An integral or true healer in this vision has to constantly progress himself. It is true of any healer in fact. Only, this progress is ordinarily considered to be an updating of current information on the subject. Such a thing has its role, no doubt, but it is far from enough. The integral healer has to, above all, grow inwardly. It is his living inner communion that can make his being a bridge for the healing forces to flow. In other words, in the language of the ancient Ayurveda physician, he should be a dwij, twice born, the second birth referring to a birth in the realm of the spirit. But the realm of the spirit must not be confused with the realm of the occult, which is a field of the powers of mind, powers of life and powers of the inner physical consciousness. These powers, though greater in potency than our material methods, yet belong to the field of cosmic ignorance. Their action is mixed, and even though it may seem miraculous, it is not radical.
What would be his system and method? Well, he may use the system with which he is quite naturally familiar and conversant. But he will not be limited by the system to the point that he cannot admit any other approach or possibility. A wide inner flexibility and plasticity in the application of the system, a liberal common sense, an ability to see things from diverse perspectives, an absolute trust in the healing power of Grace and the humility to depend upon Its power and wait patiently upon Its wisdom.
Having said this, a few simple practical hints can be of help in facilitating the healing process. These can be summarized as follows:
- Ideally, the healer may have a soul-to-soul communication (if possible and if he is capable) with his patient. The physician would not only be conscious that he is one among many means that the Grace may use but will be humble enough not to have even the pride of being an instrument. A wide and plastic impersonality with a glad opening to the Divine is an excellent condition to facilitate the healing process.
- It is important to make the patient feel at ease and welcome otherwise he is unlikely to open up and may feel dissatisfied even if the time spent is the same. Let him be seated and keep an eye contact.
- Listening is an art and most necessary yet most lacking. The first few exchanges should be to strike a rapport. One must deal with a client as a human being and not as a ‘case’. Hear him out even if you feel his symptoms are trivial or do not add to the diagnosis. Most patients feel relieved simply after having been heard!
- The idea of illness in terms of ‘categories of diagnosis’ though practically helpful, has this great problem of cutting things into bits and parts. It often crystallizes the illness and all that is associated with it in terms of suggestion. Besides, it tends to exclude the person and his unique way of responding to the challenges of existence from the immediate point of concern. When we do so, the relation that develops is between the sick part and the scientific mind of the healer. The other parts are deprived of an active therapeutic contact thereby limiting the therapeutic benefits and the healing process that would take place when two human beings and their energy fields meet.
- Listening has many benefits as well:
- Speech is a form of externalization of consciousness. It is like a vehicle through which many inner contents — thoughts, emotions, fears, hopes — pour out. This abreaction itself is a help.
- It helps to bring awareness and focus on the inner roots of illness so that ‘Light’ and ‘Truth’ can be placed over it.
- It builds a therapeutic bridge between the client and the healer.
- And of course, it helps us understand the illness, the patient’s perspective of it and elements in his psychology that help or hinder the recovery. It is an indirect access, often the only one available, to the patient’s mind.
- By the very act of unburdening oneself, the patient feels relieved. He feels that now that he has told everything to a physician, he will understand it correctly and thereby cure it. This faith does not develop if he has not been heard. The patient feels rather that the doctor has not understood him properly and therefore his treatment cannot be a correct one!
- By abreacting, one’s [the patient’s] anxiety and fear is reduced and this itself helps the cure. Every physician should develop the art of listening. The patient should feel not only heard but also understood.
- In return, most patients feel the need of two things:
- A simple explanation and understanding of their illness.
- Faith that they can get well, faith that even in the worst events there lies the possibility of some good awaiting fruition when the storm has passed, faith that there is beyond life, death and circumstances, the light of the soul that never perishes nor fades.
