Age No Reason for Self-Image to Suffer

© GLOW IMAGES Model used for illustrative purposes

© GLOW IMAGES Model used for illustrative purposes

My colleague Steve Salt writes about the link between health, thought and spirituality. His circulated article “Age No Reason for Self-Image to Suffer” was published in After Fifty Living. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote.Continue Reading

New Year’s Revolution: A Shift in How We Think About Health

A New Year's Revolution: A Shift in How We Think About Health

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This is the time of year when New Year’s resolutions are made by all who hope to make a change – and in Southern California it’s no different. My colleague, Steven Salt, gives a fresh view on the concept and says that instead of resolutions, it is time for a revolution.

There is something appealing about a fresh start.  No matter what has occurred the preceding day or over the past year, finding within ourselves the courage to begin again contributes to the promise of success.

That’s one reason for so many New Year resolutions.  New plan + new resolve = victory!

Unfortunately, experts agree that most resolutions don’t stand a chance.  Some reports peg the failure rate of individuals achieving their goals at 78%.

Did you make any this year?  Healthier living is on many peoples’ minds.  The list might include losing weight, eating better, exercising, or stop smoking.

A new national study released by the United Health Foundation concludes that in the last decade, the annual improvement in America’s health has declined 69%.

The report, the 22nd edition of America’s Health Rankings: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities, includes these stats:

*Over 17% of Americans smoke

*Over 27% of U.S. citizens are obese

*Almost 9% of Americans are diabetic

The numbers are much higher for some states.

And more money isn’t the answer. Health care expenditures in the United States are roughly 17 percent of the annual gross domestic product already.  That’s more than any other nation on the planet.

Maybe a change in tactics is required.  Think revolution instead of resolution.

While concrete solutions to our country’s health care woes seem years away, there is a revolution going on right now that changes the whole methodology to health.  It’s a spiritual approach.

90% of U.S. medical schools now address the connection between spirituality and health to some extent through courses or content.  According to Crossroads…Newsletter of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University, over 90% of responding deans report that patients emphasize spirituality in their coping and health care.

Another survey found that a majority of U.S. doctors think that spirituality plays a significant role in influencing a patient’s health.

And with the use of prayer by individuals for health concerns increasing over the past decade, there is a growing body of evidence that a dynamic shift is underway in how patients and health professionals view the avenues toward health.

What’s exciting about this “fresh” approach to well-being is its availability to anyone, its 24/7 access, and cost is inconsequential.  In addition, a spiritual approach to health benefits the whole person, mind and body.

So here’s to New Year revolutions.  May your life be healthy and prosperous.

Steven Salt is a writer and blogger covering health, spirituality and thought.  He is a Christian Science practitioner, curious about everything.You can read Steve’s blog at www.healthysalt.net.

Can Modern Medicine Evolve Beyond Materialism?

Can Modern Medicine Evolve Beyond Materialism?

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A guest post written by Steven Salt, media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Ohio

“Turtles all the way down.” That’s the now famous response to a scientist’s inquiry as told in an anecdote by Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time.  After explaining the basics of astronomy and the relationship between the earth and sun, a little old lady expresses her disbelief to the scientist and pipes up, “The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.”

Hawking continues, “The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, ‘What is the tortoise standing on?’  ‘You’re very clever, young man, very clever,’ said the old lady.  ‘But it’s turtles all the way down.'”

There’s both humor and heartbreak in the old lady’s retort.  Such determinism has propelled the achievements of many a visionary.  It also illustrates the stifling nature of a stubborn dogma that can blind thinkers and shutter what should be the open-minded nature of true science and scholarship.

Today’s healthcare practices offer a similar dichotomy: the unyielding resolve to understand the nature of human systems for the betterment of health pitted against a tenacious faith in the doctrine of materialism.  Is the domain of medicine merely the “flat plate” of physicality, measuring and manipulating matter?  Or is there something more to it, something fundamentally diverse and substantially more dynamic? I’m referring to the solid evidence that our spirituality – our tie to a greater consciousness – has a big impact on our health.

The relationship of health to mind/spirit practices has been understood and used throughout the ages.   But for various reasons modern medicine stepped away from any consideration or application of these practices and has put full faith solely in physical methodologies.

“Contemporary science is based on the claim that all reality is material or physical.  There is no reality but material reality,” writes author, Rupert Sheldrake, in Setting Science Free from Materialism.  “Many scientists are unaware that materialism is an assumption; they simply think of it as science, or the scientific view of reality, or the scientific worldview.”

