I recently read a post about words supposedly spoken by famous actor Keanu Reeve about the mother of a friend of his, who spent her whole life living an overall healthy lifestyle, only to find herself at the age of 76 with cancer and severe osteoporosis. Reeve contrasted her case to the father of another friend of his who eats greasy foods, never exercises systematically, takes sunbaths, and has focused only on living and enjoying his life to its fullest. Yes, you guessed it. At 81, he is the picture of health. Keanu draws his own conclusions about these opposite cases and states we will die no matter what, therefore we should treat ourselves to delicious foods, walks under the sun, playing by the ocean, being kind, foolish and happy, for death will get each and everyone at the end, no matter what......
As a physician with both degrees in western as well as Chinese medicine, and the many patients I see weekly seeking treatment for a myriad of ailments, I have another explanation about these seemingly unrelated outcomes.
The emotions which each individual allowed to fill their beings during their lives have, according to Chinese medicine, an important role in the outcome. Suppose the lady with osteoporosis and cancer, resented her need for protection, worried about all the ailments she was trying to protect herself from, and feared she might not be successful, it is not wonder then that her liver became stagnated and was not able to detoxify her body, her spleen and pancreas were not able to metabolize the fluids in her body making the formation of phlegm and tumors more likely, and her kidneys became deficient affecting her bones. On the other hand, the man who made it a point to enjoy life as much as possible was probably optimistic, joyful, carefree, and relaxed which allowed for the many channels of vital energy, known as Qi (Chi), to travel through his body unimpeded and able to reach the different organs of his body strengthening and allowing them to properly function.
In western medicine we know certain emotions play a part in the healing and ultimate survival of our patients. It is a well known fact, that the gravelly ill patient who comes to the ER accompanied by his loving family, will most likely pull through compared to the patient who finds him or herself alone and is brought to the ER by an ambulance attendant with no loved one to keep him company.
Organic reasons for illnesses are real. Infections, traumas, injuries, congenital malformations, normal aging, etc. but so are the many emotions we experience day in and day out. These emotional causes are easier to control than the organic ones. I cannot stop the flu virus from attacking my body anymore than I can stop the wind, but I can control how I see, perceive, feel and respond to anything around me that I remain calm, relaxed, open, friendly, loving, trusting and ultimately free of blockages preventing my spiritual being from functioning, and in turn prevent my body’s own protective devices from malfunctioning, helping my immune system to remain strong to fight that viral attack.
The spirit and the body are closely related. Severe, chronic physical pain will make it more difficult for my spirit to remain upbeat and carefree. So will negative emotions I allow my spirit to harbor and which ultimately may cause my physical body to become sick.
Therefore, I draw my own conclusions, I focus on what I know to be true. I am both, physical matter and spirit. It is up to me to nourish, protect, and control what I allow to get in, into my physical body and into my mind. Viktor Frankl, the famous Austrian neurologist who survived the holocaust and wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, believed that finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most brutal ones, provides a reason to continue living. Buddha taught that controlling our mind was the way to find enlightenment, and health.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, taught “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” So, let us seek the opportunity to become healthy in body and spirit by encouraging ourselves to find meaning in our existence, remaining optimistic and faithful, controlling what we can control which is how we think and what we think about ourselves, others, and the challenges we face. And, finally trusting that there is a greater plan we may not fully comprehend now, but which ultimately will bring us to happiness forever. I for one find this easier to live with.
This is only my opinion...
As a single woman, a Mormon, and a western/Chinese doctor.