- The explanation and understanding of the illness would naturally be along the lines in which the physician has been trained. But it is important to avoid technical jargon, to keep the information simple and in a way that helps the patient to comprehend what may be going on inside his body. Thus, instead of saying that you have cancer of such and such part and then go into its technical details that often confuse and frighten, one could say that a group of cells in such and such part of your body are not behaving normally. They are acting autonomously in detriment to the interest of other cells and tissues. Then the patient can be given a simple program whereby he can give suggestions with or without the help of mental imagery to teach these cells to get back their rhythm and harmony with the rest. If the client is open to a higher Light and Grace then this information about the spot and nature of the problem can help his thoughts to serve as a mediating link between the part that is ill and the higher Grace that heals.In other words, the purpose of this information is not just ethical. It is meant to serve as a therapeutic loop so that the patient’s own mind can consciously process it and spontaneously activate the healing mechanisms. This loop can be at two levels. What this loop means is that our own mind collaborates in the heling process. But equally by giving negative inputs and frightening prognostications we may paralyse the mind into a state of helplessness. This impact of positive and negative suggestions on healing is often termed as the ‘placebo’ and the ‘nocebo’ effect. The Grace Itself can work directly upon the sick part or else through the mind of the patient or even the consciousness of the physician. Each of these can in turn offer help or resist the action of the Grace. This loop as we see below can be at two levels:
Certainly the information has to be phased, letting in time for assimilation. What is however equally important is that the nursing and other staff, even other doctors do not give contradictory information and misinformation which would only lead to a confusion and fear. Doctor shopping is an unhealthy practice, firstly, because it implies as such a lack of trust and secondly, it confuses the mind and the physical consciousness as well. And though different systems of medicines may act complimentarily, different physicians may not. It is helpful therefore to stick to a physician who knows you well and in whom you can trust.
- The issue of inspiring faith has been unfortunately made a complex one by the presumptuous and arrogant type of physician who ‘believes’ that he knows it all, simply because he has read all about the illness and its course. Earlier physicians were more humble and modest, they had less information, greater common-sense and knowledge, deeper wisdom than their modern counterparts. The earlier physician would say, ‘I treat, He (God) cures’. By doing so, he kept the faith of the client open and intact. The modern physician has lent his faith less and less to God or a Higher Power and invested it rather in scientific data that goes by the dubious name of evidence-based medicine. Dubious because it relies for its evidence upon a limited field of observation and for its testimony upon the fallible human instruments. Let us say that a certain illness has a 50% survival rate over a two-year period. Now, what does this mean to a patient? For him it is not 50-50; it is either 0% or 100%. He will either survive or not. And no statistical data can convincingly tell us who will make it on this side of the 50% and who will be on the other side. In such a case, the most practical and rational thing would be to put all our weight (all that would help) on the side of life and then leave the rest to an All-Seeing Will. And among the elements that help the healing process, faith itself is one of the most potent and foremost. In fact, as is self-evident by the placebo-effect, faith is the simple important common factor in all therapeutics. Is it then wise to snatch hope and faith in the name of a doubtful truth?
Of course, the notaries of ‘reveal it all’ to the patient would say that it helps to tell everything about prognosis, so that patients and relatives can prepare themselves, complete the final acts and cooperate better with whatever treatment they are given. Unless it is an emergency, most patients begin to feel deep within and know instinctively that their time is close. It is a knowledge often more authentic than the surface calculations, provided the mind has not been affected much by the illness. As to cooperating with the treatment, most patients would do so if they are explained in a simple comprehensible way about the help the proposed treatment would give towards recovery. The rest should be left to the patient who must make the final choice. The idea that if the patient refuses to take treatment, the doctor must bombard him with all kinds of frightening information is one example of over-identification with the medical man’s ego. Rather, we may tell him, if we wish to, what benefits a particular course of treatment may accrue. But to prognosticate is to play at being a soothsayer. Things may follow a pattern but they also may not. Let us then be hope givers and not soothsayers. Of course, it is understood that giving hope does not mean telling lies or brushing aside everything casually and imprudently by the wave of a hand and a ‘don’t bother’ attitude.
Finally, faith has many aspects and dimensions when it comes to the healing process. Firstly, it should not be merely a mental belief but a dynamic inner conviction. Secondly, it is not enough if the mind has faith though it is a great support to have that. To be truly effective it must be integral, right up to the physical level. And here comes the knot of the greatest difficulty. For, the body is still largely a blind and obscure thing that works more through automatic instincts and mechanical habits. Being largely constituted of matter and based upon it, its natural faith is in material means and physical methods. That is why it responds so fast and so wonderfully to physical remedies, especially if these remedies are supported by the collective faith prevalent in an age. Each age of mankind, each epoch of civilization, each race and culture, each group of humanity puts its faith in a certain medium of healing and it works well for them. The very fact that humanity has survived through several millennia is evidence enough. Therefore, it is necessary, that the physician does not damage a client’s faith in a certain system of therapy or line of treatment. Whatever, he is offering must be as an added supplement rather than an ‘either-or’ choice.
