Health On The Edge

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Welcome To The Future of Medicine

Some years ago, I had the great fortune of interviewing 12 of the world’s leading experts in the arena of true cutting edge health therapies. The result of those interviews was the publication of the book Health On The Edge: Visionary Views of Healing in the New Millennium. It was one of my favorite books to write but unfortunately, it did not find a market at the time and is now out of print. Because I regard the information it contains to be so vitally important, I’ve decided to make it available in its entirety right here. If you like it, please spread the world to others and tell them to read it too.

This work is dedicated to the memory of my sister Andrea, for her grace, grit, and generous Spirit. And to each of my nieces and nephews, each of whom make me the world’s most blessed uncle.

Health & Blessings,


Larry Trivieri Jr



Great spirits have always encountered violent

opposition from mediocre minds.

Albert Einstein

What is impossible today is necessary tomorrow.

Victor Hugo, Conversations With Eternity

For the past ten years, it has been my great privilege to collaborate with many of our nation’s visionary health care practitioners, whose efforts are forging a new understanding of what it means to be truly healthy and how health itself can best be achieved and maintained. As a result of my interactions with them, I’ve come to realize that our current health care crisis, however insurmountable it may at times seem to be, could easily be tamed if only a paradigm shift could occur, both on the part of the gatekeepers who oversee our nation’s mainstream health care system, and among ourselves, the lay public, who have far more control over our health than we tend to accept. Because implementable solutions to the problem are already at hand.

The beginning of that paradigm shift is already transpiring, of course, as evidenced, among other trends, by the public’s increasing demand for safe and proven medical alternatives to conventional allopathic medicine’s emphasis on drugs and symptom-care, and the creation of the National Institutes of Health National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which provides federal funding to explore the efficacy of approaches to healing outside of conventional medicine’s purview. At the same time, as researchers come ever closer to fully understanding the inner workings of DNA and the promise of gene therapy, science seems on the verge of finally being able to eradicate many of today’s most devastating diseases, eliminating birth defects, and even cloning specific organs in the hopes of dramatically extending the human lifespan.

All told, the 21st century appears posed to usher in a host of unparalleled breakthroughs with regard to health and longevity. Make no mistake, however. The health care crisis facing us today is a serious threat to such progress and, under our current medical paradigm, it shows little signs of abating. With an annual cost that exceeds one trillion dollars in the United States alone, it has left us with a estimated 100 million Americans who are chronically ill (not necessarily incapacitated, but forced to cope with constant or recurring symptoms related to the growing rise of arthritis, diabetes, environmentally-triggered ailments, respiratory illness, and other disease conditions). In fact, research shows that 85 percent of the health care problems in the U.S. are chronic in nature, precisely the category of illness for which mainstream, conventional medicine is so ineffective, at best offering drug-managed symptom care fraught with the potential of numerous side-effects. (Research also indicates that properly prescribed drugs and other medical interventions are now our nation’s fourth leading cause of death.) In addition, we are now faced with a rise in drug-resistant pathogens, a continued proliferation of environmental toxins, and growing concerns about our commercial food supply following recent outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella poisoning, and, in England and Europe, Mad Cow Disease. Cancer and heart disease also continue to plague us, and obesity, which can lead to myriad other health problems, is reaching epidemic proportions, especially among our children. So, too, is the rise of psychological illnesses, including chronic anxiety and depression.

So what does the future hold in terms of our well-being? To answer that question, I decided to get the views of some of the leading explorers of new paradigm approaches to health and healing. In the pages that follow, you will find their answers, and also be guided in the use of hands-on, practical applications of the work that they are doing. In reading their interviews, you will most likely be struck, as I was, by two recurring themes: In the face of the new challenges before us, our present system of medicine and the philosophy of health care that informs it are becoming increasingly obsolete. At the same time, the power to bring about the new approaches needed to resolve our problems rests not in the status quo powers-that-be, but in the hands of we the people. Once we come to understand the innovative solutions that are part of this newly emerging paradigm, it falls on us individually and collectively to begin demanding of our health care providers, and of our government which funds much of their research, that such methods be made freely accessible to each of us nationwide. Helping to spur the creation of such a critical mass (a well-informed and motivated minority) is one of the reasons I set about creating this book.

But providing equal impetus was simple curiosity. Keenly interested in the future, it only made sense to me to speak to experts in the vanguard and find out from them where their research is leading us. In doing so, I’ve tried to ask the questions I felt I most share with you, the Reader. At the same time, I made it a point to limit my own comments so that each expert could “hold the floor” as much as possible. They are the authorities, after all, not me. As it turned out, one of my biggest challenges arose when it came time for me to edit the transcripts of my conversations, due to the fact that all of the persons I spoke with shared so much of their time and expertise. Choosing what to retain and what to omit was not a task I took lightly, and I am satisfied that their most important points are available to you in these pages. At the same time, however, I encourage you to seek out the recommended books that accompany each interview, and to contact each expert’s respective organization and website for further information. And be sure to experiment with the exercises provided herein. As I can now attest, their regular practice can make a significant difference in how we live in and perceive our world. It’s my hope that this work will serve as a personal health resource for anyone who believes that there is “something more” out there in the field of health, but who before now didn’t quite know where to find it.

In closing, let me say that the I believe the changes forecast in the following pages are inevitable. The only real question is whether they will come sooner rather than later, and be welcomed or met with resistance. The answer rests more with us than with the experts themselves, I suspect. May we all be open to growth and choose wisely.

Larry Trivieri, Jr.

November, 2001

Holistic Medicine: Primary Care for the 21st Century–An Interview with Robert S. Ivker, D.O.

Dr. Robert Ivker is a holistic family physician, a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.), and healer who has been practicing medicine for over thirty years. For more than a decade, he has been in the forefront of those seeking to change the face of our nation’s health care system. Like many other physicians, he recognizes that our current medical paradigm is incapable of addressing the growing incidence of chronic disease conditions. In its place, he advocates the adoption of holistic medicine as the solution to this problem, based on his successful treatment of chronic illness in his holistic medical practice in Littleton, Colorado over the past fifteen years.

Like many healers, Rob’s embrace of holistic medicine is a direct result of a personal healing journey which he began in 1977, when he developed chronic sinusitis. After exhausting conventional medical approaches for his condition to no avail and being told he was “just going to have to live with it,” Rob dedicated himself to heeding the advice of Hippocrates: “Physician, heal thyself.” To that end, he began experimenting with a variety of holistic healing approaches, ultimately creating the “Sinus Survival” program that cured him. Based on his success, Rob went on to write the bestselling bookSinus Survival, which is now in its fourth edition and has brought relief to thousands of sinusitis sufferers worldwide.

In 1996, Rob became the tenth president of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA), and co-founded the American Board of Holistic Medicine (ABHM). He also co-created the first board certification examination IN holistic medicine for physicians (M.D.’s and D.O.’s).Beginning in 2002, he will serve as the ABHM’s president. In addition he is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Family Medicine and a clinical instructor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

What is holistic medicine and how is it different from conventional care, and from what is referred to as alternative, complementary, or integrative medicine?

Holistic medicine is the art and science of healing that addresses the whole person body, mind and spirit. Holistic physicians integrate conventional and alternative therapies to prevent and treat disease, but most importantly to create a condition of optimal health. Optimal or holistic health, combines at least six different aspects of health–physical, environmental, mental, emotional, social and spiritual. Rather than thinking of health as simply the absence of illness, we are looking at a state of being that is encompassed by high energy and vitality, harmony with your environment (neither harming nor being harmed), peace of mind, a sense of contentment, high self-esteem and self-acceptance, and greater intimacy with at least one other person and with God. This optimal state of well-being is the primary objective of the practice of holistic medicine. To differentiate it from alternative or complementary, or the more popular term today, integrative medicine — all are encompassed within the scope of holistic medicine. To me, the practice of alternative or complementary medicine is simply an extension of conventional medicine in that it is almost entirely focused on treating disease and physical dysfunction, but instead of using drugs and surgery they might use alternative therapies such as herbs, acupuncture, or homeopathic remedies. Holistic medicine employs both conventional and complementary therapies – whatever is safe and effective for treating chronic illness. It also distinguishes itself by addressing the multiple causes of disease, in addition to treating the symptoms. But first and foremost to me, holistic medicine’s most important characteristic of all is its fundamental belief that unconditional love is life’s most powerful healer. As practitioners of holistic medicine, we believe that every illness is energetically held in the heart, and therefore, to a significant degree, every disease results from a deprivation of love.

How do holistic physicians empower their patients to connect with unconditional love? What approaches do they use?

Holistic physicians attempt to guide their patients in a transformative process that leads them to heal themselves physically, environmentally, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially. Patients are inspired to healtheir lives, while repairing their “broken parts.” And they do so by being empowered to love and nurture themselves in body, mind, and spirit. The key to healing is to begin by “loving” the dysfunctional tissue or organ. For example, with chronic sinusitis, America’s most common ailment, the initial focus is on healing the chronically inflamed mucous membranes, through air-cleaning, steaming, spraying, and drinking more water. When someone who has been suffering for a long period of time obtains relatively quick relief from their physical discomfort, they are much more likely to continue with the prescribed treatment program.

Another highly effective method for physicians to inspire and empower patients to commit to healing (loving) their lives is by first modeling that condition of optimal health. The training to become a healer or holistic physician is to follow Hippocrates’ advice, “physician heal thyself.” Since holistic physicians are actively engaged in the same healing process as their patients, they can inspire them through their own example. Then within each realm of health there are a number of specific recommendations and therapies that patients can choose from to assist them in their own unique healing process. Since no two of us is exactly alike, each will navigate a somewhat different route towards holistic health.

If we look at the primary objective of our practice in holistic medicine as a condition of optimal health, then we should clearly understand what is meant by that term. The word health, as well as heal and holy, comes from the old English word haelen,which means “to make whole.” If we see health as a state of wholeness rather than the absence of illness, then Idefine holistic health as the unlimited and unimpeded free flow of life force energy through body, mind and spirit. This life force energy is known in Chinese medicine as Qi; the Japanese refer to is as ki; in India it is known as prana, and in Hebrew it is chai. In traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine (the medical system of India), both of which have been in existence for thousands of years, this concept of life force energy is essential and is the foundation to their practice. Although our culture has neither a word nor a concept for this energy, I believe that the feeling of “unconditional love” comes closest. During my thirty years in medicine, I’ve identified certain therapies or practices that seem to have the greatest impact on enhancing this and deepening our connection to life force energy. I call them the “essential eight” for optimal health. They are:

Air, both in terms of quality and quantity. Oxygen is our most critical nutrient, and to obtain a maximal supply we teach patients how to breathe more efficiently through abdominal or belly breathing. We may also provide instruction in breathing exercises, known in the Ayurvedic system as pranayama exercises. We also recommend methods for creating an optimal indoor environment. Air that is clean, warm, moist, and filled with oxygen and negative ions is considered ideal.

Water is the second of the essential eight. Drinking higher quality water in the proper amount is the objective. We usually recommend drinking 1/2 oz. of bottled or filtered water per every pound of body weight on days without exercise, and 2/3 oz per pound on days that you do exercise.

The third of the essential eight is foodand nutritonal supplements. Basically this refers to a healthy diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fiber, protein, and a good daily regimen of supplements, particularly antioxidants. If patients are being treated for a particular condition, then specific nutritional supplements, dietary recommendations, and medicinal herbs might also be recommended.

Exercise is fourth on the list, especially regular aerobic exercise. All of these first four essentials could be construed as four methods of learning to love, nurture and care for your body and your environment, and encompass physical and environmental health.

The fifth essential relates to what I call play/passion/purpose – identifying and manifesting your heart’s greatest needs and desires. I recommend the use affirmations, visualization, and intuition to facilitate this transformational process. It’s a method that allows the individual to think of a genie coming out of a bottle and granting you your ten greatest wishes. You write them down and then reword each one into the form of an affirmation. And then I suggest a process of writing, reciting, and visualizing each of those desires. To do so on a daily basis can be a very powerful transformational tool. It allows an individual to become much more aware of their feelings as well as their purpose here in this lifetime, to greatly expand their capacity for play and passion, and to simply enjoy being alive.

The sixth essential is the practice of gratitude and prayer. It does seem as if basic human nature allows us to be much more aware of what we don’t have and what’s going wrong with our lives, rather than to be more conscious of their many gifts and blessings. Yet the more a person can focus on what is working well and the many wonderful things they do have, then the greater the abundance they will attract into their lives. Find something on a daily basis to thank god for and to pray in whatever way feels comfortable. It sometimes helps to think of God as your best friend, making it a more personal prayer, or a prayer prefaced by “let thy will be done,” rather than praying for specific material things. For example, if you are praying for money it’s much more effective to pray for what the money will bring you. If it’s a need for greater security, then pray for a sense of greater security rather than praying for more money.

The seventh health essential is intimacy and the cornerstone of a thriving relationship rests on the triad of communication, physical intimacy, and recreation. I hyphenate that word– “re-creation” — recreating the fun and enjoyment that comprised the initial ‟glue” of the relationship.

Last on the list is forgiveness. I am not recommending that the individual forgive the action or the behavior that caused them pain, but forgive the actor, who through their own fear, insensitivity, or confusion caused this person who is practicing forgiveness to feel a great deal of pain. It’s very depleting of life force energy to lock a loved one out of your heart. In my experience, the pain of a broken heart, or the depletion of life force energy from not forgiving, or holding on to anger and hostility, is probably the most critical factor in causing chronic disease.

The forgiveness process does not have to be done in person. It can be practiced through meditation, by writing a letter that’s not sent, through journaling, or a number of other methods. I recently came across the following quote, “forgiving is not forgetting; it is remembering without pain.” for me, forgiveness is the ultimate form of preventive medicine.

It’s important to note that every aspect of holistic medicine is now scientifically supported. Many well documented studies support the use of each of these essential eight practices, as well. Most exciting to me has been the proliferation of evidence reinforcing our intuitive belief that love is a potent healer. If we focus on these eight practices, they will do more to enhance life force energy than anything else I’ve experienced in more than thirty years of practicing medicine as a family physician.

Obviously what you are talking about is a very different paradigm than the type of health care, or you might actually call it disease care, that the majority of people receive in this country. So I’d you to talk a little bit about the mission of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) and the American Board of Holistic Medicine (ABHM) in terms of what they are doing in the near future and long-term in order to make this holistic approach to health and healing more readily available to the public at large.

As I previously said, a primary difference of holistic medicine is our focus on optimal health, and as a by-product of that healing process, we are highly effective in treating almost any chronic illness. It is estimated that nearly half of our nation’s 280 million citizens suffers from a wide variety of chronic conditions – from obesity and depression to arthritis and heart disease. We strongly believe that because holistic medicine is such a highly therapeutic and cost-effective approach to treating any disease, it will become the foundation for primary care medicine in the 21st century. To carry out this mission, the American Board of Holistic Medicine was established in 1996 as a non-profit organization, created by a small group of members of the American Holistic Medical Association. The latter was founded in 1978 as an educational and professional support group for holistic physicians by C. Norman Shealy, M.D., a board-certified neurosurgeon and first president, along with about two hundred physicians and fellow kindred spirits. One of the founding members and fifth president of the AHMA, Bob Anderson, M.D., has been gently guiding the organization throughout her twenty-three year history. He was a trustee on the AHMA board until 2000 and is the founding President of the ABHM.

During the past two decades, Bob has been compiling a database, The Scientific Basis for Holistic Medicine, a compendium of nearly 500 pages of scientific references that support the entire curriculum of holistic medicine. These topics include the six core subjects of: nutritional, environmental, exercise, behavioral, spiritual, and social medicine; and the specialized areas of biomolecular diagnosis and therapy, botanical or herbal medicine, energy medicine, ethnomedicine (including traditional chinese medicine, ayurveda, and native american medicine), homeopathy, and manual medicine. In December 2000, the ABHM held the first board certification examination in holistic medicine, preceded by a four-day board review course attended by 425 holistic practitioners. The course was co-sponsored by the ABHM and the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Following the second certification exam in 2001, which was co-sponsored by the university of minnesota school of medicine, there are currently just over 400 board-certified holistic physicians (MDs and DOs) in the United States. We believe this is an historic event. The ABHM’S board-certification is creating a new standard of quality health care that will rapidly be embraced by the medical community, by the public, and especially by the insurance industry. We know that the medical insurance companies have been desperate to see a standard of care within the whole field of alternative medicine and we’ve now provided them with one. Their interest lies especially in the cost effectiveness, as well as the therapeutic value of holistic medicine in treating chronic illness. When you consider the fact that America spends nearly 85 percent of our $l.4 trillion health care budget treating chronic conditions, that’s an unimaginable sum of money. We see holistic medicine as the model for primary care in the 21st century, with the holistic physician as the prototypical family doctor — both healer and teacher — and patients as students eager to learn how to take better care of themselsves. As self-care becomes the catalyst for the shift to a true health care system (from the current system of disease care), we’ll be saving billions of dollars while we’re collectively training as practioners of preventive medicine.

Although our primary objective is the creation of optimal health and disease prevention, the vast majority of our patients today are coming to us as a last resort. They have been to multiple physicians while suffering with a chronic ailment that is either making their lives miserable or killing them. And most of our Patients have been paying for the care they receive out of their own pockets. Recent studies have shown that nearly 50 percent of the American public — in Colorado it’s 75 percent — is regularly using some form of alternative medicine and nationally they are spending nearly $30 billion doing so. Most of that has not been reimbursed by insurance. Board certification will give the insurance industry a standard of care upon which to base their reimbursment to physicians for their holistic medical services. This is already beginning to happen and will open the door to a rapidly increasing number of Americans seeking care from holistic physicians.

Basically you’re talking about a paradigm shift where you’re going to go from being physicians of last resort to physicians of first resort.

That’s precisely our vision. Bob Anderson and I have been family physicians for more than forty and thirty years, respectively, and we believe that holistic medicine represents the evolution of the specialty of family practice. The holistic physician will soon become the family doctor of the 21st century. Since the 1970s, the standard family practice textbook has been replete with references to caring for the whole person. And as an osteopathic physician, during my first year at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, I was taught that osteopathy is in fact holistic medicine. We were taught a concept entitled “the totality of man,” which states that when you evaluate a new patient you should take into account their mental, emotional, spiritual and social status to help determine why that patient has become ill. At the time, this just seemed like good common sense to me. My initial reaction was, “Wouldn’t any good doctor do that?” It just seems like that’s the most effective way to treat a patient. I began my family practice residency training program with this same concept of caring for the whole person. However, the problem has been that, even though we’ve been told that this is what you’re supposed to do, we’ve never actually been trained or given the tools to treat the whole person. This is where the new specialty of holistic medicine will distinguish itself. It provides physicians with an opportunity for training as healers – both to heal themselves and their patients. They’re learning that this body, mind, spirit approach is based on energy medicine – the energy of love. Holistic medicine brings a heightened sense of balance to the practice of medicine – a balance of art and science, heart and mind. As it becomes assimilated into the mainstream,the word “holistic” will be unnecessary. It will be thought of as simply good medicine.

Is the board-certification provided by the ABHM available only to M.D.’s and D.O.’s?

Initially, yes, the certification process will be available only to M.D.’s and D.O.’s. But I expect that within a relatively short period of time, N.D.’s, naturopathic physicians, will be included, since their four-year training program includes most of the ABHM curriculum. They are in fact trained as holistic physicians, but since they are only licensed in about fifteen states there has been some resistance to include them in the certification process. We also believe that in order to be officially sanctioned by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), we need to initially certify only M.D.’s and D.O.’s. And we do expect that approval to come within the next few years. We’ve been informed that the ABMS will seriously consider sanctioning a new specialty when there are residency training programs in that specialty. In that regard we have begun discussions with the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado, which co-sponsored the first board certification review course, about the possibility of establishing a holistic family practice residency at the University. Similar proposals will be made to several other family medicine residency programs in the near future. Also under serious consideration is a fourth year added to the already existing three year family practice residency. The ABHM curriculum would be integrated throughout the four years. This training program would be the most comprehensive preparation for physicians (M.D.’S AND D.O.’S) to attain certification in holistic medicine.

Ultimately this would spread to other medical schools I would hope.

It will spread very quickly. All it takes is one highly regarded university family practice program like this to open the door and many others will soon follow.

What are your projections for total number of M.D.’s and D.O.’s who will have board certification in holistic medicine in the next three to five years?

We now have just over four hundred physicians who are board certified, and we expect that number to grow ten-fold within the next five years. The enthusiasm and energy generated by the practitioners who attended the first two board review courses has strongly confirmed that we’ve struck a highly responsive cord. Physicians recognize that the practice of holistic medicine provides them with the opportunity to become the healer that most envisioned becoming when they first decided to attend medical school. In a world of high-tech hand low touch medicine, The ABHM certificaton is helping to restore the balance of art and science to the business of caring. That’s why we believe that three to five thousand certified physicians within five years is a reasonable estimate.

That’s a significant number.

Yes it is, but I think that now that it’s begun and more physicians are aware of the growing acceptance and recognition of holistic medicine by the medical establishment, it’s going to pick up tremendous momentum. Bob Anderson and I reflect the feelings of many of the more than one hundred thousand family doctors and primary care practitioners in this country. And most of the physicians who elect to become board-certified in holistic medicine are coming from primary care specialties – family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology. There is also considerable interest from psychiatrists. In fact, among the four hundred certified physicians, nearly every specialty is already represented. Another major source of diplomates in holistic medicine will come from the over forty thousand osteopathic physicians in the U.S., many of whom are anxious to reclaim their holistic roots. This interest among the D.O.’s will grow quickly as several of the nineteen osteopathic schools begin to sponsor holistic medicine courses. For example, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM)– my alma mater — will be teaching a series of continuing medical education (cme) courses to physicians and health care practitoners on many of the topics included in the ABHM curriculum. They will also be offering many of these same subjects to their students ,as well as co-sponsoring with the ABHM the fourth annual Board Review Course and Certification Exam in 2003. In a very real sense, PCOM has begun the process of becoming our first holistic medical school. SINCE holism is essentially the philosophical basis of osteopathy, it will not be a difficult transition. Given the level of interest among students in receiving a more holistic medical education, I expect the majority of the osteopathic schools to soon follow PCOM’S lead. And judging from the numbers of medical students seeking a more holistic family practice residency, I expect to see those programs proliferate as well. It’s entirely possible that our estimate of five thousand ABHM diplomates within five years may be overly conservative. When an new idea gains widespread acceptance, in this case from the public, medical community, and insurors, and consistently positive therapeutic outcomes become widespread, the growth of holistic medicine may be meteoric. It will eventually find its way into every specialty, e.g. holistic surgeons, holistic cardiologists, etc. Caring for the whole person, rather than treating a disease, will become the standard for practicing good medicine regardless of the specialty or type of health care practitioner or degree — M.D., D.O., N.D., D.C., R.N. This is what I expect to see happening within the next decade.

What role can the public play to help fast track this and what responsibility, if any, does the public have in seeing this vision unfold?

The public has already done its job. This dramatic transformation, the paradigm shift that we’re seeing in health care, has all been driven by the public interest, which has been demonstrated through the two landmark studies of Harvard’s David Eisenberg, M.D., that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The first one was published in 1993 and the second in 1998. In each study, Dr. Eisenberg documented the use of alternative medicine by the public and how much money they were spending to receive it. The public has already done its job and as a result of their tremendous level of interest, the highly competitive insurance industry is looking to provide those services for their subscribers. In demanding higher quality health care, it certainly appears as if the public has been the catalyst for this profound change. Until recently, the medical community has been very resistant to change, but what I’ve seen during the past two years from my medical colleagues has been extremely encouraging . As a result of being president of the AHMA and my books, The Self-Care Guide to Holistic Medicine and the fourth edition Sinus Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment for Sinusitis, Allergies and COLDS, I have been asked to speak at several medical schools, including Harvard, Tufts, and the University of Michigan, and at the annual scientific meetings of the American Academy of Otolaryngology and The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.The level of interest, enthusiasm, and acceptance of holistic medicine from both the medical students and the ear, nose and throat physicians, allergists, and other physicians, has been so encouraging to me that it really feels like the building of the bridge connecting conventional and holistic medicine is nearing completion.

Based on that and the vision that you have for the ABHM itself, as that vision starts to become reality, what do you foresee health clinics and hospitals looking like in the 21st century?

The health clinics will be integrated facilities where you’ll have licensed physicians, M.D.’s and D.O.’s, working side-by-side with naturopathic physicians, chiropractors, psychotherapists, acupuncturists, herbalists, bodyworkers, and other health care providers, all under one roof. They will function as a team of healers, each working in partnership with their patients and with the other practitioners who might be participating in the care of the same patient. Together they will address the specific needs of each individual patient, practicing a variety of modalities, with optimal health as their primary objective. These will be State-of-the-art holistic medical centers. There are currently a number of complementary, alternative, or integrative clinics with several practitioners using different therapies, but most are not treating the whole person. The focus is usually on treating disease with unconventional therapies, i.e., anything other than drugs and surgery, and there typically isn’t a team approach where one physician is coordinating the holistic care of the patient. In the very near future, there will be a profound change that to the casual observer might go unnoticed. But the quality of care will be greatly enhanced, and as a result they will attract the majority of those people suffering with the most common chronic diseases. Those who are not sick but are seeking to enhance their quality of life will also be very interested. These holistic medical centers will be Staffed by board-certified holistic physicians and holistic practitioners who care for patients based upon the fundamental principles of holistic medical practice. They will be both disease treatment (chronic illness) and health educational (including disease prevention) facilities with a comprehensive array of classes and support groups to help guide the patients in a process of learning to care for themselves. Preventive medicine and self-care will soon become the basis and chief objectives in the education-oriented medicine of the 21st century. Within that context, I envision the doctorof the 21st century as a teacher of wholeness rather than merely a fixerof broken parts.

How will hospitals change?

Hospitals will become truly healing environments, which they are not presently. Here too you will see a more holistic paradigm in operation. The holistic medical centers/health clinics will be will primarily serve those people who have made some degree of commitment to treating and/or preventing a chronic illness. The hospitals, however, will treat the seriously acute or life-threatening illnesses. They might serve as a Safety net for those people who have already been to a health clinic and are engaged in their healing process, but are Experiencing an acute or life-threatening flare-ups of their condition. This could include an asthmatic having an acute attack, a person with cancer experiencing a recurrence, or someone with heart disease who’s having a heart attack. For these patients the hospital will offer state-of-the-art medical and surgical treatment while also reinforcing the educational/preventive aspect of their treatment program. During their recovery, patients might be asked to reflect on the following questions: “What do you think caused the attack or the recurrence of your illness?” “How might it have been prevented?” “what lessons have you learned as a result?’ “how will you live differently after you leave the hospital?”

For those hospitalized patients who had not been familiar with holistic medicine, they will be exposed to a more comprehensive approach to treating their disease. In addition to being provided with all of the modern medical innovations offered by conventional medicine, both therapeutic and diagnostic, patients will receive the most appropriate complementary modalities that can benefit their condition. They too will be encouraged to better understand the factors that may have caused their illness, and to use it as an opportunity to further their spiritual growth — to heal, rather than simply relieving the pain or eliminating the crisis.

Whether an individual will be cured is not the primary question that needs to be asked. What really matters is whether they feel more whole, which is what healing is all about. As Bernie Siegel points out, healing can occur even when a cure is not possible, such as when someone has terminal cancer. If patients are dying there will be counseling available to them and their loved ones, and in fact holistic physicians will be much better trained to work with the terminally ill and helping people “heal into death.” That’s a concept that is not understood by most physicians today and it really speaks to the difference between healing and curing. Curing refers to a physical condition and healing refers to the quality of one’s life.

Death is one of the most important stages of life, and that transition will be honored and respected in the holistic health care system of the 21st century. We’ll recognize that all of us are spiritual beings and that we are here on this planet for the primary purpose of learning to love ourselves and others. We’ve been taught by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Stephen Levine and other healers who have for many years worked with terminally ill patients that the most often expressed regret from a person’s death bed is “unfinished business in relationships.” No one is bemoaning the fact that they could have worked harder or made more money. We are not here to make as much money as possible, or to die with the most toys. Life on earth is about learning to love, and unfortunately most of us don’t come to that realization until we’re dying. So why not practice a little preventive medicine along with a strong dose of forgiveness while we’re still alive and well, rather than waiting until we’re at death’s door?

So this is another area that holistic physicians can help their patients with.

That’s right. We’ve been given the same message repeatedly from every spiritual teacher throughout recorded history: love thy neighbor as thyself. And after more than a million years on this planet, our species still hasn’t learned to live together happily, peacefully, or lovingly. From Kubler-Ross, Levine, and a burgeoning body of scientific evidence, the conclusion is always the same – the healing power of love and intimacy surpasses that of any drug, surgical procedure, diet, exercise, supplement, or herb. Yet as we begin the new millenium with our global population at 6.5 billion, our greatest health hazard is our growing sense of isolation. We have become disconnected from the earth, from one another, from ourselves, and from god. The primary job of the holistic healer is to help us to awaken to the limitless possibilities and the joy of being fully alive. This is my vision for the future.


How Healthy Are You?: Dr. Ivker’s Wellness Self-Test

The following questionnaire was designed by Dr. Ivker to help patients discover their health status in each of the six areas addressed by holistic medical physicians — physical and environmental health; mental and emotional health; and spiritual and social health. Completing it will provide you with a blueprint for restructuring your life, according to the areas which most need your attention. You can also measure your progress by taking the test again every few months.

Answer the questions in each section and total your score. Each response will be a number from zero to 5. When answering questions about an activity refer to the frequency within the parenthesis (e.g., “2 to 3x/week”). The questions that are not about activities (e.g., “Do you have a sense of humor?” or “Do you have specific goals in your personal and professional life?”) are more subjective. Score them according to their frequency, such as “often” or “daily,” or how accurately you feel the trait described is part of your life. For example, if a sense of humor is a strong part of your personality, your score would be 5, whereas if you feel you usually fail to see humor in your daily life, you would score zero.

0 = Never or almost never (once a year or less)

1 = Seldom (2 to 12x/year)

2 = Occasionally (2 to 4x/month)

3 = Often (2 to 3x/week)

4 = Regularly (4 to 6x/week)

5 = Daily

BODY: Physical and Environmental Health

__ 1. Do you maintain a healthy diet (low fat, low sugar, fresh fruits, grains, vegetables)?

__ 2. Is your water intake adequate (at least 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight)?

__ 3 Are you within 20 percent of your ideal body weight?

__ 4 Do you feel physically attractive?

__ 5 Do you fall asleep easily and sleep soundly?

__ 6 Do you awaken in the morning feeling well rested?

__ 7 Do you have more than enough energy to meet your daily responsibilities?

__ 8 Are your five senses acute?

__ 9 Do you have time to experience sensual pleasures?

__ 10 Do you schedule regular massage or deep-tissue body work?

__ 11 Does your sexual relationship feel gratifying?

__ 12 Do you engage in regular physical workouts (lasting at each 20 minutes)?

__ 13 Do you have good endurance or aerobic capacity?

__ 14 Do you breathe abdominally for at least a few minutes?

__ 15 Do you maintain physically challenging goals?

__ 16 Are you physically strong?

__ 17 Do you do some stretching exercises?

__ 18 Are you free of chronic aches, pains, ailments, and diseases?

__ 19 Do you have regular bowel movements?

__ 20 Do you understand the causes of your physical health problems?

__ 21 Are you free of any drug or alcohol dependency?

__ 22 Do you live and work in a healthy environment with respect to clean air, water, and indoor pollution?

__ 23 Do you become energized by spending time in nature?

__ 24 Do you feel a strong connection with and appreciation for your body, your home, and your environment?

__ 25 Do you have an awareness of life force energy or Qi?

Total BODY score :____

MIND: Mental and Emotional Health

__ 1 Do you have specific goals in your personal and professional life?

__ 2 Do you have the ability to concentrate for extended periods of time?

__ 3 Do you use visualization or mental imagery to help you attain your goals or enhance your performance?

__ 4 Do you believe it is possible to change?

__ 5 Can you meet your financial needs and desires?

__ 6 Is your outlook basically optimistic?

__ 7 Do you give yourself more supportive messages than critical messages?

__ 8 Does your job utilize your greatest talents?

__ 9 Is your job enjoyable and fulfilling?

__ 10 Are you willing to take risks or make mistakes in order to succeed?

__ 11 Are you able to adjust beliefs and attitudes as a result of learning from painful experiences?

__ 12 Do you have a sense of humor?

__ 13 Do you maintain peace of mind and tranquility?

__ 14 Are you free from a strong need for control or the need to be right?

__ 15 Are you able to fully experience (feel) your painful feelings such as fear, anger, sadness, and hopelessness?

__ 16 Are you aware of and able to safely express fear?

__ 17 Are you aware of and able to safely express anger?

__ 18 Are you aware of and able to safely express sadness (cry)?

__ 19 Are you accepting of all your feelings?

__ 20 Do you engage in meditation, contemplation, or psychotherapy to better understand your feelings?

__ 21 Is your sleep free of disturbing dreams?

__ 22 Do you explore the symbolism and emotional content of your dreams?

__ 23 Do you take time to relax, or make time for activities pf play that constitute abandon of your cares?

__ 24 Do you experience feelings of exhilaration?

__ 25 Do you enjoy high self-esteem?

Total MIND score: ___

SPIRIT: Spiritual and Social Health

__ 1 Do you actively commit time to your spiritual life?

__ 2 Do you take time for prayer, meditation, or reflection?

__ 3 Do you listen to and act on your intuition?

__ 4 Are creative activities a part of your work or leisure time?

__ 5 Do you take risks?

__ 6 Do you have faith in God or Spirit?

__ 7 Are you free from anger toward God?

__ 8 Are you grateful for the blessings in your life?

__ 9 Do you take walks, garden, or have contact with nature?

__ 10 Are you able to let go of your attachment to specific outcomes and embrace uncertainty?

__ 11 Do you observe a day of rest completely away from work, dedicated to nurturing yourself and your family?

__ 12 Can you let go of self-interest in deciding the best course of action for a given situation?

__ 13 Do you feel a sense of purpose?

__ 14 Do you make time to connect with young children, either your own or someone else’s?

__ 15 Are playfulness and humor important to you in your daily life?

__ 16 Do you have the ability to forgive yourself and others?

__ 17 Have you demonstrated the willingness to commit to a marriage or comparable long-term relationship?

__ 18 Do you experience intimacy, besides sex, in your committed relationships?

__ 19 Do you confide in or speak openly with one or more close friends?

__ 20 Do you or did you feel close to your parents?

__ 21 If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, have you fully grieved that loss?

__ 22 Has your experience of pain enabled you to grow spiritually?

__ 23 Do you go out of your way or give time to help others?

__ 24 Do you feel a sense of belonging to a group or community?

__ 25 Do you experience unconditional love?

Total SPIRIT score: ___

Total BODY, MIND, SPIRIT Score: ___

Health Scale:

325-375 Optimal Health: THRIVING

275-324 Excellent Health

225-274 Good Health

175-224 Fair Health

125-174 Below Average Health

75-124 Poor Health

Less than 75 Extremely Unhealthy: SURVIVING


Dr. Ivker’s website provide information about his acclaimed holistic treatment protocol for treating sinusitis, allergies, colds, asthma, arthritis, headache, and backache; a Q&A with Dr. Ivker; online forums; and online ordering of Dr. Ivker’s books and recommended health care products.

