Ommani Center Blog

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.

The Lost Art of Listening

“Pain is often a sign that something has to change.”   Mark Nepo

We are told that the intended purpose for progress in technology and science is to lead to an advancement in the human condition. This being the case, we should be evolving and growing into a ‘better’ and happier version of ourselves with a significant improvement in our quality of life.  Sadly, we are experiencing the very opposite of its intended purpose.

In the last two decades of so-called ‘progress’, we are less healthy, happy, and suffer from an unprecedented level of ‘soul-loss’.  We are more depressed and anxious than ever before and have experienced a greater loss of meaning than before technology was this advanced.

In addition, I have seen patient-centered care decline at an unprecedented rate since technological documentation and communication was introduced into the health care system.

During my medical training, a large amount of emphasis was placed on listening.  Yes, listening.

I found that listening to my patients not only connected me to them as people but also enabled an exchange between us.  This exchange was where we were able to collaboratively uncover the causes and solutions for their symptoms. Today, three decades later, a large majority of patients arrive with an unfortunate yet similar complaint – their physician either did not have time to listen to them or did not know how.  They were given a canned diagnosis and a canned prescription to treat a few symptoms and the remainder of their story was either mocked or dismissed. In short, they were not heard or witnessed. They left their appointment feeling pathologized and no better than when they arrived, with an additional label of a psychological disorder for ‘complaining’ about their symptoms.  

What a patient says about their condition can offer very important clues for a physician to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.  The art of listening can take a physician down the path of arriving at a more accurate diagnosis along with its root cause(s); very different than one that is quickly projected onto the patient.  A patient’s history, their story, opinion, experience, biology, and their biography all play into their unfolding experience of health or illness. Since most patients don’t see a physician until a symptom(s) manifests, it is critical for physicians to take the time to listen to what they are saying.  But, physicians today say, they don’t have the time to listen. Corporate Medicine does not provide more than a few minutes per patient as its profit margin depends on patient volume, not quality of care or treatment success.

If the medical system was graded on treatment success, it would get a big ‘F’.  Yet, we continue to access it as there is no large-scale alternative. We have to settle for being treated by an ‘F’ rated system that is also very costly.  Holistic medical practitioners listen, but many do not practice evidence-based medicine. Without the benefit of scientific evidence, patient safety is at risk.  So what is one to do?

In the spirit of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we can access Corporate Medicine for what it is good at treating – trauma, acute infections, and conditions requiring surgical intervention.  For chronic and lifestyle-related diseases, corporate medicine is ineffective. It has failed us for nearly two decades in healing midlife transitions, chronic pain, chronic illness, and symptoms of the mind and heart.  

Thirty years ago, when the art of listening was valued, I observed that my patients always felt better when I took the time to listen to them.  They felt heard, validated, witnessed, cared for, and supported. They still do today. Not only is medicine a science, it is an art, and a large portion of that art relies on the quality of how deeply the practitioner listens.  People ask me, how I able to take the time to listen to my patients? My answer is simple -I do not work for Corporate Medicine or serve their value system. When I did, I was asked to speed up my office visits and medicate or hospitalize. I was told that listening or healing was a ‘conflict of interest’ for Corporate Medicine.  I left and opened my own integrative medical practice. I was not willing to compromise patient care for profit margin.

I had to sacrifice the value our society assigns to materialism in favor of my core values.  This required significant personal risk. I also had to accept the risk of being abandoned by my colleagues to follow my soul.  In fact, I was. Over time, my life was filled with meaning and fulfillment and a medical practice dedicated to healing and high standard of care.  Serving the Feminine Principle requires sacrifice. In my opinion, it is a worthy sacrifice of materialism for meaning.

This brings me to my next point.  In order for us to change how we want to be treated, we must stop supporting an externally driven value system where money is a core value and humanity is tossed to the side.  It is not possible to serve both. The externally based value system that honors money above all else is based on patriarchal values of fear, power over, productivity, and fixing – not those that value process, receiving, healing, caring, nourishing, or listening.

Physicians enter medicine with a deep desire to heal, but the environment they are trained in conditions for them to adapt to a different set of values.  By the time their training is finished, most have replaced their vision for healing by the corporate value system that is normalized.

The corporate system is patriarchal.  Patriarchal values are more interested in product over process, fixing over healing, doing over being.  There is a rush to get to the finish line, to accomplish the goal, to get to the next patient. When your eye is on the goal, you miss the present moment.  The information about how to heal is present in that moment.

