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  • New from Bernie Siegel – Love, Animals & Miracles

    Introducing Bernie Siegel's new title, Love, Animals & Miracles: Inspiring True Stories Celebrating the Healing Bond . The stories in this new book offer funny and heart-touching, true-life experiences that convey loving connections, amazing rescues, and healing with (and by) animals — both wild and domestic. Learn more     Available now in bookstores everywhere. Order your copy online today at:  Wisdom of the Ages, Barnes & NobleAmazon or New World Library.
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    Please support my friend Amelia Kinkade with her new charity, ARK ANGEL, which enables her to go into schools in rural Africa and educate children about wildlife conservation so that they don’t grow up to be poachers.

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  • Today’s Prescription for the Soul – Prescription #320 – Time for Everything

    I hope that my “365 Prescriptions for the Soul,” will be a welcome and healing addition to your day. The prescriptions I ask you to fill are designed for your total well-being. They come from hard-earned wisdom and experience with the difficulties of life. They are dispensed “as written” with love. At the end of each prescription is my “Soulution” to help you develop healthy self-love, self-esteem, and self-worth. Please take the prescription I have written for you here and fill it right away.

    Come out of the circle of time and into the circle of love.

    ~ Rumi

    Does time exist? Is it real? Does a tree know the time? Does the ocean? Who created time? Who said, “You’re late”? Why is it one o’clock? In the Divine, there is time for everything; it is always the right time. You are never too late…and are always on time. Does light or energy concern itself with time? Everything in the Universe is subject to change and everything is on a schedule, or so my bumper sticker says.

    Love is like that; time is lost in love. Love is a trance state that heals all wounds. Love is energy, so it knows no time and no physical limitations.

    Soulution of the Day

    Lose track of time by showing your love for someone.

    - Bernie

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  • Death & Growth


    Dear Everybody,

    This article is not about creating feelings of guilt, but about understanding how our relationships and life experience affect our health and our behavior. The President tells us the United States is the only country with so much gun violence. I don’t know if that is true, but his feelings tell us we need to change the way we raise our children and our pets and heal our relationships. We need to educate all future parents to love their children, and part of that love can be expressed by raising children to be confident and empowered, along with being compassionate and loving.

    Decades ago Jungian therapist Elida Evans wrote, “Cancer is growth gone wrong, a message to take a new road in your life.” Poet W.H.Auden wrote about cancer in his poem, Miss Gee, “Childless women get it and men when they retire. It’s as if there had to be an outlet for their foiled creative fire.”

    A letter I received from a woman stated: “My mother’s words were eating away at me and maybe gave me cancer. You gave me permission to be the authentic person I was meant to be. I told her she didn’t need my permission but she did need someone’s love and compassion and I was happy that I was able to do that for her.”

    The following comes from a chapter entitled “Death and Growth: Unlikely Partners from Elisabeth Kubler- Ross’s book, Death~The Final Stage of Growth She wrote, “All of us, even those who have chosen a life of non-growth, of playing out the roles that are prescribed for us, feel within our innermost selves that we are meant for something more in life than simply eating, sleeping, watching television, and going to working five days a week.”  That something else that many can’t define is growth, becoming all that is truly you—becoming more fully human. Listening to the news about the Oregon disaster, a classical example of what John Steinbeck said in East of Eden, “Everyone experiences rejection, with rejection comes the desire for revenge, and with revenge guilt, and there is the story of mankind.” The poets and authors observe the world and write about it. We need to pay attention to what they tell us through their creative endeavors.

    One of the victims of the Oregon murderer said to him that he was sorry for what he had experienced in his life. The murderer’s response was that he was just saying that—he didn’t really believe what he was saying. I can tell you what he was saying is the truth, and he wasn’t killed. I do know of people who are alive today because they accepted the person threatening their lives and through their love and compassion, saved their lives and that of the potential murderer.  In a sense I feel that if we can act like loving grandparents towards one another, being free of judgment and just seeking to give our love and compassion to others so that they feel worthy, it will change their life and help them to grow in a healthy way as a human being and not end up killing for revenge, then committing suicide due to their guilt (when their destructive behavior registers in their mind) and they realize they are acting like the people they want revenge from.

    I have mentioned before the story of a young man who was sexually abused by his parents and their friends. He called me to tell me he was going to commit suicide and to say goodbye. When I offered to help him kill his parents, which seemed more appropriate, he said, “No, I never want to be like them.” I believe that there are no coincidences.  He is alive today because the subway train he planned to jump in front of didn’t show up on time and he was rescued.

    We need more love warriors out there helping people feel cared for and about. Even the FBI recently acknowledged that domestic violence can be decreased if we upgrade animal cruelty to a Group A felony. Why? Because the people performing the cruel acts with animals are also doing it to their spouses and children and if we are aware of this we can help their victims to escape their brutality. Often a spouse will stay in an abusive marriage to protect the pets and children, but it doesn’t really stop the abusive behavior.

    Back to why am I writing all this. I want those of you who are being abused and threatened to get the hell out of there. Tell the truth and don’t lie to protect the abuser from the authorities. I want us all to stop the growth from going wrong, leading to disease of the individual and society. Grow up. As a woman I know who has breast cancer said, “I had a mastectomy and got a divorce. I gave up a tit and an ass.”

    When you start growing in a healthy way by doing what your heart and authentic self desire and deserve, you will create a life and body you love, and then true healing can happen. I know it isn’t easy, but it is worth the effort. We are here to grow by becoming what our inner seed knows it should be. So give yourself the soil, nourishment, and sunshine and let your acorn become an oak tree; we are all unique but still a part of the family of man.

    From Leo Rosten, “I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, and to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something—to have made some difference that you lived at all.” Revenge isn’t on his list.

    Peace, Love & Healing,

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    Health Care Crisis

    The present health care crisis is not just related to health care. It is a crisis related to what is happening in our society. We have become depersonalized as a society, invested in technology and not the experience people are having. Studies verify what happens to children who grow up unloved and experiencing indifference, rejection, and abuse. By midlife, if they haven’t killed themselves and/or others while seeking revenge (and experiencing guilt related to their actions), almost 100% of them have experienced a major illness. Loved children, on the other hand, have one-fourth the serious illness rate.

