Featured Pioneering Patient
In 1995 Molly broke her neck in a car crash, and she was told that she’d never move intentionally below her shoulders. Faced with the prospect that she would never walk again - she refused to accept the prognosis. She believed, instead, in herself, in her body’s ability to communicate and heal, in her spirit’s astounding resolve, and in the capacity of her friends to support her recovery. Six years after her accident she took and passed her third degree Aikido black belt test, she carried the Olympic Torch towards Salt Lake City in 2002, and a documentary about her premiered in 2003. She participates in daily physical practices and is able to walk in water now, continuing to maximize her health and well-being.
Her recovery process has integrated a wide variety of healing
modalities - including breathwork, massage,
horseback riding, chiropractic manipulation, Feldenkrais movement, and almost daily sessions in a heated
Molly's story and more about her DVD project, see her website www.mollyhale.com/story.html
Molly often gives talks in the community and is an inspiration to all who meet her. She can be reached
Featured Healthcare Pioneer
Gloria Schulz, RN
RN Bringing Quiet Spirit into
Pediatrics ICU @ Stanford Children's Hospital
Gloria Schultz has worked in the Pediatrics ICU for most of her RN career. When we
asked Gloria to comment on her life and work, she had this to say...
I could say that my job has presented me with multiple challenges and growth opportunities. I have practiced some form of meditation and yoga for many years and have been drawn to many different spiritual teachers. I've also studied many holistic practices and have tried to incorporate some of these into my practice, eg. massage, gentle and therapeutic touch, and music. The ICU can be a very noisy and scary place and I try to in whatever small ways I can, to better humanize the environment, decrease fear and encourage healing. I do think it's fair to say that I feel like I'm almost always feeling a bit like I'm fighting an uphill battle when I'm trying to make the work environment more conducive to healing.
I also have a strong interest in
have found wonderful outside resources, eg. 2 wonderful musicians up in
Marin County (Michael Stillwater and Gary Malkin) who created "Graceful
Passages" and "Care for the Journey", CD's that can be helpful for
decreasing fear and stress during the dying process for the patient,
families and caregivers. In fact, the director of the hospice where
Terri Schiavo died said that they were playing "Graceful Passages" the
last week of her life, and, unlike what coverage was seen on the news,
they reported that this CD helped to create a calm and peaceful
environment within, and that, in fact, her passing was quite peaceful.
I don't know if this input is useful to you at all. I just feel like I
am one of many on my own journey and trying to enhance a healing
environment in a very challenging place.
I see myself just slowly evolving as a person who is trying to be more mindful, and not always succeeding, but ever growing. I guess I see myself in my private and professional life as having fluid borders and things I've learned from my own spiritual searches have seeped into my professional practice. Much of my private searchings were stimulated by the challenges of my job. I had done a workshop in which we had an assignment to write letters to each of our parents expressing our gratitude for special things they had done for us. I had grown up in a very unexpressive home were this just wasn't done. I recognised after my father died how grateful I was for having the nerve to send him that letter such that he knew of my gratitude. I also was aware of how difficult his death was for one of my brothers who had had a lot of fights with him and who had never done that.
Cheryl Gasner, R.N., R.C.F.N.P.
Co-Instigator of Stanford University Hospital’s
Integrative Mind Body Program
Interview with Cheryl Gasner and Cindy Mason, CMT, Ph.D. There are
2 interviews. The first takes place from a hospital
bed, 36 hours following open heart surgery at Stanford
Hospital. The second (shorter) interview takes place in Cheryl’s
home several weeks after she has been home recouperating.
A little background about Cheryl Gasner
Those of you who know Cheryl know that she has worked against the odds
not only for her own heart project, but also has fought long and hard
for many years to overcome the odds that a conservative medical
establishment would found an Integrative Mind Body Program.
Interview One With Cheryl
The interview you’re about to read takes place at the Cardiology Unit
of Stanford Hospital, where Cheryl is recovering from surgery. The
interview happened serendipitously. Cindy Mason, CMT, Ph.D., a
virtual faculty member with the Future Health Technology Institute in
Boston, was part of Cheryl's meditation group, and heard Cheryl was ill so she
paid her a visit. The interview is special in two
ways... First, Cheryl talks about her thoughts on mind body
integration while she begins receiving in a mind body healing
session. It takes place approximately 36 hours post cardiac
surgery – this is the 3rd open heart surgery for Cheryl, her body has
just been stitched back together and she has many tubes and medical
monitoring systems near her hospital bed. The other thing that is
special about this interview is that Cindy and Cheryl had never met and
did not know about each other’s work. Cindy sits beside her and
gently applies each step of an ancient recipe for supporting the body's
natural healing systems, every now and then, closing her eyes and
growing still. Cheryl’s thoughts spill out as she receives
the session from Cindy. The session was recorded by another visitor who
happened to be there when Cindy arrived.
