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a well wisher  
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 08 September 2014 at 2:19pm

Helping, Fixing or Serving?

Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul. Service rests on the premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery which has an unknown purpose. When we serve, we know that we belong to life and to that purpose. From the perspective of service, we are all connected: All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.

Serving is different from helping. Helping is not a relationship between equals. A helper may see others as weaker than they are, needier than they are, and people often feel this inequality. The danger in helping is that we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity or even wholeness.

When we help, we become aware of our own strength. But when we serve, we don’t serve with our strength; we serve with ourselves, and we draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve; our wounds serve; even our darkness can serve. My pain is the source of my compassion; my woundedness is the key to my empathy.

draining, and over time we may burn out, but service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will renew us. In helping we may find a sense of satisfaction; in serving we find a sense of gratitude.

Harry, an emergency physician, tells a story about discovering this....


Serving requires us to know that our humanity is more powerful than our expertise. In forty-five years of chronic illness I have been helped by a great number of people, and fixed by a great many others who did not recognize my wholeness. All that fixing and helping left me wounded in some important and fundamental ways. Only service heals.

Service is not an experience of strength or expertise; service is an experience of mystery, surrender and awe. Helpers and fixers feel causal. Servers may experience from time to time a sense of being used by larger unknown forces. Those who serve have traded a sense of mastery for an experience of mystery, and in doing so have transformed their work and their lives into practice.

http://www.dailygood.org/story/218/helping-fixing-or-serving-/


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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 30 September 2014 at 2:55am

7 Keys to A Good Death

Is a “good death” just an oxymoron? Or can the experience of death be far more positive—an opportunity for growth and meaning?

Listening to the dying

These are questions that I first began to consider when I was a young psychologist at the oncology unit at UCSF in the mid-1970’s. At that time, I was the first and only mental health worker on the staff on a 40-bed unit. Modern palliative care was not widely understood or employed yet, and hospice care was not as readily accessible as it is now. My job was to help these patients with whatever emerged psychologically around their deaths.

And, there was a lot going on psychologically which wasn’t being attended to. The physicians and nurses in our unit were talented, skilled, well-intentioned people. But they focused on staving off death at all costs. Their training gave no guidance on how to provide their patients with the conditions for a good death—one that allowed patients to come to terms with their life and find peace and wellbeing at the end.

http://www.dailygood.org/story/758/7-keys-to-a-good-death-charles-garfield/

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 02 October 2014 at 2:11am

Balancing the Brain Toward Joy


Twelve years ago, at 37, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist and spokeswoman for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, had a stroke that traumatized her left hemisphere.

When Taylor lost the left-hemisphere functioning of her brain, she lost all of the normal abilities to define, organize, and categorize information, but she gained the ability to be intuitive and creative. In the absence of the left mind’s describing, judging, organizing, and analyzing skills, its dominating ego and inhibition, she gained a completely uninhibited right mind, which now processes information in a completely unique way. Her right hemisphere, which typically houses nonverbal and artistic tasks, has taken up the bulk of her cognition. Taylor achieved her present serenity in an exceptional way, and she urges people not to wait for a stroke to cultivate right-brain functions.

DK: It does seem that much of your work is exploring Buddhist philosophy from a neuroscientist’s perspective and rationale.

JBT: That’s exactly, essentially, what happened. You took a hard-core Western medicine neuroscientist at Harvard who specialized in the neurotransmitters and the cells of the brain and gave her an experience that was essentially a complete shift from Western thinking to Eastern experience. It’s certainly not how I defined it at the time. I defined it as a shutdown of circuitry and the ability to experience being the product of ourselves.

A Buddhist ability to experience Nirvana, or wherever meditation might take them, is circuitry - what cells are shut down and which ones are then activated. I think I shut down my brain chatter, which Andy Newberg has shown with brain scans. He put monks in the machine and had them pray or meditate. The left hemisphere of the brain becomes quiet and the right side opens up. That is exactly what happened with me but through trauma.

DK: Always being in the right place at the right time.