    Information does not resolve unhealthy behavior. People who smoke or are two hundred pounds overweight are not acting out of stupidity or a lack of knowledge. What everyone needs is inspiration. When parents, teachers, clergy, doctors, politicians, and other authority figures display their love, individuals feel that they are being related to. This is not about liking what people are doing, but about loving them and maintaining a relationship with them until they realize they are worthy and loved. At that point they begin to follow instructions and behave in a manner that is life-enhancing and not self-destructive. I know this from my experience as a surgeon who did not reject his patients.

    When you grow up without love, what you seek are rewards and feelings that you never experienced in a healthy way. So the individual turns to addictions to drugs, food, alcohol, and more as a way of rewarding themselves and numbing their pain. We need to listen to each other and treat the wounds of the individuals we are caring for and about. Studies reveal that when a patient states that their doctor listened to them during their office visit, they are far more likely to take their medication and follow the doctor’s advice.

    Society needs to see parenting as a public health issue and help parents bring their children up feeling loved. We have birthing classes but no parenting classes. The latter is desperately needed if we are to avoid self-destruction. All authority figures in a person’s life become either destructive or constructive parents for the individual. This includes everything from global warming to obesity.

    If you grow up with a sense of self-worth and self-esteem, you do not behave in a destructive and unhealthy manner towards yourself and others. As the father of five children, I know the importance of letting the children know that parental discipline comes from a sense of love for them. Then they follow directions because it gives a new sense of meaning to the message. I was called a CD (Chosen Dad) by a suicidal teenager. She is alive today because I became her Chosen Dad who loved her. We all have the potential to re-parent ourselves and others.

    Doctors, too, must understand that what people need is treatment—not just for their diagnosis, but also of their experience. When you ask patients what they want from their doctors, they do not ask that every disease be cured—but they do ask that doctors, “Knock on my door, Look me in the eye when they talk to me, Say hello and goodbye, and Call me by my name.”

    Having a disease is an experience which varies with every individual. If you ask 100 people with the same illness to describe their experience, you will get a different answer from almost every one of them. I know this from my experience as a physician who has counseled cancer patients and others for decades. The words they come up with relate to their life and help me to treat and understand their woundedness.

    When a major medical journal publishes a pharmaceutical ad which reads, “I was depressed, unable to cope. I went to see my physician. I said you’ve got to help me. He prescribed an antidepressant and I feel wonderful now.” I wrote in criticizing them for ignoring the patient’s needs and responding so impersonally and asked them to insert a sentence which asked what was happening in the patient’s life. They cancelled the ad.

    I know doctors whose salaries were capped because they talked to patients four minutes longer than the department average. That is sick also. The American College of Surgeons pledge ends with, “I will deal with my patients as I would wish to be dealt with if I were in the patient’s position.” I gave up trying to get them to change it to care for my patients as I would wish to be cared for. The only way to avoid a health care crisis is to care for and about the people who need our care.

    We also should reward those who remain healthy. If I do not require a doctor’s service, except for an annual physical exam, or any medications why not reward me at the end of the year with a refund or lower premium on my health insurance? If I am a safe driver I am rewarded. So why not reward me for safe and healthy living, and let those who are self-destructive pay the price.  If it becomes costly for them, maybe they will rethink their actions.

    We also ought to be sure that all future doctors and health care executives spend a week in a hospital bed so they no longer are tourists but have the native’s experience. The former CEO of the Ritz Carleton Hotels, Horst Schulze, changed the way the hotels were run after he spent time in a hospital being treated for cancer. He humanized them so employees took on the problems of their hotel residents and greeted them by name. Every employee gets a list of twenty behavior patterns that they are to adopt. Some hospitals have used this list when I gave them a copy.

    We also need to understand that we have something to learn from patients who do better than expected. There are cases of self-induced healing. We can learn about survival behavior from these people and teach it to others. Relationships, connections, meaning in our lives—all are survival behavior qualities. It is no accident that women live longer than men with the same cancers, and that married men live longer than single men and have less lung cancer than single men if they are both smokers.

    We could also cancel Monday and reduce the rate of heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and other illnesses. Truth is that wouldn’t work because Tuesday would become the problem. Again, we need to teach people how to cope with stress and how to control their depression, fears, and other self-destructive emotions. Your body loves you, but if you do not love your life it will end far sooner, thinking that it is doing you a favor.

    Mind-body medicine should not be an alternative nor should complementary and integrative medicine be something doctors are not exposed to during their training. Medical journals, which are supported by pharmaceutical advertising, do not print articles which would expose doctors to alternative therapies. When patients are diagnosed with an illness, they should be given instructions about how to enhance their immune function, not just a pill to swallow.  Then patients can act like someone with an immune competent personality. Psychiatrist George Solomon saw the benefits of such behavior early on when working with HIV+ patients, and I see it in cancer patients and others.

    Doctors need to be teachers. Doctors also aren’t trained in mind-body medicine. They are not told about Carl Jung interpreting a dream and diagnosing a brain tumor. Yes, mind and body communicate, and this inner wisdom is also vital to survival. The patient’s beliefs affect the outcome of therapy. When chemotherapy is portrayed as the devil giving you poison, you are in big trouble. So doctors need to be taught how to communicate and enhance our healing potential. Scalpels can kill or cure, and so can words by becoming swords.

    Survival behavior means people should not be a submissive and suffering patient, but instead become respants, or responsible participants. Each year, 100,000 people  die from medical errors. Patients need to be known as people—not by their disease or room number. We need to humanize the system for both the doctor and the patient. Then doctors will know how to deal with their feelings and loss, and not just think that separating themselves from their patients will help them feel less pain if their patient dies. There are many famous paintings showing the doctor sitting next to the patient’s bed, chin in hand, thinking while their patient is dying. We need to reach out and touch each other.  To quote a young man who died of AIDS, “What is evil is not the disease, but [it is] to not treat the person with the disease with compassion.”

