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Progress in medicine, as in any area of thought, takes place when there is openness to new ways of seeing phenomena associated with illness and health. In the absence of rigorous intellectual openness, those who hold on to orthodox models and medical practices often dismiss new ideas and new methods prematurely, before weighing the evidence. Medicine then risks becoming stagnant, politicized, and bounded by a closed set of beliefs and practices guided by entrenched ideologies. It risks becoming less scientific and more dogmatic. Some would contend that biomedicine has already crossed that line.Many beliefs that were once accepted as "facts" in conventional biomedicine are now seen as mistaken assumptions or incomplete understandings of the nature of health and illness. Medical knowledge is being re-written at an ever increasing rate. Conventional Western allopathic medicine is in a state of critical re-evaluation and rapid evolution. Recent advances in physics, molecular biology, neuroscience, information science, and consciousness research are leading to novel understandings of mechanisms underlying health and illness.
Along with many areas of scientific inquiry, Western biomedicine is at the threshold of a remarkable period of evolution and transformation. Novel explanatory models of the causes, conditions and meanings of illness, health and healing are being explored and debated in leading academic institutions and in popular culture. The study of consciousness has become an accepted field of academic research, resulting in novel hypotheses about the nature of the body, brain and mind in space and time. This process has led to critical re-examination of entrenched theories in biomedical psychiatry and powerful new assessment and treatment approaches.The distinction between conventional understandings of "Mind" and "Body" is increasingly blurred, and the role of intention in healing is now the subject of scientific inquiry. Many Spiritual traditions, including Yoga and Tibetan Buddhism, are providing a fertile testing ground for new models of physical reality and the causes or mechanisms associated with illness and healing. The result has been a dramatic shift in kinds of questions that are viewed as legitimate in conventional Western biomedical research.