Yoga and Quality of Life

Patients are people. People are not their diseases, not their conditions, and not their disabilities. People are people: multifaceted, complex, messy. Somehow the word patient can collapse the person into a single (or set of) disease(s). In my own practice, I debunk this perception of a patient as disease. This is the stuff my medical training addressed and emphasized: that people are people, not their diseases. In medicine, we categorize symptoms into brackets of disease, we are trained to diagnose what is wrong sometimes at the expense of de-emphasizing what is going well, and sometimes we overlook the reality that patients exist and live beyond the confines of a clinic or hospital room where we as medical providers see them the most.

If we truly want to understand the patients and communities we treat, then it makes perfect sense to me to see the context in which they live in. The home, after all, is the locus of where the most fundamental of health practices are practiced.

As a clerkship student in Family Medicine, I worked with a physician who regularly attended home visits for his patients. When he told me this, I was struck by the humble quaintness of the image of the old-school physician making home visits as he (because during those antiquated times it was almost always a “he”) would carry a weathered leather satchel slung across his body as he trekked house to house administering health and diagnosing wherever he went. Beyond this quaint vision of a physician, I learned very quickly that home-visits actually allow the doctor to gain some real insight into their patients’ lives. And I loved that. If we truly want to understand the patients and communities we treat, then it makes perfect sense to me to see the context in which they live in. The home, after all, is the locus of where the most fundamental of health practices are practiced.

Analogously, as a yoga teacher as well as medical professional, the idea of the home can metaphorically extend to the mind. What is the mind after all if not a home for our thoughts and perceptions?

For me, the idea of exploring the space in which health is practiced (or not practiced) has potential for effecting change to improve the health of individual people and communities. “I do home visits when I can because I can see what challenges patients have in adhering to a treatment plan”, my preceptor continued, “You really get to know what struggles they may face by literally being in their physical home space.” Analogously, as a yoga teacher as well as medical professional, the idea of the home can metaphorically extend to the mind. What is the mind after all if not a home for our thoughts and perceptions?

 

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