Ommani Center Blog

Protect Your Brain – Encore

 

Did you know that one in two Americans who live to be 85 will get Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia?  That is correct, 1 in 2. After decades of research and errors in medical judgement about the causes of Alzheimer’s and pharmaceutical treatments which actually worsen dementia when stopped due to intolerable side effects, there is finally hope for preventing and reversing Alzheimer’s (dementia).  

We have been arriving at the answers slowly and questioning our theories about the causes of dementia.  Twenty years ago when I began seeing increasing numbers of patients with memory loss, I intuitively felt that inflammation was the likely cause.  I took inventory on patient’s lifestyle – their level of stress, exercise, and considered their food choices to learn if what they were eating could be causing inflammation.  Inflammation is not just localized to one part of the body. When present, it pervades the entire body and brain. What if a person was to change their diet, get more exercise, and learn relaxation techniques?  Could this help memory loss? Without any research evidence, merely from a medical intuitive sense, I began making these recommendations to my patients. Not only did it help their memory, it helped their overall health as well.  Now there is a compelling study with specific suggestions based on scientific research, many of which align with the recommendations I have made to my patients for nearly two decades. 

This study (1) has revolutionized how we view dementia, and what’s more, it has shown memory improvement in patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), but also Alzheimer’s disease.

 

If this is the case, why not use these recommendations to prevent dementia.  How many of us have noticed memory impairment in midlife, when we begin forgetting names of people, grocery lists, where we last placed our keys, or even words while in a conversation?  These are all signs of our changing brain and it feels scary to think we are headed down a degenerative path. These changes are actually normal for most people in midlife. As hormones shift and decrease, brain wiring also changes.  Neurotransmission is affected and recall is impaired. But for some (nearly 50%), this is just the beginning of what may be a progressive loss of memory. The longer a person has followed a lifestyle that is contrary to the one listed below, the more the blood brain barrier is impaired and neural cell death is underway.  Our lifestyle in the first half of our life does catch up with us in midlife and beyond. It is absolutely worth creating the lifestyle changes needed to protect our brain and prevent and reverse any progression of memory loss that may be underway. Some are predisposed to dementia through genetics, but research has shown that genetic expression (2) can remain switched-off or even be turned-off with positive lifestyle changes which heal the environment of our body. 

An increase in beta-amyloid in the synapse was found to be present in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.  Beta-amyloid was thought to be the cause of Alzheimer’s and is still considered to be an important contributor, but now we know that amyloid also plays a positive role in the body(3).  It protects the body from infections, repairs leaks in the blood-brain barrier, promotes recovery from injury, and regulates synaptic function.  It is only when beta amyloid production increases that it interferes with neuronal transmission as well as causes an important protein in the brain called tau protein, (4) to become toxic.  Toxic tau protein creates neurofibrillary tangles (5) in the brain, a pathognomonic finding in Alzheimer’s disease.  This affects neuronal function by interfering with neurotransmission. A leaky gut, inflammatory foods, insulin resistance, viral infections, toxins like copper and iron, and other heavy metals increase beta amyloid concentrations abnormally.  The following will increase beta amyloid abnormally in the brain:

  1. Inflammation
  2. Hormone imbalance
  3. Insulin resistance 
  4. Toxins  (increased copper to zinc ratio – reduced zinc is found prominently in patients who use Proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole (Prilosec, Protonix, Previcid, Nexium)

 

Insulin resistance is the single most important contributor to Alzheimer’s disease and progression.  (6)

 

Apo E (7) is a gene that we all carry.  Two alleles form the Apo E gene. One is inherited from our mother and one from our father.  There are three types of Apo E genes, Apo E2, E3 and E4.  

  1. E2, reduces risk of Alzheimer’s but increases risk of cardiovascular disease and cholesterol problems.  
  2.   E3 confers no increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  
  3.   E4 confers an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease especially if you inherit two E4 alleles,  one from each parent. 

Not to worry too much, though.  If you have one or two Apo E alleles, you may never get Alzheimer’s disease as long as you create an environment in your body that keeps the genes switched off as mentioned above.  This is called epigenetic regulation. The environment you create in your body has an impact on which genes are turned on or off.

Dr. Dale Bredesen in his landmark study (8) mentioned above, has created a protocol after trying it on patients with MCI and Alzheimer’s dementia, called Recode (9).  What he found is that patients with the Apo E4 gene can alter their amyloid load by making specific changes in their lifestyle.  

