2015 in Review

What a big year it has been! My first book came out at the end of 2014 – Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine. I have traveled a lot this year for speaking engagements: from here in Seattle to Denver, Colorado, Auckland, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia.

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I just picked up Jean Houston’s book, The Search for the Beloved: Journeys in Mythology & Sacred Psychology. I was surprised to read her introduction to the second edition. She describes that in September of 1992 she stood at the northern-most point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga and watched the waters of different oceans come together. She asks her companion if “this is the place where the planetary DNA gets coded anew?” He replies, “it is…the place where all Maoris go when they have died to lift off to the Other World,” (vii).

The Search for the Beloved

This is the place, right by this tree in the photo, named Te Aroha (love), where the Māori believe that departing spirits leave this world for the other after death. Houston’s guide continued, “It is because of places like this…where the spirits of many people and many lands can meet and refresh themselves. And it is here as well…that we remember who we are and…And call our spirits home,” (viii).

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I, myself, stood in this same place, looking down on the coming together of masculine and feminine waters and of the place where souls leave this place after death – during my last month living in New Zealand, November 2013. See my blog about this trip.

Now, 2 years into living back in the United States, but in a new region, Seattle in the Northwest, I am at this point. Sorry, I know that sounds like Yoda-speak, I just saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Where am I now? Where is my home? Is my home here in the Northwest?

My wife and I went up to Victoria, British Columbia on the Victoria Clipper for an overnight weekend for our 24th wedding anniversary last weekend. Here are a few photos from that trip.

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We are still exploring this region, so it seems difficult to call it home when it is so new and so far from where we grew up and where most of our relatives live. I have been reading a lot of Joseph Campbell lately, as well as other authors (whom I will discuss below). This has been a big part of my transition from “down under” back to the Northern Hemisphere. At age 48, this has been my mid-life transition, like Dante taking his mid-life journey:

Midway along the journey of our life

     I woke to find myself in a dark wood

I have developed a class for veterans based on Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. The hero hears a call to adventure, crosses a threshold, meets mentors and challengers, has a descent into the unknown world, comes to a challenge which is both external and internal, comes to terms with the inner/outer feminine as well as the authority of society, re-crosses the threshold to the known world, but here finds himself or herself a stranger in a strange land and must work to re-acculturate to their own home. What the hero finds at the furthest point of the journey is the gift or boon which transforms the self and has the potential to renew and transform society as well. But often, this gift is hard to see and the physical treasure might even be lost, as happens to Gilgamesh when he sets down the herb of immortality that he has brought up from the deepest ocean and it is eaten by a snake. This means that the real treasure is the transformation of the self – not some material item. This framework is so useful for returning veterans who have been away in the military world and have difficulty returning back to the civilian world. The book and class I have developed are at the point where I have just submitted it to a publisher for review with a tentative title of, Return:  The Hero’s Journey Home – for Veterans & Society After War.

Hero's Journey

I have found this framework helpful for my own return and I have felt fellowship with these lost souls I have been working with. Reading Houston’s introduction, my mind returned to that rocky outcropping where Te Aroha clings to the cliff, serving as a guidepost for those who have died and transition on to another world. The end of my life in New Zealand really was a kind of death for me, while I am living here in the Northwest, I am still waiting in some ways to be reborn, to find out who I will be and what my life will be like here. The Northwest is the boundary between the physical West and the spiritual North on the medicine wheel. This brings me to the other major project I have been working on, co-authoring a book with my friend and Brother Joseph Rael (Joseph likes to think of us as verbs, rather than nouns, thus “Joseph-ing”), whose Tiwa name is Tsluu-teh-koh-ay (Beautiful Painted Arrow).

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Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)

I met Joseph in October of 2014 and he and I have met in person a few times and been talking on the phone and exchanging letters for work on our book, which we are calling Becoming Your Own Medicine. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Joseph. Not only does he make me ponder spiritual questions, he is really fun to work with and I always laugh with him. We are getting to the point of doing some editing work on the manuscript for the book and it is very much my own personal journey, my own hero’s journey as much as it is about Joseph’s teachings. Of course I have been reading and re-reading Joseph’s books and he just re-released a new version of his classic, Being & Vibration: Entering the New World. Hopefully the hero’s journey book and Becoming Your Own Medicine will be released in 2016/2017.

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In addition to my work with veterans and my collaboration with Joseph, I have been doing some deep study of various topics and authors. 2014 was largely reading Henry Corbin and Tom Cheetham’s works on esoteric Islam and Sufism. This also included a lot of the well-known poets, Rumi and Hafiz, but also one of my favourite books of that time, The Unveiling of Secrets: Diary of a Sufi Master by Ruzbihan Baqli. In 2015, I met Richard Miller, who was kind enough to spend some time talking about iRest & yoga Nidra, when he was up here for a conference. This year has been defined by reading a lot about Hinduism and Kashmiri Shaivism with the principle of non-duality being a primary focus, as well as the concept of spanda, the divine creative pulsation which corresponds so well to Joseph Rael’s teachings about reality. These books have primarily been by Jaideva Singh and Mark S. G. Dyczkowski.

The Unveiling of Secrets

Another topic that has been of interest to me is understanding the foundation of American democracy and seeing how we have lost touch with that and how we can re-invigorate the sense of non-denominational spirituality and human rights that were foundational for our country. I think this has been a kind of re-acquaintance with the U.S. for me. Parker Palmer’s Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit, Jacob Needleman’s The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders, Steven Hermann’s two books Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward and Walt Whitman: Shamanism, Spiritual Democracy, and the World Soul have helped me to come to a re-imagining of the idea of America.

George Kirazian

George Kirazian

Another highpoint of the year was working with George Kirazian on an interview with him about his friendship with translator Juan Mascaró, whose renderings of The Upanishads, The Bhagavad Gita, and The Dhammapada are still readily available in the Penguin Classics series.

Juan Mascaro

Juan MascaróUpanishads

 

In addition to my own writing, I look forward to continued collaboration with Joseph Rael, as well as some other friends of mine: Gary Orr, Hilton Kopp, and Sandy Carter. I met Gary and Hilton during my time down under and we have some great ideas – stay tuned…I met Sandy when she did a book review of Re-humanizing Medicine for the Courage & Renewal blog. She and I put together a conference proposal on Joy in Work, which was turned down, but has led to our long-distance collaboration on a project on this same topic, which I have been calling, A Work of Joy. This examines finding joy in work at a time when there are high rates of stress and burnout in health care.

