Spiritual connections can benefit modern health care

The rising tide of health information has reached flood level. So how do you not get swept away by the rushing currents? Photo: Contemplation beyond ourselves sometimes helps

MASSACHUSETTS, March 25, 2013 — The rising tide of health information — from advertising, studies, statistics, media reports, personal advice and professional opinions — has reached flood level. As anyone who has experienced a real flood will tell you, the challenge is keeping your head above water and not getting swept away by rushing currents.

And it’s not just the sheer quantity of information that’s worrying, it’s the questionable quality as well. Drs. Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband, co-authors of “Your Medical Mind,“ have seen the conflicting medical research, the sometimes dangerously misleading drug advertisements, the professional disagreement among physicians regarding tests, diagnoses and appropriate treatment, and in their book they ask the obvious question: “How do you know what is right for you?”

Experts and authority figures may not have the best answer to that question, they say, but there are ways to cut through the confusion and make wiser individual health care choices. For one thing, think carefully about your choices before making them. Don’t back down from the decision-making process. Patients make clearer choices if they’re aware of the biases and influences that obscure their thought.

Some doctors recognize that individual patients may not be best served by routinely applying the clinical model that guides physicians. The best choice for the patient may be for the doctor to do nothing. Dr. Danielle Ofri wrote in a New York Times  piece that “while insurance companies won’t reimburse for deliberation, and report cards pointedly penalize, it’s interesting to consider that there are many patients who may have been saved by inertia.”

Most people will tell you that doing nothing, physically, isn’t exactly doing nothing. The body may be stationary while the mind is as active as ever. Someone’s whole life can change for the better simply as a result of a burst of inspiration or a sudden change of attitude.

Those who make it a practice to set aside quiet time to connect spiritually — to pray, to watch for wisdom, to nurture compassion, to shut out distractions and fight off fears —describe the experience as quiet outwardly but freeing mentally. They feel an inner peace and often a renewal of energy from a divine source. They also talk about feeling healthier as they overcome their limitations and anxieties and stop relating to the steady stream of at-risk scares that drug advertising sends their way.

It’s empowering to discover how positively the body responds to a fearless mind — to a more spiritual state of consciousness. Even a majority of doctors in the U.S. recognize the benefits of spirituality in health. It’s a completely natural way to improve health and well-being and we all have the ability to exercise it right now.

Who knows, maybe the Psalmist who said, “Be still and know that I am God” also learned the physical as well as mental benefit of having quiet time and space in which to feel the presence of the Divine. In any case, it’s that kind of ancient wisdom that may be coming to our rescue in the surging waters of today’s health care information.


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Russ Gerber

Russ Gerber is a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science and he manages media and government relations for the Christian Science Church headquartered in Boston. 

Russ enjoys opportunities to talk with journalists, editors, legislators, writers, producers and the public at large about the age-old capacity of spirituality to improve and restore health, explaining why and how that is happening today.

His media experience began with and grew out of a 30-year career in radio, ranging from on-air work, to programming, to managing and consulting. 

When The Christian Science Monitor expanded into radio news programming, Russ was retained as a consultant then later hired full-time to help them adapt their print content to the broadcast medium. He eventually wrote for and edited the Church's weekly religious magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel, and launched a weekly radio program for the publication, heard on over 200 radios stations worldwide and on the web. In addition to contributing to the Washington Times Communities, he is also a contributor to Psychology Today and Huffington Post.

Today Russ and his wife, Jo Ann, call Boston their home, while enjoying opportunities to travel throughout the world.

Contact Russ Gerber

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