The Whole Health Medicine Institute, founded in 2013, has mystical roots. After a nudge from Jay Fiset, who suggested to me at an Association of Transformational Leadership meeting that I might create a training program for doctors to invite them into a conscious way of delivering the kind of Whole Health Medicine I practiced in my integrative medicine practice and teaching in my books, my National Public Television specials, and my TEDx talks, I heard a mysterious guiding voice that asked me to sit down at Esalen Institute and take dictation for a letter. The title I was given for the letter read “Calling All Conscious Physicians.” When I asked the voice what I was supposed to do with this letter, the answer I got was “Await further instructions.”
“Great,” I thought, “You tell me to write a letter, but you don’t tell me what to do with it.” The voice responded with silence. I was annoyed.
Around the same time, I was teaching Find Your Calling with Martha Beck, so Martha and I were talking every week. A few days after the mysterious dictated letter, I told Martha what had happened. Martha asked me to email her the letter, which I did. She then lit up with a flurry of excitement, assuring me that she knew what I was supposed to do next. I was supposed to bring a group of doctors to her new horse ranch for an initiation that would invite doctors into a whole new level of consciousness, one that would have ripple effects in the health care field. She had been wondering why she had bought this expensive horse ranch. She was sure it was part of her calling, but she was feeling uneasy because she wasn’t getting the next steps of her own guidance. My letter fueled her own sense of mission and purpose. The doctors were supposed to come to her ranch.
By this point, I was crying—tears of fear, overwhelm, resistance, and surprise, but mostly tears of gratitude and awe. After months of praying for clarity and guidance, I had just been handed my calling on a mystical platter. When the little voice told me to await further instructions, I only needed to wait five days. A quickening was happening, and I felt aflutter with butterflies.
In March 2013, the first year’s class of the Whole Health Medicine Institute was born, featuring not only Martha’s equine therapy program at her ranch, but also the teachings of many other visionary faculty who felt called to contribute their gifts. Over the years, faculty have included physicians like Rachel Naomi Remen, Deepak Chopra, Christiane Northrup, Bernie Siegel, and Larry Dossey, scientists like Joan Borysenko, PhD, Bruce Lipton, PhD, and Kelly Turner, PhD, shamans, energy healers, somatic awareness teachers, and therapists like Martín Prechtel, Brandy Gillmore, Steve Sisgold, and Anne Davin, PhD, and spiritual teachers and philosophers like Tosha Silver and Charles Eisenstein. The awe I initially felt expanded when I realized that contributors of this caliber all felt passionate about offering their gifts to health care providers at a time when health care and those who serve it are deeply in need of healing. I could tell I was being used to serve something much larger than myself.
Expanding Beyond Physicians
In the first year, the Whole Health Medicine Institute was limited to physicians only, but many others in the health care profession longed to participate- chiropractors, naturopaths, nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, Chinese medicine doctors, therapists, health coaches, and energy healers. Not wanting to exclude anyone who felt called to participate in a health care revolution, two separate classes emerged- one for physicians and one for all other health care providers. In the third year, however, it became apparent that by segregating physicians and other practitioners, we were contributing to a deep source of trauma within the system, reinforcing the hierarchy inherent within the medical system, wherein physicians rise to the top of an artificially hierarchical pyramid, and everyone else is considered “below” the doctor. If our goal was to elevate consciousness in health care, we couldn’t do so while reproducing the divisive hierarchy.
So in 2015, the classes merged, and the result was holy. Regardless of education status or letters after one’s name, all WHMI students are equally valued members of the “healing round table.” A male orthopedic surgeon seated next to a female energy healer or a female naturopath in partnership with a male nurse are free to strike up a dialogue and pave the way for mutual respect and true collaboration. In doing so, not only do we all marry the tools in our respective toolboxes, bringing more gifts to offer to patients; we also heal each other and the system. Healing health care takes a village, and the Whole Health Medicine Institute is a gathering of the tribe, where those who are part of this revolution meet, unite, learn, and take inspired action in the direction of our individual and collective callings.