JBT: Having the right experience. Things are going to happen. People we love are going to die. We can say, Damn, I’m so mad, or we can say, I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful for the time we had. I’m going to celebrate those memories. I’m going to celebrate that connection; it is mine forever. Or I can be angry, or I can be hurt. But I have a choice in how I look at it and if I come from gratitude, and if I allow myself to feel it and I’m not afraid of my emotions - if I’m not afraid of the stigma we get by society’s saying, Oh, she’s overemotional, he’s overemotional. It’s like, no, don’t worry about it; feel it, celebrate what you are as a living being. Celebrate that you’re capable of having those emotional circuits run. Because that’s the power of what you are. It’s the difference between your being alive, and your not being alive in order to have it. It’s a blessing to your life.


http://www.dailygood.org/story/514/balancing-the-brain-toward-joy-david-kupfer/


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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 11 October 2014 at 4:15am

Slow Medicine: An Interview With Victoria Sweet

What would it look like—an intimate, intuitive, deeply skilled medicine, focused on continuing care and observation of the patient, minus computers? It’s not a question that most of us can think about in any great detail these days. In her book God’s Hotel, Dr. Victoria Sweet writes about an unusual hospital where she found amazing insights to the question. Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco was, as far as anyone knows, the last almshouse, or Hotel-Dieu, in this country—a hospital for the sick and poor. Dr. Sweet took a position there, expecting it to be temporary, then stayed for more than twenty years in a place where she and other physicians could practice a different kind of medicine. They had little access to state-of-the-art medical equipment but all the time in the world to watch over patients with complicated and multiple sicknesses and injuries, and gradually to eliminate the obstructions to their healing...


Mary: “Slow medicine” really goes back to medieval medicine, doesn’t it? You write about how people back then saw human beings as more like plants, with innate powers of growth and self-healing. That was the metaphor—that we’re not like machines to fix, but more like growing plants to be tended. That came home to me recently when a friend of mine, a man in his upper seventies, had an angiogram to open an artery that was blocked. And though that artery was 100 percent closed, three small bridging arteries had developed that detoured around the blockage and let just enough blood through to keep him alive. And I thought, that’s what Hildegard of Bingen knew, what she called viriditas—greenness, the body’s ability to heal itself.

Victoria: Yes. Studies show that 30 per cent of the time a placebo works as well as the medicine they’re testing. People get better about a third of the time, no matter what they’re given.

Mary: In addition to being deeply interested in medieval medicine and the medieval attitude toward the body, you’ve observed the medieval custom of pilgrimage. Over several years you and a friend made the ancient pilgrimage—1200 miles long—from southern France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. You write that you were surprised to see how deep the practice of walking day after day went, how it taught you about being in the present moment. Whether it was raining or cold, whether there was stony terrain, tough hills to climb, or maybe the sun was shining, there was happiness in just being there, whatever the conditions. That interested me...


http://www.dailygood.org/story/848/slow-medicine-an-interview-with-victoria-sweet-mary-stein/



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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 12 October 2014 at 3:40am
The Recovery Of The Sacred
Some thoughts on medical reform


What does it mean to a physician to practice medicine without mystery? When I was a medical student, my school had a large, black-tie retirement dinner for a very famous man on the medical faculty, whose scientific contribution had earned him a Nobel prize. He was 80 years old. The entire school gathered to honor him, and famous medical people came from all over the world.

This doctor gave a wonderful speech describing the progress of scientific knowledge during the 50 years that he had been a physician. We gave him a standing ovation.

After we sat down he remained at the podium. There was a brief silence and then he said, "There’s something else important that I want to say. And I especially want to tell the students. I have been a physician for 50 years and I don’t know anything more about life now than I did at the beginning. I am no wiser. It slipped through my fingers."

We were stunned into silence. I remember thinking that perhaps he was senile. In retrospect, it was a very remarkable thing he did. He took an opportunity to warn us about the cage of ideas and roles and self-expectations that was closing around us, even as he spoke to us – the cage that would keep us from achieving our good purpose, which is healing. Healing is a matter of wisdom, not of scientific knowledge.