As we all struggle to work with a medical system that is moving at warp speed past its core values, we must pause and connect with the heart of our work.  The art of listening has been one of our core and primal offerings to each other since the beginning of time. It is the most powerful healing gift we can give to one other.  And maybe as we reclaim this for ourselves and our patients, in some small way, we can heal our broken vocation by restoring our craft with our humanity. Maybe then our patients will once again feel received and the sacred will find its way back into Medicine once again.

We must start here.  Small steps towards transformation by incorporating qualities of the Feminine Principle can heal our culture and its ailing corporate infrastructure.  As technology eclipses our humanity, we must reclaim the heart of why we are here together and begin to listen to what is deeply needed for our personal and collective healing.

 

©June 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.

Why Suicide? What we must do about the loss of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade

I am deeply saddened by the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade in the past few days.

I learned so much from Anthony Bourdain’s shows. He brought the world into our homes. Both Anthony and Kate were shining lights in our country.

Suicides are on the rise. The suicide rate in the US is double that of the homicide rate with an increase in 28% from 1999 to 2016 reported by the CDC.

What is going on?

I have observed changes in people as a physician over the past 3 decades; changes in emotional and psychological well-being. People feel more separated, isolated and lonely in our country. The feeling of being part of a community is rare. The collective consciousness is more ‘me’ focused and more focused on the small rather than the big picture.

My patients tell me over and over again, every day that they don’t feel comfortable sharing how they REALLY feel with anyone. They find solace when they talk about this in my office, when they reveal their innermost grief and may be still be mourning losses from years ago. Many of them weep without ceasing. Holding space for them is sacred and an honor for me in my work.

This is a complex and multi-faceted issue. We all know that we are a society of “quick-fixes”. Therapy is considered a stigma and many feel embarrassed to even see a therapist. People feel they need to “get over” their feelings and get on with life. Our feelings are not given the proper container or attention they need. Our collective consciousness negates how we feel. We somehow feel weak if we are not ‘fine’.

Doing process work/transformation is NOT normalized in our society.

It is hard work which requires courage and endurance and most often is a solitary process.

Life presents us with many challenges. As someone who was plagued with profound depression many times in my life, and grew up around a mother who was chronically and deeply depressed from her childhood trauma, I can say without a doubt that the isolation that one feels when depressed without anyone to talk to is mind-numbing.

We no longer live in a village and most are no longer vested in the well-being of another.

We must change this. What we need to normalize is the importance of accessing the courage required to have authentic relationships with one another. Being there for one another, bearing witness and being witnessed by another is the greatest gift we can give and receive. There is something profoundly sacred and powerful about this that cannot be put into words. Even if people have mental illness, psychological or emotional pain (which we all have), just having someone to talk to, to connect with authentically, heals the isolation that amplifies feelings. Being authentically ‘seen and heard’ from another’s open heart is palpable. It can even give us the will to live, and sometimes to just get through the day.

Being ‘truly seen’ by another makes us feel that we matter.

Please take this to heart.

We as a country are a community and two remarkable people who were shining lights in it have been extinguished.

Let us not let them die in vain.

Let us come together with one another and heal our collective shadow of isolation. Let us become the community that we once were in our sacred country.

Let us authentically be there for one another again.

We must all do our part.

Leaky Gut, Leaky Brain

We have been on diets since the 1970’s.  We have lost weight, gained weight, birthed eating disorders, and are now more obese than ever.  Our diets have failed us. We need to rethink dieting.

My patients often ask me what they can do to lose weight. Those most successful at losing weight follow my simple advice.  They eat consciously. They eat plenty of organic fruits, vegetables, lentils, and legumes, with an emphasis on dark colored super-foods.  They minimize poultry and dairy and eliminate soda and food /drinks high in sugar. They eliminate processed foods (1) and alcohol (2).  I advise them to cook their food, stop using their microwave and minimize eating out.  I ask them to eliminate red meat and pork, (foods high in saturated fat) ALL trans-fats, petroleum based food colorings, artificial sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup (3).  Those who do this, lower their cholesterol on average by 70 points and regain mental clarity.  As an added benefit, their weight drops as a result of conscious eating. The ingredients added to foods today are not natural, and unfortunately are plentiful in the American diet.  Over the years, we have normalized processed foods as a regular part of our diet. These foods are unnatural and are making us sick and obese.

We can date the beginning of our dieting craze back to when processed foods were introduced in the market.  When processed, the biochemical makeup of food changes. It becomes distorted and unnatural. Our cells only recognize foods created by nature, not a processing plant.  When we put nature into our body, it heals. It regains resilience and even aging slows down. Processed foods do the opposite. They inflame the body, causing cell death, rapid aging, and degeneration.