“Believers,” of materialism as Sheldrake refers to them, “are sustained by the faith that scientific discoveries will justify their beliefs.  The philosopher of science Karl Popper called this stance ‘promissory materialism’ because it depends on issuing promissory notes for discoveries not yet made,” he writes.

The promise of good health is an attractive one.  Can the medical sciences deliver? We can all agree that they have achieved significant successes. Yet, it is just as certain that they have hurdles to get over.  Just last week I tweeted stories about why calorie counts are all wrong and science’s significant stats problem.  But it doesn’t have to be matter, matter, matter “all the way down.” Also tweeted were stories about the healing influence of physicians spending time with patients and faith making you healthier.

“The time for thinkers has come.  Truth, independent of doctrines and time-honored systems, knocks at the portal of humanity.  Contentment with the past and the cold conventionality of materialism are crumbling away,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. To the prominent healer, medicine based entirely in materialism did not have the answers to health.  Her investigations and practice pointed to a distinctive spiritual approach to health, one that continues to this day.

“Eddy’s work foresaw current uses of prayer and meditation for health,” according to Mitch Horowitz in a recent Huff Post article on “life changing” books.  Truly, there does appear to be a crack opening in the philosophy that everything relating to health rests on the back of physicality. More research is published every year evaluating the impact of thought and spirituality on health.

Sheldrake writes, “By freeing the sciences from the ideology of materialism, new opportunities for debate and dialog open up, and so do new possibilities for research.”  For you and me that means a more well-rounded approach to well-being and health maintenance, and less “flat plate” thinking.

Steven Salt is a writer and blogger covering health, spirituality and thought.  He is a Christian Science practitioner, curious about everything.  You can follow him on Twitter @SaltSeasoned

Patient-Centered Care in an iPatient World

Patient-Centered Care in an iPatient World

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A guest post written by Steven Salt, media spokesperson and legislative contact for Christian Science in Ohio.

Ever think about the origins of the barber pole with its red and white strips and brass cup?  It represents the bloody bandages of the barber profession from centuries ago which included performing surgeries and dentistry for customers. You can guess what the cup was used for.

Present-day doctoring has advanced in so many ways since the days of knives and bloodletting.  Now there is robotic surgery and nuclear medicine. The training and expertise needed by today’s physician attest to the skills required to operate complex instruments and the software that runs them.

And while the advancement of these innovating technologies has been welcomed in the health care community, experts are questioning whether the patient has been left behind in the push towards modernized medical treatment.  Welcome to the world of the “iPatient.”

“The patient in the bed has become an icon,” according to Abraham Verghese, M.D., renowned physician, author, and senior associate chair for the theory and practice of medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine.   He spoke at the Fifth Annual Medical-Spirituality Conference sponsored by Boonshoft School of Medicine, Wright State University.

Verghese suggests the purpose of admission to a hospital is to “render the live 3-dimensional patient into a 2-dimensional image.”  In other words the patient is viewed from screens, displays, and readouts. This rise in “remote diagnosis” is to help speed the treatment process, especially when several specialists are involved.  That can often lead to stress and other issues that adversely impact healing, according to Verghese.

The work that goes on behind a monitor and in the conference room on behalf of the patient can actually promote a feeling of inattentiveness on the patient’s part.  A sense of isolation and lack of connectivity ensue, feelings that do not encourage healing.  “We are hungry for Love, for the white-winged charity that heals and saves,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, a late 19th/early 20th century pioneer in the research linking consciousness and spirituality to well-being.

A 2-demensional patient is really a misnomer.  In fact a 3-dimensional patient is also an inaccurate rendering of man and womanhood.   The intangibles of being, things like love, compassion, confidence, hope, and other qualities point to the multidimensional facets of the individual, aspects that cannot be ignored in securing healthy outcomes and furthering long lives.

Verghese points to the intricacies of patient care when referring to something as simple as a doctor’s tone of voice. He remarked during the conference that his or her bedside manner and attitude can have a placebo (positive) or nocebo (negative) effect on the patient.

A vocal advocate for patients, Verghese says that the new buzzword in health care delivery is “patient satisfaction.” While striving for quality has been the focus of health professionals for some time, patient-centered care is getting a lot of attention.  Seeing the patient as an integral part of the healing process will help in the drive towards quality care.

Verghese quoted Dr. Francis Peabody, early 20th century internal medicine specialist responsible for establishing hospitals in the U.S. and China. He too was a strong supporter of the patient. “For the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.” That’s the bedrock of health care.

Steven Salt is a writer and blogger about health, spirituality and thought.  He is a Christian Science practitioner, curious about everything.  You can follow him on Twitter @SaltSeasoned