    My life as a physician was changed when my patient with breast cancer said to me, “You’re a nice guy. I feel better when I am in the office with you, but I can’t take you home with me. So I need to know how to live between office visits.” I started support groups to help patients learn. I was amazed at how few patients came to the groups when I offered them a longer, better life if they attended. I learned that if you grew up with guilt, shame, and blame from parents, teachers, and religious beliefs, you were afraid to participate in your own wellbeing. That is why the group became ECaP or Exceptional Cancer Patients. What I learned was when you helped people to live, they derived physical benefits from their new, joyful life—and didn’t die when they were supposed to. The best hospices have graduations and dropouts, too.

    If I were in charge of health care, I would also reward those people and companies who show the benefits of treatments that they can’t patent. A tax deduction or some other financial reward would help lead them to investigate more natural therapies and treatments rather than reject them as unproven or unknown.

    I have continued to run support groups for over 30 years. I have also benefited from the therapy. I have learned that people are not statistics—we have to help people in our lives achieve their potential and not see death as a failure or lost battle—whether we are medical professionals, friends, or family. When we see disease as the enemy and only focus on killing the disease, we empower our enemy. As Mother Teresa said, “I will not attend an anti-war rally, but if you ever have a peace rally, call me.”

    We need to help people to heal their lives and bodies, and benefit from the healing and the internal environment it creates. We give messages and instructions to our genes (epigenetics) through our lifestyle and personality, so to reduce vulnerability to disease we may need to modify certain lifestyle and personality behaviors.

    Medicine needs to focus on the people with the illness and not just the disease.


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    Most people I know only find enlightenment through their emotional or physical difficulties. That is a sad statement. Wouldn’t it be far better to be educated about life, and be prepared for its difficulties, by the wisdom of others rather than personally experience your own breakdown in order to become strong at the broken places (or expand through them). Many painful events become our blessings because of what they teach us and the voids they fill in our lives.

    I believe turning painful events into blessings requires wise parents, teachers, and spiritual leaders in your life who have a perspective of unlimited potential. Without that wisdom, you are at risk of choosing to adapt the perspective of adversity—you will see everything and everyone as an enemy (adversary) upon first meeting.  This can go beyond your career and invade your personal relationships, risking irreparable damage.  Others learn the hard way that the darkness leads them to the light, just as charcoal under pressure becomes a diamond.

    My writing and today’s books have nothing new to say. We may have new stories, but they are only repeating ancient wisdom. So read the wisdom of the sages and learn from those who have gone before us. Which path you take makes little difference. The themes of all the great spiritual leaders of the past have much in common So if you seek enlightenment get started by paying attention to what has already been said, and don’t wait for a personal disaster to bring you the gift of enlightenment. You may know the saying, “If you seek enlightenment, seek it as a man whose hair is on fire seeks water.” It takes that kind of desire to truly face the light.

    What helped me most was my search for the answer to why we have a world filled with pain and difficulties. As a physician I saw much suffering that seemed to make no sense. Ultimately I realized it was to give our acts of compassion meaning, and that being evil was failing to respond compassionately to the person with the affliction.

    We have free will and when we choose to love, it is a choice which makes our love meaningful. The free will allows us the opportunity to become co-creators and, hopefully, some day we will create a family of man and our own Garden of Eden. As a surgeon I know we are one family, despite our actions, because we are all the same color inside.

    A veterinarian friend of mine listed five points necessary to train animals properly. As I listened to her list, I realize it is what the enlightened give to each other. They are Love, Trust, Respect, Consistency, and Commitment. So the enlightened treat people as well as they do their pets.

    The questions I would ask you to consider to awaken and see the light are:

    1. What is evil?
    2. Who can you hate?
    3. Who can you love?
    4. Who is the enemy?
    5. Who is the Lord you work for?
    6. What do you need to say that you haven’t said?

    I won’t answer for you but as you seek enlightenment, the correct answers will make themselves apparent.

    The last point I will share with you is this—when you are enlightened, you will understand the power of love. So ask yourself why we say kill with kindness, torment with tenderness, love is blind, love thine enemies, and love thy neighbor as thyself. Therein lays the answer to life and enlightenment.

    Several years ago I fell from our roof, hit my head and developed amnesia, which improved my marriage and family life dramatically. I learned a great deal from the benefits of amnesia. When my memory came back, I had a difficult time with my wife and children because I remembered all their faults. A therapist friend said she could save me from years of therapy. I asked her how. She handed me something and said go home and read this and live what it says. What she handed me was Corinthians 1:13 which describes all the benefits of amnesia and more through love.

    Until you are enlightened and capable of loving, try amnesia in your relationships and daily life. It will help. Or if that doesn’t appeal to you, the next time you don’t know what to do and seek to make the enlightened choice, ask yourself, “What would Lassie do now?” If you prefer denominational or religious figures as choices, there are a few I can recommend, but choose wisely because animals are complete and man is not. Or so the Bible tells us.


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    Animals as Teachers

    The following is from a discussion I had with our beloved pet house bunny, Smudge. She is a great teacher, helping each of us find our authentic self. After I told Smudge that we needed another article for the website, she looked at me with that deep penetrating look and said,

    “We need to help people deal with the death of their beloved pets. I keep seeing articles in all the pet magazines about how to deal with the loss of your pet, but the writers don’t use the word deaththey talk about loss, passing, failed health, gone to pet heaven, and so on.  They are not helping people face the fact that the animal died. The articles remind me of how many health care professionals avoid being direct with patients about death. If I weren’t here to teach you, I don’t know where you’d be!”

    “I don’t deny that you have been a teacher for me, and helped me deal with loss and grief—you taught me how to turn the charcoal, under pressure, into a diamond.”

    “People need to understand why pets have shorter lives to begin with. You know our Creator has a reason for everything.”

    “Smudge, you mean to tell me there’s a reason people have longer lives than animals?”