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At the VA, I have a couple projects I have been working on that are specific to the VA. Along with Nicola De Paul, Craig Santerre, and Jenny Salmon, we have been developing a Whole Health class that provides holistic support and inspiration to veterans who are interested in taking a more active role in their health care. I have also been working with Laura Merritt on an adaptation of Re-humanizing Medicine for VA staff, which we have been calling, Caring for Self. It is great to be able to apply some of the ideas I developed in my book to self-care for staff as well as for patients.

I’ll close in returning to what Houston writes in the introduction to her book, The Search for the Beloved: Journeys in Mythology & Sacred Psychology.

“The premise of this book is that we must call our spirits home, lest we forsake our origins, and lose hope, meaning, health, and the ability to serve and participate in the greatest challenge that history has ever known…We are all being asked, both singularly and collectively, to cross a bridge and to meet halfway a rising reality, a sacred reality. Thus the need for training in journeys into the Sacred,” (viii).

Houston develops this concept of Sacred Psychology and training in journeys into the Sacred. I feel that this is also the focus of my work in the past two years. My understanding of the hero’s journey class is that it is a form of initiation rite to help veterans move from a state of being of war to a state of being of peace in order to make the transition back into the civilian world. One of the primary ways of doing this is a kind of spiritual awakening that accompanies a shift from a materialism-based separation to a spiritual-based sense of connection and even oneness with others. I have also come to understand my work with Joseph as being a guidebook on how to become a visionary in order to move from war to peace and again to move from a state of isolated separation (which is a state of conflict) to a state of Unity as expressions of the Vast Self. This requires dying to the old self and being reborn, continuously.

Hero's Journey Reflection

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Here is how Joseph ends his book, The House of Shattering Light:

The House of Shattering Light

Each of us is a ceremony, a vibration of the All-That-Is. We ourselves are the Vast Self, that One Actor in the universe, who creates continually in all moments. We are the Vast Self playing in creation as creatures, as individuals.

In the experiences of my life, through loss and transformation, ceremony and story, I learned how to emerge continually from the individual self that is Joseph Earl Head Rael into the Vast Self again. In the kiva, in the sweat lodge, in the sun dances and long dances. I have learned to die to myself in order to know the Self, dying from this House of Shattering Light into states of ecstasy, and then returning again, that the Vast Self might drink continually of the light that It is creating.

To know ourselves as the Vast Self playing is to be both human and divine. It is for this we all are born, to be mystics, fully alive and dancing, (199-200).

My return to North America and my transition into the second half of my life have brought me to look less for a physical place of home and more for a spiritual, internal place – a place that also includes many places in the world as well as the whole world, or as Houston writes, “a citizen of the universe.”

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Review of Marsha Snyder’s Positive Health: Flourishing Lives, Well-Being in Doctors

Positive Health

I first met Marsha Snyder, MD, MAPP, an American psychiatrist, at the Health of Health Professionals conference in Auckland, New Zealand, 2011. I have sat in on her presentations over the past three offerings of the Australasian Doctors’ Health Conference/Health of Health Professionals conference. Marsha sums up her years of work and personal experience in this book, Positive Health: Flourishing Lives, Well-Being in Doctors, published 2014 – the same year as my book, Re-humanizing Medicine. Marsha’s book adds to what I have been calling the counter-curriculum of self-care and compassion revolution in health care.

Snyder

Marsha describes a curriculum that builds on positive psychology, which she studied under Dr. Martin Seligman for her Master’s degree at University of Pennsylvania. She creates an expansive curriculum of positive health and builds upon evidence-based principles of resilience and positive psychology to transform “physician ill-being” into well-being and flourishing.

Marsha describes five themes for her book:

 
1) The “cause of ill-being in medical students extends beyond the students, into issues with faculty and administration.”

2) Many “physicians who are troubled or burned out relate some of their difficulties to ethical issues in the system.”

3) There is a need for “understanding, defining, and teaching of resilience skills to physicians.”

4) The “creation of well-being in doctors and the rest of society by incorporating the science of positive health.”

5) Medical “training and practice must move out from an outdated pathology-based model to a health-based/prevention-based model,” (page 2).

Marsha adds in various exercises, including mindfulness, and discussion questions to the curriculum and stresses the need for “spirited multi-disciplinary teams.” She includes a chapter on “Spirituality and Well-Being,” defining spirituality as “a search for the sacred,” (240) and she reviews the links between spirituality and health. I particularly like the chapter, “Posttraumatic and Post-Ecstatic Growth in Medicine.” I was familiar with posttraumatic growth which describes the potentially transformative response to trauma, but I had not heard of “post-ecstatic growth,” which describes how highly positive experiences can also lead to transformative growth of “different areas of the self, including meaning in life, self-esteem, or social bonds,” (233).

Positive Health: Flourishing Lives, Well-Being in Doctors is a welcome addition to the growing literature on the need for self-care and personal growth in doctors and health care workers. Marsha’s focus goes way beyond limiting the negative to expanding joy and flourishing in the lives of those working in health care.

A Work of Joy.4: Dave’s Personal Reflections on Joy

This is the fourth of a series of blog posts examining Joy in Work. I have been calling it: A Work of Joy! It is part of an ongoing discussion between Dave Kopacz and Sandy Carter on this topic and will include each of our thoughts individually as well as our dialogue on Joy in Work. This fourth blog follows Sandy’s personal reflections on joy with Dave’s personal reflections. These personal reflections then will set the stage for our later writings on Joy in Work.

Dave Kopacz, M.D. works as a psychiatrist at the VA in Primary Care Mental Health Integration. Prior to this he was Clinical Director at Buchanan Rehabilitation Centre in Auckland, New Zealand. He is Board certified in Psychiatry and Integrative & Holistic Medicine. He is the author of Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine.

 

Sandy: “How about you Dave? Has joy always been a part of your life? If not, when did you first experience it and what is your relationship with joy now?”

Dave’s Personal Reflections on Joy:

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Sandy, thank you so much for your story of opening to joy in your life. I like the descriptions you give of joy and I think similarly, that it can happen in the most ordinary moment, and yet it is transformative. Creative, surrender, flow, deep connection, expansion, light, grounded – all these words you use I relate to.

