“As to diseases, make a habit of two things — to help, or a least, to do no harm.” ― Hippocrates
Complexity Medicine: Beyond the Integrative, Functional, Complimentary, and Mind-Body Paradigms
Undertaking a Grand Pedagogical Experiment into the
Heart of Medical Holism
A study in Complexity Medicine is unlike any of your previous educational experiences. There are no courses per se, no levels; nor any diplomas or degrees. This study has no endpoints, nor is its motivation determined by an external metric. You will find no pass or fail here. Rather than a study geared towards a pragmatic framework (and the expertise and status garnered therein), Complexity Medicine focuses on inquiry and exploration based on a deeper aesthetic impulse. While pragmatic education is knowledge-based, and oriented towards a specific goal, aesthetic pursuits are based on an appreciation and immersion into greater patterns of being, and the wisdom that is purveyed there from. Pragmatics is structured on the premise of ‘know to act’; while aesthetics purports that we must ‘act to know’. What, then, would such an act of aesthetic learning look like?
As mentioned, there are no courses or curriculums in the Complexity Medicine community, only foci of inquiry and thematic groupings forming the ground for exploration. In truth though, even this is an imposed distinction, as each focus informs and is enriched by the others. The deep aesthetic core, or integral epistemology underlying the organization, however, remains constant and enlivened by the cross-talk and relations generated between all of these actions (and actors). Although the foci themselves hold a specific explorational space, and provide a modicum of consistency, the content and experience within them change each time, with each new gathering of participants. Moreover, every shared inquiry is predicated on the spirit of improvisation. Each offered gathering should be thought of more like a laboratory than a lecture hall. In this way, we will put forth our spoken and unspoken phenomenologies to each other, and examine their relational and qualitative validity and merit from the embodied context generated through the moments and movements of our encounters.
What, then, is the value in such an approach? The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." The Heraclitian metaphor, with its dynamic imagery, would suggest that the context of the world we bring forth, via our engagement, is constantly changing, transforming, and morphing into something novel. We change, our patient’s change, the setting we give care in; also changing. In this spirit, each gathering will explore a set of particular themes, but no specific curriculum or pre-set scheduling. There will be impassioned mentors present to help facilitate an inquiry, as well as the wise oversight of elders in the craft, but it is the participation and response of those gathered that will inevitably navigate the direction of the fellowship, requiring of us all, vigilance, alertness and responsiveness to needed changes in direction in this shared journey. Each gathering will offer up a unique setting of place, and a deep breadth of embodied experience in the facilitation brought about by our mentors and elders. Most, importantly, however, will be you, the participant, as each one of you will bring the uniqueness and experience of a life well-lived, the wealth of which is registered and shared through your body, mind, and heart.
Within the richness of this fuller context, we will undertake an improvisatory study, learning to utilize all that is available to us. Needless to say, an approach such as this takes courage on the part of all the participants. There is no certainty what each gathering will bring. There is no polished product or predictable outcome. There is only the web of relational interaction. How we act in such a forum is for us to determine. In this way, we become both the artist, as well as the medium of our own creative direction. Do you have the fortitude for such a journey that is full of uncertainty, ambiguity, and unknown rewards and the certitude to engender transformation and growth? If so, read on.
“The physician should not treat the disease but the patient who is suffering from it”