American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA)

American Board of Holistic Medicine (ABHM)

Both the AHMA and ABHM offer nationwide referrals to physician (M.D.’s and D.O’s) competent in the practice of holistic medicine.

By Robert S. Ivker, D.O.

Dr. Ivker’s Survival Guide Lifelong Wellness Series (Tarcher/Putnam):

Sinus Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment for Sinusitis, Allergies, and Colds; 4th edition, 2000

Arthritis Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment Program for Osteoarthritis (with Todd Nelson, N.D.) 2001

Asthma Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment Program for Asthma (with Todd Nelson, N.D.) 2001

Headache Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment Program for Migraine, Tension, and Cluster Headaches (with Todd Nelson, N.D.) 2002

Backache Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment Program for Low Back Pain, 2002

The Self-Care Guide to Holistic Medicine: Creating Optimal Health (with Robert A. Anderson, M.D., and Larry Trivieri, Jr.) (Tarcher/Putnam) 2001

Thriving: The Holistic Guide to Optimal Health for Men (with Edward Zorensky) (Crown), 1997

Sacred Healing: Bringing the Divine Into Medicine–An Interview with C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph. D.

Dr. C. Norman Shealy is a world-renowned neurosurgeonand one of the first physicians to ever specialize in the effective resolution of chronic pain.In 1971, he established the Shealy Institute, which was found by the American Academy of Pain Management to consistently achieve the best rate of success of any pain clinic they evaluated, at a cost that is sixty percent lower than the national average. Dr. Shealy is also one of the most acclaimed leaders in the field of holistic medicine, and served as the first president of the American Holistic Medical Association, which he founded in 1978.

During the course of his career, Dr. Shealy has contributed numerous pioneering techniques and inventions to the field of medicine. These include his development of dorsal column stimulation, which controls pain by electrically stimulating the dorsal column of the spinal cord; facet rhizotomy, which permanently and safely numbs irritating spinal joint nerves; transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which achieves pain control through gentle electrical stimulation; and Biogenics(R), an innovative method of self-regulation which helps patients achieve physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Throughout his life, Dr. Shealy has been keenly interested in the role the Divine plays in healing, and for more than twenty years he has been investigating claims of healing through Divine intervention. During this time, he has tested the abilities of some of the world’s most renowned sacred healers in clinically controlled settings, and devised a series of scientific trials using sophisticated medical equipment to quantify the effects they had on patients, including at a distance. In addition, he has also documented over one hundred cases of terminally or chronically ill patients who were miraculously healed after modern allopathic (conventional) medicine had given up on them.

The following interview was originally conducted in early 1999, and is striking, in part, due to the prescience Dr. Shealy seems to have exhibited in predicting current world events.

What do you mean by “sacred healing”?

Well, really what I call “sacred healing” is all healing. My basic belief system is that healing takes place when there is adequate or total or perfect rapport between the Divine, the Cosmos, and the individual. That healing may be assisted by physicians, by medications, by surgery, by nutrition and herbs, or by a specialized person who does the laying on the hands or, quote, spiritual healing. But to me sacred healing is really all healing.

Based on the model that you’re espousing, do you agree that all of us have the potential to be our own healers?

Oh, yes. In my book I mention a book by Sally Hammond entitled We Are All Healers, and basically I think what she is saying is true. But I think we also can take advantage of assistance, or adjuncts of supported systems, to help us get there.

Obviously this is a completely different paradigm than the current medical monopoly in this country.

Well yes, I’ve never been called a sheep. (laughs) Basically, I don’t think that physicians heal. If physicians are lucky and blessed, they assist the process in restoring balance so that the body can heal itself. But we don’t cure, and we don’t heal. When you take out a tumor, even a benign tumor, the body still has to heal itself. All we can do is assist the process by removing the tumor mass.

Based on that perspective, what role do you feel that physicians are playing?

In acute illness, the role is significant. I think modern allopathic medicine, and sometimes osteopathic medicine, is essential to save your life or to save function. For example, if you have an epileptic seizure, if you have a heart attack, if you have a broken bone, if you have a major cut, or a serious infection, or meningitis, treating such conditions, I think, is primarily the province of allopathic medicine, and also partly the province of osteopathic medicine. In chronic disease of almost all types, medicine — and again I’m talking about modern allopathic medicine, which is the dominant field — may be supportive, but it is virtually never the major process in cure or in total control of the problem. Therein lies the rub. Medical students are taught only about serious and acute illness. That’s the model that goes to the medical centers where medical students are trained. They are not generally taught about the day to day management of chronic disease or things that are not curable by drugs or surgery. So they know nothing about the supportive systems that may reinforce natural homeostasis and help the patient recover.

In that sense, then, they’re only being prepared to perhaps deal with about twenty percent of the presenting issues that their patients are going to have with them. Because isn’t most illness chronic in this country?

Oh yes. Conservatively, eighty to eight-five percent of all illness is chronic. So what I’m saying is that modern medicine deals very poorly, very inadequately, and sometimes very excessively, in managing most chronic illness.

Getting back to your original point that all healing is spiritual healing. . .

Let me stop you there for a minute. There is a very fine line between spiritual and sacred. Spiritual, to me, refers to the soul level, if you will — the spirit or the soul. Sacred means God. In other words, the broader picture than, quote, just spirit or soul.

What are some of the hallmarks that differentiate the sacred from the spiritual?

Well, I think in general spiritual healers — whether it’s the laying on of hands, whether it’s prayer, whether it’s those people who do shamanistic medicine — they’re really dealing with getting at the personality of the person, the spirit or soul of the person, and they may or may not be really in touch with the Divine. But ultimately it is the connectedness of that individual patient with Cosmic or God energy, I think, that is healing.

In your book Sacred Healing you write that “all illness stems from an imbalance or sickness in the spirit of the individual patient.” What are some of the causative factors that create that imbalance in the first place?

In general it is a question of living in harmony with ideals. Jesus Christ said there are only two great laws: love thy God with all thy heart, and love thy neighbor as thyself. In other words, the basic disharmony occurs when we do not treat others as we would prefer to be treated. In other words, a breaking of the Golden Rule. Now interestingly approximately ninety percent of all people, when surveyed, say that they believe in the Golden Rule. But then we have what appears to be hypocrisy in living that. Just something simple. You go into a store and they undercharge you fifty cents or a dollar, for instance. How many people will stop and say, You’ve undercharged me, I owe you more? That’s at an exquisitely simple level of breaking the Golden Rule. And the closer one professes and believes one is aiming to live one’s ideals, I believe the more you are kept to that kind of law.

This is a principle, for instance, that can be found in autogenic training. J. H. Schultz, who created this wonderful self-hypnotic, very specialized technique starting back in the early part of the 20th century, wrote his first book in 1932. Schultz pointed out that when you begin to self regulate, when you take personal responsibility for controlling the physiology of your body, and controlling and managing your Self — Self with a big S — which means the soul and connectedness of the soul with the personality, or the “little self.” When you do that you become more sensitive. I’ll give you a perfect example. After I first had been practicing autogenic training for maybe nine months or so, I was getting pretty good at biofeedback and self-regulation. Then one day I got furious with somebody, very angry. The next day I was so hoarse, I couldn’t speak. Now, in other words, I became more sensitive, because of the commitment I made to reaching for the higher ideals. So the higher one’s spiritual aspirations, the less you can harm other people.

Now let’s take this to its ultimate. This includes even such things as environmental pollution. We don’t have, necessarily, any personal control over that, but it can kill us. People are killed by poisons. Now that is not that individual’s breaking with spiritual law. That is some unthinking person or group of people, or a company, breaking spiritual law, which then has a devastating health or life effect upon other people. So it’s always breaking a spiritual law. It may not be us personally, but it is at some level of being.

Now the one area where I have the greatest difficulty and cannot hone that to the final straw is accidents. I don’t know the details of it, but as a recent example, let’s consider John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s plane crash into the sea. I don’t know, but let us assume that there was actually a mechanical defect in the plane. That’s an accident. I don’t think that that is a personal break in John F. Kennedy, Jr.s’s spiritual law. If he made an error in judgement, which is another possibility — that somehow he made an error in judgement in flying and not knowing how to fly over an open sea — I don’t feel that one can say that was breaking of a spiritual law. There are true accidents, in my opinion. And that just is the way the Universe is. Nothing is totally understandable and totally controllable.

But just look at, let us say, diabetes. In general, except in juveniles and maybe to some extent there is an influence there, diabetes is a totally preventable disease. Even when one gets it in the early stages of adulthood, it is a totally controllable disease. But if you’re not willing to put the effort into it that requires proper nutrition, proper relaxation, and proper exercise, then you are breaking a spiritual law and you’re going to be on drugs instead of being able to control it without drugs. Now in children, we believe at this point, that it may well be ordinarily that a viral infection somehow attacks the tissue of the pancreas and the question then is: Is there a psychological emotional stress, sometimes not perceived by the adults around the child, that weakens that child’s immune system? Most likely it would be depression. There is no question in my mind that depression is the greatest weakener of the immune system, and the greatest precipitating and background cause, of more illness than all other known factors combined.

That’s a very strong statement. Where do you base it on?

From dealing with some twenty-five thousand people over the last twenty-eight years.

Depression is one of the dominant presenting emotions when you come in contact with them?

Oh, yes. I consider depression really the most common dis-ease in the world.

What do you think is contributing to that at this point in time in our history?

I think it is part of what I would call an existential crisis. A crisis of the spirit. You know, I go back to Victor Frankl often for my basic philosophy about this. Frankl, who spent four and a half years or more in a German concentration camp, said, “We could tell each day who was going to die when they came out of the barracks. Because on the faces of some people, we could see that they had lost their sense of purpose in life.” I have a friend who has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He is unwilling even to consider some of the great alternatives, going to have radical surgery, and yet when you really talk to him he says, “I’m not sure I really want to stay in this life.”

I see that, not one hundred percent of the time in cancer, but about seventy-five percent of the time in cancer. About fifteen percent of the time there is a lot of anger, and about nine-plus percent of the time there is both anger and depression. In heart disease, seventy-five percent of the time there is a great deal of unfinished or unresolved anger, fifteen percent of the time a lot of depression, nine percent or better, both depression and anger. The major portion of cancer seems to be depression. The major cause of heart disease seems to be anger. But my impression is that when an actual heart attack occurs is when an angry person goes through a fit of depression.

That’s interesting. You basically articulated the two underlying psychosomatic or psychospiritual causes for the two leading diseases in this country.

That’s right.

So, in other words, the profile of America would be an overly depressed and an overly angry country right now.

And we can put that throughout western civilization, can’t we?

Yes, I guess we could. Although I think we’re a little bit higher than most of the other countries in terms of those statistics.

That’s right.

So you would say, staying with the existential aspects of this, that basically as a whole, somehow the country is out of purpose with itself?

With its spiritual ideals.

And as a result we are getting these manifestations of terribly chronic and life-threatening diseases?


How does this lack of harmony or this imbalance with one’s spiritual ideals occur—both on a personal level and on a national level?

I think it begins in childhood and it is based on what the child perceives. Please understand I’m saying “perceive” because I think children so often misunderstand. When the child perceives or feels that he or she is being abused, or rejected/abandoned, the abuse leads to anger, and the rejection/abandonment leads to depression.

Let me give you an example. My sister, who was two and a half years older than I, apparently perceived when I was born that my mother rejected her. She was depressed throughout her life and died of complications of hypertension, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. The last time my mother, sister and I were together—two years before my sister’s death—my sister accused my mother in front of me of rejecting her when I was born. And my mother’s response was, “I didn’t reject you, you rejected me.” Now, I don’t know what happened; I was a baby. But my sister’s perception of abandonment led to a lifelong depression.

I, at age four, first remember overhearing that. And I made a commitment that no one would ever get close enough to my heart to hurt me that way. Until about six years ago, I was able to block that kind of feeling of any other person, getting vulnerable enough in my relationships to allow that to happen. Until I realized and got back to the origin of this block of the fourth chakra. I’m very lucky that I didn’t have some serious illness because I wasn’t hurt by it, of course. But my perception was, if you allow someone to get close to your heart, you’ll get hurt. That was my four-year old perception and that led to a coldness and blocking of relationships which, when I finally opened the door, has made me much more vulnerable, but also much more in touch with my own spiritual ideals.

What catalyzed the shift for you, if I may ask?

My father, who died in 1962 at age 54, came back, if you will, and had a conversation with me. And I had said for years, he committed suicide smoking. He said, “I didn’t commit suicide smoking; that was my life contract. You came into this life saying you wanted a strong will. I gave you an example of someone you would considered weak-willed, and a mother that was strong-willed so you could make a choice. That was my gift to you.” Then my sister, who died almost eleven years ago, came in and said, “I just want to let you know that it was not you—it was my life contract. My contract was to learn the path of the heart, and I learned it from the shadow side.” And I said, “What is mine?” And she said, “To learn the path of the heart, from the light side.”

I can relate that totally, Norm, simply because a friend of mine recently committed suicide. It was a very violent death, and it had a lot of repercussions, including some people who were very close to him choosing to deal with it by blaming themselves.

Yes. And there’s the other emotional factor that so often occurs with dis-ease. In addition to anger and depression, there is also guilt. And, of course, in my belief system guilt is an age-old, largely church-induced, control mechanism. If we can make you feel guilty, we can keep control over you. People buy into that and then they take responsibility for things which are really God’s or the soul’s purpose, not the individual. You are responsible for your own actions and if you purposefully rape, murder, rob or harm someone, then I think you have the right to have some guilt and do something about it. But if you have not done those things, I don’t think you have a spiritual right to be guilty.

What helped me heal my own emotions around my friend’s death, was that he– similar to your dad and your sister–visited me. This occurred initially in a very profound dream. The first thing that he did was to assure me he was fine and I said, “I know that, I believe that, but I just wish that you had let me know what you were going through when you were alive so that I might have been able to do something to ease your pain.” He looked at me very, very firmly and said, “No, no. It was necessary to do this. not only for myself, but also to heal you.”And the “you” I knew was plural—meaning our whole group of people who knew and loved him. That was the contract that he had taken on.

Oh boy, that’s a heavy duty one too, isn’t it? It is almost six years now since these two things happened, but when I tell the story about my father and sister I still am on the verge of tears.

When these things happened to you, were they dream experiences or were they meditational? How did they occur?

They were meditational-type things. I had conversations with what I would call my personal angels and sometimes through that connectedness I seem to get information from the other side.

Obviously that’s going to ring a lot of bells for the skeptics, but I know exactly what you’re talking about.

(Laughs.) Well I’ve never been one to worry about the skeptics. That’s their problem, not mine.

Let’s return to a point you brought up earlier, environmental pollution. Here you have a group of people, a corporation perhaps, with a mindset that is either intentional or unconscious, who are polluting and harming the earth with the proliferation of their chemicals, etc. One of the side effects of that, of course, or direct consequences of that, is the drastic increase in environmental illness that’s occurring now around world. So, based on what we were discussing earlier, what factors are involved with people who, for instance, come down with chronic asthma or chronic bronchitis because of environmental pollutants who, as far as they are aware, are not out of alignment with their spiritual ideals and yet are still suffering?

I think we have to look at them beyond the individual personality, even the individual soul at times, and look at the collective unconscious, the morphogenic whole. One of my favorite quotes, which I’ve got to tell you I do not fully understand, is from David Bohm, and I’ve heard it two different ways, so I don’t know which one is the apocryphal and if either one of them is real. One is that the death of the butterfly, and the other is that the flapping of the wings of a butterfly, can change the weather on the other side of the earth. Now from a quantum physics point of view, there is a little part of me that sort of minimally understands that concept. There’s a principle in quantum physics that states when you are near the threshold of a change from one state to another, it takes infinitesimally amounts of energy to change. That is like when you’re near 32 degrees Fahrenheit, a small temperature change either way can throw you into frozen or not frozen, etc. I understand that, and yet I also believe that there is something much bigger than that subtle quantum energy. Something that I would call universal unconscious negativity, and I don’t think that each individual always contributes a huge amount to that. Let us look at Kosovo, let us look at the Middle East, let us look at Ireland, at this point in time. In those regions, the people have produced tremendous energetic negativity on the face of the earth and are still doing so. We can go back to Hitler and we can go back to the Crusades where Christian rebels went out and murdered in the name of Christ. This kind of event, to me, carries power and so there is “thought pollution,” if you will, and I think that thoughts at some level are energetic and that they affect us.

Then we have chemical pollution, and for the last fifty years we have nuclear pollution, and for the last seventy years we have increasing electromagnetic pollution. All of those things put a strain on human physiology. Evolution does not easily take place in seventy years. Seventy million years is more like it for true evolutionary concepts. And so there is, if you will, part of what we might call “group karma” that is involved to some extent. I realize we’re getting pretty metaphysical at this point, but there is a part of me that believes that. And then there’s the example, for instance, of a young lady right now in my practice who is suffering from severe anorexia. Now ordinarily we think that the majority of anorexic people have had some kind of sexual abuse in childhood or adolescence. But this woman cannot even come close to having any memory of such, and I don’t believe in too many hidden memories from this life. I think a false memory is more common than a hidden memory. But my question to her is, “Suppose that you actually have a past life and at age 16 something happened to you in that life and then in this life that age triggered a hidden memory from your DNA that led to this. It may have nothing to do with what you in this life have experienced.” Personally, I don’t believe in reincarnation, I KNOW that it is the way life is, and if other people don’t believe in it, I don’t care. That’s their lack of insight from my point of view, but it’s okay. They’ll learn the lesson when they learn the lesson, in the next life. And so I think, we also have to remember our connectedness with our karma. There is a wonderful book that first really brought this home to me in a way that I hadn’t considered before. It’s written by Michelle Anderson. It was privately published, and is called Master Angelic Transmissions. In the first chapter, this angelic channeling said a huge percentage of people’s DNA, seventy-five to ninety percent, has no known genetic coding. In that DNA is the history not only of our past lives but of all of our ancestors. When I read that it made absolute sense to me that we carry with us our akashic records, if you will, in our DNA and so sometimes our spiritual purpose in this life is to help cleanse our genetic lifeline.

A parallel of that would be in homeopathy with the concept of miasm.

That’s right, absolutely. I think Hahnemann [Note: Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), the developer of homeopathic medicine] had a significant piece of the truth, even if he did not have the whole truth.

How do you foresee this consciousness, this paradigm of health and illness that you’re expressing today, entering into the mainstream as we enter into the twenty first century?

Well, I think that managed-care, what I call mangled care,is actually giving us a great gift. Throughout history there has been a pattern of usually four major cycles that on average last twenty to twenty-five years each, and we can look back to periods, just like what we’re going through now, at least for hundreds of years into the past. We’re now in the fourth phrase, which is called the Unraveling, so there’s a great deal of uncertainty. I consider mangled care part of the unraveling of health or medical care. And so we will have a crisis. Nobody knows what the crisis will be. It could be a political crisis, it could be an economic crisis, it could be a chemical or pollution or earth change crisis. We will have a crisis probably not longer than twelve years from now. Looking at the Mayan prophecy, it could be twelve and a half years. We will have such a crisis, and at that time there will be a major, major change.

I believe that we are being prepared for that crisis by mangled care giving such abominable personal attention to individuals. As a result of this, patients are now reaching out to learn ways to take care of themselves. I actually have Medicaid patients who are willing to pay to come to see me to get an alternative opinion because the health care system sucks so badly. Not a lot of them, but some. But that’s consciousness to me. I see people from all walks of life who, in their mangled care policy, can’t get covered for even good essential reasons such as having a baby sometimes, and they are willing to recognize that they have to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions and their own well-being and health care. So I see the public as the hope for the future. When the hundredth monkey, whatever that is, whether it’s twenty-five percent of the people or fifty percent of the people, when enough people become fed up and aware that they must take personal responsibility, then a major shift will occur for the better, and these simple and safe and sacred approaches to life and health will become part of the mainstream.

That explains it from a momentum shift. What about in present day practical terms? What would you tell people to start doing in order to enhance their own health and come into more of a conscious relationship with the Sacred?

Oh, that one’s very easy. Number one is, learn to think right. Now that takes practice. It may take the rest of a lifetime. Thinking right is to watch yourself with little negative thinking. It’s easy to watch yourself with big negative thinking, but with the little negative thinking, like being annoyed when somebody breaks in front of you in traffic, or saying “that will be the death of me,” or “that kills me” — those things, I think, have an important meaning to the subconscious. So start with thinking. That means doing some form of meditative practice, some form of regular relaxation, and some form of personal internal rejuvenation mental technique. Secondly, become physically active. I think that physical activity, from yoga to Tai Chi, to all other forms of physical exercise, in itself is a physically cleansing and balancing approach. And then, thirdly, eat right. That means to me eat a wide variety of real food, as real as you can get in today’s world. That means you avoid about seventy-five percent of the packaged food in grocery stores, and it certainly means you avoid going to the fast food restaurants in general. I’d rather go into a grocery store and buy myself some peanuts or almonds and some fruit, than go to a fast food restaurant.

I know that you yourself have conducted many scientific experiments to verify the nature of spiritual and sacred healing, but where do you see the momentum coming for more of that research? Because one of the problems I think that occurs in this field is that you have a lot of people open to the possibility of spiritual and sacred healing, and therefore you have a lot of people claiming to be healers.

There are two approaches here. Number one, eight years ago we initiated a masters and doctoral program in Energy Medicine through Greenwich University that is fully accredited by the Commonwealth of Australia, and will soon be by New Zealand and the entire British Commonwealth. Ninety-five students are involved in that program. In 2000, we began Holos University Graduate Seminary, which offers masters and doctoral degrees in theology, spiritual healing, and Energy Medicine. We currently have 60 students.

When you say “we”, to whom are you referring?

I’m the director of the program, but Caroline Myss and I started the program through Greenwich University. My number one requirement for a person to get into that program is that they must do a research project, outcome studies that can demonstrate some effect of whatever it is that they’re doing. It can include everything in the broad field that we call Energy Medicine. I foresee a doctorate in Energy Medicine becoming a more important than a masters in public health. Secondly, in October of 2000, Caroline and I introduced a certificate training program in the science of medical intuition. I think the vast majority of people who are out there, at this point, claiming to be medical intuitives are flakes.

I would agree with that.

So we will have a four year training program, and when people finish that they will take an exam. And either they will get at least a seventy-five percent accuracy on the exam, or they will flunk, even after four years of training.

Thirdly, at this moment in time the Barbara Brennan School is, in my opinion the premiere school, in training healers. Obviously, other people come along who sometimes are master healers, but I believe that healers and intuitives should put themselves through rigorous training and examinations before they hang out a shingle and claim to do it. I don’t think the state should do this, but I do think that there will be organizations such as the Barbara Brennan School that will get involved in helping to be certain that a person who is out there has some skill. And then the doctorate program in Energy Medicine, and there will be others in the future, will be documenting more and more the science behind these techniques.

You’ve the opportunity to travel the world and interact with a variety of truly remarkable healers. What are some of the common traits that these people possess, not so much in terms of their methodologies, but as to who they are as individuals?

In general, they have absolute, unequivocal faith that somehow they have a connectedness with God and that their spiritual connectedness with God assists them in being a channel of energy for healing. I think that is more important than all other factors. Some of them have a phenomenally strong ego; some of them seem to be very, very humble and simple about it. So, whether it’s excessive or humble, ego does not seem to be part of the puzzle. I think it’s their fervent belief in God and a desire to help others. And yet I still feel personally that they ought to have some kind of testing. They ought to go through a program of certification of some kind — again not by the state, the state can’t do that — that shows that they are competent. And even then, we’ve got to recognize that, just as no physician is perfect, no healer is perfect. No medical intuitive will ever be perfect. So we need a cooperative, as they have to a greater or lesser extent in England now. Even general practitioners there can choose to work with spiritual healers and make them part of their practice. And, just as I’ve believed for the last twenty-five or thirty years that chiropractic should be part of the medical team, I think spiritual healers, medical intuitives, and other energy practitioners should become part of a team, instead of working individually.

That’s already happening in England?

Yes, the National Health Service actually allows a physician to include a spiritual healer in his or her practice if they choose.

But the single most important thing, in my view, is for the individual patient who has either a disease that is considered incurable, or for which a physician cannot make a diagnosis—including saying there is nothing wrong with you, or that it’s all in your head—to seek a minimum of two to three conventional expert medical opinions. Then, if that is still the situation, I would go back to what one of my professors of medicine told me in 1978, “The role of physician is to stand at the door as the triage officer.” When the patient comes in, if there is something that is drastically, seriously wrong — if they need drugs or surgery to survive — then that is the physician’s role. But when patients don’t need drugs or surgery, we should have a variety of alternative approaches available that we consider safe enough that the patient can select what appeals to him or her.

This is precisely the mission of the American Holistic Medical Association which you founded.

That’s right. It has been for the last twenty-three years a primary mission of the American Holistic Medical Association and I believe that it will eventually grow and become further integrated so that we will have physicians and energy healers and chiropractors and osteopaths and aromatherapists and all of these people working at least in a network of inter-referral, if not in a central healing clinic environment.

If someone is in a situation where they have exhausted their conventional care options, and even exhausted their alternative medical options, and are now interested in exploring working with a sacred or a spiritual healer, what would be the criteria that they ought to use in order to be assured that they are actually interacting with someone who is competent.

Well, if the healer is a graduate of the Barbara Brennan School, I would consider that a good qualification. Beyond any doubt at the present time, Brennan graduates are the only major group that we can say are likely to be at least competent, etc. I’m sure they’re not one hundred percent good, but I’d rate them at probably ninety-five to ninety-eight percent. Secondly, it should be someone who by unequivocal word of mouth has obtained a reputation as a competent healer, such as Olga Worrall. She and her husband did healing for some thirty-five years in a church. So at least going into a church that has healing services is worthwhile. But don’t just go because some says “I’m a spiritual healer.” Get a reference.


Assessing Your Attitudes

The following questionnaire is adapted from Dr. Shealy’s book Sacred Healing: The Curing Power of Energy and Spirituality and can be used to assess your spiritual attitudes in order to discover your personal strengths and weaknesses in relation to the Divine.

As you read each of the statements below, consider whether you emotional agree or disagree with it. Score your emotional response to each statement as follows:

Strong Agreement ++

Mild Agreement +

Neutral 0

Mild Disagreement –

Strong Disagreement —

(It is possible that some statements may elicit a general, or mild, agreement, while simultaneously provoking a feeling of uneasiness related to an exception to it. In the case of a mixed response, score such statements +- to reflect this conflict.)

__ I’ve forgiven everyone who has wronged me.

__ I forgive those who unintentionally wrong me.

__ I forgive those who purposefully wrong me.

__ When I tell those who have wronged me what they have done, I expect them to apologize or repent.

__ I have sometimes wronged or harmed others.

__ I apologize when I wrong others.

__ I expect others to forgive me when I apologize.

__ I helped someone else within the last week.

__ I walked and talked with someone I love during the last week.

__ I participate in a spiritual practice regularly.

__ I believe that my attitude each day is more important than attending church.

__ I believe my affliction(s) was given to me by God as part of a divine plan.

__ I believe God is wrathful and punishes sinners.

__ I have lots of friends and see/visit them often.

__ I pray regularly for myself and others.

__ I believe the most important goal of life is service to God or others.

__ I prayed for someone else yesterday and today.

__ I often (more than once a week) watch the sunset or sunrise with a feeling of reverence.

__ I read religious or inspirational materials at least once a week.

__ I attend a fun event or listen to good music at least once a week.

__ I meditate, pray, or think about the beauty of life regularly.

__ Everyone is born a sinner.

__ Humankind is basically bad.

__ I believe hypnosis is the work of the Devil.

__ I believe everyone has a right to his or her beliefs.

__ I believe that those who do not share my religious beliefs are sinners and likely to go to Hell.

__ God does not forgive sinners unless the debts of their sins are paid.

__ If your believes are different from mine, you cannot help me.

__ My spiritual/religious beliefs are:

a. strong ___

b. correct and right ___

__ I feel calm and serene most of the time.

__ When I become frustrated, I pause and calm myself.

__ I feel compassion for other human beings.

__ I go out of my way to help other persons.

__ I know I can attain my goals.

__ I believe I can accomplish anything to which I apply myself adequately.

__ I will apply myself enough to accomplish my goals.

__ I feel great joy in my life.

__ I can face wwhateverlife offers.

__ I believe I can learn from my problems.

__ I willingly or lovingly contribute to help others less fortunate than I.

__ I believe tomorrow will be a better day.

__ I believe in a benevolent God.

__ I believe in life after death.

__ I believe I have a soul that survives death.

__ I believe one dies and goes to Heaven or Hell.

__ I believe in reincarnation.

__ Reincarnation is an evil concept.

__ I have the willpower to accomplish my goals.

__ I am wise enough to make the right choices.

__ I make rational, reasonable choices.

__ I feel love for all other human beings.

__ I bless all other human beings.

__ I bless all who have wronged me.

__ My life is meaningful.



The Shealy Wellness Institute

5607 South 222nd Road

Fair Grove, Missouri 65648

(417) 267-2900

Holos University Graduate Seminar

1328 East Evergreen

Springfield, Missouri 65803

(417) 865-5940

By C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph. D.

Sacred Healing: The Curing Power of Energy and Spirituality (Element Books), 1999

Miracles Do Happen: A Physician’s Experience With Alternative Medicine (HarperCollins UK), 1999

90 Days To Stress Free Living (Harper Collins UK), 1999

The Creation of Health: The Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Responses That Promote Health and Healing (with Caroline Myss) (Three Rivers Press), 1998

Holy Water, Sacred Oil: The Fountain of Youth (Brindabella Books), 2000.

BioAcoustics: Using Sound to Heal and Prevent Disease–An Interview with Sharry Edwards, M.Ed.

Sharry Edwards is the founder of the field of human BioAcoustics, and executive director of Sound Health Alternatives International, Inc., in Albany, Ohio, a nonprofit research center which trains and certifies health care practitioners in the use of the healing sound techniques she has developed to heal illness.

Edwards, who graduated summa cum laude from Ohio University, began her research over two decades ago, when audiological tests revealed that she was born with the unique ability to hear sounds beyond the normal range of human hearing, as well as vocally producing sine waves. In her first research project, testing showed that by the use of her voice she was able to control a person’s blood pressure by as much as 32 points. Since then, through the concept of vocal coherence, Edwards has demonstrated that the human voice is a unique frequency representation of the body’s structural and biochemical status, and that, through the use of voice spectral analysis techniques she developed, the body is capable of diagnosing and prescribing for itself.

Recognizing the potential of her innate healing abilities, in 1982 Edwards developed the BioAcoustics technology that enables others to mechanically reproduce the diagnostic and therapeutic results she has achieved. To date, over 3,000 health care practitioners have trained and been certified in her methods, which continue to garner serious attention from conventional health care facilities and HMO’s worldwide. In October 2001, the International Association of New Science, bestowed its Scientist of the Year award to Edwards in recognition of her pioneering work with BioAcoustics.

What is BioAcoustics?

