Ommani Center Blog

Vulnerability

Being vulnerable is what makes us human.

It makes us REAL.

It is also good medicine.

This is what our patients feel.

We must also feel it so we can stay connected through our hearts.

Connection is the only REAL experience we have on EARTH.

It contains within it the most powerful force for healing –

the most powerful Medicine there is.

We must all make an effort to connect in REAL ways every day so we remain in our hearts

and in LOVE.

The world needs more of this.

Imagine our world in LOVE.

http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

What it Feels Like to BE with My Patients

Today I was thinking about the animating force in my body, in all our bodies, in life itself.  This animating force is SOUL.

Rumi says from the moment we are born, our soul is seeking union with Source.  This is the driving force of seekers.  I feel that the closest we can connect to Source in this life is through LOVE.  Music, poetry and art are all ways that come close to feeling the energy of Soul and connection with Source.  Another way to feel it is with people we love.  When I am with my patients, I always feel it.

I began feeling this sensation in my heart early on in my career.  It felt like the bliss of union, of connection and resonance.  It brought with it joy and lightness of being within me – a numinosity.  The moments I spent and still spend with my patients are indescribable, priceless and timeless.  These moments of soulful union are blessings in my life.

It feels something like this – “we are both here in this sacred space together, connected in a ‘soul contract’ to explore and seek a path to healing and wholeness.”

I can say that there is no other feeling quite like this one.  Maybe I can venture to say that it emerges from a portal in my heart that flows from my Life’s Work.  I don’t quite have the words to express what it feels like inside of me to be with my patients. Maybe BLISS is the best descriptor. Of course bliss is borne from LOVE.  Love flows from Soul as it seeks union with Source.  Being with my patients connects me to Source.

I am sure many other physicians feel this way; at least I hope they do.

 

Are You a ‘Sensitive’ ?

They are termed ‘sensitives’ – people that feel to the depth that the ‘norm’ doesn’t.  They tend to be pathologized by others for their depth of feeling and also tend to pathologize themselves for it as feeling deeply is not acceptable in our society.  They have difficulty being around crowds, injustice, violence, and loud sensory stimulation.  They feel the collective energy deep in their souls.  They are deeply empathic.  I am a sensitive.  Are you?
The title of the link claims that we are ‘too’ sensitive.  I disagree with this.  Our world is not sensitive enough.  Maybe that is why the state of the world is in chaos and disarray.  Maybe if more of us ‘sensitives’ set the tone for the world, it would be a more peaceful place where art and beauty are valued more than they presently are.

http://www.rebellesociety.com/2013/05/06/6-sweet-survival-tips-for-super-sensitive-souls/

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/ten-ways-to-find-out-if-you-are-too-sensitive/

Meaning and Medicine

Rachel Remen was my first mentor who inspired my life’s work to create a medical clinic prototype whose core essence is to heal and explore causal issues underneath illness. The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, www.ommanicenter.com, is an integrative, high standard of care model which has preserved the soul of medicine without compromising expertise or scientific method. Both are possible and work more effectively than expertise at the cost of soul that is encouraged in corporate health care today.
Thank you for writing this article. It is enlightening and inspiring and very personal for me as an internist who cares about the meaning of my work.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/medicines-search-for-meaning/?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Poetry for Dementia Patients

As a poet myself, I have been changed by the poem as it comes through my heart onto the page.  It carries its own power and magic.  I am not surprised at the healing power of poetry for dementia.  Art is medicine.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment/july-dec13/poetry_09-12.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=pbsofficial&utm_campaign=newshour

