When someone is very ill they need loving kindness as much as they need medicine. The medicine, hopefully, will help to reduce physical illness but loving kindness will benefit that part of the person known as the soul as well as aid in lessening physical problems. The patient treated with loving kindness will be more interested in getting better, will be more interested in what is going on daily, will be more aware of life than the person who is being treated only with medicine.
Why this is so is not really a mystery. Picture a gravely ill person in a hospital. There are several people involved in her health – her doctor, nurses who check on her night and day, keep tabs on her pulse, blood pressure and temperature, bathe her, see that she eats properly.
If all these people attend the patient in every way they know to make her more comfortable the sick person certainly is being well taken care of physically.
But! It’s the caregiver who makes the patient feel like a human being and not an object in bed, who will ask permission to enter the room, who will smile, who will ask permission to hold the ill one’s hand, who will look at her while she talks, who will feel and show loving kindness – this caregiver will have a tremendous effect on the sick person’s recovery.
If the patient is too ill to be aware of loving kindness, someone sitting quietly by her bed can have a very beneficial effect.
Where is the will to get better if one is treated only physically?
If one is treated as a human being, treated with loving kindness and respect, the will to get better is almost automatically set in motion. The patient starts to smile back at a friendly face, at someone who is non-judgemental, someone who is not giving advice.
If nurses and doctors and caregivers all treat the patient with attention, acknowledgement, affection and acceptance, that patient will show marked improvement faster than a patient who is not treated as humanely.
Dr. Dean Ornish in his latest book Love & Survival talks about the need people have for emotional support which involves the verbal and nonverbal communication of caring and concern. He emphasizes that it is not only people who are ill, who need emotional support, who need to be acknowledged, who are accepted as they are, who are given as much affection as they can handle (some people love hugs, others are comfortable with just a handshake), and who are listened to, and not patronized nor given advice. Illness can actually be prevented by treating people with loving kindness.
What a wonderful and peaceful world this can be if we all treat each other with acceptance, affection, attention, respect and acknowledgement; if we give each other emotional support; if we treat others as we wish to be treated. People would be healthier, happier, more confident, and it follows there would be less crime.