Recent research has shown that 1 in 5 Americans is at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.  For American’s who live to age 85, the incidence increases to 1 in 2. A hundred years ago, the average American ate 5 pounds of sugar per year.  Today, the annual average is 200 pounds. Researchers have discovered a direct correlation between Alzheimer’s disease and a diet high in sugar and saturated fat. In addition, processed foods contain heavy metals. These can deposit in the plaque found in the brains of Alzheimer patients. These foods are also low in Omega 3.  A low level of omega 3 has been shown to be directly correlated with anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder (4), Autism, and impaired memory.  

Another important factor that contributes to inflammatory diseases like Alzheimer’s and the myriad of nervous system disorders present in our country today is leaky gut (5).  The intestinal biome consists of approximately 120 trillion gut bacteria that protect the integrity of the intestinal lining. The biome is compromised by inflammatory and chemical foods, sugar, preservatives, artificial colors and sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and antibiotics (including those present in non-organic meat and dairy), almost anything that is not of nature, including stress.  When the intestinal biome is compromised, molecules of food leak into the bloodstream causing inflammation in all systems of the body, including the nervous system. This lowers dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain which increases sugar and carbohydrate cravings aggravating the inflammatory process. Inflammation due to leaky gut contributes to food and chemical sensitivities, depression, anxiety, and a myriad of mental disorders in addition memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease.  The most effective preventive solution is to eat an organic plant-based diet with an added multi-organism probiotic, and omega 3 fatty acids. It is now thought that many of the most common diseases of the nervous system and mood disorders  (6)are due to a disruption in the microbiome.  

The good news is that inflammation is reversible.  Decades of scientific research has shown that we can restore the integrity of our cells by making lifestyle changes that include regular exercise and anti-inflammatory foods.  Restoring the integrity of our gut biome potentiates this. In fact, a lifestyle that consistently includes these choices can even slow down the aging process.

Today’s teenagers who have sedentary lifestyles (7) that include a heavy intake of processed foods and sugar have the cell age of a 50 to 60-year-old.  This means that they have a maximum of 30 years of life left. This may be the first time in the history of the human race that a younger generation will not live past mid-life.  On the positive side, the cells in a child’s body are resilient. If guided to lead a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and organic, plant-based foods, their cells can heal, regaining decades of their lifespan and reversing chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, ADD,  and ADHD among others.

 

The solution to restoring health is as simple as conscious eating and exercise.  Healing is ultimately a result of the choices we make. These choices can prevent and reverse the majority of chronic diseases prevalent in our country today.  

 

I encourage you to try these lifestyle changes for a month. You will be surprised as to how much better you will feel, and that is a guarantee!

 

(1)https://www.alzheimers.net/2014-01-02/foods-that-induce-memory-loss/

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

(3)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5609573/

(4)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2661342/

(5)https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/leaky-gut-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-you-2017092212451

(6)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5127403/

(7)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3370421/

 

©May, 2018, 2015 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.

 

Let’s Be Real Workshop with Mary Brill, LCSW

“Let”s Be Real”… How to Live an Authentic Life

Approved and highly recommended by Drs. Rose Kumar, MD, and Boris Matthews, PhD, LCSW

A workshop beginning September 7, 2018

 

You get to a point where the old life no longer works. It’s possible it never did. Maybe

you ask yourself, “what’s next?” The life that you’ve known no longer seems to fit. Or

something feels off and you wonder if you’re alone in feeling this way…

 

This group offers you an opportunity to open your heart, enliven your body, engage your

mind, and deepen @ soul level. The possibilities are limitless when group energy

collides with intent. It takes courage to express your dreams, desires, and what you

yearn for. It involves accepting support to bring your aspirations into form. It requires

clearing obstacles that get in your way.

 

This is a group to explore possibilities; to consider stretching your limits, to think outside

the box, to reflect on what needs to be released and to explore untapped potential.

 

I invite you to explore with us. I invite you to find the Real you.  Won’t you join us?

 

Dates: 9/7/18- 11/16/18

Day: 6 Fridays

Time: 10:30AM-12:30PM

Fee: $95/session

Register via email  –  Mary@brillcounseling.com

 

Mary Brill, LCSW is an experienced psychotherapist who uses her skills in problem-solving and mentoring to help people develop their inner resources. She has lead national and international seminars and tours focused on personal growth, dreams, feminine wisdom and spirituality. She is known for her unique ability to tame the inner critic and foster self-acceptance.  

