The Western health care system is broken. Nobody can dispute this. This doesn’t mean Western medicine hasn’t made miraculous strides in treating acute trauma, saving lives during emergencies like heart attacks and strokes, preventing and treating bacterial and viral infections, replacing damaged joints and organs, and optimizing medical and surgical techniques to repair what is broken or diseased in the body. If I’m in a massive car accident, get me to a Level 1 Trauma Center . . . please. If I get a raging case of pneumonia, give me the antibiotic—STAT. On behalf of patients everywhere who have had their lives saved and transformed by such advanced technology, a huge thank you to those who staff these ER’s and offer such life-saving treatments.
Our entire culture suffers from what the shamans call “soul loss,” a loss of meaning, direction, vitality, mission, purpose, identity, and genuine connection; a deep unhappiness that most of us have come to consider as simply ordinary. The soul is our source of absolute uniqueness, a place within that connects you not only to your own value and essence, but to the value and essence of every other living being. What makes soul loss so subtle and dangerous is that very few people have realized that it has happened. Most of us do not know that we have disconnected from our soul and have come to accept as normal a numbness and lack of meaning in our lives.
Because we all belong to this culture, we all suffer from soul loss. Soul loss is epidemic and blinds us from seeing the potential for joy and wholeness in ordinary life. When you heal from soul loss, you see familiar things in new ways so you can increase your joy in what you already have.
Not sure if you’re suffering from soul loss?
Here are 20 diagnostic signs that signal soul loss:
You feel like you’re not as good as other people.
You yearn to be of service, but you have no idea what you have to contribute and why it matters.
You find yourself striving in vain for an impossible-to-achieve standard of perfection.
Your fears keep you from living large.
You’re frequently worried that you’re not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, young enough, [fill in the blank] enough.
Yesterday, the physicians in the inaugural class of the Whole Health Medicine Institute graduated! I feel like such a proud Mama Bear I can hardly contain myself. The women in this program are so unbelievably brilliant, wise, open-minded, intuitive, creative, compassionate, spiritual, and- dare I say it- sexy! These light workers in white coats took a huge risk by participating in this new program, knowing that I had no experience running an institute and that I would be asking them to push far beyond their comfort zones both intellectually and personally. We all learned a lot about ourselves, about each other, and about how to be revolutionary forces for healing our broken health care system through the process of spending the past nine months together, and I credit these women with teaching me so much. There really are no words for me to express my gratitude to these pioneering physicians, but I can at least thank them- and help all of you- by showcasing what some of these visionary doctors are doing to heal health care in their own unique ways so those of you looking for doctors like this can connect with those who can serve you.
I can’t recommend these doctors highly enough! Seriously, if you’re dealing with a chronic illness, facing a scary diagnosis, or just interested in preventive health, these are the doctors you can trust with your body and your life. They have my whole-hearted endorsement, and I know you will be safe, nurtured, and truly loved in their capable hands.
I remember feeling frustrated a few years ago because I was looking for the doctors who were my contemporaries, the ones who would join hands to heal health care together, arm in arm. I feel so heartened now because I found them. We are the ones who will join arms with others (I know you’re out there!) to be the village that will help mend our broken system. I’m so relieved to have found my sisters…Let me introduce you to some of them!
Meet The Visionary Doctors!
Madeleine Castellanos, MD is not only a Whole Health Medicine physician, but she is passionate about people getting the truth regarding their health and their environment. She focuses on sex therapy and hormone replacement, but will always weave in mindfulness, responsibility to yourself and your environment, and spiritual freedom into her work with her patients. Her blog ReclaimYourSexuality.com is a great source of information for both couples and individuals. You can also follow her on tweeter, as well as other contacts on Facebook and Google+. You can pick up a copy of her book A Woman's Guide to Male Sexual Issues or find her working on her new site, CastellanosMD.com as well as collecting ideas for a new book. She is well worth the look.
Tara Coles, MD, a practicing Emergency Medicine physician, integrative health coach, wannabe interior designer, writer, speaker, and mindful mama to 4 little people, is a voice for social justice, gender equity, and compassionate leadership in health care. She is dedicated to public health and safety and is also passionate about teaching women and families how to stay vibrant, healthy, and joyful through nutrition, mindfulness, communication, and creativity. She launched WomensWellnessAndHealth.org as a forum for gentle health guidance and inspiration. She has particular interests in migraines, mental health, food as medicine, positive parenting and meditation for healing. In another life she would have been an artist so she also pursues her passion for photography, art and design through www.ClusterArt.com. Health Gems by Dr. Tara Coles is her gift for friends of Dr. Lissa Rankin – download it here.
Kay Corpus, MD’s approach to medicine involves uncovering the root cause of illness and disease, which, she believes, is essential to living well and in full vitality. In her clinical practice, she and her patients work together to illuminate how pathology occurs as a result of emotional, psychological, and spiritual imbalances. She elicits the act of personal story-telling from her patients through deep self-inquiry in order to help identify stuck emotion and energy beneath the pain, fatigue, and anxiety. Consequently, this clarifies their truth then liberates their soul. Dr. Corpus is in the process of certification with the Whole Health Medicine Institute with Lissa Rankin, MD whereby she will join the new generation of visionary physicians in healing patients, communities, health care and humanity one person at a time. 'Like' Kay Corpus, MD on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and contact her today to share your healing journey at: email@example.com.
