Ommani Center Blog

#HealingMeToo. The World Knows I’m a #MeToo. Now What?

#MeToo. At this moment in history, this is a symbol of coming out, speaking our truth after being sexually harassed and/or assaulted. The numbers (1) are staggering. After we are violated, sometimes repeatedly, we suffer in silence. We adapt to what was done to us, all the time knowing it was wrong and unjust, and it wounds us in ways that are difficult to heal. Living with a festering wound inside begins to erode our sense of self and it must be released for our healing to begin. Speaking our truth is the first step towards our healing. But who can we safely share this with?

Wounds like these have not had a safe container thus far for us to speak into. We have all been taught to adapt and endure the suffering visited upon us by the Power Principle.(2) We assume we are alone in our wounding, that no one else has suffered this way and that no one will listen to what we have been through. Furthermore, if we speak up, we fear we are putting ourselves at risk of losing our jobs, marriage, and relationships. We fear that people will judge and shun us. Who wants to be left alone and isolated by calling out their predators? So we carry these wounds which fester inside of us (sometimes) for decades. Our silence is an adaptation born from fear. We must remember that anytime we hold back our truth due to fear, we are in relationship to the Power Principle. The Power Principle is a pattern of behavior where the core modus is to take another’s power by fearing them into giving it over.

Over the past 5000 years, we have suffered at the hands of the Power Principle as a foundational operating pattern both individually and collectively. It has normalized its position in the world through fearing us into adapting. People who behave from this pattern silence their victims as they usually hold positions of hierarchical power in our personal or professional lives. Over millennia, we have normalized this pattern of behavior. As we fear retaliation from the Power Principle, we remain silent.

Many of us who have been sexually violated have also carried a level of shame that is related to being such a victim. Our shame further manipulates us into not speaking up. The collusion of our shame with the Power Principle has kept us adapted to predatory behaviors that, as a result, have gone unchecked. In fact, it has been normalized. This has further wounded our individual and collective psyche. Gaining insight into our core patterns as unhealthy can be elusive when they are normalized by society.

At one level, the #MeToo Movement has exposed this pattern. We can see from media reports that people we would never have suspected, have been victims of sexual assault and are speaking the truth about what they suffered. I too was a victim of such assaults over the course of my life. Once I came out with my story many years ago at The Women’s Center in Wisconsin, I felt a release of internal pressure, a kind of ‘lancing of the abscess’, of the wound that had festered inside me for decades. I will never forget that session. But once the truth was out, I had to embark on the task of reclaiming myself, of retrieving my power from this wound, and reorienting how I was taught and socialized to adapt. From that moment forward, I could no longer adapt in the old ways, which were the only ways I knew how. How was I to transform my familiar patterns? I became aware that they permeated my life and many of them were not healthy. They contaminated the lens through which I interacted with the world and myself. I had to begin the difficult process of reorienting the axis of my adaptations and learn how to create a new and unfamiliar, yet healthier, platform from which to live. This seemed like a monumental task, but it was worth embarking on to reclaim my intrinsic power.

This has been a lifelong journey for me and for patients I work with who also carry this wound. Initially, after coming out as a #MeToo, I wanted revenge, I wanted to retaliate, I looked for people I could align with, others who had suffered like I had, to justify my hatred and retaliation towards my predators. But over time, I realized that my reaction in these ways, although normal and justified, was not going to heal me. It would add to the wounding inside of me and further amplify what I was attempting to heal. It would be just as unhealthy as the Power Principle itself. I had to find ways to respond differently to my pain, to go deeper into my True Nature, to find the areas of disempowerment that I had lived with all my life and to bring consciousness to them in order to begin the slow and deep process of healing. I realized this was a form of spiritual practice that I needed to cultivate and be faithful to all the time.

As you can imagine, this is a multi-layered and multi-faceted process, which can only be done incrementally. What I found was a cluster of core wounds that existed deep within me. During my healing journey, on occasion, brushing up against the surface of one of the core wounds sent me reeling for days. I had to learn how to cultivate parts of myself that had never seen the light of consciousness. I discovered parts of myself that informed me about the level of worth that I felt I deserved. These were very disempowering and a result of my adaptations to the Power Principle over time. I discovered the lens through which I viewed myself was distorted due to my adaptations. I realized these distortions were created by how I was conditioned to comply with the behaviors that were expected of me. If I didn’t, I was punished. These had now become predatory parts of my own psyche over time.

These wounds are not unique to me. They are within all of us walking this Earth. They may land in us differently and each one of us reacts and responds differently to them. Our responses are influenced by how we were raised, conditioned, and imprinted; how we were socialized and influence how we relate to the external world and also ourselves.

My healing process went through the many stages of anger, grief, and acceptance and still does. Sometimes these stages occurred simultaneously. I find the grief part of the process to be the hardest. Just when I think I am through it, it spirals me back in, but now when I grieve, I find myself retrieving parts of myself that need nurturing and alignment. When the grief arrives after even a small amount of reclamation, it feels less intense and doesn’t last as long. To me, this feels like progress. It is powerful to do this work and through it, I have uncovered uncharted territory within myself, which has connected me more and more to my True Nature, my Authentic Self. As I have accepted the reality of what I have suffered, I have begun to repair and heal my relationship with myself. I am learning how to love myself and what self-compassion feels like. Being a Sensitive, (3) this is very difficult work. In addition, these are skills we were never taught. This is the healing we must begin after we speak our #MeToo truth.

The #MeToo level of truth telling is the tip of the iceberg. It takes great courage and boldness as well as support from others to speak it. It involves great risk, but knowing others have suffered in this way is empowering. Now we must also create a container for the healing these wounds on behalf of ourselves and others so we can use these as catalysts to heal the unhealthy patterns we adapt to and live from, that society normalizes. This is a powerful way to find meaning in this #MeToo suffering. If we do, the Power Principle will have no chance of staying alive in a collective that lives from their truth and is committed to the inner work of healing and transformation. Maybe the #MeToo Movement can be seen as a catalyst for us to transform the patterns of relating from and with the Power Principle and for us to lay it to rest in our lifetime.

