Monday, October 27, 2008

Something from Nothing: Preposterous, Placebo, or Possibility?

For the last several days I've been in Vancouver, BC learning from Jan Scholten MD, a homeopathic physician from Utrecht, in the Netherlands. Over 100 other homeopaths from all over Canada and the USA gathered to hear about his current work with mineral and plant remedies. He's especially interested these days in people who have autoimmune diseases.

Dr. Scholten has given a great deal to the world, including now working with HIV patients in Africa. He and his colleagues with the AIDS Remedy Fund piloted a study in Kenya with patients using a homeopathic remedy called "Iquilai," said to restore balance of mineral nutrients needed for effective immune function.

AIDS is a disease that many consider hopeless, especially in Africa. Perhaps it doesn't have to be . . . and as Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len might say, we don't really know what is going on anyway.

Prominent symptoms AIDS patients experience include opportunistic respiratory infections, loss of appetite, weakness, diarrhea, depression, and emaciation. Antiretroviral treatments can help some of this, but are extremely expensive and not easy to come by in Africa. Plus, side effects limit patients' desire to take them.

Homeopathic remedies are much less expensive than pharmaceuticals, and come without side effects.

In the Iquilai Pilot Study, 228 HIV+ patients in various stages of illness were offered treatment with the homeopathic remedy Iquilai. The group included 78% patients with advanced AIDS (with CD4 counts less than 200 in the 59% of the group tested for this.)

About half the patients were already receiving antiretroviral (single drug) treatment, but not if their CD4 counts were more than 200. Many individuals had stopped the antiretrovirals because of side effects.

Despite so many of them having advanced AIDS, more than 90% of the patients had a positive response to the remedy, documented through improved Karnofsky Scores (a measure of functional impairment in daily life). Three granules of Iquilai were given for 5 days in a row; within one month most of the patients went from inability to work and take care of themselves to being able to perform normal duties.

Within the first week after dosing, opportunistic infections clearly went down; 100% of patients also noted improved appetite, often within 1 week. Diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, and fever remitted also. There were no side effects, and CD4 counts nearly doubled over several months.

You may think this is nothing . . . but it is a particularly surprising kind of "nothing".

Homeopathic remedies (like Iquilai) are diluted and vigorously shaken past the point of any molecules of original substance remaining in them. In other words, they are "nothing" in the sense that they are dynamic only. They contain information about the original substance from which they're made, but usually no actual molecules of the substance itself. Many scientists label this "preposterous". How can medicines considered to be "nothing" affect living beings?

In this particular study (and many others too) "nothing" was actually "something" -- and produced measurable results.

Additionally, there were no interactions with antiretroviral drugs in the patients receiving those. To boot, the Iquilai patients NOT on antiretrovirals got as much improvement as those who were on them. So as much as you might want to, you couldn't attribute the positive results to antivirals alone.

Some might claim "placebo", but these patients have maintained their improvements for 9 months so far. As this was only a pilot, Dr. Scholten is gathering resources for a double blind study to test things further.

My guess is he will find more results from his "nothing" that are "something." This universe and its mysteries continue to humble me. The void within me, smiles.

Peace Begins with Me,

Friday, October 17, 2008

"Only God works, and I do my cleaning": Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len

The movie The Secret (2006) popularized the Law of Attraction. According to it, our thoughts create our reality by magnetizing events and circumstances that correspond to their "vibration". Some say that through using this Law, we can manifest our dreams at will.

"The Secret explains with simplicity the law that is governing all lives, and offers the knowledge of how to create -- intentionally and effortlessly -- a joyful life. This is the secret to everything -- the secret to unlimited happiness, love, health and prosperity."

Millions of people including Oprah Winfrey have embraced this movie's teachings; new "Law of Attraction" books, coaches, and training programs seem to appear every day. These programs teach people to formulate and affirm intentions for what they want in their lives.

Some have found, however, that this Law may not always "work" as consciously planned -- especially if unconscious "counter-intentions" are also present. In fact, if books such as The User Illusion by Tor Norretranders are correct, unconscious processes outnumber our conscious affirmations. Teachers like Paul Bauer and Joe Vitale offer programs to "clear" such counter-intentions so that manifestation may continue as desired.

Interesting questions arise about all this, though. Can human intention encompass all that Divinity might want to offer? Could our intentions even be limiting in some way?