Biomarkers which have been shown to be correlated with dementia are:

  1. Elevated hs-crp due to sugar, processed carbohydrates, animal protein and increased levels of stress.  Keep level less than 1.0 mg/L 
  2. Elevated homocysteine (due to folate and b12 deficiency): The higher the level, the more rapidly the hippocampus and gray matter declines.  Keep level less than 7 mm/L
  3. Elevated insulin levels due to high intake of sugar and processed carbohydrates, and lack of    exercise contributing to insulin resistance. Insulin Degradation Enzyme (IDE) degrades insulin   as well as beta amyloid. When insulin levels are elevated, IDE favors insulin degradation over amyloid degradation thereby elevating levels of beta amyloid.  Keep level less than 5 ulU/ml

 

  • A1C level.  Increases with elevated blood glucose from diet and lack of exercise.  Keep level less than 5.6%
  • Low Vitamin D.  Keep level between 50 to 80 ng/ml
  • Low B12 level.  Keep level greater than 500 
  • High Copper to Zinc ratio: Keep ratio 1:1

 

  1. Hormonal imbalance: Optimal thyroid panel with TSH <2 and estrogen and progesterone balance in women and testosterone balance in men, including normal DHEA levels in both

Lifestyle changes that improve cognitive function, prevent dementia, and reverse Alzheimer’s:

  1. Eat a plant based/rich diet rich in color (antioxidants).
  2. Heal your leaky gut with the correct probiotics (10).
  3. Decrease to eliminate animal protein.
  4. Keep biomarkers optimal and add supplementation based on blood levels. 
  5. Stimulate ketosis (Do not eat any food for 12 hours after your last meal of the day to increase ketones (11) in the body and brain, which improves brain function and cognition).
  6. Exercise at least 20 min per day.  Start slow and increase your exercise tolerance till you are able to exercise daily.
  7. Reduce the fat load in your body.  Adipose tissue is highly inflammatory and is a risk factor for cognitive decline. 
  8. Add Omega 3 fish oil or DHA.  This has been shown to support brain health, memory issues, and mood.  In fact, it reverses cortisol (12) induced brain changes due to stress.  
  9. Reduce toxin exposure, keep your liver healthy and reboot it.  It is the most important detoxifier in your body. Eat foods like green leafy vegetables that chelate metals and reduce or eliminate your consumption of alcohol. Do detoxification cleanses, (13) periodically.
  10. Increase Vitamin E rich foods – nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.
  11. Manage your stress with assistance from professionals, meditation, and self-care.  

Knowing what we now know about the rising epidemic of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and how preventable it is, we must engage our consciousness and our knowledge base to create a healthy environment to protect our brain.  It is never too late to start, but we must.

It is imperative for our health and the health of our families and communities.  



©Nov,June 2019 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.

 

The Root of ALL Illness

How can there be a root cause to all illness?  Western Medicine is based on the premise that fixing symptoms in piecemeal ways with surgery and medications is good enough, that we do not need to explore the roots of illness, that fixing symptoms is the best we can do, that aberrations in biology and physiology lead to symptoms we define as illness.  As an example, recently Western medicine claims to have created a polypill (1) as the answer to heart disease prevention, deducing that conscious living and a heathy lifestyle can be bypassed, despite scientific evidence that has shown otherwise. This kind of pharmaceutically driven thinking perpetuates the complacency of our collective thinking, discouraging us from valuing the importance of making conscious choices.  This is an example of how our medical paradigm highjacks us from conscious living and authentic seeking. This is clearly not the path to health, meaning, wisdom, or authenticity.

For thousands of years, Eastern wisdom identified the root of illness as an imbalance in Prana or life force.  What does this really mean?  The English language does not have a word for body/mind, mind/body or energy/matter.  The very fact that these are two separate words indicates two parts, joined together. The body and mind, according to Eastern wisdom are actually a continuum.  The body is a denser expression of the mind, and the mind is within the body. The mind is the subtlest aspect of the body and the body the most tangible manifestation of the mind.(2) In Sanskrit, the word for this continuum is Prakriti.

For both physical and mental health (a healthy Prakriti), the body requires food high in vitality.  Given this awareness, one can deduce when the body is not well-nourished with organic, unprocessed, natural, and vibrant food its cells will become toxic and unhealthy. An organic plant based diet has historically been recommended by the non-Western world for cellular nourishment. The foods we have normalized in the West are far from this level of vitality. 

Similarly, when one’s thoughts and feelings are adapted to the values and thought patterns of the collective, the mind flowing through that body becomes turbulent and unhealthy.  For Prakriti to have health and balance, both aspects that make up the material and energy body, (3) (which are indistinguishable and interrelated) require us to make conscious choices, with an awareness of what facilitates our health at all levels.  We need to learn these skills to promote health and nourishment of our Prakriti. 

