Before we get too far away from summer, here’s a beach memory.
When I was a kid, my family rented a house on Fire Island, NY for seven summers in a row. I remember long, slow walks on the beach with the constant sound of crashing waves in my ears. Like a lot of people, I found those walks would help me get a clearer perspective on my life.
What is it about walking along the seashore and hearing that continuous sound that clears our head? I think it has to do with a sense that the waves will never stop. There’s something inevitable, almost eternal about that sound.
We know the ocean won’t change. Short of maybe a nuclear explosion, there’s nothing on earth that could keep those waves from coming. Hearing that steady rhythm gives us a sense of something we can always depend on. And that feeling calms us and helps simplify all the temporary, changeable things we’re dealing with; we end up with peace and direction.
The other day here in Edina, I was standing in the Walgreens parking lot. The steady sound of cars on York Avenue wasn’t as nice as the ocean waves, but for a minute it seemed to give me a similar clarity. I looked half a block north and saw the new CVS. I thought, “How can two almost identical stores survive right next to each other? And the Super Target is right across the street selling all the same stuff!”
The answer hit me in a flash – drugs. More than just competition over toiletries, cosmetics or snacks, there is an insatiable market for both prescription and non-prescription medication. The need for health is relentless. Everyone wants to be healthy, but are drugs the only way?
Let’s look at some statistics which show some people don’t think so. With all our mega-spending on increasingly expensive drug-based health care, Americans still spend over $34 billion each year out of their own pockets on alternative treatments. Even 3 out of 4 U.S. health care workers use some form of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) to stay healthy.
Here are more numbers that are especially interesting to me. Of the 10 most common CAM therapies, a study reports that prayer for our self is number one, at 43%. Prayer for others is number two at 24%, group prayer is fifth at 10% and meditation is sixth at 8%. Treatments that acknowledge the power of thought to change the body make up four out of the top six!
I’m part of those statistics. About 30 years ago, I ran out of drug-based and even alternative treatment options. I used to have bouts with asthma, considered incurable. I’d tried conventional treatments, over the counter and prescription meds and everything else from acupuncture to zinc, but nothing helped.
What finally freed me from that condition was something mental. I began to listen to some ideas from scripture that gave me a more spiritual perspective on my situation.
These were basic concepts that would never change. And thinking about them was like a walk on the beach. I gained that same feeling of something always dependable. And the more I thought about these things, the more powerful they felt – drowning out everything that was bothering me. Like the roar of the waves.
Since then I’ve learned that focusing my thought on spiritual ideas is a form of prayer. I still pray that way for my health needs and help others to do it too.
I found my freedom not only from the asthma, but from the belief that drugs or other physical treatments were the only answer.
Joel Magnes blogs on spirituality and health and is a Christian Science practitioner. He lives in Edina with his wife, Brenda, a canine behaviorist (think dog whisperer). They have a charming Havanese dog, Rafi, and a chubby orange tabby cat, Wally. You can see more on his website, called "HealthThoughts."