Maybe we need to create a circle of #HealingMeToo as our next step to heal #MeToo. It may be the powerful next step on our individual and collective healing journey.

Links:

(1)https://www.rainn.org/statistics

(2)https://healthypsych.com/marion-woodman-pioneer-conscious-femininity-psychology/

(3)https://ommanicenter.com/are-you-a-sensitive/

 

©Feb2019 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press.

 

Finding Meaning in the Midst of Chaos

Many feel disheartened and helpless with all the chaos that currently abounds. The world has drastically changed in our lifetime, and not for the better. Sometimes we feel we are in a downward spiral, with no bottom in sight. Sometimes there are glimmers of hope from acts of kindness that surprise and inspire us, but they are few and far between. In general, we find ourselves living in a world that is more violent, divided, separated, lonely, and meaningless than ever before. In the West, many feel like they are living on a ‘movie set’ rather than in real life. Cultural imprints abound from those that normalize traditions currently lacking deeper meaning, to those that influence our perceptions of reality through advertising and marketing. The absence of relatedness is at an all-time high.

This may all sound more negative than we would like to admit. We often deny what feels uncomfortable. Statements like, “It’s all good” negates how we really feel. At this time more than ever before, we need to assume an aerial view, a larger perspective, and begin to see the events of this time as physical eruptions of the collective shadow. It is finally emerging from hiding for all to see. Carl Jung said, “One does not get enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious”. If we do not make this conscious, through denial or positive thinking, it will inevitably express itself through collective behaviors that wreak havoc on humanity and Earth itself. This is one way for us to understand this current time.

This being the case, how then do we take this to heart? How do we not get lost in negativity and hopelessness? For many of us, all we know how to do to counter the negative reality we are surrounded by is to focus on the positive and deny the true state of our world. This may palliate us for a while, but eventually, we have to face the whole truth of these times.

If we lack context, we lack meaning. The context in our society is too narrow for us to truly understand the meaning behind what we are living in. Throughout history, we have repeatedly seen how cultures that moved into chaos eventually emerged anew. Darkness always precedes the light. The period of Renaissance emerged from the plague. We can consider ourselves currently in a metaphorical plague, bereft of real meaning, merely witnessing violence from our living room couches on our television screens. We are not individually affected by the many tragedies underway, they have become mere soundbites that come and go like the wind. Another tragedy in many of our lives is the withering of our health, the epidemic of heart disease, cancer, morbid obesity, learning disorders, lack of connectedness, and lack of true feeling. We suffer from a level of ‘soul’ loss born of complacency, where Patriarchal values are been glorified and normalized at the cost of consciousness and relatedness. Complacency is not our friend. We must evaluate how we have arrived at a place where we feel utterly alienated and alone, even when we are among others. In fact, loneliness is at an all-time high in our Western world. If we want renewal, rebirth, a new more ascended, more conscious culture, we must engage our consciousness and intend a culture that we want to live in, one with depth, meaning, community, and relatedness.

In the field of traditional Medicine, we have normalized palliation and mistaken it for the cure. Palliation does not cure nor heal, it merely covers up symptoms. Symptoms which are covered and unexplored contain energy and clues to their cause. If we do not explore the deeper depths, not only can we not heal, we cannot grow in meaning and purpose. In other words, palliation prevents us from feeling symptoms, but symptoms themselves are embedded messages that go deeper than their physicality. When not attended to, understood or used as a catalyst for growth and meaning, their energy amplifies and grows bigger within our bodies like a keg under pressure. It eventually comes out sideways in the form of mental and spiritual disharmony and manifests in the symptoms of loneliness and disconnection felt by most. The basic law of thermodynamics applies here, “energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just changes form”. And as Jung so aptly stated, “What is not brought to consciousness, comes to us as fate”.

So it is time for us to do what is difficult, what we instinctively want to avoid, what we don’t want to face: our personal and collective shadow of which we are an integral part. For example, when we behave from a “me versus you”, or an “us versus them”, polarized and projective attitude, we make a significant contribution to both our personal disharmony and the collective shadow, which is manifesting now on the world stage.

As we pull back these projections and integrate them, aligning with the unity of all beings, we are able to feel more whole and make the contribution of our wholeness to the collective. All of our shadow patterns, when worked with consciously, can be integrated and transformed, leading to wholeness not just for us individually, but for others whom we encounter. We must lead by example and continue our courageous and difficult work of conscious participation in our own transformation.

We are living in an unprecedented time of potential change. Transformation involves the deconstruction of patterns prior to the reconstruction of new ones. In America today, we are perfectly poised for transformation. In fact, it is inevitable given the deconstruction of our current patterns that are underway. The condition we are in is merely a reflection of how we have adapted to a Patriarchal value system which has gone awry. The Power Principle which drives Patriarchy has to eventually fall away. Like a cancer, it is not sustainable. This is not a time for us to be complacent, but to awaken to owning our participation in these patterns, through either behaving in these ways or adapting to those who do.

Deep down, many of us value essentially the same things. We value love, meaning, peace, community, relatedness, and connection. Currently, we have more loneliness in our country than ever before. To heal this will require the conscious effort and participation by all of us. As we have disconnected with each other in favor of technology, we have alienated ourselves from basic ways of relating authentically to each other and created a different kind of communication pattern. This pattern has created a vacancy of shared energy, authentic relatedness, love, and resonance. This has resulted in a loss of Eros. A loss of Eros, in favor of transactions, results in loneliness, meaninglessness, and depression. This vacancy has infiltrated our cultural psyche. Let us not normalize this.

