Wise Voices from ISPA 2015

ISPA 2015 insider insightsMy first ISPA experience was yesterday evening. I was privileged to attend Ruth Stricker’s Wise Voices, a conversation with Dr. Gladys Taylor McGarey. I have to admit I did not know of her or her efforts to change the way we think about healthcare through the Foundation for Living Medicine. She is recognized for many achievements, including Mother of Holistic Medicine, and the first to utilize acupuncture in the U.S. I am sure each attendee learned so much from her wisdom and the stories she shared. I took away two key insights.

First, I learned about Living Medicine, and the five L's that form the foundation of this philosophy according to the website:

  1. LIFE. If we are not alive, nothing else matters.
  2. LOVE. Love is what really does the healing. (Without love, a disease can be cured, but the person is not healed. With love, the person can heal without curing the disease.)
  3. LAUGHTER. Laughter brings hope and light into healing. It is the spark that activates the life force.
  4. LABOR. Labor is necessary to bring the first three Ls into reality on this dimension of consciousness. We really have to work at healing.
  5. LISTENING. Listening is necessary for healing to become real: listening to ourselves, others and the world around us.

Perhaps even more impactful, however, the second message I took away is based on Psalm 23. Dr. Gladys, while referencing cancer, spoke of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, re-naming it the Valley of Shadows. Most powerfully, she reminded her audience that the Valley of Shadows is a valley that most of us, if not all, would encounter in some way. Perhaps not through cancer, but through challenge, difficulty, depression, illness, loss of loved ones, or other hard times. She said the important thing was to just keep walking. One foot in front of the next. One day at a time. Until you are out of that Valley of Shadows.

I interpreted her message as two-fold. First, she gave us the permission to recognize that sometimes we are in the midst of this Valley of Shadows: recognize it, don’t hate yourself for being there. Second, just keep on going; don’t stop there, don’t get lost there. We will find our way out if we listen to our souls, our bodies, and our loved ones. One step at a time. One day at a time.

I left wondering if as an industry we have reached our full potential in terms of helping people out of the Valley of Shadows. After all, that is one of our missions and one of our goals. I can’t help but wonder about what more we can do to achieve this goal.