….. Some minutes into a session, Cindy and Cheryl start a little
Cindy: So, Cheryl, I heard you are a nurse…?
Chery: I’m a Nurse Practitioner.
Cindy: Oh. What kind of things do you do?
Cheryl: Integrative Mind Body Program at Stanford.
Cindy (eyes growing big): Can you believe? I
didn’t know her! I mean, we just came together…I just found out
on my sangha group she was here!
(Cheryl and Cindy have locked eyes, and hearts, with this
Cindy: I came to see you because of what you were going through,
I heard it from the sangha announcements Monday night… you were
sangha… and I have been given a gift to study this healing art…when
Tenzeng Choedrak treated me a few years ago, when I was sick,
the things he said to me was to help the helpers…. so I came to
you…but I didn’t know who you were…
Cheryl: So, the Integrative Mind Body Program was really
designed to help people look more at what internal resources they have
and they might develop, internal and also I think from the outside as
Cindy: When you say “internal”, you mean, inside, like instead
of the medical system, their own….
Cheryl: Internal wisdom
Cindy: Internal wisom
Cindy: That’s key…
Cheryl: Getting to know their bodies really well
Understanding what its saying when it talks, trying to integrate the
mind and the body, not so that you’re not, you’re not trying to blend
them so can’t find them, you’re really trying to help them sort
of learn to live together, to be communicative.
Cindy: And how do you feel you’ve been able to find this in
yourself, I mean, you are going through this right now...as we talk.
Cheryl: Umm hmm. I think its just learning to be quiet and
still, learning to rest in my own breath, and um, when things are
not chew myself up for it, to not react to it spiritually.
really trying to be present in the moment, doing everything I can
Cheryl: When people come to me and offer me things, especially
things that I have a sense will help, be open to them... be open
might be a very helpful thing for me…cause unless you try it you’re
going to know if it works for you.
Cindy: In a way we’re lucky we live in a time where the medical
establishment is ready for different kinds of solutions - and the
teachers are here, the teachers have been here for the last 10
years, and we’re in a position to share what we have been
Cheryl: Yeah, I think so, too.
Cindy: All right, well, maybe we should let our mouths rest, and
go deep inside…
Cindy and Cheryl: Thank you….
--SEVERAL WEEKS LATER
The Second Interview with Cheryl
Several weeks after her last open heart surgery Cheryl was still
recovering but had this to say about practicing self care…
Cindy: Hey, Cheryl, how are you doing?
Cheryl: I'm doing really better, still a little spacey, but
definitely getting better.
Cindy: Do you have any thoughts you'd like to share, now, for
the interview, looking back...
Cheryl: I think at some point, we all have to take
responsibility for ourselves, and if something is not working, to try
something else. I still practice the Main Central, whenever
I start to feel a little *something*, and it transforms me. I
notice that when I do these self care practices, I will fall into a
deep state, and it is in that state that the wisdom comes for me on how
to care for myself, the changes I need to make.
The self care Cheryl refers to as “the Main Central” is one of the most
popular self care recipes, if you like, you can down load
instructions for this self care recipe and try it out yourself...
Cindy Mason, CMT, Ph.D.
Former U.C. Berkeley research scientist,Stanford Fellow, and
Research Associate, National Academy of Science
When I got sick
I was a research scientist in the computer science department at U.C.
Berkeley. I had pretty good health, exercised daily between 1 to 2
hours, and was a highly functional research scientist. You have
to be to be at Berkeley. The only unusual thing to mention is I
had been on a medication for about seven years for dizziness and rining
in my ears that started after scuba diving. Suddenly when
my father passed away, I started having tremendous health
problems - out of nowhere. My blood pressure was dangerously low,
and I could no longer even make up a flight of stairs without
resting. I went to all the best doctors. But no one seemed
to know what was wrong. It was really scarey because the system
I had so much confidence in, which had been there my whole life, which
I believed would always be there to help me and no one knew what to do.
There were incredible waiting times to be seen by a
doctor. Sometimes I'd find myself in bad shape sitting or
sometimes lying, in an emergency room, waiting to be seen, amongst all
the other people, some of whom were also in really bad shape. I
was living at the International House at Berkeley at the time, and
Randy, the guy across the hall from me, looked up my medication in the
Merck Manual. Every single problem I was having was listed as a
side effect of the medicine I was on. I took the book into
the physician I was seeing, and he seemed irritated I was looking
things up for myself, he said it was not possible that I was
experiencing side effects because I'd been on the medicine so
long. He said if I had a problem with the medication it would
have shown up long ago.