When this is not encouraged, as it is not in our society, a large majority of people are conditioned to follow the collective way of life by remaining unconscious and merely following what is normalized. This behavior adds to what spiritual teachers have called Maya or illusion.  Anything that is not authentic is of illusion. Illusion is not aligned with the truth of our being, even though it is normalized and accepted in society. When we confuse this with our truth, we engage in self-deception.  Over time, we must make incremental course corrections away from the collective mind set or we rob ourselves from experiencing our authenticity. If we cannot access this, we are unable to offer it to the world. This loss is what many regret towards the end of their lives.

Herein lie the roots of illness. If one’s Prakriti is not healthy, illness will result over time.

Which path would you consider choosing, the one of consciousness or the one of self-deception?  In the final analysis, health is a choice and a polypill of any kind, cannot replace a life that is lived consciously and authentically.   

 

©Sept2019 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.



REFUGEES OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE – A POP-UP EXHIBITION, COMES TO WISCONSIN

Dates:      

     Saturday/Sunday, September 21 & 22, 2019 

Times:

     Saturday – 11am until 3pm, Opening Reception 11-11:30AM seating is limited so book early 

     Sunday – 11:30AM until 3PM       

Place:

      The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, 1166 Quail Court, Suite 210, Pewaukee, WI 53072


Discover the impact and hidden truth about our global history in this audio-visual, pop-up exhibit. Refugees of the British Empire is sponsored by The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine and Dr. Mahendra Kumar, and designed by The 1947 Partition Archive. 

Learn about the little known, but largest mass refugee crisis that unfolded when the British Empire left India in 1947, directly from survivors and witnesses, many of whom are your own neighbors and friends. 

A $10 ticket is required and will support The 1947 Partition Archive. For more information please email ommani@ommanicenter.com 

To purchase tickets, sign up to volunteer or make donations in lieu click here  

 

Generational Trauma: An Emerging Science to Facilitate Deeper Healing

The past is never dead.  It is not even past. ~William Faulkner

I am the daughter of a Partition survivor.  The India/Pakistan Partition, marked on August 15, 

1947 brought with it freedom from 200 years of oppressive British Rule, but also a massacre of monumental proportions.  On the heels of World War II and the Jewish Holocaust, the Partition of 1947 went unacknowledged. Not only did 2 million people die in the largest mass migration in human history, the collateral damage and death from PTSD, shock, severe depression, anxiety, broken psyches, unspeakable grief and suicide has gone unaccounted.  

Now as survivors of the 1947 Partition are dying from old age, their stories are being archived by the 1947 Partition Archive  who is cataloguing details of what survivors went through and witnessed.  It has raised awareness of the important and thus far unacknowledged effects of the transmission of trauma in their offspring and beyond, an important field of scientific and psychological study now underway.  

Generational trauma is real.  The field of epigenetics proves this. Those who descended from parents, grandparents and beyond who survived war trauma, massacres, refugee camps, famines, or even singular extreme traumatic experiences, have had those trauma memories, symptoms and sensations transmitted through genes into our biology and feeling function.  

Dr. Shaili Jain, a psychiatrist and author of The Unspeakable Mind,  an expert in generational trauma states:

”The science of epigenetic refers to how PTSD may possibly alter the way genes express themselves in a trauma survivor and how such alterations can then be inherited by children on a cellular level and alter their neurons, brain molecules, neuroanatomy and genes.  These epigenetic changes are transmitted to children by a process called “intergenerational transmission” by having a negative impact on the parents’ sperm or egg quality or impacting the mother while she is pregnant. These children then carry the sorrows in their blood.”

Rachel Yehuda, PhD, a researcher of generational trauma has shown that the children of Holocaust survivors carry forth the emotional pain of their parents.  She has found evidence of this transmission in their DNA in gene FKBP5 and has found tags in one region of a gene associated with the regulation of stress hormones, known to be affected by trauma.  Her team found epigenetic tags on the same part of this gene in both Holocaust survivors and their offspring, the same correlation not found in any of the control group and their children.  

Since we live in a culture that denies emotions, where deep feeling is seen as a distraction or a weakness, when deep or amplified feelings arise in us they are pathologized, discounted, palliated, or denied perpetuating the cycle of continued transmission down the generations.  My sense from my own experience as a Partition survivor’s daughter is the transmission is amplified and surfaces in the biology, manifesting in the lives of the generational lineage. 

