Ommani Center Blog

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

Success versus Fulfillment

All I have is a voice

To undo the folded lie

The romantic lie in the brain

In the lie of authority

Whose buildings grope the sky…

We must love one another or die

~W.H. Auden

 

Last week, a patient of mine asked me if I knew how Google rated me by the number of stars next to my name. She told me that Google did not give me five stars. I was surprised at her evaluation of me through the eyes of the ‘corporate standard’.  I asked her what her definition of success was.  She didn’t answer.  I told her, in my opinion, there was a big difference between success and fulfillment.  One can have both, but it is vitally important to be certain that one does not evaluate one’s worth through externally defined (patriarchal) ‘standards’ at the cost of fulfillment.  These standards are meaningless and without exception have failed to align people with fulfillment, meaning, and self-worth.  Besides, there is strong evidence of a poor correlation (1) between online physician ratings and the quality of care they provide.

How many people work in meaningless jobs to achieve a patriarchally defined standard of living?  The collective consciousness in our society has been born out of patriarchal values.  Its measure of success is defined by accumulated wealth, materialism, and the ability to adapt and comply with patriarchal principles without question.   Successful physicians are defined by our society as people who live in large homes, drive name brand cars, have full waiting rooms with sick patients, and are viewed as ‘team players’ by corporate health care.  When asked if they feel fulfilled by their work, a majority would say they don’t.(2)  Physician burnout is rising with the rate of depression and addiction (3) at an all-time high. (4) Sixty-nine percent of physicians with addiction problems revealed they used addictive substances to relieve stress and emotional pain.  

Nearly two decades ago I left the corporate medical system to create meaningful work for myself, and to serve my patients authentically.  For me, meaning as a physician included (and still does) the highest standard of care in medical expertise along with a deep commitment to restoring the health and wholeness through a context that deepens and enriches my patients lives.  As you can imagine, I do not see as many patients per day as employed physicians are required to, given the time it takes to work in this manner.  Consequently, I am able to take the time to bear witness to my patient’s lives and help them create a course for regaining their health and living more consciously. I take the time to have meaningful relationships with my patients.  

I made a conscious choice to sacrifice a large salary and benefits package offered by corporate health care for a practice that offers me a deep sense of meaning and fulfillment. I define my success as the restoration of physical, emotional, and mental health in my patients, not by merely covering their symptoms, but through the hard work of deep exploration of the cause(s) of their suffering, as well as by being their advocate, committed to their health and wholeness. Before embarking on this life’s path as a physician, I had to organize my priorities around what I felt held the deepest value for me, runaway profits or a commitment to my vocation.  By choosing the latter, I not only created a meaningful working life but a sustainable business which is debt free.

Imagine what our lives would be like if we all chose to work from a framework of love and meaning.  Our evaluation of success would not merely be based on the rational standards of patriarchy, we are imprinted to normalize.  The older we get, and the closer we move towards death, and the more we need to question what we have organized our sense of success or fulfillment around.  Does it feel aligned with our Soul’s calling or do we define our success from the society’s standards?  Have we compromised our sense of meaning for these so-called standards?

I believe much of our inner work in this life on Earth is about asking these very questions.  These are actually some of the questions that underlie many of our world’s religious systems.   We must ask these questions every day and live into the answers as Rainer Maria Rilke (5) so aptly stated.  It takes courage and sacrifice to live this way.  It is difficult to live this way.  It requires saying ‘yes’ to the suffering of transformation,(6) to leave the ways defined by society behind and to live from an alignment with our truth.  Many of us who have made this choice may not receive a ‘5 star’ review by the corporate measuring stick, but in the final analysis, it is our sense of fulfillment that keeps us and our patient’s health.  I believe with all my heart, that this standard is it the highest and most sacred one to live from.  

In the words of the Jungian analyst James Hollis:  “To become a person does not necessarily mean to be well adjusted, well adapted, approved of by others. It means to become who you are. We are meant to become more eccentric, more peculiar, more odd.  We are not meant just to fit in.  We are here to be different.  We are here to be the individual.”

Links:

(1)http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20170911/NEWS/170919992

(2)https://www.staffcare.com/physician-job-satisfaction-declining-new-survey-reveals/

(3)https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/806779-overview

(4)https://www.thedailybeast.com/american-doctors-are-killing-themselves-and-no-one-is-talking-about-it

(5)https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/717-be-patient-toward-all-that-is-unsolved-in-your-heart

(6)http://www.pacificapost.com/depth-psychological-approaches-to-suffering

Earth, Wind and Fire

 

This past month has shown us the power of the elements and our relative smallness in their wake.  With all the hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires in our country and around the world, many have experienced a tremendous loss of life and home. In these past few months we have all had the opportunity to gain perspective through these natural disasters. Anyone who has suffered a grave loss through a crisis or a life threatening illness will tell you that the hidden ‘gift’ offered by their experience was a shift in perspective and a deepened sense of meaning.  Meaning is intrinsic to all of us and shears away the extrinsic value of materialism.  Moving through a crisis requires us to align with our courage, bravery, strength, resilience, integrity, and community.