For me, I think I have always had moments of joy at different points in my life, while at the same time I have had painful times with a lack of that feeling. The essence of my personality is introverted, creative, and idealistic. These aspects of my personality can both contribute to and hinder my experience of joy. I think I am a serious person with a good sense of humor and when my seriousness and humor are balanced, it is easier to be open to feeling joy. When I have time to myself, when creativity is flowing, and when I feel a sense of meaning and purpose in my life, I am more open to the possibility of joy.  But when I feel overly pulled into the mundane demands of the external world, when I don’t have a creative project or outlet, and when I don’t live up to my own ideals or the world does not live up to my idealistic view of how it should be – I become overly serious and can get quite pessimistic and negative.

Since at least when I was in high school, I have embarked on a conscious project of personal growth. I have become more capable of enjoying extroverted activities and I think this has increased my capacity for joy. Deep connection is an integral part of the joy experience for me – generally connecting Self, others, and nature. I have come to think of this like an epiphany or a theophany – a sudden in-breaking of the Divine into my life. This can be very expansive, as you say, but it can also be very grounding, maybe the most mundane thing suddenly takes on a vast and important meaning.

With joy, there is this component that it comes unbidden (theophany, epiphany), but there is also a component of making one’s self capable of joy. It does have a paradoxical nature, as you note. The scholar of esoteric Islam, Henry Corbin, writes of “making oneself capable of God,” (Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Ṣūfism of Ibn ʻArabī). That has stuck with me since I read it. He goes on to speak about how we can only experience that which we are capable of experiencing. To me, this means our baseline capacity for joy. However, he also implies that we can make ourselves more capable of God/joy through inner, spiritual work. What this means to me is that, through spiritual work, we can experience deeper and more frequently God/joy in our lives.

I equate God with Joy and I think this can thus apply in a secular or spiritual framework. To me, the two words are interchangeable. We could also use words like the Divine, or a word that Jung uses frequently, the numinous. In the Kashmiri Shaivisim tradition, which flourished in Northern India around 700 to 1100 C.E., the ultimate reality is described as a “compact mass of bliss” (Dyczkowski, The Doctrine of Vibration).  I think this is what is meant in the Christian tradition when it is said that “God is Love.” Love and joy are deeply connected. When I come home from work and our dog (who happens to be named Henry Corbin) greets me – bouncing, spinning, barely able to contain himself – I feel the experience of love & joy.

I’ll include two photos of myself that capture this sense of joy. This first one is from a journey I took after I graduated from university. I took a backpack filled with books and food and camping gear, took a 50 hour bus trip from Chicago to Seattle, and went on a solo backpacking trip in the Olympic National Park. There was a great deal of physical and emotional suffering that I went through in the early part of the trip. I think that suffering and joy are not necessarily opposites. I do think that suffering is sometimes necessary to help break us down and open us up in order to become more capable of joy. Just as you describe, Sandy, your opening of joy following a sense of suffering, I think this can often be the case. Native American visionary, Joseph Rael, even speaks of the use of “intentional suffering” (fasting, physical exertion) as being a necessary part of vision quest. This “crying for a vision” is what helps us to become more capable of God/joy. I took this photo as I crested a mountain ridge and a panoramic view opened up before me.

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Here is my journal entry from that day:

7/25/89

Today I am born.  I AM ALIVE.  Today alone was worth the price and troubles of the trip.  I am seated atop a mountain.  The view is breathtaking and it is even more spectacular because I climbed up the whole damn thing!  I passed snow in the shady spots coming up.  Except for a couple of chirpers and a multitude of bugs…it is silent.  What more could there be?

 

When nothing is lost

nothing is gained

When nothing is gained

things are not as they should be

 

With a hat on my head and a sack

at my side

I walk with the breeze and the

moon on my staff

 

And here is my journal entry for the next day:

 

7/26/89

Right now I am at Kyak.

Yesterday…well, there is that earlier entry.  After that I went up still higher and a view opened up that was indescribable.  I had been on the north face of the mountain and had been viewing the smaller mountains to the north.  After I crossed over to the south side and climbed a bit higher, I could see the entire Olympic Range, along with snow/glacier covered Mount Olympus.  Breathtaking is the only way to describe the section of mountain I stood on.   There was about a 60 degree slope of about 150′ without trees.  The only thing between the mountains and valleys beyond and myself was air.  I stood and stared for quite a while.  I think it would be hard to say that you had been alive if you have not seen something so spectacular.

By the time I had hiked 9.2 miles and found a decent site, I was in a foul mood once again.  If I would have seen the guy who wrote that shit about nothing lost, nothing gained, I would have pushed him off a cliff.  In the last dying light of the day I opened Zen Mind, Beginners Mind and the only word I could make out was “constancy.”

Yesterday was anything but constancy, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.  I don’t want constancy in the form of a continual mellow, but it’s just that the way I felt last night seems so childish.  Can that be overcome while still maintaining the ability to feel and express anger and frustration?

 

I think my journal entry points to some of the things we have been discussing with joy. This episode came following intense physical and emotional suffering as I got my feet under me, adjust to being alone and the constant neurotic chatter of my own mind, and as my body gradually built up strength for mountain hiking.

Then – comes this sudden epiphany, I take a photo, write some lines and have an intense experience. (A note on the photo, the most important thing is seeing my face and remembering that experience, but I have so much “baggage” that you can barely see the scenery around me – well, anyway, that was not the important thing at that moment). Then, this experience is blown away by an even greater experience of joy – the joy beyond describing – and I don’t write about it or take a photo, there is nothing but pure experience. Then, this is followed once again by a descent into despair and I turned to my friend Shunryu Suzuki and he said, “constancy.” Maybe that literal peak experience was only possible from the suffering that led up to it. Maybe the constancy is allowing ourselves to be pulled apart by the extremes of life, while still resting on some inner sense of being that is constantly expanding which is both painful and joyous.

Here is another photo that comes to mind when I think of a joyful moment that has been captured on film. This is a photo from a Holi celebration we had at Buchanan Rehabilitation Centre, where I was working down in New Zealand. We had a small group of amazing and fantastic staff who put on the Exploring Mental Health through Yoga group. Sneh, a wonderful Fijian Indian social worker led us in the yoga and would put on these holiday feasts for us. Sneh would often have us do “laughter yoga” at the end of our sessions. Hearing her spontaneously laugh always made me laugh really deeply.