First of all, let me say that the work I am doing is in human BioAcoustics. There is also a field of animal BioAcoustics which has been around for a long time. There’s a research center at Cornell University, for example, that is involved in this, and others in Texas and England. Researchers in this field analyze the sounds animals emit to determine their health, and it can also to tell where the animals are from. Birds from the south, even though they are the same species, sound a little different from birds of the north, for example. At the time I began my work, I didn’t even know the term bioacoustics existed; I thought I’d made it up.

BioAcoustics means “life sounds”, and as I use the term, it describes the field of research involving the use of voice spectral analysis and low frequency sound to help the body reverse its own disease. It can most aptly be described as a cross between music therapy and biofeedback. It is related to music therapy in the sense that certain sounds are use to stimulate the healing process, although not necessarily sounds that are considered musical. And it is related to biofeedback in that, as these low frequency sounds are presented to the person, they elicit specific biological and emotional responses.

I should point out that BioAcoustics is not to be confused with what is known as Frequency Therapy, which uses ranges that are not considered to be auditory and is delivered through transducers placed on the body. Nor is it the same thing as music therapy, because the sounds used are not always within the range of vocal or instrumental octaves. BioAcoustics uses low frequency ambient sounds which are delivered to the client in a sound chamber or through headphones.

What does the BioAcoustics process involve?

There are two distinct processes to BioAcoustics, both of which are essential if maximum results are to be achieved. The first process involves determining the individual vocal patterns of the person, which is done before any sound frequencies are presented. This process is called BioAcoustic Vocal Profiling. Once the person’s vocal pattern has been determined, sets of sound formulas are specifically created and presented to that person, which are designed to positively influence and integrate the systems within the body that produce, interpret, and otherwise use frequency. My research has found that, for health to be present, the body requires the presence of a full spectrum of harmonious frequencies working together cooperatively. In a very real sense, you can liken the body as a musical instrument. When it is out of tune, the result is discordant, but when the instrument is tuned, the sounds become consonant.

The idea of using sound to facilitate change within the body is not new, by the way. Almost every culture throughout recorded history has used sound and movement to influence mood. Four thousands of years, practitioners of Tibetan medicine have known of the positive vibrational effects of bells and chanting, for instance, and ancient philosophers such as Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle taught that the human body reflects the sounds and tones that exist within its personal environment. And, of course, in the Bible we are told that, “In the beginning was the Word,” and that through the agency of that Word all of creation came into being. In other words, frequency is the basis of our universe. It wasn’t until recently, however, that computerized technology and instrumentation advanced to the stage where we are now able to use this technology to use sound frequencies diagnostically and therapeutically.

To literally create “sound health.”

Yes. (laughs). The term “sound health” is actually a play on words. I think that we’ve known about the relationship between sound and health all along, but we were able to deal with it in our language much quicker than we’ve been able to deal with it as a technology or an idea related to well-being.

For instance, when my husband and I go to the grocery store and he picks up a grapefruit to see if it’s ripe, I listen to it, and if it was clear note of E, I know it is a nice, fresh grapefruit and I’ll say, “It sounds good to me.” This is an expression that people have always used to convey their perception that something is right or “sound.” This also shows up in phrases like “sound advice,” and so forth. Sound means “stable” or “foundational,” and it also refers to frequency and music. And there is a feedback loop between the sounds that people make and the sounds that people hear. It’s the only dual feedback loop that is like that in the body. You don’t make color with your eyes, for example, but you do use your eyes to perceive color.

Let’s get back to the grapefruit. You say you are able to “listen to it.” Obviously that’s an ability most people don’t have, so I’d like you to explain it.

When I say the grapefruit sounds good to me, most people would automatically think I mean that buying the grapefruit sounds like a good idea, but I literally mean that it sounds like a good grapefruit. This has always been an innate ability in me, and for many years it didn’t occur to me other people didn’t have it. I have always been able to tell what was going on with people by the sound of their voice. For instance, when I was young I noticed that my aunt had a sound that was new to her, and that it was the same sound that my grandmother had when she had diabetes. So I thought that maybe my aunt had diabetes too, and it turned out that she did.

I really think my ability is a trait that we forgot or have literally tuned out of our sensory repertoire. When you read some of the ancient literature about Socrates, Pythagoras, and people like that, you find that they heard these sounds, as well. I hear sounds from nearly everything. I cannot hear sounds from plastic, but I hear sounds from everything else — animals, trees and flowers. And I decided to use my ability as a means of helping others to experience better health, using BioAcoustics to make the diagnostic and therapeutic elements of health care more precise. We’ve already done it with cars. We can take our cars into the garage and plug them in and have a machine evaluate exactly what’s wrong, but with conventional medicine, we don’t have that ability in relation to our own bodies. We have MRI’s and X-rays, and other devices that we’ve created, but these are not diagnostic enough to individuate for each of us. When we look at people in frequency, we find that their bone and their muscle structure are pretty nearly the same, but when it comes to organs we start to become very individual. We’re all singing the same song when it comes to our structure, but when it comes to our organs we’re singing a slightly different tune. And when you come to emotions, we each create our own scale, not just our own song.

What happens when a person comes to you for a BioAcoustics’ session?

Before I answer your questions, let me tell you a bit more about how I got involved in this. As I mentioned, I was born with my ability to hear the sounds emitted by the body, and at first I just took it for granted that everybody could hear these sounds. Later on, of course, I realized that wasn’t true. Then, when I was in college and typing a paper for one of the professors on tinnitus, I read that hearing these kinds of sounds was an illness. So I went to have my hearing tested. It turned out that not only could I hear just fine, but that I also hear sound well beyond the normal range of human hearing, and that I can vocally reproduce these sounds in the form of sine waves. I did this with the man who was administering my hearing test, and when I did so he reported that his blood pressure decreased. He was very interested in the results for a couple of reasons. One, he was aware that Samurai warriors used to yell right before they attacked an opponent to decrease their blood pressure so they would have split second of advantage. Two, he was a young man and wanted to start a family, but the high blood pressure medication he was on was rendering him impotent, so he was very interested to see if through sounds we could help him with his blood pressure issue. This was the first research project that I was involved in. It was a pilot study and from it we found that by using my voice we could reduce blood pressure levels by as much as 32 points. From there, the research snowballed. I would listen to a person’s sound and then vocally reproduce it onto a recording and take it back to the laboratory to see what it revealed on a spectrograph. From this, we could determine what frequencies were too high or too low in the voice, and we found that there is no vocal coherence in somebody who is ill. When there are gaps in the measurements and things that are too high or too low, then we know that the person has some unbalance by way of his frequencies in the body. But I knew that if this could only be done by me because of my abilities, then we were very limited. This led me to search for a way to replicate my abilities through technology without me having to be present. By this time, we knew that the sounds I was hearing were being emitted from people’s ears, but when I talked to my professors of speech and hearing, I was told, “Sharry please, there is nothing in the ear that creates a sound.” But a few years later Dr. Wendell Browne, of Johns Hopkins University, published some papers about oto-acoustic emissions, which proved that there really was a sound coming out of the ear. And here we were doing all of this work under the assumption that this was something esoteric in my ears alone. Now I can teach almost anyone to hear their own sound if they’re not deaf.

As I continued my research, I eventually discovered what I was looking for and had computerized instrumentation built that can enable anyone, with proper training, to do what I do. Currently, approximately 3,000 people have received the training and use the equipment. About half of them are medical practitioners, and the rest are caretakers for family members or other people suffering from chronic disease. Instead of them having to return to us time and time again, we’re able to train them to take this out into the world. In exchange, we ask that they share with us the data they are collecting, since we are essentially an educational research center.

Okay, so let’s get back to what happens during a BioAcoustics session.

A session begins with the person speaking into a special microphone that we designed. The gives us a recording of the governing patterns of what I called their Signature Sound. This is entered into a computer, which then does what is called a Fast Fourier Transform and creates a computerized representation of the voice, decibel, and frequency, as well as the architecture of the voice itself, by way of the shape of the wave form. We then evaluate the reading to see what points are too high or too low. Points that are located high on the graph, called “risers,” indicate sound frequencies that are loud and overabundant, while points that are low, known as “stringers,” indicate frequencies that are not apparent. The objective is to create a smaller, more unified pattern of fewer risers and/or stringers, which is an indication of more coherence. The frequencies that are lacking, overabundant, or dissident can then be used to construct sets of frequencies that the person can use to help him reverse whatever imbalances may be present.

For example, our research has shown that adults and children who have been diagnosed with so-called attention deficit disorder have the Frequency Equivalent (TM) of adrenaline that is way too high, meaning that it’s in the body and it can’t be used. When we give them the Frequency Equivalent (TM) of adrenaline and they start using adrenaline it calms them down, because the frequency allows the body to identify the compound and use it appropriately. What we have found is that when people have risers that are too high, it means that there is either a toxin in the body, or some other compound that the body doesn’t know how to use because it doesn’t recognize it. Stress, man-made electricity, being around machinery, and these kinds of things causes our frequencies to drop out or to become over-abundant, and as we examine the vocal spectral analysis and find out what’s too high or too low, or what’s missing or thin in the voice, we can tell what’s going on with someone’s health.

Here’s another example of how precisely this can work. Recently, we sent a letter out some of the doctors that we work with, informing them that we were going to do a project involving gait. We asked them to send us patients who had problems walking. In the first week, we examined three people. The first was an older gentleman in his late 70’s who was not walking well at all, and had terrible difficulty turning around. He came in with his doctor and his wife, and our Vocal Profiling found that he could not process vitamin B-12, and that his cobalt levels were eight times normal. I had never heard of B-12 causing someone’s gait to be unstable, but that’s exactly what was happening, and this was verified in a lab test. By playing the Frequency Equivalent (TM) for B-12, we were able to have him running up and down the yard in a couple of hours by himself.

The second person was a young lady who was knock-kneed and pigeon-toed, and she also had trouble with her gait. It turned out that her condition was due to the gene for Frederick’s ataxia. The third man was paralyzed in one leg and didn’t have very much use of the other. We were able to trace that down to a trauma to his L2 vertebra caused by a skiing accident. He didn’t report that to us, but the computer was able to pinpoint that there was something very seriously wrong with his L2, and when we explained this to him, he told us of his skiing accident. By introducing the proper frequencies, we were able to get him to lay on his back and do bicycle kicks before he left that day, using both of his legs.

This is a clear example of how people with the same symptom can have completely different causes for that symptom. All three people had gait problems, but in the first person’s case it was due to a biochemical imbalance, in the second it was genetic, and in the third it was due to a structural problem. This illustrates why it’s incredibly important to individualize people’s medical care, and being able to do that is one of BioAcoustics’ strong points. And not only can we determine the causes for problems that have already arisen, we can also evaluate factors that are predictive of what is going to happen to a person, and use the frequencies preventively to avoid that.

How are the frequencies administered?

We have a little box that is a miniature computer and we set the frequencies up in that box. You hook it up to a speaker and turn it on and listen to the frequencies just as you would listen to music.

Are the results that you achieve permanent or temporary?

It depends on the person and on his or her condition. Depending on a person’s symptoms, treatment can be either short- or long-term. In most cases, reassessment, monitoring, and program adjustment are essential for continued improvement. But one of the big advantages of BioAcoustics, as the gait examples illustrate, is that a person’s symptoms that are often conflicting can be separated and identified using Vocal Profiling, including in cases where conventional evaluation is unable to determine the underlying cause. In the case of the man with the B-12 problems, for instance, he had originally been diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic as having peripheral neuropathy, which actually turned out not to be the case at all.

Another advantage of BioAcoustics is that it acts as an ideal complement or adjunct to other therapies, both diagnostically and therapeutically. In addition, what we are finding is that the diagnosis in and of itself is not as important as identifying and introducing the indigenous frequencies of the person’s originating patterns. The diagnosis of digestive upset, for example, is not as important as presenting the frequency that will enhance or resolve a person’s specific digestive difficulties.

I need to emphasize, however, that a person’s outcome using BioAcoustics is in large part due to his or her willingness to follow the protocol prescribed by the practitioner. Each person is evaluated on an individual basis, and each treatment protocol is designed specifically for that person. The most common frustration I have in this regard is convincing the client to continue to listening to the frequencies after he or she begins to experience improvement. This is similar to a physician’s frustration when a patient stops using antibiotics once he starts feeling better, and then his infection comes back. I’ve had a number of clients who came back to me embarrassed because their symptoms had returned and it turned out they hadn’t been following their protocol. Therefore, I tell the people I train as BioAcoustics providers that it is essential that they take an active role in supervising each case, to ensure that their clients use this technology in the way that the providers suggest.

One other thing I’d like to mention is the placebo effect. We’ve had skeptics try to dismiss the results we’ve achieved by saying the person got better because he or she expected to, not because BioAcoustics actually works. First of all, while I firmly believe in the power of the mind to influence healing, the outcomes BioAcoustics has achieved are verified by a variety of diagnostic tests and measurements and, in many cases, follow-up evaluations by our clients’ physicians. In addition, we have had many cases that have shown improvement among people who had little or no awareness about what is expected, including newborns and persons who were comatose.

Part of the basis of your work involves what you call a person’s Signature Sound. Explain what you mean by that.

A Signature Sound is the frequency representation of all that you are. Each person’s Signature Sound is influenced by his or her genetic make-up and the environment in which he or she lives. It reflects an individual’s physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual state, and iincludes the sound that is produced oto-acoustically by the ears.

And there actually is an ear focus. If you listen to me talk, then listen to something in another room, or the outside traffic, then listen to me again, you can hear or feel your ear focus change. We’re all very much aware of how our eye focus changes when looking at something close, and then far away, but most people do not realize that a similar change of focus occurs in the ear. When you begin to consciously change that focus of your ear, you’ll start hearing a very high pitch sound, which I believe is your Signature Sound — the frequency representation of all that you are. Everything that’s ever happened to you is manifested in that sound.

What we have found through voice spectral analysis is that when a person is not in an optimum state of health, both physiologically and psychologically, his or her voice will have missing notes or tones that are part of one’s Signature Sound. Indicators of physical and/or mental/emotional distress can then be categorized from these notes, and when the sound frequencies that correspond to them are provided, the ability to self-heal is significantly enhanced.

In other words, in a healthy state, a Signature Sound would be vibrant and contain the full spectrum of notes that comprise it, but in a state of illness something in the frequency would be lacking or off, correct?

Or too high, or too choppy. We’ve run tests on this. During the BioAcoustics’ process, when you present someone with their Signature Sound, it will synchronize their heart and brain. Your heart and your brain will synchronize to the beat frequency of it. I think the frequency is actually coming from your brain, but the rhythm of the sound is actually coming from your heart. When you listen to your own sound, it brings harmony and balance to the different systems of the body and is very relaxing. When we do the computer analysis, it gives us everything that makes up the Signature Sound. Almost like a chord.

And knowing everything that makes up a person’s Signature Sound, you then present it back to them in a way that creates a state of harmony?

Right. There are actually two frequency or sound formulas that are required. One is a formula based on the molecular weight of the compound or body part that we are targeting, and the other is a formula based on a frequency that will engage the energy of the compound or body part. As an analogy to this, consider a car. When you start the engine, the car is ready to go, but in order to put it into action, you have to put it into gear and step on the gas. This is similar to how we use these two sound frequencies with the people we see. The first frequency alerts the compound or body part that we’re about to engage its energy, and the second one actually does engage the energy, allowing us to control how much of that energy is expended. For instance, what we have found during a pilot study is that, if someone requires a particular compound, such as a nutrient, we can call that up and engage its sound frequency and then present it to the person, and the body will react just as if the person had taken ir orally, except that the reaction will be immediate. And by being able to shut the frequency off, we can avoid any side-effects the compound might otherwise cause. We would like to do more work to explore this potential.

Another area where we are finding success has to do with pathogens. We wanted to find a way to look at the cloaking mechanism of pathogens, because we knew that invading pathogens make use of leftover protein debris in the body to create a coating that prevents the body’s defense systems from recognizing them as something foreign. We wanted to find a way to look at the pathogens and destroy the protein barrier, and we found we were able to do this using frequencies. To do this requires different kinds of frequencies for different kinds of pathogens. The frequency for the Epstein Barr virus, for instance, is very different from the frequency for yeast or Streptococcus. Each pathogen has its own frequency and it buries itself inside this protein debris to cloak itself, so that even if there is a neutrophil right beside it that should recognize and attack the pathogen as a foreign substance, it doesn’t. This is one of the ways that disease takes hold in the body. But when you begin to decloak the pathogen by using the proper sound frequency, the body’s defense system of antigens, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and so forth come in and start to devour it.

You mentioned the Epstein Barr virus, as an example. Have you worked with cases of Epstein Barr where this technology has helped reverse it?

Yes, and we recently conducted a pilot study involving seventeen participants in which the Epstein Barr virus, yeast, and the Chlamydia pneumoniae bacterium were targeted, and in each case BioAcoustics successfully eradicated these conditions by decloaking the protein coating that cloaked them from the body’s immune agents. This was confirmed, incidentally, by darkfield microscopy [analysis of live blood cells] and conventional lab testing.

As I said, this was only a pilot study, but it’s indicative of the potential BioAcoustics has for detecting and eradicating a wide range of pathogenic disease agents.

Were the frequencies you used the same in each case?

No, the sound formulas must always be determined on a case-by-case basis. The same is true with people who have the same symptoms of infectious agent. Each person is unique and will respond to the sounds in his or her unique fashion. To determine the most effective frequencies, in all cases it is first necessary to employ vocal spectral analysis, and then proceed based on what the person’s vocal print reveals. In some cases, a very narrow frequency range is required to achieve the desired effect; in others, a broader range of frequencies may be more appropriate.

What are some of the other health issues that can be addressed by BioAcoustics technology?

The research is ongoing, but to date the frequency formulas based on Signature Sounds have been able to assist the healing process for a wide range of structural, neurological, and biochemical conditions. These include identifying pathogens, biochemical toxins, and genetic syndromes, and diagnostically and therapeutically addressing a wide range of health conditions, including muscle stress and weakness, nutritional imbalances, attention problems and learning disorders, environmental allergies, arthritis, emphysema, epilepsy, heart disease, cerebral palsy, chronic pain, osteoporosis, blood sugar problems, metabolic disorders, gout, and sports injuries.

Working with muscle has actually been the easiest areas in which to see the benefits that BioAcoustics can provide, because there is such immediate feedback from the musculature itself. We are able to take a vocal print and then use it to determine what muscles are going to be weak or strong, or which ones are already weak or strong, and to what degree. We then present low frequency sound that will change the muscle strength. We’ve shown this in double-blind studies. Think about the applications this has. Take sports injuries, for instance. We’ll be able to look at them before they happen. Nursing homes is another area. We can actually exercise the muscles of people in old age without them ever moving, simply by applying the proper sound frequencies. And for people who have operations and are cut over a muscle, we can begin to exercise that while they’re still under anesthesia. Assisting the recovery from surgery and other issues, like macular degeneration, is an example of this. We’ve already done that a number of times. And think of how this could work in exercise clubs. We could take a person’s vocal print and say tell people what you need to work on each day, according to which of their muscles that day are shown to be weak or strong. We can do this for all muscles at the same time, which is something that an exercise physiologist would have trouble pinpointing until a problem actually occurred.

Another area where we are having a high degree of success is in the resolution of gout. As you know, gout can be an extremely debilitating condition, and it affects over two and half million people a year, according to the National Arthritis Foundation. In addition, there is no reliable test for gout, nor are flare-ups predictable, and the side-effects caused by conventional medications used to treat it can be severe, including, in some cases, serious interference in bone marrow function. So I decided to see if BioAcoustics would have any benefit in this area, and what I discovered is that specific low frequency sound was able to positively alleviate the stress of gout pain in approximately 90 percent of the people I worked with. Further independent studies and observations by two physicians confirmed the results. My work in this area led to the development of the G-OUT Out(TM) tone generator, a small, portable device that gout sufferers can use. Although this work is still in an experimental stage, we are now authorized to share this technology with select physicians across the country.

Share, if you would, some other examples of the value BioAcoustics can have for health.

Well, as I mentioned, one of its value is that it can be used predictively to assess a person’s health status, including before health symptoms become apparent. As an example of this, we once had a visit from a man who had heard about the work I was doing and he was curious to see if BioAcoustics could reveal in this regard. I agreed to analyze his voice, and his vocal print indicated that he had a serious thyroid condition. This came as a complete surprise to him since he had no history or medical evidence of such a problem. To verify my findings, he went to see his physician, but the lab tests he received indicated nothing abnormal. So both he and his doctor had a good laugh about the worthlessness of my analysis and he went about his business. A few days later, he collapsed due to a series of mysterious symptoms that stumped the medical professionals who treated him. His heartbeat was erratic, he was sweating profusely, and he was anxious and disoriented, but they were unable to determine why. Then he remember my analysis and suggested they take a look at his thyroid. This time, tests showed that he did indeed have a serious thyroid problem that was causing his symptoms. The vocal print had revealed this nine days earlier.

Another example of this involved a seven-year-old girl who found herself unable to read in school. The year before, she was a top reader in her class, but suddenly she couldn’t read anymore. Things got so bad, that she was put into a special reading class. Eventually her mother brought her to see me. During the session, while receiving low frequency sound, the girl was able to read clearly, with no hesitation. Further BioAcoustics testing suggested that she suffered from formaldehyde poisoning, and this was found to be the case. After going through a detoxification program, once again she regained her ability to read, and returned to being the bright, cheerful girl she had been before the poisoning occurred. This is actually an example of BioAcoustics’ value diagnostically.

An example that illustrates the value BioAcoustics has both diagnostically and therapeutically involved a woman who had Paget’s disease, which left her bones light and porous and in a constant state of destruction. She came to me on crutches after breaking her hip and being released from the hospital, because Paget’s disease is considered incurable and her physician was not hopeful that her condition would not further deteriorate. In her first session with me, analysis of her voice revealed that her body was deficient in a specific nutrient mineral. I won’t say what it is, because I don’t want people to think that all they have to do to treat Paget’s disease is take a nutrient, but in this woman’s case, once the nutrient was added to her daily intake of vitamins, she began to improve and she is now off crutches. In fact, recently she called to tell me she had been out square dancing.

I’ve already told you about BioAcoustics’ value in the area of muscle stress and trauma, but let me share one final example with you. One of our local attorneys is an avid tennis player, but a few years ago he injured his leg in a motorcycle accident — so severely, that his doctors wanted to amputate. He refused this, but after four years of physical therapy, he was told that there was no hope that he would ever again walk normally. The lower portion of his leg was as large as a football; he could not walk straight, nor bend his ankle, and he’d lost all stamina for exercise. Eventually, he was forced to close his law practice and wound up living with his parents. That’s when he found out about the work I was doing. Within two months of regular BioAcoustics’ sessions, he not only could once again walk straight, he was back on the tennis court and was playing so well that he was asked to be the tennis court at the local high school.

These examples represent only a small part of the benefits BioAcoustics holds as a healing therapy.

It sounds as if the sky’s the limit. Are there any limitations that you have found regarding BioAcoustics and health.

Well, it is certainly not a cure-all, although our inventory of unsuccessful outcomes is short. BioAcoustics is most appropriate for nonemergency health conditions, on a predictive, diagnostic, and/or therapeutic basis. But I do not recommend it for emergency situations, such as poisoning, traumatic bleeding, broken bones, or situations like heart attack or appendicitis. I would never recommend that it be used to set a broken bone, for example, but I would not hesitate to offer it to accelerate healing, reduce pain and swelling, a reduce the recuperation time of such an accident.

Another area is which we are having mixed success is for metabolic conditions. It is effective for detecting such disorders, but not so much for reversing them. Reversal of issues such as obesity have so far been unsuccessful, for example.

You mentioned at the start of this interview that BioAcoustics is delivered to the client via headphones or in a sound room. Why is that?

For protection. This technology is very powerful, and as I mentioned, the frequencies that are used are specific to the needs of the client. But just as a healthy physician can become sick or develop side-effects if he takes medications intended for his sick patients, so can other people, including the BioAcoustics provider, be negatively affected if they listen to sound frequencies not intended for them. This is something people need to be very aware of. The potential of frequency is tremendous and you can’t just apply it willy-nilly and expect good and safe results.

To do this safely and effectively, you need to have been legitimately trained, you need to follow the rules, and you need to protect yourself, just as an X-ray technician protects himself when he takes someone’s X-ray. When people receive our training, this is very much emphasized, and we provide them with specific instructions regarding how the sound room should be constructed. But we also now have available a new machine that allows them to deliver the frequencies to their clients via headphones, so that they aren’t affected by them.

Is there a certification process for the people who train with you?

Yes. Each person not only has to take our course, but he or she also has to present us with a series of case studies, which we then evaluate. Only when we are satisfied with their competency do we certify them, and they then must renew their certification each year, since the research into BioAcoustics is still unfolding. People interested in experiencing BioAcoustics need to know they should only work with certified practitioners, whom they can locate by contacting our office or by visiting our website. That way they can be assured of working with someone who knows what he is doing.

What do your foresee as the long-term ramifications of BioAcoustics?

Before I answer that, let me discuss the short-term. The interest in BioAcoustics is definitely growing, especially among the health practitioners who are finding out about it. We are even beginning to receive interest by HMO’s and so forth. At the same time, however, many practitioners and organizations are hesitant to explore BioAcoustics because it isn’t approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] or the AMA [American Medical Association], and organizations like that. I had one doctor contact me, for instance, who was very interested in the work I am doing with gout. He asked to see any double-blind studies I had on this. I don’t have any to offer him, because when I contacted the National Institutes of Health to inform them of what I was doing, they told me that the best way to faciliate it was through the collection and documentation of case studies, which is what I’ve done. But when I told the doctor this, he said he couldn’t get involved without double-blind studies because it would mean setting himself up to be sued. And he’s right.

Having investigated the entire field of nonconventional medicine for over a decade, I can tell you you’re far from alone in facing this dilemma that stands in the way of acceptance. At the same time, though, I think more and more people are recognizing that organizations like the FDA are hardly infallible. Especially since recent studies show that the drugs the FDA has approved, when properly prescribed, are the fourth leading cause of death in this country. I think positive technologies such as yours will only really become mainstream when the public en masse starts to use their dollars to demand that they become mainstream, which is a trend that is already very much underway.

I absolutely agree. At the same time, however, I think anybody who is bringing in a new paradigm should expect some resistance. I think it would be a sorry world if everything anybody said was automatically accepted. A certain amount of skepticism is needed to keep us on the path of doing the best we can. So it’s up to me, the person who conceived and developed BioAcoustics, to educate people and find a way for them to accept its usefulness, and to do that I have to meet them where they are. Which is exactly why I’ve set up my educational research center and am training people to bring this out into the world. The more people we train and the more data we collect, the faster we can grow.

That said, what are some of the areas in which you see BioAcoustics being used in the future?

I think the promise of BioAcoustics in terms of health care will continue to grow. Right now, one of the biggest problems facing us as a nation is the exorbitant costs associated with health care. A significant part of these costs has to do with the ability to detect disease before it progresses to serious proportions. BioAcoustics has much to offer in this area, due to its effectiveness as a predictive and diagnostic tool. Other areas of high medical costs include rehabilitation expenses, the side-effects of unsuitable medication, and long-term costs for lingering or incurable disease. These costs can also be ameliorated using BioAcoustics. For example, using voice spectral analysis, we have the ability to match medications or nutritional agents to a person’s specific needs. We can do this with insulin for diabetes for, for instance. There are many different kinds of insulin, and right now finding the right form to use can be a process of trial and error, sometimes even requiring hospitalization until the proper form is found. We can determine what form to use by looking at which form best matches a person’s vocal print.

Among the uses that I foresee for BioAcoustics are individualized, holistic, predictive and preventative health screening; drug and nutritional evaluation; nonintrusive blood chemistry screening; nonintrusive temperature control; depiction of disease root causes and disease pathways; identification of viral, bacterial, and fungal infections; and identification of stress, paralyzed, or inactive muscles. Among the areas of medicine that are most ready for a direct integration of BioAcoustics with conventional diagnostic and treatment methods are physical therapy, dietetics, physical therapy and massage, emergency medical technologies, and sports medicine. I also think it will prove to be of benefit during space travel, since we can use the frequency to exercise muscles during conditions of weightlessness.

Another area that I feel BioAcoustics could have much value is in addressing bioterrorism attacks from germ and biochemical warfare, which has now become a very serious challenge. Using voice spectral analysis, just as we have been able to identify and reverse infection due to pathogens such as the Epstein Barr virus, Streptococcus and Chlamydia pneumoniae, we can also identify the Frequency Equivalent (TM)s for pathogens such as anthrax and smallpox. In addition, not only can the Frequency Equivalent (TM)s of these pathogens be identified, but low frequency analog sound can be used to stimulate the body to eliminate them.

Ultimately, I would like to see BioAcoustics used in every facility that deals with people’s health in any way — from hospitals, health clinics, and HMO’s, to health clubs and health food stores. So that people everywhere could have the benefit of using it to determine what they need in order to achieve and maintain optimal health. Because it’s a complete system that is very predictive, diagnostic, and therapeutic.

But I also want to stress that health care is only one area for which BioAcoustics holds great value. Now that the foundation work has been completed, I’m realizing that the possibilities for it are far more extensive than I previously imagined. Among the other areas for which preliminary research indicates that BioAcoustics is feasible are medical monitoring through voice spectral analysis over the telephone, the individuation of medications to reduce side-effect risk, drug and chemical screening for law enforcement agencies, large area pest control without environmental side-effects, nontoxic fertilization, food preservation, and reversal of environmental pollution. As you said, the sky’s the limit.


Toning and Discovering Your Signature Sound

The following exercises are recommended by Sharry Edwards as a means of working with sound to enhance vitality, and for discovering your own Signature Sound.

“All manner of systems have been devised to organize the various sounds we produce,” Edwards says, “but it is the natural tones that seem to have the most effect, even if we don’t often use them, at least not in public. Natural grunts, groans, and sighs are the sounds we make when we find ourselves in our most vulnerable states, such as during times of illness, fear, grief, anger, or when making love. These sounds are associated with the most fundamental aspects of our lives, and we didn’t have to learn them. They represent an untapped means of gaining dominion over our physical and emotional selves.”

To make use of such sounds, a practice called toning, Edwards advising making any sound, allowing it to originate from your throat, nose, or deep in your gut. Close your mouth and make the sound, noticing if you can feel it moving through your nose. Experiment, running a scale from the lowest to the highest note you can make. Notice which sounds you like the best, and which sounds most produce a vibrating sensation.

“The sounds that cause you to vibrate are the most helpful, “Edwards says. “Vibrating tones in your sinus cavity or throat, for example, can reduce the pain of a headache and decrease sinus, ear, or throat infections.”

To discover your Signature Sound, try this exercise: Listen for a few seconds to a sound that is very near to you. Now change your focus and listen to a sound that is several feet away, or in another room. Now listen close again. Now far. As you keep changing your focus between the near and far sounds, notice if you can feel your ears changing their focus as well. With practice, you will be able to. Eventually, you will begin to hear a high pitched ring in your ears. “This is your own personal sound,” Edwards explains. “It is exactly right for you, every minute of every day, and listening to it will feed you the tones you need.”

Another way to listen to your Signature Sound is to lay down and place a pillow over each ear, then listen as you practice changing your hearing focus. If you have difficulty hearing your sound this way, try making a very low note and then slowly slide up and down the scale as you listen for your ears to rings. You can also practice this while cupping your hands. Once your ears start to ring, stop making any sound and listen to the tones in your ears. “Actively listening to these patterns will take you into a theta brain wave state which, according to researcher Dr. Robert Becker, is the level of the body’s healing range.”


Sound Health Alternatives International, Inc.

P. O. Box 416

Albany, Ohio 45710

(740) 698-9119

By Sharry Edwards

The following products are available from Sound Health Alternatives International.

Helping People Help Themselves Through Sound Health: Published Papers, 1993-1995.

Signature Sound Technologies: Published Papers 1982-1993.

The Science of Sound (audiotape)

Bodies of Sound and Light (audiotape)

The Healer Within and the Circle of Life: Healing Through Self-Reliance and Personal Empowerment–An Interview with Roger Jahnke, O.M.D., and Rebecca McLean

Dr. Roger Jahnke is one of the foremost Western experts in the practice of Qigong and Tai chi, ancient Chinese forms of energy medicine, and an acclaimed practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. Through his books, videos, lectures, consultations, and training sessions, Roger has played a leading role in reshaping the way in which individuals and organizations nationwide perceive, practice, and deliver health care. The principles and many health benefits of Qigong and Tai chi led to the deveopment of The Healer Within process, which is now widely used in healthcare, education, and corporate wellness programs .

Rebecca McLean has been involved in the health care field since 1974, particularly the areas of health and life coaching, stress management, and multidisciplinary health care. She is the developer of The Circle of Life process, a holistic continuous life and health improvement process which is now being utilized by businesses, hospitals, support groups, churches, schools, and other agencies and organizations across the country.

In 1983, Roger and Rebecca co-founded Health Action, an association of health care professionals and consultants located in Santa Barbara, California, and dedicated to helping individuals, communities, corporations, schools, and other organizations enhance well-being and productivity by promoting peak performance and health self-reliance through use of the processes discussed below. Their stated goal is “to incite a revolution in self-reliance and personal empowerment that will transform medicine, business, and even our communities.” Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of their mission is the fact that it does not rely upon experts or authority figures to achieve its goals. Instead, it promotes the natural and spontaneous activation of each individual’s “own internal medicine,” and “inner wisdom.” The result is the ability to achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being without the need of medical intervention.

