How the approach to health has changed since I was a pre-med student in the 1970’s. Up to that point in my life and that of my family and friends, prayer was a way to experience peace. But a call from an insurance adjuster was the beginning of quite a change in my view of prayer and its transformative effect on the body.
Reviewing the damage done my car after being rear-ended, the adjuster said he had never known anyone to just walk away. He thought my body was in a state of shock and had not yet begun to feel the effects of the trauma that would have been caused by the sudden blow to my car and its collapse against the driver’s seat. He asked me to have a complete physical before I signed a release of liability for the claim.
I had prayed the moment I had awaken from the impact of the accident. I knew I needed to focus on God, not the problem, and began to ponder a passage from the Bible. My strength returned and my neck normally supported my head again. In fact the adjustments that took place were so gentle, I assumed there had not been an injury. Following the insurance adjuster’s request, I went to my family doctor for x-rays thinking they would show nothing had occurred.
However, the physician pointed out in the x-ray he took of my neck, a white ridge indicating the vertibrae had knit back together. He said, “The way this has healed, you will not feel the effects of this accident for the rest of your life.” That afternoon I told my parents about the visit to the doctor’s office. My dad felt nothing had really happened to me in the first place. In fact he was so concerned that I had decided to change my major from pre-med to business, that he refused to pay for any further college studies.
At the time I thought I was alone, even odd, in leaving the study of medicine to be free to pursue more deeply an understanding of healing through prayer. The studies, books, and university courses on the role of spirituality in healing that exist today were rare 40 years ago.
An article I read last week shows me just how much the thinking about spirituality and health has changed. Medical researchers at George Washington University’s Institute for Spirituality and Health will, according to the article, look to influence health policies by gathering evidence supporting the importance of spirituality in healing. The work is made possible by a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation.
Dr. Christina Puchalski, the institute’s executive director and a professor in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said that with the grant money the institute will present data and evidence that shows why health care would benefit from a spiritual focus. Puchalski’s research team, which includes policy experts outside of GW, would look to find data that gives a clear direction for the future of spirituality in the health care system.
I look forward to following up this post with the findings of their study once it is published.