The Role of Intention

One of the least talked about aspects of medicine and healing is the role that our intention plays in this process. And healing most definitely is a process. Most healing takes place over a period of time (with the exception of instantaneous healing which is under the auspices of the Heart in it’s ability to vaporize phlegm and obstructions by connecting our spirit to its unstained nature).

This process requires a certain will and dedication to seeing all the requisites to the healing take place. And most important during this time frame is the state of mind of the patient. I have found no other better determinant of the success of any given treatment than the patient’s positive outlook and belief that he or she will heal. Consequently, I have had the largest successes of my medical career when my intention has been clear and focused. Intention on how to direct the qi with any given needle, on formulating herbal formulas, but most importantly, on my desire to see a patient heal.

Cartesian thought that is so heavily relied upon by western medicine separates the patient’s body/illness from his mind. In so doing, it is deprived of the enormity of the healing powers that one’s intention can ignite. Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, and many other alternative modalities respect intention in the healing process. In fact, one of the reasons I am so moved to write this post now is after witnessing Lama Doctor Tsewang Ngodrup Rinpoche approach and communicate with his patients. Rinpoche’s ability to diagnose fatal illnesses and chronic debilitating conditions via pulse and urine diagnosis was impressive. But his ability to explain these diagnoses while simultaneously instilling hope and security that they would be healed was even more interesting to witness. To actually witness a patient being diagnosed with early stage breast cancer for the first time and feel relief was an unusual experience! She knew (because Rinpoche expressed it to her) that she would be alright and hence the healing was sparked even before the herbs were prescribed!

Of course, intention can backfire on us if we spend our time worried, scared, feeling helpless, hopeless and completely wrapped up in our own despair. Our intention needs to be focused on healing. And what Rinpoche says, it should be focused on healing others. We should go through our treatments for the benefit of other beings who suffer as we do. The acupuncture, herbs, medicines are to be taken with the intention of healing those in similar and worse conditions than ourselves. By so doing, the power of our intention magnifies for our benefit and all those other beings we intend to heal. The purer one’s intention, the bigger the benefits.

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