How did The Healer Within and Circle of Life programs come to be?

Roger: The whole concept of the Healer Within goes back over thirty years ago, when I first started studying Chinese medicine. I was very attracted to the whole idea of the treatment -acupuncture, herbs, massage, and so forth – as a natural healing system that was very consistent with my own philosophy at the time about the need to improve our health care system. Then, as I got into studying it, I realized that there was this other piece to Chinese medicine, which is called Qigong. There are actually thousands of kinds of Qigong. In addition, there is a maxim in Chinese medicine that I didn’t pay attention to so much early on, which says that the superior physician teaches people how to sustain and improve their health. I heard it, and I read it, and I studied it, but it didn’t really sink in, because our own model here in the Western world is that you just treat people. You know, people wait in the waiting room, then you give them their treatment, they leave, and then they return for treatments in the future. However, over time that principle began to haunt me as I learned more about Qigong and Tai chi and continued my own practice.

Practicing the self-care methods from China-gentle body movement, breath practice, meditation, and self-applied massage–is not complex and is accessible to anyone. It began to dawn on me also about how people can heal themselves for no cost, or at least complement their treatment for no cost. So eventually we started a practice session at our holistic clinic in Santa Barbara, which has now been going every Wednesday at 10:30 in the morning for twelve years. Thousands of people have been there and derived benefit from learning and practicing these self-care methods. Eventually, I was invited to write The Healer Within, which has helped many others to have these benefits, as well. This insight that the Chinese have had for more than 5,000 years has a revolutionary application in the modern world. In addition, The Healer Within process contains what I call eight “pearls of wisdom,” as well as a radical possibility.

The eight pearls are: The greatest healer is within us. We produce the most profound medicine ever developed in human history within our own bodies. The four essential self-healing and health enhancement methods — body movement, breath practice, meditation, and self-applied massage — turn these medicines on. We can heal disease and enhance our vitality for free. We can transform the health care crisis into a rebirth of self-reliance. The self-healing and health enhancement methods have hundreds of applications that can heal and empower our communities. The practice of the self-healing methods can expand our spiritual practice. And average people can teach each other to do self-healing. From that, we move into the radical potentiality, which is that through our practice of these methods, we contribute to a global “healing field,” because when we heal ourselves we help to heal the world.

Rebecca: I started the Circle of Life process about fifteen years ago when Roger and I opened up our holistic clinic. Previous to that, I had been working in the health care field for about twelve years. I worked in hospitals and clinics in occupational therapy. What I found is when you’re working with a person’s health you need to address all areas of their life, because the way a person lives contributes to their health and well-being, or sabotages their health and well-being. I found that only addressing a person’s health symptom was sort of like cutting off the top of the weed–it didn’t really get to the root. The symptom returns or remanifests in another form. To really find out how to solve a health problem, we need to know the whole person. Through self-inquiry on twelve or more areas of their life, a person can discover what is draining their life force and what kinds of things are supporting their well-being and health.

The Circle of Life process began from my work in stress management and wellness programs in corporations, banks, schools, churches, and with individual clients. I found that through the process of the Circle of Life, where we utilized a self-assessment of twelve areas of One’s life, followed by a step-by-step improvement process, that people began to change their whole lives, which positively changed their overall health. All aspects of this holistic approach feed into each other and affect each other. So, when people come into the clinic, instead of doing a lot of treatment, like a lot of acupuncture, or a lot of massage or any kind of modality, we focused more on empowering people to know what they could do for themselves and what steps they needed to take in their lives to make their life healthier. I started working with individuals using the Circle of Life process and then I started facilitating many groups. I had run AIDS groups, chronic fatigue groups, cancer groups, senior groups, and MS groups and so forth, and I started finding that this process worked for any health condition, or life problem. So, about 15 years ago, I started using tit with everyone. It didn’t matter what their condition was. When you came in our clinic with a headache, or depression, or AIDS, or a cancer diagnosis, the same process would support any person in moving forward to improving the quality of their life and their health. Since then I’ve continued to use the Circle of Life process in a full range of contexts for people with chronic illness, life threatening diseases, wellness programs, peak performance programs, and risk management groups.

Roger: I would add — and this is true of both the Healer Within and the Circle of Life — we’ve started with the paradigm of medical treatment, in which individuals did not participate in their own health care. We started giving treatment to people who were basically consumers, but who now we are evolving. The first step of the evolution was to say, wait a minute, we should look at the possibility of teaching people how to improve their health. We would get together a group of people and put an expert up in front of them and tell people to change their diet or reduce their stress. Observing the process, we realized that having an expert tell people stuff didn’t really incite the implementation or the inspiration necessary for change, even though paradoxically, the discussion was convincing. Then we decided to create an environment where, instead of one person standing in front of an audience, we put that expert in a circle and there would be a group participatory event. At that point, it seemed like something was kicking in. In other words, the participation and getting the expert off the pedestal and into the circle really accelerated involvement and action. But the most profound revelation in all of this is that there is actually another step, which is to eliminate the expert altogether and have the process happen among the participants themselves. So the final version of both the Healer Within and Circle of Life was that you put out into the world a methodology, a model for how to do this. Instead of worrying about how important it is to have a highly trained expert to tell people how to do it, you just say, ‟You can do this and here’s how”. Then put lots of encouragement and enthusiasm into the idea that people should just try these things on their own and get together with groups of people to do it, without needing to have a lot of training or without having to go through a certification process. Just do it. Like they would have done it in china thousands of years ago and are still doing it now. So it’s gone from the point, in the beginning, where the participant is perceived as someone for whom you have to do everything, to realizing that the participant is actually the secret ingredient in the entire formula for their healing and wellness.

Describe the Healer Within and the Circle of Life process and how they work?

Roger: Basically the concept of the Healer Within was to take the body of traditional information from Chinese medicine about self-healing, or the personal practice of self-empowerment methods, and package it in such a way that it could be embraced by anyone. Conveniently, Qigong breaks down into four elements: moving the body gently and adjusting the posture; breath practice, or focused breath control; meditation; and self-applied massage. So we broke Qigong down into its four parts and explained very clearly the physiological mechanisms that are associated with why those activities are so beneficial to health. In China, the whole logic for how Qigong works is the Qi itself, the life force, the energy from the universe that circulates within the human system and creates vitality. We don’t readily understand Qi in the Western world, so for the mainstream the goal was to change the conversation from the Qi rationale to the typically recognized rationale of physiology in the Western world. So how the Healer Within works, basically, is that the individual, who either uses the book, or is in a class where somebody else has found this book, or logs onto the web site that is associated with this material, gets inspired and follows the process. There’s actually a file on that’s called the national network of practice and it explains how to start a practice session in your own town and so forth. So people get together or practice on their own, just like in China. You can go to the park in China and you see some people who are kind of back in the trees by themselves practicing and other people who are practicing in groups of ten or fifteen, and then there are other groups of hundreds of people practicing together. The Healer Within process is set up so that it can be done any of these ways.

A typical practice session is the session that we do here in Santa Barbara. It’s an hour long. We do about fifteen minutes of body movement and postural adjustment, followed by fifteen minutes of breath practice, then fifteen minutes of self-applied massage, and then we conclude with a meditation. There are five different movement methods and five breath methods to choose from, thirteen self-applied massage methods, and four or five meditation exercises, so it’s kind of like a banquet of possibilities. Individuals utilize the ones that feel comfortable or useful for them, and if they are doing it with a group they would choose from that banquet of possibilities to create about an hour’s worth of practice.

Rebecca: The Circle of Life process begins with a quick yet effective method for evaluating one’s health and life. Participants access twelve areas of their life using the circle diagram, with pie shaped rays extending from the center. Each ray represents an aspect of life, such as: Nutrition, exercise, stress mastery, health care, relationships, work, financial health, play, nature, emotions, life purpose and spirituality.

While it is typical in most health care or corporate programs to focus on weaknesses and deficiencies, the Circle of Life process does not start there. It is true that a process of improvement must ultimately assess what is missing or needed and then put that into place. However, it is also true that dynamic improvement must draw upon strength. In the Circle of Life process, a powerful key is to celebrate your victories and positive qualities, count achievements — even the smallest ones — purposefully name what is working for you, and express what you are grateful for in your life.

When we relax, open up, let go, and become more appreciative of others and ourselves, we have access to greater energy, joy, creativity and health. Acknowledging strengths translates into enthusiasm and more effective choice making. At every point along the way, acknowledge assets, act from strengths and celebrate victories. At the beginning of the circle process, we discuss the areas of strength that were revealed in the self-inquiry phase.

We also incorporate a variety of inner processes to quiet the mind and access inner resources and information. Next, the participants introduce themselves and acknowledge and talk about their strengths. Most systems focus on what is not working or what is wrong in the person’s life. The Circle of Life process starts by encouraging people to focus on what’s working well and why. The energy level increases when you take your confidence and strength into the areas in which you need support. We also create a fail-safe system by emphasizing that, whatever you’re going to work on, there is no such thing as failure; it’s a process of learning and developing and refining, so there is no judgement. No matter what you do you’re always in a learning, growing, continuing to improve process.

After the participants have evaluated their lives, they then define what area they want to work on and be supported in, to contribute to their health and well being. This ensures that each person is working with the area that he or she really wants to work with, rather than unsuccessfully trying to do what somebody else thinks they should do. This is very important because part of this process, to choose and focus, gives the individual, more energy, more vitality, and the energy to make changes. It’s really about the power of choice, electing to improve, readiness for change, and setting the person up for success.

Once the participants have identified the areas in their lives that are deficient, and they are ready to make a change, the next step is the process called “the intention/goal, the challenge, the action step, the affirmation and the accountability.” So they set a goal. Next, they look at their challenges involved with meeting their goal, such as mental and emotional challenges, physical, financial, relationship or situational challenges. We really help each other to look at what is keeping us from obtaining our goals and then, after that, to identify what actions we could take to start neutralizing or changing those challenges, or breaking through those barriers. Solutions could arise as the group starts sharing their ideas about the issue, sharing options and experiences that they’ve had that helped them to work through those particular barriers or challenges. In this way you’re getting feedback from all the wisdom and experience of the group. Circle of Life groups are usually formed by people with a common concern or health condition, e.g. individuals with chronic fatigue or arthritis. So they’re going to understand each other more, and they can be the most supportive because they have similar challenges. After they’ve acknowledged their challenges, they start to look at the steps they might take to bring their goals into actualization. Then they have one step, maybe two steps, they’re going to take in that week, and we really work on setting each person up for success, by helping the person to schedule it at a time so that it’s really going to work for him or her. Once each person decides on the realistic action step that they want to take, they then write it down. We have a schedule sheet and they block out a time to take that action step, and then we have accountability the following week about that. We’re clarifying what our goals are, we’re clarifying what our steps are, we’re clarifying the time frame, and then we have accountability with the group. Then we come back the next week and talk about what worked and what didn’t work and why. A person may say, I shouldn’t have scheduled it at that time. I found out that wasn’t the right time to schedule my exercise. Or I found out I should have made it a more realistic goal. Or I did do my ten minutes; it felt really good just to get going, to get started. But no matter what it is, it’s a victory in learning our growth because you’re learning about yourself and you’re learning why things aren’t working in your life and you’re working through ways and solutions and steps that will work. So we celebrate the victory. We use an affirmation, which is our positive self-statement that we’ll be reaffirming to ourselves throughout the week to reinforce our goal or intentions. This is a continuous improvement process.

So the basic process is self-inquiry, giving an honest evaluation without judgement, then setting up a plan to move forward. I always tell people one step a week is fifty-two steps in a year. If you take fifty-two steps in any area of your life, whether it was a better relationship, or better exercise, or better diet, you’ll be healthier or you’ll have a better quality of life. If you take one action step each week, you’ll experience improvement. Then build on those successes. From group sharing everyone is learning from each other, both from each other’s mistakes and each other’s victories. And the process is continuous.

Most of the groups I work with start off with me as a facilitator, and then they end up continuing, even if they’re cured or well, because this process is about life. It’s about improving the quality of your life, and it’s a safe place to tell the truth, and to make mistakes, and learn from them, and everybody celebrates their victories and we laugh and we share testimony, which is very empowering. If somebody else in the group is starting to do something you really want to do for yourself, it gives permission for you to do it, too, and it also shows you a way to do it. So the group members build on each other’s strengths and victories.

Why do you feel these methodologies are so revolutionary and empowering?

Rebecca: They are empowering because all of us, if we participated in a circle with our friends, or even our next door neighbors, we all know some things we can do to improve our life without relying upon an expert or a doctor. We all know things that we can improve, like maybe going to bed half an hour earlier, or maybe taking a walk instead of watching the news, or maybe giving and receiving a foot massage from a loved one, or drinking more water. These are all things that people can do that improve the quality of their health and their lives without needing an expert, or to do any research or receive training. They can just start with what they already know. Yes, they can go ahead and get more expertise, which is totally valuable, but there’s no need to wait. So first of all, there’s no waiting. People already have information and if they’d just sit down for a minute, they can all probably list at least fifteen to twenty things that they could do that would make their life healthier and more vital.

Roger: We’ve found that people tend to repress their wisdom in the presence of experts, but when it’s a group of peers who are present who have all declared by being in the process that they are interested in improvement, it blows the top right off of that repression. Suddenly there’s this wisdom, what we call “inner wisdom” which, by virtue of the nature of the Circle of Life process, surfaces.

And for the Healer Within process, the revelation is that the healer has always been inherently present in the human system, placed there by the architect of the universe. When people come to understand the concept that the most profound healing resource is actually already within them, and then by doing the practices they literally feel that, it just makes people extremely enthusiastic. Rebecca and I didn’t make that breakthrough. We recognized that people have forgotten their innate strengths, which is that we are extremely self-reliant, extremely resilient, and that the capacity to self-repair and self-heal has always been within the human system. Somehow, we just seem to have stopped paying attention to it, so I think that one of the great empowering or revolutionary features of all of this lies just in saying that people can do this. It is not about a system that is initiated and sustained by experts; it’s about a system that is initiated and sustained by anybody who wants to see improvement.

We are a culture that spends over $1 trillion a year on health care. Billions of dollars of productivity in our corporations are lost due to stress claims. We are, proposing that this can all just go away if the average person will just do their part. One of the lines in The Healer Within is that if each person does the small part to take care of their own life, the huge job of taking care of everyone is already done. That’s pretty revolutionary.

Rebecca: I’d like to just say a couple of more things about why this is so empowering. First of all, taking a group of people and just focusing on your own life, you find out you really do have many strengths and abilities. And the group context is important, as well. Research has shown that when people are together there is more energy, more enthusiasm, and more power. When you’re with people and you’re hearing positive stories of breakthroughs, it starts bringing people into a state of a positive hypnosis that they really can have a better quality of life. Especially when you’re with a group of people who are going through a similar challenge as yourself, like in my MS group. They come every week and they share things that they’re doing to bring a higher quality into their lives. They inspire each other and keep getting more and more renewed from each other, Much more than they would by working with an expert who does not have MS. You probably know about the study at Stanford University by the psychiatrist David Spiegel, who demonstrated that women with breast cancer who met in a weekly support group lived twice as long as those who didn’t. Another study has shown that people with the lowest number of social ties were two to three times as likely to get sick or die of all causes than those with more social connections. What such studies are showing is that just being together with other people can really help improve your health. You don’t even have to do anything else. Just being together and sharing and talking and laughing and crying — that in itself is very therapeutic.

Where and in what contexts are the Circle of Life and The Healer Within methodologies being used?

Roger: Probably the most illustrative example of that has been The Healer Within group here in Santa Barbara, which has been going for twelve years. Many of the people who come today are people who were coming then, and then we have other people who are new. It’s continually growing. Some of those people have passed away and some of them didn’t pass away when they were supposed to, according to their medical prognosis, and survived cancers and heart disease and so forth.

And instead of one person facilitating those sessions there, we now have six different people. It’s easy for us to sustain this in this community without a lot of effort because there are so many people who are very positive people who are involved in it. And some of the hospitals are picking up on it, and the local adult education programs and so forth. And so now we get e-mails on a very regular basis from people in every portion of the United States and in fact from New Zealand, Australia, and Europe where people are doing this in their homes and local communities. On my lecture travels and so forth, I’ve had opportunities to go to their practice sessions and see what they do. And it’s interesting because everybody’s got a different interpretation of it. It’s a wide-open model open to all kinds of interpretation, using the Healer Within methods as a kind of focal point, but also allowing the participants themselves to add their own talents and knowledge to the mix. And this is now going on in communities all over the United States.

Another context in which this is being used is in the arena of complementary medicine today with hospitals and HMO’s that are multiplying their utilization of self-healing practices. Many hospitals have opened up fitness centers, and they’re using The Healer Within as one of the self-care modalities. Many surgical units now are also doing pre- and post-surgical health enhancement programs, and the Healer Within can be used as a methodology to stimulate inner resources prior to the surgery and then to speed up recovery after the surgery. We also get a lot of requests from physical therapists, occupational therapists, people in the social services, and so forth.

We are hoping that corporations will utilize the healer within web site, so that their employees can access methods for alleviating a headache or, if they tend to be tired in the middle of the afternoon, techniques they can use to increase energy.

The last context that I’ll mention, is the correctional facility, where both the Circle of Life and the Healer Within have made some inroads. I was invited to give a presentation at Folsom Prison, which is a maximum security prison with the worst offenders – murderers, rapists and others serving life sentences. After my presentation, we started receiving requests from their library for more copies of the book because The Healer Within was the most highly requested book at the Folsom Prison library. And, of course, if people who are in jail find them useful to recover a certain level of being, or to explore a new way of being; what would happen if those same people had these methods previous to their crime? That is one of the big questions that we’re asking.

That’s wonderful. Who’s eligible to be a facilitator?

Rebecca: The Circle of Life is being used at St. Charles Medical Center, in Bend, Oregon. I think they may have changed the name of it, but three times a year they have a ten-week process called the Medical Symptom Reduction Program and they use the Circle of Life assessment tool with individuals at the beginning of the ten weeks. They usually have about twenty people in the program with various diagnoses. It doesn’t matter what the medical symptom is — whether it be angina, headaches, high blood pressure, cancer, or if you want to lose weight, or are depressed — you can come into the program. They also offer it to all of their employees, patients and to the community. During each week, the participants meet for three hours and the program begins with the Circle of Life evaluation, and they also do the Healer Within practices at the end of the session. The hospital has been doing this for three years now, and they’ve found a couple of insurance companies that will pay for it because the results were so successful. They are getting people to start taking steps towards their own health and recovery.

The local schools in the Santa Barbara area are also using the Circle of Life. Originally it was a stress management program and the teachers found that it is a really good way to help keep them healthy and balanced. Then they started imparting it to the children to show them a method for learning about their own life and how to take responsibility for it. The Healer Within process is used to keep the students centered. I know Roger has had several teachers say that it really reduces attention-deficit disorder and all these hyperactive problems that kids are having.

Roger: The Santa Barbara school system is now looking at these processes as possible afterschool activities, both for creating a regular positive environment and as an alternative to detention.

Rebecca: I’ve also used it as a wellness program for banks, corporations, our local county services, and several other agencies. They wanted to increase performance from their employees and the only way you can get peak performance is for a person to really focus on upgrading their own life. They have to have some energy, and they have to have interest in it, and they have to evaluate their own life and find out what they really want to work on. For example, more exercise, better diet, more fun, equals better work performance. The result was that, overall, the employees became healthier, more clear minded, and less stressed, which was reflected in less down time and sick days.

Roger: The point is that both The Circle of Life and The Healer Within processes can be used across all of these contexts. They are not limited to a particular industry or field. When I went to Folsom Prison to do The Healer Within program, one of the inmates said to me, “That was so interesting, do you have anything else?” I happened to have a copy of Circle of Life so I gave it to him. A couple of months later we got a letter from the prison asking permission to make ten copies of it. We signed off on that, and a little bit later we got a letter asking for twenty-five copies for the facilitators. We signed off on that, too, and then we got a letter that asked for one hundred and twenty copies. We called up and said, what is going on? And they said that the prisoners are utilizing the program. It’s not costing the justice system anything. The prison doesn’t have to provide any kind of hired facilitator because the inmates are being their own facilitators. And the most incredible part of it is that nobody was trained in this. I just handed one prisoner the book. The point here is that these methods, these models if you will, are so breakthrough because they are self-contained in such a way that allows these tools to be used by anybody.

So anyone is eligible to be a facilitator?

Rebecca: Yes, absolutely. We’ve had a phone organization called Support Works, where I’ve done trainings over the phone with people who have MS, or environmental illness, or other problems, where their support group is over the phone. And I’ve taught them within an hour basically how to do this, then they just continue the process in their phone conferences. And in all the groups I’ve run, from cancer groups, to AIDS groups, to the MS wellness group that I do, once I’ve taught them how to facilitate, they don’t really need me anymore because they learn how to take turns being the facilitator.

The facilitator is basically somebody who is making sure that everybody has equal time and that you stay in the process. He or she is not an expert, just somebody who’s learned how to keep people in the process. You know, making sure that things don’t get scattered, and keeping the talkers from talking too much, and making sure that the people who are quiet and reticent about sharing get to share something. In many groups, I’ve never even met the people. They just took the Circle of Life Facilitator’s Manual and took off with it. So, anyone who wants to be a facilitator and who has read through the book and is following those guidelines, is totally capable of doing it.

Roger: At one point, the people at Folsom Prison called us and said they wanted to have a phone conference because they were running into challenges. So we set the conference for a couple of weeks later, but when we called one of the people said, “Well, using the process, we worked it all out,” so they didn’t need us.

Rebecca: Yeah, which was really great.

Roger: Anybody who wants to can do this. Sometimes people get a copy of The Circle of Life or The Healer Within and go to their church and say, Let’s do this. Sometimes they call it a health ministry. There’s been a lot of that going on and we support that enthusiastically.

However, there is another track here. We just said that anybody could do this. However, in the health care industry there are some restraints, and we should just talk about it very briefly so that it makes sense to the readers. For any kind of a process to be utilized as an adjunctive program to therapy with people who are intending to be reimbursed by their insurance company for those services, that requires that the right people provide these services. So, even though, we’ve already acknowledged that resident wisdom exists, and that the power of The Circle of Life and The Healer Within rests largely in the whole concept of tapping into self-reliance, which is the backbone of the American vision, we also live in a reality based on credibility and certification and so forth. Within that context, both for The Circle of Life, and for The Healer Within, there are trainings, which occur that are targeted at nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, and other people in the health care industry. And this probably could be true in education, as well, and in the justice system, among people who provide certain services who have to be certified, whether it’s a social worker or whatever. They tend to want to have structured trainings within those contexts.

The Healer Within, for example, really falls in the Qigong category, which is currently going through its evolution in the Western world, and there is a minimum requirement now of two hundred hours of training for Qigong instructors who are going to be employed by hospitals or YMCA’s and so forth. It is paradoxical because we know that the methodology and the wisdom within the methodology belongs to the people, but at the same time we’re also involved in this infrastructure of life in the United States that requires certification in certain contexts. So, rather than saying we’re going to hold this behind the wall of certification, and make everybody pay a lot of money for it, we are saying that if people need that certification, then we can provide a pathway that’s a little bit more structured, that will provide them with certification. But because there is so much need within this culture among disenfranchised communities — people at risk for drugs, young women at risk for unwanted pregnancies — the list is so long of where there is so much need that it would be unethical, if you will, to hold back these processes from the people to whom they really belong. So we’re doing both, because there is a greater potential that can unfold in our culture if we foster the power that people already have within them.

What do you see the long-term ramifications of your work being as we move into the 21st century?

Roger: I think that intuitively we can operate from a kind of a top-down vision. Not in terms of corporate or governmental decisions that give permission to the people below to do things, but about the real top, which is what the Chinese would call Heaven, or celestial influences. These tools are inherent within the human culture. The elements of The Circle of Life, for example, had their origin when people first began sitting around tribal fires and making decisions about how to do a better job and improving their lives. This has occurred for nearly a million years. As for The Healer Within, as I said, it comes out of Qigong, and the records on Qigong go back at least 7,000 years and we don’t even know happened before that. So what we’re dealing with here is really a vision of taking some very basic and practical ideas that have immense histories and reminding people of the fact that we have these powers within us that we’ve become seduced into forgetting and not continuing to believe in somehow. Our goal is to release from on high, if you will, that which has always been there.

And then the other side of it is the bottom-up, which is to say that anybody can do this and that it’s freely available. The bottom-up, you might call the earth energy, and top-down the celestial energy, and when those mix it’s the secret of Qigong from thousands of years ago. When the Heaven and Earth energy mix it makes a dynamic resource called Qi. We see this Qi, this energy that’s always been there, pushing these practical ideas into absolutely every context in which they can possibly be utilized. It’s obvious in health care, it’s obvious in the increase in productivity and effectiveness in corporate life, but we’re interested in what happens when the grandmother learns The Healer Within and The Circle of Life processes at the senior center, and kids are using it in afterschool programs, and so forth. I think the beautiful question is, What happens when everybody in the family comes to dinner and, instead of talking about sports scores and the latest political challenge, they also have common knowledge about a body of information, about personal improvement, and know that there’s something inherently possible in our culture that could be leveraged or fostered by the fact that everybody in the family is basically utilizing this same basis of information? In sociology they say that all conversations will tend to settle at a common denominator. If the common denominator is the latest terrible thing that is going on, or the latest political event, or the latest TV show, then that’s what people are going to be talking about. But what would happen if we would make these processes we’ve been discussing part of that common denominator within the family?

Rebecca: I just want to add that we’re discovering that drugs and surgeries aren’t really working for a lot of health conditions. So people are looking to other avenues of healing and well-being because the conventional ones aren’t working or they can’t afford them, and they’re not always what you need. As a result, the alternative and integrative health system continues to rapidly grow. And really the essence of all of those things is coming back to yourself and learning what you can do for yourself. Even in when it comes to alternative treatments, who can afford a million acupuncture treatments? It’s getting to the point now where people are realizing that if they do some self-care, or if they start making some small shifts in their lives, they’re not going to have to pay out that money, or be in an HMO they don’t like, or live with pain or disease. I also think there continues to be a growing interest in Eastern philosophies and approaches to healing, and these processes all stem from that. They come from traditional cultures that recognized the importance of breathing, and speaking your truth, and doing things together, and sharing your wisdom, and being supported. And these things are so inexpensive. Through our programs in our community you can come to learn all these things for free, and then share them with your family, or your spouse, or your grandchild, or whomever.

So when people have health problems they can seek out different options like using the methods of the Circle or Healer Within, which are so inexpensive yet so effective. And I know that health practitioners are starting to recognize this. I know doctors, for instance, who refer patients to me because they can’t spend enough time with them. And when the patients come and we’re doing a Circle process, their recovery is much faster. They feel more power; they need less medication; and there are less calls to the medical facilities because they’re receiving all this information, resources, and support as an individual or from the group. So I think it’s essential that we start returning to our own self-responsibility and to our own tradition in healing and well-being.

Roger: One more thought is that traditionally the American way is really based on self-reliance. But that’s gotten lost to some extent, and the health care field has been probably one of the most guilty parties, in terms of disenfranchising people from their spontaneous awareness of their own self-reliance. So, to a certain extent, rather than being revolutionary new breakthrough material, this is actually material that is very much a reflection of the base line qualities or values that we in America have respected very highly all along.


The Gathering Breath

The following exercise is adapted from Dr. Jahnke’s book The Healer Within.

Sit down with your hands in your lap, palms up, and begin to inhale deeply. As you do, move your hands outward and upward, as if you were scooping something precious from the air around you. When your hands are slightly above and in front of you, your inhalation should be complete. Now bring your hands, side by side and palms facing you, towards your head. As you exhale, move them slowly down in front of your face, your chest, and your abdomen. When your hands reach your navel area, linger for a moment, and then repeat the process.

This exercise is part of a Qigong method known as “marrow washing,” which gathers vital energy (Qi) from nature and stores it in the bone marrow. As your hands pass over your body, visualize vital energy penetrating through your body’s surface to nourish your organs and glands as it is stored in the bone marrow. As you relax into this practice, you may feel the warmth of your hands as they pass in front of your face. This is known as “Qi sensation” and is an indication of the vital energy you are gathering and storing.

Initially, perform this exercise for two or three repetitions once or twice a day, working up to ten to twenty repetitions per day. Regular practice helps to increase the flow of lymph in the chest and shoulder area, helping to prevent or resolve discomfort in the chest and neck area. The deep inhalation also triggers the elimination of waste by-products from the spaces between the cells, and in the organs and glands.



Health Action

243 Pebble Beach

Santa Barbara, California 93117

(805) 685-4670


By Roger Janhke

The Healer Within: The Four Essential Self-care Methods for Creating Optimal Health by Roger Jahnke. (HarperCollins, 1999).

Healing Promise of Qi: Creating Extraordinary Wellness With Qigong and Tai Chi by Roger Jahnke (Contemporary Books, 2002).

By Rebecca McLean

The Circle of Life: A Manual for Personal, GROUP and Community Well-being and Effectiveness by Rebecca McLean (Health Action, 1999)

Shamanic Healing in the 21st Century–An Interview with Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D.

Dr. Alberto Villoldo is a medical anthropologist, psychologist, and energy medicine practitioner who, for over 25 years, has studied with and researched the shamanic healing traditions of the Inka in Peru. In the course of that odyssey, Dr. Villoldo trained directly with the most highly regarded healers in the Inka shamanic tradition, and today is dedicated to spreading the healing benefits of shamanism throughout the modern Western world. As part of that mission, each year he trains thousands of medical professionals and lay people in the use of Inka energetic healing techniques.

At the heart of the Inka shamanic tradition is the concept of the Luminous Energy Field which shamans state surrounds all material bodies. By learning how to directly experience and interact with this field, Dr. Villoldo holds, we can learn how heal ourselves and others, prevent illness altogether, and more easily fulfill our life missions.

The word shamanism is certainly now part of our modern American lexicon, but I think there is still a lot of misperceptions regarding it. What exactly do we mean by that term?

The Shaman mediates between the visible and the invisible world. Classically the Shaman is a native person from the Americas, or anywhere else around the world. The word itself is a Siberian term, and it applies to aa healer who brings balance to the community, and who mediates with what we tend to call the supernatural world. This includes interceding with the ancestors, living in balance with nature, and influencing the weather, fertility, crops, the cycles of life and of death, and ministering over the major transitions of a person’s life. But in my use of the term, it refers to an individual who has assumed the role of stewardship with their community, with their family, and with the earth. And that involves both caring, as well as healing.

Based on that context, what you’re saying is becoming a Shaman is available to all of us, if we’re willing to step into the responsibility that comes with it.

Precisely. There is an agreement that the Shaman has with Spirit, which is the invisible laws of nature, if you will. When the Shaman calls, Spirit answers, Spirit responds, Spirit shows up. Whether it be for healing, to bring balance to a family, to a marriage, to a community, or to the land itself. Now the other part of the agreement is equally important, which is that, when Spirit calls, the Shaman has to show up and respond. Once that agreement is entered into, there is a unique relationship that the Shaman has with life in which everything is sacred. The sacredness of everything becomes the guiding principle of the Shaman. My presupposition is that we all have not only the ability and the gift, but, literally, the responsibility to become caretakers of the earth today. To become its stewards and to become Shamans.

The obvious question that most people in the lay Western world are going to have is, How does one go about that?

To become contemporary Shamans we have to become aware of our inner processes or spiritual processes, and we have to engage in our own healing journey. I want to address both of these points.

Classically the path of the Shaman is the path of the wounded healer. It is the path of the man or woman, who in the process of healing him or herself, transforms what has been a source of wounding, of pain, of grief, of weakness, or of sorrow, into a source of strength. So that which previously lived within one as a deep wounding — either an emotional wounding, or a physical wounding — now becomes the Shaman’s base of power. And the foundation of compassion and empathy. I know how you hurt, because I know what it is to hurt. So it’s essential for the Shaman to embark on his or her own healing journey. Not just to learn a body of techniques, or tricks, or interventions, or strategies. That’s allopathic medicine. That’s the Western model of curing, where you apply specific interventions or strategies to a condition.

The Shaman engages in healing, which is different from curing, and which involves profound personal transformation. This frequently results in a cure, but not always. Conversely, I have seen many medical cures in which the symptoms have been treated, but there had not been a deep healing. I’ve had clients where there has been a very deep healing, but in which the client dies. They have a terminal condition. They die. There’s been no cure, but they’ve died in peace. They died honorably and elegantly. That’s an important differentiation for the Shaman, the difference between healing and curing. Curing is the business of Western medicine; healing is the business of the Shaman. So being engaged in your own healing journey is an essential factor for becoming a Shaman. You’re healing yourself, and that becomes the foundation for your compassion, your generosity, your empathy.

The second essential factor is developing a vocabulary of the sacred. Learning about and becoming deeply familiar with your own inner world. Learning how Spirit dwells within you. The pathways in the West that we are most familiar with for doing this are prayer, meditation, and contemplation. The Shaman travels a path that we are very unfamiliar with in the West, which is the path of power — of direct experience, knowledge, and power. And this is the path that has been forbidden to us in the West by our mythology, because the last time that we tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge, you remember what happened to us.

