Ommani Center Blog

Eros As Medicine; A Solution For Our Collective Healing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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










Every Choice Matters


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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












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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We must, we must.

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

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

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

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


Where Then Shall We Begin to Reclaim our Health?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what is a good place for us to begin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

2014, Medial Press.

The Lost Art of Listening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Author of – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press.

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

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

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

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

What is going on?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please take this to heart.

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

Let us not let them die in vain.

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

Let us authentically be there for one another again.

We must all do our part.

Leaky Gut, Leaky Brain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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










©May, 2018, 2015 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI.    Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press.


How Our Relationship with Ourselves Impacts our Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

What Is the True Measure of Our Worth

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

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

~The Gospel According to Thomas


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


©March2018 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Website: Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife. 2011, 2014 Medial Press

An Antidote for These Patriarchal Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll be doing the same.

©Feb2018 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Website: Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife. 2011, 2014 Medial Press