Archive for the ‘Integrative Medicine’ Category

SIMPLE Conference Day 3 Part 3

Tuesday afternoon’s break out session with Dr. Kreitzer focused on Integrative Nursing, which is a way of being, doing, and knowing that advances the health and wellbeing of people, families, and communities through caring and healing relationships.

She shared the six principles of integrative nursing along with nursing care practices for each: 1) Human beings are whole systems inseparable from their environment, connected and dynamic; 2) Human beings have the innate capacity for health and wellbeing; 3) Nature has healing and restorative properties that contribute to health and wellbeing; 4) Integrative nursing is person-centered and relationship-based; 5) It is informed by evidence and uses the full range of therapeutic modalities to support and augment the healing process moving from least intensive and invasive to more depending on need and context;  and 6) It focuses on the health and wellbeing of caregivers as well as those they serve.

While all areas are important, that last point may be the most significant because one cannot give to others what one doesn’t have to give. Some tips she gave for taking care of ourselves as nurses included developing a personal plan for health and wellbeing, taking time for self-reflection and contemplation DURING your shift, and engaging in reflective practices such as journaling. Integrative nursing requires mindfulness, presence, intuition, and intention.

Mindfulness means connecting with empathy to your patient and being present with them in that moment. It is being responsive rather than reactive.

Intuition can be taught by pointing toward pattern recognition. Nursing narratives are a way of sharing this intuitive experience with younger nurses in which seasoned nurses share their stories of “knowing”.

There are many resources on the Center for Spirituality and Healing website at http://www.csh.umn.edu/.

Finally, my most interesting day of the conference wrapped up with the most amazing experience of traditional Mexican healing in the presence of two very gifted and knowledgeable curanderas.

We boarded a bus and drove across town to a temazcal or Mexican sweat lodge. The ritual process was very similar to that of our Sunday night experience, however, the fact that these were Latino women, one of whom was from Mexico and the other having apprenticed under her in Mexico helped to lend a greater sense of legitimacy to the ceremony than was previously experienced. No disrespect intended to the first ceremony we experienced. This just had a much different feel.

We paid our respects to the four directions and to the earth and sky through prayers and rattling instruments. We then bowed low and entered the temazcal which is a dome-shaped building with herbs and steam that represents (once again) a womb. We were provided a rag, a bucket of water, and a handful of exfoliating herbs to use during the ceremony as needed to rinse ourselves and detoxify. There was a beautiful assortment of chanting, singing, drumming, and even some shouting during the course of the ritual. And the heat….wow. It was very hot. Very steamy. But not miserably so. It was a very healing aromatic steam. Each of us had our own issues that came forth, but none of us were aware of anyone else’s issues. Near the end of the ritual, we were offered some cool tea brewed for supporting our detoxification process. We were later able to listen to and discuss with our hostesses much more information about their knowledge, training, and tools.

What amazes me most about this entire experience is the incredible healing knowledge these women possess. The University of New Mexico honors that tradition and knowledge and recognizes its practices as truly complimentary to the healing process.  I will definitely be seeking out more information and training on this process in my quest to expand my role as healer.

There is more information gleaned from the conference, but for now, I will close this series of blog posts and move on to other tasks that require my time and attention. The experience was such a gift on so many levels. The energy of the people in attendance and presenting was such that my normally introverted, crowd-avoiding self felt so alive in their presence. Over and over we were reminded that we are not just nurses and doctors and therapists, but that we in fact are healers.

May I remember every day with every person I encounter that my life’s calling is to be a healer, and may every action and every word that comes forth from me be healing in some way.

SIMPLE Conference Day 3 Part 2

Our Tuesday afternoon sessions included talks on the growth and future of integrative medicine education , the role of herbal medicine, and cultivating well-being in our lives, along with a break out session on integrative nursing, which of course is exactly where I needed to be. With topics like these, you can see why I simply could not put Day 2 in one blog post.