You’re talking about the myth of Adam and Eve.

Right. We were cast out of the Garden. We were cast out of a very primary communion with nature. The direct path of knowledge and power is the path of the earth peoples, of the Shaman, and it is very much a path of the feminine. In the West we are mostly familiar with the pathways of the masculine. For example, when we last tasted the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, we were cast out of our natural state in which we lived in an animistic world. We talked to the trees and to the animals and the rivers and to God. And the animals and the rivers and the clouds spoke back to us.

Now, you mean this literally?

I mean this literally, yes. I’m not talking about a metaphor. Because the Shaman has an active dialogue with nature, and still speaks to the rivers and to the trees. Not using words like we use, but still maintaining a very active dialogue and communication with all of nature. The Shaman lives in an animistic universe, not in an inanimate one, like we do. When we were cast out of the Garden there was this voice that said “And cursed shall be the earth because of you woman, and for the man, with the sweat of your back you shall take your fruit of the earth and she shall bear thorns and thistles for you.” We developed a hostile relationship with the feminine and with women and with the Earth. Later, we learned that matter is not spiritual. That matter is “dead,” and spirit is something that is up above, distant, separate from creation, and separate from matter. Yet, the word matter comes from the Latin word Mater, which means Mother, the feminine. So we learned that matter, that the feminine, Mother Earth is not spiritual.

So the path of the Shaman is one that is very unfamiliar to us in the West, but very necessary today, as we have exhausted the possibilities of that other paradigm, that we can call the patriarchal or the control paradigm, of the inanimate earth. Where we have taken the spoils of the earth, where we have polluted the rivers, where we have contaminated the air, where the ruling paradigm is of exploitation and of reaping the bounty of earth without concern for later generations. We’ve come to the end of that paradigm. It’s no longer sustainable.

So now we have to explore another paradigm, and that is a paradigm that is uniquely American, which is a paradigm of sustainability. Of a sustainable relationship with the earth. Of stewardship, not only with the resources of the earth, but with our own inner resources. Our health resources, our energetic resources, our emotional, and our spiritual resources. So the path of the direct experience of knowledge of how to live in stewardship, is a very unfamiliar one for us, yet it’s the classical path of the Shaman.

As I think about what you have just said, it opens up a vista of a truly magical and sacred perspective of life, which is indeed often lacking in the society as you’ve just described it. Yet, I’m curious to see if you can give me an example of how someone such as myself, who has not had exposure to what you’ve been studying for so long, would go about, for instance, learning the language of the river and how to communicate with the river. In practical terms, how does that take place?

Shamans are very careful observers of nature. They Inkas, for example, were extraordinary astronomers and architects. They built cities in the clouds like Machu Picchu, and they recognized the same laws of nature that we identified as physics. For example, they recognize the second law of thermodynamics, which is the law of entropy, which says that within a closed system everything within it will seek chaos and disorder. That ice will melt into water, and water will evaporate into a gas. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to recognize this. The Inka Shamans didn’t call this entropy. They called it Jaguar, the keeper of the life and spirit of the rain forest. But they also recognized that, while everything in the physical universe tended toward entropy, in the living world things were anti-entropic. They tend toward complexity, not chaos. In the biological world, things tend to higher and higher levels of organization. Cells team up with each other to create tissue, tissues team up with each other to create organs, organs team up with each other to create the body. The Shamans saw that this was the opposite of that same force of the Jaguar. Now, in the West, if our biologists and our physicists spoke to each other, they would recognize that these are two sides of the same organizing principle of the universe.

The medicine people of the Andes were able to call on the Jaguar. Since they have an animistic relationship with all of life, they are able to say, “Mother, sister Jaguar, come to me. Teach me your ways. Come into the village and bring harmony and order, or come into this marriage and help them to dissolve their union gracefully. Come and bring fertility into this field. Come and control the spread of this wildfire, or control the spread of this cancer throughout the body. Bring order and harmony to it out of chaos.” As a Shaman, you are able to summon these organizing principles of nature and they will respond to you, whether it be in controlling the spread of the cancer or of the wildfire, or helping the village maintain its unity. Whereas we in the modern world, if we say, “Oh, entropy come to me,” we’re not going to get anything. We have a very descriptive relationship with life, and not an interactive animistic one. That’s the difference. And that’s how you communicate with the spirit of the river.

Today we have a lot of interest in things like Feng Shui, where we want to have our houses be in harmony and balance with the land. We’re beginning to make some tentative explorations in this area. But the Shaman already has an active dialogue with the rivers, with the clouds, with Spirit, with God. So that God is not separate from creation, like it is for us in the West. We have “our Father who art in heaven,” not “who art here next to me,” or “who art in this chair.” We have a creator that is separate from the creation, whereas for the Shaman the Creator is one with the creation. So, when I speak to the spirit of the river, I’m having a dialogue with the Great Spirit, with God, and I recognize that the river is not separate from God. Or from me, for that matter. I no longer live in the grip of a myth of separation from God, of separation from nature. I have not been banished from my natural state.

And that’s part of the healing in the West our students go through in our training programs. We help them heal that rift, that original rift with nature and with their own inner nature, and with God and Spirit. Then we come into a proper and sustainable relationship with nature, and this is applicable whether you happen to be living in nature, or living in a city and working in the corporate world.

Could you give me an example of the latter case?

When you bring the principles of sustainability, of deep spiritual ecology of Shamanism into a corporate setting, you start looking not only at the bottom line, but at the top line. What quality of life are we bringing to our employees, and to our immediate community that we live in, and to our global community? Are we producing only products, or are we making a difference in the world? These are ethical considerations that become part of your strategic plan, of your mission statement. It’s like that old tale of a traveler who comes across two stone masons during the building of Notre Dame. And he asked them, “What are you doing?” The first mason replies “I’m squaring up the stone,” but the second says, “I’m building a cathedral.” The second one is a Shaman. You can be working in a shoe factory, but you know that you’re building a cathedral. That you’re making a difference in the world. This corporate vision is communicated across the board to every member of that business. You are always looking at the top line, not only at the bottom line, and what results from this are increases in productivity, reductions in absenteeism, and increased profits.

Based on what you’ve just outlined, Shamanism, in its underlying worldview, really has applicability to all aspects of our modern society.

It can be translated, I believe, to many arenas.

One of the problems that we’ve had is that Shamanism has been associated with feather waving and rattle shaking and drum beating, in a most trivial way, when it’s really about transforming the world. Uuntil recently, Shamanism has never been taken seriously by Western scholars. Because scholars have preferred to study the religious traditions that left a written record. The literate traditions, like Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, that left a written body of knowledge. In the Americas, writing never developed, so these cultures were considered to be illiterate. They had no literate body of knowledge, therefore they must be “stupid.” With the exception of a few serious researchers like Margaret Mead, Shamanism was studied until very recently. And what’s become absorbed into the popular lexicon is the Indian with the feathers and the drum, and not the deeper principles, some of which are 100,000 years old, that we’ve been speaking about.

One of those principles is what you describe in your book Shaman, Healer, Sage as the Luminous Energy Field. Talk about that as it is described in the Inka Shamanic tradition.

Let me reframe that question if I may. Let’s talk about the Luminous Energy Field as I’ve described it in my book, because otherwise I would have to go into a more anthropological, culture-specific definition of the Inka, and I’d like to speak more from a transcultural perspective.

The Luminous Energy Field is an envelope, or luminous cocoon, that surrounds, informs, and organizes the physical body, in the same way that the energy field of a magnet organizes iron filings on top of a piece of glass. These energy fields organize matter. The Luminous Energy Field informs the physical body, our psychospiritual world, and even our physical world outside of ourselves. That’s where the concept becomes difficult to follow, but the Luminous Energy Field is like a blueprint.

In the West, using the physical sciences, we’ve identified the blueprint that organizes the body as the DNA. In the Shamanic tradition, the blueprint is the Luminous Energy Field. In every culture around the world you find references to a Luminous Field, but we interpret it to be a quaint metaphor. When the Buddhists speak about illumination, we think that it’s symbolic. When Christ spoke about the light within or when the light surrounded Christ when he was submersed in the river Jordan, we consider that to be a quaint metaphor for an inner state of consciousness. You can find references to this Luminous Field in the Maori carvings from New Zealand, in drawings from the native peoples in Africa, in the illustrations of the Buddha with the field of fire surrounding him, and in the halo that surrounds the drawings of the Christian saints and mystics.

To the Shaman, the Luminous Energy Field is not symbolic. It is real and is the blueprint for physical reality. For example, if you have inherited a heart condition from your mother and your grandmother, both of whom may have died of heart disease, your doctor will tell you that the condition is carried in your genes. But the Shaman will tell you that is in your Luminous Energy Field, and that you had better erase it from your field before it has the chance to organize physical reality and you have to deal with a heart attack in the emergency room. At the beginning of our conversation, I said that the Shaman is the one who mediates between the visible and the invisible world — the invisible world to us, which to the Shaman is a tangible world. It’s one that can be sensed. From the Shamanic world view, you want to heal things before they are born and manifest into matter. You want to clear the blueprint for heart disease before it turns into a full-blown heart attack. You want to clear that energetic imprint for cancer before it develops into a tumor. But even after it does develop into a tumor, you want to clear the Luminous Energy Field so that, when you remove the tumor through surgery, it doesn’t reappear or manifest somewhere else. You’ve cleared it at the level of the blueprint. This is an essential element of the body of knowledge of the Shaman. You will not hear this articulated in exactly this way by the native peoples. I’m given you a description that uses the metaphors of science and physics, but if you study the cultures of the Americas, you will find adescription of this Luminous Energy Field, from the Eskimos, to the Mayans, to the Inkas.

All of these cultures recognize that the Luminous Energy Field contains information within it. We know energy contains information, and what we’re interested in doing is having the highest quality of information in our Luminous Energy Field so that we have the highest possible experience of health, and the highest possible experience of the world.

Let me give you an example of this. I had a client, a woman whose only son had died at the age of 18 in an automobile accident. She had loaned him the car that evening. She didn’t want to let him go. It was a rainy night, and he got into an automobile wreck, and was killed. That occurred on September 26th, five years before I met her. After that, every year on September 26th she would end up having a near death experience. One September 26th, she was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light and landed in the hospital in the emergency room. Another September 26th, she had food poisoning and had to be taken back to the ER. They gave her barium to do a scan and her heart stopped because she was allergic to barium. This is known in psychiatry as the “anniversary effect.”

She came to me and said, “How can I be organizing somebody rear-ending me at a traffic light, or having food poisoning from eating a bad piece of fish at a restaurant?” Well, the Shaman understands that the world is as you dream it. We dream the universe into being and it mirrors back to us the condition of our souls, so to speak. So we worked together over a period of three months and were able to clear the instructions within her blueprint that predisposed her to having these near death accidents. After that, she was able to mourn and grieve the loss of her son, and she spent the subsequent anniversaries of her son’s death in completely excellent health.

The Luminous Energy Field actually choreographs and organizes the physical world, predisposing you to meet certain people. To be in the car that had the accident, or the one that barely missed it. To meet the same kind of person over and over again, until you end up marrying him and then divorcing. In fact, Joseph Campbell once said to me, “Alberto, if you don’t learn it, you end up marrying it.” This is very true, and the Shaman recognizes that the Luminous Energy Field predisposes us to a certain lifestyle and set of experiences in life, according to its imprints.

Based on what you’ve just said, at the time of our birth, the Luminous Energy Field already has certain pre-organizing imprints or blueprints within it, such as your example of an inherited predisposition to heart disease that went back a few generations. At the same time, based on the experiences that we incur, or that we create and bring to ourselves as we are going through our life, additional imprints can be formed that we may or may not be aware of, and these, too, start to have organizing effects over us. Correct?


How does one become aware of what those organizing imprints are in the Luminous Energy Field, and then go about the process of healing them?

The problem with imprints is that they are latent, and in their latent form it is difficult to become aware of them. For most of us, it is only when the imprints get triggered and we start becoming reactive, that we become aware of them. There are several ways this can happen.

One way is when your immune system is depressed and not functioning optimally. We do live in an immune-depressed culture, by the way, and when you suffer from chronic illness, generally your immune system is being kept in a depressed state by an imprint in the Luminous Energy Field. Once that imprint is cleared, what we find with our clients, and our students find with their clients, is that the immune system suddenly kick starts and very, very rapidly is able to resolve the health condition.

The same thing happens with somebody who has been stuck in a psychological closed loop in which they are repeating an emotional drama over and over again, or are dealing with an emotional dynamic from which they cannot extricate themselves. When you clear the imprint, suddenly there is movement, and healing is able to take place. So, when we find ourselves in a chronic psychological or physical disease process, that is a clear indication that there is an imprint in the Luminous Energy Field which is keeping the disease static, or unmoving.

If that is the case, what can we do to clear the imprint?

You’ve got to go see your Shaman. (laughs) What we do in the West is go see our therapist — and we can spend years in therapy without healing — or we go see our physician who will only address our symptoms. Western medicine is not designed to disinhibit the body’s own healing systems and the immune response.

When we speak about Shamanism, we are talking about psychoneuroimmunology, which has been practiced by medicine people in the Americas for at least 30,000 years because they have not had the MRI’s, they have not had the antibiotics, they have not had the antidepressants, and so forth. The Shaman practices a form of mind/body medicine that is exquisitely fine-tuned because of a lack of these other interventions. Conversely, while we in the modern world have been able to describe the mechanisms in which psychoneuroinunology functions, we have not been able to use those mechanisms to eliminate a cancer, to reduce pain significantly, or to create psychosomatic health. When you run into chronic disease, whether it be physical, psychological, or psychospiritual, it is at that point is that the resources and the tools of the Shaman become so powerful and effective.

How does this work from a preventive perspective? For instance, say someone comes to you for a check-up, for lack of a better word, just as they might go to a Western doctor for a health screening or a physical exam. If the person is not aware of any latent imprints or predispositions to any psychological or physical conditions he or she might have, how do you perceive what those latencies are if they have not manifested at that point in time? Or do you?

You do, yes. I’ direct a school where train Western Shaman healers, both physicians and nurses, as well as lay persons. One of the things we train our students to do is to sense and perceive. The Shaman is able to perceive the Luminous Energy Field and the imprints within it, as well as the stories that the imprints contain. Sensing the Field itself is not enough; you need to also be able to perceive the stories within it. This can be viewed as the equivalent of putting your hands over your computer’s hard drive and saying, “I feel the intensity of the energy,” but so what? What you’re really interested in is the letter you just wrote that’s in the hard drive. You’re interested in the information contained within that energy. So we train our students to be able to perceive the Luminous Energy Field and to read the information contained within it so that they can track back to the origin, to the original wounding that caused the imprint.

Then we use various strategies to clear, to erase, to overwrite, if you will, the Luminous Energy Field to reduce the probability of you ending up dealing with a heart condition in the emergency room. This is where Shamanic healing is most effective, as a preventive measure. Generally the people that end up coming to see me or our students do so only after they have exhausted every other possibility. I wish we had more of an understanding of the importance of the preventive in this country, because that’s where energy medicine and the work of the Shaman excels — in healing conditions before they organize matter into disease and manifest in the body.

I was very interested to find in your book the concept of chakras as they relate to the Luminous Energy Field. Many people are now familiar with the seven primary chakras that occur in yoga tradition. But I was very intrigued by the additional two that you identify and I’d like you to discuss their importance.

When I mention the chakra system that is part of the Inka Shamanic healing tradition, people sometimes say to me, “I thought chakras were Hindu.” And I respond, “Well, I thought that kidneys were European.” (laughs)

Chakras are elements of our luminous anatomy. We are going to find them in healing traditions worldwide. In the same way that everyone has 206 bones in their bodies, everyone has seven luminous centers, or chakras. The Inka recognized an additional two that exist outside the physical body. The Shaman’s animistic relationship with the world allows for a recognition of Self that is not localized within the physical body. Thus, the Inka Shamans perceived the existence of two additional chakras outside the body that are a part of you, but that are also a part of nature. Whereas in the Hindu traditions, all of the chakras are localized within the body. In the Hindu traditions, in fact, there is a rift or separation from nature, and yoga is the practice of bringing together that which has been separated. For the Shaman, however, the natural world was never separated, and these additional two chakras are chakras that you share with all of creation, yet they are also yours.

What are the functions of these eighth and ninth chakras?

The eighth chakra is a luminous center located directly above the head. It is sometimes depicted above the head of the goddess Isis in ancient Egyptian drawings. In Christianity, it is represented as the tongues of fire above the heads of the apostles at the Last Supper.

The eighth chakra exists outside of time as we know it, yet it also manifests within time. Its function is to house the seven physical chakras, and to manufacture the physical body, to guide the development of the body, and to carry the imprints that we may have brought with us from our former existence. At the time of our death the seven chakras located within the physical body suddenly converge and are enfolded within the eighth chakra. The eighth chakra then becomes the vessel for our other seven chakras. In that sense, it is equivalent of the soul, if you will, in Christianity, and its purpose is to create a new body in our next lifetime, at which time the seven chakras will then line themselves up along the spinal chord, and the eighth chakra will continue to hover above it.

In that sense, the eighth chakra holds the blueprint for our physical body when we incarnate, as well as for our potentialities in this lifetime.

That’s correct. And if the eighth chakra is equivalent of what we know as the soul, then the ninth chakra is the equivalent of Spirit. The difference here is that the soul is personal, and Spirit is not. You have your personal soul, I have my personal soul, and both souls are informed by the same Spirit. Another way of looking at this is to say that the issues of the soul are personal, whereas the Spirit, or the ninth chakra, is not personal. It is collective; it is One. The eighth chakra is where God lives within you, and the ninth chakra is where you live within God. It’s the place where duality disappears and there is no separation between you and I. We are one. We are the expression of the same life force, with two different faces. It’s when we recognize that we are that, and that the tree is, and the river is, and that the cloud is, and that we are no better or no worse than a tree or a star, that we attain a state of tremendous liberation. You can speak to the rivers and trees. This is the awareness which is the residing within the ninth chakra, and the Shaman’s goal is to attain this awareness of Self as the unity of all of creation.

How is that attainment achieved, through a series of initiatory experiences?

It occurs through a series of practices — meditative practices and practices of tracking the energy chords that connect all of the chakras. Following that energy chord up to this ninth chakra requires the death of the ego, the death of the previous conception of the Self. Not to be replaced by a higher and broader conception of the Self, but to end the Self entirely, so that separation itself dissolves.

What role or relevance do these two particular chakras have in the Shamanic approach to healing?

That’s a very interesting question. Let me go back to mythology for a moment. In Western mythology, on the seventh day the Great Spirit rested. Creation was complete. All that was left was the naming of the plants and the animals. This mythology has seeped into science, which says that on the seventh nanosecond after the Big Bang all of the universe was created, all of the laws of physics were created, and all that was left after that was the naming of the laws of physics. Physicists are still working on the unified field theory that will describe everything in creation.

In the Shamanic worldview, on the seventh day the Great Spirit said, “You guys finish it.” In other words, the Shaman recognizes that the creation is not complete, and that the universe is still in the process of evolving. The laws of physics are evolving, as well. They are not fixed. Even Time and Space is evolving, as are all of our notions of the universe.

The task of the Shaman is to consciously bring evolution into being. For example, there is a group of Hopi elders who spend time envisioning the possible world that they want their children’s children to inherit. Not the probable world, because we know what that’s going to be, but the possible world, no matter how improbable it may seem. They envision that. They dream it into being. There is a group of Inka Shamans that do the same thing. They know that through the act of envisioning they help create a healed world where we live in peace with each other, with the rivers, with the animals, and with the earth. Their task is to dream into being a world in which we live in harmony and balance, where that becomes a little more possible, a little more probable. They know that the odds are stacked against them, but they still do it, and to do this you have to be able to dwell and reside within the awareness of the ninth chakra.

This process can be used by the Shaman to track into the future, to help a client access a destiny in which he or she is healed and leading a creative, fulfilling life. As an example of this, I had a client named Steve who was a physicist with the Stanford Research Institute. He was working at the Linear Accelerator, where he and his colleagues had been analyzing data to determine the age of the universe, to determine if enough matter existed within the universe for it to continue expanding for eternity, or if the gravitational pull of the stars was great enough to make the universe collapse back into itself again. One day he called and I asked him how things were with the universe. He replied that the news was good, that it looked like there was enough mass in the universe for it to continue expanding infinitely. But then he told me the news for him was not very good. He had just been diagnosed with a terrible end stage cancer and the doctors at Stanford’s medical center had given him less four months to live. Ninety-seven percent of the people who have this condition live no more than four months.

Steve and I began working together tracking for his “healed state.”. There is within medicine this very bothersome area known as spontaneous remission. It occurs within every diagnostic category of medicine, and nobody knows how it happens. Yet, these are the fundamental mechanisms that the Shaman utilizes, because for the Shaman all healing is spontaneous. Its expression is not always instantaneous, meaning that it expresses itself over time, but all healing happens spontaneously. So when someone like Steve is told he only has a 3 percent chance of living, the Shaman would say that within that 3 percent window, there is enough room to squeeze an elephant through. So that’s what we did, we tracked through that 3 percent window for his healed self. Not a very probable state, but a permissible or possible one. Out of the many possibilities available to Steve in the future, we were able to track for and identify that healed self that now was to begin to inform his healing process. As a result, he was not only informed by his disease and by his genetic make-up, but by his healed condition. Steve outlived his prognosis by eight or nine years, and he was able to maintain a level of wellness that had been unknown to him previously. He lived symptom-free until the end of his days.

This is the same thing that Hopi or Shaman elders do when they are tracking for the possible earth that they want their grandchildren to inherit. The application of tracking is eminently practical on the level of personal healing, and of planetary healing, or even when you are creating a strategic plan for an organization. According to the Shamans with whom I have trained, you can only do this once you have tasted and identified with that self that exists outside of time, because then you can track outside of time itself. Then you’re not bound to tracking events only that happened in the past. For example, asking how did Steve get sick? How did he get his cancer? What’s gone wrong with the world? Such questions are about things which have already been dreamt into being and are bound by time, by the past. But the Shaman is able to track for a healed state outside of time, and when you find it, it begins to inform the present state. You dream the world into being.

You mentioned your school. What types of people are coming to you as students, and what is happening to them once they go back into the world?

I founded The Healing the Light Body School in 1990 to translate 50,000 year-old healing technologies into the modern world. And I think that we have done so successfully. It’s a two-year training program, with very close supervision, and a lot of hands-on practice, and we’ve graduated over 600 students. We are drawing a wide variety of people from the health professions, including therapists, social workers, medical doctors, and nurses, and also many lay people with no background in any of the Western healing arts. And sometimes it is the lay people who prove to be the most gifted. Some of them are born with an innate talent for healing, just as some people are born with the innate gift for music, but they have to develop and train and practice to become gifted piano players. We are training students in Shamanic healing practices and how to apply them in a contemporary setting.

Some of the health professionals we trained learning are integrating healing into their practice. One of ours students is physician in Los Angeles, and when you call his office, you are asked whether you want to schedule a session for Western medicine or Energy Medicine. He’s integrating what he learned at the school, and it’s causing a bit of a stir in the medical community. We also have trained a number of psychotherapists who are practicing soul retrieval with their clients and finding that they are accomplishing in one or two sessions what they haven’t been able to achieve during years of therapy. Soul retrieval is a practice the Shaman uses to journey into the invisible world to locate and reintegrate aspects of the soul which have become cut off due to the deep woundings that many of us experience during childhood.

Our students are bringing these methodologies into the modern world. Into the business world, into the world of complementary or alternative medicine, into the field of Energy Medicine, and into the healing arts in general. And they are doing so successfully. One of our students is the head of the Canadian Holistic Nurses Association. Her practice, which takes places in a hospital, is strictly in the field of the Energy Medicine techniques.

At the end of the training, we certify these individuals as Shaman healers and encourage them to go out into the world and change it. And they are accomplishing this by bring healing to their families, to their communities, to their organizations and to their clients. Often times, many choose not to set up healing practices, per se, but to take these healing methodologies into their jobs, into their children’s schools, or into the corporate world. We have a number of corporate Shamans. That’s what they do. They are healing corporations.

Summing up, from the Shamanistic perspective, what do we in the modern world need to do in order to heal ourselves and our world?

At a certain point, we need to shift out of the psychological into the sacred. We have exhausted the maps of psychology — of abandonment, of early childhood wounds, of “mommy-daddy” issues. Not that these concerns are not valid. They are, but we must now find our healing within the sacred, within nature, within Spirit. Then we can cease being victims of our childhood, of our culture, of our times, of our gender, and reclaim our power and dream the world into being.


Chakra Cleansing

The following exercise is adapted from Dr. Villoldo’s book Shaman, Healer, Sage, and can be performed each morning while in the shower to upgrade the energy reserves in your Luminous Energy Field, and involves cleansing the seven chakras, or vibratory energy centers, located along the length of the spine and head. The first chakra is located at the base of the spine, between the genitals and the anus; the second chakra is located midway between the pubis and the naval; the third chakra is located at the solar plexus; the fourth chakra is located in the center of the chest; the fifth chakra is located at the hollow of the throat; the sixth chakra is located in the middle of the forehead; and the seventh chakra is located at the top of the head.

While in the shower, place your left hand at the base of your spine, and with your right hand placed in front of your, three or four inches away from your body, feel for your first chakra. With practice, you will be able to feel it like a dense energy. Spin the chakra counterclockwise three of four times (imagine that your body is the face of the clock) by rotating your fingertips in a circle. Once you are down, rinse your fingers in the water, then repeat the process for each of the other seven chakras, rinsing your fingers thoroughly in between each one. According to Dr. Villoldo, this helps cleanse and eliminate the toxic energy sludge that can adhere to the chakra walls.

Once you finish, again starting with the first chakra, spin each chakra clockwise three or four times by rotating your fingertips. This completes the exercise, and increases the chakras’ speed, enabling each chakra to spin at its optimal frequency for improved physical, psychological, and spiritual health. For best results, perform this exercise on a daily basis.


The Four Winds Society, Inc.

The Healing the Body of Light School

P.O. Box 680675

Park City, Utah 84068

(888) 437-4077

Founded by Dr. Villoldo, the Society is a research and training organization dedicated to preserving the techniques of Inka Shamanism and bringing them into the 21st century. Through the Healing the Light Body School, training programs are offered in Inka Energy Medicine, Soul Retrieval, and the Medicine Wheel. The Society also leads expeditions to scared sites in the Amazon and the Andes Mountains in Peru.

By Dr. Villoldo

Shaman, Healer, Sage (Crown), 2000.

Dance of the Four Winds (Inner Traditions) (With Erik Jendresen), 1996.

Mastering the Inka Medicine Wheel (Inner Traditions) (With Erik Jendresen), 1994.

Healing States (Fireside Books), 1987

The following videos and tape series are available through The Four Winds Society.

Inka Shamanism and Healing (video)

The Shaman’s Altar (video)

Inka Prophecy: The Time to Come (video)

Healing the Light Body (seven audio tape set)

Increasing Awareness and Intelligence–An Interview with Win Wenger, Ph.D.

A former college educator, Dr. Win Wenger is a pioneer in the fields of creativity and creative method, accelerated learning, brain and mind development, and the founder of Project Renaissance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing each person’s individual potential and accelerating the dawning of a new renaissance in human history. The author of 48 books, Dr. Wenger is also a world-renowned trainer, innovative problem-solver, and inventor, whose methodologies have been independently shown by university studies to produce I.Q. gains of 20 points or more in as little as 25 hours of practice.

Einstein stated that problems cannot be solved with the same thinking that led to their creation, an observation that is very applicable to the world’s current health care crisis. Though Dr. Wenger is not a healer, per se, his observations about learning and intelligence, and his approaches to creative problem-solving, if applied, could do much to resolve that crisis, and many others now before us. Moreover, since the ability to easily and effectively solve problems and resolve problems also results in reduced levels of stress (which is a principal cause of an estimated 85 percent of all illness), Dr. Wenger’s work holds great potential as a psychophysiological health aid.

In the following interview, he discusses what is wrong with our current model of conventional education, what can be done to solve the problem, and what the broadscale implications are of his work.

Based on your research, what are the factors in our current educational system that actually impede the learning process and intelligence?

Well, there are several. As with any bureaucracy, there’s very little if any connection between the quality of accomplishment and the rate of pay and reward. What relationship in fact exists is inverted. Since the Sputnik revolution in education back in the 50’s, the emergency aid to education at that time from the federal government kind of set the model that the worst job the school does of teaching, the more money and power are allocated into the system to compensate for that, and that constitutes a reward for very poor teaching. The latest headline as of a few days ago was in Virginia is allocating another $100 million to their worst schools, etc. and so it wasn’t just the federal government, but the federal government set the model back in 1957. So we have this perverse incentive running throughout our whole public school system wherein the worse you do, the better you get paid for it.

In addition to the bureaucratic structure, what other factors do you believe are contributing to the poor results that students are getting? And what are the differences between the model of learning that is part and parcel of the education that most of us in America have received compared to the tools and explorations that you’ve developed and are exploring?

Our teaching institutions are not, despite the language, learning institutions. They don’t learn from what’s going on. They don’t learn from outside suggestions. They don’t learn from their mistakes. We have to remember that the American public school system is really the school system that was developed by the Prussians over in Germany in the middle of the 19th century. That system was designed to provide obedient workers and to provide obedient cannon fodder, and higher learning took place despite that. There is an awful lot that could be said here, but just to kind of condense it, the basic, most effective learning system started in Western context in the last 3,000 years has been the Socratic method. And next to that would be the hands-on approach. The hands-on is still going reasonably well in the vocational education programs, but the Socratic got supplanted by the Prussian school system back in the 1860’s.

For the sake of readers who aren’t aware of what the Socratic method is, could you explain it?

Well you were just using a slim form of it by asking a question, in which I have to examine my awareness, at least to some extent, in order to respond. The Socratic method was usually performed by either a question, so that you hear the Socratic question, meaning the kind of question that causes one to dig a little bit, or by some sort of challenge, as in an argument. The method was used first used during the time of the late classical Greece period, and the second time it was used it was during the Renaissance in Europe. And each time it was used the schools were, per capita, something like ten million times per person more productive of world class genius than all of our school apparatus today with all its information systems and technological advantages. It’s disgraceful and ridiculous to see texts refer to the anomaly of those times producing so many world class geniuses as if they have no idea, or at least won’t express it, as to why that anomaly exists. And the reason is that the Socratic method forces one to dig into their own awarenesses, their own first hand perceptions, and in so doing you’re not only reinforcing a particular perception hereafter, but you’re reinforcing the behavior of being perceptive. And over and over again you build a pretty perceptive person in the use of the Socratic method. We abandoned that in the last part of the 19th century, in favor of the Prussian model because our factories wanted obedient workers in large numbers and our armies wanted obedient cannon fodder in large numbers.

The Prussian model is basically based on memorization or wrote learning, correct?


When you were talking earlier about the hands-on method, that was another way of actually describing learning by doing?


Now the people who are the most respected in education, don’t have that as a motive. They don’t look to produce cannon fodder and to stuff the factories full of workers. They’re consciously acting from other motives, but the system got tilted in that direction and has been going ever since.

So in other words, basically, we are approaching intelligence using the wrong tools.


Let’s talk about from your prospective and your research, what the tools are that can be used to enhance intelligence. In particular, I’d like you to discuss the theory and evolution of image streaming and how that works.

Well, the Socratic method is a good place to start. You examine your own inner awarenesses, and your own awarenesses wherever they are, and your own first hand perceptions and try to respond from those awarenesses. And the very fact of reinforcement gives us another place to start from because the fundamental law of behavior is the law of effect. You get more of what you reinforce. In the schoolroom, as taught, we reinforce student passivity and silent rebellion — as long as it is silent — and looking attentive. And in fact, as long as they can make students attentive instead of reflective of what they are learning, that’s another drawback there. If you’re reflective of what you’re learning, your eyes aren’t always straight to the front. They may be directed to the window or somewhere else. But we reinforce to pay attention to the front of the room. At best, you get memorization from this, but you don’t get reflectivity and understanding.

The law of effect — you get more of what you reinforce — is the most fundamental of natural laws and the behavior other than the survival itself, and in fact is part of the law of survival. Because any organism or complex system in a changing world has to be aware of and adapt to how the world around it is responding to its presence. What it does in response to what the organism or system does. And then hence feedback. Hence reinforcement. Any complex system that did not have the law of effect as part of its way of dealing with things, didn’t get to last very long. We and the things that we’re comprised of and the systems that we comprise in turn — all these complex systems are subject to the law of effect. Meaning, when we reinforce a behavior or trait we tend to get more of it. And this is the whole reason for punishment as a form of reinforcement. We tend to get more of what we punish for. We get a temporary deterrent, but there is a higher likelihood that that behavior trait will be repeated later. And we repeat this complexity of lying in the direction of our system of justice. It’s not only our schools that are screwed up.