What’s Happening with WHMI Alumni
Graduates of the Whole Health Medicine Institute have taken what they learned during the program to incite revolutions inside and outside the health care systems. The influence of what is taught in WHMI curriculum has found its way into medical schools, nursing education, VA hospitals, managed care institutions, and mainstream hospitals. Other WHMI graduates have opted to leave the mainstream systems and start cash-based private practices that utilize the methods of facilitation for radical self-healing that are taught in this program, intended to be used as an adjunct to other forms of treatment. Still others have gone on to pursue public speaking, writing blogs and books, and teaching workshops and online programs.
One of the tenets of WHMI is that each graduate is invited to take what they have learned and integrate it with his or her own unique expertise, so that the teachings may be alchemized into a true calling that is entirely individual, while it is also a collective experience, invoking within each graduate a solid place in a movement to bring care back to health care. The three pillars of the program—Heal the Healer, the Whole Health Core Curriculum, and Visionary Business Development—all equip graduates to either stay inside the system and transform the system from the inside out or leave the system to reimagine health care possibilities outside the walls of the conventional institutions. Whether they are serving from inside or outside the system, graduates are serving as ambassadors of consciousness as science and spirituality merge in health care.
An Experience of Awe
The mystery of my calling continues to unfold. I get constant reinforcement that I’m on the right path, even if I’m not sure where I’m going. I’m in the midst of a new quickening. This month alone, I have been in conversation with doctors on faculty at medical schools, the head of an accredited nursing curriculum that teaches Whole Health to nurses, a PhD who works on the front lines of public health and policy, a Capitol Hill activist, a Congressman who cares about the cutting edge of health care, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist who wants to start a hospital where Western medicine meets shamanism, energy healing, and spirituality, a lawyer who wants to bring Whole Health to lawyers, a woman who works inside the pharmaceutical industry, and the CEO of a major hospital. I have also been in touch with shamans trained in Peru, Qigong masters from China, energy healers from the US, and faith healers from around the globe. They all care about bringing the heart and soul back to health care without getting rid of the miraculous technology that Western medicine has brought to the healing round table. The Heal Health Care “karass” is gathering, and I am so grateful.
I still don’t know exactly what I’m here to do or how my love will be needed in the world, but I now know that I don’t have to figure it out. I will be shown where I am needed, and I will feel it in my bones, my heart, and my gut when I’m meant to say yes.
Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater
I think back to when I was one unhealed wound away from leaving medicine altogether, throwing out the baby with the bathwater and turning my back on my calling. Now, I live in a state of near perpetual awe, as I think back to the little voice that told me, back in 2008 at Esalen, that I was needed back in health care. As I wrote about in The Anatomy of a Calling, everything in me said, “Hell no” at the time. But the voice was persistent and I could feel this fluttering in my solar plexus. I couldn’t tell whether it was fear or excitement, but something magnetic was luring me back to medicine. Like any true love, your calling never stops beckoning for you.
When I resisted the call and said, “I can’t go back to the hospital,” I was told, “You will be told where you are needed. Await further instructions.” So I said yes. Yes, I would do it. I would trust with blind faith This Thing I Trust. But I was very, very scared.
When I think back on that time, I get teary. Recently, I went back to the spot at Esalen where I said yes to my calling, and I broke down in tears, throwing my hands in the air and crying, “Why didn’t you tell me how hard it was going to be?”
The little voice said, “Because you wouldn’t have said yes.”
I am so, so, so glad I said yes.
I now realize that callings come one meager breadcrumb at a time. If we’re brave enough to follow the first breadcrumb, then sometime later—in Divine timing but not necessarily in the timing we would wish—we will be shown the next breadcrumb.
Now Enrolling for the 2016 Class of the Whole Health Medicine Institute
In case you’re a health care provider of any kind and enrolling in the Whole Health Medicine Institute feels like the next breadcrumb of your calling, we are now enrolling for the 2016 class, which begins with a live retreat in San Diego in May. Please join us if your intuition says, “Hell yeah.”
Learn more and enroll here.
Join Us for the Whole Health Summit
If you’re in the Heal Health Care karass, but you’re not a health care provider, we want to include you too. If you’re an empowered patient, a caregiver of an empowered patient, a conscious, concerned activist representing the pharmaceutical industry, the managed care insurance industry, health care policy, a hospital administrator, or health care litigation, a philanthropist who cares about health care, or simply a passionate citizen with a heart for this mission, please join us at the first annual Whole Health Summit in October in San Diego. Tickets are limited.
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