Dr. Andrew Hyman shared with us how the new nomenclature in healthcare would be “-omics”: words like metabalomics, genomics, and bionomics will be making headlines. He even went so far as to call it an “-omics revolution”. Integrative medicine will (and does, I believe) view disease as a pathological imbalance and the keys to successful treatment will be early detection of those imbalances through individual assessment via relationship based medicine. In order for this to become more widely accepted, there will need to be a shift to non-hypothesis driven research.

And then there was Dr. Tieraona Low Dog. Oh my. This woman’s energy and spirit will remain with me for a very long time. I can only hope one of my grandchildren will be named after her. I truly want to sit at her feet and learn. This vibrant, beautiful spirit so full of life and positive “kick-ass” energy spoke about herbs and plants and how incredible they are. She talked about how generations of people have known about their healing properties and they have known how to combine them to maximize their effectiveness. She spoke of how the pine trees communicate with us and with the rest of nature. When attacked by the bark beetles and faced with that distress, they emit such a strong “pining” aroma that the wasps are drawn to them to lay eggs in the larvae of the bark beetle and help defend the trees.

She shared with us some frightening statistics. There has been a 400% increase in anti-depressant prescribing since 1980, and that adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng, holy basil, ashwaganda, and rhodiola (I hope I have those close  to correct) each have very specific properties and specific roles that could significantly help our bodies through various types of stressors. Rhodiola may be one of the best herbs for addressing fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Panax ginseng is good for older men with cold extremities, and erectile dysfunction. For them it can be life changing. For a 25 year old, it’s probably not an ideal choice for improving energy.

Dr. Low Dog joked about the paranoia people have with chamomile and its potential for generating an allergic reaction. She said over one million cups of chamomile are consumed per day and there have been less than one dozen reports of allergic reaction in 100 years. People LIKE to be afraid of plants and herbs. She also mentioned herbs that were studied for generalized anxiety disorders in a dose escalating study that lasted 8 weeks. Bottom line, the depression/anxiety indicators were reduced. She also reported on a study that compared hops, valerian, and passion flower to the effectiveness of Ambien. There was NO difference in performance.

She went on to talk about butterbur extract with magnesium for migraines emphasizing the importance of using the extract with alkaloids removed. She shared how licorice suppresses inflammation, and since most disease begins with an inflammatory response in the gut, this is significant. She continued her talk with information on berberine as an antimicrobial that restores the intestinal barrier, making it beneficial for treating leaky gut and decreasing blood sugar. She shared how it also prevents peanut anaphylaxis in mice, so may have great potential in treating food allergies.

Bitters were mentioned as something that is an antimicrobial pathogen-killer and bronchodilator. Interestingly, sweet taste receptors inhibit the release of the antimicrobial action of bitters. In cases of antibiotic resistance, berberine makes drugs more effective by inhibiting e-flex pumps causing a synergistic effect. Berberine is very effective in cases of bladder infection and diarrhea. Caution should be used, however, in that it has a high interaction risk.

Dr. Low Dog shared that in consideration of the heightened state of concern over ebola, we would be wise to remember that while pharmaceuticals are not great at addressing viruses, plants are. Many plants have excellent anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Elderberry syrup at an equivalent of 5000-6000 mg of berries (read the label for crude equivalent to find this info as it is different from milligrams of extract) is recommended for treating influenza.

NF Kappa B inhibitors include turmeric, chamomile, and green tea deserve attention as well. Tumeric has over 6000 articles and 65 trials. It must be combined with piperine (a type of black pepper) to extract it’s properties in the body. As for tea, Dr. Low Dog simply said, “Drink it.” Black tea, green tea, white tea, the type doesn’t matter. It’s all good.