As we unravel the root causes of our collective illnesses, we can and must make ourselves accountable for their presence and awaken to living more consciously every day. We must serve what is authentic within rather than what is normalized through adaptation, and be willing to do the hard work of bringing the light of consciousness to our shadow behaviors. We must not act from our shadow but hold our negative impulses back, allow them to incubate within the alchemical vessel of our body/mind till they transform into something useful and meaningful. It takes courage, prayer, stillness, hard work, and the desire to go against the norm to do this; but every act of intentionality, be it incremental, brings a new birth within and adds to the transformation of the collective shadow. Even if we go this alone, this is no small feat. As William Stafford said, “Here is how to count the people who are ready to do right: one, one, one…..”

So we must begin today, in this hour, in this moment, because this moment is all we have, and thankfully, it is enough to create the change we deserve.

Sautéed Kale

 

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp amchur or dried mango powder available at any Indian grocery store - optional

Instructions

  1. Let the chopped garlic sit for 10 min to activate its carcinogenic properties. Add olive oil or ghee in a heated frying pan and add onion, garlic, and asafoetida and sauté on medium flame till the onion is translucent. Add kale and salt and stir with a pair of tongs till kale is coated with oil and all the ingredients have been incorporated. Sauté till the kale wilts and turns bright green. Cook for another 5 minutes and turn off heat. Add the dried mango powder, mix into the kale and serve as a side dish with any meal.

The Best Approach to Help Menopausal Symptoms and Reclaim Your Health

So many of my patients seek help through the treacherous territory of hormonal changes.  Hormonal changes which began around age 40 are now occurring in the third decade of a woman’s life.  

What is going on?

Researchers have shown that with today’s lifestyle, our cells are aging at warp speed.  The degenerative processes in our bodies far exceed regeneration. Growth hormone levels are at an all-time low and for the first time in 3 decades, our lifespan may actually be shorter than that of our parents.  As a matter of fact, it is predicted that American teenagers have about 30 to 40 years to live. They will be dead by midlife as their current cell age matches that of 40 to 50 year old. This is due to their unhealthy lifestyle choices.

No wonder women in their thirties are seemingly peri-menopausal, presenting with symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, increases in belly size, heavy periods, fatigue headaches, and mental fog.  What they are greeted with by traditional medicine is oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, uterine ablation or in extreme cases, a hysterectomy. But none of these treatments work. They merely manage symptoms without correcting imbalances in the body which will continue.  

Hormone imbalance occurs for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is a woman’s lifestyle – the food she eats (or doesn’t eat), the amount of exercise she gets, the health of her gut biome (the healthy bacteria in her gut – influenced by her diet and lifestyle), and how she handles stress.  These factors are equally important for men, whose collective testosterone levels have been declining for over two decades.

The ovaries produce three major hormones- estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.  Estrogen and testosterone are produced continuously in premenopausal women, with estrogen peaking in the middle of her menstrual cycle, (around day 12 to 14 from the start of her period) just before she ovulates.  When she ovulates, her progesterone levels rise to balance the estrogen, awaiting fertilization and pregnancy. If she does not get pregnant soon after ovulation, the progesterone level falls and menses begins around day 28.  Over the past two decades, the frequency of ovulation has decreased dramatically in women, evidenced by the surge in infertility and the prevalence of estrogen dominance. This means women are producing estrogen without cyclic progesterone.  If chronically experienced, estrogen dominance results in a host of symptoms, both physical and mental, so its rising presence is an indicator of the endocrine system gone awry.

What has caused this to occur?

The endocrine system is a delicate web, with hundreds of interconnections between the gut, the nervous system, and almost every cell in the body.  When we eat unnatural foods, are exposed to environmental man-made toxins and hormone disruptors, use body care products that are not organic (petroleum based), drink from plastic containers, eat food treated with hormones and pesticides, ingest artificial sweeteners, and petroleum-based food colorings (among all the other detrimental lifestyle choices we’ve normalized), the delicate web of our endocrine system is disrupted.  The communication between our cells is distorted and the myriad of medical symptoms common in our society emerge.

Our pituitary gland, the master gland in our brain that regulates our endocrine system, stops working efficiently and growth hormone levels decline, precipitating leaky gut.  Our gut (1) is one cell thick and sewn together cell to cell by tight junctions.  These depend on growth hormone levels and the integrity of the 90 trillion bacteria in our gut which are the ‘brain’ of our body.  These bacteria regulate nearly all of our body’s functions, including influencing hormone balance and are very sensitive to what we eat and drink, as well as daily exercise and stress levels.  When growth hormone levels fall, not only does the gut get leaky because of tight junction malfunction, but the integrity of the gut biome (which is heavily impacted by the quality of our food)  is also compromised. When the gut leaks, inflammation abounds. This inflammation also impacts the brain. It makes the blood brain barrier leaky. This impacts clarity of thinking, mood, memory, and neurotransmitter levels.

Now imagine the scenario that I often see: a peri-menopausal woman whose hormones are out of balance with leaky gut, from which the majority of women suffer.  We can safely see that hormone replacement, uterine ablation, birth control, or a hysterectomy will not solve this.

Progesterone levels are greatly affected by stress, exercise, and the food we eat.  When we live a standard ‘American lifestyle,’ these levels fall, causing long term estrogen dominance.  This can cause hypertension, headaches, breast cysts, breast cancer, irritable bowel, endometriosis, fibroid tumors, weight gain, and fatigue.  Progesterone relaxes the gut, supporting the gut flora that produce 90% of the serotonin present in our body. When progesterone levels decline, our mood, the clarity of our thinking and our emotional body is greatly impacted.  

Most physicians who use bio-identical hormones in their practice, add natural estrogen to their patient’s regimens even if they do not have symptoms of estrogen withdrawal such as night sweats and hot flashes. This further aggravates estrogen dominance, loading transitioning vulnerable cells with too much estrogen, needlessly burdening the estrogen receptors in the breasts, the uterus, and the brain.  What I have found in my 30 years of medical practice is that ‘less is more’ when it comes to hormone balance. Maintaining an estrogen to progesterone ratio of 5 to 10 is what gives women the greatest sense of well-being and symptom relief during menopause. This is done by adding natural or bio-identical progesterone at a dose which provides this therapeutic ratio. Not supplementing with natural estrogen after menopause is a wise choice, unless menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes, night sweats, and body aches are intense. If indicated, a small dose of progesterone works well after menopause to maintain health and well-being, and can virtually eliminate most menopausal symptoms.  Hormone balancing requires regular evaluation of blood levels every four months to make sure that estrogen to progesterone levels are staying balanced. Stress or changes in lifestyle can affect hormones leading to estrogen dominance, so it is very important to have levels checked three to four times a year.

