Healing Harbor

To Build Health, Build a Community

I practice integrative medicine.When people ask me, "What does that mean?" I tell them about the unity of mind, body and spirit, but these days, that sounds like a trite phrase.Who hasn’t heard it before, and what does it really mean? Understanding and embracing the concept of your integral wholeness is critical to gaining real wellness in this world.If you want to be well, you have to look to every party of yourself, not just the systems and organs that make up your physical body!

Western Medicine likes to describe any physical symptom that we cannot account for with a physiological disease process as a "somatoform disorder". Best estimates for the percentage of people with physical complaints who see their doctors about it that would fall into that category is 50 % .That’s about half of everybody who goes to see their doctor with aches, pains, nausea, loss of balance, you name it.

What is going on? First, it is not abnormal to experience emotional or spiritual distress in a physical way.Describing it as a "disorder" completely misses the fact that it is a normal response to distress! How many of us have felt "butterflies" before public-speaking, or "gastrointestinal distress" before getting married or going on a first date? Let me say it again, this is normal!

Further, anxiety and depression are also very common. The CDC estimates that the lifetime incidence of anxiety "disorder" alone is 15%! How is something that affects 1 in 7 people a "disorder"?

Why is this happening today? I think it’s about a loss of true community. We are wired to be social in an increasingly isolated world. Loneliness and disconnection account for a significant portion of depression, and the major portion of drug abuse.Even though we are connected through social-media, have acquaintances at work, we are not experiencing the deep, enduring, connections necessary to keep us feeling whole and healthy—and it is showing up in our physical and mental health.

In the Bible, God tells us, repeatedly, that we need community to survive and thrive. God said, "It is not good that man should be alone." Pastor Rick Warren, in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, tells us that the Bible says "we are put together, joined together, built together, members together, heirs together, fitted together, and held together and will be caught up together." We need each other as a community of seekers, and we need each other to be the extended family that we all are desperately hoping for but don’t know how to form.

How can we, as Spirit Harbor, help? First, join one of our Harborlife groups, or, even better, form one! Bring together two or three other people in your home, the coffee shop, or a local park. Meet wherever or whenever you need to get people together. Use one of our ongoing Harborlife series.Dig in to the meaty questions and wrestle with them with your group.Get to know one another, and become mutually supportive. Invite new members as you grow in your faith and ministry.

Above all, as you journey with your Harbor Life group, be REAL! Be genuine seekers trying to learn about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.Be confused. Be angry. Be lonely. Be whatever you are right now, and let everyone else be who they are—and then reach out and help each other come through.

Remember that feeling lonely is far from abnormal, and it is definitely OK. Is it affecting your physical health? Your mental and emotional health? I’d say, "Yes!" But, you know what? There’s something you can do about it. You CAN integrate your physical, mental, emotional AND spiritual health, and we can be there to help.


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Tina F. Edwards, MD is an Integrative Medicine practitioner in Oceanside, CA. A Navy veteran, she has practiced medicine for 12 years, both primary care and emergency medicine. She is a founding member of Spirit Harbor. She is married with one rambunctious four-year old who asks really probing questions about God, life, and pet monkeys. You can contact Dr. Edwards at tedwards@spiritharbor.org anytime.