    “Yup. You know that list you read when you lecture about starting the day without caffeine or pep pills, eating the same food every day and not complaining, facing the world without lies and deceit, not judging people by their race, accepting criticism and blame without resentment, not judging a rich person as better than a poor person, conquering tension without medical help and it ends with, and if you can then you’re almost as good as your dog.”

    “Well, that’s why animals don’t need as much time. We are complete and understand about love, kindness, forgiveness, how to survive life’s difficulties, turn curses into blessings, and do what we were born to do. We can die with a smile because we understand all that. How many people do you know who die laughing?”

    “Truth is, Smudge, except for the pets and people in our family; I don’t know many who do die that way. I guess Lassie is a model in life and death for us all.”

    “People have to realize what animals already know. The only thing of permanence is love. Sooner or later our bodies will perish at any rate but if they perish without love of what use will they have been? We need to express and serve out of love, and then we can die with a smile knowing we have done what we were sent here to do. And it has nothing to do with how much time one is on this planet.”

    “So you are saying that life and death are both parts of a circle. And though people fear death, I shouldn’t be so sure it is the worst outcome. When we are free of our bodies we are perfect again and free of afflictions.”

    “You got it Doctor Bernie. The Noah story explains it all.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Haven’t you ever wondered why Noah didn’t bargain with God to save more people and animals? He never asked for his neighbor’s and their sweet Labrador to be allowed on his ark in addition to what God told him he should take.”

    “I never stopped to think about that. Why do you think he didn’t try to sneak a few others onto the ark?”

    “Because, just like I said, death is not the worst outcome. Life is difficult. Who got left with a boat full of animal poop? Noah did. All the rest got a chance to be free of their afflictions and start again a lot wiser than before. So life is a school, and each time we experience it as a place of learning, I hope we move up a grade and become more creative and loving.”

    “Wow so you think we keep coming back?”

    “Yes, I but I don’t think I know our consciousness is passed on to those who follow us; let me add this. When your beloved pet dies, don’t go looking for him or her to be reincarnated for your sake. This is not about replacing what you lost, but taking in a new family member and giving them a full and unique life. Don’t keep naming future pets after the one you have lost. Make each one of them authentic.”

    “I have learned from you not to call our three legged dog tripod and make his deformity what is important about him.”

    “Right and when Furphy was attacked and lost an eye you didn’t get him an eye patch and change his name to Captain Hook.”

    “Boy, Smudge, we have covered a lot of stuff that people rarely want to look at. Any final words of advice?”

    “Just that if you want to be immortal, share your love. Love is the bridge between the land of the living and the land of the dead. And our consciousness never ends, though our bodies do. So be aware your loved ones are still around you, because once you leave your body, time no longer exists. They can share the journey, but in another form and way. You’ll believe it all when you experience it, and we all will someday. Now, let’s not waste our life time and go out and play!”

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    Past Lives, Artists, and Pets

    Dear Everybody,

    I find as time goes by that these columns come more often from my heart, experience, and feelings and less often from my head and thoughts. For one thing, I do believe that my past life experience as a knight, who killed with a sword, took place in Ireland. People have often felt my wife is Irish, too, and I do believe we shared a past life tragic experience. I felt something special when we visited Ireland, and had a child named after me by a patient of mine when I helped resolve a crisis during her pregnancy. She said we are naming our son after you, not Bernie but Brady, because we are Irish.

    My wife and I marrying resolved the conflict between the families in our past lives, as the land they were fighting over became our wedding gift and there was no longer anything to fight over. I also learned about having faith in those who represented your Lord, and not acting out of fear, but out of faith. I believe Abraham and Jesus are prime examples of those who did not fear their Lord, but feared separation from their Lord, and so their faith guided their behavior.

    Now where am I going with all this? I want to tell you about another so called coincidence. I rely on them in my life. I let my Lord know my needs and desires and then follow my Lord’s instructions. I have written about the death of our two dogs Furphy and Buddy this year. So I let my Lord know that I was looking for another dog and would wait for a sign or message when the right one appeared. I did go to the local shelter, but didn’t connect or find any special signs when I looked over the dogs, and even took one for a walk and home visit.

    The other day I got the feeling it was time to go back. I asked if there were any new additions and indeed there was a husky, malamute mix that just came in that day. I love those breeds and went to see the dog. He was sweet and friendly and I was thinking about possibly adopting him. Then I looked at the information sheet on his cage’s gate. Name: Brady. Well, I immediately said I wanted to adopt him and I will once a vet sees him and they get his blood tests done.

    Just another coincidence? I don’t think so. Nor was the adoption of our other dogs. Furphy was running loose when I went into the shelter and ran up and grabbed my leg, and Buddy was sitting in the doorway having just been brought in. A voice told me to go to the shelter after I finished writing my book Buddy’s Candle. Of course when I asked his name the answer was, Buddy. I expect and look for these coincidences all the time to help direct me. It is all about our consciousness being a source of communication and wisdom for us all no matter what species we belong to.

    Now as far as my interest in art as a child, I feel that relates to past life consciousness, too. In this case, as crazy as it may seem, I think my connection is Vincent Van Gogh. I believe when we find unusually talented children, they are displaying something present within their consciousness that is rare and exceptional, reflecting from whom the source of that consciousness comes. I have always felt close to his work and very sensitive to his life and suffering. I urge you to listen to, or read, the complete lyrics of the song about Vincent Van Gogh’s life, Starry Starry Night by Don McLean (http://www.don-mclean.com/ ). The first time I heard it, I felt deeply moved by it, and just want to listen to it over and over. You can do it via the internet.

    Here are some excerpts from this beautiful song:

    And now I understand what you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    They would not listen
    They did not know how
    Perhaps they’ll listen now
    And now I think I know what you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    They would not listen
    They’re not listening still
    Perhaps they never will…”

    Years ago, as I began to work with cancer patients, I felt exactly as the lyrics in the song describe. I ended up on all the talk shows with doctors arguing emphatically about my application of healing as a multifaceted experience—and one in which the patient has to be a partner.  Now, those same doctors tell me I was way ahead of the times.

