Enthusiasm for life

Throughout our daily work as doctors, we see the body’s “enthusiasm for life”.

Dr Tamara Mackean, Australian Aboriginal doctor

This is a beautiful expression – the body’s ‘enthusiasm for life’. Our bodies, and also our minds, do seem to carry within them a wonderful potential for healing. Occasionally people exaggerate this internal healing potential, as when someone claims that thinking the right kind of thoughts, or uttering a particular prayer, will automatically heal someone from a serious illness. This can potentially mean that the patient doesn’t follow up on more conventional treatment, and they can become very ill or even die as a result.

Yet to dismiss our inner healing potential altogether is also misguided. As Dr Mackean goes on to say,

‘For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors, healing goes beyond treating the disease. It is about working towards reclaiming a sense of balance and harmony in the physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual lives of our people, and practising our profession in a manner that upholds these multiple dimensions of Indigenous health.’

Such a holistic view of health does indeed allow us to unfold our full potential for healing – whether we’re healing from illness, past hurts and traumas, or simply the exhaustion which can come from living an overly busy life. We can become active participants in our own health and wellbeing rather than a passive patient, by making choices in our lives which allow this healing potential to flourish.

Living a busy and engaged life is good for us – but so is finding times for resting and rejuvenating. We know best what the right balance is for us, and mindfulness can be one of the ways in which we can keep touch with what our needs are, and learn to live a more balanced life.

Weekly practice idea:

Most of us probably think about our physical and psychological health, but what about our social, cultural and spiritual health? Take twenty minutes to reflect on these dimensions of health in your life, either during a meditation, or by journalling, and see what emerges.

Anja Tanhane