One of the evidences that we have this problem in this free country of ours, is that we now have more than a million people behind bars and we apparently have another three million people, quote-unquote, needing to be behind bars. That’s not exactly my idea of a free country. But those are two of the systems that are screwed up because they have not taken into account the law of effect. And perhaps one of the reasons we have not taken the law of effect into very much account, is that when the Behaviorists first got ahold of that — Watson at the start of the 20th century and then B.F. Skinner — they kind of ran one particular area of it into the ground and felt that nothing else was really worth considering — that all of psychology was just a matter of reinforcement schedules. But obviously other laws are also at work, which they ignored. So they kind of ran it into the ground, and people stopped looking at it, but it is still, like the law of gravity, one of the most fundamental of things. We can look at any situation and evaluate what’s getting reinforced and what’s not getting reinforced, and it’s an eye-opener. Go into an ordinary classroom and sit in on it and watch what is getting reinforced and what’s not getting reinforced. If you do, you will get an encyclopedia’s worth of informationas to why students aren’t performing.

So let’s talk a little bit about the alternative, which are the methods and techniques that let to the origin of image streaming.

Okay. One of the subtler effects — well, first let me say that the subtler an awareness or perception is that gets brought into full conscious focus of awareness, the better connection you build between remote parts of the brain not normally involved with focus conscious verbal thinking. As it turns out, only a couple of percent of the cells of the brain are involved in our conscious mind. Only a couple of percent of our brain’s processes is in words, but nearly all of our consciousness is invested in words because word thinking is so loud, so conveniently focused. In fact, it’s part of our instrument for bringing awarenesses into focus. When we use for that, we are in good shape. But when we don’t use our language primarily to bring awarenesses into focus we get in trouble. And our schools, of course, have been trying to use language exclusively for putting information in, and they’ve created a totally different dynamic than the one where learning takes place.

The subtler the awareness, the more offline the particular region of the brain is from where we’re conscious. So if we can reinforce portions of the brain that are offline on the consciousness, we’ve brought ourselves in contact with more of our own intelligence. Now how much intelligence? Well, some 90 percent of the brain processes is in images. In sensory images, not words. And only two percent of our brain processes are in words. That means that if we’re limited to words and our consciousness and what we will accept into consciousness, then we’re using a very, very tiny portion indeed of our available intelligence. As it happens, the over 90 percent of the brain that is not processing in words, is all the time associating in this enormous data storage of ours, associating experiences in images and casting up the most relevant associations, i.e., insights, i.e., understanding, in connection with what’s going on at the time. And this process is happening very rapidly. Whereas the part of our brain that thinks in words has been trained by our language to think at the speed of language, the rest of the cortex processes information 10,000 times more rapidly than does the word part. And below the cortex — the rest of the brain, including the limbic brain, where most of the real action is — that is some 10,000 times faster than the cortex. So, for most of the brain operating in sensory images and association and thinking things through, is some 10 million times faster than from where we do our word thinking from. And what is the material available to do that sensory associating from? Any awareness that you have ever experienced is still there in your memory. Even if it may be remote from consciousness, it’s still shaping what you’re doing, the choices you make, the coloring, and the experiences that you’re having currently. It’s part of that associative process. If you look at the floor under your feet, let’s say your right foot — that portion of the floor, wherever you are, that’s under your right foot represents the part of the brain that thinks in words. The part of your brain with which you’re mainly conscious. Now look at the rest of the floor, all around you. That represents the rest of the resources that you have available to you.

So that’s what we have to work with – this enormous expanse of resources that are yours by birth, by God-given right, however you want to phrase it. They’re yours, butt you’ve been trained into their use. And now we have to train into some partial use, some practical use, at least. And when we get the results we do, they are so far ahead of the normal set of expectations that we run into in this culture of ours that people don’t believe it. They think something must be wrong with the data or something.

What is image streaming specifically, and how does it tie into what you’re saying?

Image streaming involves making yourself conscious of at least the upper tip end of the associative process in sensory images we’ve been discussing. By looking at the images that are coming into your mind – not the ones that you direct to come into your mind from your conscious mind, but those that are there already the s0-called called spontaneous imagery, or spontaneous image association.

The other element that is that is very, very important with that, is to be to describing aloud to a listener the images that you see in the back of your mind’s eye. That describing aloud is the principle vehicle for letting you reinforce those areas of awareness, and to reinforce some portion of that imaging associative process in regions of the brain underlying your conscious mind, the conscious part of your brain. It has to be describe aloud to a listener, or it can be to a tape recorder representing a potential listener, but it has to be to a listener, and it’s much better with a live listener. What that does is pull these awarenesses, these associations, into conscious focus, where you can bring all your conscious faculties to bear on what’s being said, and you can make sense of it.

In this process, what is the listener doing?

He is mainly there to listen. Or, if he wants to get more involved, maybe taking notes. Or, if he wants to be still more involved, he can be imaging and describing his images to you while you’re imaging describing your images to him. And both of you could be deep in the process.

Typically, how long does this process need to go on before results start to be noticeable?

The rate of the increase in measured intelligence runs at a full point of I.Q. for each eighty minutes of image streaming. And even ten to twenty points of I.Q. gain is a fantastic difference compared to what’s typically available to a person in his life career, and his life experiences, and so forth. And we don’t see any tailing off of that process. It seems to be not only a permanent gain, but can be pushed to thirty, forty, fifty points or more; we don’t know the upper limits because the research so far has been limited. But it is a shockingly easy way to increase one’s most fundamental capacities, and very pleasant, very easy to proceed.

We recommend a succession of series instead of doing it all in one session for thrity-six hours or something like that, because your body has other needs, as well. We recommend a session of anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes once or twice a day, and just keep that up for awhile, or maybe permanently, because we don’t find any point yet where the gains start to taper off. Not all the gains are going to show up in an I.Q. measurement, because, for one thing, I.Q. measurement is only a tiny part of the intelligence that is there to work with and getting reinforcement. And, two, the higher up you go in the I.Q. test scales, the less accuracy and the harder it is to measure what’s going on. The upper ranges of I.Q. test are, shall we say, kind of misleading because all they’re doing mostly is measuring your abilities to work on word puzzles, instead of how you’re figuring out major and real problems and issues, and how you deal with them. But never the less, even there, you’ll show some improvement.

What would be some of the other areas of gain that occur, in addition to I.Q.?

Well, we are seeing some improvments in the area of multiple intelligences, not just the type of intelligence that is typically measured by I.Q. testing. And, actually, instead of six or eight multiple types of intelligences, in some classification systems, people have identified 267 different intelligences, and so forth. It’s a classification issue, really. But it is true that only a tiny portion of whatever intelligence is there is what’s measured on an I.Q. test, which measures verbal competence and modification and not much else. Human social intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, musical intelligence, kinesthetictic intelligences such as an athletic ability and so forth — all of these, apparently, get boosted by exercising this simple process of bringing subtler awarenesses into conscious focus and reinforcing them, and reinforcing with that the portions of the brain that have those subtler awarenesses.

In the beginning of your book, The Einstein Factor, you share an anecdote about a participant named Bob who, while practicing image streaming, kept getting the image of the old worn out tire, which originally he was resisting discussing. And when he finally did discuss it, all of a sudden he felt an urgent need to call a family member and it turned out that his fiancée’s car had a tire that was in danger of potentially blowing out. Would this mean that, as people practice image streaming, they are typically also increasing the faculty that is often referred to as intuition?

Oh, very much so. And you can see from that example, that intuition doesn’t have to be anything psychic. Now, maybe there is something psychic, and maybe there isn’t, but there is so much information available to us all the time on normal sensory channels that we can go a long way to account for what happened just in those terms. And image streaming is a primary vehicle for being able to tune into your own intuition and use it.

How does image streaming relate to what in the last couple of decades has been referred to as “left brain, right brain” functioning?

Well, the verbal part, the describing aloud in words, is essentially a function of the left temporal lobe, which has in it the vocal speech area, the left brain temporalis, and a few other organs, which have all been classified together as the left temporal lobe, and that’s where we do most of our word processing. Much of the rest of the cortex does other things. The right temporal lobe is specialized almost the same way that the left temporal lobe is, but its function primarily is to make sense of things on a global basis, whereas the left temporal lobe specializes in making sense of things on a point to point linear basis. There’s been a good deal of discussion about how much you want to do with your left lobe, and how much you want to do with the right lobe. You don’t want to lose the trees for the forest, but you don’t want to miss the forest for the trees either, that kind of an issue. And people have been much concerned in some quarters about getting a proper balance between these two sides of the brain. Our concern, however, is not so much balance, as it is integration. If you have sufficient integration going on, and sufficient communication to each of the temporal lobes, you’ll be able to make sense of things at all levels. And that is part of what you’re after. Then, of course, there are all the other functions scattered through the brain.

Simply bringing your brain into better communication with itself, and bringing more of your natural intelligence on line with where your conscious from, increases one’s here and now intelligence. It’s straightforward and simple, it’s the law of effect, and it’s pretty hard to miss. We don’t have to make anything very complicated about it.

Based on your experience and the research that’s been followed up on the work that you’re doing, what are some of the psychophysiological benefits that commonly occur that as people start to practice these techniques and, as a result start, to have more of a whole brain functioning?

Let me preface that by observation of the effects where successful repair of brain damage has been performed for some decades in Philadelphia, and in a few clinics around the world who were using the methods developed by Glenn Doman from Philadelphia. My concern is primarily neurophysiological, the sensory motor system, but it was pretty clear that children with brain damage had a relatively short actuarial expectancy, his life expectancy, health expectancy, and so forth. When their brains becomes more functional again under the treatment programs which were organized in Philadelphia, but carried out wherever parents happened to be of those children, the children’s health improved and over the years it also became apparent that their life expectancy greatly improved. So at that level, where we’re dealing with overt brain damage issues, it’s pretty clear that the better organized the brain becomes, that the better the health and the better the life expectancy. Now, we’ve not been running our processes long enough to see that the same effect occurs with our kinds of brain integration, but we certainly are having improved well-being and generally improved health, and we expect that the life expectancy is also increased, but it will take a long time to find out. It makes sense that the better working order the brain is in, the better the brain will run the body.

I would image, too, that as one becomes more proficient, as it were, in their thinking process, that they’re actually experiencing a decreased level of stress and tension, and that would be one of the physiological and psychological benefits that would also accrue.

Yes. You don’t have to go on emergency mode to get at your further reaches of resources, which is what some people do. Remember, Mozart had a very one-sided kind of intelligence and he didn’t live enough of a balanced life to take care of the rest of himself and he died young. So did so many other geniuses that our culture got the wrong idea about it. The person that has that inspired stroke of genius under great stress, wants to repeat that genius, and sooner or later he keeps putting himself back into stress until he can get at that inspired genius stroke again. Such a person experiences for a long time, in a lot of instances, stress and that tends to burn him out and put him under at an early age.

Conversely, if we manage to access and use our own resources easily, instead of having to go into an emergency mode to get to them — well, adrenaline is fun once in a while, but you don’t want to make a lifetime habit of adrenaline as opposed to just being able to draw on your sources of inspiration directly and comfortably, and make them a useful item.

One of the other areas that you’ve been exploring that intrigues me is what you call it “the oxygen factor,” meaning the relationship between respiration rates and methods of breathing and how these relate to intelligence and overall functioning. Could you expound on that?

Well, if in this conversation I paused for about two minutes, you would be holding your breath waiting for me to speak. What’s happening there, of course, is that you tend to hold your breath while paying attention to a stimulant or waiting for the stimulant to happen. And when you breathe you’re already moving your attention to something else. So your breath acts as a pacemaker for your attention span.

Now, the longer your attention span, the wider and richer your attention field is, and the more time you have to associate consciously, and marginally consciously, the several things perceived in the consciousness field at a given time. The shorter your breathing span, the less time you have for such association. People with the shortest breathing span don’t get to do any of the human kinds of thinking in association; it’s not in their experience. You see hyperactive people, for insatnce. They start to respond to one stimulant, and with their next breath they are already somewhere attending to another stimulant. There is no connection between what they were doing one moment to what they are doing the next. They are all over the place and that drives any normal person up a wall.

The most fundamental issues of how we perceive are think are caught up in this; it’s not just a matter of timing. Tthe timing issue is a critical one for language function, but if your attention span isn’t long enough to take in somebody’s sentence. Whether it’s a sentence you’re reading, or somebody speaking, you breathe and it breaks up the meaning for you. So you don’t get the meaning of the sentence. You don’t get the meaning of what you’re reading. You don’t get the meaning of what the teacher is saying, and so on. It’s so easy to fix by building your breathing span. But, instead, they have these remedial courses that do anything but address the fundamental cause. When students fail to respond to these remediations, somehow it’s the student’s fault, instead of the fault of the school, which hasn’t looked further into the causes and potential remedies. But there are so many different ways that can be used to address this. In fact, there a couple of things that schools do by accident that work, so maybe we shouldn’t mention them, or they might stop it (laughs). But students who play in the band, for example, especially if they play a wind instrument — they may have had a reading problem and it might have started with an apparent learning deficiency in one way or another, but for a year or more of palying their insytrument that deficiency often disappears somehow. The fact that is does is usually credited to normal maturation. The fellow must be a late bloomer or something. Likewise, people who have sung in the school chorus or the church choir on a regular basis — I’m going to say for a year or more — their problems also tend to disappear, and again it’s credited to maturation or just that they are late bloomers.

There are a number of activities, such as prana yoga, for example, that are excellent ways to lengthen the breathing span. An even more excellent way, though, is what we recommend, because of several other factors that are also brought into play, and that is held-breath, underwater swimming. The held-breath practice is one way of lengthening the breathing span, but in addition to that, the act of being under water expands more circulation to the brain physically. It’s part of the mammalian diving response. All mammals have it. If they go under water, they get more circulation to the brain, and it’s part of the survival mechanism. This reinforces an effect all ready underway if you have held-breath, period, and that is the carbon dioxide effect, which expands the carotid arteries which are supplying oxygen to your brain. The more carbon dioxide you have in the blood stream at a given time, the wider your carotid arteriess open to make sure that the oxygen supply is kept up to the brain. If you do that over a fairly compact, intense period, the carotids don’t have time to go all the way back to where they were before. This results in an instrumental stretching of the carotid so that you get a permanent increase of circulation of oxygen to the brain. So that’s why we recommend the held-breath under water swimming.

In addition to that permanent increase, will the respiratory rate automatically start to adjust itself, as well?

Of course. Anybody who follows our recommended held-breath underwater swimming program finds that in a week their chest circumference has increased about an inch, and then by another inch the following week. Anyone that goes through our recommended program for held-breath underwater swimming, logging in a half hour to an hour of accumulated time under water a day for two or three weeks is going to gain approximately an inch per week around their chest circumference. Of course, this looks good cosmetically speaking, it looks physically good, so maybe some people might be motivated to do it for that reason, if they aren’t smart enough to figure that it would be advantageous to improving their intelligence.

I’d like to wrap the interview up with a discussion of two areas. One, I’d like you to talk about Project Renaissance and what your aims and goals are for it, including a bit about its history, and what it actually offers. And, then I’d like you to discuss the potential implications and benefits that you think will occur globally as your methods and trainings start to reach a wider audience.

Well, let’s see if I can come at this from the scenic route. When I was a kid I got into the study of civilization theory. I was reading Toynbee and some of the other good guys from early on, and as a result, both professionally and personally, for at least fifty some odd years, I’ve been pursuing the subject of why civilizations rise and fall and do the strange things that they do. Ours is one of them, of course, and the thing of concern has been that nearly every civilization has literally done itself in. And often by a processes that resemble somewhat what we have going around us today. There is some basis for concern. I’ve written my own books on the civilization theory, and books on systems theory, which extends some of that work, and so on. There are a lot of theories and some of them are pretty good as to why civilizations do this. But there turn out, at a very naive level, let’s say, a simple way of describing what happens. Which is that with each civilization people let problems pile up faster than they were solving them, until the whole civilization goes under. That sounds terribly naive, and it is, but correspondingly, if somehow you can improve people’s ability to deal with the problems that are around, then you would improve the prognosis for the particular situation or civilization.

In addition to my ongoing interest in civilization theory, for the last thirty years or so I’ve been very much interested in techniques of problem solving, and as it turns out a lot of work that we do in terms of intelligence building also relates to the work we do, or is actually an aspect of the work we do, in terms of improving the ability to solve problems. There are hundreds of systems and techniques for solving problems effectively, and we’ve developed an overview of what makes them work and we use that to generate still more and still better techniques for solving problems and for getting at our own inner resources, which is pretty much where all of this has come from. The theme, the thesis, the theory behind Project Renaissance is that, if we can get enough different people on top of their own situations, so that they are more able to solve their own problems or the problems they find around them, this will increase over time the chances that the problems of general concern will also get solved. The more we can enable people to improve their own situations and solve the problems around them, the better off all of us will become.

So that’s our objective in Project Renaissance — to equip more and more people with better access to their own resources, and with better and better ability to get on top of their situations and resolve their issues and problems, and to understand whatever situation are going on around them that they find themselves involved with. That’s the focus of Project Renaissance.

What are the specific offerings that Project Renaissance makes available to people and organizations?

Well, I think I’m going to put at top of the list two sections that we are constructing on our website, One section will contain 101 of the world’s best problem-solving techniques. We already have a dozen of them up. These are spelled out in step-by-step, easy to follow, specific directions, and this section of the website will ultimately offer a wide variety of techniques which have been shown to consistently and effectively enable anyone to discover ingenious solutions to whatever kinds of problems they may be faced with. Right now, as I said, the first dozen of these are up on the site under the CPS (creative problem-solving) techniques section.

The second will offer 101 of the world’s best ways to improve teaching and learning. And we’ve already got a dozen or more that are scattered over a few sites now that we’re going to place either, or at, which right now is posting perhaps the majority of our accelerated techniques on the Web. These resources are free and available to anybody who can get to the Internet and wants to deal with their own situations, and are intended to become world resources, as well. In addition, developers of other programs who are willing to participate can have their best methods reviewed by us and, if they qualify, we will put up links back to those programs from this online world reference center. I think this is a service on several levels, and is a little beyond what people expect at the present. And I think it may have some significance as more people find out about this and start using these procedures that are so freely available.

The, of course, are all the books that we’ve put out, which allow explore some of the methods and some of the systems of methods in much greater detail and depth. We are also starting a new cycle of producing audio tapes and CD’s. With Nightingale-Conant, we’ve just released a new system of audio tapes based on The Einstein Factor, and we are currently working with Learning Strategies to produce a new course that combines their set of technologies with those of Project Renaissance. The working title of that is The Genius Code, and it will probably be out next spring. And now that we’ve steered in that direction again, we’ve got a whole bunch of other tapes we plan also to be making in the next year or so.

Then we have our professional training courses and an increasing number of trainers who provide these courses. And we’ve just devised a new program that will be easy to teach. We’ve always been pushing the limits and it’s been kind of hard for trainers to pick up on the things that we’re doing and actually deliver the resources we’ve been pressing for, so I devised now a program that will be very easy for trainers to teach. We’ll still have quality control. We want to train the trainers and see how they’re doing it, but it’ll be much easier for them to handle and deliver an extremely high quality result. So I’m are very happy to have this.

Thus far, give me a sense of what strata of society has partaken in the course offerings of Project Renaissance.

Well, possibly because of their personal proclivity, a fairly high incidence of our participants have been professionals and educated people — educators, students, clinicians of one sort or another, businessmen, and so forth. We want to broaden our outreach and include a lot more of those people who seem to be needing it more.

What about where it’s probably most needed, the educational system itself; what sort of receptivity are you getting from that sector?

That, unfortunately, is not very aggressive. The same pressures that got the school system so dysfunctional in the first place are still there. The structure of the school system can accept window dressing type of changes, which everybody can get excited over, but which don’t do much. But it can’t accept any really fundamental improvements, at least have the debate. The system, in fact, has gone to rather extraordinary lengths from time to time to prevent research from being done that would demonstrate where significant changes could be made. I’ve seen doctoral dissertations radically changed or scrapped at the very last minute that dealt some of that. I’ve had direct experience myself with this. Not with the doctoral dissertation, of course, which is long behind me, but I had a study set up with George Washington University here in the D.C. area where we were going to process a bunch of people through workshop. We planned to take I.Q. measurements before and after, and it was already being set up to be in their communtiy extension program. But elsewhere in the University, tremendous pressure was brought to bear by parties I won’t name who threatened the entire community extension educational system of the University with shut downs if they persisted in having such a study. The quote that came back to me was, “You can’t increase human intelligence, and furthermore you can’t do it here.”

So basically what you’re facing is bureaucracies protecting their fiefdom.

Absolutely, and it’s not going to be easy to overcome right now, but is about to be overcome anyway. As you know, distance learning has gotten popular in some quarters, but it has certain drawbacks. Only a very few people finish the courses they started on in distance learning, and they have limited usefulness from what they learned in the distance learning, and the reasons for that primarily are that the screen and keyboard are way too narrow a contact. You learn in that context, if it’s too narrow a bandwidth in that context, it’s very hard to transfer learning over to where it will be useful in other situations. What has been observed by some of the purveyors of distance learning for the last thirty years, at least, is that where you have a couple of students together at the same terminal, even though it’s not supposed to be that way, their scores go up, their performance goes up, and they are much more likely to complete the course and go on.

But this wasn’t where the purveyors were looking. Because, for one thing, they feel it’s easier if it’s only one learner per terminal because that means more terminals. At least that’s their way of thinking. But it’s obvious that if you have multiple students per terminal, and you gear your instruction so that it allow the students to interact in pairs or buzz groups at point to point within the instruction, you broaden that learning context and you get most of the benefits of good classroom instruction. Sooner or later this is going to be discovered by major purveyors of distance learning. What will happen at that point is being foreshadowed by the moves we are already seeing to create a free Internet university, meaning that the best that’s available anywhere will be available everywhere for free. $100 million has already been poured into the system that is supposed to be being built for that. But what it doesn’t have yet, of course, is what I just mentioned, which is the set up of multiple students per terminal or station, and cueing their interaction as part of the instruction. But sooner or later, and I think sooner, that’s going to happen. And when it happens, who is going to pay tuition, and who is going to pay taxes for a school system, that’s doing what it is doing now, when they can have the best that’s available anywhere in the world for free? That’s what’s facing schools, and when it does hit, it’s going to be considerably dislocative I’ve put up on my website instructions for how schools and individual teachers can survive this and actually to build to advantage when the time comes. It’s called The Future of Education and is available on But I don’t know if many educators are going to see it before the crunch actually hits. But how are the schools and teachers going to survive on anything like the present basis when the best learning and teaching that is available anywhere in the world becomes available on the Internet for free? Whether it’s a matter of months of a few years — I won’t speculate as to an exact date — eventually this is going to occur, and at that point schools that have not started making substantial improvements are going to be in severe trouble.

The levels that will be in the most trouble will be the high schools and the undergraduate colleges. The graduate schools are under somewhat different circumstances, and in elementary schools kids require so some supervision that it’s probably something the Internet won’t able to provide for perhaps another thirty or forty years. What will also be appreciative will be the huge employment opportunity that will opened up when this distance learning makes that connection vis-a-vis multiple students per terminal or station, and cued interaction within the buzz groups. Because there will be an enormous demand for this type of instruction and a huge employment opportunity which will last maybe two or three years. And people who have done something with it will be in great shape. And the people who tried to hang on to the old ways are going to have to find something else to do.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention that we haven’t touched on?

Yes, and that is that Image Streaming is only one of many, many, many possible ways to engender the basic human dynamic of picking up several awarenesses and responding to your own awarenesses, and thereby reinforcing both of those particular awarenesses and reinforcing those other parts of the brain where those awarenesses arose into where you’re conscious from. And it’s also only one of many, many ways of bridging different regions of the brain together so that the intelligence from one area is available to the functions of the others and vice versa. In fact, Image Streaming is only one of the ways of working with imagery to get some of these effects, although it is probably going to remain among our top recommendations for a long time to come because whatever areas of the brain need to find expression and linking into the conscious will in fact do so if allowed to do so through undirected image streaming, whereas, with images directed or targeted exclusively at problem-solving or some form of accelerated learning, other areas of the brain that are not included in that particular pattern and therefore might not find expression.

But my most heartfelt observation to the world during these interesting times would be: Hear one another out. Draw each other out. And when it’s your turn to be speaking, pay far more attention to what you are actually perceiving than to what you know. And don’t repeat yourself much. The universe is infinite, and by attending your own perceptions, you too are infinite. So is that person you are drawing out. Even the least of us is a window on God, whatever your definition.

This is more than just a sentiment. It is more than just Project Renaissance’s belief that this marks the main path to a more fully human future. Its case is substantially made by the Feed-the-Loop-Theory and model the Mutual Lives/Scoratic thesis which can be found on our website. [ and, respectively.]


Imaging Streaming: A Powerful Technique for Discovering Answers, Increasing Awareness, and Raising IQ

“The process of Image Streaming draws on the deeper, subconscious powers of the mind to solve problems, increase creativity, and enhance understanding,” Dr. Wenger explains. “The greater part of our information and experiences is stored in our brain, not in words but in sensory images. In fact, eighty percent of the brain is involved with handling these richer, more immediate visual responses. It is your ability to receive and interpret these visual insights that provides your best available, ingenious, most creative answers.

“Image Streaming relies on an inner reflex that sorts through all the visual, sensory data in our unconscious and relates it, seemingly instantly, to whatever is going on with us at any given moment (our ‘context’). Using Image Streaming techniques we capture and focus these data. Then, by interpreting and

integrating such image-response data with our conscious thoughts, we build balance, improve our intellectual and observational strengths, and tap into creative problem-solving. These images are always there, every time. And Image Streaming provides immediate, reliable inspiration.”

The basic step-by-step way to use Image Streaming is as follows:

1. The Question: Ask yourself a question.

2. Start the Image Stream: Have a live listener or tape recorder with you. Sit back, relax, close your eyes, and describe aloud whatever images suggest themselves. Go with your first, immediate impressions and describe them aloud, rapid-flow, in sensory detail. More free images will then emerge. Notice when the scene changes or other images emerge, and describe these, as well.

It’s important to describe aloud, to bring the mind’s images into conscious awareness, no matter how unrelated the images may at first appear. This process helps bridge the separate regions of the brain.

“Let yourself be surprised by what your images reveal to you,” Dr. Wenger advises. “The more surprising, the more likely that you’re getting fresh input from your subtler, more comprehensive and more accurate faculties.”

3. Feature-Questioning: Pick out some one feature-a wall, a tree or bush, whatever’s there. Imagine laying a hand on that feature and studying its feel (and describing that feel), to strengthen your contact with the experience. Ask that rock or bush or wall “Why are you here as part of my answer?” See if the imagery changes when you ask that question. Describe the changes.

4. Inductive Inference: Once you’ve run out of a set of images, thank your Image Streaming faculties for showing you this answer. Ask their help in understanding the messages in your images. They are often symbolic.

Do it this way: Image-Stream again, with entirely different images which nonetheless somehow are still giving you the same answer to the same question. After two or three minutes of this new imagery, repeat this step to get a third set of images, each different, yet each showing you the same answer in a different way.

5. What’s the Same? Examine whatever’s the same among the several sets of images when all else is different. These themes or elements-in-common are your core answer or message.

6. Relate: Go back to your original question and determine in what way or ways these core elements are the answer to your question.

7. Debrief: Summarize this whole experience either to another person (directly or by telephone) or to a notebook or computer. This change of medium, and change of feedbacks, should add further to your understanding.

Follow-up Questions

You might want to verify your responses with questions such as these:

“How can I make sure that I’m on the right track with this understanding of the question?” (You should get back either a way to test and verify, or a reminder of real-time data or experiences which demonstrate that this is the right answer to be working with.)

“What more do I need to know in this context?”

“What’s a good, practical, concrete first step to acting upon this understanding?”

Enhancing Your Imaging

“Many of us, told by parents or teachers to ‘stop daydreaming,’

pushed our visualization abilities out of sight, but they’re still there, and can be called up by easy and fun techniques,” Dr. Wenger says. “These techniques have been proven to work for virtually everyone who gave them an honest effort.

They work best if you have a helper, or listener, who can watch your ‘attention cues,’ such as changes in your breathing patterns or eye movement beneath closed lids, and prompt you to describe what you see.”

Examples of these techniques include:

After-Imaging: Stare at a bright (but not blinding) light for half a minute, then close your eyes. Describe that after-image. Continue describing it as it begins to change.

Worth Describing: Even if you don’t get clear images, you may get blobs of color, lines or patterns. Describe those, rapidly and in detail. If this does not lead to images, look beyond the colors, patterns, etc., as if they were a screen, and describe whatever impressions you receive.

Phosphenes: Gently rub your closed eyes like a sleepy child. Leave them closed, and describe the light-and-color blips which result. Keep on describing as they change.

Door: Imagine you are before a closed door. Tell how this door looks, then how it feels to your hand when you touch it. Then suddenly fling open the door to catch by surprise whatever is behind it. Describe immediately your first impression of what is or might have been behind the door. “This technique is excellent for finding the answer to a question,” Dr. Wenger says. “While standing before the closed door, pose your question. The more unexpected the content of the imagery, the better your chances of getting sensitive, fresh new perspectives and insights.

Regardless of which specific technique you choose, the key element is to observe closely your subtlest, most sensitive perceptions and, while examining them, to develop those perceptions fully into focus by describing them aloud to someone.


Project Renaissance

P.O. Box 332

Gaithersburg, Maryland 20884

(301) 948-1122


The Innovation Center


The Innovation Center is an online community overseen by a group of people, including Dr. Wenger, who desire to share new ideas, approaches, results, and creatively expand possibilities and innovation, and who are committed to key foundational principles that honor the human spirit.

By Dr. Wenger

(Note: a complete list of Dr. Wenger’s books and tapes can be found at

Beyond O.K.: Psychogenic Tools Relating to Health of Body and Mind. (Psychogenic Press, 1979).

The Einstein Factor: A Proven New Method for Increasing Your Intelligence (Prima Publishing, 1996) (With Richard Poe)

The Einstein Factor (tape set) (Nightingale-Conant, 2000)

Beyond Teaching and Learning, 2nd Edition (Psychogenics Press, 1986)

Discovering the Obvious (Psychogenics Press, 1999)

E-books (both available for free at

You Are Brighter Than You Think

Two Guaranteed Ways to Profoundly Improve your Intelligence

The Purpose of Medicine and the Seven Levels of Healing–An Interview with Jeremy Geffen, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Dr. Jeremy Geffen is a board-certified medical oncologist, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine and oncology, and executive director of the Geffen Cancer Center and Research Institute in Vero Beach, Florida, which he founded in 1994. Dr. Geffen is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University, and received his MD with honors from New York University School of Medicine. He completed residency training in internal medicine at the University of California at San Diego Medical Center and fellowship training in hematology and oncology at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. In 1995 he was elected a Fellow in the American College of Physicians.

In addition to his numerous professional accomplishments, which include research awards from the National Cancer Institute and the Cancer Research Coordinating Committee of the University of California, Dr. Geffen has traveled extensively, and has spent over twenty-five years exploring the spiritual and healing traditions of the East, including Ayurveda, Tibetan Medicine, yoga, meditation, and other approaches to self-awareness.

Based on his own spiritual experiences and his work with thousands of cancer patients and their families and loved ones, Dr. Geffen discovered that all people who seek a deep healing of the “whole person” inevitably progress through seven areas of interrelated inquiry and exploration, which he calls ‟The Seven Levels of Healing.” Helping patients and their loved ones journey through each of these levels is at the heart of the comprehensive cancer care the Geffen Center provides.

With cancer poised to overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States, Dr. Geffen’s Center serves as a model of where cancer care must go if we are to effectively meet the challenges the illness presents. But his seven level program is not limited to cancer patients alone, serving as it does as a “road map” through any serious illness or life challenge, and pointing us to our ultimate spiritual destiny.

In your book The Journey Through Cancer you talk about the relative and the ultimate purpose of medicine. Explain what you mean by that.

Over many years of working with cancer patients and their loved ones, and also over many years of doing my best to understand what the great spiritual and healing traditions of the East are trying to teach us, it became very clear to me that medicine has a relative purpose and an ultimate purpose. In our Western culture there is an accepted but unspoken consensus, I believe, about what the purpose of medicine is. That unspoken consensus has to do with what I would call the relative purpose of medicine.

What I mean by that is that in Western culture the aim and the focus of medicine is to “fix the problem” — to try to relieve symptoms and cure disease. An extension of that is to extend life as much as possible. These are worthy goals, but the overwhelming emphasis is on the physical dimensions of life and health. That’s the Western model. Stated another way, the currently accepted fundamental aim of Western medicine is to try to return patients to the state that they were in before the onset of their disease, or before they became aware that they had a problem. As a corollary to this, in our culture this should be accomplished with the least amount of input, effort, expense, and responsibility on the part of everyone involved — including patients and physicians.

Let’s use the example of a woman with breast cancer. The goal of Western medicine is to remove and cure the disease with the least amount of effort, expense, and input from everybody involved, and to do everything possible to return that woman to her prior state as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The same thing is true for diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, or virtually any other illness. And the idea here is that everyone should have the least amount of personal responsibility for what is going on with their health. The emphasis is on the drugs, or surgery, or whatever other technologies might be brought to bear on the problem. Those are what make the difference — not the patient, or the physician, or some aspect of their interaction. As a matter of fact, the more objective, scientific, and impersonal we can make it, the better.

