The Exact Opposite of Loneliness

I wrote this article in November 2015 and never published it. Today, I was reminded of it and decided to finally put it out there :)

This November, I went to one of the most amazing performances of my life. It was artistically, scientifically, intellectually, emotionally powerful. It was called The Withing Project ( With-ing is what a woman dying of liver cancer, Rachel, called a presence she felt from a chemotherapy nurse and others along her journey. A feeling so powerful that it could change her pain, where no amount of painkillers could touch it. The story intersects with the work of a neuroscientist, Dr. Leanna Standish, a teacher of mine at Bastyr University and a brilliant neuroscientist researcher and clinician.


Dr. Standish, with her team Todd Richards, PhD and Clark Johnson, PhD basically studied Bell’s Theorem on a macro level, with people. If you’re unfamiliar with Bell’s Theorem (I was), in its simplest form as it pertains to this project, particles that touch forever affect each other, no matter how distant. Dr. Standish and her team asked people who identified as having a strong relationship come in and had one get into an MRI machine and one sit in front of a screen in a different room. The person in the MRI machine, whose brain was being imaged, responded in the visual cortex of the brain to the image that the person in the other room was being shown. The two people were simply told to connect with each other.


The implications of this are so far reaching that I don’t believe one can conceive of them fully at this time. What does it mean that we can affect another purely with our thoughts? Or is it our Spirit? Is it our heart’s electromagnetic field (which has been studied fairly extensively at this point)? What is our responsibility to others, to this world if we not only can affect people by physical acts but by thoughts and intention?


As the woman sat in her bed, dying, and the doctor sat with her, I thought about the medical world I live in, with busy doctors, electronic medical records that have put a screen between me and the patient for ½ of the visit, and cell phones that go everywhere with us for resources….even often into a patient room…. Where does all of the benefit fall short of the risk of losing that healing withing space that we can hold for another to heal? Where is the balance? Perhaps it is anti-climactic that I do not have the answer, but then again, perhaps the question itself offers more answers in the end.


*Please see your doctor or schedule with Dr. Riegle for personalized medical advice.