Diet is an essential part of this integrative medical framework and eating a balanced, organic, and primarily plant-based, high anti-oxidant diet with a broad-spectrum probiotic does more for hormone balancing than any other intervention.  Women in my medical practice who correct their diet and lifestyle have a much better response to hormone balancing than those who don’t. Furthermore, women whose diets are low in plants, have a higher rate of progesterone conversion to estrogen, furthering estrogen dominance.

Our bodies are designed to be healthy.  However, this health depends upon the choices we make.  Achieving optimal health is not a complicated or difficult goal.  It is a simple result of eating in alliance with nature, getting plenty of sleep, exercise, and maintaining work-life balance.  I call this self-care. Self-care requires consciousness. Without self-care, we become sick. With it, we can regain health, quickly and almost miraculously.  Even diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s are shown to be preventable and reversible through diet and lifestyle choices.

Think about it – no matter what state of health you are in, you can change it for the better through conscious choices.

And if you are a woman with symptoms of menopause, there is much you can do to improve your lifestyle and restore your microbiome, in addition to achieving a healthy hormone balance.

(1)https://ommanicenter.com/power-healthy-gut/

©Dec2018/Jun2015 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press.

Nutritional Yeast

NUTRITIONAL YEAST

  • Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that is sold in stores in the form of flakes or a yellow powder.
  • It is a significant source of B-complex vitamins.
  • It contains all nine essential amino acids that humans must get from food.
  • One tablespoon contains 2 grams of protein.
  • One tablespoon contains 2-30% of the recommended daily intake of trace minerals such as zinc, selenium, manganese.
  • Exact nutritional values always vary with products, please read labels carefully.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT – Dr. Kumar Insurance Status 2019

Dear Patient of The Ommani Center,

I am sending you this letter to inform you of some changes that are underway at The Ommani Center.  Early this Fall I became aware that Health Care mandates that begin on January 1, 2019 will make it nearly impossible for private practitioners in Primary Care to survive independently.  I had a difficult decision to make between closing The Ommani Center next year or going out of network to stay open and continue to provide the state of the art Integrative and Internal Medicine care that I have provided for the past 30 years, nearly 18 at The Ommani Center.  

As you all know our insurance system continues to financially squeeze patients and primary care physicians.  Their profit margin has relied on this practice for decades. More physicians are going out of network with their services and on January 1, 2019, an unprecedented number will leave most insurance plans.  After reviewing the charges for office visits in our area by both out of network physicians and alternative practitioners, I have arrived at a lower price point for my patients who I am committed to continuing to serve.  

I will be out of network for all insurance plans starting on January 1, 2019.  I will be able to accept payment by Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Savings Accounts, as well as direct pay.   For those of you who have out of network benefits, I would be happy to provide a diagnostic code for your office visit so you can submit your invoice and receive reimbursement for your office visit.  

With most of my patients seeing me face to face approximately three times per year, this would be affordable by most.  

In this manner, I can continue to provide excellent and heart felt care to my beloved patients and with your continued support, keep The Ommani Center open.

I/we are committed to serving our community with integrity to keep the Soul of Medicine alive in these changing times.

Please consider referring your friends and family for individualized, integrative and humanistic medical care that is state of the art and evidence based.  

As I have developed an evidence based protocol for bio-identical hormone balance that is time tested on tens of thousands of patients, I am excited to present this to a larger community of midlife men and women as a focus that The Ommani Center excels in.

My dream is to have The Ommani Center be the model for the future of health care.  We are already a learning center for conscious and healthy lifestyle where health, vitality and disease reversal is the norm.

I thank you for your continued love and support.

 

Sincerely,

 

Dr. Rose Kumar M.D.

 

Eros As Medicine; A Solution For Our Collective Healing

“Eros reflects our capacity to love life, ourselves, and each other, and it values our ability to love. It provides the foundation that allows us to know and understand each other, to care about each other, and to experience compassion. The Jungian concept of Eros denotes personal relatedness, a keen interest in relationships, and a prevailing attitude that works for conciliation and reconciliation. Eros evokes self-integration, subjectivity, and the concern for individuals, and it is rooted in the material universe and the earthly feminine qualities, such as accepting, yielding, experiencing, and being receptive”.  ~Massimilla and Bud Harris (1)

After returning home to the U.S. after my two-week visit to India, I find myself still struggling with re-entry. A part of me is resisting my return here because I know I will have to adapt once again to the Patriarchal principle that infuses our society, where relatedness, compassion, yielding and openness are not commonly felt.  Being a person who has always followed the thread of the Feminine principle, where only creativity and relatedness provide comfort, even I must adapt to survive in the patriarchal culture of which I am a part.  I am struck by how deeply connected I felt to the greater community while in India, even though it is not my current home.  There, my past and current suffering, my feelings and my wounding all felt embraced and held by the collective. I felt this in the very air and dust around me.  My feelings of loneliness and aloneness, the daily companions which haunt me back home in the U.S., simply vanished.  I felt like my life was a part of a bigger container, shared by others in time and space.  It felt that what I said and felt was received and I always felt like I mattered. For the two weeks I was there, I felt safer in my surroundings than I have in years, and more grounded in myself.  I was startled by the experience of belonging despite being in that culture, surrounded by people I did not know.  I realize now, that I was in the presence of Eros, alive in India, where relatedness and receptivity is a core value that permeates everything. 

