“When Native American medicine men talk to the sick, they usually ask three questions: When was the last time you sang? When was the last time you danced? When was the last time you told your story?”
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
I love this quotation because it reminds me of why I fell in love with Integrative Medicine (IM). Integrative Medicine is the time-honored, evidence-based, wellness-oriented practice of medicine that honors the entire individual – mind, body, and spirit. I was ten years into private practice when I completed a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine and knew that by combining the principles of IM into my traditional Western medical practice, my toolbox would be complete, and my passion as a healer was rekindled.
The quiet strength of those three questions in Brussats’ quotation provides volumes of information about the mental and physical health of a patient, of a friend, of a family member, and our fellow human beings. There is enough division right now within our country and world to last a lifetime. Please take a moment to truly witness what is happening within our churches, schools, and workplaces. The emotions we all have felt over the last year and a half can collectively, over time, try to dampen our reason to sing or to dance, and social isolation may have prevented us from being able to tell our story.
Wellness comes in all different shapes and sizes and may mean different things to different people. To me, wellness is a gift that I strive to return to each patient that I see. As a physician, being present to listen to a patient’s story is like entering a sacred space filled with memories of days gone by, lessons learned, and wisdom shared. Listening is a powerful drug. It validates, honors, and narrows the gap between suffering and restoring. Integrative Medicine taught me many things – one of which I most cherish is the art of truly listening.
My wish for you all is that through whatever life throws your way, you never forget to sing or to dance and to surround yourself with people who love to hear your story. And just like a chain whose strength lies in its connectivity, the ones who hear your song, join in your dance, and ponder your story will return these powerful gifts to you in ways you never imagined.
To Your Health, Dr. Couri