in Healing: Mind, Body and Prayer
Larry Dossey is the author of seven books and is the executive director
of the journal Alternative Therapies. He is a former practitioner
of internal medicine with the Dallas Diagnostic Association and chief
of staff at the Medical City Dallas Hospital, and he co-chaired the
Panel on Mind/Body Interventions, Office of Complementary and Alternative
Medicine at the National Institute of Health. As a boy Dossey suffered
from migraine headache. Later, as a young medical student, he sought
out biofeedback treatments to relieve his symptoms. So began his fascination
with the relationship between the mind and body.
are simply scores of very well designed experiments out there that show,
in ways we can't completely explain as yet, that prayer has a positive
effect on the state of the world and living organisms, not just human
beings. So this is a great challenge, and a great opportunity, to bring
the power of thought and intention and compassion and caring and love
into the healing process.
"If you look
at these studies, one of the things that is so dramatically apparent
is the role of love and caring, because if the individual who is doing
the praying in these experiments doesn't have this feeling of genuineness
and compassion, these experiments don't work very well, and often they
fall flat. This is in alignment with the perennial wisdom in the history
of medicine that love is really important in what goes on between doctor
and patient. These studies in prayer and healing bring this out. It's
a lesson we desperately need to relearn.
become so cold and remote and technical and so divorced from human feeling,
that patients are hungry for a return of these qualities to healing.
If you can bring the need for this together with good empirical science
which shows that it's valuable, we have no defense any longer for not
"I think most
people who are sick and go to a doctor could care less about whether
or not love is documented scientifically to have an effect. It just
feels right for most people, and that's the end of the discussion. But
if we want to have an effect in the way that medicine is practiced in
our culture, we better go through science if we can. If we can bring
science into the mix, and we can ally it with our spiritual and intuitive
qualities of thinking and being, we're going to be healthier human beings
as a result.
been a gradual divorce of spiritual and religious thinking from science
for well over 150 years. The most dramatic split came over the theory
of evolution when religion and science really came to blows in the Western
cultures. It isn't written in stone that you can't get spirituality
and science together. We made that up. That's a cultural assumption,
and we're in the happy position now of being able to bring these things
together. I predict that is what is going to happen, and we will look
back at this historic period and say, 'How did we get it so wrong?'
"For most folks,
we can say that nobody's cornered the market on prayer. This is important
for our time because this democratizes and universalizes prayer. It
says that prayer is an activity for which there is no formula. It belongs
not to specific religions and techniques and strategies but to the entire
human race. One can show that love and genuineness, compassion and authenticity,
feeling it in the heart, is probably the most important factor of all.
"One of the
promises of prayer is, there is some aspect of who we are that's beyond
space and time, that's immortal and eternal, and it's highly therapeutic
for people to be able to get in touch with that. It's particularly consoling
during moments when we're facing death, or a loved one is facing death.
When you compare that with the findings that diseases do have a way
of responding positively to that kind of impact, then we should be using
this in medicine. We should make a place for this."
Larry Dossey, M.D.
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