How Our Relationship with Ourselves Impacts our Health

As a physician, I am a keen observer.  A good scientist observes what works, what doesn’t, as well as the outcomes of behaviors even when mechanisms seem elusive.  After 30 plus years of medical practice, I see common patterns underlying health and illness; patterns of thinking, feeling and behavior that have a powerful impact on how we live, why we get sick and how we can heal.  The level of meaning in one’s life affects one’s perspective and relationship to oneself, especially in times of stress and crisis. The search for meaning has been one of the most elusive yet important keys to happiness. It requires making a choice to live from this place.  I have often wondered why more of us don’t live from this perspective. If we did, our collective consciousness would be healthier, less violent, and more caring.

There is common ground among us humans.  We are creatures of habit. The vast majority of us resist change, align with the familiar and are not conscious of our relationship with ourselves.  We have all adapted to survive. We did this at the cost of our relationship to ourselves. How many people would choose growth and alignment with oneself over one’s relationships?  Often our relationships with others requires us to behave in ways they do, even if they are not healthy for us.  We become complicit with them at a cost to our health.  Pretty soon we live out of alignment with our inner guidance system and identify more with our adapted state than who we really are.  Given this survival-adaptation pattern, it is easy to see how our compromised relationship with ourselves can become the root cause of our illness. If our adapted choices normalize unhealthy diets, lack of self-care and materialism, we live from this thinking track.  Unlike parts of the world (1) where health, a connection to the natural world, and community is normalized, we place productivity above these values. Our self-worth has become based on materialism, even at the cost of how we really feel.  We currently live in a society which normalizes industrial food, denies a connection between food and health, and has little to no appreciation for balance and self-care. Our relationship to ourselves has been lost somewhere in the shuffle.

The most common excuse for lack of self-care that I hear is, “I have no time for me.”  We live in a culture where time spent not working at our job is seen as time wasted. How many times have I heard, “We are all going to die someday. If I get sick, I can be fixed by the medical system. I am happy just the way I am.”  It turns out we are not a very happy country. We rank 108/140 in the Happy Planet Index (2).  As far as our health is concerned, the US is the highest spender in healthcare (3) and the unhealthiest country in the world (4).  

In my opinion, the common denominator underneath these statistics boils down to our relationship with ourselves.  If we consider ourselves worthy of health, we would take the extra time to nourish ourselves, get regular exercise, seek meaning and limit our self-compromises.  In my practice, I offer simple yet powerful solutions that have yielded impressive results. A large majority of my patients have reversed their diseases, have more meaningful lives and have never been hospitalized.  

We have to develop a skill set and take the time to learn and understand how our choices have caused us to feel poorly or get sick.   When we begin to make healthier choices, we experience a different outcome and begin to feel more vital and reverse diseases. We can experience the inherent resilience and healing capacity of the body when we create a healthy body environment through changes in lifestyle. However, when we make healthy choices, we challenge our adaptations to unhealthy ones that have gained traction over time. It takes endurance to stay the course that reverses disease and restores our health.  This may sound simple, but this also sets off a cascade of tension in relationships we hold dear. We begin to uncover the complacency towards health underneath them. We come face to face with how we have adapted in these relationships. These are survival adaptations.  Challenging these make us feel vulnerable. So setting an intention to reclaim our health challenges us to live in the opposite direction of what is normalized which has traction and has led to our lethargy of living from a default position.

When seen this way, the majority of my patients choose health knowing that it will take courage and endurance to ‘swim upstream’.  Those who have experienced the brutality of our medical system for their chronic health conditions, never want to set foot in a hospital again.  Sometimes this is a great motivator itself. The pain of transformation is always less than the pain from complacency. Lifestyle becomes a series of conscious choices, arising from a desire to repair our relationship to ourselves and nourish and protect our bodies from the normalized perspective of our society. Most of the diseases in the U.S. are diseases of lifestyle (5).  Scientific evidence now shows that these can be reversed merely by the power of choosing to live differently.

It is startling to see how we are willing to compromise our health even for that which does not give us a sense of meaning.  If we have a positive relationship with ourselves, we would never compromise our health for our jobs, and we would have the courage to seek meaningful work.

So, before you stop at the fast-food drive-through, microwave a frozen food for dinner, or order a ‘take out’ from an unhealthy restaurant check in with yourself and see if saving time, taking a default position or adding unhealthy food to your body is what you are worthy of. If your answer is yes, you may want to consider healing your relationship to yourself. If your answer is ‘no’, you are the few Americans who will likely never get sick enough to be hospitalized and most likely will score higher on the happiness index (6). People who have healthy lifestyles (7) also exercise more and have more meaningful relationships.

How we choose to live effects not only us, but also people whose lives we touch.  This is the “Power of One”. If we want our society to be healthy, we must play our part in its transformation.  I would place healing our relationship to ourselves at the top of that list.