So, what is the task of the medical system? Our modern view of disease is that disease is centered in the body. The older view of disease is that it is soul loss, a loss of connection, of meaning, of purpose, of essence. If this is so, the real task of the medical system is to heal soul loss, to aid in the retrieval of the soul. The entire culture is ill with soul loss.

Our task is to recognize that we are always on sacred ground, that there is no split between the sacred and secular. That the living god is dancing on our back. That there is no task that is not sacred in nature and no relationship that is not sacred in nature. Life is a spiritual practice. Health care, which serves life, is a spiritual practice.


http://www.context.org/iclib/ic39/remen/



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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 15 October 2014 at 6:51am
What hurts you, blesses you.
Darkness is your candle.
Your boundaries are your quest. --Jalalluddin Rumi

Lessons from Those Who Lost ... and Found

Jill Bolte Taylor, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy and Chef Grant Achatz are an unlikely trio. What do this brain scientist, late eye surgeon, and a leader of the molecular gastronomy movement [yes there is such a thing] have in common? At a takeoff point in their careers they were each dealt a sucker punch -- one that robbed them of what was arguably their greatest gift. Yet none of them threw in the towel. And each would rise to greatness after mining their unthinkable experience of loss for deeper insight into the human experience.

Loss. Consider the paradox of how that one word, brief as a seed, can swallow our world whole. We’ve all experienced it, in ways that range from the mundane to the profound.

Lose something every day,” the poet Elizabeth Bishop urged us perversely,

Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Except that it is. The experience of living is fraught with loss. And wrestling the thorny experience of it into an art form is not easy. But there are some rare individuals who’ve done it with inspired grace, and our world is the richer for it.

In the face of milder, more everyday losses what can the rest of us learn from what these three extraordinary people lost, and found?


http://www.dailygood.org/story/222/lessons-from-those-who-lost-and-found/

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 18 October 2014 at 6:16am
“We are all of us exposed to grief: the people we love die, as we shall ourselves in due course; expectations are disappointed and ambitions are thwarted by circumstance. Finally, there are some who insist upon feeling guilty over the ill they have done or simply on account of the ugliness which they perceive in their own souls. A solution of a kind has been found to this problem in the form of sedatives and anti-depressant drugs, so that many human experiences which used to be accepted as an integral part of human life are now defined and dealt with as medical problems.

The widow who grieves for a beloved husband becomes a 'case', as does the man saddened by the recollection of the napalm or high explosives he has dropped on civilian populations. One had thought that guilt was a way, however indirect, in which we might perceive the nature of reality and the laws which govern our human experience; but it is now an illness that can be cured.


Death however, remains incurable. Though we might be embarrassed by Victorian death-bed scenes or the practices of mourning among people less sophisticated than ourselves, the fact of death tells us so much about the realities of our condition that to ignore it or try to forget it is to be unaware of the most important thing we need to know about our situation as living creatures. Equally, to witness and participate in the dying of our fellow men and women is to learn what we are and, if we have any wisdom at all, to draw conclusions which must in their way affect our every thought and our every act.”


― Charles Le Gai Eaton, King of the Castle: Choice and Responsibility in the Modern World


Edited by a well wisher - 19 October 2014 at 2:08am
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Medicine’s Search for Meaning

Every day, we are reminded that the health care system is in crisis. We are going bankrupt. There are too many lawsuits. We practice defensive medicine. We restrict access. But surveys of doctors indicate a problem that penetrates much deeper than this. Today, almost 50 percent of doctors report symptoms of burnout — emotional exhaustion, low sense of accomplishment, detachment.

Medicine is facing a crisis, but it’s not just about money; it’s about meaning.

We often think of medicine as a science, and many doctors do come to think of themselves as technicians. But healing involves far more than knowledge and skill. The process by which a doctor helps a patient accept, recover from, adapt to, or endure a serious illness is full of nuance and mystery. I was often moved by how much my father-in-law — an actor who died from a form of leukemia — drew comfort and even inspiration from the relationship he had with his hematologist (who requested a Shakespeare recitation at each visit).