This is the current state of affairs, with all of its blessings — and all of its limitations. It is very interesting to see how the entire Western medical establishment has been built out of this underlying philosophy over the last two to three hundred years. The most extreme example of this today, of course, is HMO’s, where everything is stripped down to the barest of bones. This model advocates the lowest common denominator with respect to personal responsibility on the part of the patient, or to depth and continuity in the doctor/patient relationship. Here, doctors are reduced to the role of mechanics — even more than they are in other arenas of mainstream medicine. They are pressured to see people in fifteen-minute slots, in the most efficient, cost-effective ways possible, and long-term, personal relationships are minimized. In this kind of setting, doctors are rarely able to deal with more than the most superficial, physical aspects of a patient’s problems. Symptoms are dealt with almost as if patients are machines, like cars that need to have their oil changed or their spark plugs replaced. It is very sad. Fortunately, though, I think we are finally beginning to realize how flawed an approach this is.

Nonetheless, it is important to recognize that this kind of mechanical approach is an outer expression of an underlying philosophy and belief about what we as a culture actually value and want from medicine. And all of this relates to the relative purpose — which is, once again, to “fix the problem” as efficiently as possible, and with the least amount of input and personal responsibility on the part of everyone involved. This approach is not intrinsically bad, or wrong, but you don’t have to live very long before you begin to see its limitations, and they are quite numerous. First of all, despite all of the technologies that we have, it’s clear that we haven’t even begun to cure most diseases.

Not only that, but the incidence of chronic disease in this country is rising every year, it seems. And obviously health costs are.

Right, exactly. So right off the bat, if you are intellectually honest, you realize there is a major problem with this model. Even with all of its amazing technologies, modern medicine still can’t even remotely fix all of the illnesses that people have. The second problem with this model is that even when there is a particular problem that can be fixed, quite often it still doesn’t make the person happy, joyful, productive, or fulfilled.

A third problem is that even if the problem does appear to be fixed, the solution is usually only temporary. It is usually only a matter of time before a new problem appears. This occurs for a variety of reasons. One reason may be that we’ve not addressed the root cause of the problem in the first place. Many aspects of our culture and our lifestyles, for example, predispose people to tremendous stress and ongoing health challenges. Furthermore, by definition we live in an impermanent universe. Everything is changing, all the time. So you may get over your heart disease, but then develop diabetes. Or you may get over breast cancer or prostate cancer, but find yourself with arthritis. Or you may be cured of cancer but find yourself adversely affected by treatment-related toxicities. Many men, for example, are cured of prostate cancer but are left impotent and incontinent. Many women are cured of breast cancer but struggle for a long time to feel whole and complete. And many other people are cured of different kinds of cancer but live the rest of their lives in fear that it’s going to come back.

So it’s very clear that this relative purpose, which is focused on “fixing the problem,” as quickly and efficiently as we can, can only take us so far. It’s a flawed approach. The relative purpose is a beautiful, noble, worthy goal — but is fundamentally flawed because it is incomplete. And it is incomplete because it doesn’t even begin to address the deeper needs and concerns of human beings, including the dimensions of mind, heart, and spirit that we all share.

So years ago I started to ask myself, is it possible that there is another, deeper, ultimate, purpose of medicine? Is there something else, something beyond what is commonly offered, that medicine can, and should, be involved in? And if so, what might that be? I started actively searching and, as it turns out, I found some of the clearest, most beautiful, and most inspiring answers to these questions in the spiritual and healing traditions from the East.

When you delve into the teachings of Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine, for example, you quickly find that these traditions talk about life — and medicine — as having a deeper meaning and purpose, beyond the pursuit of physical and material well being. Furthermore, in these traditions medicine is actually regarded as a precious tool, or vehicle, intended to serve human beings in the fulfillment of the deeper purpose of their lives.

This was, for me, a remarkable discovery, and I was deeply moved and inspired. After travelling to India a number of timers, and also to Nepal and Tibet, I began to explore how these ideas could be applied to the context of modern medicine, and modern life — and to my own practice of medicine and oncology. It was here that I soon recognized that medicine really does have an ultimate purpose — in addition to its relative purpose of trying to cure the disease or “fix the problem,” which quite often is simply not possible. This ultimate purpose has to do with helping people discover and experience the deeper meaning and purpose of their lives, and to find a deeper source of fulfillment within themselves, even in the face of illness, uncertainty, impermanence, and death.

I would add that in recent years we’ve begun to see some exciting discussions about integrative forms of medicine and the transformation of health care. While these discussions are very important, they are still incomplete because they are still focused, fundamentally, on how to improve outcomes and results within medicine’s relative purpose.

And it’s primarily focused just on the physical.

Yes. Exactly. The discussion is not addressing medicine’s deeper, ultimate purpose, and certainly not in a coherent way. Let me give you a very strong example. This morning I was called to the hospital to see a 42 year-old woman who was admitted through the emergency room last night with a platelet count of two. Normally, it should be about 200. She’s a very nice woman, with no other significant ailments except for chronic back pain for which she takes over-the-counter pain killers. She is a single mom, and is working two jobs to raise three children on her own. As you could imagine, she has a lot of stress in her life. As a result, she smokes a pack and a half of cigarettes a day, and is a bit overweight. But she is working her heart out every day to make ends meet and take care of her kids.

Yesterday, she showed up in the emergency room with this problem, and the relative purpose of medicine — including all the resources in the machinery of American medicine — was called into massive action. Blood tests, blood cultures, X-rays, anti-platelet antibody titers, platelet transfusions — everything was done to fix the immediate, relative problem, which is to get her platelet count up before she starts to bleed.

Now, in this particular case, which is not that uncommon, we will probably diagnose an underlying immune disorder that will be corrected with steroids. She’ll be sent on her way, and followed until she either disappears or presents with another problem. That is pretty much how medicine of today works — especially if the patient has no health insurance. There will be little or no attention to the circumstances of her life, or the condition of her mind and heart. She won’t receive any support to find a better job, to quit smoking, improve her relationships, or to lose weight — all of which would greatly improve her overall health, and probably her children’s health as well. So it’s probably only a matter of time, as you know, before she’s back in the emergency room with another problem.

Just to show you how absurd the whole medical system can get, let me continue the story. As I was standing in the hallway this morning, finishing up writing a note in this woman’s chart, an elderly patient in a room across the hall collapsed and a code blue was called. This was a 90 year-old man with metastatic lung cancer. Within two minutes of the code blue being called there were physicians, nurses, and pulmonary technologists all rushing to this man’s bedside. CPR was started, IV lines were placed, his heart was shocked, and people were shouting and spilling out of his room into the hallway. It looked just like a scene out of the television program ER, although this was real. Enormous resources were consumed within a very short time as this man was resuscitated, intubated, and transported to the intensive care unit on life support, where he currently is hooked up to a ventilator and numerous monitors, and is receiving numerous medications. And all of this occurred, and is still going on, because no one took the time in advance to help this man accept the fact that he’s dying of lung cancer. No one took the time, or knew how, to help him prepare to let go in a graceful way.

By the end of today you and I and the rest of the country will have spent many thousands of dollars to prolong this man’s life, probably for a very short time. That is not intrinsically bad or wrong, of course. But at the same time we must recognize that the current health care system does not provide any support to help the other patient — a 42 year-old, uninsured single mother with three kids – to get into a weight loss program, to stop smoking, or to deal with her life in a more empowered, effective way. This is a graphic example of how fundamentally flawed and inadequate our health care system is.

I think it is clear that, as a culture, will never begin to fulfill the deeper needs, longings, and aspirations of human beings until we expand our vision of medicine. At the very least, this will include expanding our vision of the relative purpose of medicine to include prevention of illness and promotion of health — rather than focusing all our attention on the diagnosis and treatment of disease. It will also have to include at least some form of basic health coverage for everyone. And it will certainly include the integration of appropriate alternative and complementary therapies into mainstream care. However, I am convinced that there is a bigger, bolder, and even more important step that we must take beyond that — and that is to understand and embrace medicine’s ultimate purpose.

As I see it, the ultimate purpose of medicine is to help people discover something fundamental within themselves. And that is that the true source of well being, joy, and contentment that we all seek lies within one’s own mind and heart — not in the outer world. This is important so we can all begin to be freed from the process of grasping for happiness in the outer world. To support this, we must begin to embrace a more spiritual vision of ourselves, and of humanity as a whole. While providing great love, care, and attention to the physical body, medicine can also help people begin to discover the nonphysical, spiritual dimensions of themselves. When this happens, we can live and work with less fear, stress, and grasping to preserve the physical body at all costs.

For example, a little bit of time and effort spent with this 90 year-old man with metastatic cancer — to help him deal with his inner emotions, help him come to terms with his life, and help him prepare to let go in a graceful way — would have been far less costly to society than what will be spent in the next few days prolonging his life in the intensive care unit. And it would have been much morefulfilling for everybody involved as well, including his wife and children.

There is so much anguish, turmoil, and hysteria that often goes on during these situations, and it has a negative impact on everyone involved. It is very sad, and so unnecessary, in my opinion. Yet this is going on in countless hospitals, emergency rooms, intensive care units, and doctors’ offices right now — all because there is virtually no attempt in our culture to identify and address the ultimate purpose of the care we are providing. While this particular example is admittedly dramatic, it is nonetheless very illustrative of what is actually occurring in medicine today, on a very large scale. When a human being goes to their doctor, or enters a hospital, no one usually stops to ask, “What is our relative purpose here and what is our ultimate purpose? What is our ultimate outcome?”

Talk about the contrast to this that can be found at the Geffen Cancer Center and how you are fulfilling both of those purposes. What distinguishes it from other cancer centers across the country?

Let me answer that by addressing one additional concept that relates directly to medicine’s relative and the ultimate purposes.

One of the other things that I discovered during the years of my own spiritual and professional journeys is that, as human beings, we actually live simultaneously in two worlds — or what I call “the two domains of human existence.”

The first domain is the domain of doing, which relates to everything we do in our lives. This includes our work, our family and social identities, and everything that we do to try to make ourselves happy, and our world better. The domain of doing is generally concerned with making our lives as comfortable as we can. For most people what this really means is trying to fulfill the needs, desires, longings, and expectations of our ego, our identity, and our cultural conditioning. I am not judging this as good or bad, but it’s very clear that living one’s life focused only in this domain rarely leads to genuine happiness. And it never leads to long-term fulfillment because, as we talked about earlier, we live in an impermanent, ever-changing universe. When one problem is solved, it is only a matter of time before a new one appears. When one goal is achieved, it is only a matter of time before a new one shows up, and we’re off to the races again, chasing a new pursuit. This is how life in the domain of doing works. There is constant activity and constant change, characterized above all by the quality of impermanence. Yet despite this enormous and indisputable fact, this is where the relative purpose of medicine — the Western model of medicine — places all of its focus.

Over the years, as I was exploring all these ideas, I discovered there is another domain, which I call the domain of being. This domainlies deep within all of us. It is our spiritual nature, our true essence. It is characterized by silence, stillness, freedom, and love. This is the domain that, throughout history, has been recognized by all of the great spiritual traditions of the world. It has also been given many names, like soul, spirit, nirvana, or the Atman. Or Brahman. Or Buddha Nature. Or Christ Consciousness. Or the Void.

All these wonderful names point to the same reality, which is a transcendent dimension of existence that we’re all a part of, and that on some level is the deepest essence of our true self.

This domain, the domain of being, is where the ultimate purpose of medicine comes into play. One might even say that the ultimate purpose of medicine is to help people to discover, and experience, the domain of pure being within themselves.

That is certainly the philosophical underpinning of Eastern traditions of medicine.

That’s correct, and especially so for Ayurvedic and Tibetan Medicine. Within these traditions, the ultimate purpose of medicine is to support human beings to fulfill the ultimate purpose of their life — which is to discover and know the truth of our existence as pure spirit, or pure consciousness. Or as love, or God, or however you want to describe it. The fact that these traditions recognize and declare this so openly and so clearly is, I think, remarkable and worthy of our attention.

At our Center, we talk openly about these ideas. We discuss and explore at a very deep level what it is that we are trying to accomplish with all of our efforts, all of our hard work. We talk about what we want our patients to experience during their time at the Center, and what we want to experience as well. Everyone on the staff has a working knowledge and understanding of the two domains of human existence, and of the relative and ultimate purposes of medicine. And we’ve worked hard to consciously and intentionally create a very special environment, or context, for our patients and ourselves — one that supports the fulfillment of both the relative and ultimate purposes of medicine, and that honors and respects the two domains of doing and being.

My staff and I accomplish this in a number of very practical and specific ways. First of all, we meet as a team twice a day — briefly in the morning and at the end of the day. We also have a weekly staff meeting that begins with a period of silent meditation. This is very important, and is intended explicitly to support us as an organization to be in touch with the domain of being in ourselves, and in each other. It helps everyone calm down before we talk, so we can listen better and actually hear each other speak. It puts us back in touch with what we value the most, which is the heart, kindness, compassion, and love. This is the philosophy that permeates everything that we do, very consciously, and intentionally.

We also have a set of core beliefs that are very well defined. For example, one core belief is that the interaction that our patients have with every staff member is just as important as the interaction that they have with the physician. This one belief alone helps create a very different kind of experience for our patients and their families. In addition to our Vision Statement, we also have a set of agreements that we created over many years to support open, honest, and supportive communications among the staff members. And we have a seven level program which explicitly guides patients and their loved ones on their own journey from the domain of doing to the domain of being, and which helps them focus on fulfilling the ultimate as well as the relative purpose of medicine in their lives.

It’s been my experience that when people are diagnosed with cancer the first and foremost concern that comes up is finding a way to stop it, and it’s usually motivated by fear. When patients come to the Center, how open are they initially to what you are offering, and what you’re talking about in terms of both of these domains?

We have a mixed population of patients. Some come to the Center because of our reputation for providing meticulous, state-of-the-art conventional medical care. Quite frankly, they’re not interested in transformation or awakening of any kind. They just want us to fix them, if at all possible, and as quickly and easily as possible. They want the relative purpose of medicine only, and that’s okay. We welcome such patients, and recognize that everyone is on their own journey. We don’t proselytize or insist that people go outside of the realm of their own interests to explore the deeper dimensions of healing, or the deeper dimensions of themselves. We accept people where they are, and try to love and help them as much as we can.

But we also have another population of patients who come here explicitly because they want to go deeper. They want more than what mainstream medicine currently offers. And they want to be treated in an environment that openly embraces all the dimensions of who they are as human beings — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually — while also providing them with the highest-quality conventional medical care available.

One of the most important things that I’ve learned through this work is that the context in which patients are treated is often as important as the medical care they receive itself. While we certainly have a physical dimension to ourselves, we also have nonphysical dimensions — our mind, heart, and spirit — and these are deeply affected by the quality of interactions that we have with others. This is especially true when facing a serious illness. Thus, these kinds of interactions are not of secondary importance. I believe they are often of equal importance to the specific treatment being offered. So everyone in our Center is consciously tuned into these ideas, and to providing supportive, compassionate, and loving care — in a conscious way. And there is no question that patients — and their loved ones as well — respond visibly to being treated in this kind of environment.

Although I don’t have the data to prove it yet, I believe that many patients actually live longer as a result. They certainly live better, but I also believe they often live longer when embraced and cared for in this kind of warm, supportive, loving environment — which we are creating consciously, and with our full intention. I see it affect their physiology, often in dramatically positive ways, which has an impact beyond just making them and everyone else feel good. And we’re exploring ways of trying to measure and document these effects scientifically.

Another distinguishing characteristic of your Center is the attention given to what you call The Seven Levels of Healing. Describe these levels and how they are addressed in terms of patient care.

The Seven Levels of Healing Program was born in a very organic way, out of years of working with people with cancer and listening to the needs, questions, and concerns that they were dealing with. I really wanted to know and understand what it would take to help someone heal and transform in the face of cancer. Not just superficially, but at the deepest levels of their body, mind, heart, and spirit. So I listened carefully to the fears, questions, and concerns people had, and I began to see a pattern emerging. I saw quite clearly that all of the questions and concerns encountered by human beings on their journey through cancer, or any other significant life challenge, fall into one of seven interwoven, but distinct areas — or what I call the “seven levels.” I remember the moment when I saw the whole pattern. It happened early one morning. Like an epiphany, I saw the full vision of the program in front of me. I jumped out of bed and grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and wrote the outline of the entire program in twenty minutes — and it hasn’t changed since then. I went into my office the next day and showed it to my nurse. We started fleshing out the details, and soon I started sharing it with patients and asking them for feedback. Universally, the response was, “Yes, this makes perfect sense. I wish I had known and understood this before.”

The program works very much like giving people a clear map when they’re lost in a jungle — which is often how it feels when dealing with cancer, or other significant life challenges. So imagine you are lost in a jungle and somebody hands you a map and says, “Here are the seven major areas of this jungle. Here are the seven mountains that you’re trying to climb. And here is exactly how you can navigate through them.” Once you see this clearly, your whole experience changes — instantly. Just understanding what you are dealing with shifts your entire perspective, at the very least because you now know where to put your focus, and how to proceed in the most effective ways possible.

I want to emphasize that the entire seven level program is built on a foundation of state-of-the-art conventional medicine. I believe very strongly that that’s the foundation upon which a new vision of medicine must be built. Clearly, as we’ve discussed, Western medicine has significant limitations. But it also has extraordinary strengths, and they are improving all the time. In many important ways, those strengths are unsurpassed by any other medical tradition from around the world, even though they are clearly not the end-all and be-all of healing.

Level One of the program is called Education and Information. We begin here for two reasons. As you accurately pointed out, when people are diagnosed with cancer the usual initial response is a wave of fear, followed by an avalanche of questions: “What is this diagnosis? How did I get it? What do I need to do? Do I need a second opinion? Will I need surgery? Am I going to lose my job? Will I need chemotherapy? Will my hair fall out?” And on and on and on. So we begin with education and information because until people have coherent answers to these and other questions, they can’t relax enough to get the most benefit from their treatment.

Secondly, until their minds, doubts, and fears are adequately calmed and quieted down they can’t relax enough to begin to explore the deeper dimensions of healing.

We recognize that every person has a need for certainty, and a need for a basic amount of information about their illness and treatment. It is important to point out, though, that some people only want a minimal amount of information, while others have a voracious informational need and aren’t satisfied until they’ve read everything they can get their hands on. Either is okay. We just need to know whom we’re dealing with so we can best support them, as an individual, and provide them with the information they want until they can honestly say, “I now feel confident in the treatment I’m receiving.” When that happens people are able to relax enough to then ask, “Okay, what’s next? What more can I do? How can I go deeper?”

That leads us into Level Two, which is called Psychosocial Support or Connection with Others. This level of the program is based on the notion that connection with others lies at the heart of healing. No man or woman is an island; we all need and rely on the help and support of others. This is a very important point, because science has clearly demonstrated that social isolation is a risk factor for mortality, not only from cancer, but from all illnesses. It’s important that we as physicians make sure that our patients have a support network to help guide them through whatever type of illness they may be faced with. This is the focus of Level Two, and we accomplish this in a variety of ways, including support groups and other programs. There are, of course, dozens of studies documenting the benefits of support in improving quality of life. And a small number of studies have suggested that these psychosocial interventions may prolong survival, as well. That question is currently being examined in larger studies around the country.

Tied into this was something that really struck me in your book, which is the fact that you are not only providing this psychosocial support for your patients, but also for their families and loved ones. That’s something that is generally not considered in the traditional health care setting, particularly an HMO.

You are correct, it is usually not a priority at all. The focus in Western medicine has historically been on the disease, not on the person who has the disease — let alone the people who they love and care about, or who care about them. Fortunately, though, in recent years a growing number of cancer centers in particular are finally beginning to recognize the need and value of dealing with patients in the context of their family. And many cancer centers, without labeling it in this way, have begun offering Level One and Level Two programs. A few are even beginning to venture slowly into Level Three. On the hierarchy of human needs, these initial levels address the basic survival issues, so it makes sense that cancer centers would focus on them first. But regarding the involvement of the family as being of genuine importance is not yet part of the fabric of Western medical culture as a whole. The emphasis is still, overwhelmingly, on making the right diagnosis and prescribing the right drug. Everything else is secondary. This has to change in order for a new vision of medicine to be born, and to flourish.

Based on the stories you share in your book, the attention patients and their families receive in Level Two seems to empower them to better understand what their respective roles are, and also to understand their respective limitations. Obviously the impulse on the part of family members and loved ones is to try to do anything and everything for the patient, yet, at the same time, to feel frustrated if some of the things that are being offered or presented are not actually accepted.

That’s correct, and it’s a very human and understandable response. It is also especially frustrating when you have a deeply held belief or conviction that what you are suggesting might help, even though you don’t have any proof that it will. Dealing with this effectively becomes a question of developing self-awareness. This can be challenging, especially with cancer, because it evokes so many emotions. Not only in the patients, but in their family members as well. Everyone involved can experience intense feelings of fear, remorse, guilt, frustration, concern, and confusion — all of which are real, understandable, and very common.

This actually leads us into a discussion of Level Three — The Body as Garden. Here we explore the whole universe of alternative and complementary therapies, and ask which of these therapies might improve our condition, and the quality of our experience, on every level. In Level Three we also explore the role of diet, nutrition, exercise, yoga, relaxation, and guided imagery, and many other kinds of healing practices, as ways of positively impacting the journey. It is important to emphasize that, at the present time, there is very little reliable evidence that specific diets or alternative or complementary therapies of any kind prolong survival in dealing with cancer. But there is a large and growing body of data that shows how such therapies can profoundly and positively impact quality of life, in numerous important and meaningful ways.

At our Center, we use conventional treatments to deal with the cancer, particularly when there is a well-documented, proven, and definable benefit that can be derived from them. But we also utilize a wide array of complementary therapies to help people feel better along the way. These therapies can help minimize treatment-related toxicities; help patients be able to receive their treatment on time; and help them to sleep better, have better nutrition, and have an improved sense of well being on all levels.

To support this process, I invite people to begin thinking about their body as a precious garden that can be loved, nurtured, and cared for – rather than as a machine that is simply to be “fixed” by the doctor. I love this metaphor, for many reasons. First of all, because it’s beautiful and inspiring. Second, it empowers individuals to play a central, active role in their own healing. And third, it is actually much closer to the truth of who we are than the notion that we are a machine. As we discussed earlier, in our culture people really do tend to think of their bodies as a machine, and doctors as mechanics. They quite literally go to the doctor with breast cancer as if they’re bringing in their car and saying, “Here, you fix it.” And as we’ve seen, this approach has many serious limitations.

Also tied into this is the metaphor of “the war on cancer,” which I don’t feel is an empowering metaphor at all.

It’s terribly disempowering. The whole war mentality is filled with violent undertones, which is antithetical to true healing. The language of war also defines people as victors and victims, and these definitions are not only limiting, but often are just not accurate. The language of the military also contains euphemistic phrases which are fundamentally dishonest. For example, when bombs are dropped and civilians are killed it is called “collateral damage.” And we don’t talk about bombing villages and towns or cities, we talk about the “theater of operation.” Such sterilizing language dissociates people from the reality of what is actually happening. In a similar way, thinking of cancer as a war distracts people from seeing many important aspects of what is actually going on in the whole process. Overall, I think it is a very destructive metaphor. So I’ve tried to come up with a new language. I prefer to see cancer, and healing, as a journey, rather than a war. Here, the physician is a guide or a gardener, rather than a mechanic. And the body is a garden, rather than a machine.

Talk about some of the complementary therapies that you do use at the Center. I’m specifically curious about how and for what purpose you would employ acupuncture, chiropractic, and homeopathy.

We have an acupuncturist on our staff, and I encourage many of my patients to explore acupuncture as part of their overall treatment plan. There are a number of proven benefits for acupuncture that are now well established, most notably its effectiveness in treating chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. It can also help patients who are fatigued or feeling generally run down. Fatigue is the most common complaint among all cancer patients, so this is not a trivial point. I have found that acupuncture can be a tremendously effective adjunct to a variety of other therapies that can help improve energy level, because it can mobilize and enhance the flow of the natural healing energy in our body, called Qi (“chee”) in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

What about chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a modality that I’m a great fan of because it can be very effective in relieving neck, back, and shoulder pain, which many of us have because of stress. When done properly and carefully, it can also improve many of the physiologic processes of the body. It does this by freeing up the flow of impulses through the nervous system — specifically through nerves exiting from the spinal cord. These nerves innervate the vital organs of the body and regulate the functions of breathing, digestion, motion and activity, and many other physiologic processes that we need to be alive and healthy. So chiropractic can be a very powerful technology. At the same time, though, it has to be done with great care with people with cancer, because cancer patients can have tumors that spread into their bones. You have to be very careful to be sure that you’re not adjusting, let’s say, the neck or back of someone who has pain from cancer that may be because of metastatic disease to the bone. That could be very dangerous.

In other words, before a patient with cancer would be advised to have chiropractic treatment, he or she should have the chiropractor consult the oncologist and vice versa.


What about homeopathy?

Homeopathy is one of the great mysteries in medicine and healing, and is highly controversial. Many, many people, however, swear that it benefits them personally. There are a number of theories about how it might work, yet they don’t fit the prevailing models of science and medicine from a standard, Western standpoint. No one in traditional biology or physiology can tell you how it works. You have to get into some very esoteric ideas of quantum mechanics, for example, to develop scientific theories about how it might work. And yet many people claim that it does.

I have been a beneficiary of it, so I would fall into that camp. I think part of the problem is that the conventional researchers are looking at it from a biochemical paradigm, and I think it really works from a bioenergetic perspective.

That’s right. But if you’re going to get into a bioenergetic perspective, you have to get into subtle energy fields and quantum electrodynamics, and these ideas haven’t yet found a home in Western medicine. Having said that, I’ve had patients who have benefited tremendously from homeopathy. Again, conventional medicine doesn’t even remotely have pills and solutions for every symptom and illness that human beings experience. Neither does alternative and complementary medicine. However, I’ve had patients who had nausea that was unrelieved by any of the powerful anti-nausea medications that are now available, and who also didn’t respond to acupuncture, herbs, or a variety of other interventions. But when some of these patients received just one or two doses of a homeopathic remedy, they immediately felt better.

Homeopathy can also be useful for people who have trouble sleeping, or who have poor digestion, or irregular menstrual periods, or many other challenges. It’s a mystery, but it does seem to work wonders for some people. An equally important benefit of homeopathy, in my opinion, is that good homeopaths spend a lot of time talking with their patients, and the significance of this should not be understated. There is no question that a profound healing benefit can occur in a genuinely loving, caring interaction between a homeopath and his or her patient, during both the initial evaluation and follow up sessions.

Let’s talk about Levels Four and Five.

The movement from Level Three to Level Four is a big step, for several reasons. First and foremost, it begins a major transition in focus. Specifically, in Levels One, Two, and Three, one’s focus is directed into the external world. In Level One, for example, we’re reading books and articles, going to classes, or looking on the Internet. We’re gathering information from the outside to make decisions about our care. In Level Two, we’re looking outside of ourselves for support and connection with others. In Level Three, we’re looking to the world of alternative and complementary therapies, which also lie outside us.

In Level Four, Emotional Healing, the focus begins to shift inwardly. Here the process becomes less about diets, supplements, and drugs, and more about thoughts, feelings, and emotions. We begin to shift the focus from the body and start to explore the innermost recesses of the human heart. I have often likened the emotional component of cancer to “the elephant in the room.” It’s one of the most grossly overlooked aspects of the healing journey, not only in Western medicine, but very often in Eastern traditions as well, although to a lesser degree. You will also find the same phenomenon in many of the alternative centers. Quite often, people with cancer who go to alternative centers find that all of the attention is on how many glasses of raw carrot and celery juice they’re going to drink each day, or how many grams of intravenous vitamin C they’ll receive. In these approaches there’s as little focus and skilled attention to the deep earthquake of emotions that is going on as there is in most conventional cancer centers. Yet the realm of emotions, deep in the heart, is really where the action is for many people.

A classic example, which is seen over and over again in oncology, is that of a woman with breast cancer who has undergone a mastectomy. She comes to me or to another oncologist for treatment recommendations, and all the focus is on which chemotherapy regimen we would suggest. Yet throughout the entire discussion, the body language between the patient and her husband is very cold and disconnected. They’re sitting distantly from each other; they’re not looking at each other; their arms and legs are crossed. It is obvious that they haven’t made love in weeks, or months, or maybe years — and they are not even remotely dealing with the avalanche of painful emotions bottled up inside. Sometimes they’ve simply settled into a war-like mentality of fighting this illness. The husband is filled with frustration about how all this has impacted and disrupted his life, but all the attention is on the wife. Meanwhile, the wife feels frustrated because her husband is no longer supportive, and she feels abandoned. All of these psychodynamics are going on, but all the focus is on whether she should receive this chemo regimen or that chemo regimen, or whether she should have this hormone therapy or that hormone therapy. It’s a very sad and frustrating commentary on the state of affairs of medicine that human beings in these situations can have this much emotional turmoil going on that is completely neglected, but it’s very, very common

So in Level Four we pay careful attention to this dimension of the human experience. We ask patients, with skill and care, “How are you feeling in this process? What has been your emotional experience so far? How are you feeling now?” We reassure patients that we will absolutely handle the medical aspects of their treatment, in an impeccable way, but we are also concerned with questions like, “How are you doing emotionally when you lay down at night and try to go to sleep? What’s happening in your marriage? What’s happening with your children or your parents?” We utilize a variety of methods to address this component of the patient’s experience, including individual counseling with therapists, participation in support groups, or interventions and dialogue with our staff members.

Many people are filled with a litany of emotions that can be quite destructive — fear, guilt, anger, rage, outrage, sadness, grief, worry, etc. I’m convinced that all of these emotions need to be brought out into the light of awareness, and healed in the light of love, if patients are going to truly heal and transform from their cancer experience. In my experience as an oncologist, I have never, ever seen a human being with cancer heal and transform at a deep level without undergoing a deep and compelling healing transformation at the level of his or her heart and emotions. Not once.

This brings us to Level Five, which is called The Nature of Mind. This is the area where we begin to explore the vast domain of our thoughts and beliefs, and the meaning that we give to events. We explore how these impact our experience of life in any given moment, and how they impact all the decisions that we make about our care, ourselves, our lives, and what’s important for us.

In our culture we are all trained to have beliefs about things — beliefs about doctors, cancer, and chemotherapy, for example. When an individual is diagnosed with cancer, they often arrive at the doctor’s office or the cancer center loaded with their own preconceived ideas and beliefs about what the cancer is, what it means, where they got it, and what’s going to happen to them. Furthermore, these beliefs are rarely discussed openly. As a result, people often make decisions about their care based on beliefs that are not true. For example, I’ve had more patients than I can tell you who came to me with very strong preconceived notions about what kind of chemotherapy they were willing to have, or not have, based on their beliefs about what it was going to do to them. And quite often these beliefs were grounded in completely mistaken information. It is very important that we understand these kinds of beliefs so that we can help people to make wise, and truly informed, decisions.

People also have beliefs about the role of the doctor/patient relationship. They have beliefs about what they’re responsible for and what the doctor is responsible for. There is no limit to what these beliefs are, and they impact every aspect of our decisions and experiences. For that reason, we want to make sure that people are operating from a set of beliefs that are supporting them, in a positive way. I don’t try to tell people what to believe. But I want them to understand what they do believe, and see if it makes sense – to see whether their beliefs are sound and appropriate for them at this point in their lives, or are something they learned along the way that no longer serves them.

An additional aspect of this has to do with the meaning that we give to events. One of the major ways that our minds work is by assigning meaning to everything that happens. It usually does this instantly and automatically — without our conscious input or intention. For example, let’s say you’re going to meet your friend or your spouse at a restaurant at a particular time, and they don’t show up and you can’t reach them. Depending upon what meaning you give to their tardiness you may be angered that they didn’t have the decency and respect to call and let you know what was happening. Or you might conclude that they didn’t show up because something happened to them. They might have been injured, for example, or perhaps were in a car accident. If you give it that meaning, you’re going to feel concern, and empathy, and compassion, instead of frustration or anger. Isn’t that true? And what’s the difference between what produces these two completely different emotional experiences? The difference is the meaning that you give to the event. Although we are trained in our culture to believe and feel that things have intrinsic meaning, they really don’t. The meaning is always assigned by us, within our minds.

This is also true when dealing with cancer, or any other event in our lives. I really want people to understand the meanings that they’re giving to their illness, and to all of these events, because they impact not only how we feel, but our physiology as well. And this in turn impacts how we experience life itself, at a very deep level, and how we respond to the circumstances and challenges we face.

An example of this that I described in my book is that of two gentlemen in their mid-50’s who were undergoing treatment for metastatic melanoma. One gentleman was very angry, bitter, and impossible to please, no matter how hard we tried. No matter what we did, he was always unhappy. The other fellow had the same cancer, and the same response to the same treatment, but his demeanor was completely different. He was always smiling, always grateful, always appreciative, and somehow always serene. He was the patient everyone loved to see and take care of even though he was very sick.

I asked the first gentleman what meaning he gave to his illness, why he thought he had cancer. After a long time he acknowledged to me that he believed he got cancer because he was “a sinner,” and that God was “punishing him for his deeds and sins.” This was heartbreaking to hear. Over the ensuing days we talked about this belief, where it came from, and how he felt about it. Through this process he was able to come to an entirely new meaning about his illness, and his life as a whole.

