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Showing posts from August, 2008

Listening, compassion, and Ho'oponopono

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Becoming a doctor isn't only about attending medical school, graduating, and passing licensure exams. It's also a process of learning to engage with others in a healing way, even when they're feeling their worst. We may think we have little in common with our patients, yet this is an error. Histories need to be taken, tests and procedures may need to be done, and through it all patients needs to know we comprehend and care about them. I used to think they wouldn't know unless I told them in words, but over the years this has changed. There are many ways to be present when someone is suffering. One of the most potent of these is also one of the simplest: listening. I mean listening without inserting our point of view, related experience, or advice. This is very difficult for many people, yet ho'oponopono offers a way to keep our minds still while genuinely hearing another. At least it does so for me. My colleague Rachel Naomi Remen MD is a pediatrician, counselo

Ho'oponopono and your health: is enlightenment right for you?

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People with high blood pressure (hypertension) often struggle with medications, side effects, and stress. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were something people could do to help themselves with this, besides take pills? There is. In fact, there are many ways. For instance, stress reduction programs such as meditation have a growing research base documenting improvements in both hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Rainforth et al recently published a review and meta-analysis of this work * In this review, transcendental meditation showed particularly positive results. Additionally, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction has more than 2 decades of research in stress-related illness. People take an 8-week course to learn to appreciate and modulate their inner responses, relating directly to whatever is happening in their lives. The same skills can help people with hypertension, chronic pain, anxiety, angina, bowel complaints, psoriasis, and many other conditions. Self-Identity

Seeking clarity: who am I, and what is my purpose?

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I can hardly think of 2 questions more frequently posed by fellow humans than these two: Who am I? What is my task, or purpose in this world? We struggle and strain for answers, often deliberating for years. We get embroiled in conflict between what we think we "should" be (or "should" want to do), and what we actually are. Like many, I've struggled with how best to contribute to this world. Why take up space and resources unless I serve a useful purpose that also feels meaningful to me? Only through the latter will I have "juice" for sticking with the former. What, if anything, do I want to leave behind after I'm no longer here in the flesh? Such inner questions have been agonizing at times. But in 29 words, Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len puts things in place for me. He writes: " memories displace identity and therefore freedom pam. cleaning restores identity and therefore freedom. our only purpose for existence is to clean to be memory fr

Can we trust our eyes?

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"We don't see people as they actually are. We see our reactions to them." ~ Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len Most of the time I am not seeing clearly. This is one of the most life-changing realizations Self-Identity through Ho'oponopono brings home to me. When I look at others, what am I seeing? According to Dr. Hew Len, mostly my own dusty memories. And those often distort and complicate things. Dr. Hew Len echoes one of my classical homeopathy teachers, Dr. Rajan Sankaran of Mumbai India, when he reminds us that there is no "out there" at all. Please understand: getting this has bugged me. I'm a psychiatrist, trained to value my observational abilities. The conventional psychiatry paradigm includes a distinct "I" who objectively views people and events "outside" of me. And then I classify my observations through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM IV-TR). Neat. Simple. Often wrong, even among other psychiatrists. Always wro

The demonic virus that ate my computer: a wake-up call for life

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Laptop computers have been my steady companions over the past several years. Some have worn out, and each is a little different. Computers have personalities and quirks just like their human counterparts. In some ways, computer hard drives can be likened to our minds. A great deal of this is unconscious. Programs run in the background that we never "see" except through their outer functions. Also, there are hidden files galore that can click into action. Computers can also pick up programs that devastate them completely. Antivirus and antispyware programs try to protect us from these things. Fortunately, I've had only one virus infection in over 10 years -- until this week. It was in an "update" email from CNN. My guard was down, and I opened it. Within seconds, my antivirus program screamed a warning: too late. I immediately felt sick to my stomach. An alien force seized control of my hard drive, downloading ill-begotten infestations. Odd messages spewed f

