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  • New from Bernie Siegel – The Art of Healing

    Introducing Bernie Siegel's new title, The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing. This long-awaited follow-up to his bestseller Love, Medicine & Miracles updates Dr. Siegel’s insights into the healing power of drawing, dreams, and intuition. The use of drawing in Bernie’s practice has helped patients discover the physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of healing and guided them toward the best choices and options for their particular situation. Learn more     Available now in bookstores everywhere. Order your copy online today at:  Wisdom of the Ages, Barnes & NobleAmazon or New World Library.
  • Bernie’s Video of the Week

    Watch a free video today! Learn more about art therapy. The free video will be available for viewing in the next weeks free of charge. Please share it with your friends. http://lumenznetworks.com/siegel/watch/positive-experience/
  • Ask Bernie a Question

    Have a question you would like to ask Bernie? Use the message box below, and be sure to include your e-mail address. Bernie will answer questions each Monday on his blog (see below). Thank you for sharing your question!

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  • Today’s Prescription for the Soul – Prescription #193 – Good Friends

    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.

    Friendship improves happiness and abates misery,
    by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.

    - Cicero

    What is a friend? To me it is someone who knows our faults and still sees the divine in you. A friend will love you despite your imperfections. A friend is someone who is there for you when you have the courage to ask for help. A friend is also someone who can say no to you and still remain a friend.

    A friend points out your imperfections, not to blame you for them but to help you become better at what you are doing, just as a coach would talk to an athlete. A friend always answers your calls even when you are driving them crazy.

    A friend never talks about who is right but rather listens to how you are feeling. A friend will not judge without taking the time to understand and can forgive, let go of the past, and continue to love. Probably the most important thing a friend does is never to abandon you, no matter what you do.

    Soulution of the Day

    Do something to acknowledge a good friend today
    and remember to be one as well.

    - Bernie

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  • The Power of Words

    Most doctors are not trained to communicate and understand the power of their words as they relate to a patient’s ability and desire to survive. Doctors are not the only authority figures who impact patients’ lives and their ability to survive a diagnosis of a disease. Parents, teachers, clergy and physicians also have the ability to change lives with their words. It can be hypnotic for a child or patient to hear an authority figure’s words. As I am fond of saying, “wordswordswords” can become “swordswordswords,” and doctors have the ability to cure with either “words” or kill with “swords.”

    Up to the age of six, a child’s brain wave pattern is similar to that of a hypnotized individual. To quote a woman I know, whose mother gave her only failure messages and dressed her in dark colors, and who as an adult has more trouble with her mother’s words than she does with cancer, “My mother’s words were eating away at me and maybe gave me cancer.” We know from recent studies that loneliness affects the genes which control the immune system. So it is incumbent upon doctors to ask the right questions and know what patients have experienced and are experiencing in their lives.

    I recently received two emails; one from a woman who had a recurrence of her cancer and had decided to not undergo chemotherapy again. Her doctor told her, “Then you might as well go home and commit suicide.” The other email came from a woman who asked her doctor if they could become a team. He told her no and that he was the doctor and in charge of her care. She packed her belongings, walked out of the hospital, and has found a caring oncologist with which to work. She is a survivor and not a submissive, sufferer, or from the doctor’s perspective, a “so-called” good patient.

    Doctors need to listen to their patients’ words and treat their experiences. Helen Keller said it very well when she stated, “Deafness is darker by far than blindness.” Doctors also need to understand that patients do not live a disease — they live an experience. Doctors need to ask how patients would describe their experience and then treat them accordingly. The words patients use, like draining, failure, denial, pressure, gift and wake-up call are always about what is happening in their lives. So doctors can help patients to heal their lives and improve the chances of curing their disease.

    I did a great deal of children’s surgery earlier in my career. When I meet many of these children today, as young adults, I am amazed at how vivid their memories are. It is obvious how important this event was to them and the details they recall. I learned how powerful my words were when I began to notice children falling asleep as we wheeled them into the operating room. One boy turned onto his stomach and fell asleep as we entered the O.R. I turned him over on the operating table and he said, “What are you doing? —–You told me I would go to sleep in the operating room and I sleep on my stomach.” I replied, “I needed to operate on his stomach to get to his appendix.” So we reached a compromise.

