Traditional Healing and Modern Medicine
A Retreat for Women Physicians
March 20 - March 22, 1998
Friday 5 pm. Sunday 3 pm,
At Sequoia Seminar Retreat Center,
Ben Lomond (in the County of Santa Cruz, CA)
Dear Women Physicians
When Dr. Rosalind Shorenstein first asked me (Carol Proudfoot-Edgar), if I would lead a retreat for Women Physicians, I felt a shiver of excitement and immediately responded "Yes, I think that's a great idea." Rosalind has known of my various professional activities for the last 15 years and she thought my workshops included elements and techniques which might be of use to women physicians. I agree.
The "sponsors" of this retreat have met with me and we have finalized our plans. My task was to compose this brochure so you would know about this retreat; see if it interests you, and if it does, send your registration and join with us.
This morning I was walking with my dog, Arusha, in a sanctuary park here, and thinking about what I wanted to write in this brochure. At one point in my walking, I was thinking about the importance of building sustainable bridges between traditional healing and modern medicine. I included in my thinking "other health care professionals," because I think that "health care" is really a network of many people and as physicians, you have your own expertise to offer in that network.
This is also true of traditional healing ways. Among my Mother's people (Oglala, Sioux), and in my own shamanic healing practice, there is a network of people who care for those who suffer from various illnesses. Someone may be the person who simply "holds the space, assists the shamanic practitioner, or makes the connections for people seeking help" to the medicine person who will do the healing work. It is a network, a web of support for the patient, drawing upon all needed health care resources in the community. Another example: one person may be chanting, soothing the patient while the "medicine person" doing specific healing work is busy with the patient. The "chanter" is analogous to the anesthesiologist in both role and function.
As I'm walking in the park, I'm wondering how to share with you the importance of "bridging" between the two ways of practicing medicine, I consider one analogy: two canoes on the same River. (The River is the greater "world of information" from which all health professionals draw their knowledge: scientific, spiritual, clinical, and areas we don't even know yet). .As I am playing with this analogy, a Stellar Jay flies overhead and a blue feather drops by my feet. I pick up the feather, spend some time examining it. And then realize that this feather is an example, an analogy of the relationship between traditional healing and modern medicine. For those of you who might not have seen a Stellar BlueJay's feather, I see that on the same side of the feather, there are two colors. One is blue, the other a light gray. Turning the feather over, the underside is all a darker shade of gray. Of course, the seeming feather-bone from which both the blue and light gray feathers grow, holds both colors although they are on different sides of the feather-bone and the same dark gray is below both the blue and light gray.
I am going to keep this feather as I prepare for our retreat. Other analogies may come but this one came from the "skies" today as I was seeking a way to share with you; so I consider it a teaching for me from the world of nature. It is the world of nature from which all medicine, all healing is derived.
Another analogy, related to the feather, is that traditional healing and modern medicine are two sides of the same coin. We need to learn how to see that we are derived from the same 'feather bone' and beneath both systems is a larger source from which we all keep learning and applying in our work.
Examining this feather, I realized both traditional and modern medicine practitioners serve the same purpose: to tend to our patients so they can return to the Wholeness of themselves (which may include not having a feather yet knowing they can fly, can move). We all want people to be "well", although we may practice different methods. We can learn together. By learning the uses of both traditonal and modern medicine, we are returning to Hippocrates, who said, "One shouldn't be ashamed of borrowing from the people what can be useful in the art of healing."
Finally, my major objective for this retreat is to teach in such a way that whatever we learn, share, or do together is to provide a time of "renewal" for each woman; and that what we learn can be of benefit in our lives as women physicians.
What We Will Be Doing Together?:
The format is primarily experiential with shared discussions and teachings woven throughout our activities. I will teach techniques which I have found very useful for people practicing modern medicine. I am privileged to work with many physicians and health care providers who have incorporated these techniques into their work. The results have been significant: both for the practitioner and the patients.. I know the research being done in how to combine both traditional and modern medicine (much of this done by NIH). These techniques include the use of shamanic journeying, certain ways of drumming and rattling, particular meditations, and understanding how people can increase their health through certain activities in the natural world. All this we will do ourselves both to renew ourselves and know how to apply these practices, if we choose, in our work, our lives.
In addition, we will be sharing about our own issues from our positions as women physicians and health care professionals. I am asking each woman who registers to bring some object that they consider important in their work to the retreat. Traditional healers have such objects: feathers, whistles, drums, rattles. We understand that it is the person themselves through which the healing comes to the patient. However, these objects are associated with certain powers that the traditional healer needs to have available during the healing ceremony. Likewise, modern physicians have such objects. What we bring will provide "illumination" and perhaps some intriguing delights to our retreat. Let me give you some examples of what to bring: stethoscope, lab coat, beeper, pager, rubber ball (some cranial sacral physicians use rubber balls on which to sit while working), certain object you have in your office that you treasure for whatever reason and were it not there, you would "feel that you as a physician were not present for your patients." So I will bring my object and I am asking each of you to bring an object.
Here are the areas we will explore during this retreat, using experiential methods and discussion.
1) The Invisible Bridge: Healing our Compassion Fatigue
Treating the sick sometimes takes an enormous, if unrecognized, toll. Being present for another's pain, we may resonate both with them and, inevitably, with the pain of our own lives. Compassion is the invisible bridge between us and our patients. What can we do in times of compassion fatigue. How can we replenish ourselves so this bridge is maintained in a way that serves both us and our patients.
