training their minds about the nature of the physical as, let’s say, world-class athletes have spent training their bodies for the Olympics. Once one is committed to a belief, it’s hard for any of us to change our thinking.

So, where do the mind and identity reside? In the brain or across the wider landscape of the brain-body complex?

For some people, the answer to this question lies in recognizing a larger consciousness that constitutes all identities. If the nature of our bodies is actually an outcome of the nature of the human mind and its relation to Divine Consciousness, health takes on a different outlook.

A relative of mine found this to be true when he “reframed” his view of the nature of existence. He was having difficulty seeing and he went to an optometrist to have his eyes examined. The doctor told him that he would be blind in a few months unless the condition was corrected through surgery. My relative immediately turned his thought to Divine Consciousness through prayer. In a few months, he returned to the optometrist for a recheck and was told that the former condition no longer was a threat to his vision. That condition never returned. And, my relative never saw himself – his existence – the same way again.

The idea that consciousness is not in the brain and the positive impact spirituality can have on health are both gaining ground. It’s the subject of Dr. Larry Dossey’s, one of the world’s foremost mind-body medicine experts, current research, book, and talks. And as these ideas have gained ground, hospitals are increasingly required to attend to the spiritual attitudes of their patients to be accredited and most medical schools now feature material on how to incorporate spiritual care in their curricula.

So what focus will health care take as we continue to expand our understanding of brain, consciousness, and the Divine?

Article first published in Blogcritics.

Better Media, Better Health

by Don Ingwerson

Discussions within the health community continue to be important as more people look for answers to their health care needs. That is why supporting and distributing the message that health is a condition of mind – through social media sharing – is also important. Eric Bashor from the Federal Office discusses the importance of better media to promote better health in this Health News Briefing.

Feature photo © GLOW IMAGES. Model used for illustrative purposes.

Where Will Mapping the Brain Lead Us?

Where Will Mapping the Brain Lead Us?

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Model used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon

“Investing in ‘the best ideas.’” That’s what President Obama wants to do. And he plans to do it by funding the mapping of the human brain.

Scientists envision this as a “concerted effort to advance the knowledge of the brain’s billions of neurons and gain greater insights into perception, actions and, ultimately, consciousness.”

Understanding where perception, actions, and consciousness comes from or resides is an intriguing idea, but I’m wondering if the search will ever provide the answers we want or need.

In a webinar broadcast by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine Dr. Norman Doidge, MD suggests that how we view the functioning of the brain is rooted in mechanical physics.

“Ever since Galileo made his great discoveries and explained the movement of the planets with what were called the ‘mechanical laws of motion,’ scientists and clinicians thought that we should explain the workings of our bodies according to this new physics and according to those mechanical laws of motion. They took very, very seriously the idea that the human body was a machine and that the brain was like a machine. In more recent times, they saw the brain as a computer – as a hardwired computer.”

And yet, he goes on to explain how the brain is actually not a machine or computer, but is rather an adaptive organ responding to damage to itself and changes in the environment.

He describes a woman who was born without a left hemisphere in her brain and yet the right hemisphere adapted and performed functions normally done by the left side. In many respects she functions normally even though a brain-mapping venture might say she shouldn’t be able to.

His conclusion? “Half a brain does not make for half a mind.”

Interesting, though this is not a new discovery. Over one hundred years ago theologian and medical researcher Mary Baker Eddy noted that “…brain is not mind” (p. 372)

Further evidence that the mind is not tied to the brain is found in the research of biologist Rupert Sheldrake PhD. His findings have caused him to conclude that our minds reach out beyond the brain to great distances, and that our nervous system can’t explain why we’re conscious at all.

Though Sheldrake and Doidge make a strong case that the mind and consciousness are not confined in the brain, it’s the experience of Dr. Eben Alexander that sheds light on just how much we don’t know about consciousness and the mind.