For me, midlife heralded enormous loss.  I remember praying hard and deep for months and years after my husband left me 12 years ago for another. My life had been decimated by a ‘hurricane’ that ravaged everything I was identified with as ‘me’. I lost my family, my savings, and nearly The Ommani Center and my home. I was left with massive acquired debt and a broken spirit, massive trauma, an inner and outer life in shambles.

I was on my knees, crying, wailing, non-stop for weeks and months, not knowing how I would make it, what I could do, ‘what I did to deserve this.’ A deep voice from within said, “Stop. These are not the right questions”. There are NO questions right now. Right now is a time of trusting in your resilience, your true nature, your essence, your deepest Soul-self that needs nothing more than tending. THIS IS TIME OF COMPLETE SURRENDER”.

This is what I feel we need to do in response to the ravage that Mother Nature has left in her wake. Her power is much greater than ours, by infinite proportions. We must gain perspective through this time and regain our reverence for the elements, the power, wisdom, and strength of the Natural Order of life. Often, life offers us its ‘awful grace’ as a call to transformation and reevaluation; to assess what is important and what holds truth and meaning.

Maybe the ‘lesson’ and the meaning in all of what is happening is to help us reconnect to our true nature, to our hearts, to compassion, and to awaken to the strength of community.  We must surrender our values that have been extrinsically identified with materialism, isolation, and disconnection.  There is no greater teacher than loss to show us that the manner in which we have been living is unsustainable.

We will rebuild, re-connect, re-awaken, re-new, and re-birth what the life/death/life cycle has brought to us time and again and especially in the days, weeks, months, and years that follow. We must collaborate through this.  Maybe this is the course correction we must undertake. We as a country and as a world are connected deeply with one another, regardless of political party, race, color, gender, or religion. We must awaken to this reality.

Let us seize this opportunity to achieve meaning and transformation.

We must rise like the phoenix from the ashes.

  ©Oct 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

Harvesting Our Truth

What happens to a person in your presence is more a matter of who you are than what you know

~Anonymous

Veritas, the Roman Goddess of Truth is said to be difficult to find. She is elusive and hides at the bottom of a holy well. She is the daughter of Saturn, the God of Time and Virtus, the Goddess of Bravery. Veritas can be likened to the truth of who we are; our True Nature or authentic self, by nature, elusive. It requires time, bravery, courage, and hard work to first uncover and live from this part of ourselves, a veritable life’s work.

The season of harvest can also be a time for making a commitment to ‘harvest’ our authentic self. This form of inner work is what Carl Jung termed individuation’. It is the most important, powerful and meaningful work in our lives to which we must consciously attend. I believe it is singularly why we are alive, and the only process that can make our lives intrinsically luminous and meaningful.  

In our society, we have confused the superficiality of our persona for who we really are. We have confused our identity with our roles, jobs, possessions, and friends.  When any of these fall away we may feel stressed, depressed or anxious. In fact, every part of our life except our authenticity is fleeting. If we are not aligned with this, we are faced with the threat of experiencing continual anguish due to the fleeting nature of our external reality.

Every time we cross a threshold that marks the life/death/life process, such as a birthday, graduation, relocation, marriage, empty-nest, retirement, loss, sickness, or death we are passing through a portal for individuation.  

Our culture does not have a context to mark these thresholds in more than a superficial way. Although we celebrate them, we do not assimilate the depth of their meaning into the fabric of our being. This is one of the reasons why people are lonely in our society, and why there is a disconnected feeling in our collective consciousness. We lack the consciousness of acknowledging the potential for transformation that these thresholds can facilitate. Each is an opportunity for aligning with our authentic self.   

In the past year, many of my patients have suffered extreme losses. The deaths of loved ones have been the most painful. Their sorrow has been compounded by the fact that they have had to travel the grief spiral alone.  They were left alone in their sorrow, overwhelmed by their emotions. I believe they needed to be held by others in their time of loss (as we all do). They were seeking context and meaning through these thresholds. Attempting to search for this alone can be overwhelming.  

The danger in not having a context or container through thresholds is getting stuck in grief.  It can be replete with anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, anger, hopelessness, or addictive behaviors.  A prescription drug cannot provide the comfort of another human being or a context for meaning. In fact, it can actually stunt our process and arrest the possibility of transforming through the threshold. Sadly, it is one of the only solutions that traditional medicine offers while grieving. We all know that this solution does not work, but it’s unfortunately normalized.  It is a meaningless substitute for the power of community and compassion.

Facebook and other social media (1) platforms have become global ways to show snippets of our persona. We are flooded by these snippets every day and think these snippets reflect who people really are.  Others seem better, luckier, more blessed, and wealthier than us. This trances us into confusing persona from authenticity. Social media can be a platform to share the truth, but this is not what is happening (2). It is actually isolating people further from each other.  It is debasing what is truly important and adding superficiality to our collective consciousness.