Many countries in Europe share this energy, though not as deeply.  Cultures that are rooted in community and have historically been through collective suffering are more aligned with the Feminine Principle or Eros as defined by Jung.  India, however, has an added spiritual depth and a mystical and transcendent way of being.  Many of the conversations I had in India with strangers were authentic, infused with a numinosity (2) I rarely feel back home.  The radiance of Eros permeated my experience while relating to others.  India is one of the oldest cultures in the world, infused with a love of community, life, food, color, beauty, and relatedness – all qualities of the Feminine principle and by extension, Eros.  Throughout her tumultuous and often brutal history, Eros has never been sacrificed.

As a Sensitive, I feel the energy of the environment I am in.   As I reflect on the stark contrast between a culture rooted in relatedness versus one that is not, I am struck by how I feel when I am there versus here.  My sad conclusion is that Eros is absent in the cultural fabric of America today. As we have adapted to the Patriarchal paradigm that pervades our society, consumerism (3) and individuality have taken center stage at the cost of relatedness. We are currently experiencing a separation from each other like never before.  The symptoms of this are expressed in the unprecedented level of anxiety, depression, and addiction among millions in our country.

I personally have noticed in my medical practice that relatedness among people has changed over the past few decades.  My patients tell me they struggle alone in their grief and suffering.  People who suffer deep losses find they are supported only briefly by people they consider dear, are expected to get over how they feel and get on with their lives.  As a result, they feel unsafe to share their feelings. If they are Sensitives, they are expected to shut down their feelings as no one is present to support them.  Aside from a paid therapist, they have few if any people to hold space for their suffering.  Grief has been a shared and sacred process since the beginning of time.  It is impossible to move through it alone.  When people suffer, they feel disoriented if they live in a society where feeling function and relatedness is not valued.  Often at the end of their rope, they arrive in the medical system searching for these qualities.  Here, their normal suffering is taken out of context and diagnosed as a ‘depressive disorder’.  Their grief, when amplified by their aloneness is not a pathology to be diagnosed, but rather a symptom of a collective illness that must be recognized and healed.

The majority of my patients are Sensitives (4).  They, like me, are sensory tuning forks and feel the energy of the environment they are a part of.  In fact, they absorb it.  If their environment is not heart centered, if Eros is missing, they do not feel safe.   Their lack of safety may manifest first as anxiety and if not understood, can morph into depression.  I can relate to how they feel. The energy of relatedness, love and compassion is vital for me to feel safe in my world. Maybe this is why I feel safe when I am in a country where Eros is alive. 

Sensitives often feel that there is something wrong with them when they are not able to adapt to belong.  Since they are not able to adapt to a lack of relatedness prevalent in Patriarchy, dominated by power, they feel alone and isolated.  Sensitives are frequently not understood by people who do not feel as they do.  In fact, they are commonly pathologized by the medical system when they express their deep feelings, and experience symptoms of anxiety and depression resulting from feeling alone and isolated. 

In patriarchal societies where the Power principle (5) dominates, the axis around which people organize their behavior is fear.  Carl Jung said, “Where love rules, there is no will to power; where power predominates, love is lacking.”  Power evokes fear, not love. Power is the pervading principle in our society today. It infuses our corporations, including our medical system, and is associated with what we value.  In fact, it is glorified.  Power is often projected on money and if a person has a lot of it, they are allotted more power.  In fact, they are glorified. Consumerism (6), a symptom of this projection and its offspring, techno-science has removed us even further from our humanity.  At its root, this is used to further perpetuate consumerism, which becomes the means to achieve more money, and thus, more power.  This becomes the goal that drives our adaptations in society, creating an endless loop, eroding our sense of self, and isolating us even further.  When this permeates the fabric of a culture, it is often normalized.  When patriarchy is present, Eros is banished.  When Eros is banished, we are separated from our true nature, our authentic selves.  This lies at the root of our personal and collective symptoms.

Fear is ever present in Medicine today.  Many fear going to their doctor.  They fear their symptoms, they fear their prognoses.  They fear their treatments and fear recurrences.  They feel victimized by fear and in this state, they delegate their power to expertise.  This does not lessen their fear.  In fact, it is amplified.  Now they have no control over their health or healing.  It is delegated to another, to prescription drugs and invasive procedures.  These are not designed to heal, but to cover symptoms and cut out disease.  We have normalized this paradigm with which Medicine treats, feeling small relative to the large and ‘powerful’ system which grinds forward, boasting profits at our expense.  Fear at the core of today’s medicine, permeates our experience and sabotages our power to heal.  Where once the physician was considered a teacher and healer, in today’s medical system she is no longer allowed to honor her sacred mission.  Healing and relatedness take more time than that allotted by administrators.  Their drive for money (7) has replaced the mission of medicine.  Fear has now replaced love.  This way of being is not only toxic for patients, but also for physicians who work within these systems.  Caroline Casey states, “Eros is how the Universe communicates with itself.”  Without it, we are merely living on the surface, cut off from feeling function and going through the motions, adapting to fear.  This is no different in corporate Medicine.  Eros is what is missing in Medicine today as it is in society at large.

If we live in a society such as ours, where Eros is banished, we adapt to the Power principle without even realizing it.  Adapted, like Pavlov’s dogs, we compromise our true nature for approval.  After decades of living this way, we lose sight of who we really are. As we age we must connect with the authentic ground of our Being. Those crossing the threshold of midlife feel a deeper, more authentic part of their being begin to rise to claim its place in their lives.  Jung called this the (authentic) Self.  In fact, in midlife, the tension between the authentic and adapted/false self can become so intense it is difficult for the body to contain it.  Anxiety as well as physical symptoms are not uncommon as this tension grows. If our culture had a context for transformation to align with Self, we could age with consciousness and live more authentically.  A culture which lacks Eros, lacks a context to transform.

I have come to realize through tremendous personal loss and suffering that the very ground of my being is and always has been rooted in Eros.  I believe this is true for all Sensitives. As a Sensitive, I rarely felt truly witnessed or validated by people around me. I was rewarded for my performance, not my intrinsic value.  Because I was aligned with Eros, I was ignored and dismissed. I experience this even today.  Many Sensitives share my feelings. As we cross our midlife threshold we must sacrifice our sense of worth, falsely erected through adaptation, to uncover our intrinsic worth and sacrifice our need for approval for internal alignment. 