Alexander is an experienced academic neurosurgeon. After contracting an extremely rare disease, the part of his brain that neuroscience says makes him “human,” literally shut down. According to the accumulated knowledge of his profession:

“If you don’t have a working brain, you can’t be conscious.

“This is because the brain is the machine that produces consciousness in the first place. When the machine breaks down, consciousness stops.

“Or so I would have told you before my own brain crashed. During my coma my brain wasn’t working improperly–it wasn’t working at all.”

He was in a deep coma and yet he had a profound and incredibly vivid and complex experience that he describes in his book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.

“I was encountering the reality of a world of consciousness that existed completely free of the limitations of my physical brain…. My experience showed me that the death of the body and the brain are not the end of consciousness, that human experience continues beyond the grave.”

Do these researchers and anecdotal experiences, then, point to the possibility that our consciousness, our mind, does not reside in the brain? Perhaps our consciousness is part of a larger scheme that isn’t mechanistic and dependent upon an organ.

What is to be gained by mapping the brain? One of the hopes of researchers is to find a better understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. With a huge body of research showing that one’s consciousness affects health, perhaps mapping the brain isn’t going to be as fruitful as hoped.

Sages and holy teachers have stated for centuries that consciousness cannot be compartmentalized. Perhaps all the research on mapping the brain will discover this beyond a doubt. Then they will arrive back at what the Bible encourages: “let us all be of one mind,” “having the mind of Christ.” Understanding this could unleash a powerful healing force for the body.

What is Real?

What is Real?

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A guest post written by Mary Lou MacKenzie

The popularity of the current best seller, Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander, indicates a yearning and interest that most of us have for a deeper understanding of what constitutes eternal LIFE. No matter how full ones life is here and now, most of us wonder at some time or another what eternal life feels like.

Whether or not one accepts what Dr. Alexander experienced as valid, he certainly poses some interesting questions that make us wonder. He relates a journey that he experienced while everyone else around him saw him as in a coma. As he expressed it, he experienced an awareness that life is in our conscience and not in the body. For instance, he states on page 76, “…I understood that I was part of the Divine and that nothing – absolutely nothing – could ever take that away. The (false) suspicion that we can somehow be separated from God is the root of every form of anxiety in the universe…” He also felt an overwhelming sense of unconditional love.

There are certainly many Biblical statements that support Alexander’s experience. In Romans 8:6 Paul writes, “…to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” In Hebrews 11:5, written possibly by a woman authoress, it states, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death;” And the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, has stated in her seminal work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Life is real, and death is the illusion.”

Many years ago, I experienced something that made all these quotations ring true. We had a kitty, my son’s favorite kitty, who had not eaten for some time and appeared to be close to passing on. Money at that time was in very short supply so going to a vet did not seem to be an option. I had prayed fervently for this loving kitty, but to no avail. One morning in my attempt to not feel the approaching “pangs of death,” I began to look up citations in the Bible and in Eddy’s works about death. Passages like the ones quoted above began to take on greater significance than ever before, and I became immersed in them. After several hours of study, I heard a meowing at the back door. There was this kitty, well and full of life, not death. This same kitty lived to what many would refer to as a “ripe old age” and brought many years of joy to our family, especially our son.

It does seem that through these experiences, a mortal sense of life becomes less and less real to us and, as Dr. Alexander found, that the spiritual sense of life becomes ever so much more real.

Health Consciousness: Working Together

Health Consiousness: Working Together

© GLOW IMAGES

by Don Ingwerson

It seems to me that people’s attitudes are changing as they become more conscious of the need for health goals to be achieved through interrelationships and world connectedness. People are finding that personal health goals like losing weight, eating better, exercising, and quitting smoking, while very important to the individual, also need to be considered in the context of world health issues.

For example, if an individual quits smoking, those who had been breathing second hand smoke are now benefited by that individual’s choice. This example shows how an individual and the members of society are interrelated. Improving these relationships improves the climate of health. The shift from experiencing health from the view of the world serving an individual’s needs to viewing the individual as being in service to the world requires a willingness to go beyond self-interest.