Individuation is hard work.  It feels like a death because the act of discriminating who we really are requires a death of who we think we are. Sometimes we are so vested in the latter, (our conditioned or adapted self) that we fight against transforming. Many organize their lives around the adapted self.  It often takes a crisis to create the portal for breakthrough.

It is time for us to create a container to offer assistance through the thresholds of life.  Our greatest impediment to not acknowledging the need to individuate is how we are conditioned to normalize the value we place on the persona. The truth of our True Nature, our authentic self, is elusive like the goddess Veritas. Eastern wisdom acknowledges the importance of living from here, and in midlife, we feel an urgency to seek a way back to this place within. Sometimes this is catalyzed by what we call a ‘midlife crisis’ when an illness, a loss, a divorce, or a trauma changes us unalterably and activates the seeker in us who seeks only for what is meaningful.  We must follow the truth that lives inside of us, beneath the expectations and projections of society. Living from here is also where our integrity lies.  

The process of individuation may be the precise antidote for our ailing time.

When we recognize the value of becoming authentic, we become seekers of our truth. We look for signs, recognize synchronicities (3) and look for guidance. We begin to live consciously in a state of ‘awakeness’. We slough off toxic relationships, meaningless jobs, attachments to materialism, and begin to live from joy, contentment, and meaning.  We also become authentically available to each other. This has intrinsic value. It is a powerful buffer from stress and evokes resilience. To access this authentic place requires consciousness.  It serves as a bridge between our egoic self and our True Nature.

So next time you feel overwhelmed by the state of the world, or stressed by events that lack intrinsic meaning, bring consciousness to who and what you authentically are and create an intention to align with your authentic self.

Discovering your True Nature will be your harvest and I promise you, you will never feel alone, or leave another alone again in their life’s journey.

Links:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/03/11/7-ways-to-value-yourself-beyond-social-media/#660a33b47b67
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-self-compassion/201703/mental-health-and-the-effects-social-media
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity

 

©Sept 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

Is Our Health Crisis Really a Crisis of Consciousness?

 

It’s another day at the office.  Sue, a 58 year old postmenopausal female patient wants to know why she has mental fog and a thickening waist.  Her skin is breaking out, hot flashes awaken her every night at 3 am leaving her tired and depressed for the day.  “I never thought getting old was going to be so hard,” she says.  She is no different than millions of Americans whose aging bodies are misshapen and minds are clouded.  Autoimmune diseases, obesity, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and dementia are on the rise.  Aging is not meant to be this hard.  How we treat our bodies is a key to aging well.  

We have been taught to believe that the body degenerates with age.  This may be the case, but Americans are ‘degenerating’ at warp speed with a growing number of symptoms we have normalized as connected with aging.  These symptoms are not a normal part of healthy aging.  In fact, telomere (1) research shows that even some adolescent children in America have the cell age of a 40-year-old.  What is common in both young and chronologically older Americans who experience degenerative symptoms is an unhealthy lifestyle.  Processed food and drink high in sugar and chemicals, regular alcohol intake (2) and a sedentary lifestyle are all ingredients for rapid aging.  Combine this with the toxic environment abundant in pesticides, (3) hormone disruptors (4), and carcinogens (5) it’s a wonder we make it to 50.  

I liken the human body to a ‘bio-machine’.  It is made up of trillions of cells that communicate with one another.  They require clean food to send clear messages and clean receptors to receive input that tells them what to do.  These comprise the ‘systems’ that run the body.  The abundant flora (6) that inhabits our gut runs the bio-machine like an intelligence factory.  It generates neurotransmitters that support and maintain the brain and nervous system. It also metabolizes hormones to help them work properly and shields the bloodstream from big proteins that turn on the immune system and inflammatory mechanisms when incorrectly filtered by the intestine.  What we put in our mouth has direct and long-term effects on these mechanisms.  When out of sync and dysregulated, they wreak havoc on the body and the mind.  Most of us have heard of the term, ‘leaky gut’.  This basically means the gut leaks digested proteins into the bloodstream that are not supposed to be filtered due to a disrupted bacterial biome in the intestine.  This disruption occurs with antibiotics, processed foods, food coloring, artificial sweeteners, synthetic medications, and also with stress and trauma.  This results in a moderate amount of inflammation affecting not only the body but the brain.  Leaky gut has been found to be the cause for autoimmune (7) and inflammatory disorders, food, and chemical sensitivities as well as a key causative mechanism in dementia (8) and even cancer (9).  When the immune system attacks unwelcome proteins in the bloodstream continuously due to leaky gut (10), it becomes dysregulated like a misfiring machine, resulting in chronic inflammation and brain fog, some of the symptoms that my patient Sue presented with.  

Fortunately, many poor lifestyle choices when corrected can reverse many of the diseases that destroy the quality of life of most Americans, eventually leading to their death.  