 

  1. https://www.bluezones.com/live-longer-better/#section-6
  2. http://happyplanetindex.org/countries/united-states-of-america
  3. http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2015/oct/us-health-care-from-a-global-perspective
  4. http://fortune.com/2016/11/17/health-care-us-survey/
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/index.htm
  6. https://apps.bluezones.com/en/happiness
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4703222/

 

©April 2018 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, 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

What Is the True Measure of Our Worth

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.  

If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

~The Gospel According to Thomas

 

We are all products of our imprinting.  We are imprinted by our family systems as well as society at large.  If our parents accepted society’s values and lived from them, our sense of worth becomes aligned with those values.  Society’s definition of success is based on the degree of money and social status a person has (extrinsic worth), rather than who they are (intrinsic worth).   If our relationship with our self is defined by extrinsic worth, based on how productive, popular, and rich we are; who we are does not hold as much value relative to how much we have.  According to this perspective of worth we can easily fall prey to compromising our intrinsic worth in favor of our extrinsic worth. Pretty soon, we find ourselves sacrificing time with our loved ones, our health, as well as what gives us meaning.  Society considers this a worthy sacrifice.

The vast majority of people I see in my medical practice have experienced this.  They tell me they are unable to find time to exercise, cook meals, attend to the needs of their bodies as well as their inner life.  After a while, these compromises begin to erode our relationship to ourselves. As meaning is lost, symptoms of depression and anxiety begin to surface. Loss of meaning is bad for our immune system.  It is the worst kind of stress. If our symptoms are medicated and suppressed, we grow numb to them and lose the incentive to attend to their cause. A feeling of emptiness ensues and life takes on what I call “an auto-pilot existence.”  Our alignment with external values usurps our sense of self-worth. This erodes our relationship to the deep Self.

This is an example of Pavlovian conditioning.  Pavlov discovered that when a bell was rung as dogs were given food, they associated the sound of the bell with food.  After a while, when the bell was rung, although food was not given, they began to salivate. The dogs associated the sound of the bell with food.  Like Pavlov’s dogs, we are imprinted with external values when we are rewarded for our performance that offers a promise of money or social status.  By the time we leave home, we associate success and self-worth with external values. A majority of people live out this Pavlovian life track only to discover a deep emptiness within by mid-life.  Our inner self is unimpressed with money and status. The only values that satisfies it are those which honor who we are, our authentic self. The rewards for this are meaning and integrity, which always tops this list.  

Midlife brings powerful shifts in the tectonic plates between extrinsic and intrinsic values and worth. The physiological and biochemical changes underway in the body also herald major shifts in the deep psyche.  Our instinct begins to tell us that something in our life is amiss. Through these shifts, we are offered a chance to redirect our focus from external to internal. If the inner stirring required for realignment to the deep self is not heeded, we risk learning through a crisis, in the form of an illness, a failed relationship, or some form of loss. This is meant to be the wake-up call that facilitates the possibility for correcting our relationship with ourselves by aligning with authenticity. Common symptoms in midlife such as anxiety, depression, disturbed sleep, and a feeling of emptiness evoke a call for an alignment with intrinsic worth, one based on meaning and integrity.  

I have seen tens of thousands of patients who have shared their inner knowing that the deepest cause of their symptoms is a lack of meaning.  They have achieved success by society’s standards, only to find that they have compromised their connection to their authentic Self to accomplish this. Many have stayed in abusive relationships both personally and professionally, to uphold a façade, the value system they are entrained to live from. No matter how many accolades they receive, the emptiness continues to surface. External validation is merely a weak substitute for intrinsic worth.  This must be attended to, especially in midlife.

Society’s definitions of success and worth promote patriarchal values. These are attained through competition, compromise, and a sacrifice of what really matters.  Health, balance, self-care, and authenticity are all aligned with the Feminine Principle. The collective is caught up in achieving recognition from patriarchy at the cost of the Feminine.  Fortunately during midlife we have the opportunity to shift priorities from the former to the latter.

During this midlife passage, our inner life takes precedence over the outer, no matter how much material success we may have. We must leave our early imprints behind and live from the call of the deep Self.  There is a feeling of comfort here, even though the journey is difficult, as we find ourselves leaving family and people behind who we adapted to in order to belong. What we belonged to is the collective normalization of patriarchal values.  What we are returning to is our deep authentic Self. The intent to live in this manner reorganizes the platform of our value system. We begin to detach from what is impermanent and shallow and connect with what is authentic and eternal.