My childhood and adult life has been filled with repeated trauma.  How could it not be, as the first born child of a mother who at a mere age of 12, a Hindu in what became Pakistan, was displaced from her home in Pind Dadan Khan, to begin a new life in Hindu India.  She boarded a train with her parents and 3 siblings, only to be orphaned during an ambush that left the majority of passengers in her train dead and dismembered. She arrived at a refugee camp in New Delhi, with two younger siblings and tens of thousands of others who had suffered similar trauma, and from that day forward had to weave her way into a new and altered life. She carried within her, unspeakable grief, rage, dissociation, shock, PTSD, displacement and separation wounds, abandonment, sorrow, and a brokenness that only a survivor of this magnitude of trauma can understand.  As her first born, I have carried all of her emotions with an other-worldly amplification. My own life has been a series of traumatic experiences, first stemming from her relationship to me, then an amplification of all of her above-mentioned feelings, experienced in an intensely abusive marriage which left me with no choice but to transform my symptoms (and hers) to regain my will to live from a place of empowerment and meaning.

Since making a commitment to my difficult yet transformative journey, I have come to understand that my mother’s experience lived on in me for a promise of healing.   As I began my intense therapeutic work with my personal trauma nearly 2 decades ago, over time, I sensed that my healing was having a greater impact on more than my personal process.  It was healing the wounds in my maternal lineage. 

Even though my mother passed away unhealed  in 2016, I feel the profound importance of continuing my work of generational healing, for my ancestors, children, and grandchildren.  I have felt my deepest pain transform into meaning in what I can only describe as an alchemical process. I am now able to see how each feeling that was generated within me from precise forms of violence and abuse I suffered, were connected with the thread of what my mother suffered and was unable to heal.  This work is deeply sacred. The separation from Self that deep trauma causes can be healed. But it requires intentionality, consciousness, and professional guidance. My mother did not experience healing and transformation when she was alive, but my hope is that through my continued perseverance, her soul will find peace. 

As physicians, it would be important to expand our patient interviews to include a history of generational trauma.  It is an important and profoundly powerful context, which when addressed may be a key to healing deep suffering that our patients carry. 

As a tribute to those who perished and survived the 1947 Partition, an exhibit called, The Adarsh Kumar 1947 Partition Exhibit will be open to view in mid-September, 2019, at The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine.   This is a PopUp museum  organized in collaboration with  The 1947 Partition Archive  whose volunteers have been archiving interviews with living survivors, and whose intention is to bring world awareness to this monumental yet unrecognized event, and to heal the children and grandchildren of the survivors of the 1947 Partition.

What Do You Value?

“There is perhaps nothing worse than reaching the top of the ladder

and discovering that it is up against the wrong wall.” ~ Joseph Campbell

In the past few years, a significant number of my midlife patients have been questioning what they really value.  This is a key question that arises spontaneously in midlife when the felt value of external accomplishments, accumulated wealth, and material possessions begins to wane.  A need for a deeper purpose and meaning begins to arise from within, as the fleeting nature of materialism rises to the fore. In the past decade, a movement has been underway where many are purging their material possessions to feel lighter and freer with less rather than more stuff.

This movement is no surprise. It is a result of accomplishing what society defines as success and arriving here only to feel empty.  After the Great Depression, our society projected value and worth on owning material goods. My sense is this was a compensation for the scarcity experienced during World War II.  At this juncture in time, we are arriving at the conclusion that material possessions have no intrinsic value. They do not define self-worth and do not result in happiness, contentment or joy.  In fact, they often do the opposite. We are experiencing this paradox after 4 to 5 decades of working towards the acquisition of wealth only to question what we really value. 

When we are externally defined (as most of are prior to midlife), we get busy accomplishing our goal to gain financial security.  Once we have acquired enough money (1) to survive, more money does not increase our sense of worth. 

This is actually a sign of health.  Midlife heralds the questioning of external (material) values.  As many realize now, materiality does not help us align with our authentic Self,  it does not answer life’s deeper questions or satisfy our need for meaning. The ‘high’ we once felt while chasing material goals is no longer present at this stage of life and when it is felt, it is fleeting.  

Why is this?

Carl Jung defined the external/extrinsic set of values as Power, Prestige, Fame, and Fortune or PPFF.  The internal/intrinsic value system is not based on this. The inner platform is based on meaning, integrity and right relationship with one’s Self.  The Self, according to Jung, is the deeper and meaning seeking part of who we are. Religious traditions call this the Soul. The tension between extrinsic and intrinsic values, the ego and the Self, PPFF, and meaning is the struggle that midlife brings to the fore.  Since there is often family and societal inertia and momentum in favor of the PPFF side of the pole, holding the tension of the opposite, on the side of meaning, can be difficult. If one is able to hold the line on the side of meaning, there is an opportunity to transform into one’s authentic Self. This is the process of individuation (2), as defined by Jung, when awareness and commitment to intrinsic value occurs which is so strong that one can no longer be seduced by PPFF. This creates a powerful alignment with Self and also heals one’s relationship to oneself.  

