Why bring Love into Medicine?
The words Love and Medicine are rarely used in the same sentence. Not many people say they love taking their medicine. Not all doctors say they love practising medicine. Yet love is the heart of who we are, so why not make it the heart of everything we do? More than anything, we all want to be loved and to be able to love freely and fully in return. This love is a deep beholding energy, that holds all as its equal, and equal to the whole, a feeling that allows us to deeply settle in our bodies and feel at one with ourselves, each other and the universe we live in.
It is all one life, and the way we are in any aspect of our lives affects the way we are with the whole. Given that most of us spend more hours practising medicine than we do anything else, and given that our profession is more of a calling than a job, why would we not want to bring love back into medicine, and bring that same love into every aspect of our lives?
Where did our love for medicine go?
Most of us loved something that drew us to medicine in the first place. We loved people. And we loved helping them. Or we loved the human body and found it fascinating. Or we loved the challenges of learning complex skills, of making diagnoses, of treating illness and disease. Or we loved the joys and intricacies of surgery. Or we loved the idea of making money, or being successful, or pleasing our families, or having a career that made us an attractive option as a partner (perhaps to someone who had no idea what they were letting themselves in for!).
Whatever our particular interest in studying medicine, somewhere along the way many of us became a bit tired and jaded and started to lose the feeling of love. If you do anything often enough, and long and hard enough, it can start to become routine, then boring or tedious, perhaps downright irksome. So having to study long hours trying to digest and regurgitate huge amounts of information, and work sometimes extreme hours, going without adequate food, water and rest breaks, and being confronted with the pain and misery of human suffering and people behaving badly under stress, over and over again, can start to take its toll. And all that we do because we have chosen to work in medicine can take us away from the other people and things we love – our family, friends … and life.
Coating our love with layers
Our love is still there, deep down underneath, but it starts to be coated with layers of jaded cynicism, battle-weary black humour, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. We may start to care less and less, until we couldn’t care less, and just go through the motions of doing what we have to do. We may become so tired that we are literally care-less, and can make mistakes which may coat our deeply buried love with further layers of shame, blame and self-loathing. We may try to work less, and take more time away from medicine, but taking time off does not make us care more, it just makes us want more time away …
Let’s say we have come to the understanding that we are struggling, and that our love is coated so thick with layers of not-love that we can barely feel it, let alone ourselves … how do we start to let go of the layers of not-love and open ourselves back up to the love we are and feel?
We have to start somewhere
We have to start somewhere. The willingness to be more loving and caring with ourselves is everything. To love and appreciate ourselves just as we are, with no need for perfection, no need for outer doing or striving, just for the quality of our being. Then we can make some changes to the way we are living and see how they feel. They will either be confirming of the love and care we feel, or not. If the changes make us feel more lovely, then great, and we keep living more like that. And if not, we can choose to let them go and try something else instead.
There is no perfection living in a human body, but we can live a great life if we are willing to be loving and caring with ourselves, even when we are less than ‘perfect’ in what we do. As we develop this love and care in our bodies, we become less and less willing to give ourselves a hard time, and more and more willing to be kind, generous, loving and caring with ourselves and with all others too. Our hearts open up again, and embrace our family, friends, patients, colleagues and workmates, equally so. Work becomes something we do, not just because we have to, but because we love to. We love people, so why would we not want to help and serve them?
Medicine without love is mere function, patching people up and sending them back out there to live in the love-less ways that may have led to them being ill in the first place, and doing it in a way that is loveless for them and for ourselves too …
Medicine with Love offers true healing, and the inspiration of us living in a way that is loving and caring, a way that can potentially prevent much illness and disease from happening, and turn around the trajectory of the lives we have been living.
Life, including Medicine, takes on a different look and feel, when seen through the eyes and felt with the heart, of LOVE.