    “And now I understand what you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    They would not listen
    They did not know how
    Perhaps they’ll listen now….”

    “For they could not love you
    But still your love was true,
    And when no hope was left in sight on that starry, starry night
    You took your life as lovers often do,
    But I could have told you Vincent,
    This world was never meant
    For one as beautiful as you.”

    “And now I think I know what you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    They would not listen
    They’re not listening still,
    Perhaps they never will…”

    I think my self-portrait as a surgeon, hidden behind a cap, mask and gown, was painfully similar to what is expressed in these lyrics in Don McClean’s beautiful Starry Starry Night”

    “Portraits hung in empty halls
    Frameless heads on nameless walls
    With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget …”

    But I was fortunate enough to have the support of loved ones and past life consciousness. Try to live by of these brilliant lyrics in Starry Starry Night.

    Live the authentic portrait of your life, and don’t worry about what others see. You are the artist and your life is a blank canvas until you pick up a brush and start to create your image.

    Peace, Love & Healing,

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    Information, Inspiration and Expiration – Part Two

    Dear Readers,

    Here is one of the articles you will find on my website. From time to time, I like to highlight specific articles by themselves.  This is Part Two of our discussion on the importance of being an empowered patient, working with doctors who will truly partner with us on a diagnosis as we journey through the complexities of discovery, treatment, and healing which follows.  Please read it with a mind open to envisioning yourself working successfully as a full partner in your health care.   ~ Bernie

    (Here is the link to Part One of this article.)

    I do, however, point out the benefits of love to the individual and those with whom they are in contact. When people are unwilling to do this, I let their families know that they need to take care of themselves, too. Why? Because there is something called Siegel’s sign in physical diagnosis. When a family walks into your office and everyone looks sick except one person you can be sure the one who looks well is the one with the illness and is using it to manipulate everyone else in the family. I always guarantee them a cure on their next visit. They never come back to that office again and always arrange future meetings in the ER or other safe places where a cure is not available.

    What do respants do that represents survival behavior? They take action, seek wisdom, perform meditation and imagery, and have spiritual support. Spiritual support may come from a religion, but some religions have regulations that create guilt and lead to feelings that one deserves God’s punishment. Disease is no different than when one loses one’s car keys. You don’t say God wants me to walk home, so you look for your keys. When you are ill, you have lost your health, and respants look for it to be restored.

    They live a life with meaning, express their feelings and appropriate anger, ask for help when it is needed, learn to say no to things they do not want to do, make their own decisions about treatment, bring play into their lives, deal with feelings of depression and learn from them.  In short, respants do not live a role, but an authentic life.

    In essence life becomes a labor pain in which we birth ourselves, and because we are making the choices, the delivery has less pain, complications, and side effects.

    About twenty years ago I met Susan Duffy who had developed scleroderma and was not given much time to live. She was an enraged lady over her illness and her difficult life. Her parents and sister were alcoholics who committed suicide and were angry at her for not doing so. When I met her all I could do was listen and it turned out to be what Helen Keller advises—“deafness is darker by far then blindness.” When Susan emptied out her rage in 1987 she wrote me a letter telling me that she had let love into her prison, and it had touched every negative item in it, and transformed them into something meaningful. She is alive today as a member of our support group, and one of my teachers. I will present her list for survivors at the end of this article.

    Eight years ago my phone rang and someone asked me for Jack Kevorkian’s home number. I learned why Becky wanted to die, so I told her that she is a child of God.  I asked her to send me some drawings. I don’t tell people don’t smoke or commit suicide. I say “I love you and God loves you so why hurt a child of God.” Becky and I have worked on her pain and she is alive today.  I am her CD or Chosen Dad. What is my role? To keep loving her no matter what she does. I don’t have to like her behavior while I continue to love her. That is very different then telling her there is something wrong with her versus her actions. Becky has helped me with others who are considering suicide, and it is something the medical students of today need to realize.

    When I ask medical students to draw themselves as doctors, the majority of the drawings are totally depersonalizing. Some show no human beings only computers, instruments, diplomas, and books. One drawing I have shows a kneeling young man handing the patient a tissue and that is what Becky said. When someone responds to her needs she is given the will to live and it may simply be a tissue.

    I do not criticize people for their choices, but instead, try and help them find what is right for them. In doing so, I help them find new options and paths to healing their lives and hopefully their illnesses as well. Death is not a failure and is inevitable. I remind people to not try and avoid death but to enjoy life. If you try and avoid death, you end up very angry when you find out life has a 100% mortality rate. But when you enjoy life, the bonus is a longer and healthier one.

    We each need to find our path and way to healing. The messages are age old and can be found in the literature of great spiritual leaders, the US Marines training manual, the writings of children with cancer, and others. Two things are key elements. One is the inspiration I discussed, and the other is one’s behavior. Learn from those with multiple personality disorder who must disassociate with their other personalities in order to return to their authentic self. To find your path to healing, you must also must disassociate from you old self and begin behaving as if you are the person you want to be. You rehearse and practice and find the coaches to help guide you. I see myself today as a coach for the inspired respant who wants to learn survival behavior. How will you know one when you meet her/him? Ask them these questions: I am taking you to dinner what do you want? How would you introduce yourself to God? What should I hang in the lobby of public buildings with a sign above it that says, come and see how beautiful and meaningful life is?

    The correct answers are: The response should be within 5-10 seconds demonstrating they are in touch with their feelings and not thinking about fat content, cost, or what you want. The introduction is that you and God don’t need an introduction.  You are a child of God.  Last, you hang up not a picture of a baby, rainbow or flower, but a mirror.

    Now let me close with a list from Susan for survivors.