When I left Corporate Medicine at age 37, I was terrified of how I would support myself and my family without being an employee of Corporate health care.  I was plagued with doubts about my ability to run a business and succeed on my own, with a vision which was in stark contrast to that of Corporate Medicine.  I had to do a great deal of Soul searching and align with my love of Medicine, people, and my desire to facilitate healing. I had to hold the tension between my vision for health care and society’s projections of what persona I was expected to embody as a physician (large salary, fancy car, the air of arrogance and superiority).  Over a 9 month period, I gained enough insight to realize that none of the outer values mattered to me. They were not important enough for me to compromise my vision of what I believed Medicine could be. What mattered to me most was my relationship to my patients and my passion to assist in their healing and growth. When I reached this point of clarity, the seduction of the PPFF values dissipated, and I made the choice to take a great financial and personal risk and create the model for health care that The Ommani Center (3) is today, nearly 19 years later.  I made these choices from integrity of purpose and my thirst for meaning which could not be swayed by the inertia of society’s external values.   When I stayed aligned with my commitment to integrity, my fear of failure dissipated. 

I surrendered to my sacred work and to the promise of living from meaning at the end of each day.  The paradoxical miracle was the creation of a sustainable business which resulted in a successful medical practice.  My vision and commitment to meaning carried me forward and drew patients who desired to heal and grow.  The mission of my practice is based on love, integrity, and service to the essence of what medicine stands for and I feel honored to be in sacred space with my patients every day.  

The tension that I had to hold between the external values of PPFF and my inner quest for meaning was very difficult.  It took a great deal of self-reflection and intense inner struggle against the inertia of PPFF from society to be able to feel and hear the voice of the Self.  Once I aligned with my inner voice and was unwilling to compromise meaning for external values, I knew there was no turning back. In a sustainable business model, there is no desire for runaway profit, just enough to sustain the business without overly stressing patients for financial growth.  Profit does not define me or my business. My commitment is to the health of my patients while being a cost effective model for health care. With this alignment, I feel liberated to stay committed to my work from a place of integrity of purpose.

This tension between intrinsic and extrinsic values is worth holding.  We must take our time to reflect on the contrast between true worth and projected worth.  This struggle is a worthy one. As we age, the intrinsic values of the Self become more important and necessary to serve.  Those who so serve, age gracefully and cultivate a presence that is contagious and wise. They add value to society and become role models for the generations that follow.  Arriving here requires us to choose meaning over PPFF, for when we do, we permit others to do the same.  

Links:

(1)http://money.com/money/5157625/ideal-income-study/

(2)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCIOI71neL0

(3)https://ommanicenter.com/

©July 2019 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.


When we are externally defined (as most of are prior to midlife), we get busy accomplishing our goal to gain financial security.  Once we have acquired enough money (1) to survive, more money does not increase our sense of worth. 

This is actually a sign of health.  Midlife heralds the questioning of external (material) values.  As many realize now, materiality does not help us align with our authentic Self,  it does not answer life’s deeper questions or satisfy our need for meaning. The ‘high’ we once felt while chasing material goals is no longer present at this stage of life and when it is felt, it is fleeting.  

Protect Your Brain

The Power of a Symbol: Notre Dame on Fire

“What is not brought to consciousness comes to us as fate” ~Carl Jung

By now everyone has seen the images of flames leaping from the iconic cathedral of Notre Dame. Notre Dame is an extraordinary symbol of the Feminine, dedicated to the Divine Mother Mary.  The Catholic Church commissioned Notre Dame to be built in the 1100s, a cathedral like no other in the heart of France. France is known to be one of the energetic vortexes of Feminine energy in the world.  Given the concentration of Feminine energy, we can surmise that Notre Dame (translated ‘Our Lady’) was a container of the Sacred Feminine. And, she caught fire.

People around the world were horrified by the images of the cathedral on fire.  Both women and men had body reactions to the images on television. Many cried, as though they lost something personal, as firefighters attempted to quell the flames.  

I was actually in Notre Dame exactly one week before she burned.  As I contemplate the timing of my visit there I am certain this was not random. I believe there was a precision and a meaning to my being there in the context of my personal process.  As I have been reclaiming and healing my feminine self, my symbolic life has been deeply synchronistic.

I cannot help but think of the symbolic meaning behind this burning as many others have. It is time for us to integrate the Feminine into our lives and our relationship with ourselves and others to make our world whole again.  

