In my thirty years of practicing medicine, I have always been surprised by the attitude of the medical community. Most physicians only spend ten minutes per patient and give a quick fix pill to treat such ailments as backaches, stomach pain, and recurrent infections, but very few take the time to ask “Why?”
Why do patients have backache? Are they sitting at their desks for too long at a time? Why do they have stomach pain? Are they eating foods that their stomach doesn’t like – and is having difficulty digesting? Why do they have recurrent infections? Are they stressed out? When people are under stress, their bodies secrete more cortisol, which weakens their immune system and makes healing more difficult.
For me, asking why and finding the origin of disease is essential if you truly want to treat it and prevent it from coming back in the future. But that takes time — which is what most physicians don’t have.
In order to uncover “the why” of disease, my secret is to ask this question to patients: “If your body had a voice, what would it say?”
You are going to tell me: “How can a body have a voice?” It’s easier to listen to your body that you realize. Try this exercise right now: Focus on what your stomach is feeling right here, right now. If your stomach had a voice, what would it say? Would it say: “I’m full” or “I ate too much!” or “I’m starving” or “I ate just right and I am feeling very content”? I am sure it will take you no time to find a few words that express how your stomach feels.
Tuning in to our body gives us a different point of view. We already know our mind’s point of view but what is our body’s perspective?
Sometimes, my mind says: “Let’s have lunch in our favorite all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. That will be delicious!” I grab several plates of scrumptious food that I thoroughly enjoy but after one hour, my stomach says: “Oh, I am distended. This feels so uncomfortable. I am too full. I ate too much.” My brain says: “I need a nap.” My back says: “ I am starting to hurt because of my belly protruding, and then my owner is going to sit at her desk for eight hours writing which will make me worse. Hopefully she won’t gain weight because if she does, the pain will be even greater!”
It is amazing what we can discover about our bodies if we try to listen to their perspective of things. And the consequences are golden. For example, if we find out that the origin of our back pain lies in our sitting too many long hours at a desk without moving, the solution will be to get up and stretch every couple of hours. This also means we can avoid taking anti-inflammatory pills that will irritate our stomach or narcotics that will make us sleepy and addicted, and will not stop the pain because the origin will not have been addressed.
So, what symptom do you have and where in your body is it located? If you give that body part a voice, what would it say?
About the author:
Chris Gilbert, MD, PhD is the author, with Eric Haseltine, PhD, of THE LISTENING CURE: Healing Secrets of an Unconventional Doctor (SelectBooks). An Integrative and Holistic Medicine physician, Dr. Gilbert specializes in the combination of Western and Eastern Medicine, and has dedicated her life to treating and curing symptoms and illnesses that other physicians haven’t been able to address. www.DrChrisGilbert.com