As a country, from the top down, we are currently experiencing this on a larger scale.  As Sensitives, we can feel the amplified tension between the Power principle, where narcissism and disrespect are running amok, and the Feminine principle, where relatedness and collaboration are holding the line.  We are at a place in history, where what Jung called ‘third thing’ or the Transcendent Function (8) has the potential to emerge from the tension of these opposites.  My hope is that this third thing will birth a society with both healthy Masculine and Feminine qualities and bring Eros back to life. What this alchemical process will entail is anybody’s guess. 

Till then, Sensitives will continue to feel the lack of Eros and hence a lack of safety; yet we must not mistake this as a pathology or dis-order within us.  We are the tuning forks of society and as we hold the tension of the opposites, we must honor our sensitivity and our longing for the Feminine principle to prevail and embody our power to transform our current reality.    

©Nov 2018 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director of The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Website: www.ommanicenter.com Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife. 2011, 2014 Medial Press

Links:

(1)https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=into+the+heart+of+the+feminine

(2)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numinous

(3)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327169379_The_weariness_of_the_hero_depression_and_the_self_in_a_civilization_in_transition_The_weariness_of_the_hero

(4)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327169379_The_weariness_of_the_hero_depression_and_the_self_in_a_civilization_in_transition_The_weariness_of_the_hero

(5)https://ommanicenter.com/becoming-real/

(6)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327169379_The_weariness_of_the_hero_depression_and_the_self_in_a_civilization_in_transition_The_weariness_of_the_hero

(7)https://ommanicenter.com/becoming-real/

(8)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpZc4f-uE64

Every Choice Matters

 

I am always amazed at how we in the U.S. have normalized wanting everything fast, including healing.  Getting a ‘quick fix’ has become central to our value system, as an expectation and an entitlement. The result of this form of thinking has caused us to lose our connection to the sacred rhythms of life.

From Atkins to Paleo to Keto, quick fix diets abound.  Many do not want to hear about the long-term negative consequences of such diets as they are interested only in quick weight loss with no concern for the temporary nature of it or long-term negative effects on our body.  

But fast results are unnatural for the body.  The body is a response mechanism composed of many different systems in constant and dynamic communication with each other which are always changing and impacted by every choice we make.  In addition, our body has innate intelligence. It knows how to breathe, sleep, wake and heal, all on its own. If we cut ourselves, it heals through these autoregulated mechanisms and ‘voila, we have a scab’.  But for it to work efficiently to autoregulate, it needs the right fuel, a state of balance and time to rest and regenerate. Even our heart oxygenates itself during its relaxation phase after contraction, about 70 times per minute.  This is one example of how Nature has built-in mechanisms for self-care, renewal, and regeneration. The body’s very survival depends on it.

We seldom think of our body in this way.  Our society and medical system see the body very differently.  In my medical training, I was taught that the body is a container of physiological mechanisms that randomly break down, requiring symptom management in the form of pharmaceuticals or surgery, and our lifestyle has a small impact if any, on the manifestation and reversal of disease.  I was taught that what you eat really doesn’t matter, and food has nothing to do with health. In fact, I had only a one-hour class of nutrition education that emphasized the need for meat and dairy for health.

We now know that this is a flawed perception which is also unscientific, based on thirty years of repeated scientific research.  

Unfortunately, our society believes and normalizes this flawed perception.  The current traditional medical system teaches us that the rhythms of the body are meaningless, that menstruation is a curse and inconvenience, and that diseases can only be fixed through attacking the body.  The profit margin of the corporate medical system relies heavily on perpetuating these beliefs. In the field of Women’s Health, methods of suppressing menstruation are considered standard-of-care treatments to deal with menstrual discomfort.  Stopping menstrual cycles via uterine ablations, and hysterectomies are on the rise and have been normalized to treat symptoms; yet investigating the cause for heavy bleeding and the loss of menstrual rhythm is overlooked. These treatments are big business.  Consequently, we fail to uncover the association of our symptoms with our psychological and emotional processes, what we eat and drink and how consciously we live. The body is impacted by all of our choices as they are the very building blocks of our cell structure.  

I would go as far as to call our current perceptions and behaviors adversarial to our relationship with our body. As we can see, our remedies for the majority of our symptoms are merely band-aids which do not heal the underlying causes of these conditions.

Our medical model, in addition to being expensive and invasive, lacks consciousness.  It does not help us repair or align our relationship with ourselves. On the contrary, it causes further harm. When we abdicate our power to physicians and holistic healers, we render ourselves powerless. We are led to believe that when a symptom arises, it occurs suddenly and unexpectedly and is not related to any of our choices preceding its manifestation.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Our body responds to every choice we make. When we are imprinted (during childhood) to ignore its messages, we lose our ability to make conscious choices to assist it.

Everything we eat, drink, think, how we handle stress or whether we have a supportive community, affects our body’s responses.  We do not consider that our bodies are actually designed the same way as all organisms in Nature. Its rhythms and responses are aligned like all other organisms in Nature.  The difference between us and them is our lack of consciousness which disconnects us from our true Nature.

When we make what may seem like insignificant choices that interrupt our body’s natural rhythms, we affect its autoregulatory and repair capacity. When a sailboat is steered a few degrees off course without incremental course corrections, it ends up at the wrong destination.  In the same way, even small and seemingly insignificant choices that take our body off its course of health will manifest symptoms (and diseases) over time.