"Cleaning" -- with a little help from a friend

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A friend and colleague, Lucinda Sykes MD in Toronto , sent me a beautiful story the other day about a diver's encounter with a manta ray off the coast of Maui . In it, the author (Jennifer Anderson) is able to free the ray of fishing hooks and line wrapped around and embedded in its body . . . not unlike we humans can be entangled and dragging painful things along in our lives. Dr. Sykes is a Jungian therapist and meditation teacher whose Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes train people to be present to their moment-to-moment lives. Through this they can free themselves of chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, stress, and many other conditions. It's no accident Dr. Sykes would notice such a story in the world and share it with me. It originally comes from the book: Chicken Soup for the Ocean Lover's Soul . I offer it to you in the ho'oponopono spirit of "cleaning" and being free. This Magic Moment by Jennifer Anderson It was like many Maui mornings,

It's all in how you look at it

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Recently I experienced a very challenging situation. (At least it seemed so to me.) I'd been asked to speak on a very controversial topic at a large conference in another city. Wanting to share the material but also feeling anxious, I researched and prepared my presentation over many months. Travel arrangements solidified, and all seemed to be moving ahead. But a few days before the conference, the chairman reported that its accrediting body had withdrawn physician Continuing Medical Education units. Why? It turned out that the accreditation committee objected to certain presentations, including mine. Removing educational credit from the conference could severely discourage attendance. This threw me into a tailspin. What to do? Shock, hurt, anger and fear roiled inside me; what kind of reception would there be for our talks? I briefly described the situation to Mabel Katz . "Good for you!" she exclaimed. "Good for me?! What are you talking about? I'm

Self-Love and Beyond

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Much of my daily work involves people who, for one reason or another, really don't care for themselves very much. This includes people in the role of "healer", "doctor", "nurse", and "therapist" as well as "patient". Some may even feel extreme self-loathing and self-hatred -- but for most of us this is masked. Some escape these painful feelings through non-stop work, figuring that even if we aren't worth loving, we can at least be admired through our accomplishments. It's a compromise. Other escapes include addiction to substances, or chasing after others to supply the love we feel we're missing. None of this ever fills our bottomless need. Theories about how we arrive in such painful, desolate places are plentiful. More fruitful questions might be: "What can I do about this? How do I learn to first care for -- and eventually love -- myself?" The short answer is that it takes a decision, and then moment-to-mom

Unconditional Love: The True Story of Evy McDonald

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Yesterday I posted about Evy McDonald's recovery from ALS and how she did this. Since the context was ho'oponopono and hearing issues , the way Evy's inspirational story came up for me is rather uncanny. I'd like to claim a superior command of academic literature and laserlike intellectual memory, but it had nothing to do with that. Instead, it was due to a song. While reading Jimmy Piver's story about hearing loss, within me I distinctly heard an old friend singing a song he had written and recorded about Evy. Really. Hearing that voice and the wonderful lyrics from several years ago, my heart swelled. My senses came alive. This evoked a Google search, which produced the article I linked for you. Please credit Greg Tamblyn , one of my favorite people and singer-songwriters anywhere, for haunting my musical consciousness. I've enjoyed his songs countless times, including cross-country car trips! And he created a real beauty in "Unconditional Love: The Tru

Ho'oponopono and healing -- Something worth hearing

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Many people wonder how ho'oponopono or other spiritual practices could help them with conditions such as hypertension , depression, and even hearing loss. The September 2007 issue of Ethnicity and Disease published a study showing that adding classes in ho'oponopono helped hypertensive people improve their blood pressure more effectively than medications alone. It was a relatively small "pilot" study, but is a beginning in exploring what people might be able to accomplish through such processes. Others' experiences with ho'oponopono and their health situations fascinate and inspire me. Jimmy Piver, one of my friends in North Carolina, has written about his own challenges with hearing loss in his blog " Ho'oponopono for Today ". The post is titled: Why Hearing Loss and Deafness were Blessings: Or Why My Hearing Went South . He shares wisdom about mind-body interactions, how he feels these apply to him . . . and how ho'oponopono has helped him