How could we help medicine overcome its own illness?


http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/medicines-search-for-meaning/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0



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"There Is a Balm..." Spirituality & Healing among African American Women

Abstract

The study of African American women's understandings of healing, health, and faith greatly informs the definition of black spirituality. Using ethnography and cultural studies, this essay focuses on this web of topics, with special attention to a sample of black women in the Detroit, Michigan metropolitan area. This investigation encompasses interrelationships between black women's gendered identities, mechanisms of interface with social structures, and ground-level tactics for building community and family health.




Conclusion

Studying healing among African American women is not merely recounting anecdotes that are then placed in a Western epistemological framework. Instead, this study, as brief as it is, entered into the complexity of social dynamics by investigating facets that yield a glimpse into African American religiosity, black women's gendered identities, mechanisms of interface with social agencies, and tactics for building community and safeguarding family. These concepts have consequences for considerations of health care today.


The interconnections between body and soul continue to inform African Americans' cognitive frameworks. The spiritual realm is not distant, but near, having the capacity to affect all aspects of human life. To consider oneself a healer, to wear an amulet or to look for the healing of faith, all have groundings in African American experiences of embodied spirituality. Black women and men hold complex, culturally-based, survival-oriented views of life which inform conceptualizations of body and spirit, of options for health, of expectations for healing. I contend that such deeply held beliefs, with suspicion of conventional medicine, influence African American perceptions about health care, as evidenced in low incidents of organ or blood donations from black adults.

There are ethical implications of this kind of information. How can health care providers work with instead of against these underlying culturally derived concepts? A wider application of this question can be raised when any health care provider works with a different personal cultural reference. The most practical applications of this information have been from African American doctors who work within black communities. One long-time general practitioner tells of prescribing medicine for a condition while straightening the amulet the person is wearing: "In order for the prescribed medicine to work, these leaves will have to be kept straight." Some might question the validity of such an approach, yet how can medical professionals establish their legitimacy with a given community if there is no respect for the local practices and the people's intelligence? Are health care professionals meant to be like the missionaries of the nineteenth century, carrying a single culture as part of colonization?

In this time when there are narrower health care options, higher health care costs,, and patients are sent home quicker and sicker, the lure of the folk healer along with alternative medicines have new meaning in all communities of the United States. There are opportunities to study African Americans' health care needs in new ways, such as the longitudinal Black Women's Health Study undertaken by Howard University and Boston University. (For information on this study, see their website: http://www.bu.edu/bwhs). Such considerations are only partial steps toward a greater understanding that would enrich dialogues in health care. The potential for greater understanding will have particular meanings for better health care service delivery for black families. The study of dynamics of health among African Americans is intertwined with the spiritual meanings of healing.

And there is so much more to be done.


http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/mfr/4919087.0007.103/--there-is-a-balm-spirituality-healing-among-african-american?rgn=main;view=fulltext


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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 22 October 2014 at 7:18am
Depression as a Call to Spiritual Awakening- Jeff Foster

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YuFr3obDqs

(4 mins)
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 28 October 2014 at 3:57pm

THE POWER OF WHOLENESS

In 1962 when I graduated from Medical School the goal of medicine was cure. Anything less was considered failure. Yet many things that bring people to us cannot be cured. Fortunately cure is not the only successful outcome of our relationships to our patients. There is a great deal more to personal wholeness than physical health and more that medicine can offer beyond the curing of disease. Over time I’ve come to think of physical health not as a goal but as a means that enables people to pursue what has meaning and value in life. People may do this whether they are physically healthy or not. People even respond to significant illness by growing in their capacity to love and feel compassion for others, in their sensitivity and understanding, and in their courage and passion and wisdom. Because of this people for whom there is no cure may be able to affect the world around them in ways that would not have been possible before.




Edited by a well wisher - 10 November 2014 at 6:37am
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 29 October 2014 at 1:47pm
People of faith need better frames of reference for dealing with the complexity of depression


There is also a “psychic” or “spiritual” dimension to depression.
There is no quick fix for depression. It is a “spiritual” problem in the sense that it has to do with the whole fabric of your life and your being. It requires not just medicine but honesty and living authentically with all of the people in your life.