Every course correction we make matters.  Scientific evidence has shown this to be true.  One example in my medical practice of the power of incremental changes was of a patient with obesity, joint pain and chronic fatigue.  Unable to make comprehensive lifestyle changes, he made only one change. He stopped drinking diet soda alone and lost 20 lbs of weight in a year!  His liver, no longer highjacked by the poisonous effects of chemicals in the soda, was able to reboot and activate his body’s metabolic efficiency. The results he experienced restored his confidence to make further changes in his lifestyle that healed his other symptoms completely.  One incremental course correction triggered a cascade of physical and psychological healing. Another patient, a 58-year-old menopausal woman, struggling with a plethora of symptoms including depression, simply eliminated processed sugar. Her joint pain, sleep disturbance, brain fog, and rash vanished within 2 months.  She had more energy and joy than ever before. She was so amazed at her body’s ability to heal that she discovered a newfound commitment to supporting it. Our choices may appear to be small, but they have a profound impact on our health. They require consciousness, willingness and an endurance to stay the course.

In addition, plenty of scientific evidence (1) has shown time and again how our choices impact health and disease.   For example, when a person on a diet heavy in animal protein, such as the Paleo or Keto diet, switches to a Whole Food Plant Based diet, the body’s repair mechanisms are immediately activated. Animal protein has been shown to interfere with the body’s ability to repair carcinogenic damage, hence increasing cancer risk.  Adding more plants and reducing meat even incrementally stimulates a cascade of changes that facilitate the body’s ability to heal and activate cancer reversal (2).  

We can see how many of our unhealthy lifestyle habits (3) that society normalizes do not serve us in positive ways.  We must begin to repair our adversarial relationship with our body and consider the impact of our choices on our health. Our body’s responses are directly related to how we treat it.  Making incremental conscious choices to restore physical, psychological and spiritual health has profound effects over time. In addition, they restore our relationship with ourselves and place our power to heal, back into our own hands.  

My suggestions for restoring health are very simple and evidence-based:

As you live from a few or all of these principles you will be amazed at how quickly your body can heal itself and your relationship to it.  Incremental changes made with consciousness matter. Once you try them, you will never again doubt your body’s ability to heal.

 

©Oct2018 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director of The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Website: www.ommanicenter.com   Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife. 2011, 2014 Medial Press

Links:

(1)https://www.forksoverknives.com/science-says-about-diet-and-cancer/#gs.P6Tkzlg

(2)https://nutritionfacts.org/video/cancer-reversal-through-diet/

(3)https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet

(4)http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/health-benefits-within-one-week-of-eating-a-plant-based-diet/

(5)https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

(6)https://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20160722/alcohol-seven-types-cancer#1

(7)https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/environment/nature-and-us/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing

(8)https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy-sleep/health-risks/the-effects-of-sleep-deprivation

(9)https://appliedjung.com/the-middle-passage/

 

Showing Your Soul – A Way to Live in These Turbulent Times

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires.”   ~Dr. Clarissa Pinkole Estes

I have been thinking so much about the signs of our times. As one who has always been an ‘out of the box’ thinker, I find myself looking for meaning and precision about the state of our country and the state of the world. Is there some meaning to be gained from all of what is happening? Have we finally come to a place where we can see how harmful our compulsive addiction to duality is? Are we living the koan(1) of the ‘illness we need for our healing?’

As a physician, I am always looking for the aerial view, the bigger picture, what an illness means in my patient’s life; and seeking to understand it not just physiologically but symbolically. I see the body as equipped with the capacity to heal. We are all born with this capacity. Our body knows how to heal itself with one caveat — the environment we create for it. We have learned from the field of epigenetics(2) that genes can turn on and off based on the environment they are subjected to. We know that prayer has healed many, and a change in diet can reverse disease. We may consider disease reversibility as a miracle, but it is not. It is just our body doing what it knows how to do. Many spiritual traditions see disease as information that the body provides us for our awakening, even if the awakening is as obvious as changing the food we eat or the thoughts we think. We know that chronic depression(3) sabotages the body’s capacity to heal and seeking meaning(4) evokes this ability. I believe the body often manifests illness to detoxify us. In this capacity, illness can be viewed as a purification.

Many of my patients who have suffered from life-threatening illnesses have been transformed by them. The illness evoked the seeker in them; they viewed disease as a portal, a door that led them into a deeper level of meaning, where their capacity to understand the meaning of life and death deepened them beyond their conditioning by society. They entered the inner sanctum and accessed their inner Wisdom and what they have called Medicine of their Soul.

This is a paradoxical journey into healing, but one that requires us to stretch our perspective beyond what we are taught by our culture, and especially our medical system.

From this perspective, illness can be seen as a stage in our journey to wholeness. I see our country today in a quagmire. I see us as suffering from a grave illness.

I invite us to see this time from an aerial view — as a moment in a larger process. We are suffering from an illness that can take us deeper into our collective healing. We must create the proper environment to evoke our healing. We must seek alignment by behaving with integrity, love, truth, and respect for one another like never before and open our inner eye to see through illusion. We must remove value from what we have thus far assigned it to — progress at the cost of process; fixing at the cost of healing; money at the cost of contentment. We must assign value to integrity, truth, love, and common ground.

We must, we must.

When we choose to live in this way, we align with our Soul. We become the light in the darkness that Dr. Estes writes about. This is contagious. We ignite others to live from this place alongside us. It offers us all the courage to be authentic and to allow for transformation.

Maybe we were born for this-this time, and we created this illness to seek meaning like never before.

Maybe our healing lies in weaving meaning from this ill time, to finally seize the opportunity to transform ourselves into a world we have always longed for.

©Sept2018/Mar2017 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director of The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Website: www.ommanicenter.com   Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife. 2011, 2014 Medial Press

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/koan
  2. http://www.whatisepigenetics.com/fundamentals/
  3. https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1741-7015-11-131
  4. http://themeaningseeker.com/logotherapy/

Where Then Shall We Begin to Reclaim our Health?

 

The ego is a persistent contraction of awareness in the form of a collection of self-images that causes suffering through artificial self-limitation ~ Saiva Tantra (1) (Translated by Christopher Wallis)

Reflecting on this quote may be a good place to begin to reclaim our health and to recognize the reasons we are limited in our ability for self-love. The contraction of our awareness creates a separation from our true Self that results in fear, loneliness and all the self-sabotaging behaviors resulting from this separation.  Helping my patients heal this separation from Self is the essence of my work as a physician and a core catalyst for healing. The false beliefs of our ego born from the contraction of our awareness form the roots of our symptoms that cause suffering in our mind and body.