    Often I would rub an alcohol sponge on a child’s arm and tell them it would numb his or her skin. A third of the children would not feel the needle and ask why other doctors didn’t do that. I called it deceiving people into health. Give someone who has faith in you a placebo and call it a hair growing pill, anti-nausea pill, or whatever, and you will be amazed at how many respond to your therapy.

    Doctor Milton Erickson, from his childhood experience with polio and hearing his doctor’s dire predictions to his mother that he wouldn’t see the sun rise, knew how important words were. As a child his anger led him to defy the doctor’s predictions. As a psychiatrist, and hypnotherapist, he knew how to talk to patients to achieve the best outcome. There are many books about his work. One by Dr. Sidney Rosen is entitled My Voice Will Go With You. And our voices do. At the conclusion of an operation, while patients were still under anesthesia, a time when they hear their surgeon’s words, I would say, “You will awaken comfortable, thirsty and hungry.” I did that until I noticed many of my patients were gaining weight and so I added these words, “but you won’t finish everything on your plate.”

    One last story. Erickson would write in a patient’s chart and then excuse himself and leave the room. Of course he expected the patient would get up and go look at what he had written, so he would write, “Doing well.”

    So give your family mottoes to live by such as “Do what makes you happy” so they pay attention to their feelings and keep an open mind about the future. And don’t be afraid to remind your doctor that his or her words have the ability to hurt, but also more importantly, to heal.

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    Q & A with Bernie – November 17, 2014

    Question for Bernie

    Do you think a lack of self-love is behind addiction?
    Thanks for all you do!

    Bernie’s Answer

    Yes, it is grounded in growing up without parental love.  This absence of parental love accounts for not only addictions of various kinds, but all unhealthy, self-destructive behavior.

    Peace,
    Bernie


    Question for Bernie

    I heard you on 12radio today and loved the show. Thank you for all that you do.

    I am an artist and want to be able to help people through their art. I am hoping you can guide me to the best place to gain the critical insights and practices for being most effective at it, in service to others.

    I am also an Intuitive by profession so you can see the marriage of my interests. Thank you for any insight and assistance you can offer. You are brilliant bright light for me today!

    Bernie’s Answer

    Read my latest book, The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing. There are more than 60 drawings from patients that you can study.

    Also, learn human anatomy and you will see even more in the drawings, as well as help people with their own expression in drawing.

    I recommend that you also read two other books I mention in my book, which are Life Paints Its Own Span by Susan Bach, and The Secret World of Drawings by Gregg Furth.

    Peace
    Bernie

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    Jekyll and Hyde – Mind and Heart Matters

    Why can’t we live the sermon? What is wrong with the human race? In the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll believes that there is good and evil in everyone and that he can bring them out through chemicals which affect the brain. He creates a serum which brings out his alter ego Hyde.

    We do the same thing. We change our chemistry by our thoughts and attitudes towards life and other people and the various drugs and toxins we expose ourselves to. Would Abraham, Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, my Father, Schweitzer or The Good Samaritan expose themselves to or create that kind of chemical environment within themselves? I think not. Why then does a high school student turn into a Hyde and kill others for revenge only to have Jekyll pop up again and create enough guilt to then cause even Hyde to commit suicide?

    Why can’t we live the sermon we are all exposed to in our formative years? The basic answer is that words are not the solution but our actions towards one another are. If you grow up with indifference, rejection and abuse, reading the New or Old Testament is not going to solve the problem. I was going to write this article based upon Biblical messages until Jekyll and Hyde came on our TV via Turner Classic Movies and the themes were so in line I had to mention it. Again I repeat, it is all about love and feelings of self-worth and the worthiness of all living things.

    Now here is a very clear and simple list, I found in my readings, we are to follow and live by as explained in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 58b), they are: 1. Do not murder. 2) Do not steal. 3) Do not worship false gods. 4) Do not be sexually immoral. 5) Do not eat the limb removed from a live animal. 6) Do not curse God. 7) Set up courts and bring offenders to justice. Maimonides explains that any human being who faithfully observes these laws earns a proper place in Heaven. So you see, the Torah is for all humanity, no conversion necessary. I have to add that Maimonides’ words of wisdom have helped me to understand many things like disease being a loss of health and we should help our neighbor find what he has lost. Nine hundred years ago he said, “If people took as good care of themselves as the do their animals they would suffer fewer illnesses.” We are more likely to be Dr. Jekyll with our creatures and Mr. Hyde with ourselves and our families.