As we age, our bodies become more sensitive.  They crave balance, self-care, exercise, and last but not least, healthy organic food.  Creating this kind of environment for our bodies requires us to engage conscious intention and make conscious healthy choices.  When we do, a majority of chronic symptoms we have been told are degenerative can begin reversing within weeks.  Certain types of detoxification regimens can clean hormone disruptors from our receptors, restoring cellular communication and function, as well as aid in the restoration of our gut biome.  A well-balanced probiotic is an essential part of this restoration regimen.  (Not all probiotics can do this. Only consult a health care provider experienced in this field).   A plant based diet has been shown to increase oxygenation to tissues and including the heart within two weeks of starting it as shown by Dr. Esselstyn in his heart disease reversal study. (11)

The standard American diet (12) our society has normalized has proven to not work.  It accelerates degeneration and destroys the quality of life of most Americans who partake in it.  When my patients bring consciousness to their lifestyle choices and adopt those that have been scientifically proven to work, they are amazed as to how much better they feel. Their mental fog, emotional and mental symptoms, as well as skin disorders, begin to heal within weeks.  Their bodies begin to reshape, shedding excess pounds.  The happy results of my patient Sue’s lifestyle changes were no different. Within a week, her health transformed and 90 percent of her symptoms simply vanished.  Through her own experience, she discovered that when she engaged her previous unhealthy choices, her symptoms returned.

Our country’s consciousness is not focused on health.  It is focused instead on weight loss and quick fix diets that have been proven to only work for the short run, if at all.  If we can learn from history, and adopt lifestyles that have been proven to work,(13) we can begin the process of applying conscious choices to how we live.  Believe me, as an Internist, I was never taught that anything could reverse chronic illnesses.  My 30 years of clinical observation, has proven this to be faulty logic.  

Maybe it’s time we start applying what has already been shown to work (through scientific evidence) to our lifestyle choices rather than engaging ‘quick fix’ techniques for short term gain.  After all, we all want to age with an abundance of energy, vitality, and good health.  Maybe it’s time we transformed our thinking from degeneration to regeneration, and aligned consciousness to achieve this goal.

Our access to good health may actually be only a few conscious choices away.

Links:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3370421/
  2. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet
  3. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/pesticides/index.cfm
  4. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm
  5. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/cancer_and_the_environment_508.pdf
  6. https://ommanicenter.com/power-healthy-gut/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22109896
  8. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170210085532.htm
  9. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140404140407.htm
  10. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290747.php
  11. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=forks+over+knives+nitrous+oxide&view=detail&mid=A74C69229770A8C9C3D3A74C69229770A8C9C3D3&FORM=VIRE
  12. http://www.fundamentalsofhealth.com/sad1.htm
  13. https://bluezones.com/live-longer-better/#section-1

 

©Aug 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

 

A Reason to Rethink Public Opinion: Using Scientific Evidence to Reclaim Our Health

We have had three decades of variations in public opinion ranging from the Atkins diet to Paleo, low fat diet to high fat, South Beach to The Blood Type diet.  People are mostly confused.  These quick fixes have not worked. True scientists view evidence as a way to gauge success and failure based on data over time.  As a scientist, I can assuredly say that what public opinion has historically considered ‘healthy’ has failed miserably.  We are sicker, and more obese, tired, and more depressed than ever before in the history of the human race with sky rocketing rates of cancer and heart disease.  What has gone wrong?

I have been a physician for more than three decades.  Around the time I graduated from medical school, the nonfat, low-fat movement was well underway.  It resulted in mass blood sugar dysregulation and obesity.  Then Atkins came along to fix that.  It created heart disease and cancer and the same has been true for the Paleo diet.  The public grabs hold of these for their promised quick fix value leaving a trail of disease in its wake.  The body does not respond well to quick fixes.  Furthermore, the way we manipulate and treat our bodies in our culture reflects our adversarial relationship with it. The body has a tremendous capacity for healing, it has an innate wisdom and how it feels and looks is simply its response to how we  treat it. The body has natural rhythms and mechanisms that are intricate and interconnected and not understood very well by our medical system.  The body functions like a web of many moving parts, which communicate with one another and require alignment. It can sense exploitation, manipulation, shame, hatred, sadness, grief, and disdain. It also senses love, care, alignment, nourishment, community, collaboration, and joy.  Our body knows us by heart. It merely responds to whether it is nourished and supported by our behaviors towards it and our relationship with it.

I see the body as an information communication system.  It responds to what we feed it by gaining weight when we feed it foods that lack nourishment.  We call these ‘empty calories’.  It responds by being depressed when we don’t honor our feelings or try to deny or suppress them with medication or by pharmaceutically or surgically manipulating its natural cycles.  We have normalized this behavior for nearly 50 years. Our bodies have been informing us that this form of relationship doesn’t work.  The body needs to be treated as a sacred vehicle, one that has innate wisdom, far exceeding our egoic minds.  Our current relationship with our bodies is toxic.