Ho'oponopono's answer is that this limitation can indeed happen, and might even explain why, as Mabel Katz says, "The Secret doesn't always work." If billions of complicated memories are circulating within us, surely some of these can cloud our experience. In addition, regular connection with Divinity may be the easiest way to stay clear.

For Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, Divinity is the only thing that really "works". Perhaps this might be something The Secret didn't describe. "Only God works. I do my cleaning to be one with God . . . and God will give me what I need," says Dr. Hew Len.

Those interested in hearing directly from Dr. Hew Len and Mabel Katz might appreciate a short, entertaining video. See what Dr. Hew Len says gets in our way, and enjoy Mabel's Spanish translations too!

Mabel Katz and Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, on Ho'oponopono:

For me, it's reassuring to learn a way to stay connected to Divinity within -- even when my more limited human consciousness tries to assert control. Continuously cleaning (saying "I love you", for instance, or drinking blue solar water, etc) allows manifestation of what Dr. Hew Len calls "what's right and perfect for us."

Tuned into and inspired by Divinity, we can act definitively. In fact we must! Our cleaning clears the way for these activities to come from Divine Inspiration rather than collective memory stuff. I'm not perfect at it, but am enjoying the journey.

Peace Begins with Me,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

An unusual cause (and cure) for physician burnout

As a psychiatrist, I've worked in many general hospitals and inpatient psychiatric units -- including specialized ones for forensically mentally ill people.

Patients arrive on such units in all kinds of distress: severe depression, psychosis, suicide attempts, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and sometimes criminal offenses. Many also have additional problems like diabetes, hypertension, delirium, or intractible medication side effects.

Bureaucracy and paperwork can be monstrous in themselves, even before you reach the patients. Physician, therapist, and nursing staff burnout thrive in such environments.

So I've been in awe of Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len's experiences working at Hawaii State Hospital in the 1980's. Detailed accounts of these are in the book Zero Limits, which he and Dr. Joe Vitale co-authored. But the nutshell version is that while he was there -- doing only his Ho'oponopono cleaning, no conventional therapy -- all but 2 patients on a dangerous, high management forensic unit got well enough for discharge. No longer needed, the unit was closed, and the 2 onging patients transferred elsewhere.

How could this happen?

"When I showed up," offered Dr. Hew Len on a recorded conference call, "there were seclusion rooms all filled. Within a year or two, nobody was in the seclusion. And there wasn’t any goal to not have anybody there. It’s just that one takes the responsibility, and as you take responsibility you shift, and perceive the world differently. You see the world differently and you’re back to peace. The idea is to get back to zero, and zero is where Divinity resides."

Nobody questioned why Dr. Hew Len wasn't seeing patients for therapy. In fact many times I've heard him say that his most important activity was doing his cleaning before, during, and after trips to the hospital. He would read the charts, cleaning on his reactions to whatever he read. Murder? Rape? Any other kind of mayhem? Knowing we're all connected, he took 100% responsibility for this being in him. He petitioned Divinity to erase the data in him that presented as these patients' problems.

It sounds inconceivable. And yet, there are witnesses that it worked. Dr. Hew Len was there for several months before anyone asked what he was "doing", and why the ward was so much quieter when he was around. When he answered, some wanted to learn Ho'oponopono too.

Progressively, the violent, medicated, and shackled patients stopped fighting amongst themselves and attacking staff. Medication needs went down. Patients got interested in their own welfare, and started planning for work after discharge. Staff turnover decreased; the ward became an enjoyable place to work.

According to Dr. Hew Len, the key was realizing what any "problem" truly is: an old recycled memory replaying INSIDE, not outside us. It can be "erased" by our taking 100% responsibility for it, and saying "I love you"; this begins the process of repentance, forgiveness, and transmutation that is Ho'oponopono.

"The way you handle any problem is to:
#1 realize that the problem is in you, and
#2, to realize that the problem is simply a memory replaying.

It’s what the Buddah calls suffering, or what Jesus calls sin. You have in you the enormous ability . . . to erase suffering. And when you erase it in you, it erases everywhere. To me that’s the beauty, and the gift of Ho’oponopono. You take responsibility for whatever is going on in you, you let that go, it’s like letting the world go, letting the suffering go. It gets lifted from everybody."

Doctors, nurses, and therapists burn out, he says, when we don't realize this. When we see patients, we're taking on all the memories in their families, relatives, and ancestors too. Unless we clean in some way, we're headed for trouble -- and fighting the wrong "enemy". We're thrashing against problems through medications, commitment papers, restraints, and other methods, when the real problem is these memories in us that need to be released or "cleaned".