Starla Fitch, MD is an oculoplastic surgeon who has seen the changes in medicine and felt her heart strings pulled to remind doctors why they went into medicine in the first place. She shares wisdom from other doctors and helps remind us why the cup can be half full, rather than half empty. Check out her free ebook on 5 Simple Steps to Put the Magic Back in Your Medical Practice at www.lovemedicineagain.com and sign up for her free weekly newsletter to get even more value.
You might think doctors enter the field of medicine in order to get rich, please their parents, or gain status, and sure, there are probably some money-driven doctors who were given only two choices of professions by their parents-medicine or the law. While I’m not saying those things aren’t motivators for some, I will claim that what drives doctors to endure the sacrifices of medical training goes far deeper.
On a teleclass I was leading with Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen for the doctors of the Whole Health Medicine Institute, Rachel asked us, “How old were you when you first realized that the life of another living being mattered?”
We were all less than ten. Rachel has been asking this question to thousands of doctors for decades, and the answers are consistent. We are the children who go out early on rainy days to rescue the worms from the mud puddles so the bullies don’t squash them. We are the girls who nurse the injured baby birds back to health. We are the boys who cry out when the other boys are pulling the tails off lizards.
I was the Squirrel Girl. As I explain in greater details in this blog post, I was the seven-year old who became the nurse to injured baby squirrels in my small Florida town. Between the ages of seven and twenty-two, I raised twenty-two baby squirrels who others brought to me when the squirrels got hurt.
Rachel told one touching story about a male doctor who remembers being only two when he cut his foot on the sharp drain of the bathtub, and his mother warned him not to step on the drain because it was sharp and could hurt him. So every night, as he got out of the bath, he dropped his washcloth over the drain, so the water wouldn’t get cut as it swirled down the drain.
The Lineage Of Medicine
As I wrote about in How To Heal Our Broken Health Care System, doctors are called to medicine the way some are called to the priesthood. Medicine is a spiritual practice. I think that’s why we call it a “medical practice.” It is something you practice, like you practice yoga or you practice meditation, like you’ll never get it fully right.
While I was in Fargo, North Dakota delivering my third TEDx talk (you can watch my other two here and here, I facilitated a community conversation about health care with Dr. Susan Mathison, founder of Catalyst Medical Center, who is also one of the doctors in my Whole Health Medicine Institute training program. The brunch was filled with doctors, nurses, energy healers, chiropractors, and empowered patients, and many of them have beefs against each other. You could feel the tension in the room, but you could also feel the capacity for love, for connection, for a long overdue bridge.
In the middle of the event, I had a massive epiphany (yet another in a week filled with painful but necessary epiphanies that are helping me refine my message and get clear on my role in healing health care.)
Here’s what I realized.
Doctors Are Traumatized
As doctors, we are traumatized by our training, the limitations of the health care system, and the very nature of what it means to be a doctor- to be on the front line of a lot of suffering- death, disease, disability, despair. We’ve had to come to work sick, we’ve skipped our postpartum leave and left our babies, we’ve had bloody scalpels thrown at us by physician professors who curse at us, and we’ve stayed awake to help others in 72 hour shifts. We’ve witnessed the deaths of children, dismemberment, and patients who die when we did everything we could to save them. We’ve gone through a hazing worse than any fraternity and similar to what soldiers experience. Yet people expect soldiers to have PTSD, but not doctors.
Having gone through all this, as doctors, it’s easy to get frustrated with the entitlement of patients and the disrespect of alternative health care providers who dismiss the often life-saving work we do, who don’t appreciate the sacrifices we make in order to do this life-saving work. Doctors feel unappreciated, devalued, and disenfranchised by a fractured system that has robbed them of much of the joy of their work, and that only amplifies the trauma.
Yet, as doctors, we tend to normalize the trauma. Every doctor we know has been through the fire, so we just think it’s an unavoidable part of the job. We think it’s our job to just buck up and keep going, not realizing that by failing to acknowledge the trauma and recover from it, by shutting down and closing our hearts, we are losing the very part of us that makes us good doctors.
Some doctors have done a great deal of difficult personal growth work to heal from the trauma of our profession. But most doctors are blind to the fact that they have experienced profound trauma. Those doctors don’t even realize they may be perpetuating more trauma because of their own unhealed trauma.
Nurses And Other Health Care Providers Are Traumatized
The nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, and other health care providers who report to doctors are often traumatized by the doctors, who are so exhausted and traumatized and overworked that those who help them care for patients often bear the brunt of their misplaced anger. Psychologists call it “sublimation,” a defense mechanism whereby you suppress a socially inappropriate impulse and replace it with a substitute you deem to be more socially acceptable. (Your boss yells at you, and you’re not allowed to yell back, so you come home and kick the dog.)
But nurses are not dogs paid to get kicked by traumatized doctors who haven’t healed themselves. Nurses and physician extenders are healers in their own right, and when it comes to the art of true healing, they often practice it better than doctors.
Alternative Medicine Practitioners Are Traumatized