    1. Trust yourself enough to become your own teacher.
    2. Cultivate your own sense of being and spirituality.
    3. Trust in your own instincts, intuitions and leadings.
    4. Learn to flow with your own ideas concerning searching and seeking answers.
    5. Choose to have faith in yourself and your place in life.
    6. Discipline yourself to love the positive more than the negative.
    7. Let go of everything that you can’t change.
    8. Change yourself through self-acceptance and love then what happens around you won’t matter.
    9. Learn to forgive the unforgivable and you will become free.
    10. Forgive God, others and yourself.
    11. Allow yourself to feel anger, pain, joy and sadness.
    12. Express your feelings and don’t feel so alone.
    13. Everything changes.
    14. Look to other people for guidance and inspiration but not answers.
    15. Other people don’t have all the answers they are learning too.
    16. Nothing so bad ever happened to you that didn’t happen to someone else.
    17. No one is unique we all suffer the same joys and pains of life.
    18. Our problems may come in different shapes and sizes but the solutions are the same.
    19. Embrace life it will hug you back.
    20. Don’t have a need to control.
    21. Allow the order of things to take place. God knows what He is doing.
    22. Enjoy the peace knowing someone bigger and stronger is in charge.
    23. Don’t make too many schedules you will go crazy.
    24. You can’t fix everything; you are not the creator.
    25. Have faith and trust in the things you don’t understand. Life will become easier.
    26. Nothing ever happens to you that is not for your good in the bigness of things.
    27. Deal with grief, pain and loss when they happen and you won’t have to relive them.
    28. Don’t make too many plans for the future life may step in.
    29. Love is the greatest healer there is.
    30. The less you need someone the more you can love them.
    31. Rest when you need to no one else can do it for you.
    32. Never stop learning you will become bored.
    33. Behind every cloud of adversity is a silver lining. Have the courage and faith to find it.
    34. Good and bad events are the pieces of the puzzle that make life complete.
    35. God heals. Doctors get paid for it.
    36. Letting go of those we love is the greatest gift of love we can give them.
    37. Live each day as if it were your last. You will have a lot of great days.
    38. Don’t live a life of confusion you will get lost.
    39. Love unconditionally those unable to love back and you will be set free.
    40. Pray, meditate, sit quietly, take walks.
    41. Look up to something bigger than you are, life, love, God.
    42. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Then move on life is too short.
    43. Live a life of prayer and you can get through anything.
    44. Learn to laugh at yourself and you will make friends with yourself.
    45. Know you are a child of God.
    46. God loves you even when you think no one else does.
    47. Be your own person in all things.
    48. When you know yourself other people will know you too.
    49. Learn to accept criticism, advice and suggestions. They can help you.
    50. Be humble when you receive praise.
    51. Don’t get stuck following one religion, group or person move forward.
    52. Life holds the wisdom, answers and solutions that any person could ever need their life.
    53. Have the courage to explore.
    54. Open to life. Feel it, experience it, live it and you will learn to fly (transcend).

    In conclusion, I will advise you as I have advised many, many people over the years:

    Live in the moment as children and animals do.  Or as one of my patients put it, “I want to be dying forever.” If we live with a sense of time, we learn how to spend it, and that it is everything.  Ultimately, what is immortal is our love, not our bodies.

    Peace & Love to All,

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    Information, Inspiration and Expiration – Part One

    Dear Readers,

    Here is one of the articles you will find on my website, www.berniesiegelmd.com. From time to time, I like to highlight specific articles by themselves.  My choice today is an article focusing on the importance of being an empowered patient, working with doctors who will truly partner with us on a diagnosis as we journey through the complexities of discovery, treatment, and healing which follows.  Please read it with a mind open to envisioning yourself working successfully as a full partner in your health care.   ~ Bernie

    Beginning in 2015, The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), a test that is required of all applicants to medical school in the U.S. and Canada, includes a section on social and behavioral sciences and it is recommended that students take a course in psychology and sociology/anthropology to prepare for the MCAT. This is great news, as far as it goes.  Since 1978, I have been talking and writing about the need to include a much broader base of human communication education to augment the science requirements.  Most medical school applications have a section for the applicant to express their motivation and commitment to a medical career, but success in the science courses remains the true emphasis during the selection process.

    Even if the candidate for admission is expresses interest in and fascination with the anatomy, physiology (how the body’s systems and their component parts should work together normally in the human body, the problem is that patients—the people who come to see physicians—are generally seeing doctors who have been given medical information but not a medical education. An education teaches physicians how to deal with and care for the human experience of illness—not just treat the diagnosis from information, however excellent it is. A medical education must teach the skill of communication in every interaction with patients so that we, as physicians, do not kill with our words. Instead, we must treat sensitive and intuitive listening skills as equal to a scalpel in the healing process.  Just as we regard medical equipment like scalpels and scanners, etc., as vital to successful diagnosis and treatment, we must regard the power of interpersonal communication on that same level of importance in our physician “toolkit.”  Individuals are not statistics. If you are dismissive of what a patient has to tell you in depth, and tell them in an uncaring way that they must simply “face the fact that they are going to die; or be disabled for life; or any other cold analysis based on statistics, you can do irreparable harm to that patient—even to the point of taking away the will to live.  One of our sons showed me how wordswordswords become swordswordswords when words are not used with sensitivity and care by physicians when they speak to patients at any point along the path of care.

    What I have found is that information does not change people. The obese, alcoholics, smokers, and nonconforming patients all know their behavior is not good for them. So why do they do it? It gets back to a lack of messages from parents, teachers, clergy, and other authority figures of love for the individual. The damage of poor parenting or traumatizing early interactions in life is just this simple and sad:  Ugly ducklings rarely find out on their own that they are swans. In one study a loved child had one fourth the illness rate of an unloved child by middle age. I see pet owners with cats and dogs who have lung cancer or asthma and they go outdoors to smoke, telling me that they want to their beloved pets. For these people, killing themselves with behaviors that can be changed is not questioned. Nine hundred years ago Maimonides stated, “People would suffer fewer illnesses if they took as good care of themselves as they do their animals.” Times haven’t changed.