That kind of made sense on some level.
But then again, there was my body with all the glory of the side
effects sitting in his office and I was not getting better. They
had tested me for everything from diabetes to heavy metals in my
blood. Finally I decided to try stopping the medicine,
against the wishes of the doctor. I realize I took a
chance, but at the time I was not really living. I was very weak, and
quite stressed by all the doctor
appointments, tests, losing my job (U.C. Berkeley laid me off since I
not work). Within a week of stopping the medicine, I was free of
the symptoms. Holy Cow.
The only thing that could have made any sense
was, to me, common sense - the emotional shock of losing my father (he
raised me) must have changed my body chemistry, so I reacted to the
medication differently. Something
big happened that neither any of the finest experts this western medical system created, nor that I could not explain with current science. I not only came off the medicine, but I no longer needed it (I had been taking something for dizziness, ringing in my ears that started after scuba diving). I was offered my job back when I got well, but I needed answers for what happened. My research was based on cognitive science, but there was nothing in the models at that time that even included emotions. The alternative methods I discovered to help me in recovery worked with both the physical and the mental/emotional, and they seemed so different from anything I had ever encountered in my western education. I was able to feel "qi". Some of the sessions I had with acupressurists gave me physical and emotional changes that were very clearly perceptible and that increased my health. So I began to do my own research, in medicine and in cognitive science, to try and explain for myself, how they worked. I partnered with my Uncle Earl and Aunt Penny, who worked at the Institute for Critical Care (USC). He was also a professor of medicine at U. Chicago. I encountered amazing teachers from Tibet who showed me amazing things about my own mind and heart that affected the body. I began studying with a Tibetan Rinpoche, learning about sound, visualization, and other esoteric methods of healing. I also continued to receive bodywork and acupressure.
The world of the sick is very very different
the world of healthy people. Mostly when we are well, we forget
it is like to be sick. Its pretty awful, so who can blame us for
that. I swore that when I got well, I would not forget what it is
like to be sick, and that I would do whatever I
could to help others who might be in the same situation. I also
knew that my work in cognitive science had to begin to include affect
lesson I did not want to forget was that regardless of
whether or not you have insurance, getting well is really about you and
your body, and you have to figure out that no matter what someone else
says, even if they are a very famous doctor, or even if a pill should
not do that, your ability to survive depends on paying attention to
your body's messages. I almost died from pills. And if I
had listened to some very famous doctors, I would have have been much
worse off. Fortunately I had the means and the desperation to explore
other means of
Acupressure was one of the tools that made a
big difference. I was
especially impressed by the self-help instruction I got along way,
because a) it really worked, b) I could use it anytime of day or night,
c) once I got the lesson, it didn't cost anything to practice it, no
matter how many times, for the rest of my living days. I had
already paid for it. WOW! As I got stronger, I began
study acupressure and chinese medicine. One of the things I
noticed was that as part of the education, they teach you to take care
of yourself. Self-help was an integral part of being a
practitioner of these methods. As
I practiced, and saw the impact on patients and friends, I continued to
be curious about the science of what I had experience, fascinated about
the role our senses played in brain chemistry and healing - the anatomy
of touch, the nervous system,
psychoneuroimmunology, etc. and I kept up my self-help. I became
certified by the State of California as an
acupressurist and I moved to Palo Alto and began working with patients
undergoing really major treatments at the Stanford Hospital.
Usually under these circumstances, there are also families and
caregivers involved and they are under a tremendous amount of
strain. Together we began practicing self-help methods.
When you look at the number of people who are
in the hospital,
and the number of people who can afford healers out of pocket and the
number of people who work as
healers (even smaller), it seemed the only way to change things was
self-help. Its an awful lot of fun, it feels so good, and its
something you can do together with other people. So I spent the next
year and a half working to filling out forms to become qualified by the
state to teach health education, focusing my efforts on teaching
with administrators and directors of nursing
homes, day health and community
centers. My uncle is a western train MD (and a PhD!), and his wife is
also active in medicine, so after he grew to understand the helpfulness
of these methods, we banded together and made the first DVD, Tai Chi in
a Chair. As a result of these experiences and with a
lot of help, we have created on-line self help instruction as
well as a collection of
DVDs that provide self-help instruction via television or
computers. Because emotions play an important role in modulating
that influence our health, we worked primarily with methods that
address both emotional and physical states of being, a trait common to
medical systems outside the west. They also include aspects
of breath. The self-help methods have shown themselves to be remarkably
variety of human