Midlife as Alchemy

What is Midlife? What is Menopause? What is at stake?
What is our Conditioned-Self?  What is our Authentic-Self? How do they differ?
In my 22 year history as a physician who has worked with thousands of brave and courageous men and women with stories of wounding, suffering and healing, I can say that I have been able to identify the differences between these selves and the intrinsic power that emerges when one leaves the Conditioned for the Authentic Self.  The Conditioned-self is who you were told you SHOULD BE. The Authentic-Self is WHO YOU ARE.   For the first half of our lives, the Authentic-Self is buried beneath the Conditioned.  In the second half, we must re-emerge Authentic.
There is a powerful shift that occurs in midlife when our physiology and soul intersect at this gateway to make room for the REAL to emerge.  This creates a felt space between the Conditioned and Authentic selves.  The traction of the conditioned one pulls at us, urging us to behave from familiarity based in FEAR.  All the ‘shoulds’ fear us into staying stuck.  Fear is the feeling that adapts us in the first half of our lives.  We adapt to be accepted.  Adaptation conditions us. It creates a shell around our Authentic –self that waits patiently for us to awaken.  We learn to withhold our truth; we say ‘yes’ when we want to say ‘NO’. We over-ride our true feelings to be accepted and loved.  For decades we live this way.  We construct our lives from choices that emerge through our conditioning.  We become part of society’s ‘herd’.   We normalize this identity and close our eyes.
When we turn 40, something changes.  A soft whisper fleets through our body and mind, suddenly with no warning.  Sometimes we don’t really hear it, sometimes we try not to.  It beckons us to awaken, to bring LIGHT to our choices.  It says, ‘Who are you really?’  This frightens us.  If we don’t listen, it moves in deeper, rises stronger – as fire, as density -anxiety, depression –in our bellies, pulling us in.  We begin to sweat, to hot-flash; we awaken at 3 am with minds racing and fear coursing in this unknown place.  In the middle of the dark rises a whisper of comfort, the voice of our Soul pulling us in – to connect, to open, to awaken and deliver us finally to our Voice and our Truth.
If we do not listen, it may call to us as cancer, divorce, tragedy, devastation, that forces us inward to evaluate, deconstruct and  make ourselves new.
All this sorting and sifting, transforming and reinventing – THIS is midlife.
This is menopause.
This is not a sickness or a  deficiency. This is NOT a pathology.
This can NOT be medicated away.
This is HERE to stay and it will offer us the fire of alchemy into which we must step to make ourselves WHOLE.
The voice of the Authentic-Self will rise from ashes of the conditioned one as adaptations fall into the fire to be transformed.  If we willingly lean into this, our voice will emerge – FINALLY- the TRUE voice we will use to heal the world.
We will spread our wings and fly out from this fire into life again with wisdom and an inner eye that can never be closed.

The Hippocratic Oath is NOT Served by the Corporate Healthcare System

This is the oath physicians honor when they graduate from medical school.
This is the oath that I have served since I graduated 30 years ago, that I hold sacred and expect the healthcare system to also serve.
I also expect all hospital administrators to remember that this is the oath that they serve, not the policies that are based on power and greed.
Employed physicians are unable to serve patients from this oath when administrators that control them have an agenda that is not in alignment with the Hippocratic oath.

THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH (modern version)

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

—Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/02/who-will-heal-the-doctors/

The Dark Side of Healthcare

Most people don’t realize what it is like to maintain a private practice in today’s health care climate.  I applaud and honor any physician who has the courage and audacity to do so.  As a private practitioner myself, I know and love the challenges of growing and maintaining a medical practice.  I know what it takes to swim upstream and settle for a fraction of what employed physicians get paid.  The trade-off they make is a large salary with little to no freedom to work from the soul.  They work for a system that is heartless and expects them to meet quarterly projections.  Many physicians feel trapped by the organizational limitations placed upon them, but have difficulty leaving to work independently.

It would be accurate to say that private practitioners belong to a sacred tribe, one that is preserving the heart and soul of Medicine.  I have experienced being an employed physician long enough to know that the heart and soul of medicine are absent in corporate health care.  After 6 years of practicing in that setting, I left that system and have never looked back.  I remember the immense initial adjustment this took. I had to rearrange my definition of success and put meaning in the forefront.  I remember feeling the tension between the financial freedom that being an employed physician offered versus the financial stresses of being in private practice. I also remembered the tension between what the ‘system’ expected of me –patient numbers- and my longing to be able to truly connect with my patients – a sense of meaning.  I opted for the latter, sacrificing the former.  The payoff was priceless.  15 years later, I can’t imagine working any other way.  My life is simple and sustainable.  My medical practice also operates from a model of sustainability.  Most importantly, I don’t work for the medical system’s financial projections.  I work to serve my patients, the vocation of medicine and the health of my community.