It blows the mind. I clean MY stuff, and YOU feel better? No Lexapro or Zyprexa required for either of us? hmmm . . . .

One caller shared a story that I'll remember always. She described a "nervous breakdown" and being hospitalized twice at Tripler Army Hospital in 2003. While there, she heard about Dr. Hew Len's work but didn't listen much to it.

She moved to Boston and was hospitalized again with severe depression. No medication seemed to work, and she was ready for "shock" therapy. But then she moved to San Diego in early 2008 . . . where she learned about Self-Identity through Ho'oponopono. She started cleaning.

Here my ears perked up further: her psychiatrist wanted to increase her medicines, which she called "high-powered addictive" ones. Despite her doctor's advice, this woman tapered them -- with no difficulty. And along with her Ho'oponopono practice, her depression faded away. No more medications needed.

How is this possible? I don't know, but I'm fascinated and very glad for her. She inspires me to learn as much as I can, and continue cleaning in my own life. This "zero", peaceful state is what we already are -- if we simply let go of the clouds that cover it. If we're patients, we may benefit, and insurance companies will rejoice. :-)

I also think my colleagues and I have much more to learn from Dr. Hew Len about burnout . . . and how we can avoid it. Care to join me for the November class in Woodland Hills CA? I'm looking forward to another in-person experience of my own then. Maybe see you there!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Would you abandon a child?

This morning the Arizona Republic captured a disturbing story about a 14-year-old Iowa girl abandoned in a Nebraska hospital.

It's a mirror of many others, including a father who recently surrendered 9 of his 10 children (ages 1 to 17) at Creighton University Hospital. His wife had died, and he could no longer cope with the burden of raising them. The oldest child was not abandoned.

Officials have attributed such events to the misuse of "Safe Haven" laws, intended to prevent infanticide and babies being left to die in trash dumpsters or elsewhere. All 50 states but District of Columbia have adopted these laws, which can unfortunately have unintended consequences in these hard economic times.

In the Creighton University Hospital case, other family members were upset about not being asked for help before surrendering the children. For whatever reason, the father felt he had nowhere else to turn but the hospital.

I can imagine what the teens and children might feel as their parents walk out the door. Fear, grief, anger, shame, guilt, and more are probably in the parents too. It's also easy to judge the "abandoners", especially when we're ignoring something in ourselves.

Ho'oponopono (which means "to correct errors") posits our having a "subconscious" inner child part, the Unihipili. Housed here are all our emotions, instincts, and body functions, as well as memories that have collected for eons. Imagine how ponderous all this can become, layer upon layer, tangled with so many others' memories too. Ho'oponopono offers a means of unraveling this.

In both live and tele-seminars, Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len often relates that most of us have abandoned our inner child countless times. We do this not realizing that far from being a burden, it contains the energy of manifestation for the rest of our being. Our inner child has been neglected, abused, and unloved for generations. Perhaps in our busy adult lives, we don't even acknowledge its presence. From all of this, it suffers.

Not surprisingly, this neglect has consequences. We may live our lives severed from from our deepest strengths. Our inner child contains not only our pain, but also potential solutions; it has a direct connection with the spiritual part of us, the Aumakua. And this is always in perfect balance and synchrony with Divinity.

Who among us wouldn't want to be in synch with Divinity?

Dr. Hew Len has shared his morning routine of sitting on the floor talking with his inner child about how things are going, and what's coming up later in the day. He educates it about the "cleaning" tools he uses to dissipate age-old repetitive data showing up as current problems. As he does this, he believes his child learns to clean on his own.

"I talk to my child, and tell it 'I love you," he says. The key is in letting it fall in love with you; in love, it will work with you rather than cause more chaos. "When I sometimes have a back ache," says Dr. Hew Len, "I say to my inner child, 'We're experiencing this back pain now. Can we please let go?" It's all a part of his daily Ho'oponopono practice.

Though Ho'oponopono is much older, there's a whole genre of psychotherapy aimed at "inner child work". It's highly applicable for anyone experiencing trauma, abuse or neglect in one's life. Many therapists attend to these aspects in what they're already doing.