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The Hindu festival of Holi involves throwing handfuls of colored powder at each other. It is kind of like a water balloon fight, only with colored powder. We were so covered with colored powder – it was everywhere! My friend, Arishma, took this photo of me, but right as she was taking the photo, I threw a handful of color at her. While this was all a blast, she did get some powder in her eyes while taking the photo and I felt bad about that, but this photo is right before that happened. This photo captures, for me, the joy that I had working at Buchanan in New Zealand.

What is my personal relationship to joy at this time in my life?

Joseph Campbell coined the popular phrase, “Follow your bliss.” He took this from the Hindu concept of reality as consisting of Sat Chit Ananda, which means Being, Consciousness, Bliss. Campbell wasn’t sure he knew what proper Being or proper Consciousness was, but he did have an internal sense of what brought him joy, Bliss, and rapture. He choose to follow that. While this has often been taken to mean some kind of hedonism in popular culture, Campbell did not mean it in that way. In fact at a later point he said in an interview, “I should have said, ‘Follow your blisters!” This perhaps captures it if we combine both – follow where you are pulled and called to go through your Bliss, but be prepared to develop a lot of Blisters in the process!

Ok, well, for me, at this point in my life, I am trying to have an awareness of the deep reality of joy that is the fundamental nature of Consciousness, Being and Reality. The emotions on the surface are often not joyful, sometimes they are, but sometimes they are not. I am always working (Joseph Rael’s grandmother told him, “work is worship”) to create more capability for joy in my life. This is what makes life worth living, opens us up to colorful, peak experiences, and sustains us through the inevitable trials and tribulations of life.

How about some pet photos to end with? These always make me smile and feel joy in my heart!

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Henry Corbin

 

 

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Also known as “Sea Biscuit” as he loves to drink the ocean, but too much isn’t good for him.

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Sofia

Neo in closet

Neo

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Glory

Review of Re-humanizing Medicine on Gold Foundation Blog

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There is a new review of my book, Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine, up on the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Blog. The Foundation focuses on promoting humanism in medicine and their motto is: Working to keep the care in healthcare.

Check out their blog. I also did a guest blog a couple months ago on “A Counter-curriculum of Self Care.”

 

Joy: Personal Reflections by Sandy Carter

What is Joy in Work, Where has it gone, How can We bring it Back?

This is the third in a series of blog posts examining Joy in Work. It is part of an ongoing discussion between Dave Kopacz and Sandy Carter on this topic and will include each of our thoughts individually as well as our dialogue on Joy in Work. This third blog gives some background on Sandy’s personal reflections about the nature of Joy.

Sandy Carter, Ph.D. works as a physician coach and consultant in Michigan. Sandy is a professional certified coach, holds a PhD in organizational management with a specialization in leadership, and Masters in Business Administration and Social Work. Her research is in the area of transformational leadership with physicians, and wellness and resiliency.

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When did I first consciously feel joy as an adult?

When I reflect back on a childhood experience that feels joyful, roller-skating is my earliest memory of fully embodying joyfulness. I was in elementary school when my parents enrolled me in a roller skating class. Reflecting on this memory many decades later, I can relive sensations of joy and happiness as I go back in time to those early years when I was first learning how to skate. At the time, skating made sense to me in a way nothing else in my life did. It brought everything together and I was fully engaged and present. After mastering the basics, I would spend hours practicing at the Rolladium Skating Rink by our house, circling around the rink again and again. As I gained confidence, I took greater risks and brought my whole self into the experience. I think that’s why it felt so joyful – I was immersed in the present moment and felt a heightened sense of aliveness and as much as a child can – felt completely on purpose. Unfortunately, my skating opportunities diminished as my parents were forced to cut back on expenses. My parents felt terrible, and I know this must have been a terrible loss for me. Strangely, I don’t have a memory of the loss. Now, all that’s left is the memory and a felt experience of those joyous days when I let skating consume me. My parent’s promised to get my brother and I back into skating when times were better. However, those better times never came for my parents. At least, they didn’t come until my brother and I had left home and took responsibility for our own lives.

It would be many years later before I would feel the lightness of joy again in my life. I had disconnected from this earlier childhood experience and buried it very deep. I had no sense of what it even felt like to feel joyful by the time I completed grade school.

As I entered adulthood my life often felt heavy. All of my earlier role models were burdened as they struggled and suffered from life events. In fact, my first adult experience of deeply feeling joy didn’t happen until I was in my mid-forties. I had experienced happiness and excitement many times over the years, but not Joy. Of course, not having a point of reference – I didn’t even know what I was missing.

My first conscious experience with Joy in my adult life happened in an ordinary moment. I was driving my car on a winter day. I remember feeling how good it was to be alive for no particular reason. There wasn’t anything special about this day from any other day.

As I drove, I remember feeling fully present taking in and completely accepting everything around me. I wasn’t thinking about the past or the future. I was not judging nor wanting to change anything or even defining experiences as good or bad – I was just “being.” That’s when it happened – trying to describe what “it” is feels paradoxical. I felt myself EXPAND, connect to an energy source that was both ethereal (graceful, light and spacious) and resilient (substantial and grounded). Suddenly, I felt uplifted and a part of everything. I also remember having a sense that I had opened a channel, a place where energy moves through me and not a place where I push, pull or demand things to happen.

I intuitively knew this was a defining moment. A few nights previous to this experience I had been working in my home office until 3:00 in the morning. As my family slept, I got up from my desk and walked a file box down the stairs to the basement to place next to the 2-dozen other file boxes with taxes and other organizational papers, that had accumulated over the years. As I heard the box hit the floor, something shifted in me. The clunk got my attention in a way I had never experienced prior. I found myself taking stock and asking myself why was I allowing work to burden me? Why was I sacrificing my health and wellbeing and even my happiness to work so hard? I decided I did not like being driven – it was sucking me dry. I allowed myself to feel completely how unhappy I was in that early morning moment in my stark, cold basement amongst the piles of file boxes. I felt the meaning of this fully, shuttered, shook off the depressing feelings and went to bed.