    For Gandhi it was Ahimsa, interpreted as non-violence, but being more meaningful related to how we treat each other in our relationships. Mother Theresa was in favor of peace rallies and not anti-war rallies. Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves presuming we love ourselves and feel like a child of God. Obviously the Hyde in us doesn’t let this happen in a compassionate loving way. Not only that his beautiful words, beliefs and actions are taken by others and made to add to our problems with guilt, shame and blame via the Hyde approach and internal chemistry. True love would never let these things happen.

    Several years ago I was invited by the clergy of Tupelo, Mississippi (The birth place of Elvis Presley.) to come there and give a lecture. I accepted their invitation and shortly thereafter a Baptist minister, via radio and the newspaper, declared I was satanic and occult and no one should attend my lecture. The other clergy were shocked and fortunately this minister was willing to talk to me and explain that I do guided imagery with people and Satan could take over the images. How he could conceive of people not knowing God and Jesus from Satan, or Jekyll from Hyde, amazed me. I told him that I would base my talk upon quotes from Jesus and not say anything that Jesus wouldn’t say. That seemed to help him at least be willing to talk with me again even though I was not enlightened. The best thing that happened was, due to the effect his criticism had on the community, to have a luncheon with all the clergy in Tupelo attending. They realized how they really didn’t know each other and what their beliefs were. It was a meaningful session and of course everyone in town came to my lecture, including the Baptist minister, once they were told they shouldn’t come and it was a healing experience.

    Our son Jeff had an interesting thought he shared with me when I told him about this topic. He said today parents and computers are the serum Jekyll is talking about. We are detached from each other; playing violent, destructive games via images which I am sure the minister would say are Satanic and occult. The Bible tells us God speaks in dreams and images and I know how true that is from my work with dreams and drawings by patients and children. But if parents and computer games distract us, expose us to violence and separate us from each other, they are helping to make this a Mr. Hyde world. If that is never to come to pass we need to create a Love Potion for ourselves and our children and help them to understand that aggression can be used in healthy ways too. We can fight for our lives and be love warriors.

    Peace, Love & Healing,
    Bernie

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    Some Inspirational Poems

    For those of you who haven’t had a chance yet to read the Inspirational Poems on my website, I thought it might be enjoyable (and inspirational) for you to read them now.  And for those of you who are inspired to submit a poem yourself, please do so.

    Cancer patients who laugh live longer. This poem, and her response to her disease, is survival behavior.


    If Bilateral Mastectomies Can’t Be Fun, They’re Not Worth Having
    by Suzanne Fenske

    I feel that I must make a clean breast of it
    and say that life has given me the booby prize.
    I know that this time my tit is really in the wringer
    and I feel like such a boob.
    Depression dwells deep in my bosom as I sit here like a lump
    and stare uncaring at the flickering boob tube.
    My life feels like such a big bust,
    and it is hard to keep abreast of what is happening around me.
    Inside I feel as cold as a witch’s tit,
    and I know my career plans to be a waitress at Hooters is definitely foiled.
    Let’s face it—I’m not just broke, I’m flat busted.
    Well thanks for listening.
    It felt good to get that off my chest.


    This poem shows us that we are all works of art. But we are a work in progress and not to be thrown out if imperfect, but to be reworked until we become who we want to become.

    Canvas
    by Unknown Author

    it is not as though I lost my breasts to surgery
    perhaps they were erased or painted over
    as if the artist changed her mind
    but see there are other changes, too
    the head held higher
    the shoulders back
    the brightness in the eyes
    the air of expectancy
    listening with keener ears
    observing with greater insight
    do we perhaps shed things as we go through life
    that other features may be enhanced
    the canvas isn’t finished
    there is more color on the palette


    There are natives and tourists. When you have experienced something, you are a native and can share the experience with others, helping to guide them. Remember, however, that everyone’s experience is still unique to them.

    Scars
    by Unknown Author

    in the east a railroad track
    running from the valley of my arm to the hilltop of my breast
    in the west a creek bed
    curving along the ridge of a rib
    it is not a perfect landscape
    unfit for calendars, postcards or brochures
    but my husband is blind to the surface flaws
    and I see myself through his eyes
    the eyes of a native who overlooks things that only a tourist would notice


    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
    by Bernie Siegel, MD

    My first sense was to get Lassie to write about beauty, since the animals know more about completeness than people do. If you were loved as a child and feel loved as an adult, you will still feel whole and not incomplete or imperfect. A two legged dog learns to balance, run, and enjoy life—not sit home worrying about what the other dogs in the neighborhood are thinking.

