Wrong Questions

Wrong Questions

Cate Stillman and I had a conversation in January 2014, on the topic of “wrong questions” when it comes to healthcare.

“What can I do about my insomnia?” “My friend has MS. Can Ayurveda help her? If so, how?” These are examples of (very understandable) questions we ask our health care practitioners. Asking these kinds of questions within the context of formal consultations can lead to fruitful results. Asking these questions (often prefaced with the assurance that they are, “quick” questions) outside of that context, expecting a practitioner to give an equally brief answer that adequately addresses the symptom or disorder, may not yield the fruitful, long-term solutions we are looking for. In my experience, it doesn’t. This is a conversation about “wrong questions,” or wrong timing for those questions.

What can we do to address our concerns? The first thing we can do is find a healthcare partner. Partnership with one or more personal health care practitioners of Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), or other holistic medical systems, can help us address the contexts of our lives—that is, help us establish a healthy dinacharya (daily routine), diet and strategies to address stress in our lives. My modality preference for establishing a healthy diet and lifestyle is usually Ayurveda, but experienced practitioners of any holistic medicine can often be very helpful. We can also receive support for contextual change from self-study, in courses or books like, Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life: Achieving Optimal Health and Wellness through Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, and Western Science and the Healthier Hormones course.

Once the contexts of our lives are healthy, many of our troubling symptoms can, and do, often fall away, without having to take herbs or supplements.

Symptoms and disorders that remain may be stubborn, long term, chronic issues.

It may not always actually be possible to figure out why we are saddled with these issues. What we usually can do, is identify where the problem is in the body, mind or emotions. Then, with the help of our personal health care practitioner, we can determine therapeutic approaches (and there are many, many possible approaches through any medical system—like practicing the “Dissolving Obstructions” track on the Prana cd; or taking herbs or other remedies, getting acupuncture, or even surgery or pharmaceutical drugs, etc.) to help resolve them. These remedies will be different for different people, even if their symptoms are the same.

When we do settle on effective therapies with our health care practitioner(s), implementing them can cure the problem, manage it, or at least help manage it.

That’s what we get to do. That’s the game plan that takes the most advantage of the wisdom of Eastern medicines. It is truly preventative, as we address the root causes of our discomfort when we can, and manage what remains. And, along the way, be grateful for the little stuff in life…the good chocolate, the cozy comforter, the perfect cup of tea, a hug from a sincere friend, etc.

The most helpful answers to “quick” questions about symptoms or diseases are usually not answers as much as they are conversations that take place over the course of years. Conversations that include troubleshooting the context of the person’s life, that span the time it takes to implement appropriate changes, that address what symptoms remain, with tailored remedies—remedies that differ from one patient to the next, even when they address the same symptoms. A seasoned practitioner will know this. It is why they are likely to be uncomfortable providing brief answers to these “quick” questions.

And it takes a while even to explain why a brief answer is not possible. So, both questioner and practitioner can be left unsatisfied, even uncomfortable, with these exchanges.

That is the necessity from which this conversation was born. I hope it helps.

Here’s to fruitful conversations.

Thank you for being here.

In Love,

cw