We are living in times that require us to undergo deep transformation as well as deep cleansing of old, outworn, adapted patterns.  The Power Principle or Patriarchy has been the dominant energy in our world for nearly 5000 years. The Power Principle is defined by domination and ego where intimidation and fear are used to manipulate others to capitulate to its rules.  Anyone who behaves in this manner functions from the values of Patriarchy. The Power Principle is not love or heart-centered. It perpetuates fear and is narcissistic. It is exploitative. Those who adapt to these behaviors and normalize them, unknowingly participate in the perpetuation of this archetype.  Our corporations, including our corporate medical system, have been functioning from Patriarchal values. Our broken systems are a testament to how destructive these are.

At the heart of the Power Principle lies fear.  Fear is never aligned with truth. Large corporations based on the Power Principle have been exploiting the earth and its people to meet their narcissistic and materialistic agendas.   As a collective, we have lost a deep part of our Soul, which embodies the qualities of the Feminine Principle. Examples of these qualities are collaboration, process, relatedness, love, feeling, being, balance, healing, non-rational, subconscious, creative, supportive, community oriented, non-material centered values.  How many of us live from these patterns? Our corporate models certainly do not support these qualities. We are conditioned to sacrifice these in favor of progress and materialism and an exploitative and narcissistic approach to life is thus normalized. In fact we are rewarded for behaving this way. Many call the impact of these compromises, “moral injury”.  Our collective has accepted moral injury as the price we must pay for progress and for ‘getting ahead’ and for survival. As a society, we have sacrificed the qualities of the Feminine Principle for personal gain.

Individually, the damage caused by these compromises manifests in our bodies and our lives in addictive behaviors, heart disease, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and even cancer.  One of the gravest symptoms caused by this way of behaving is a loss of meaning. In fact, this is the core etiology beneath most of our illnesses today.

We cannot ignore the fact that the wood that formed the scaffolding and pews in Notre Dame was obtained during the height of the Inquisition, during the 1100s a time when the Feminine values such as healing and soul alignment were under attack, and millions of women and men were burned at the stake. It is a compelling thought to wonder if there is a message here about what has to be burned away and cleansed.  What needs to be transformed and reclaimed? The spire toppling can also be viewed symbolically as the fall of the Power Principle. It is certainly food for thought.

When viewed from this context, I feel an urgency for all of us to return to wholeness and healing.  As a society, we are guilty for having normalized the desire for power at all costs. We need a course correction to become whole.  When we ignore the urgency to become whole, we invoke catalysts to awaken us so we can heal and rebalance our way of being with the qualities of the Feminine Principle.  

I would suggest that the burning of the cathedral of Notre Dame is one such catalyst. When a symbol of this magnitude catches fire, I would suggest that it is a call from ‘Our Lady’, the Feminine Principle, to return to what is of integrity, wholeness, and truth.  It is time to return to the Feminine values listed above, a clarion call for Soul retrieval.

The Divine Mother has appeared hundreds of times around the world for the past many centuries.  A well- known example is in Lourdes, France.(1)  Many state She has offered the same message in all appearances, ‘live from peace and love’.  Living this message is very hard work as it requires us to sacrifice our adaptions to the Power Principle and follow our deepest instincts for self-alignment and truth.  This requires a release of our adaptations and a reorganization of the platform we live from. I believe this is not a sentimental or superficial message for peace and love, but one that requires a collective reevaluation of the values we are currently living from.  This will require us to integrate the qualities of the Feminine Principle, so we no longer suffer moral injury and have the courage to conscientiously object to our adaptions to the Power Principle.

When we behave in these ways to reclaim ourselves, we will be one step closer to living from peace and healthy love and reclaiming the Soul of the world.  As the rabbinic teachings of Tikkun Olam teach us, our daily acts of kindness behaved from the above mentioned qualities can actually repair our collective Soul which has been injured by our adaptive behaviors over time.  

If we heed the powerful symbolic meaning of ‘Our Lady’ burning, we can invoke a more meaningful and conscious way of behaving, which I believe would be a powerful process of rebuilding our collective consciousness to form a new and meaningful platform for living alongside the actual brick and mortar used to rebuild the body of the cathedral.

As I reclaim my own alignment with the Feminine Principle and reflect on the timing of my presence in Notre Dame before she burned, I am inspired to continue the difficult yet necessary process of reframing and reclaiming the Sacred Feminine in my life and work, to be a role model and to ‘hold the line’ for healthy and authentic relatedness.  

It is the deepest and most sacred place I can live from.

I invite you to join me and together, it will be possible to repair the Soul of the world.  

Links:

(1)https://www.lourdes-france.org/

©May 2019 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.

The Courage to be Ourselves

Do you ever wonder why it is so difficult to be who we truly are?  