    I know young women, from our support group, who, after their mastectomy went out and had sexual affairs with men to prove they were still acceptable and attractive. It is sad that they had to prove it that way because when they looked in the mirror they saw an ugly duckling, not a swan. But remember what you reflect back comes from within you, so love yourself and your image will remain beautiful.

    A woman I know said after her mastectomy, “Cancer made me take a look at myself and I like who I met.” A curse can become a blessing when it makes you more complete. And being complete is not about the condition of your physical parts, but about the integrity of your spirit.

    I received a letter from a woman veterinarian who said at 3AM the night before her mastectomy she couldn’t fall asleep because of worrying.

    Then she remembered all the animals she operated on:
    “I amputate a leg or a jaw
    and when they wake up they lick their owner’s faces.
    They know they are here to love and be loved
    and teach us a few things.”
    From that moment on she was fine.

    When a dog has his leg amputated you don’t start calling him Tripod and focus everyone’s life energy on what is missing, and when you have a mastectomy, don’t change your name to Tomy and put all your energy into what is missing and wrong about your body and life. What follows is about survival behavior.

    Happiness
    by Bernie Siegel, MD

    I will not give my power away
    It is my happiness, mine
    I create it, not you
    I decide to be, not you
    You can come into my happiness,
    but you cannot create it or destroy it.
    You can only enlarge it.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Q & A with Bernie – October 27, 2014

    Question for Bernie

    Hope you and your family are happy.

    I just wonder if what you say is true about the power of the mind. I have had a number of health issues for many years.  I tried to live with them, but the quality of my life was just terrible with psoriatic arthritis/vitiligo/recurrent UTIs/asthma/thyroid, etc.  So two years back I threw everything into healing, e.g., I no longer eat sugar, gluten, and am 100% organic.  I do yoga and meditate.

    I even did the Hoffman process to forgive my parents.  I’ve had tons of therapy, gone on meditation retreats, and seen nutritionists.  And what happened?  I didn’t feel better.  I eventually had several relapses on the arthritis, and after six steroid jabs, I am now back on the maximum dose of Azathioprine.  I had made a decision that I really don’t want to live anymore if I am continually ill.  It’s just exhausting and not fun. I am, however, giving it another try and am embarking on a full-on leaky gut healing program, but I wonder if it is the other way round—it is my body affecting my mind. Your thoughts would be interesting.

    Bernie’s Answer

    You cannot separate mind and body.  Emotions alter body chemistry and immune function.  When you decide that you don’t want to live, your body gets the message and your immune system weakens.  If, instead, you love your life and your body, the immune system gets the message that you want to LIVE, and then things change.  Don’t make your body the enemy.  Love it just as it is.

    It is important to identify and then eliminate from your life what is killing you.  An easy way to do this is to write down the words that describe your health problems—think of words that describe the physical feelings (like pain, difficulty sleeping, no energy or whatever is true for you physically), but also write down the words that describe how your health affects your life (like restricting, annoying, frustrating, anxiety-producing, etc.)  The next step is to identify the people and situations in your life that fit any of the negative descriptive words you have listed.  Then, resolve to eliminate as many of these destructive, negative relationships and/or situations as you can from your life and restore a positive atmosphere around you.

    It is not about blame, so abandon your past and what your parents did to you by getting the anger out.  As long as it is stored within you, it plays a negative role, interfering with the strength of your immune system.

    Peace,
    Bernie

    Question for Bernie: (response from questioner above)

    What a kind response.

    I will think about what you say and get back to you…

    Bernie’s Answer: (to questioner’s response above)

    Here is a mantra/affirmation to say every few hours:

    Thank you for everything
    I have no complaint whatsoever
    I am happy
    I am healthy
    I love my life, body and family
    I am content with what i have
    I rejoice in the way things are
    Nothing is lacking
    The whole world belongs to me

    Also, see a naturopathic physician for help.  Finally, recall times that made you laugh out loud in the past, and enjoy laughing again several times each day.  Do all of these things and watch what happens.