Now, in my mid-fifties, I look back at the information my body has given me for nearly six decades and feel grateful for having begun listening to its call when I did in my twenties.  Growing up in India, where the body is adorned and fed healthful, beautiful, and nourishing food assisted a great deal; but I too had an adversarial relationship with my body.  The collective culture imprinted me as well to shame and disregard my body and I was no different than most of us in this manner.  But when I began to understand that my body had needs and I needed to serve it well so it could function in an optimal way, I stopped normalizing the dysfunctional way society and my medical training had imprinted me and began to heal my relationship with it.  When we function according to societal norms, we shut off our body’s signaling system.  We grow numb to it and eventually become ill due to our disconnection from our inner guidance system, taking guidance from societal norms.  I believe illness or dis-ease may be a way our bodies invite us to look deeper and live with more consciousness in our relationship to it.  Maybe illness or dis-ease is simply a result of our lack of consciousness.  When we align ourselves more consciously, we are able to listen to the subtle yet deeply powerful messages our bodies are continually giving us.  

All of my patients who have had life-threatening illnesses have felt these occurred as a call for them to become more conscious.  When we grow conscious through illness, we may even consider illness as having ‘healed’ us of our unconscious state.   Herein lays a powerful paradox.

When we normalize what the masses are doing, we get what the masses are getting.  Heart disease (1)and cancer (2) are now the number one killers in our country and they are both diseases of lifestyle.  Even if we have genes which predispose us to cancer, scientific evidence in the field of epigenetics (3) has unequivocally demonstrated that our conscious lifestyle choices can turn those genes off, unconscious ones can turn them on.  

Making conscious choices to reclaim our health is in fact a form of individuation (4).  When we separate or individuate from the ‘norm’ we find our own unique and often healthy path.  We are born to individuate.  It is the only way we can transform and reclaim our health.  Science has more than enough evidence to show that a plant based/Mediterranean diet is a time-tested way to live.  When the societal norms fill our minds with its varying opinions, they fly in the face of scientific evidence.  Ultimately the traction of society promotes complacency.  Life was never meant to be a quick fix.  It is meant to be a process that requires work, learning, growth, and individuation.  It requires our consciousness and attention.  It also requires us to explore what has been shown to work despite society’s pull in the opposite direction.  

Maybe reclaiming our health is not that complicated after all.  With a good dose of scientific evidence and a desire for consciousness, we can ultimately align ourselves with the wisdom of our bodies and support their powerful ability to heal.  Reclaiming our health may be as simple as that.

©July 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

Invoking the Sacred

 

We can all agree that Medicine is not what is used to be.  Public opinion has replaced scientific evidence, and in the current medical system, even science is not given the regard that is expected.  If it was, the traditional health care system would pay attention to the scientific evidence accumulated over decades, about the effects of food and lifestyle on many disease we suffer from today, including cancer, heart, and autoimmune diseases. The causal connection between gut flora and autoimmune diseases, dementia and mood disorders is still ignored and not clinically applied.  If the current medical system had any desire to grow and evolve with scientific evidence to benefit its patients, it would have transformed into a system committed to healing, not simply managing disease.  This would require expanding its context of how to view health and illness. It would need to pay attention to patients and their stories and explore their biographies.  This kind of more evolved system would value the relationship between physician and patient and change its fear based personality and vocabulary into an empowering one.  This is truly what the vocation of Medicine was meant to be.  In fact, expanding the context of approaching health and healing, illness and disease to further the healing of patients is required for the current system to survive.  It has moved so far away from its true vocation that burnout amongst physicians [1], [2], [3] and mistrust amongst patients has made the system sick. The lack of attention to the sacred is at the heart of this illness.  This is a kind of ‘heart disease’ of the system that has become chronic. The practice of medicine in corporate health care has separated from its true purpose.  A system that stagnates in this way and does not grow is termed a ‘closed system’.  In a closed system, there is resistance to growth, exploration, creativity, and wisdom.  The ‘status quo’ is maintained at all costs by recycling information through the same filter.  In the case of traditional medicine, that filter is disease management and quarterly profits.

A closed system does not have room for the sacred.  It squeezes it out of its modus and marches on with justifications for its course.  Actually, in health care today, the bottom line has replaced the sacred.  It has marginalized and amputated it out of the practice of medicine.  

The East offers a perspective that views wholeness as a complete circle.  The circle consists of two halves, Yin and Yang, dark and light, the Feminine and Masculine principles [4].  These are not related to gender but to qualities and characteristics with which we all function.  Both are present in each one of us. The Feminine Principle encompasses the realm of process, feeling, healing, being, listening, receiving, nurturing, nourishing, incubation, collaboration, non-rational, dreaming, imagination, mysterious, the sacred, and the cycles of nature.  The Masculine Principle is the realm of product, mental, fixing, doing, penetrating, competing, rational, and evident.  Emphasizing one more than the other creates imbalance.  Living from both restores wholeness.  Society glorifies the Masculine Principle over the Feminine.  We are rewarded for behaving from those characteristics.  The Feminine qualities are marginalized and not valued.  This is especially true in our medical system.  Our medical system is not whole.

