Rachel Naomi Remen

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So far Rachel Naomi Remen has created 7 blog entries.

The Power of Wholeness

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

January 11th, 2013|1 Comment

Finding New Eyes

by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

One of my former patients, Josh, is a gifted cancer surgeon who had sought help because of depression. “I can barely make myself get out of bed most mornings,” he told me.“ I hear the same story day after day, I see the same diseases over and over again. I just don’t care any more. I need a new life.” Yet, through his extraordinary skill, he had given just that to many hundreds of others.

Proust has said that the voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new vistas but in having new eyes. New eyes can often be found in very simple ways. Drawing on the wise work of Angeles Arrien, the author of The Four Fold Way, I sometimes suggest to people like Josh that they review the events of their day for fifteen minutes every evening, asking themselves three questions and writing their answers […]

January 11th, 2013|1 Comment

Let There Be Light

This is the darkest time of every year – a time we sit together in the darkness awaiting the coming of the light. This year, darkness has reached out and touched every one of our hearts. The tragedy of Sandy Hook has caused many of us to wonder WILL THE LIGHT COME AGAIN. So, I have written a new story – for you – and for myself to remind us of possibility and of our own power to make a difference

In the process of recovering from kidney cancer, one of my patients underwent a transformation from a hard driving CEO to a volunteer and supporter of many good causes.  He told me of the experience, which had changed his way of moving through the world.  As a child of atheistic and intellectual parents, he had no religious upbringing or spiritual inclination and had immersed himself in the world of competition and business […]

December 20th, 2012|1 Comment

Beyond Perfection

The pursuit of perfection is built into every professional training. But wholeness lies beyond perfection. Perfection is only an idea. For most experts and many of the rest of us it has become a life goal. The pursuit of perfection may actually be dangerous. The type A person for whom perfectionism has become a way of life, is vulnerable to heart disease. Perfectionism can break your heart and all the hearts around you.

A perfectionist sees life as if it were one of those little pictures that used to appear in the newspapers over the caption “What’s wrong with this picture?” If you looked at the picture carefully you would see that the table only had three legs or the house had no door. I remember the, “Aha!” that these pictures evoked in me as a child. I wonder now why anyone would want to take such satisfaction in seeing what […]

July 10th, 2012|1 Comment

How Change Happens

Some thoughts on how change happens:

Like most of us I am a passionate change agent. After all, who would spend a third of their life accumulating all that knowledge and skill if not for the hope of making a difference?  So it is surprising how long it has taken me to recognize the power of a simple story to make change.

I have always been a story teller. In the past this tendency was viewed by my medical colleagues as, to say the least, dubious. In Medicine a story is often dismissed as  “anecdotal evidence”, a sort of second class data far less relevant to a physician’s work than the outcome of a well designed scientific study.  “You only have the one example?” my colleagues would ask me when I told them a story.  “What you’re describing only happened to one person?  How important is that?” But over time I have […]

September 26th, 2011|0 Comments

Feely Hearts

I’d like to share with you one of my favorite moments in the Healer’s Art, ISHI’s national course for first year medical students. The Healer’s Art is currently taught each year at more than 70 medical schools around the US and the world. The course offers a safe learning environment for students and faculty to explore together personal experiences of service, compassion, calling, mystery, awe, heart-centered healing relationship and reverence for life — vital and daily dimensions of doctoring not often discussed in medical training.

During the second session of this five-session course at every school that teaches the Healer’s Art, there is a moment that makes a difference.  As students are preparing to break into small groups to share their personal stories of vulnerability, loss and healing; a basket filled with small, fuzzy, multicolored “feely hearts” is passed around the room.  Each little heart is handmade and no two are […]

July 19th, 2011|0 Comments

Some Thoughts on Healing

I am looking forward to using this blog to think aloud some of the thoughts I usually keep to myself and to hearing your thoughts as well. Perhaps we can think of this blog as a conversation in which we can remind each other of what matters and perhaps even heal one another.

So I’d like to begin with some thoughts on healing. In 1962 when I graduated from Medical School the goal of medicine was cure. Anything less was failure. But there is a great deal more to wholeness than the recovery of physical health and so much more to medicine than curing disease. Not everything can be cured. Fortunately cure is not the only successful outcome of our relationships to our patients. Over time I’ve come to think of physical health not as a goal but as a means that enables people to pursue what has meaning and value […]

August 16th, 2010|1 Comment