    Peace,
    Bernie

    Question for Bernie

    Good morning Dr. Siegel,

    I thought I would quickly relay this story to you and let you know that I successfully employed what you spoke about in an interview you gave Tony Robbins.

    I was recently in charge of a number of attorneys reviewing documents in an old warehouse.  Because of the lack of space in our storage room, we utilized some common area hallway space (about 10 people with tables, chairs, and little lamps).  Really, no one was using the common space and the warehouse was very quiet.  As life happens, the landlord stopped by to show the property to someone.  He completely freaked out at the people who were there.  I was not there when he initially started yelling, ranting, and threatening people.  One of my trusted staff was calm and tried to talk to him, but realizing that to be impossible, called me and said “GET UP HERE ASAP!”

    I met up with the landlord just outside the building.  He continued to rant, calling me an idiot for not checking with him before using the hallway.  I let him yell, sat down in front of him on a little stoop (so as not to be threatening in the least) and let his energy go.  At one point during the yelling he said, “Well, I’m not going to kick you out,” so I thought we’d be OK.  After he calmed down a little bit, he told me about an alternate space I could rent.  Fine, I needed the space as I had few options.

    Then using lessons from my dad to try to get people smiling, and remembering a story you told about nurses calling you if a patient was ranting and raving (the nurses saying you’d probably like the guy) you relayed that you would talk to someone threatening the nurses by saying “Violence is not productive, but use the energy to get well.” You said that you liked the person’s energy. I made one more statement to the landlord.  I gently tapped him on his chest and said, “You know what, I really love your energy.  If I had one person with that much energy on my document review, I’d be done in no time!”  Well, he started laughing and the rest worked out.

    It was a situation that could have gone terribly wrong, but in using something you said, it really worked out.

    I just thought you would enjoy knowing you made a difference in my life.

    Bernie’s Answer

    You made a difference in my life by telling me how something I said worked so well for you.  It is a great lesson to pass on.  It is very difficult to go through life without enduring confrontation, but it does not have to be a negative stand-off.  It can be, as you experienced, a great lesson in positive communication leading to positive outcomes.

    This is what it is all about. Life is a school and you are learning.  In that respect, I feel like I’ve won the lottery of Life!

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Information and Inspiration

    Most medical school applications of today state that the candidate for admission is interested in and fascinated by the human body. The problem with seeking medical help in the U.S. is that people come in with their mind, body, and spiritual beliefs, but this complete human package is immediately divided and categorized leaving patients feeling frustrated and often like they have not been heard or examined properly. This sense of estrangement disturbs physicians who have been given a great deal of medical information, but not a medical education. An education teaches you how to deal with and care for the human experience of illness and not just determine and treat a diagnosis. There is little more demoralizing for a patient in the exam room than to have the doctor staring at the computer screen while asking questions—no eye contact, no reassuring facial expression, and ultimately no understanding at all of how that individual patient might not fit perfectly into the information category the physician learned in medical school.

    A medical education should not just teach the skill of communication, but emphasize it because doctors are communicating with people in distress or who are coping with a major disease or disorder, and being indifferent to the emotional state of the patient or using outright uncaring words have the very real risk of a seriously negative outcome of care. When we choose the vocabulary we use as doctors to talk with patients about their concerns, our words should help heal and not harm patients, just as we heal and do not wound when using a scalpel. One of our sons showed me how wordswordswords become swordswordswords when the words we choose exclude the feelings of the patient who is listening.  Whether the patient has come in for a routine check-up, or with a devastating diagnosis, the words a doctor (or other healthcare provider) uses in conversation with those patients directly impact the outcome of care.  Patients are individuals, and individuals are not statistics.  They are unique unto themselves.

    What I have found is that information does not change people. The obese, alcoholics, smokers, and non-compliant 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. 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 who have lung cancer or asthma smoke outdoors to save their beloved pets. Killing yourself 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 that approximately 20% of patients are what I call “respants” which is word I created meaning Responsible Participants who are interested in learning survival behavior. What I do for the other 80% is love them and ask them to make return appointments which they can either keep or not.  For those who do keep their appointments, I find that with time, and my love, some begin to realize that they are worth loving and caring for and so begin to care for, and about, themselves. In a sense they realize they are swans too, and are divine children. Then the information I present to them, in the context of their uniqueness as a person, and choosing words that heal and do not harm, can be accessed and used by patients to improve their health and survival outcomes.