If we are lucky, our life will not cooperate with external definitions.  When we begin to listen to the inner call, life shifts tracks leaving the outer for the inner.  What may be lacking in externally defined value, we gain in a sense of meaning. Living from meaning requires us to sacrifice extrinsic value for intrinsic worth.  At the end of the day, our alignment with meaning is all that matters. This reflects our alignment with our authentic self. Living this way restores our feeling of self-worth, even when society rejects our movement into authenticity.

When we align with the Feminine Principle in midlife, we can reclaim health and balance.  This brings a level of integrity and contentment that no amount of external validation can provide. This process requires courage and consciousness and is a form of transformation that Carl Jung termed individuation.  Individuation is a responsibility and a journey we must all accept. It is only then that we can live from a place of true worth.

 

©March2018 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, 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

An Antidote for These Patriarchal Times

Since the start of this year and all the chaos the patriarchy is causing, I am comforted by knowing what grounds and inspires me. A powerful antidote to the patriarchy is to nourish the Feminine.

What does that mean for a ‘sensitive’? (1)

I have known I was a sensitive since I was very young. It did not have a name, but I felt different. I felt more isolated, more removed from the norm; I couldn’t relate to people’s desire for money and power. I wasn’t jazzed by material things like most people. Poetry, color, beauty, and animals are what nourished me. I was fortunate to have grown up in India, a container of beauty and life itself for a sensitive, but the Feminine was not nourished there either — not in women. But it was palpable in the cultural energy, a paradox that left me lonely inside with a sense of what it was without an actual imprint in my psyche. The Feminine is hard to access when she is not modeled for us, or imprinted by parents, or normalized by culture.

We are all on our own right now, uncovering, discovering, and connecting to The Feminine part of ourselves in our own unique way. We feel connected and inspired when we feel it in each other as well. We can even feel this in our physical body – our breathing patterns change and we feel more settled and safe around people who are aligned with the Feminine Principle.  

This is what needs fanning — the glowing ember of Self that is deep inside, which glows for the most part, inconsistently, muffled by the voices of the ‘norm’ which are disconnected and out of touch with what is authentic and real. This ember needs to be set ablaze.

When I feel the need for solace (derived from the root, “solari,” meaning ‘to console’) in these times or anytime, I reach inside for what feels like ‘me’; the ‘me’ that has always shown up when the going gets rough, that is often hard to access, but is always courageously there in times of loss, separation, stress, or fear. Even if I can access this for a fleeting moment, it gives me the will to live again and to put one foot in front of the other.

Remember this part of you that is still here after all you have suffered, experienced, endured. This part of you is your true nature. If you can contact it, you can access the medicine that lives inside of you. Sometimes it requires you to be quiet, to be in nature, to be still, to enter the eye of the storm, or to breathe. It is the part that contains the ‘codes’ for your life’s path; the ‘why’ of being here. This is the most loyal part of you. It knows you by heart and it is your very faithful friend. It came in with you and will take you out. It is the authentic YOU.

Now more than ever, it is time to connect to this. This is the Feminine. She is calling you inside, to live her out into the world. She has powerful medicine that heals, restores, comforts and also consoles. She is where our true connections with each other lie.

Remember this today and maybe for a few minutes, tap into Her and feel what ‘me’ feels like for you.

I’ll be doing the same.

©Feb2018 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, 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

Link:

https://ommanicenter.com/are-you-a-sensitive/

Shining Our Light in the Darkness; The Power of the #MeToo Movement (1)

No one can deny that there is a large societal ‘upchuck’ going on. Our shadow material has reached its tipping point and our individual and collective psyches can no longer contain it. Is this because the patriarchal shadow is amplified by our so-called political leaders? Is it because of their unabashed expression of misogyny and disdain for the Earth, the environment and the Feminine Principle? We cannot deny the precision of the timing and truth telling of women (and men) who have been assaulted and harassed. We can only hold our secrets inside for so long. Eventually, they need to be spoken, to prevent the concretion of disease in the psyche and body, when held inside for too long.

I have always had a problem with society normalizing sexual misconduct. In fact, this has been a theme for me personally. I seized the opportunity to fight for women’s equality in a health care system, was abandoned for not normalizing and adapting to the status quo, and have also been the victim of sexual assault. I too have held these secrets due to the absence of safe space to release them. I have tried to express them in many ways to many people, but to little avail. The only way I have somewhat effectively found healing is to help others who have also been disempowered and assaulted, to hold space for them to find their voices and reclaim their power, as a way to prevent both myself and them from getting sick.