She concluded her talk by stating that when you support diverse farming, you make a statement that you want to support the earth. She offered some suggestions for sources for quality herbs including Gaia Herb Farms (they have webinars available), Natures Way Purple Top Extracts (take according to directions on the bottle), or anything that has USP or NSF on the label indicating 3rd party testing. Her website is drlowdog.com and she offers a course called Foundations of Botanical Medicine.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent listening and conversing with Mary Jo Kreitzer from the University of Minnesota. We heard two excellent presentations on Cultivating Wellbeing in Our Lives and Communities and Integrative Nursing. The reality of our system of “health” care in this country is we spend more than any other country, our outcomes are near the bottom, access to care is still a very real concern, and we have an incredibly high incidence of medical errors and death directly attributable to this system. In areas where health care is working, they take a whole systems approach including healthy lifestyles and healthier environments. She says it is not only the government’s role, but is also society’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of the entire population.

So what is wellbeing? It is a state of being in balance or alignment, happy, healthy and prosperous. It is safe, content, and peaceful, in harmony and connected to purpose. In a single word, it means being WHOLE. A Gallup poll indicated that only 7% of people throughout the world are thriving in all areas, regardless of faiths, cultures, and nationalities. Sense of purpose seems to be significant. A study of 6000 found that people with a greater sense of purpose and direction in life were more likely to outlive their peers and had a 15% lower risk of death than those who said they were aimless. The health risks of being alone are comparable to those of smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity but balance in relationships is also very important.

Community wellbeing is equally important as those people who live in cities with low wellbeing are twice as likely to have a heart attack as those living in communities with high levels of wellbeing. The university of Minnesota has a website called Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing at http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/. I think the aspect of wellbeing that I found most significant was the importance of nature and nature based therapies along with the concept of evidence based design, which aims to make it easy to do the right thing.

She went on to discuss work place wellbeing and how only 30% of employees feel engaged at work. It has been referred to as White Collar Salt Mines. “For most, work is a depleting, dispiriting experience that is getting worse.” Authentic connections, positive relationships, alignment with purpose, and effective teams, along with a culture of safety are important to having a sense of wellbeing at work. She even proposed a new leadership position called Chief Wellbeing Officer for organizations to embrace. Sometimes the smallest changes can make a significant difference in the overall wellbeing of individuals and organizations.

She concluded her presentation on wellbeing with a quote from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, “Dedicate yourself to the wellbeing of others and you will find happiness.”

To be continued……

 

SIMPLE Conference Day 3 Part 1

My alarm went off way too early this morning because I stayed up way to late last night typing. Tonight I am suffering from nerve damage to my index finger and thumb from gripping my pen insanely tight today as I frantically tried to take notes. One session was during lunch, and the salmon trumped the note taking. I’m still not sure what that other stuff was, but I suspect it was black rice. All I know is lunch was classy and the guy talking had the most interesting things to share.

Some of this stuff is so common sense that it is hard to believe I could be amazed, yet these folks really brought their “A” game with the evidence base (aka research/numbers) to back it up.

The day began with 6:30 AM yoga. It was amazing. I miss yoga. I think that may have to be a goal I set for the coming weeks and months. Yoga needs to be in my life on a regular basis.

Breakfast was a bit disappointing for the 50% of the group who are basically gluten free. They served nicely wrapped croissants with eggs and avocado, along with fresh fruit. I wanted to eat that croissant pretty badly, but I knew my tummy would distract me very quickly if I indulged. So I saved the “indulge” for the salmon sauce and key lime pie at lunch. I’m pretty sure whatever evil I consumed, I dripped out of my pores in the sweat lodge tonight.

Today was truly jam packed with some amazing presenters and fabulous topics. We began the sessions with a discussion by Dr. Victoria Maizes on environmental chemicals and women’s health. She has authored a book entitled Be Fruitful: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Fertility and Giving Birth to a Healthy Child.

She shared that the impact of DES from the 50’s and 60’s is still being seen in the grandchildren of those women who took it during pregnancy. She also reported that over 80,000 chemicals are un-studied or under-studied according to the President’s Cancer Panel. Babies in the US are being born “pre-polluted”. Nine months in the womb preprograms us for diseases that manifest 50-60 years later. Then there is the issue of stressed mothers in pregnancy.