Some of the symptoms of devaluing the Feminine Principle in society are burnout, stress, anxiety, ADD, depression, and a lack of meaning.  When we ignore the sacred, we feel a void, a scarcity, and compensate with materialism.  Our society has normalized this.  Our school curriculums cut funding for art and music (the Feminine Principle).  Our ‘health care’ system cuts into the doctor patient relationship (Feminine Principle). It is clear we value productivity or the bottom line (Masculine Principle), more than creativity, imagination, health, and relationship (Feminine Principle).  Nature also belongs in the realm of the Feminine Principle.  We are spending less time in nature than ever before.  We ignore and discount its wisdom.  When we separate from nature, we separate from our true nature.  We separate from the sacred.  We stop honoring the cycles of life, transformation, the life/death/life cycle, and live linearly.  In fact, we fear these cycles and try to suppress them.  Our medical system participates in this with many of the medications prescribed to suppress cycles, feelings, and signals from our true nature that we are not whole. The sacred is not even considered as important in our current fast paced and high tech world. This too has been normalized.  

I feel that most of the symptoms we suffer from today are a result of this separation from the sacred Feminine.  We no longer live in a sacred relationship with ourselves or each other.  This is the leading cause of mood disorders and unhealthy lifestyle choices.  These choices are driven unconsciously to compensate for this void.  Many of our chronic health issues are a direct result these compensations.  We eat more sugar, processed and fast foods and are disconnected from our feelings of fullness.  We are mostly in a trance and disconnected from our bodies.  Our minds dictate our behaviors and justify them. We begin to value what the collective does. Extrinsic values like money and progress are glorified at the cost of health.  All of these ways of living are symptoms of separation from the sacred, from intrinsic worth, and wholeness.  This separation creates unconsciousness, a kind of desecration of self.  Advertising relies on this.  Pretty soon we stop thinking for ourselves and follow the path of least resistance. We become gullible to normalized thinking.  We lose our individuality.  Over time, this way of life becomes difficult to change.  It usually takes a health or life crisis to get our attention, to return back to our conscious self, and to individuate, but sometimes even that does not jolt us into transforming.  

In my medical practice, I am acutely aware of the presence of the sacred.  Very early in my medical training, I realized this is really what I am here to serve.  The power of intention and the ability to create time for relationship creates sacred space. This is where the Masculine and Feminine Principles can be balanced to generate the best outcomes.   The balance of expertise and intuition, penetrating and uncovering, exploring and incubating, all are needed for healing.  When the sacred is invoked the true nature of healing is facilitated.  Scientific evidence is the tuning fork that keeps patients safe.  Used correctly, this balances the Feminine Principle with safety.  It is the best use of both the Masculine and Feminine Principles.  This truly serves the vocation of Medicine.  This is rarely present in medicine today. Holistic medicine marginalizes science and traditional medicine devalues wholism.  Balancing the Masculine with the Feminine Principles can heal both.

We can all bring the sacred into our lives at any moment.  When we invoke the sacred, we deepen our perspective and invoke meaning and mystery.  We open to growth and heal the status quo.  Invoking the sacred can heal the separation we have created with ourselves, as well as the separation that many of our systems have with their true purpose.  The sacred restores meaning, expands context, stretches imagination, and invokes the magic in life.  It facilitates creativity.  As the Oracle in Delphi stated, “Bidden or unbidden, God is present”.  For me, the felt sense of God is the experience of the sacred.  When we seek it, our life heals.  We must invoke the sacred in our lives every day.  It is the only way we can restore what is real, and live with meaning and purpose.  What each one of us invokes affects the whole.  Our consciousness affects the collective.

I invite you to invoke the sacred in your life.

©June 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

Links:

[1] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/838437_1

[2] https://www.thehappymd.com/blog/bid/295048/physician-burnout-why-its-not-a-fair-fight

[3] http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2017/03/28/physician-burnout-is-a-public-health-crisis-a-message-to-our-fellow-health-care-ceos/

[4] https://ommanicenter.com/becoming-real/

 

The Importance of Thyroid Balance

Many women suffer with thyroid imbalances that go unrecognized by the traditional medical system; leaving them tired and overweight with a significant decrease in mental clarity.   The patients I see with thyroid disorders are currently asking for more detailed information about this hormonal condition, and I thought it would be beneficial for me to update and write about thyroid imbalances and how, over the past two decades, I have provided treatment with overwhelming success.

The thyroid gland is situated at the base of the neck above the sternal notch.  It has a powerful purpose in the body, regulating metabolism and well-being.  A healthy thyroid provides energy, mental clarity, and mental health; as well as functional regulation of many body systems.  When the thyroid becomes sluggish, all of these functions are compromised.  It is not necessary to have a diagnosis of thyroid disease for it to not function optimally.  Thyroid hormone imbalance is common in midlife women as their hormones begin to shift.  In this article, I will focus on the imbalances of thyroid hormones in women.