Through a warm, connected relationship and dialogue with one's inner child, the inner child may also help us avoid problems -- if we listen! In an interview with Cat Saunders , Dr. Hew Len tells a story:

"The Unihipili can be really fun. One day I was coming down the highway in Hawaii. When I started to head toward the usual off-ramp, I heard my Unihipili say in a singing voice, "I wouldn't go down there if I were you." I thought, "But I always go there." Then when we got closer, about fifty yards away, I heard, "Hello! I wouldn't go down there if I were you!" Second chance. "But we always go down there!"

Now I'm talking out loud and people in cars around me are looking at me like I'm crazy. About 25 yards away, I hear a loud, "I wouldn't go down there if I were you!" I went down there, and I sat for two and a half hours. There was a huge accident. Couldn't move back, couldn't move forward. Finally, I heard my Unihipili say, "Told you!" Then it wouldn't talk to me for weeks! I mean, why talk to me if I wasn't going to listen?"

After many years of neglect, some people experience difficulty connecting with their inner child. Patience and loving attitudes are needed, as a good-enough parent might hold. If we haven't had healthy previous examples for this, we may benefit from additional training, therapy, or coaching. Hence "inner child work", or learning Ho'oponopono can help.

Interested in further information about caring for -- rather than abandoning -- your own inner child? The downloadable recording of a 7/15/08 tele-seminar with Dr. Hew Len and Mabel Katz tells more. You're welcome to click here to purchase it.

Peace begins with me,

Friday, October 3, 2008

Peace Begins with Me

Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len reminded me recently that his teacher Morrnah Simeona, the kahuna who updated the ancient Hawaiian problem-solving practice of ho'oponopono, kept a sign upon her desk.

"Peace Begins with Me," it said.

People came to Morrnah from all over for various kinds of healing, especially spiritual; she was also expert in massage.

She was apparently very relaxed about all this, and was even known to fall asleep during training seminars. She went about her business, practicing the inner peace conveyed by her desk sign. She also got results.

This kind of calmness sometimes eludes me. People come to doctors hoping for some kind of relief. So I get anxious when they're suffering; I feel both their pain and and the need to relieve it.

Morrnah probably cared a great deal for others, or she wouldn't have made herself available to them. But she also taught that getting too wound up in others' pain makes one useless as a healer.

In my own case, the danger can be that I measure myself by the amount of relief patients seem to get through my efforts. Then the session becomes more about me than them -- leading to sure failure on my part to comprehend their suffering in the first place. This is not my intention.

I was sharing this dilemma with Bill Mann LAc, one of my homeopathic teachers in San Diego. Classical homeopathy is a 200-year-old system of medicine that stimulates patients' own healing capacities from within, using medicines that are specifically tailored for their suffering.

It can be challenging to find a remedy that catalyzes someone's healing process. A person could need any of 3000-4000 or so proven remedies, or possibly one that hasn't been prepared yet. Finding this requires absolute care and attentiveness in listening to the other.

With Bill, I was bemoaning my limitations in the face of people's problems. Years of medical training inculcate shame and guilt in most physicians when we don't deliver cures. I was definitely feeling it.

With his usual candor and wisdom Bill replied:

"Get yourself out of the picture for one. One's healing (your patient) is not about you. You have tools and use them---the rest is just a way to harm yourself (that self talk)--it is also a waste of energy. It can also be an opportunity to see what is in your own way.

One's healing is one's own healing. Never forget this---you in yourself can offer little---even when you think you are offering your kindness or sympathy, it does little to ameliorate what sits before you most often. (nothing wrong with being kind or caring).

Apply your science the best you can. You can do it extremely well---I have no doubt.

Relax, and let the other see for themselves who they are and what is not them. This can be done--by being very quiet. Let them see for themselves. Only one can heal the self, the one within."

This is as much true for my patients as it is for myself. Done well, classical homeopathy allows one's truth to emerge; the self becomes stronger and more resilient on all levels. Maintaining the quiet needed with others can be very difficult for me, since I so want to be useful. I realized that my very need to be useful prevents my being so.

It's all a part of my ongoing studies with California Center for Homeopathic Education. Dealing with one's own self can be much trickier than learning the remedies and methods of homeopathy.

Another of my homeopathic teachers, Dr. Rajan Sankaran, echoes this need for quiet and allowing the patient to come forward. In the beginning of his book, Sensation Refined (2007), he quotes Sheng-yen in how one should listen:

"Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, and the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you."

The process of healing is relentless, if we simply allow it. I can't help but wonder if Morrnah wouldn't have liked Bill and Rajan a lot. She might like them so much and feel so very peaceful, she'd fall asleep at their seminars. :-)

Peace Begins with me,