    I have found in patients I have seen is that approximately 20% are what I call Responsible Participants (Respants) who either already show “survival behavior,” or are interested and motivated to learn it. What I do for the other 80% of my patients is love them, give them return appointments no matter what they do, and hope that, with time and my love, some will begin to realize they are worth loving and caring for—and then they begin to care for and about themselves showing “Survival Behavior.” In a sense, they come to realize that they are swans, and that they are, indeed, divine children. In my interaction with patients, I see clearly that  in this context of loving care coming from me as their physician, they are able to absorb the information that I present to them and because of that, they are also able to achieve better health as reflected on survival statistics studies.

    As I said, I can’t sell them on the idea of being a Respant, or site better statistics that might convince them.  These are people who have lost interest in working at living. They have grown up hearing that there is something wrong with them. Guilt, shame, and blame are what they are dealing with, so if you ask them to fight for their lives, it just seems to them as one more thing that they won’t get right. Sad but true. I often ask people to answer questions, join support groups, and draw pictures of themselves, their treatment, and disease. That eliminates many patients because they believe that if they are not artists they run the risk of doing it wrong; or perhaps it is because they just don’t want to work at surviving.

    If I can inspire them, and breathe life into them, then changes will occur. Now they are waking up to life and what makes them happy. This is not about self-interest, but focused on paying attention to their bodies and what feels good for them to do. Monday morning we have more heart attacks, suicides, and illnesses because we feel that our lives are meaningless, with most hours of each day taken up by work we don’t want to do. I help people reclaim their lives and be reborn, so that each day, every cell in their body is given a message about the joys of life. You may ask me whether I have seen people expected to die in months cured of their disease by living this way? Yes. Do I recommend it as the sole treatment? No, because I know how hard it is to ‘live in your heart and have magic happen’ and ‘leave all your troubles to God.’

    Come back next week for the next installment of Information, Inspiration, and Expiration.  You’ll be glad to pick up where we left off having had a week or so to think about the message.


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    Old Times and Life

    Dear Everyone,

    Relationships are what life is about. I realize how vital it is to bring up the children of the world to feel loved. If you feel loved you care for yourself and others, because you see yourself in others. I know people who gave up the convenience of smoking indoors after one of their cats died of lung cancer and others were having breathing problems. I have shared before that she advises people to smoke outdoors. “Doug and I now smoke in the yard. We’re not killing our cats anymore; we hope you’re not killing yours.” So it’s okay to kill yourself—just protect your cats.

    There are many ways we can re-parent each other and help others to feel loved. As a doctor, I always gave the self-destructive people return visits until they realized I cared about them, and then I saw them start to take care of themselves. So keep loving the unlovable and you will make a difference in their lives.

    I was thinking about insurance companies today after talking to someone who works for one, and who is also taking a health course at The Graduate Institute in Bethany. What if insurance companies rewarded us for being healthy and taking care of ourselves instead of paying for  health problems that arise because we haven’t been taking care of ourselves? Years ago, The United Illuminating Company (UI), an Orange, Connecticut-based regional electric distribution company established in 1899, built a shed outside of their building so employees could go there to smoke. I wrote to them and suggested that they use the money to offer their employees free smoking cessation therapy instead of a building in which they could continue to be self-destructive. In taking that action, the company would be saying, “UI loves its employees.” Sending that message might get those employees to start loving themselves enough to quit smoking.

    The following question was sent to me through my website (www.berniesiegelmd.com). I encourage all of you to contact me through the website with any question, and I will answer you personally. Please be assured that I protect everyone who sends me a question with complete anonymity, removing all personal identification, including names, locations, and anything else that could identify you if a question and my answer is shared with my website readers in the Q&A with Bernie column. Here is a question I felt needed to be highlighted all by itself because I have received the same question from so many people over the years. It is what I would call a “universal question” because of its long-standing interest among my readers:

    “I feel awful when I look in the mirror—what can I do?

    Many responses come to mind, the first from a veterinarian who was tormented about her upcoming mastectomy. She said she couldn’t sleep until she remembered all the animals she operated on, amputating various parts. “They wake up and lick their owner’s face. They know they are here to love and be loved, and to teach us a few things.” She had no trouble sleeping after that.

    A young woman with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) said, “I didn’t want to die hating my body. I was a bowl of Jell-O in a wheelchair. So I sat naked in front of the mirror and started loving myself a small piece at a time—my knee, my smile, and so on.”  Ultimately she learned to love all of her body, and cured herself of her disease through the “love of self.” When your body knows you love yourself and your life, amazing things can happen.

    The last response I will share is from a young woman who, due to a genetic defect, is a dwarf. She learned to love herself and her life, which led her to writing an inspiring book showing how a disability can become an ability.  She teaches her readers about what life is really about, and what is truly meaningful. The title of her book is Nothing Short of Joy. In the same way, someone I know with cerebral palsy wrote a book entitled The Bird with a Broken Wing. These two extraordinary people are my teachers.

    Another solution that my inner child needs to share is this:  If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, and are afraid of failing to love yourself and your body, you can take all the mirrors down or cover them up and save on therapy costs and time.

    Something I did with our kids was to give them health days every semester. These were days they could just say, “Dad I’m taking a health day.” That meant they were not going to school and did not need an excuse or illness as a reason. I felt this showed them that they didn’t need to come into the kitchen acting sick to meet their needs. I suggest you all do that for yourselves and your families.

    To lighten things up a bit, I was thinking of the time I leaned back in my chair and just looked around the room. My head rested upon our cat Rusty who was balanced on the headrest. Around me, sleeping and keeping me company, I could feel the love and desire to be with me of our many pets. All are rescued, and besides Rusty, we now have cats named Simon, Princess, and Hope. Until recently, we also had dogs named Furphy, Buddy, and Sex. They all did, and some still do, take up my time and our bed space, but also give me an excuse to walk and take time to meditate about life. They are great teachers about forgiveness and love and good role models for living in the moment. And there was nothing that matched asking my wife, “Honey, where do you think I can find Hope and Sex?” So, I am looking for another dog to adopt with a meaningful name—unless one of you reading this is inspired to do the same and beats me to the local shelter!

    Peace, Love & Healing,
    Bernie Siegel, MD

    “If the only prayer you ever say is ‘Thank You’ that would suffice.”