The production of thyroid hormone is regulated by the pituitary gland that sits in the center of the brain.  The pituitary produces a variety of ‘stimulating’ hormones that stimulate all of the endocrine glands to produce their respective hormones.  The pituitary secretes Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, or TSH, to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones.  As thyroid hormone levels decline, the TSH level increases.  That increase stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormone.  The lower the thyroid hormone level, the higher the level of TSH; the higher the thyroid hormone level, the lower the level of TSH.  This is a negative feedback loop which, under normal conditions, maintains thyroid balance.  All hormones in the body are regulated in this manner through a negative feedback loop with the stimulating hormones.

A normal range for TSH (measured in the blood) listed by the laboratory is between 0.5 and 4.00.  As you can see, this range is fairly wide. A level of 4.0 is eight times greater than 0.5.  If a woman had a TSH level of 1 which over time increased to 4, this means her thyroid hormone production decreased eightfold necessitating an increase in TSH.  Most women feel poorly when thyroid levels drop and will complain of symptoms as described above, but since their TSH is within the ‘normal’ range, their complaints are usually disregarded by physicians.  A rising TSH level means the thyroid is becoming less efficient.  This is called thyroid insufficiency or thyroid resistance.

TSH stimulates the thyroid to produce thyroxine or T4.  Thyroxine has 4 iodine molecules.  It is converted to T3 (triiodothyronine) through a complex process of de-iodination where 1 iodine molecule is removed from T4.  A large percentage of both T4 and T3 exist bound to a protein, and a small percentage exists unbound or free.  The free hormones are the active hormones which perform the functions on which the body relies.  Free T3 regulates metabolism including fat metabolism, keeps the heart rate from slowing down or speeding up, maintains healthy skin, endurance, energy, regulates the sleep cycle, physical and mental well-being. The process of de-iodination of T4 is facilitated by progesterone, DHEA, several micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals like Selenium and Magnesium.  A healthy and clean diet rich in iodine, as well as estrogen and progesterone balance, is needed for proper thyroid function.

Why has thyroid imbalance reached unprecedented levels in our society?

In the Great Lakes area, the soil and water are deficient in iodine.  In addition, people nowadays eat genetically modified and processed foods, and sea salt (which lacks iodine); further lowering their body’s iodine levels. Iodine is needed to create thyroid hormones.  If iodine is low, the thyroid hormone production will be reduced, creating insufficiency or even a hypothyroid state.

Furthermore, when women’s hormones become imbalanced during peri-menopause in midlife, and progesterone levels begin to fall, the conversion of T4 to T3 is compromised.  In many women, DHEA levels also drop as the adrenals become stressed.  Stress hormones alone can affect thyroid hormone function, diverting the production of free T3 into reverse T3. Many women begin to feel sluggish, with thickening of their waists, muscle aches, and mental fog when this process occurs. This should prompt physicians to check a complete thyroid panel consisting of TSH, free T4, and free T3.  Doing so provides a more complete picture of a woman’s thyroid status.  The majority of doctors only check the TSH and a ‘reflex T4’ which only runs a free T4 level if/when the TSH is out of the normal range. If the thyroid panel is checked and the free T3 and T4 are in the mid-range with the TSH between 1 and 2, the cause of symptoms lies elsewhere.

In both my personal and professional experience, a rise in the TSH above 2.2 with a drop in the free T4 or free T3 to low normal levels should signal physicians to consider thyroid support or replacement.  If a woman is feeling more tired than usual, having difficulty losing weight, losing hair, experiencing a depressed mood or having sleep disturbances, she may need her diet cleaned up with the addition of iodine rich foods, or supplemental iodine. DHEA levels may need to be checked and dietary changes may be needed to provide her body with the micro and macro nutrients that support the thyroid, restoring its efficiency.  If a woman’s female hormones reflect estrogen dominance (low progesterone), this may be contributing to her thyroid insufficiency.  As progesterone levels drop, the conversion of T4 to T3 is negatively impacted.  Some women may require T3 replacement, if this is the case. Conventional T3 replacement is either the brand Cytomel or generic liothyronine. Conventional T4 is brand Synthroid or generic levothyroxine. If free T4 levels are low, she would need T4 replaced, if just free T3 is low, she may need T3 replaced (if other attempts to support the conversion are unsuccessful), and if both are low, she may need both replaced. For many, merely balancing the progesterone level with bio-identical progesterone may bring balance to the thyroid and restore the conversion of T4 to T3.  This would result in a normalization of the TSH to below 2.2 and the restoration of well-being.