It was only a few days later that I experienced (what I’ve come to realize) was Joy! I often think about that day. I know I opened a portal into creative space that allows my work to come through me. Somehow that night I set an intention to let go of the push/pull and drive and making things happen exclusively through my willpower. Instead, I found a new source of working/creating where I am in flow if I surrender control, ask for guidance and maintain presence. A by-product is a state of wellbeing and gratitude that supports me in my relationships and work. Sometimes I forget when I feel performance pressure or am outside of my comfort zone and I will start to engage in that heightened state of driven frenzy, but once I start to feel burdened – I know I am not working from my best self, and most often I can shift. I smile as I reflect on my childhood experience of roller-skating and recognize the portal I opened was in part, reclaiming that child who loved, loved, loved to roller-skate!

Tea Party

My sister, father, me, and my mother having a tea party!

I feel most fortunate to have reclaimed that little girl as now I have a grandson (Carter), and the child in me can really relate to this little guy. I can fully immerse into his joyous world of 2-year old play in a way I would not have been capable of earlier in my life. I would have “tried” very hard because I would have felt guilty (sad) by not playing with my grandson. I know now, that “exerting effort” restricts my capacity for joy, and that letting go of “trying” opens up space for freedom, discovery, and playfulness, rippling into JOYFULNESS!

Sandy with Carter

With Carter when he was born!

Carter Drunk on Bliss

Carter celebrating his first birthday – Drunk on Bliss!

Being out in nature really brings me back to that experience I mentioned earlier of being both light and spacious and feeling grounded. I love the peace and isolation of wilderness hiking. I instantly expand and connect deeply while in nature. In many ways, I am continually connecting to nature and don’t necessarily have to go into the wilderness, but in such settings I go deeper into self-reflection and experience profound peace. And, playfulness and adventure (in spite of the challenges) are very joyful experiences for me!

Sandy on Appalachian Trail

Backpacking the Appalachian Trail

Sandy hiking

Wilderness Hiking

How about you Dave? Has joy always been a part of your life? If not, when did you first experience it and what is your relationship with joy now? 

Answer – next week…

A Work of Joy.2 – What is Joy in Work, Where has it Gone? How can We Bring it Back?

What is Joy in Work, Where has it gone, How can We bring it Back?

This is the second in a series of blog posts examining Joy in Work. It is part of an ongoing discussion between Dave Kopacz and Sandy Carter on this topic and will include each of our thoughts individually as well as our dialogue on Joy in Work. This second blog outlines Sandy’s initial thoughts on Joy in Work.

Sandy Carter, Ph.D. works as a physician coach and consultant. Sandy is a professional certified coach, holds a PhD in organizational management with a specialization in leadership, and Masters in Business Administration and Social Work. Her research is in the area of transformational leadership with physicians, and wellness and resiliency.

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What is Joy? How is it different from happiness?

Sandy Carter:

Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a combination of emotions and contains elements of contentment, confidence, and hope. Joy has more depth, meaning and purpose than happiness. Being joyful means feeling connected to yourself and/or others in life, nature, and appreciating beauty. It requires an acceptance for how life is (not how you’d like it to be), by living in the present. Joy comes from within! It is a sustainable emotional experience that alters our physiology and biochemistry promoting a sense of wellbeing that promotes resilience and supports immune health. In the Biblical sense, Joy is not an emotion, and it is not linked to environmental conditions, but is an attitude of the heart and spirit. It is where internal peace and contentment reside, in spite of, what’s happening ones’   life.

Lotus

Happiness is subjective – it can mean different things to different people and is more of a momentary state of being. Happiness is an emotional state of wellbeing defined by positive feelings that can range from contentment to intense Joy!

Savor the Moment

Why is Joy/happiness important?

 Joy and happiness are connected to wellbeing and are valued as essential for individuals to thrive in their work and personal lives.  On March 20, 2013, the first ever International Day of Happiness was celebrated around the world. The UN General Assembly passed a resolution to promote happiness as a universal goal and aspiration for people everywhere. The UN is urging governments to start measuring wellbeing as a guide to creating public policy. This has roots in the field of sustainable development. The UN recognizes by measuring gross domestic product (GPD) we are placing overemphasize on materialism and incomes (that beyond a certain point) does not enhance life satisfaction.

International Happiness Day

Additionally, by enhancing our overall wellbeing we can directly impact the high costs of healthcare and help create healthier work cultures that can improve hospital safety concerns (medical errors and complications). While working in cultures where there is blame/shame people tend to be hyper-vigilant and low trust. This level of stress impacts energy levels, judgment and health. Often leading to lost revenue from absenteeism, turnover, disability, insurance costs, workplace accidents, violence, workers’ compensation, and lawsuits, etc.

The United States is the most overworked developed nation in the world. Working is not necessarily the problem. If you love what you do, are doing it for the right reasons and can rest and restore – work can be a wonderful thing. However, far too many Americans are driven to work more and more (based on scarcity values of feeling like they don’t have enough) which leads to stress and lower quality of life. Leaving many people without time to unwind, take care of themselves or their homes. Vital connections are lost to friends and family. These kinds of circumstances lead to isolation, loneliness, and burnout. When all of this becomes overwhelming and can lead to coping strategies, further stress and deteriorate health.  Stress is the #1 cause of both mental and physical health problems. Many workers today are burned out and pressured causing heightened anxiety, depression and disease.

Overburdened Doctor

Biology of Joy:

People who experience upper reaches of happiness on psychological tests develop about 50% more antibodies than average. It’s also been discovered that mental states such as hopefulness appear to reduce the risk or limit the risk of cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc. Joy, happiness, and positive emotions make your immune system function better, help you fight disease, and even live longer.

Herbert Benson has done research on the Relaxation Response. By initiating the Relaxation Response, we can experience a physical state of deep rest that counteracts the harmful effects of the fight-or-flight response. If we can let go of bad stress, our brains can rearrange themselves neurologically so that the two hemispheres communicate better, and problem solving becomes easier.

Relaxation Response

Stress, Eustress & Joy

The problem is we don’t take care of ourselves very well. For example, the United States is the only industrialized nation without a mandatory option for new parents to take parental leave. Furthermore, 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of a workweek and the U.S. does not. A large percentage (85.8% male and 66.5% females) work more than a 40-hour workweek. We also are the only nation in the industrialized world that has no legally mandated annual leave and very short vacation times compared to Europe.