OB/GYN’s are not stepping up to the plate to warn pregnant women about toxins other than alcohol and drugs, and they rarely ever take an environmental history. Many feel the rise in autism has an environmental-chemical cause at work. A study of twins in which one had Parkinson’s and the other did not revealed that the chemical exposure trigger likely occurred 40  years prior to the onset of the disease symptoms.

BPA (found in plastics and food cans) is linked to increased obesity. Mice that were exposed to DES in high doses were actually small in size whereas mice exposed to tiny amounts of DES were obese. This negates the dose causes poison theory. Children and fetuses are more at risk for chemical exposure problems, and the first child may get a larger dose of chemicals due to their storage and excretion in breast milk.

And then there are the endocrine disruptors in tampons and sanitary pads. Dioxin, chlorine, plus pesticide residue from GMO cotton crops gets placed in a very absorptive area of the female body. It’s no wonder women have issues with thyroid.

Companies are replacing BPA (because consumers are demanding it) with BPS. It is still not safe. It simply has less research proving it isn’t safe. Best practice is to avoid plastics and use glass to store food.

Assess your workplace, home, hobbies, and childhood fun for sources of toxins that may be triggers for disease. She told a story about a friend with breast cancer who remembered how she and her brother used to chase the crop duster planes through the fields. The object of the game was to see who could stay in the chemical mist the longest.

We can advocate for change with our dollars by purchasing products from the “green marketplace”.

Food decisions need to be organic whenever possible. Learn about the dirty dozen and the clean 15. Organic IS better if for no other reason than safer soil, no sewage sludge for fertilizer, no GMO’s, and no antibiotics. They are also pesticide free, which should help to reduce the toxin load. We also need to advocate to keep the organic standard pure in light of big food companies becoming involved in the organic food market. Choosing to eat from the clean 15 of conventionally raised foods reduces pesticide exposure by 92% vs. eating the dirty dozen. Oh, and babies should NOT be given only rice as a first food. Can you say arsenic?

BPA was in 90% of urine. It leads to obesity and heart and prostate problems. Avoid canned foods and opt for flash frozen. Plant based diets are less contaminated than animal diets which have antibiotics and chemicals/pesticides that are stored in animal fat. A Korean study looked at whether diet makes a difference in toxic exposure levels. 25 people stayed in a monk temple and were fed locally grown pesticide free foods. Their toxin levels dropped quickly. Another study on BPA showed three days of clean eating dropped BPA levels in the body significantly.

Water is usually contaminated with things like lead. Over 50 pharmaceuticals have been found in water including endocrine disruptors such as birth control pills. Most cost effective solution is carbon filtration. Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) has a water filter shopping guide.

And we haven’t even talked about cosmetics and EMF exposures yet. There is a free educational module at http://integrativemedicine.arizona.edu/education/online_courses/enviro-med.html on environmental health.

That, folks, was the first session.

The second session talked about research into gut bacteria. My favorite line from that session was, “70% of stool is shed microbiome. They double every 20 minutes. If we don’t poop, they run out of room.”

Our diet shapes the types of microbes we have in our gut. Those microbes extract nutrients from the food we eat. Some types are associated with high fat diets and some are associated with a high plant diet. Metabolic syndrome in mice treated with antibiotics (to kill the gut critters that a pre-diabetic person has living in there) resulted in improved glucose tolerance test results. Along those same lines, offspring of moms exposed to antibiotics during gestation were more likely to experience diabetes.

Bottom line, our life span appears to be linked to the makeup of our gut microbiome.

The third experience of the day was a breakout session presented by a group from UNM-Taos, which is a community college. They shared how they are bringing integrative medicine to underserved populations by teaching it within the associate degree and certificate programs they have. Many students are single moms and are on Pell grants, so the education gives them access to the information on integrative medicine practices so they can become self-healers. One of the most interesting ideas shared was the concept of getting mindfulness practices into the schools as young as head start by implementing breathing practices before the children go home.