Two decades ago, our medical system embodied the scientific method, valued the doctor-patient relationship and practiced from soul.  Today, money and profit is what health care is serving.  Neither health nor care is its goal.  It is a ‘sick care’ system that manages symptoms in the ‘name of health care’.  The scientific method has fallen by the wayside.  Health care today has become a ‘closed system’ where even scientific evidence of harm is sidestepped in the name of profit.  Preventive medicine is a conflict of interest for this model.  Symptom management does not involve patient education, lifestyle change, patient responsibility or healing.  It involves using prescription drugs to manage symptoms.

Today’s health care consumer is waking up to the reality of this dark side of health care.  When people experience the lack of care from their physician who practices under pressure within a corporate health care system, they look elsewhere for a doctor who can take the time to problem solve with them.  Many people want more than what the current distortion of healthcare is offering. They want to learn what made them sick, how to heal, how to stay healthy and how to live consciously.  This is what patients, the consumers of health care, deserve.

One of the biggest crises in America today is the contamination of our food supply by the food industry.  We are all discovering that the large corporations running our food industry are no different than the pharmaceutical industry.  Our food supply is contaminated with hybridized plants, chemicals, pesticides and additives. If food is medicine, eating these foods is making us sick.  The incidence of food related illnesses in our country has skyrocketed.  The medical systems answer to this is pharmaceutical management.  Today’s medical paradigm still does not see the connection between food and health.  One broken system supports another.

The solution to this seemingly insurmountable problem is already underway.  A critical mass of people is formed and demanding change.  They are simplifying their diets.  They are eliminating chemicals and processed foods from their grocery lists.  They are eating clean, organic and local foods. They are living more in harmony with nature.  They are making choices to promote health.  They are discovering that many of their diseases are diseases of lifestyle; that the body is more resilient and regenerative than they have been led to believe.

Healing and transformation require work.  As adults, we must recognize that our choices will determine the kind of world in which our children will live.  We must do the good and hard work of creating a shift in our current societal paradigm.  Society and all of its systems are currently broken.  They have gotten so far off course that the lack of soul is palpable within them.  But I and many others, who refuse to compromise health and meaning in favor of money, are changing the organizational sickness by serving what is important and real.  I encourage all of you to see through the illusion of our health care system, demand the kind of care that you rightfully deserve and do the hard work required to restore the soul of our world by making personal choices for health and healing without compromise.  It is the only solution for correcting our collective course and restoring wholeness to our personal and collective lives.

As Margaret Meade said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

We are those people.  This is our time.

The Need to Transform the Existing System of Healthcare

There is a movement underfoot in our country that is provocative and exposing. Our shadow is up and it is unraveling itself in all of our institutions. When I left the medical system at age 36, I did so because the corporate intent that I was expected to enable – sick care, felt ‘unethical’ to me. Sick care was not what I was trained to serve. It was not what my heart and soul went into medicine for. But it was required of me by the medical system to generate profit. I was required to keep people sick in order to keep my job.

Deep inside, I knew I was a problem solver. This is what I loved about Internal Medicine. I wanted to uncover the causes of symptoms and ease suffering by working with people to figure out the causes for their illness and how to tap into it to find solutions with them. If our premise is that life is full of precision, then we should be able to figure out the purpose and meaning behind our symptoms and suffering. Our suffering can also help us become real. It has an alchemical effect on our ego that strips it from being ‘all knowing’ to becoming a student of life.

I love medicine. It excites me and it stimulates my thinking at many levels. As physicians, we need to use our knowledge from a context that serves the vocation of medicine.  We also need to use it responsibly and humanistically. This is what we have lost and must regain in health care today. We must open the currently closed system of medicine while maintaining a high standard-of-care. An open system grows and evolves.  A closed system stays stagnant and is based in fear.  Today’s health care system uses fear to keep patients coming.  Its revenue depends on this.

An open system will of medicine is cost effective and patient centered. Its context examines what is wrong but also “what is right about what is wrong”. When we explore symptoms and illness from this framework, we can heal our patients at causal levels. We can use the pathological model within the larger context of a healing model, seeing pathology as a symptom rather than an end.

This context is transforming medicine and evoking health at The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine. This is a prototype of an ‘open system’.  This was a way I could make medicine REAL and restore and reclaim its SOUL. Becoming Real is the calling of our time. This is our collective path. This can transform our medical system and restore it to what it was originally intended to be.  This will involve physicians who are open to working from this context and patients who expect it.