Unmanaged stress can be destructive, and… stress also has a positive benefit. Eustress or good stress provides us with energy and motivates us to produce. When we are utilizing eustress, we find clarity, focus, and creative insight.

Joyful Doctor

Joy at work is essential. It is a vital energy in sustaining high levels of passion, performance, and productivity. Meaningful work is about uncovering and utilizing our true gifts.

In these times of unprecedented change, it is vital that we are connected to a deeper, natural energy source from within.

Stress is an essential response in highly competitive environments – it focuses you, but past a certain point it compromises your performance, efficiency and eventually your health. We are at that point today as physicians experience burnout at epidemic levels and commit suicide at a rate higher than the general public.

Poetry describing what it means to live joyfully

 

Mindful

 

Every day

I see or I hear

something

that more or less

 

kills me

with delight,

that leaves me

like a needle

 

in the haystack

of light,

it is what I was born for—

to look, to listen,

 

to lose myself

inside this soft world—

to instruct myself

over and over

 

in joy,

and acclamation.

Nor am I talking

about the exceptional,

 

the fearful, the dreadful,

the very extravagant—

but of the ordinary,

the common, the very drab,

 

the daily presentations.

Oh, good scholar,

I say to myself,

how can you help

 

but grow wise

with such teachings

as these–

the untrimmable light

 

of the world,

the ocean’s shine,

the prayers that are made

out of grass?

 

Mary Oliver from Why I Wake Early, 2004

Mary Oliver

David Whyte on JOY

is the meeting place of deep intentionality and self forgetting, the bodily alchemy of what lies inside us in communion with what formally seemed outside, but is now neither, but become a living frontier, a voice speaking between us and the world: dance, laughter, affection, skin touching skin, singing in the car, music in the kitchen, the quiet irreplaceable and companionable presence of a daughter: the sheer intoxicating beauty of the world inhabited as an edge between what we previously thought was us and what we thought was other than us.

Joy can be made by practiced, hard-won achievement as much as by an unlooked for, passing act of grace arriving out of nowhere; joy is a measure of our relationship to death and our living with death, joy is the act of giving ourselves away before we need to or are asked to, joy is practiced generosity. If joy is a deep form of love, it is also the raw engagement with the passing seasonality of existence, the fleeting presence of those we love understood as gift, going in and out of our lives, faces, voices, memory, aromas of the first spring day or a wood-fire in winter, the last breath of a dying parent as they create a rare, raw, beautiful frontier between loving presence and a new and blossoming absence.

To feel a full and untrammeled joy is to have become fully generous; to allow our selves to be joyful is to have walked through the doorway of fear, the dropping away of the anxious worried self felt like a thankful death itself, a disappearance, a giving away, overheard in the laughter of friendship, the vulnerability of happiness felt suddenly as a strength, a solace and a source, the claiming of our place in the living conversation, the sheer privilege of being in the presence of a mountain, a sky or a well loved familiar face – I was here and you were here and together we made a world.

‘JOY’ David Whyte

From CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

MANY RIVERS PRESS

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Consolations

Meaningful work is by far the primary motivator for engagement, and experiencing excitement and joy in one’s work. Today, in healthcare organizations the environments are toxic, as the conditions for creating opportunities for meaningful work are not met.

Conditions of meaningful work include: worker autonomy, having sufficient resources and an opportunity to learn from problems. Currently, many physicians have lost their autonomy, are told to do more with less and work in toxic cultures. These are environments where it’s not safe to expose vulnerability for growth and development, and we know working in environments where there is mutual respect is critical to finding meaning and joy. A precondition for a culture of safety in the workplace is the protection of the physical and psychological safety of the workforce. Joy in the workplace comes from an appreciation of the human spirit and organizational support for developing capabilities.

Conditions for meaningful work also comes from having leaders who are a resource for enabling physicians/others by removing obstacles, providing support and acknowledging/validating strong effort and successful outcomes. When people engage in work at this level – community spirit, innovation and creativity flourishes. Most adults in the U.S. spend more hours at work than anywhere else… work should “ennoble, not kill, the human spirit.”

A Work of Joy.1 < What is Joy in Work, Where has it Gone, How can We bring it Back?

This is the first of a series of blog posts examining Joy in Work – maybe we’ll call it: A Work of Joy! It is part of an ongoing discussion between Dave Kopacz and Sandy Carter on this topic and will include each of our thoughts individually as well as our dialogue on Joy in Work. This first blog will provide a broad outline for subsequent work. We will each start with a monologue and move from there into dialogue.

Dave Kopacz, M.D. works as a psychiatrist at the VA in Primary Care Mental Health Integration. Prior to this he was Clinical Director at Buchanan Rehabilitation Centre in Auckland, New Zealand. He is Board certified in Psychiatry and Integrative & Holistic Medicine. He is the author of Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine.

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Sandy Carter, Ph.D. works as a physician coach and consultant. Sandy is a professional certified coach, holds a PhD in organizational management with a specialization in leadership, and Masters in Business Administration and Social Work. Her research is in the area of transformational leadership with physicians, and wellness and resiliency.She heads The Center for Physician Leadership Coaching. 

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What is joy in work?

Where has it gone?

How can we bring it back?

Dave: To speak of joy in work can seem like an oxymoron – work is work, after all, isn’t it? The Online Etymology Dictionary describes the roots of “work” as having elements of toil as well as creativity, it can mean a military fortification as well as an artistic labor, Mark Twain wisely points out that the difference between work and play is a matter of conditions or attitude.

Very busy business

Very busy business

Old English weorc…“something done…action (whether voluntary or required)… also “physical labor, toil; skilled trade, craft, or occupation…” “military fortification,” from Proto-Germanic werkan…from Proto-Indian-European werg-o-…“to do…”

Meaning “physical effort, exertion” is from c. 1200; meaning “scholarly labor” or its productions is from c. 1200; meaning “artistic labor” or its productions is from c. 1200…Meaning “embroidery, stitchery, needlepoint” is from late 14c. Work of art attested by 1774 as “artistic creation,” earlier (1728)…

“Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.” [Mark Twain]

“Work,” Online Etymology Dictionary, accessed 11/6/15 

We have a wide range of roots and definitions for the word “work,” at its most simple it is “to do,” and our judgements on that doing determine whether we view it as work or play, hard or easy, meaningless or meaningful. Doing for no reason feels meaningless and tedious, but Doing that is meaningful is rewarding, even if the work is difficult. Sandy notes that we can meet high demands if we have high resources – so in this way success in work depends not only on the external conditions and needs, but also our individual, relational and organizational resources.