There is also a potential for spiritual resources to be used in promoting world health. Recent studies have shown that health includes a spiritual aspect. Development of a spiritual component to community health may be the key to reverse the downward trends in world health conditions. Elliot Dacher, M.D., author of Integral Health, intended to present a comprehensive model of health and healing in his book, but found that integral health and healing was in psychospiritual development – the awakening and development of consciousness.

Many find this consciousness, or spiritual approach, benefits the whole person – both mind and body. Maybe Dacher said it best when he stated “As I could slowly see the glimmer of the gem of human flourishing I knew it was possible for everyone. And I also knew it was time to come home to my own culture and do what I could to help others see the truth, goodness, and beauty of life, much as I had been helped to see it for myself. I knew it was time to practice medicine again, but this time, an inner and outer whole medicine.”

The importance of resisting the temptation to isolate yourself from the effects of the world or the influence of your community is best described in Sri Aurobindo’s observations found in his work, Integral Healing: “The mind/body/community relationship is like the relationship of water and wetness. You cannot put water on one side of the room and wetness on the other side”

As more people put the larger world ahead of self, a different world consciousness will emerge.

There is a revolution going on right now that changes the approach to health and healing. It involves including a new concept of oneness among mind/body and the individual and his relationship with those in his world. What’s really exciting is that more people are realizing that health is not just the domain of matter or materiality – but instead is a unity of all the elements that affect one another.

The link between man’s unity with his fellow man and his whole being – spirit-mind-body is not a new concept. It is recorded in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, when Jesus and others routinely demonstrated a revolutionary “new” approach to well being to counteract the health concerns of the times. Interestingly, the teaching included everyone, not just those who followed him, pointing to the current trend to see our inter-connectedness.

Is it possible that the development and use of spirituality to obtain individual and community health goals will build on the evolving ideas shared by Dacher and Aurobindo? Maybe they will be found to share the same core values leading to healthier individuals and societies.

Article first published in Blogcritics.

Health Goals: Developing an Awareness of Alternatives

Health Goals: Developing an Awareness of Alternatives

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by Don Ingwerson

While establishing goals for the 2013 year, an article by Deepak Chopra titled, “The big idea(s) for 2013: A Critical Mass of Consciousness” caught my attention. As I read further, I realized that a goal has a better chance of being successful if it is in concert with the efforts of others. Chopra successfully makes this point when he states, “Our world right now is in a state of worrisome turbulence and chaos. If we are to achieve any measure of success in creating a more peaceful, just, sustainable, and healthy planet, it will require more than the participation of governments and businesses. We’ll need a critical mass of consciousness on the part of the people.”

Let’s look at one aspect of this larger goal: a healthy planet.

The goal of helping create a critical mass of consciousness (awareness) about health and the importance of this goal to each individual is very timely when considering how health care options are determined. Timely, because by January 2014 almost every individual in the United States will be mandated to buy health insurance or pay a fine.

This collective health awareness will need a critical mass of people who have found alternative and traditional therapies that work for them, and regulators who make them accessible under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the new health care law is confined to traditional western medical practices, and modeled after existing delivery systems, Dr. Andrew Weil’s comment in the documentary Escape Fire, “We don’t have a health care system, we have a disease care system,” may describe our future.

Another issue is how patients will be treated, both mentally and physically. Do they need to take more responsibility for their health instead of routinely turning to the medical community to manage their lives through drugs? How do we achieve a critical mass of consciousness in this area?

Dr. Lissa Rankin urges, “The solution is not more tests, more drugs, or more procedures. The solution requires physicians to spend more time with patients engaging in the art of healing and educating patients not just about diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, and taking vitamins, but also the other factors. To be wholly healthy, you need to do more than care for your physical body. It’s also essential to be healthy in your relationships, your work life, your creative life, your spiritual life, your financial life, your environment, and your mental health.”