    As I said, I can’t sell them on the idea of being a respant, or cite better statistical outcomes if they follow my treatment plan because some patients simply aren’t interested in working at living. They have grown up hearing there is something wrong with them. So guilt, shame, and blame are what they are dealing with, and if you ask them to fight for their lives, in their minds, it is just one more thing 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 the disease. That eliminates many patients because they do not see themselves as artists and so again, in their minds, all they see is that “they could do it wrong.”  And there are some patients who simply don’t want to work at surviving for reasons that do not come forth in talking with the doctor.

    If I can inspire them and breathe life into them, then changes will occur. If my attempts to inspire them work, they wake up to life and are able to articulate what makes them happy. This is not about self-interest, but about paying attention to their bodies and what feels good for them to do. Studies show that on Monday mornings there are more heart attacks, suicides, and illnesses because of how we feel about our meaningless lives, often including the work we don’t want to do but feel we must do in order to make a living. I help people reclaim their lives and be reborn so that every cell in their body is given a message about the joys of life each day. Have I seen people expected to die in months cured of their disease by living in this new, positive 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 to “leave all your troubles to God.”

    I do, however, point out the benefits of love to patients and those around them.  If patients are unwilling let me help them try a new perspective that could improve their health and outcome of their disease or disorder, I still let their families know that they, as observers of their loved one’s illness, must not let their own natural worry and despair deepen, but instead start practicing loving themselves, staying strong, and prioritize taking care of themselves. Why? Because there is something called Siegel’s sign in physical diagnosis. When a family walks into the doctor’s office and everyone looks sick except one person, you can be sure the one who looks well is the one with the illness, and he/she is using it to manipulate everyone else in the family. In these cases, I always guarantee the patient a cure on their next visit. They never come back to my office again, instead arranging future meetings with physicians in the ER or other safe places where a cure is not available.  Take a good look at how you were parented—did you get the attention you craved from your mother and/or father only when you were sick?  Often this is the root of developing into a patient who will not get better because that attention remains a priority for the rest of his/her life.

    Remember this: The medical system in the U.S. is disease-oriented.  There are some efforts to promote wellness and prevention of illness, but our system remains overwhelmingly disease-oriented.  Many patients express guilt for wasting the doctor’s time if they come in and don’t have anything wrong with them.  Instead, they should be congratulated by the doctor for staying well.  The doctor should ask what they are doing to stay in good health and continue to emphasize that all through the time a patient comes to that doctor’s practice.  This also makes it much more likely that if a disease or disorder does begin to develop, it can be caught early.

    What do respants do that represents survival behavior? They take action, seek wisdom, perform meditation and visual imagery—and have spiritual support. Spiritual support may come from a religion, but some religions are based on tenets 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.” You look for your keys. When you are ill, it is not a punishment from God.  I believe that spiritual beliefs give you the tools to be a respant if you have lost your health, and support you on your healing journey to restore wellness.

    Respants live a life with meaning, express their feelings including 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 that is offered, bring play and humor into their lives, deal with feelings of depression and learn from them, and do not live a “role,” but instead, by looking deep within live as their authentic self for the rest of their lives. In essence, life becomes a labor pain in which we give birth to our authentic self, and because we are respants, fully participating in making the choices as mentioned above, the delivery is less painful and comes with fewer complications and side effects, if any.

    About 20 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 following their destructive path. When I met her, all I could do was listen, and her story brought to my mind a quote from the inspirational Helen Keller who said, “Deafness is darker by far than 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, transforming them all into something meaningful. She is alive today and, as member of our support group, was one of my teachers. Susan’s love extends outward with her desire to share the comprehensive and wonderful List for Survivors that she created from experience and knowledge which you will find at the end of this article.

    Eight years ago my phone rang and the caller asked me for Jack Kevorkian’s home number. I learned from the caller, Becky, why she wanted to die. First, I told Becky that she is a child of God, and then 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,” then I ask, “Why hurt a child of God?” Becky and I have worked on her pain, and she is alive today. I volunteered to be her CD or Chosen Dad, and she allowed me that privilege. What is my role as her CD? It is to love her no matter what she does. I don’t have to like her behavior while I continue to love her. Telling someone that you don’t like their behavior or actions is very different than saying that there is something wrong the person him/or herself…and withdrawing your love.