The most significant take away from this class came not from the presenters, but from a really nice blonde-haired Jesus-looking dude who is an RN and LMT at Holy Cross Hospital in Taos where they have a care team that provides CAM services to patients in the hospital. They have a number of folks on staff that are trained in a variety of complementary practices. He specifically mentioned the orthopedic doctor who would “order” massage, acupuncture, or aroma therapy for his patients. I was fascinated by this “care team” concept. Not only do they take care of patients, but they also take care of staff members as needed and as time permits.

And that rounds out HALF of Day 3. It’s bedtime. The best will have to wait. The best includes integrative nursing and the temazcal. More on those later.

2014 SIMPLE Conference Day 2

Day 2 of the SIMPLE Conference started at 5:30 AM. Last night was way too short, but there is no way I’m going to miss a single thing, so this body was out of bed, dressed, and sitting in a meditation circle at 6:30 AM.

That meditation lady must have known I had some people in my life that needed a blessing of protection. She also knew there are a couple of people that I need to bless and release in hopes that they resolve their stress so I don’t take it on as mine. They got blessed. Let’s trust that it works.

Today was absolutely jam packed with information and presentations and interactions. Breakfast was shared with a beautiful soul who is a doctor for Indian Health Services in Shiprock, NM. I quizzed her at length about her work there and my interests, motivations, and concerns with doing the same.

My take aways for today:

Integrative Medicine is the way to truly help people manage their health. It was likened unto “teaching a man to fish” as the old proverb goes. It is empowering to the patient.

Dr. Andrew Weil’s name is pronounced “wile” (long I sound). Oh, and I sat about 40 feet from where he was on the podium presenting. He said what we currently have is not a health care system, but a disease management system and it is not sustainable. Unfortunately so far, health promotion/disease prevention does not pay where insurance and reimbursement are concerned. Due to the flow of money into the pockets of a few who have total control of elected officials, there can be no meaningful change in healthcare via government mandate. Change will have to come through grass roots efforts.

He predicted that allopathic high tech medicine will be a specialty in the future rather than the norm and that community hospitals may be gone and replaced by integrative health and healing centers that teach how to eat, exercise, garden, prepare food, and provide spa services. These clinics will manage health, not illness. Unfortunately it may take the collapse of our entire health care system to make this happen.

Health is an inner state of balance and resilience in which we can interact with the environment and its toxins without harm.

Laughter can turn off genes that trigger diabetes mellitus type 2.

Physical activity increases overall wellness, and sitting is the new smoking.

There’s a new book coming out called the Dorito effect by Mark Shatzberg. The premise is we do not crave sugar, fat, and salt. We crave flavor and our food is increasingly flavorless. Thus we have a billion dollar industry in chemical flavoring.

Chronic low level inflammation is the root cause of chronic diseases and age related illness. If it is allowed to persist, it develops into coronary artery disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer among others. Therefore it is important to choose an anti-inflammatory diet.

Inflammation affects emotional health. Cytokines are produced and they increase the risk of depression and suicide significantly. Therefore, anti-inflammatory drugs may potentially be used to treat depression more effectively than those currently being used.

The microbiome in our gut is a cool thing. There is more microbial DNA in us than human DNA. Changes in microbiome could be a “root cause” of illness. Four factors have affected the microbiome: 1) use of antibiotics, 2) the shift in what we eat, 3) the rise in cesarean deliveries, and 4) the decline in breast feeding.

There may be a connection between seizure disorder and celiac disease.

Fermented foods may be more effective than probiotics at populating the microbiome.

The reason organics are important is to avoid toxins.

Anti-inflammatory diets may be beneficial for mental and emotional well-being due to correlation between inflamation and psych disorders.

Chronic stress is the inflammatory disease of the 21st century.