I also asked the other gentleman the same questions about the meaning he gave to his illness. His response was very different. He said, “You know, Dr. Geffen, I don’t really know why I got this cancer. But I do know that it’s making me a better person, and is bringing me closer to my Creator, to myself, and to the people I love than I could have ever imagined. I don’t know what God has in store for me, but whatever it is, it’s okay — because of who I’ve become and what I’ve learned along the way, and because of the love that I’ve received from so many people.”

So what is the difference between these two men? On one level, the only difference is the meaning that they gave to their illness. For one, cancer was a punishment, for the other it was a process of growth, love, and expansion. I’m not saying that the meaning changed their outcomes whatsoever, but the meaning absolutely, profoundly impacted the quality of their experience. It also impacted the experience of their spouses, and children, and loved ones, as well as those of everyone who took care of them.

What does Level Six involve?

Level Six of the program is called Life Assessment. Here we begin to explore the deeper meaning and purpose of our lives. In our culture, very few people ever take the time to ask why they’re alive. This becomes very important, though, when dealing with cancer and facing the possibility of death. Similarly, very few people really know what their most important goals are, the ones they really want to focus on. This, too, becomes very important on the journey through cancer, because even if you have a cancer that is regarded as curable, for a period of time at least you’re going to have less time and energy and resources than you are used to having. So it is critical to focus on doing only those things that really support you.

In Level Six of the program I encourage people, with proper coaching and guidance, to write a mission statement for their life. To really explore what the meaning and purpose is of their life. I also help them define what their most important goals are, and then to prioritize those goals. This helps energize them, because they wake up every morning with a game plan of what their real goals and outcomes are for the day, week, month, or year — as opposed to getting up and allowing circumstances to direct where their time, energy, attention, and resources are going to be placed. This process has very practical benefits, as well as spiritual ones.

Another element of Level Six involves asking people to spend some time thinking about how they want to be remembered by the people they love and care about, after they’re gone. Of course this must be done in a very sensitive, skillful way. But what is very interesting to see is that when people acknowledge that they want to be remembered as a loving spouse, for example, they often realize they had better start treating their spouse better. They realize that they had better stop nagging them or trying to change them or criticizing them. Or, if they want to be remembered as a loving parent, then they might need to spend more quality time with their children. And so forth. No one tells them this; they realize it themselves, just by going through the process.

We then have patients and spouses or family members read to each other what they have written down. This is a stunning, beautiful, and breathtaking thing to witness — people getting in touch with their true purpose and articulating it and sharing with the people they love. Or defining their top goals. Or declaring how they want to be remembered and what kind of values they are committed to upholding while they are alive. As they share these with their loved ones, invariably this process bring tears to everyone’s eyes.

This brings us to Level Seven, which is called The Nature of Spirit. For me, this is in many ways the most precious and important aspect of the whole program. I say this because Level Seven is where we consciously shift our focus away from the physical, mental, or emotional dimensions of life — which are generally contained within a body, an ego, a social identity, and a particular life span. Here, we expand our vision of who we are far beyond these limitations, into the unbounded realm of Spirit.

In Level Seven of the program we encourage our patients and their family members — as we do with our staff members — to honor and embrace that dimension of ourselves that is nonphysical, nonmaterial. That aspect of ourselves that is timeless, dimensionless, and which transcends all circumstance. This is the realm not only from where love, joy, and fulfillment ultimately come, it’s also the realm from which true healing comes. When we focus there, several things occur.

First of all, one’s experience of the journey through cancer becomes smoother, and more expanded. This occurs because some time is spent every day shifting one’s focus away from the cancer, and what should be done about it, to the timeless, dimensionless part of one’s self that is okay, that is already healed, and that doesn’t need to do anything. Here, we’re shifting our focus from the domain of doing into the domain of being — from what you have to do, to who you really are. This is a foundational shift in focus, and it impacts the quality of one’s experience at a deep and profound level.

The next thing that happens is that the quality of the experience of the caregivers — including the medical staff — transforms because we know that no matter what is happening to our patients on the physical level, there is a part of them that is okay. There is a part of them that is untouched by any of it. This allows us to do our job better, because we’re not as caught up in the drama that might be occurring. We see through the illusion of materiality and the illusion of limitation. We recognize that there is a part of all of us that is never born and never dies, so we don’t have to be as swept away emotionally. We can be more centered, present, and focused, no matter what’s going on.

The third thing that occurs through this process, I believe, is that patients actually gain the very best chance of having a healing transformation occur in their physical body. Because when you take some time every day to tap into this deepest dimension of your innermost being, you’re actually taking the direct doorway into the source of love and consciousness from which healing occurs. Chemotherapy and radiation can certainly kill cancer cells, but that’s not the same as healing a person. A surgeon can remove a tumor and sew you back up, but the healing of that incision, the healing of the wound, comes from this domain of Spirit. By consciously focusing some of our attention there, I believe we give ourselves the best chance of being healthy on the physical dimension as well. It’s by no means a guarantee, but I believe it creates the best possible chance for that to occur. So that’s another reason why we focus time and energy there in a conscious and intentional way.

When a new patient comes to you, where in the process of working with you and your staff are each of these levels introduced to them? Is it a progressive exploration from one level to the next, or are all seven levels explored simultaneously?

Patients learn about the seven levels of the program in a variety of ways. Many patients have already read about them in my book, or heard me speak about them at a conference, and are eager to begin the process right away. Others are introduced to the program after they come to the Center, through literature we give them as a new patient, through their interaction with me, or through their interactions with our staff members. Still others learn about the program through our support groups or other educational programs. We’re currently in the process of developing a more expanded intake process where every patient is introduced to the seven levels in a more formal way, and we’ve recently begun offering regular overviews of the Seven Level Program. These are being further developed now.

Obviously, there is a universality to all of these levels that transcend cancer care, making them appropriate for people with any other sort of disease or life-challenge.

Yes. Absolutely. One of the most gratifying things that has occurred for me since creating the program, and then lecturing and writing about it, has been the number of cards, letters, and acknowledgments I’ve had from people who recognized that these seven levels are indeed universal. They are the seven domains of inquiry and exploration that anyone encounters if they want to heal a crisis in their life — a health challenge of any kind, or a personal challenge of any kind — or if they simply want to live an empowered, balanced, healthy, and spiritual life.

There is no challenge that you can encounter in life, for example, where you wouldn’t benefit from some additional, meaningful education and information. There is no circumstance where you would not benefit by having a healthy support network. There is no circumstance, in my view, in which we would all not benefit, dramatically, from simply making the shift from regarding our bodies as machines to regarding them as precious gardens that can be loved, nurtured, and cared for in an entirely new way. If our culture would adopt just this one metaphor, the entire health care industry would change. And eventually I believe the whole country would change, because it would change how we all relate to and care for ourselves, and for each other.

Similarly, there is no one who would not benefit from healing the wounds and pains we all carry in our hearts, especially if they were released in a way that left us feeling lighter, freer, and more empowered. And there is no one who would not benefit from having an understanding of the nature of their own mind, and how it impacts — through our thoughts, beliefs, and the meaning we give to events — our experience of life in every moment. And all of us could benefit from having a clear vision and a clearly articulated sense of purpose about our lives, which includes knowing what our goals are, how we want to be remembered, and what we are truly committed to. Finally, all of us have a spiritual dimension, an aspect of ourselves that is silent, still, and untouched by the storms of existence. This domain is also where we all come from, and to where we’ll all return in the end. It is also the ultimate source of everything that we all seek in life. So wouldn’t we all benefit from spending some time there, consciously and intentionally, every day?

What do you feel is necessary in order for your vision to start to come into fruition across the country?

There are many practical steps that have to occur, some of which have already begun, such as the kinds of discussions that are ongoing now about integrative medicine and oncology. There is also more research happening now than any time in history about the benefits of alternative and complementary therapies, which is another important step. In addition, there are conferences happening at an increasing rate, and numerous articles and books being published, all spreading the word of an expanded vision of what’s possible in medicine, and all of this is wonderful.

But from my perspective, a truly fundamental paradigm shift will not occur until we understand and embrace both the domain of doing and the domain of being in our lives — and until we understand and embrace the importance of both of these domains in medicine as well. Similarly, a fundamental paradigm shift will not occur until we can, as a culture, consciously articulate and agree that medicine has both a relative and an ultimate purpose. And the ultimate purpose is to help people awaken to the truth of their spiritual nature, and guide them in finding within themselves the source of love, healing, joy, and fulfillment that we’re all seeking in the ever-changing, impermanent, external world. Until that happens, the change will only be incremental. We will still only be having conversations about Levels One, Two, and Three. All of our actions, and all of our efforts, will remain limited to the domain of doing. Once again, while this is not bad or wrong, it is incomplete, because we won’t be discussing Levels Four, Five, Six, and Seven. And we won’t be approaching, let alone embracing and fully experiencing, the domain of being in medicine, in our lives, and in ourselves.

For example, until we address these higher levels we’ll remain focused on things like measuring the effects of chemotherapy with or without shark cartilage or intravenous vitamins; or surgery with or without nutritional support; or whether to use homeopathy or acupuncture for treatment-related nausea and vomiting. All of these questions are important, but they don’t address the deeper issues of who we really are as human beings. So what must occur is an embrace of medicine’s ultimate as well as its relative purpose, and an embrace of the domain of being as well as the domain of doing. When these are all recognized as being valid, important, and genuinely worthy of our time, attention, resources, and focus, we’ll then be on our way to a vision of medicine, and of life, that is truly revolutionary.


The Life Assessment Process

The following three questions are at the heart of The Life Assessment Process that comprises Level Six of The Seven Levels of Healing Program. Answering them honestly will empower you to more effectively face and move through any serious illness or life challenge by helping you to discover what truly matters most to you in your life.

“It is more important to answer each question from your heart than to try to make your responses ‘perfect,'” Dr. Geffen explains. As you begin to answer the questions, refrain from judging or criticizing the way your responses unfold. Instead, allow your unconscious mind and intuition guide the process. Later, if you wish, you can contemplate and revise your answers. For now, simply answer each of the following questions honestly and sincerely, to the best of your ability. Write out your responses on a separate piece of paper for each question.

1. What is the meaning and purpose of your life?

2. What are your top twenty goals for the coming year? (After writing down your goals, review your list and prioritize each goal in order of its importance. When you finish, spend time contemplating why you are committing to achieving each of them, and write our these reasons, as well.)

3. How do you want to be remembered after you are gone?

Once you have written out your answers to each of the questions above, considering sharing them with your spouse or other family members. Doing so can be a deeply meaningful and fulfilling experience for you and your loved ones.

Contemplate what you wrote for at least a week before changing any of your answers. Should you then be moved to revise your answers, do so in a way that reflects the new insights you have gained from considering them during this period of time.


Geffen Cancer Center and Research Institute

981 37th Place

Vero Beach, Florida 32960

By Dr. Geffen

The Journey Through Cancer: An Oncologist’s Seven-Level Program for Healing and Transforming the Whole Person. Crown. 2000.

The Seven Levels of Healing (Audiotape Program and workbook.) Nightingale-Conant. 2001.

THE DIMENSIONS OF HEALING: An Interview with Dolores Krieger, Ph.D., R.N.

Dr. Dolores Krieger is one of the true grand dammes in the world of holistic and energetic healing methods, and has been for many years a recognized leader in their development and practical implementation. Best known as the co-developer, along with Dora Kunz, of Therapeutic Touch, a modern-day interpretation of several ancient healing methods, Dee, as she is known to her many students worldwide, is also a registered nurse and professor emeritus of nursing at New York University. Today, more than 25 years after the birth of Therapeutic Touch, she is still actively involved in exploring all facets of the healing process and is the bestselling author of a number of books on the subject.

Originally developed in 1972, Therapeutic Touch is now taught in over 100 fully accredited colleges and universities in the U.S., and in over 75 countries, making it one of the most widely accepted holistic healing methods by the scientific community.

Therapeutic Touch continues to gain widespread acceptance among both holistic and conventional practitioners of medicine. How do you account for that?

Well, I tell you very frankly, the reason lies with the people who are using Therapeutic Touch. They are the real heroes. They use it in such a natural way that they excite interest, and so I feel that one of the best ideas I ever had in my life was not to maintain a proprietary relationship with TT. This has allowed people to feel free to go on and add their own creativity to TT and I think that’s really been the basis for the rather phenomenal growth that TT continues to experience.

Let’s talk about TT in terms of its personal applications. First of all, in your estimation, is it something that is easily learned by the average person?

If you mean the average lay person, from my point of view lay people are more difficult to teach than health professionals, because health professionals, at a minimum, have actually touched people before, so they’ve gotten over that barrier. Secondly, invariably, they have some kind of fundamental knowledge of the biological sciences and the psychological sciences, etc., so you’re working with people who have at least some knowledge of what you’re trying to present.

This lack of knowedge doesn’t necessarily prohibit someone from having success with TT, but it can make it more difficult for them to learn. I suggest that people go to a college or university, or a campus bookstore, and look under the sections that teach the biological sciences. What you will find there are anatomy books, usually with lots of color illustrations, that can provide them with basic information about the body and how it works. They can also find this on CD-Roms and certain television programs, of course. People who follow up on that don’t have any difficulty to speak of learning TT. But it’s difficult for lay people if they don’t have a good understanding of how people heal. It’s very easy for them to fantasize. That’s the real danger. Whereas, if you have people already familiar with the healing process, such as from surgery, you know that the body has its own time and that there are things that happen before and in the middle and at the end. So you don’t jump to conclusions. And in the end, you find that regardless of what you’re doing, miracles are very few and far between.

It’s understandable that lay people have a tendency to fantaize. It’s not that they’re worse at it than a health professional, but the health professional has already seen the healing process at work, so they’re less likely to misunderstand what it is they are seeing. Meaning they have a more objective sense of what’s happening, as opposed to perhaps a more subjective interpretation, because you don’t go into the health profession unless you want to help people as well as yourself, and that does give you some kind of objectivity to begin with. But that doesn’t mean that health professionals are any better. It’s just that they have a different kind of diagram to work from.

What are some of the signposts that TT practitioners look for to verify that the healing process is actually taking place?

One of the things that I look for from a healing point of view is a change in attitude for whatever the illness is. I don’t think that a person can be healed physically without also getting a very different psychological insight into what is going on with them. It’s not like a broken stone that you’re putting together. A healing is a total process. Even a cut finger has a psychological effect on the individual, and yet there’s a miracle if ever there was one, happening right in front of the person’s eyes. Just to be technical for a moment, from a biological point of view there are seven distinct levels of organization, or seven distinct tissues, that make up what we call the skin or the flesh. When you cut a finger, you’re cutting those seven different types of tissue. Yet, when the cut heals, very frequently it heals so well that you’d be hard put to ever realize that there was a cut there if you hadn’t known about it. When you think about it, essentially what’s happening is that millions of molecules are somehow swirling around the finger, conducting themselves to the appropriate tissues by some very exquisite kind of organizational principles that we’ve yet to understand. Because, as I say, sometimes it heals so well that it looks as if the skin was intact to begin with. So what we have to recognize is that the correct molecules are going to the appropriate places, and if that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is. In other words, it’s not random; it’s not probablistic. It’s exact.

To return to the psychological shift that occurs in healing, even a cold will make you miserable. (Laughs) Just imagine yourself in the throes of that. There’s an old saying that it will last six days if you take medication, and half a dozen if you don’t. Yet you must get to work on day two, so you try to accelerate that process and wind up feeling utterly miserable. Sometimes so much so that you take to bed with an upper respiratory infection, and when you do, you’re more or less in a dependent position in that you can’t jump up and down and do the kinds of things for yourself that you did a few days previously.

Then along comes a practitioner of TT who does Therapeutic Touch on you. One of the great things that happens with TT is that we get a full-blown relaxation response exceedingly rapidly. We’ve studied this for many years, and usually this occurs in two to four minutes. I remember being on a program with Herbert Benson in London, who coined the phrase” relaxation response,” and I mentioned this to him and asked him if, in his experience, that seemed credible and he said, yes, it’s possible to get a response in less than five minutes. Eliciting that response with TT one of the easiest things for us to do, to tell you the honest truth. Not only that, but from our experience, you must elicit the relaxation response first in order for the body to accept the healing. In other words, it certainly makes it easier for the body to absorb the healing effects. So, getting back to your cold, now you’ll feel absolutely relaxed. And, of course, one of the things that Benson’s studies have shown is that the relaxation response facilitates the immunological response, so you’re already on your way home.

In addition to that, one of the other things that TT has been shown to be able to do is to ameliorate or eradicate pains. So, if you have aches and pains associated with your stuffy nose, this also will go away. And, of course, another point is that the healing has been accelerated. Within five minutes or so, you’re feeling like a much better person. Your head might clear, your sinuses drain, things of that nature, and you can actually feel it happening.

This will be a very consistent outcome. It might not happen to everyone, but

most people will definitely receive benefit. This is something that has high reliability. So, what happens, number one, is that you feel better. Frequently people will say, I’ve never been touched in this way before. Because in Therapeutic Touch, the idea is not to just make symptoms go away. Literally, TT is a transpersonal healing. To begin with, before interacting with clients, the TT practitioner goes “on center.” He or she centers their consciousness. And this isn’t only a case of centering and then going in and doing something else. Rather, it’s a fact that what we do is center and we stay on center, meanwhile doing these other techniques. It’s always seemed to me that this centering state of consciousness is the ground against which we are doing the various techniques of TT, and we maintain that state of centering until the end of the TT process.

By studying this, we now know that just being in the presence of someone who is on center and is attending to his or her inner work, has an effect on people around them. Not in any magical way, but their demeanor is different. The TT practitioner is attending to something within and by doing that becomes a model for the patient. Interestingly enough, getting back to lay people, many of them have become Therapeutic Touch practitioners because they so admired what was happening with the TT therapist who was working on them. When they got better, they wanted to help other people as they had been helped. And we do have a lot of lay people practicing Therapeutic Touch. I started with health professionals

since, as you know, I’m a nurse, but in the mid-80s I did a study in which I taught husbands how to do Therapeutic Touch on their pregnant wives, and the results were so good that very frequently the husbands and wives continued doing it. Not only on each other, but also on their children after they were born. That’s where some of the tremendous impetus has come from, because it went rapidly from within the family to relatives and out into the community.

One of the places that gave TT great impetus for lay people was among volunteers, particularly people who volunteered at hospices who worked with people who are dying. Dying is so little understood in our culture that mostly in the places where people are dying they’ll let you do almost anything because they’ve sort of thrown up their hands. So, in doing that we’ve found what I think is one of the greatest boons of Therapeutic Touch. Many of our people do work in hospices and by being able to facilitate this very rapid relaxation response and things of that nature, they help people to die very peacefully. It’s a beautiful sight to see.

We’ve also taught many relatives the basic skills of TT so that they can have that time with their dying relative and many of these people have become lay practitioners of TT and have gone on to do quite a lot of good.

How is the process of going on center achieved, and from there, how does a TT session unfold?

Well you have to know what you are discussing when you talk about centering because the term itself is rather well known today and there are different kinds of centering. For instance, one of the things that has recently had quite a lot of interest is the Centering Prayer, particularly in the Catholic Church. But that’s not what I’m talking about. The type of centering we do involves attending to the inner self. To really pay attention to the inner consciousness that makes you whoever you are, and to explore those facets within yourself while at the same time you are paying attention to the needs of the healee. This is important because Therapeutic Touch is a conscious process. The way you can tell somebody who really understands the TT process is that you should be able to stop them at any time during that process and ask them what they are doing and why, and they should be able to tell you. TT is not something where you close your eyes and go off on a cloud. Rather, it’s a very acute awareness of, first of all, the liaison which you as a personality have with your inner self.

Secondly, as you focus or center your consciousness, what you’re attempting to do during the healing process is to call upon or communicate with the inner self of the healee. It’s not just a case of laying on of hands. That’s hardly the beginning of it. There is a whole interior process that’s going on within you that very frankly takes time to learn. You can learn the beginning techniques of TT in one day, and then learn further techniques in an intermediate workshop, but we ask people to have three years of practice before they go on to learn the advance techniques of TT because you have to learn how it’s working within you. And that, of course, is why Therapeutic Touch has exploded. We’ve taught it in over 75 countries now, and the pull or attraction is the fact that what you learn is about yourself. That’s why it’s personally so attractive, because it’s a never-ending story in that you know for a fact that the human being is an open system. I know for myself the reason I’ve been at it for over 25 years is that it has been a constant challenge, a constant exciting adventure in a very real sense.

Now, the way you know that centering is not a fantasy, first of all, is obvious. Is it working? You have to use that as a criteria. Did the person get well, or was there some kind of personality transformation? There are a number of ways that an individual can get well, so you use very objective criteria. Also, you observe yourself and see your own personal growth and things of this nature. You’re really learning the therapeutic functions of the vital energy field, you see, and in the process of doing that you begin to understand your own vital energy fields as well. As you do, you change. You become more intelligent in the way you use it. There is a distinct transformation that occurs, and you, yourself, are the gauge of it. Additionally, the TT practitioner, while being engaged in the process, also has the opportunity to heal his or her own self.

As the TT practitioner becomes centered and aware of his or her inner consciousness and inner self, and then starts to become aware of the healee’s inner self, does the dynamic of that particular session evolve based on communication between inner self to inner self?

I don’t think that any healing occurs without a concomitant interaction with others. Intuition, of course, would be one of the obvious things that develops. After all, most of the Therapeutic Touch process happens within the vital energy field, or beyond the edges of the physical body. And what you begin to find very rapidly is that you can actually learn the therapeutic functions of the vital energy field and you can be more effective in guiding the vital energy flow. That’s essentially what you do, you guide those flows of energy in the appropriate direction. You can feel it very quickly. For instance, if the healee is fatigued, you can feel him or her become resuscitated very, very rapidly, even from intense fatigue. Strangely enough, the worse off you are, the more quickly you feel these energies and they begin to revive you.

Take someone immediately after an operation, for example. You usually will feel quite out of it, mostly because your consciousness has been literally knocked out of your being. That’s why you go to sleep when they give you anesthesia. As you become aware of your surroundings, one of the things you’re very impressed with is the feeling of utter exhaustion that you have. Nobody wakes up from anesthesia and feels like playing nine rounds of golf. But with Therapeutic Touch, we have very rapid recovery, and we have many nurses in recovery rooms doing TT because of this. We have people actually in the operating rooms. Dr. Mehmet Oz of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City is a good case in point. He uses several modalities as part of the hospital’s alternative therapies program, but he loves his TT nurses. One time he did a live radio program, I think it was for the Canadian Broadcast Company, and he discussed an operation as it was in progress, telling what was happening and showing what was happening with the

alternative modalities that were complementing it. And, of course, once the major operation is completed, the people who are no longer needed usually leave the operating room. So, at that point in the broadcast, the TT nurses, among others, left the room. As the doctors were completing the sutures and so on, the patient had a sudden turn of her physical condition and they almost lost her. And right on the broadcast you could hear Dr. Oz screaming, “Where are my TT nurses. Get me my TT nurses.” And they came back and the patient was stabilized. The reason I mention this was that it was a reflex on the part of Dr. Oz and it gives you an idea of how much he thinks of Therapeutic Touch. He’s one of the chief cardiothoracic surgeons in the country, so it’s not something you can take lightly.

Since you’re talking about the vital energy field, I’d like to discuss the chakra system and how that relates to Therapeutic Touch.

You have to understand the chakra system before you can talk about it. To begin with, the chakra system doesn’t only come out of India. There are many other cultures that have known it. For instance, to give you just two, the Kuna in Hawaii and the American Indians here in the southwest also have whole teachings on the chakras. They call them by other names, but nonetheless, that is what they are talking about. As another example, I spent a month in South Africa in the mid-80s and had the distinct pleasure of speaking with someone I later found out was one of the most powerful shamans in Africa. During our discussion I asked him about the chakras, because at that time I was finding that there were ways of relating, that is, communicating, with trees. I know this may sound strange, but lo and behold, this man told me that he too used the chakras to communicate with trees, particularly the medicinal variety. So we had this wonderful conversation about that. What you find throughout the world, in fact, is this knowledge of the chakras. I think the reason so many people talk about the Indian interpretation is because it’s so clearly stated in the Upanishads and is easy to translate and understand.

I talk at length about the chakras and their relationship with TT in my book, Therapeutic Touch Inner Workbook. I also discuss the various types of ancient healing that we have integrated in TT, and what the operative chakras are. Specifically in relation to the secondary chakras in the hands, located in the well of the palms, in the vital energy field overlaying that area. What you find is that you begin to understand the chakras by literally relating to your own chakras. This is what I’m doing in certain of the exercises that I have in the book. But if you talk about chakras to most people who’ve heard about them in the U.S., they tend to refer to them as energy centers. That’s somewhat of a misconception. If you go back to the Upanishads, which I’ve done, what you’ll find is that they are spoken of as centers of different kinds of consciousness. Once you’re willing to look at that from that point of view, you begin to realize that there’s a heck of a lot more to chakras than just little energy centers. There are so many misconceptions, to tell you the truth, in our Western literature that have stemmed from that, such as the idea that you can open and close the chakras. Well, that’s stupid. They’re open, period, otherwise you’re dead. I hate to be forceful about it, but I think these misconceptions have caused an awful lot of damage for no reason except that people like to have it their way. But things are not always easy. Sometimes you just have to do some thought crunching. (laughing)

If the chakras are always open, what causes the imbalances that can occur within them?

One of the things which we don’t understand in our culture is the fundamental place that rhythm has. That rhythmicity, I should say, has in our total being. This is what it is that gets out of whack, and once you’re willing to make that shift in your own consciousness as you think about this, you start to realize that Therapeutic Touch is not the only healing method in the world. There are many, many different and very valid methods. But essentially, when you study them, you find that this question of rhythmicity is what they’re really talking about. The energy that we think we’re working with is something called the pranas in India, and if you go back to these ancient books, you find that prana comes from an element called vayu. And when you study that, what you find is that a chief characteristic of vayu is rhythmicity. Isn’t that interesting? When you look at it, the vitalness, if that’s a word (laughter) of our being really is rhythm, whether you’re talking about the beating of the heart or the breathing of the lungs, or the peristalsis in the gut, or whatever. In all of these things there is this rhythmicity which is absolutely basic, and you don’t have to go too far to realize that rhythm, when it gets altered, can cause all sorts of biological changes.

Therapeutic Touch, and true healing of any kind harmonizes these rhythms and creates an integration of the rhythm center of each respective chakra. This is something, for the most part, that our culture has a deep-seated lack of awareness about. And sometimes a disregard, as well, actually. Look what we do in industry, for instance. We have industries working 24 hours a day, and companies that send people off at the snap of a finger to a completely different time zone, or many time zones, without considering the consequences of that forced change in biorhythms. It’s something quite serious yet we really don’t give a hoot about it.

One other point that I want to make about rhythmicity in every day life has to do with people’s breathing process. Just by taking a moment to look at respiration in people, you can almost tell the psychic or psychological state that they’re in. And these breathing patterns change when you receive Therapeutic Touch, which is another way you can tell if the session is working.

What do you think the implications of Therapeutic Touch are for health care in general as we move into the 21st century?

I think one of the most exciting things that is happening at this moment in TT’s first quarter century (laughing) is its introduction into the family and into the community. That’s where I really think the excitement in the immediate future is going to be. Because, as you can see, it’s not only a matter of using TT to help others. It’s also a means of learning about yourself, your own inner self.

One of the things that’s been observed in recent years is that, although there’s been a decline in religion, there has been an increase in the interest in spirituality. That’s one of the things that makes me think that would be one of the great places for Therapeutic Touch to go. There has already been a great deal of acceptance by the establishment of Therapeutic Touch, because it’s been proven to be safe, both for the healer and for the patient or healee. Also, Therapeutic Touch is transculturally based, and I think that’s another thing that the future will prove. In the early 80s, the United States Public Health Service sent me to Alaska, and the reason they did was to have me teach TT to public health officers, thinking that TT would work as a good liaison between the public health workers and what are called Eskimo doctors. Since then, we’ve seen more and more of that. Three years ago, I was in Australia with the aboriginal people. They use their hand chakras in amazing ways that are far beyond us. For example, one of the things they do is, as we would scan the body, they scan the Earth to find certain root crops. Not only that, but they can tell whether or not they’re ripe. So, you can see, that’s a whole new area for us. (laughing) Imagine doing that at the supermarket. I could give you many other examples of transcultural recognition of TT.

One of my original students was the first nurse I knew who brought Therapeutic Touch squarely within a hospital setting. I’ve often thought of her as a heroine. It was a children’s hospital in New York City, and she would do TT while she was giving out medications. She’d take a few moments as she was by the child’s bedside and do TT where it was appropriate. Well, there was this one little boy named Eddie, and I think he had asthma. I still remember her talking about him. He was Puerto Rican and his grandfather would visit him every day but never really communicate. He would just sit by the window, looking out over New York City, and when visiting hours were over he would go home. Then one day this girl came in and as she was giving Eddie his medication, she went on to do Therapeutic Touch. Before she knew it, Eddie’s grandfather got up from his seat by the window, crossed over to the bed, and was helping her. There’s a way of working together with TT, and he was doing it. He told her that when he saw what she was doing he was reminded of his own grandmother and what she did for him when he was a child. Isn’t that exciting? Because his grandmother, of course, would be Eddie’s great-grandmother, and there you have something that came over four generations to find itself in New York City.

Another example occurred during the Cambodian war. Not the current one, the one previous. Many of the refugees ended up in Thailand, and at one of the refugee camps were five health professionals who did TT. When they returned to the U.S., they told me that more often than not people would come out of the crowds and surround them as they did TT on the sick and wounded. They would come and they helped them because they remembered something like that out of their own culture. So really, this work is closer than our hands and feet. It is, indeed, a human energy field that we are dealing with, and is available to all of us. And in the near future, it is something that I think many more people will start to realize this and partake in it.



Basic to the Therapeutic Touch process in learning how to “go on center.” Becoming skilled as a practitioner of Therapeutic Touch requires time and dedication, often involving years of training and practice. The following exercise, however, can enable you to immediately begin to center your consciousness. According to Krieger, with regular practice of this exercise you will begin to achieve an improved sense of well-being and relaxation, and find yourself more in command of your life experiences. “Although it demands concentration, centering is a very enjoyable experience that allows you to learn more about the dynamics of your own consciousness,” Krieger says. “In this act of quietude, you can also ask questions. If you listen carefully, quite profound answers can arise from within your inner self. It isn’t easy to still the chatter of your every day thoughts and focus your attention on the responses that well up from the deep reaches of your consciousness. However, if your motivation is high enough, a way will be found in a surprisingly short time.”

Perform the exercise as follows:

Step 1: Sit in a comfortable position and take quiet, full breaths. It doesn’t matter if your eyes are closed or open. The goal is to become aware of the fullness of your own being.

Step 2: As you continue to sit and breath quietly and comfortably, be aware of what you feel like when you are quiet. Explore your own being and notice the feelings edging into your consciousness, quietly following any thoughts that cross your mind without becoming too emotionally involved in them.

Step 3: As you continue breathing, you will start to perceive various energies. Distinguish which ones belong to you and which ones belong to other things or people with whom you may be identifying. Concentrate on your own attributes.

Step 4: As you gain a fuller sense of your self, place your awareness on your own more subtle energies. You can begin to do this by quietly becoming aware of your own breathing. Notice how your breath fills your lungs, then try to sense how your breath permates the tissues of your body and quickens its functioning with life-sustaining vital energy. Now shift your attention to take note of other subtle energies. If someone else is in the room with you, notice how you sense his or her presence. If something distracts you, can your capture the visualization process that brings it to your attention? Can you follow the process of how you feel an emotion for someone who is not physically present? Continue to breath quietly and allow the answers to come to you.

Step 5: With continued practice of this exercise you will gain facility in the steps above. As you do so, try to go one step further. Attempt to identify, by mood or feeling, with the facet of your consciousness that senses energies and creates visualizations or emotions. As you access these deeper levels of your being, you will become aware of an enveloping stillness and a sense of timelessness. In this stillness, you will find it easier to attain a state of receptivity in which personal insights may emerge. You may find it useful to have a pen and paper at hand so that you can jot down key thoughts or symbols without disturbing your train of thought.

As you become proficient in this step, you will discover that you can access deep levels of guidance and answers to life questions you may have.

According to Dr. Krieger, the experiences produced by this exercise vary widely, ranging from a grounded feeling of physical centeredness to awareness of the transcendent functions of consciousness. With continued practice, the various aspects of your human energy field will be brought into resonance with each other, integrating the various facets of your personality. “Over time,” Krieger says, “you will feel more of one piece and more focused, and come to know that when the self is consciously engaged, the personality can be transformed or positively redirected. Out of this realization, your sense of the future will become more life affirming, as you gain deeper access to your own inner guide or teacher who is the reflection of your individual power.”


Nurse Healers Professional Associates, International

3760 South Highland Drive, Suite 429

Salt Lake City, Utah 84106

(801) 273-3399

Provides information and referrals, as well as training conferences and seminars about Therapeutic Touch.


The Therapeutic Touch Inner Workbook: Ventures in Transpersonal Healing (Bear and Company) 1997

Accepting Your Power To Heal: The Personal Practice of Therapeutic Touch (Bear and Company) 1993

The Therapeutic Touch: How To Use Your Hands To Help Or To Heal (Prentice Hall Press) 1979