As regulators tackle the task of identifying therapies that should be available to the public under the ACA, there needs to be the recognition that the whole person – physical and spiritual aspects – must be addressed. Many studies show that health care must address the spiritual needs of the individual as well as the physical.

So my goal this year is to start with big intentions and resolutions. I know from past experiences that it may be easy to become discouraged and shift to smaller and personal goals, but I’m going to work to stick to the big issue, because an awareness (consciousness) on the part of the public is developing about the importance of a different type of health care – one that includes the use of alternative medicines (especially prayer and meditation) and for the accountability of the individual.

My health care goal is not separate from the critical mass of awareness on the part of all, and yet I must stand alone in my belief as to what manifests healthy situations for me. I recall a time that I engaged in setting a big goal by relying on prayer to meet my spiritual and physical needs. I was in the military service at the time and I was assigned full time to prayerfully help army recruits with their physical and spiritual needs. I saw how important bible-based study and prayer were for a healthy and stable emotional lifestyle on the part of inductees. It continues to be my goal for 2013 to promote an awareness (consciousness) that encourages the effective use of prayer and meditation as alternative medicines in resolving health issues. As the concept of health care broadens to address the needs of a population, a critical mass of awareness will result.

Article first published in Blogcritics.

Key to Better Health

Key to Better Health

photo by Wayne Hesler

A guest post written by Eric Nelson, media spokesperson and legislative advocate for the Committee on Publication for Northern California. This article, “The Key to Better Health: Individual Mandate or Individual Commitment?” originally appeared on Communities @WashingtonTimes.com.

In the months leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most of the nation’s attention was focused on the viability of the so-called individual mandate: the requirement for all Americans to have health insurance beginning in 2014. Conventional wisdom said that as the mandate goes, so goes the rest of law, regardless of how the Court ruled on other aspects of the legislation.

Of course, by now everyone knows that this law, including the individual mandate, passed constitutional muster. What remains unknown, however, is whether this mandate will make us any healthier.

Proponents of the ACA in general and the individual mandate in particular argue that the new law is a win-win in terms of lowering costs by adding more people to the insurance pool and improving lives by encouraging a more proactive approach to health care. (Insurance companies are now compelled to cover a wide range of preventive services).

But ask any doctor out there and they’ll likely tell you that it’s going to take more than an individual mandate to make people healthier. It’s going to take individual commitment.

The question is: What exactly should we be committing to?

“Eat right, exercise, and get plenty of rest,” is a pretty common refrain at the doctor’s office, and not a bad start. But what if your doctor told you to watch what you’re thinking as well, especially if you knew it could work as both a preventative and curative agent?

The fact is, the latest medical research is saying exactly this. And not just in the sense of maintaining a positive attitude in order prevent or to help you cope with some physical ailment. It’s much more specific than that, with an increasing number of studies pointing to the measurable health benefits to those who foster such moral, even spiritual, qualities of thought as forgiveness, compassion, gratitude, and love.

Case in point: A researcher here in California found that those who expressed an attitude of gratitude reported higher levels of vitality and optimism and lower levels of depression and stress, which alone accounts for between 60% and 90% of all doctor visits and is widely considered to be a precursor to heart disease.

Another case in point: A doctor and medical researcher in Florida found that AIDS patients actively cultivating a spiritual outlook decreased their viral load and increased their immune cells – those biological agents which work to fend off the AIDS virus – when compared to those who consciously disavowed such activity.

The beauty of these simple shifts in thought is that they’re immensely affordable and, as they become better understood, increasingly reliable and effective. This is not to suggest that the myriad problems confronting our nation’s health care system can or will be wiped out in one fell swoop, even with a collective commitment to better thinking. It is, however, a step in the right direction; one that includes no side effects and the potential for the kind of moral transformation that benefits patient and public alike.

Read more of Eric’s posts.