In response to claims that integrative medicine lacks adequate research, there is more than most people realize, and a great deal of allopathic (western) medicine has NO research to back it up.

Often esearch fails to detect the health promoting benefit of integrative medicine that exceeds the patient’s original complaint. Ex. Patient being treated for prostate cancer reports that is lifelong issue with post nasal drip has resolved.

How doctors react to new information is more a function of source than content.

Stress and burnout is a huge issue in med schools (and nursing schools). Mindfulness practices are being implemented in some schools as part of the curriculum.

Docs who use mindfulness practices see an decrease in emotional exhaustion and an increase in empathy.

Chronic stress impairs memory, learning, and leads to premature cognitive decline. Meditation breaks the cycle of chronic stress response feedback loop by forcing us to focus on what is happening in the present. Our minds cannot be anxious, so the cycle is broken.

Clinician mindfulness practices can improve patient health outcomes.

Research shows that 21% of student stress is modifiable. Mindfulness practices should be embraced as a core competency. Mind-body medicine is the physiology of de-stress.

Burnout is serious in the medical profession, but it starts in students and is often seen within the first semester.

Mindfulness must be fostered in the curriculum and in the culture.

Gut bacteria interact with artificial sweeteners and send messages to the body to produce more glucose.

Personalized medicine vs. medicine that is personal

Diabetic complications were reduced by 41% in those patients treated by high vs. low empathy doctors.

Six weeks of petting rabbits yielded a 60% reduction in atherosclerotic plaques.

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is heart failure caused by stress with no evidence of heart attack or blockage.

Meditation decreased cardiovascular death by 48%.

And then there was Ayurveda and panchakarma.

My bed once again beckons my tired brain to rest.

2014 SIMPLE Conference Day 1

I am at the 2014 SIMPLE conference in Albuquerque, NM this week. SIMPLE stands for Symposium of Integrative Medicine Professionals in the Land of Enchantment.

Let me tell you……these are my kind of people….and then some.

I am surrounded by those who seek to identify evidence based practice among the complementary and integrative therapies and who choose to take the very best of the allopathic (Western medical) model, traditional oriental medicine, traditional Mexican healing, and traditional Native American healing, along with a nice dose of Ayurveda all in an effort to truly heal rather than just manage symptoms. These are not people looking for the next great cholesterol medication. These are people who seek to eliminate the need for most pharmaceutical medications except as a last resort.

These are people with Ph.D. and M.D. behind their name who know there has to be a better way and they are putting together or finding the research that shows us what that better way is. These are some of the most highly trained medical professionals in the country, and I have the privilege of “sitting at their feet” to learn.

Our first day was considered “pre-conference”. I paid extra money to participate in a workshop on herbalism and a community healthcare visioning ritual. The herbalism conference had some very knowledgeable people presenting, and I did learn some things. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel it had the depth of knowledge I craved for the investment.

My greatest take aways from herbalism: 1) In areas where the water has higher concentrations of lithium occurring naturally, the suicide rates are much lower than in areas where the water has much lower levels of lithium. 2) Kava is used to allay violence in tribal cultures. 3) My use of prepackaged herbal teas in their little tea bags is pretty much useless, so I shall be acquiring some of the good stuff and putting it directly in my hot water to steep and float.

Oh, and I simply must get my hands on a sweet neem plant. It has such an interesting aroma.

And now for the highlight of day 1…..

Approximately 20 of us participated in what was called a Community Ritual for Visioning. Most had no idea what they were getting themselves into. I have been to enough of these types of things in this part of the country to know that “ritual” means somebody is going to shake and rattle something and chanting and fire will probably be involved. Some of the other poor souls thought they were going to write some sort of mission statement. I couldn’t help but wonder who in their right mind would pay money to do THAT.