As we move through life, the imprints and impressions from our family of origin and society affect our behaviors, beliefs and our relationship with ourselves from childhood and beyond.  If we uncover the root of any issue we are struggling with, we can identify the contraction in our awareness. As children we are more expansive in our beliefs about ourselves and uninhibited in our self-perception, but over time, this changes.  We become contracted as we are conditioned by fear. These contractions form patterns upon which our psyche and our relationship to ourselves becomes organized. We begin to perceive ourselves through the lens of limitation, feeling like we are “not enough” and become separated from our True or Authentic Self.  

The journey through the first half of life is filled with imprints and impressions that distort our perception of ourselves and others and many times, life itself. Yet, something else inside us, deeper than these beliefs and perceptions simultaneously accompanies us.  This is our authentic (Soul )Self. If we become conscious of when this emerges in even small ways, we can see how we were protected through difficult times, how we gained insight, strength and endurance and how we survived. This wondrous ability to survive and emerge transformed, informs us that there is more to us than our beliefs, distortions and contractions from our imprinted selves; that we do contain a deeper, more expansive, more courageous Self that continues to live, love, and experience joy and connection underneath our struggles and our fears.  

Our ego, contracted as it becomes during the first half of our life, needs to be rendered, softened and reoriented during the second half of life.  It must shift into serving the Self from now till the end of life versus being center stage as the decision maker as it has been. We may experience this in small ways initially, and if we remain conscious of this reorientation process, the ego is rendered further until it assumes its proper position in service to our larger purpose.  Then the Self can take center stage. The context for understanding this reorientation is not present in our society, so people arrive at the midlife threshold with confusion and disorientation, searching for a deeper meaning to their life.

There are moments when Self shines through, when we feel more expansive and more aligned with it.  For example, when we attempt to transform an unhealthy habit, we may feel moments of lightness, health, expansiveness and victory.  If we bring our consciousness to these moments, we feel more aligned with the Self, more liberated, expanded and less limited in our ability to succeed.  When we do, we have rendered our ego a little bit. As we continue our process of transforming the unhealthy habit, the feeling of expansiveness begins to gain traction and loosen the contracted ego that may negate our success.  The more we bring consciousness to this expansive process, the more our ego is rendered. With persistence, the habit transforms and the contraction releases. During the second half of life, it is necessary and imperative to make this kind of expansiveness our new platform for living.

Our contracted awareness is a result of what we are told about ourselves and the nature of reality. The Western world perceives reality very differently than the East.  The focus in the West is more rational, concrete, defined, dense, physical and ego-centric. The East includes some of these characteristics as well, though more prevalent in the collective, is a deeper understanding of life beyond the rational and logical. The collective worldview of the East values what is sacred and includes aspects(2)  of the Feminine Principle(3).  This worldview is inclusive of life, death, suffering, meaning and the importance of community. It is heart-centered.

There is also a recognition that the second half of life is a time of detaching from worldly goals and externally assigned values and turning one’s vision towards inner work where healing the relationship with Self is a priority. Transition into the second half of life is seen as an initiation into eldership and is taken to heart.

In the West, this worldview seems foreign and even somewhat pathological, yet a craving for meaning at this level is ever present in midlife and beyond.

So what is a good place for us to begin?

I say, start where you are.  Take note of your relationship to yourself in all of its facets and uncover whether you have a loving and authentic one.  Do you feel the need to compensate for how you feel about yourself? Do you find yourself doing things to make yourself feel better that are not healthy?  If you do, then this is where the contraction, the separation from Self is palpable. This would be a good place to start. Having uncovered this separation, the intent of your inner work would be to heal your self-worth

What do you say to yourself when you see your reflection in the mirror?  Do you feel admiration or love for who/what you see? If you feel critical or are filled with self-loathing (be it fleeting) this is where the contraction, the separation from Self is palpable.  This would be a good place to start. Having uncovered this separation, the intent of your inner work would be to heal self-loathing and cultivate self-compassion.

What do you say when you are thinking about what to eat while under stress?  Do you find yourself reaching for unhealthy comfort food or do you think about what you can eat to nourish your body under stress?  Do you feel you deserve nourishment? If not, this where the contraction, the separation from Self is palpable. This would be a good place to start. Having uncovered this separation, the intent of your inner work would be to learn how to nourish yourself, and why you are worthy of this.

What do you feel when you need to invest in self-care?  (This is a big one for many of my patients). Do you feel worthy to invest in your healing?  If not, this is where the contraction, the separation from Self is palpable. This would be a good place to start. Having uncovered this separation, the intent of your inner work would be to heal what you consider your worth to be.

We can only start where we are.  We have much work to do to render the ego as we age.  The contracted beliefs of the ego in the Western world are harder to render as we live in a collective that values logic and rationality over feeling and sacredness.  The externally assigned values are ego-centric not intrinsic. As we repair the separations from Self caused by contractions in our awareness, we can experience sacred moments more often.  These are confirmations of contact and resonance with the Self. These are the moments when we feel our soul radiance underneath the contractions.

Intending to be in this state of awareness more often requires us to remain conscious of our contractions based in fear as well as the expansive Self underneath them.  When we behave from the deeper level of expansive awareness, over time, the ego is rendered enough to serve the Self rather than run our life. This is a slow yet deeply spiritual practice, critical for us to cultivate in midlife.  

Reflecting on this process and putting forth our intention to live consciously is a good place to start.  It has the power to heal some of our deepest wounds and can begin the process of reclaiming our health at the deepest levels.

(1)https://www.amazon.com/Tantra-Illuminated-Philosophy-Practice-Tradition/dp/0989761304/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532606482&sr=8-1&keywords=tantra+illuminated+by+christopher+wallis

(2)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9246929

(3)https://ommanicenter.com/becoming-real/

 

©August 2018 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative

Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife

2014, Medial Press.