Some women I see are prescribed Armour thyroid or Nature-Throid (porcine hormones) by their ‘holistic’ practitioners. Many prescribe it to help women lose weight. Many also prescribe high doses of Armour to treat symptoms of fatigue without checking blood levels of thyroid hormones.  Many women are over medicated with this practice.  It is very dangerous for anyone to be on hormones (natural or synthetic) without proper monitoring.  Armour and Nature-Throid are porcine hormones, not bio-identical to the human body and furthermore, the pigs these hormones are harvested from are fed GMO corn and raised in factory farms under inhumane conditions.  They have high levels of stress hormones in their bodies which impacts thyroid function.  I only prescribe these hormones on rare occasions when women are either allergic or intolerant of conventional thyroid hormones. It’s also important that there be close monitoring of their thyroid blood panel every 4 to 6 months once normal levels have been reached.  Armour thyroid and Nature-Throid stimulate T3 production at the cost of T4, and over time may suppress T4 creating an imbalance in the thyroid panel.  It is common to experience numerous side effects with these hormones, and in many cases, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, diarrhea, and insomnia.  They need to be used with caution and regular, careful, blood-level monitoring.

As we can surmise, a healthy thyroid gland is critical to our well-being.  Its function is complex and relies on a healthy diet, hormone balance, and healthy adrenal glands. Keeping the thyroid balanced is both an art and a science, and requires a physician to consider all of the factors and interrelationships between diet, lifestyle, and other hormones that collaborate with it to help the gland function efficiently.

So far, both traditional and holistic medicines have not succeeded in balancing thyroid hormones in the majority of midlife women. As Integrative Medicine engages scientific method, and considers the larger context that impacts thyroid function, this approach may be the answer to healing thyroid insufficiency and resistance more successfully than conventional or holistic methods alone.

©Oct 2015, May 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

Threads In A Tapestry

I returned from India a week ago after the ‘trip of a lifetime’.  I immigrated with my family to the United States 40 years ago and had been back home only once, in 1998.  This 2017 trip was extra special and carried with it a sacred intention – to realign who I am with my roots and my culture to create a platform I can live from for the rest of my life.  I was accompanied by my father, my husband, and my son; the three closest and most important men in my life.  The blessing of their presence was soul deep.

Returning back from the two-week immersion in India has left me somewhat speechless.  What I felt, and observed there was unexpected and profound.  I experienced an overwhelming connection with feminine energy.  The presence of the Feminine is, what I believe differentiates the Indian culture from ours in America.  Not only is India one of the oldest cultures in the world, it is very diverse with a history of migrations, invasions, assimilations, and integration.  Scores of languages are spoken there and every state has its own version of Indian food.  It is a culture with many facets and dimensions, yet there is cohesiveness, togetherness, and a unity beneath the diversity that defines it.  It reminds me of a tapestry where threads of many colors create a beautiful weave.

The tens of thousands of moments I experienced there filled my heart and my senses.  The beauty amidst the poverty was sublime.  I saw flashes of color in every neighborhood, colorful clothes hanging on clotheslines, children happily playing together, people gathered on a corner drinking chai at the same time every day.  It was nothing fancy, just a street corner under a tree with a gathering of friends, laughing and chatting for all to see. I saw hundreds of such street corners.  The joy of just being was palpable everywhere, even in the slums. The need for community and the appreciation of it was visible.  The feminine was also visible by how women adorned their bodies, draped with colorful clothing and jewelry that took my breath away.  The beauty of the architecture, much of it with intricate carvings, historical etchings and markings, and domes was also so markedly feminine. Our meals together became like a ritual, our senses infused with the smell of spices and flavors, bringing our consciousness to a deep sense of gratitude for the nourishment and healing present in the food.  The devotion in the temples, the gentleness and kindness of the people, the care and concern for each other, the celebration of life and death, the hospitality, and acceptance of all was powerful to experience.  Indian culture has been infused with this energy every day for centuries.

Coming back home to America was difficult.  I saw and felt a profound separation between people, from the moment we arrived at the customs counter in Chicago.  It was shockingly sad to experience the stark contrast of the palpable lack of joy, happiness, togetherness, or care for one another.  It took a few days to feel the full impact of the contrast between the exuding presence of the feminine in one culture and the stark absence of it in another.

Since my return, I have been thinking about how we can weave these feminine threads into the tapestry of our culture here in America.  How can we be authentically present for each other?  How do we bring a greater sense of value to the feminine aspects of who we are – collaboration, community, love, and respect with an emphasis on beauty?  How do we lessen the value we have placed on materialism in favor of the importance of time spent with meaning?  How do we find a rhythm that unites us in our diversity while addressing our need to matter to one another? 

As I align myself with my roots and create a renewed platform infused with the feminine that I experienced so deeply, I am committed to weaving these threads more consciously into the tapestry of my life.  I feel that these may be the very threads needed to heal Medicine’s torn tapestry that is threatening the very soul of our society.  Each one of us has the task of weaving our experience of the feminine into our lives and our world. 

I invite us all to seek the experiences, cultures, and moments every day that can inspire us to bring more beauty into our lives.  If we look for these consciously, we will no doubt experience them.

The task of healing may be as simple as becoming more conscious of the feminine present in the many moments of our lives. Each one of these threads we offer can weave a new tapestry of greater beauty and meaning for our lives and the culture we are always shaping.  This can also be a beautiful legacy for us to leave for our children and our future generations.

©April 2017 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