We gathered outside by the hotel pool in a circle of chairs that had a chiminea at one end. The fire was stoked, and the guides for the evening led us in a Shamanic-type ritual. We began by honoring the four directions with a prayer to each. We were then asked to write on a piece of paper something we wished to release that related to our health care practice or to health care in general. I knew about this assignment, but it wasn’t until we were in the midst of the four directions prayer that what I was to release became crystal clear to me. That was a cool moment.

One at a time, we were invited to the fire to kneel and toss our “releases” into the fire to be consumed. Each of us was surrounded by the supporting energies of the five guides shaking their shakers and holding a bowl of tobacco. As our paper burned, we were offered the bowl of tobacco and each of us tossed a bit of the tobacco into the fire to finish our personal “burning” ritual.

After the burning, we lined up to go back inside as it was quite chilly in the New Mexico mountain air and wind. We were each cleansed with smoke from burning sage to remove negative energies and escorted into a dark room to lie down. I honestly don’t know if my mind finally decided to be quiet or if I fell asleep, but I was eventually startled back into reality with a whisper to arise and take the hand of the person beside me. We were instructed to keep our eyes closed and we were led single file while holding hands through the darkness until we reach a place where we were advised to get on hands and knees with shoulders touching.

Soon I felt the strange sensation of someone crawling beneath me through the tunnel that symbolically represented a birth canal. One by one, each ritual participant made the journey through the tunnel. I was next to last, so my journey was much shorter. Once all had completed the “birthing” experience, candles were lit and we were invited to allow our bodies to move freely (dance) to the sound of drums and flute. Most of us were quite shy about this process as it felt akin to being in a charismatic church and being asked to let the Holy Spirit move you. Gradually most began to make some effort to move our bodies with the rhythm of the drums to celebrate our rebirth.

Still sitting in the darkness, we turned to a partner and shared what we had experienced. Although I am open to this process and interested in it, having a “profound” experience to report back to others continues to allude me. I often feel as though I have to stretch a bit to identify something worthy of sharing and therefore feel compelled to apologize for my lack of awe. I shared my “aha” moment by the fire in which the knowledge of what I needed to release became crystal clear. Others were so moved and grateful for the experience of rebirth. I was grateful to be in a warm room and not on my hands and knees anymore.

Lest you think I was put off by this ritual, please know that I would pay my $30 and do it again in a heartbeat. An opportunity to be face to face with a small group of like-minded people in such an intimate space is one I will always pursue. The energy dynamic generated feeds me on a level I cannot adequately explain. It made the stress of being a lone ranger at a large conference so much easier. It gave me a glimpse of the hearts and minds of people from many different healing professions and from different parts of the country. It was yet another attempt to break down my wall in hopes that someday I WILL have that profound experience with the universe that knocks my socks off.

I topped off the evening by inviting myself to follow the ritual guides to a very late supper. Since I intruded on their space, I tried to keep silent and just listen to their stories. I felt a little bit guilty, as if I had crashed their private party, but I was hungry and didn’t want to eat alone. One gentleman had donned a long hooded black cape and appeared as though he were a warlock or a character out of Harry Potter. I wasn’t quite sure whether to be totally creeped out of admire his courage to be such an individual. I opted for admiration and amusement. It is definitely an experience I won’t forget. I later discovered that he was an M.D., as was the lead guide of the ritual. I’m not sure why I was caught off guard by that fact, unless I just never expected a doctor to be a Shaman.

As for what I chose to release, we shall see in the coming weeks how that works out for me. I released fear, doubt, and self-deprecation as they relate to my nursing practice. They went up in smoke. I will never cease to be keenly aware of the knowledge I do not have, but it is time for me to embrace what I do possess and to walk in some level of confidence with that knowledge while feeling confident that I can always ask for help with that which I do not know.

Oh, and I also “burned up” standard hospital food in hopes that someday a clear liquid diet will consist of healing bone broth instead of red jello, Sprite, and Gatorade.

And on that note, I poured my exhausted body into bed and slept like a rock. So ended SIMPLE Conference 2014 Day 1.

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