2) Coyote and the Curse of Perfectionism
Physicians are expected to be accurate in diagnosis, perfect in treatment plans, and their patients sometimes are angry with them when the physician's treatment does not seem to be "working perfectly for the patient." For some women physicians, there may be the internalized expectation of being the perfect wife, the perfect mother. What a load of Expectations!!!!
Tribal people say Coyote teaches how to twist around these expectations, pull the plug on the consenual cultural 'set-ups'; and make necessary changes be fun, if not always easy. Coyote teaches how to trade in the curse of perfectionism for the blessing of being human. Coyote says "perfection is not the goal; the goal is living fully our own unique integrity and manifesting our talents in the world". Coyote always has more than one trick in Coyote's bag when working a teaching. Coyote says that "when we learn to see our own beauty, appreciate ourselves more fully, then we are able to appreciate and reflect back to our patients their own uniqueness, their own beauty".
3) Bear Medicine - The Gift of Hibernation
Some tribes consider Bear the supreme physician and the healers are called Bear Doctors.. The NIH is studying the hibernating cycle of female Bear because it may teach us about our own bodily systems and cycles.. Everyone needs times to retreat, let our brain have stillness, drop down into our bellies, and let our bodies be a sacred sanctuary. This is what female Bear does in her hibernating cycle. How do we develop times for hibernating? Without hibernation, periods of sanctuary, nothing new has a chance to gestate and manifest in some form.
4) : Wolf Medicine: Patrolling the Boundaries
Creating boundaries allows us to thrive. In a physician-patient relationship, a boundary defines the connection between people and the limits to that connection. Good boundaries increase a patient's level of trust and safety and increase a physician's capacity for working with the patient. We will explore ways to repair poor boundaries and create solid, trustworthy ones.
6) Nature Restores our Hearts
We are gathering in a beautiful landscape, Sequoia Seminar Retreat Center, Ben Lomond (in the County of Santa Cruz, Ca). There are ancient redwood trees, oaks, madrone and winding trails leading to a waterfall. Our meeting space, the lodge is called Las Alas (The Eagle). The cabins are situated within lovely settings. Sometimes we forget that we have been gifted with an incredibly beautiful world. Our time is spent in offices, within our home, in our car, etc.. Such places don't allow us a continuing communing with the graces and beauties of Nature's gifts.. This is true for both physicians and patients. Some patients have become so self-absorbed with their problem, they have forgotten or don't know that time in the natural world might bring them health, or minimally a different, beautiful absorption.. Such moments can ease hours and hours of pain or difficulty.
Background of the Retreat Leaders:
My own background includes 20 years as a psychologist, assistant Psychological Services Director, and manager of the Psychological Crisis Team at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Previously in my graduate work at Harvard, I interned on the Kidney Transplant Ward at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and the Massachusetts Health Center (Mental Hospital) both of which are affiliated with Harvard. In 1989, I left the University, following a long trip to Africa, because I felt the call to return to the traditional ways of working with people. I am a Faculty Member with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Mill Valley, California and I also teach my own workshops not affiliated with the Foundation. I teach my own workshops both in this country and in Europe. My own interest in the focus of this retreat is a primary focus of the work I do: both in my teaching and in my daily life.
Lori Levine, an Emergency Room Physician and Administrator from Tucson, Arizona will be leading this retreat with me. We have worked together for five years. I am delighted she is able to take time from her work and co-lead with me.
Rosalind G. Shorenstein, M.D., Ph.D.
Special Interests in Preventive Medicine and Women's Health
American Medical Women's Association,
President, Santa Cruz County Branch, 59
Secretary-Treasurer, American Society of Internal Medicine
Guest Editor, Journal of the American Medical Women's Association
Ellen Hughes, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine
University of California, San Francisco Medical School
Interim Director of the UCSF Program on Integrative Medicine
Tasha Turzo, D.O..
Santa Cruz, CA.
Specialty: Craniosacral Treatment, Homeopathy
Please note: we are limiting the number of participants to this retreat in order to have time for deeper learning, sharing, and comfortable accommodations. If you are interested in this retreat, then you should send in your registration deposit as soon as possible. We will include participants in the order in which we receive registration. If you have any questions, you can contact any of the Sponsors for more information. In January a more detailed letter will be sent including map and what else to bring.
Costs for this retreat:
Costs are based on your choice of lodging:
If you request a single room, we will try to accommodate you. However, we are recommending doubles with the understanding that some women might want single rooms. Once your complete fees are received and the spaces full, we will send you information regarding what accommodations are available, and if we are not able to accommodate enough single lodging space, we will return the difference in cost to you.
Single Room + tuition/expenses
$196 (room) + $218: = $414
Double (2) Occupancy
$162 + $218= $380
if you cancel within 30 days, the entire deposit, minus a $40 fee, will be returned to you. Cancellations less than thirty days will be reimbursed tuition costs ($120) but not lodging and expenses fees..
Please fill out the form below, make a deposit of $160 and write the check to: American Medical Women's Association, Branch 59 or use initials: AMWA, #59 and send to:
Dr. Rosalind Shorenstein, 700 Frederick St, Ste. 103, Santa Cruz, CA 95062. ( On the outside of the envelope, please write "retreat" so her office manager can separate this out immediately from all the other mail she receives.)
The retreat is filling. Send a deposit ($160) as soon as possible. The remaining fees are due by January 1, 1998.
Phone__________________; Fax or email_________________________
Medical Area of specialty: _____________________
© Copyright,Carol Proudfoot-Edgar, October 1997
This page was posted on October 5, 1997.