One final thing I’ll say about all of this — I’ve often asked God to take away my experience of depression. It is uncomfortable and I hate it. But I’ve seen him use it in my work as a pastor and preacher. Some of my deepest insights into God and humanity and myself have come about through my “dark nights of the soul,” and have led me to a place of deep sympathy with the countless numbers of people who struggle with inner darkness.




Edited by a well wisher - 10 November 2014 at 6:38am
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 30 October 2014 at 4:48pm

I have come to suspect that life itself may be a spiritual practice. The process of daily living seems able to refine the quality of our humanity over time. There are many people whose awakening to larger realities comes through the experiences of ordinary life, through parenting, through work, through friendship, through illness, or just in some elevator somewhere.


Every great loss demands that we choose life again. Grieving is not about forgetting. Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love instead of with pain. Its a sorting process…..One by one you let go of the things that are gone and mourn them. One by one you take hold of the things which have become a part of who you are and build again.

There is a great difference between defending life and befriending it. Defending life is often about holding on to whatever you have at all cost. Befriending life may be about strengthening and supporting life's movement toward its own wholeness. It may require us to take great risks, to let go, over and over again, until we finally surrender to life's own dream of itself.

The real epidemic in our culture is not just physical heart disease;it's what I call emotional and spiritual heart disease: the sense of loneliness, isolation, and alienation that is so prevalent in our culture because of the breakdown of the social networks that used to give us a sense of connection and community.

A woman once told me that she did not feel the need to reach out to those around her because she prayed every day. Surely, this was enough. But a prayer is about our relationship to God; a blessing is about our relationship to the spark of God in one another.God may not need our attention as badly as the person next to us on the bus or behind us in line in the supermarket. Everyone in the world matters, and so do their blessings.When we bless others, we offer them refuge from an indifferent world.


                                    ~Rachel Naomi Remen MD~




    



Edited by a well wisher - 10 November 2014 at 6:38am
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 04 November 2014 at 3:56pm
Doctors Tell All—and It’s Bad

A crop of books by disillusioned physicians reveals a corrosive doctor-patient relationship at the heart of our health-care crisis.

Without being fully aware of it, what I really wanted all along was a doctor trained in a different system, who understood that a conversation was as important as a prescription; a doctor to whom healing mattered as much as state-of-the-art surgery did. What I was looking for, it turns out, was a doctor like Victoria Sweet, and the kind of care offered in, of all places, a charity hospital in San Francisco. A doctor who is able to slow down, aware of the dividends not just for patients but for herself and for the system: this is the sort of doctor Sweet discovered she could be in “the last almshouse in America,” as she calls Laguna Honda Hospital, a funky old facility for the destitute and chronically ill, where swallows flew through open turrets and 1,200 patients lay mostly in old-fashioned “open wards,” and where she worked for 20-some years. In her remarkable memoir, God’s Hotel, Sweet—who is also a historian of medicine versed in the medical work of the 12th-century nun Hildegard of Bingen—calls her radical solution for our sped-up health care “slow medicine.” Here is a doctor saying what patients intuitively know: being sick is draining, healing takes time, and strong medicine often has strong side effects.

Medicine today values intervention far more than it values care. Gawande writes that for a clinician, “nothing is more threatening to who you think you are than a patient with a problem you cannot solve.” The result is that all too often, “medicine fails the people it is supposed to help.” The old doctor-knows-best ethos was profoundly flawed. But it was rooted in an ethic of care for the whole person, perhaps because physicians, less pressed for time, knew their patients better.

In the course of our lives, most of us will urgently need care, sometimes when we least expect it. Currently, we must seek it in a system that excels at stripping our medical shepherds of their humanity, leaving them shells of the doctors (and people) they want to be, and us alone in the sterile rooms they manage. What makes our predicament so puzzling, and what may offer hope, is that nearly all of us want a different outcome. I used to think that change was necessary for the patient’s sake. Now I see that it’s necessary for the doctor’s sake, too.





Edited by a well wisher - 10 November 2014 at 6:40am
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