- A physician who can communicate these things — faith, peace, hope, love — as verbal suggestions or through his unspoken thoughts may well touch a powerful lever to activate the healing process. The important point here is not only about what is said or how it is said but also about what is not said and who says it. What the physician shares with those around him, who depend for help, is not just words or gestures but also his hopes and fears and deeper convictions which emanate from his inner being and are transmitted as vibrations to others much as the unseen radio waves carry signal messages. The inner state of the physician and his personality has a definite role to play in the total healing process. Thus, words, touch, glances and gestures are merely vehicles to transmit these hidden forces. Most physicians are unaware of this deeper interchange though most patients know and feel it. But it is possible that what takes place now unconsciously can be done consciously and even more effectively. The state of consciousness in which we are has a great bearing upon what we do. And while we presently live in a divided and limited state whereby we have to perforce depend heavily upon external instrumentations, it is possible for man to ascend to a higher soul-state from where he can clearly see how our faith recreates us at each moment and also how our fate is nothing but the working out of a complex play of forces which our soul has secretly chosen.
Finally, the question of questions is what constitutes a good healer or in other words what is the difference between a qualified physician, a good physician, and a great physician. For though we believe that all human beings are same and it is indeed true of our essential being, there are great differences in temperaments and capacities and the human nature can house a range of variations from the saintly man to the cold-blooded murderer. Unlike the animal nature, man is not a fixed type. And he is also in constant flux for man is still evolving. Modern medical schools do not take this into consideration and the only requirement of becoming a physician is a good memory that would help him compete for the entrance exam and see him through the medical school. But for all this, one may not be able to inspire enough trust in a patient (a crucial factor in healing). One may not have the art and the tact of communicating with the patients, leading to an unnecessary prolongation of suffering. One may be insensitive to human considerations that are so very important when one is dealing with the complex nature of humanity. Universities such as Harvard are recognizing this and giving their students an exposure to humanities during the medical curriculum. This is only a small but a good beginning. At least it is a recognition of the fact that the meeting ground of the physician and the patient is not just the diseased part and the drug but the whole personality of the therapist and the entire personality of the patient.
Healing takes place in the matrix of the healing environment that includes the nursing staff, the hospital or the home as the case may be; the treating physician and his outlook and approach; and of course the patient’s personality, his attitudes and beliefs about the illness as well as his receptivity to the healing forces, besides the therapeutic medium involved. A general positive outlook, faith in the system and the healing physician, faith in the recovery, enthusiasm, the capacity to inspire trust even amidst dismal circumstances, the ability to exude confidence in the healing process and most importantly, of an openness to Grace in the patient and the doctor, creates a good backdrop to healing. A good physician usually has an abundant vital energy and is by nature generous. He is a natural giver and so can easily transmit something of the abundant vital forces and naturally transfer something of his confidence and enthusiasm to the patient. Of course he must know his science well, he must be well informed not only about the effects but also about the side effects of the treatment mode that he prefers to use, but he must also be something more.
And that something more is a natural ability to transfer trust and inspire confidence, at least in the system and the possibility of cure but most of all in the healing power of Grace. If he can do that, then that is wonderful and can yield exceptional results even as the earlier physicians achieved it with much less information, fewer drugs and means at their disposal, less elaborate tests and techniques but with this simple and singular quality of instilling faith that we treat, God cures. Perhaps, handicapped due to fewer resources, they had to rely more and more on the great miracle of Grace. But the modern arrogant physician is less humble. He has much more information than he can assimilate, while the deeper sense of this information is often lost to him, and most of all wisdom has become a rare and infrequent guest in his chamber. We have installed machines and driven out God and faith from our hospitals and nursing homes. The result is more misery, irrespective of recovery or death. Let’s hope that this is only a passing phase and we shall soon learn the lost lesson of humility, recapture the lost trust in our natural healing and in the power of Grace, be once again able to say, and with a much greater authenticity and wisdom born of direct and conscious experience that, ‘I treat, God cures.’