Sexual assault is only too common in our society. 1 in 3 women  are subjected to it. Our society does not have a container to protect, support or empower those who have been assaulted. Consequently, we have to bear these wounds alone. For women (and men) whose boundaries are violated, not speaking of this and not having a safe space to emote feels like being trapped in solitary confinement. This has always been considered the worst form of punishment. When left here alone, parts of the psyche begin to die off, and these dead zones spread like cracks traveling through glass and shut down healthy parts of the psyche that nurture and facilitate creativity, joy, and the animating principle that offers vitality and meaning to our life force.

This occurs as the result of adaptations we are conditioned to endure and live from. Adapting to our environment is an imperative that keeps us alive. It is associated with the fight-and-flight response, which certainly ensures survival. But adaptations to being mistreated or assaulted occur due to the absence of safe space for victims to express their shaming secrets. If when these secrets are revealed and are met with denial, discomfort or silence, the victim will have no choice but to adapt to what they experienced. In fact, very often victims of these crimes are pathologized. An example of this would be when the subject is changed as the victim attempts to tell their story. Denial is not uncommon for family members who remark that the victim may be exaggerating or confabulating their experience; this again, places them on the defensive. A common expectation is they will ‘get over’ what happened to them to maintain the status quo and normalize the closed system of the family’s dynamics. Many just look the other way, participating in the normalization of violence, reinforcing unhealthy adaptation by the victim.

A core context that Dr. Carl Jung explored was one of bringing one’s shadow to consciousness, what can also be termed as ‘shining the light in the darkness’. Without cleaning up our closets and telling our secrets, no real transformation can occur. Without transformation, there can be no hope for healing, liberation or restoration of health. When violations steep inside the psyche for too long, they gather energy in the shadow and begin to choke off a sense of meaning. Feeling function is impacted and the predatory parts of the psyche grow larger.

In one way, I am relieved that we have arrived at a time where the truth is beginning to rise up, and the need for authenticity is replacing unhealthy adaptation. The authentic Self sooner or later will begin to stir in the personal and collective psyche and the Feminine Principle will claim Her rightful place in the world. This process is what is currently underway. A cleansing and clearing are occurring which can only be done through honoring the truth of our experiences. Our culture must transform to one that stops normalizing the status quo. We must value what is authentic rather than illusory, balanced rather than patriarchal, respectful rather than misogynistic, truthful rather than secretive, and open rather than closed. In medicine we know that when an infection festers, it can become gangrenous and life-threatening It needs to be lanced and drained to allow the body to heal. This mechanism applies to the psyche as well.

This is also the first healthy step towards transformation.

As these stories of sexual assault began to break, my own wounds have begun to stir. As a person who is deeply committed to attending to my inner life, even I am experiencing renewed pain as collective truth-telling is releasing trapped shame and the horrific truth of my own experiences that have not seen the light of day for years. Yes, #MeToo.

As I break the cultural barriers of remaining silent and keeping secrets as well as being conditioned to adapt rather than to speak the truth, I find myself emerging as a part of a tribe of truth tellers who are rising up with the knowing that the time to heal has finally arrived.

I am hopeful that society will hold an authentic and safe space for those of us in need of it, so we can once and for all, end the cycle of unhealthy adaptation and normalization of abuse. Instead, we must speak our truth with the hope and intention of transforming the personal and collective shadow.

I am hopeful that this is the beginning of our reclamation of the Feminine Principle, much needed in our world right now to restore health and balance.

May 2018 be the year we begin our return to authenticity, truth, and transformation, thus creating a healthier and more connected society.

 

Amen

 

©Jan2018 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, 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)http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/the-metoo-movement-isnt-as-simple-as-you-think/article/2644186

2)http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/20/health/global-violence-women/index.html

3)https://www.amazon.com/Women-Who-Run-Wolves-Archetype/dp/0345409876

4)http://web.pdx.edu/~cbcm/CFS410U/FamilySystemsTheory.pdf

5)https://academyofideas.com/2015/12/carl-jung-and-the-shadow-the-hidden-power-of-our-dark-side/

6)https://ommanicenter.com/becoming-real/

7)https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/12/07/the-marginalized-voices-of-the-metoo-movement/?utm_term=.4c77ae3994cb

What Happened to the Spirit of Christmas?

 

Do you remember as recently as two decades ago how magical the holidays felt? I remember feeling an energy in the air. It wafted everywhere, in the streets, among people, even in stores. I called it ‘The Spirit of Christmas.’ Over the past many years, as we have become more progress and material-centric, that magical feeling, that ‘spirit’, has dissipated. Unless we make a conscious effort to incorporate it, it eludes us. Even then, it does not feel the way it used to.  The superficial feeling of the collective container feels out of alignment with the sacred energy we once cherished during the holiday season.