The first half of life is the platform where we are more vulnerable to external imprints (including our family of origin) than our inner voice.  If our family values money, prestige, and fame this is what we are imprinted to achieve. All through history, society has placed great emphasis on external values like those.  Notoriety, money, fame, high-end living, all become seductive goals for our egos. But these values are superficial and impermanent. Once achieved, their novelty wanes and a deeper emptiness surfaces.  We don’t have to go far to see wealthy and famous celebrities reveal the lack of meaning in their lives. From experience, we can conclude that money and fame are superficial values that run only skin deep.

For the first 14 years of our life, we receive parental imprints, first from our mothers, then our fathers. After that, the magnetic pattern of family and ‘familiarity’ is internally laid and we begin the next stage of ego development towards young adulthood into midlife.  Our inner guidance system begins communicating with us through discomfort when we make choices from imprinted patterns that run contrary to what we feel is right for us, our Authentic Self. Our body feels this split. This can present as symptoms of agitation or feeling ‘out of sorts’, and also anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance or even general malaise and fatigue, and other physical symptoms.

During the first half of our life, we adapt to the world around us, first to our families, then our peers, and society at large.  When we are young, our very survival depends upon our ability to adapt. However, adaptations that keep us alive are different from the adaptations that we feel may be necessary to preserve our loyalty to family patterns. Family patterns that are not in alignment with what feels right for us, when obeyed, can actually rupture our alignment with our Authentic Self.  This can damage our self-esteem, over time. For example, a gifted artist, rather than pursuing a life of creative expression and financial simplicity, may adapt to a family’s expectations to become an engineer or a doctor as their family may value a professional career over art. If they don’t pursue their passion for art, the split between their true nature and their adapted choices, over time, may begin to present as symptoms of depression or anxiety.  The lack of meaning in their professional life is clearly due to their adaption to family values versus pursuing what they love. In compromising intrinsic values for externally imposed ones, the tension between the Authentic and adapted Self results in their symptoms. These can only be healed by creating a course correction to pursue their passion in favor of a career that does not feed their sense of meaning. This can often mean risking abandonment by their family whose values they are rejecting over intrinsic ones.  This choice requires courage. A course correction like this is common in midlife.

The courage to be who we are is essential for us to live from a place of meaning.  We must be prepared to disappoint others in our quest to follow our bliss, our inner guidance system, and to live authentically.  This is difficult for most. Embedded in disappointing others is our fear of being rejected and abandoned. These are core fears that drive many of our adaptations in childhood to begin with.  They arise again in mid-life when our inner voice begins to remind us to live authentically. At this juncture, we must choose self-alignment over adapted choices. This requires sustained and enduring courage as we must face and transform these core fears in order to align with our inner self.  Of course this involves risk of losing relationships, but it is a risk worth taking to live from a place of meaning. If not seized in midlife, this opportunity for course correction becomes more difficult over time.

Pursuing who we really are and living from our Authentic Self can even heal the previous damage done to our self-esteem while pursuing external values in favor of intrinsic ones. The courage to align with our true nature rewards us not only with meaning, but also with healing.  

It greatly helps to understand this context, absent in our culture, and engage our courage to be who we are.  I believe this is the only way to recover true meaning in our lives. It is the deepest Medicine needed for healing ourselves and others.  It is also the threshold we must cross in midlife to earn the ability to mentor others.

©Apr2019 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.

The Heroes of Change

We have not even to risk the adventure alone
for the heroes of all time have gone before us.
The labyrinth is thoroughly known …
we have only to follow the thread of the hero path.
And where we had thought to find an abomination
we shall find a God.

And where we had thought to slay another
we shall slay ourselves.
Where we had thought to travel outwards
we shall come to the center of our own existence.
And where we had thought to be alone
we shall be with all the world.”

~ Joseph Campbell

Ever wonder why it is so hard to sustain change? For many, even thinking about change is difficult. But before any transformation can occur, the intention for change is needed. Change always precedes transformation and intent precedes change. Fear often arises when we intend change because change requires us to leave what is familiar. We often mistake familiarity for ‘belonging’. Our struggle then becomes one of choosing between familiarity (which we mistake for belonging) and transformation.

The root of familiarity is the Latin word familiaritatem which means intimacy or friendship. It is also the root of the word ‘family’. What is familiar carries the inertia of our history. Family is who we are imprinted to ‘belong’ to. This is where our behaviors and habits, likes and dislikes are imprinted. It is also where our conditioned self is born, supported, and reinforced. The thought of going against our conditioned or familial self causes us to feel guilty. It makes us feel like traitors in our family system.