Garden-of-eden

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, we read early on in the Bible that human beings have been cast out of the Garden of Eden for their transgression of eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. God curses Adam and Eve and their descendants, saying that man must earn his living from the ground with toil and that woman must give birth in pain. We have this deeply ingrained belief that our relationship with work and with our bodies is one that is filled with pain – not joy – and that we have the guilt of “original sin” that taints our lives in this world. (Not all theologian ascribe to this idea, for instance Matthew Fox writes in Original Blessing that there are other spiritual perspectives we can take in the relationship between spirit and matter and that we can find joy in our work in the world).

Original Blessing.2

However, there is also a long tradition in all religions of a sense of joy and joyousness that come from the mystical connection with Spirit. Dorothee Soelle, in her work on mysticism in, The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance, lists five domains of mystical experience: Nature, Eroticism, Suffering, Community, and Joy. She describes joy as a state of being, rather than a sense of acquisition or momentary pleasure.

The Silent Cry

“In the mystical sense, joy is something not tied to objects or certain experiences of delight. Joy is a matter of ‘rejoicing in’ rather than of being ‘glad about,’” (The Silent Cry, 179).

Henry Van Dyke wrote “The Hymn of Joy,” written in English and set to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which, in turn was inspired by Schiller’s poem, “Ode to Joy.” Here are Van Dyke’s lyrics as an example of spiritual joy.

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,

God of glory, Lord of love;

hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,

Opening to the Sun above,

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;

drive the dark of doubt away;

Giver of immortal gladness,

fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,

earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,

stars and angels sing around Thee,

center of unbroken praise:

Field and forest, vale and mountain,

Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,

chanting bird and flowing fountain,

call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,

ever blessing, ever blest,

well-spring of the joy of living,

ocean-depth of happy rest!

Thou the Father, Christ our Brother,—

all who live in love are Thine:

Teach us how to love each other,

lift us to the Joy Divine.

Mortals join the mighty chorus,

which the morning stars began;

Father-love is reigning o’er us,

brother-love binds man to man.

Ever singing, march we onward,

victors in the midst of strife;

joyful music lifts us sunward

in the triumph song of life

(“The Hymn of Joy,” Wikipedia, accessed 11/6/15)

Ode to Joy combined 9x12 with tab

Work is our action in the world. Joy is the sense of connection to the greater meaning and purpose in our work.

Rael, Joseph 2

Native American visionary, Joseph Rael was taught by his grandmother that “work is worship,” (Ceremonies of the Living Spirit, 22). This brings a different perspective to work, as in the Native American tradition, every action is sacred and there is no separation between spirit and matter. Zen Buddhism takes a similar approach of spiritualizing mundane tasks, such as “polishing the mirror” or “chop wood, carry water.” In the tradition of Kashmiri Saivism, the ultimate Reality is considered to be “a compact mass of bliss (cidānandaghana),” (Dyczkowski, The Doctrine of Vibration, 44). The ultimate union of Being-Consciousness-Bliss is called “saccidānanada.”

Doctrine of Vibration

This is the “Sat, Chit, Ananda,” that Joseph Campbell speaks of when, after studying the wisdom of the Hindu tradition, he coined the phrase, “follow your bliss,” (Joseph Campbell & Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, 149, 285).

Follow your bliss

In this work that we are undertaking, joy will refer to something deeper than a passing emotion such as happiness or the momentary satisfaction of a desire. We will be looking at joy as the underlying substrate of our Being. This comes from a sense of unity within ourselves and a sense of unity and connection with others. To put it very simply, suffering comes from separation and disconnection and joy emerges from a sense of deep connection and unity within one’s self, between self and other, and within community.

Jack Kornfeld, in his foreword to Awakening Joy, addresses this deeper level of joy. “Joy is our birthright…it is innate to consciousness. Joy is a reflection of our true nature,” (Baraz and Alexander, Awakening Joy, xiii-xiv). Kornfeld describes joy in such a way that we can imagine it to be the foundation of our life, the deep, internal ocean currents, strong and perpetual, beneath the passing, tossing waves of the ups and downs of our daily emotional life. The authors of this book (who have been teaching courses on awakening joy since 2003) describe that having a sense of joy is a choice. “Our joy and happiness is up to us. Our suffering and well-being is not solely determined by what’s happening in our present circumstances but to a large degree by our relationship to what is happening,” (Awakening Joy, xviii).

awakening to joy

Joy, in the way we will be discussing it, relates to connection, innate birthright, choice and a spiritual wisdom perspective on life.

The reason that we need to be talking about joy in the work of health care is because it has been lost in most health care work environments: physician burnout, patient dissatisfaction, long wait times, short appointment times, complicated insurance bureaucracies, costly co-payments and deductibles (for those lucky enough to have insurance) – in short, joyless experiences in giving, receiving, managing, and reimbursing health care. We take a holistic perspective that these variables cannot be dealt with in an isolated way: patient satisfaction cannot be considered without staff well-being and without considering the human needs of administrative and leadership staff. It is all of one piece. That is what we learn when we set off in search of joy – just like in the Wizard of Oz, we already have it within ourselves, but we must set off on a journey of self-exploration in which we support each other’s quest to realize and manifest what it is that we have lost or felt we never had in the first place.

In this joyful work we are undertaking, we will draw on diverse fields of human study, both ancient and modern, including: mysticism, spirituality, poetry, personal growth, well-being, positive psychology, business, economics, leadership, neuroscience, systems theory and relational science. We will look at how to manifest joy at the individual level, interpersonal level and communal level. Fundamental to manifesting joy at all these levels is the principle of connection – connection to dimensions of Self, connection between individuals, and connection in groups and communities. Joy is an emergent property that manifests from a sense of deep connection. We will then look at practical applications of joy at each of these levels and also in relation to leadership in health care and models of health care reform, such as the Triple Aim of the Institute for Health Care Improvement.