What happened to the ‘spirit’ of Christmas?  

As a physician, I have seen tens of thousands of people who have become sick due to the loss of meaning in their lives. Illness is merely a symbolic expression of the lack of this precise meaning. We have rejected the symbolic language of our body and replaced it with terms used mostly for war.  We say ‘our body betrays us,’ but our body never relates to us through betrayal. Our body only delivers us a precise message through symptoms. Our work is to understand the meaning behind these messages.  If we lack symbolic language, we fail to capture meaning and are left with merely our current language of fixing and war orientation. This is very common in healthcare today.  

The body is wise. It carries within it the ability to heal. This can be evoked when we seek to understand the meaning beneath our symptoms. I call this our ‘healing code’. Fixing symptoms is not the same as healing them.  With symbolic language, we can understand the precise causes underneath our symptoms and our probability of physical healing increases. In addition, life grows richer and more meaningful.  This perspective requires consciousness.  I seek this level of depth in all aspects of my life.  I call it the ‘spirit’ of my experience.  It has offered me healing, resilience, and assistance in widening the context of my experience of life, even in times of great suffering.

Over the past few decades, our society has moved further away from the path of meaning than ever before. Meaning is elusive and can only be accessed through intent. It is at the heart of the Feminine Principle, what Jung described (1) as the ‘Self’, the Soul or the ‘being’ state in both men and women. This is where our feelings lie.  Feelings are connectors to the Soul.  The ego and the rational mind is in the realm of the Masculine Principle.  It focuses on ‘doing’.  Our state of being must be balanced by ‘doing’ for us to feel whole. While living this way, we are both productive and creative. Resilience is a by-product of this balance. In this place of balance, both product and process are honored and valued.

Our society has assigned a disproportionate amount of value to money.  Money is a by-product of efficiency. Corporations look for ways to short-circuit process for efficiency, in order to generate profit. Today, a corporation’s success is only measured by its degree of profit.  People are seen merely as commodities for this agenda.  Their process is ignored.  They are deceived into aligning with these values that violate their own. This destroys their sense of meaning.  The corporations of Healthcare and Education are no exceptions to this way of functioning.  Physicians, patients, teachers, and students are sacrificed in the name of efficiency. The main goal of these corporations is product.  It is a mistaken assignment of value.  When process is short-circuited, the spirit of a vocation is cut off. We have all felt this. This is the root of work stress. This is where creativity no longer flows, and the sacred begins to die. This is also at the root of most of our illnesses today.   It is where the Feminine Principle has been sacrificed. Our bodies simply inform us of this through our symptoms. We are the one’s betraying it, not the other way around, as we have been led to believe.  

The spirit of Christmas is no different. Our feelings affect the collective. When we align with corporate values of materialism we cut ourselves off from the spirit of the season. We lose sight of what Christmas means. The sacred is replaced with the mundane and profane. Economy replaces community, materialism replaces feeling.

We must re-member the meaning of the holiday season. We must align with what is sacred. My husband and I recently decided to gift each other with experiences rather than stuff. We are no longer wrapping presents, using the holidays to support the economy or align with the stream of efficiency and product orientation. Our time is spent connecting with what is sacred – simplifying, minimizing, cooking, being, walking in nature, greeting the sunrise, practicing self-care. The Feminine is slow and deep. It restores our feeling of connection and comfort, health, and balance. We have decided to celebrate Christmas in a way that connects us with ancient wisdom (2) that our ancestors honored for over 25,000 years. The spirit of the ‘birth of the sun’ which is a metaphor for self-realization, enlightenment, and consciousness, is what this holiday is truly about.  Cultivating the sacred essence of this time is more important to us than any materialism that accompanies it. This is a time for reflection, for taking inner inventory, for purification and a re-commitment to continued consciousness.

I invite you to reflect on the meaning of this holiday season and to dive deep into the sacred essence of it. How can you participate in reviving the spirit of Christmas without getting caught up in efficiency or productivity at the cost of Soul/Self?  How can you reconnect to the Feminine values of sacredness and being, community and connection, commitment to process, and a more conscious life?

Maybe this Christmas can be a new beginning, a new tradition for us; one of renewal of our true values that are sacred and align us with our true nature, not product oriented corporations. Maybe together we can breathe new life into this season and awaken its sacred spirit, by honoring the sacred Feminine.  Maybe this can be the beginning of a spiritual renewal, a connection to the commitment and endurance required for transformation and a revival of the importance of community.

May you have a sacred Holiday.

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

(2)https://belsebuub.com/articles/the-spiritual-meaning-of-the-winter-solstice

©Dec 2017 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, 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