    ~ Meister Eckhart  (1260-1328)
    German theologian, philosopher and mystic

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    Q & A with Bernie – September 28, 2015

    Question for Bernie:

    Hi Bernie,
    Very recently while out dancing, a person who was clearly drunk collapsed behind me, falling onto the backs of my legs.  This caused me to fall forward onto my right knee.  The diagnosis on examination by physicians was a “knee sprain and displaced avulsion involving the medial patella.”  I see an orthopedist in the coming week about the displaced avulsion.  I’d rather see a psychiatrist about what I would call “displaced revulsion.”

    I am getting a little better each day but still need the walker.  A mentally-disabled friend (who does more even with his health challenge than anyone else I know, including me) helped me get to Urgent Care Saturday morning, when I still could not put any weight on my right leg for even a moment.  I met this great friend when I dated his sister about 20 years ago.  She left our relationship back then, but he stayed on and became a good friend.  But she was there to help me along with her brother by driving us to Urgent Care, getting coffee for me while I sat in a wheelchair waiting to be examined, and shuttling intake forms, my ID information, etc., back and forth to the intake people.

    I was dictating what to do and in what order.  I recognized myself quickly from what you have written about going to your waiting room, seeing a family, and knowing that the healthy-looking person is your patient.

    Thanks for all your work.  Best wishes to you and your family.

    Bernie’s Answer:

    I recall a lawyer saying to me in the midst of a tragedy that “…being a lawyer is a serious illness in itself, because while learning how to think like a lawyer, I almost forgot how to feel.”

    Life is about interruptions and disruptions. What we learn about ourselves as we go about handling these upheavals is critical to our growth as thinkers AND feelers in the School of Life.  As we encounter these “tests” throughout our lives, one of the most important lessons they teach us is how to recognize our authentic selves.

    We make our lives much more meaningful when our choices in handling any given situation come from knowing our true selves—not who others think we are and what they think we should do.


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    Buddy, Death and Love

    Dear Everybody,

    Love you to death, love warrior and doctor love are words which interest me. Is it a negative thing to love someone to death? I think not because by my definition what we have eliminated from our lives are the things which do not contribute love and meaning to our lives and to what we are here to contribute as Gods with skin on. The love warrior I often discuss because I know the power of love as a weapon and how effective it is in changing my actions and the people I attack with my love. So give it a shot and kill with kindness and love your opponents to death. Give it a shot reminds me of all our current weapon problems but if the ammunition is love who wouldn’t put their heart at risk for a shot of love.

    Our second dog to die this year, Buddy, died a few days before I wrote this article. Years ago. after writing a story, which us now a book called Buddy’s Candle, I heard a voice while out walking with Furphy say, “Go to the animal shelter.” So we jump into the car and head down there. I walked into the shelter and asked the name of the dog sitting by the door. Of course, his name was Buddy and he had just been dropped off by some lady, who didn’t like his behavior, fifteen minutes before I got there. I know why I was sent the message and home he came with us after I said, “I am here to take him home.”

    On the way home we stop for gas and he leaps out of the car and runs down Amity Road and all the cars are stopping and people are trying to help me get Buddy back into my car. When we got home in my mind I verbalized the words, “Why did you do that?” He answered with a story I could never have dreamt of making up. “I lived with a couple, the wife was very nice but her husband was an alcoholic. When he would come home she would ask him to take me for a walk. He would leave me in the car while he would go out drinking and abuse me too. He beat me with sticks. When we got home he would lie to his wife about where we had been. So I don’t feel safe getting into a car.”

    I explained to him I would never do that and that we were family and he had nothing to fear. I noticed for years that he would get nervous around me when I picked up a stick in the yard or a broom but it was not an issue as time went by and he felt safe. The real test came when a few days later I returned from shopping to see the sliding side door on the minivan open I thought I was in for a disaster with him being gone. I apparently had hit the car door button accidentally, while putting the keys in my pocket. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got to the car; there sat Buddy in an open car. Furphy was missing and I started bellowing his name and running around until I heard Amelia, my animal intuitive friend’s voice, say for me to calm down and get into the dog’s head. As soon as I did I knew Furphy was looking for me and probably inside Stop & Shop with the manager yelling, “Whose dog is this?”

    Sure enough when I got to the door the security guard asked me if I was looking for a dog. He had Furphy in his car with air conditioning, water and treats waiting for me.

    A last story for the disbelievers regarding communication via consciousness; I have taken our dogs to several of Amelia’s workshops so they can be questioned by people who are learning the process. When Furphy and Buddy were new to our home they often urinated in the house. So my question to the class was why do they pee in the house so often. The answer I got was right on. “You have so many plants in your house they are confused about what’s indoors and what’s outdoors|”

    The next workshop was at the Omega Conference Center. At the lunch break Amelia and I and Furphy headed for the dining hall. I was told, “Dogs are not allowed in the dining hall.” So I went in the back door and left Furphy sitting outside knowing he would wait for me to come out as he does at the bank, post office and wherever we go. A few minute later a man comes walking through the dining hall with Furphy in his arms, “Whose dog is this?” I acknowledged the problem was mine. He told me he had come in the front door. Everyone was impressed with Furphy’s determination to be with me by circling the building and climbing a flight of stairs so he was granted permission to stay and have lunch with us.

    The last of the subjects in this column is death. Let me tell you death is like a graduation or a commencement. Once again you will be perfect and free of your body while still able to see and hear and think. I had a NDE (near death experience) at age four and know what I am talking about. There are plenty of books about it now that it isn’t considered impossible for NDE to be a part of our reality. Our consciousness does not die when our bodies do and is immortal in the sense that it is available to others to learn from and utilize in healthy and unhealthy ways. Consciousness dictates what your mind mediates.

    Your consciousness decides when to pull the trigger but your mind decides what to load your gun with: love and a reverence for life or revenge and destruction and who your weapon is aimed at.

    Peace, Love & Healing,

    Bernie Siegel, MD

    “Peace comes from relinquishing desires, not from accomplishing them.”
    - Ann Onymous

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