At various thresholds in life, we feel a call from within to change or transform, to leave the familiar ways of being, to individuate (1) and align with our Authentic self, our True Nature. Since transformation is not valued or supported in our society, a majority of us ignore this call. It scares us to feel like we will undergo too great of a loss if we heed it. For example, if we are locked in an unhealthy relationship and feel this call, it is frightening to think of leaving the relationship to venture into unknown, unfamiliar territory. In extreme cases like abusive relationships, the abused partner often chooses to suffer abuse rather than leave the relationship due to their conditioning which is organized around unhealthy patterns. Many of these are imprinted from their family of origin, and leaving them feels like a betrayal of the family itself.

The call to transform always brings us to the threshold of the unknown, the unfamiliar. It is no wonder people seek familiarity. Who wants to not ‘belong’? But we must ask ourselves, ‘belong to what?’ The desire to belong sometimes blinds us from our individuality and leads us to the ‘herd’ or the collective, where we feel safer to continue as we are, with normalized behaviors. We mistake collective complacency with belonging. Over time, we may lose our individuality and connection with our True Nature in favor of the collective. In this way, we allow society to do our thinking and decision making. This is the grave price we pay when we ignore the call to transform.

It takes courage to leave the familiar and venture into the unknown. At certain stages of life, we must engage our courage so we can deepen and align with our True Nature, what Jung called the Self (2). This always requires leaving what is familiar. If we don’t, a kind of rot sets in. It can feel like a vacancy, an emptiness, or a deep loneliness of being. Most commonly in midlife, not heeding the call to transform (or individuate) can even beckon diseases of the body and mind as a manifestation of this ‘rot’. The familiar, at this stage of life, begins to harm us.

The ultimate harm of maintaining what is familiar is the loss of meaning. We live in a society where meaninglessness is felt in epidemic proportions. In fact, it is at the root of our mental and physical distress, and also the root of our collective Soul loss, which we all feel. This is also at the root of the epidemic of depression, anxiety, violence, and loneliness. It manifests in compensatory behaviors we normalize and glorify: goal orientation, rational thinking, materialism, consumerism, fame, notoriety and achieving social status to name a few. These are all persona based values which are impermanent and fleeting. The price we pay for valuing these is a disconnection from our feeling function in addition to relatedness, collaboration, love and a sense of belonging. Meaning can only be evoked from the latter list, and does not subscribe to any level of materiality or rationalism. In fact, around the midlife threshold, chasing the material, rational and the familiar begins to feel like a burden, inviting the rot of meaninglessness mentioned earlier.

I see the intent for change and transformation from what is familiar to unfamiliar as the ‘Hero’s Journey.’ For a majority of us, the familiar is unhealthy. It is no small feat to want health, to leave dysfunction behind and to work towards healing. We are called to make the familiar unfamiliar and the unfamiliar familiar in midlife. This requires immense courage and heroism to be willing to leave familiarity for the unknown, for a promise of health and healing. This departure requires courage because this indeed is an act of faith; the familiar no longer works for us yet the new is not yet in view. For those of you who have stepped onto this terrain, you know how frightening and humbling it can feel.

The choice to transform can begin with making small changes towards health. For example, choosing to make healthy substitutions in meals, dropping alcohol, adding exercise, getting in touch with acknowledging one’s grief or a readiness to be honest with oneself can be the starting point for transformation. These choices may seem insignificant, but they stir the soul. They begin to push the envelope of familiarity and open the door into uncharted territory. We are fortunate to be able to be guided by evidence that shows that choices like these promote health. Even one small choice towards change shifts the way our life has been organized up until that moment and activates the Hero within. Sometimes, the insight that awakens us to no longer settle for the status quo can also activate our Hero’s Journey. When we long for meaning, health, wholeness and for a deeper way to live, our soul hears us. Our initial intention may seem small, but opening this door takes us onto sacred and powerful ground.

I am honored to celebrate choices like these my patients make every day and feel privileged to hold space and encourage them on their path towards health. In my nearly three decades of medical practice, I have never seen anyone fail when these choices are made from a sincere desire to heal.

Even though transformation is a solitary yet sacred journey, once we step onto that platform we meet many others who become sources of support and encouragement along this path. They have already traversed the territory that is uncharted and frightening for us. Here, we find our individuated mentors, who support us forward onto our deeper platform in search of meaning.

We must say ‘yes’ to the inner call to transform, whenever it may arrive. The choice is ultimately ours to make, but the journey is both individual and collective. Every choice made with courage from the intent to heal inspires others to do the same. When we choose transformation, we bring value to this process, normalizing it rather than complacency. This begins to heal the state of Soul loss in our communities and society at large.

We must step on to this sacred path of transformation and individuate. Only then can we find authenticity and meaning in our lives.

I dedicate this article to my patients, my heroes of change, who inspire me every day in the sacred space of my practice with their courage to heal. Together, we add meaning to the Soul of the collective and also to the practice of Medicine which has tragically lost its way.

©Mar2019 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.