Next week we will publish Sandy’s monologue, then the dialogue will start…

A Work of Joy!

Guest Blog: A Counter-Curriculum of Self Care, at the Arnold P. Gold Foundation

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Check out my guest blog on the idea of the counter-curriculum in self care at the Arnold P. Gold Foundation blog.

The Gold Foundation is a great organization whose motto is: “Working to keep the care in health care.”

logo

Similar to the message in my book, Re-humanizing Medicine, the Gold Foundation states “Humanistic medical care is not simply compassion. It is the best of medicine.”

They are a good resource for research on humanism and compassion in medicine. They offer grants to practitioners and researchers (my mate, Hilton Koppe – @doc_hilton – from Lennox Head Australia recently received a Gold Foundation grant for his work on poetry and medicine).

I discuss the counter-curriculum in my book and in this blog I talk a little bit about the background of how I came to the necessity of that idea.

“Sometimes the things you most need to learn are not taught in school.”

Alliance of International Aromatherapists conference – Denver, September 2015

I just got some photos back from a conference I did in Denver back in September. My dear friend, Sara Holmes encouraged me to present at the conference. Here is a photo of the two of us together with Sara promoting my book!

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I have been presenting variations on the topic of “Becoming a Whole Person to Treat a Whole Person.”

title slide

The idea is that we lose important aspects of ourselves as we learn to be good technicians. Therefore we must work to balance out our technical learning with human learning. This is what I call the “counter-curriculum,” the way that we re-humanize ourselves as we go through technical training and work in institutions that value economic and productivity issues in which we can lose sight of our humanity as well as the humanity of the client we are there to serve.

Be a Whole Person slide

In order to be a whole person, we must have some understanding of what it means to be a whole person. This is the framework that I use in my book:

Whole Person

I did a book signing as well as the presentation at the conference. The book signing was fun and I was able to have some great in-depth conversations with some people doing really great work. Here I am talking with Debrah Zepf (center) and Julia Graves, author of a very interesting book, The Language of Plants (right).

David Kopacz, Debrah Zepf, Julia Graves

David Kopacz, Debrah Zepf, Julia Graves

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Here are a few photos from the presentation that the conference photographer took:

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I was originally going to do a workshop, but ended up doing an hour presentation at the conference. I ran out of time to do this visualization, or perhaps I should call it a scentualization exercise. Here was the idea I had for this particular aromatherapy conference:

Integrating the Scents of Self

I also spoke some about my work with veterans and developing the hero’s journey class based on Joseph Campbell’s concept of the hero’s journey. This class uses narrative, story telling, writing, mindfulness, and understanding PTSD as a form of cultural adaptation as well as a conditioned response of the nervous system. Here is a painting that I did as part of the class where we do a “hero’s project.”

Hero's Journey

It was a great conference and I really enjoyed meeting these wonderful healers there. Sara had me stand in front of this painting for a photo and I thought the lighting was interesting, so let’s end this post with that. I forget what Sara was saying to try to make me laugh, but I know it was great seeing her and her husband, Chuck – great friends from our time in Central Illinois:

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Australasian Doctors Health Conference, Melbourne, Australia

I just got back from a presentation at the Australasian Doctors Health conference in Melbourne Australia. Ironically,  I got sick at the doctors health conference! It was worth it, though, such a great conference, great people, great topic! Now I am back in Seattle, recovering and unpacking.

The flight out of Seattle, heading to LA for my connection, had some great sunset views.

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I presented on “Becoming a Whole Person to Treat a Whole Person.”

becoming a whole person

I first stopped in New Zealand for a quick visit with friends. Of course, I stopped at my favourite morning coffee place, the Kohi Cafe and looked out at the ocean (I didn’t have my good camera, so these are just a few snaps with my phone camera).

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I spent a very beautiful and peaceful day out at the gannet colony in Muriwai. It was a cool, blustery day. One of my favourite places on Earth.

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I then headed down to Melbourne, Australia. I met up with my friend, Gary Orr and we brainstormed some about doing a presentation at Esalen sometime in the future. We also talked about dusting off our blog: Creating Human Work Environments, which we need to update our details on and do some more posts.

Then the Australasian Doctors Health conference. This was the third time I attended and presented. It was great to catch up with some friends and hear about what Marsha Snyder is up to and about her book, Positive Health: Flourishing Lives, Well-being in Doctors.

Marsha's book

Add I spent some time catching up with my mate, Hilton Koppe, a GP from Lennox Head, Australia, who has been doing some great stuff on re-humanizing medicine using poetry and writing. Here is a snap of him doing his presentation:

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My presentation was on “Becoming a Whole Person to Treat a Whole Person.” This is a theme from my book, Re-humanizing Medicine, because you can’t give to others what you haven’t first developed in yourself. One thing I have been working on is trying to come up with a conceptualization of how doctors can be both competent technicians as well as compassionate healers.

developing a technician healer identity

technician.healer characteristics

And I have been working with Laura Merritt on adapting my book into a staff self-care workbook called, Caring for Self. This uses the multi-dimensional whole person model from Re-humanizing Medicine in a workbook format. One thing that is new is that we have been working on developing a set of three attributes for each dimension to give a gestalt of what that dimension represents.

Caring for Self

Here is the outline of the nine dimensions with the three attributes of each dimension listed. From my work with Joseph Rael, I challenged myself to develop these attributes as verbs rather than nouns, to show that we are in a never-ending process of becoming, rather than thinking of ourselves as static objects we are flickering lights of being & vibration!

BODY: embodying, moving, savouring

EMOTIONS: feeling, connecting, flowing

MIND: thinking, minding, evolving

HEART: creating compassion, loving, expanding boundaries

CREATIVE SELF-EXPRESSION: wording, drawing, expressing Self

INTUITION: dreaming, visioning, receiving

SPIRIT: unifying, integrating, transforming

CONTEXT: harmonizing, sustaining, communing

TIME: growing, transitioning, becoming who you are

I met some great, very inspirational people at the conference. I didn’t have much time in Melbourne, but I walked around the market a bit and stopped in at the State Library of Victoria which had a good coffee shop and book store.

One thing I love about Australia is all the parrots everywhere. Here is photo of a few of them:

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The next Australasian Doctors Health Conference is to be held in Sydney, Australia in two years…I’ll be there…