    Becky has helped me with others who are considering suicide.  Her help motivates me all the more to call for medical students today to be comprehensively educated about the issue of suicide.  They need to be taught that being severe and judgmental is cruel and certainly not the path to saving a life. They need to learn how to say to patients in a suicidal crisis that they, as a physician, may not like the action contemplated by the patient, but that doesn’t change the fact that they care deeply about the patient as a fellow human being and that they, as a physician, will do all in their power to assemble the resources to support the patient as that patient learns to understand and love themselves.

    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. But one drawing from a medical student that is in my collection shows a young man kneeling and handing the patient a tissue.  When Becky saw that one, her comment was that when someone responds to her needs, she regains the will to live. And that response may be as simple as finding a tissue for someone who needs one.

    I do not criticize people for their choices, but 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 it is inevitable. I remind people to change the focus from one of trying to avoid death to one of enjoying life to the fullest. I believe this perspective leads to happiness whether you are ill or not.  If you are ill and spend all of your time trying to avoid dying to the exclusion of loving yourself and your life just as it is, you will end up being very angry when you do fully realize that life has a 100% mortality rate.  But whether you are in good health or coping with a debilitating disorder or disease, when you enjoy life and love your body just as it is, the bonus is a longer healthier life.

    We each need to find our path and way to heal. The messages are age-old and can be found in the literature of great spiritual leaders, the U.S. Marines training manual, the writings of children with cancer, the incredible and inspirational stories patients have related to me and permitted me to share in my books, and other resources from Laughter Workshops to Meditation Classes and support groups.

    Two things are key elements on a healing journey. One is being inspired by the knowledge of your genuine self and being surrounded by positive people in your life who love and believe in you. The second is one’s behavior in which you disassociate your newly discovered genuine self from the “old self” and begin to behave as if you are the person you want to be. You rehearse, practice, and find coaches to help guide you. That is the role I see myself in today—as a coach for the inspired respant who wants to learn and practice survival behavior.

    How will you know a good coach(s) for you when you meet them?

    Ask these questions:

    1. “I am taking you to dinner—what do you want?”
    2. “How would you introduce yourself to God?”
    3. “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:

    1. 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.
    2. The introduction is that you and God don’t need an introduction you are a child of God.
    3. You don’t hang a picture of a baby, rainbow, or flower—but a mirror.

    As promised, here is Susan’s invaluable list for survivors—those who practice survival behaviors.  You might want to post it someplace you can see it many times every day.

    THE FOLLOWING ARE FROM SUSAN DUFFY’S SECRETS OF LIVING 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).

    I know you join me in sending many thanks to Susan.  And let me end with a very positive action each and every one of you can take to turn your life around and commit to being mostly positive. Learn to live in the moment as children and animals do. You don’t have to have children and animals to do this—just go to a park, a good friend’s house, or out with a sibling who has kids or grandkids and/or pets and observe the joy these little humans and pets have playing right in the moment without thoughts about the past or the future.  Your immune system will thank you for the respite from negativity and respond by getting stronger.

    To put it in the words of one of my patients, “I want to be dying forever.” If we live with a sense of time that allows for healthy humor, observing the beauty all around us and within us, and giving and receiving love, we learn how to spend our time wisely—and that it is everything, because ultimately what is immortal is not our body, but our love.

    Blessings to all,
    Bernie

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    Living Up to Loving your Partners “in Sickness and in Health…”

    The quality of the rest of your life and your partner’s life will be what you want it to be—the decisions are yours and your partner’s to make. If you both agree that you want  is “to let the sun shine in” on a shared positive perspective, you will each strengthen your immune systems;  when Life’s inevitable pop quizzes come up, you will both be ready to get an “A.”

    If you are a married couple, at some point along the way, you will hear everyone from your mother-in-law (usually on the eve of your wedding day), to a therapist who is helping you through Couple’s Therapy sometime later in your marriage, say, “…good marriages take a lot of work.” I prefer to say that “…along the way, spouses have chances to grow even closer as they create positive solutions to the challenges that come to us all.”  I don’t want to make being married sound like a 9-to-5 job by describing it as work.

    Here are some suggestions for keeping the romance and heartfelt understanding in your marriage instead of likening marriage to the workplace.

    • Get at least one guided imagery CD and use it together. Focus on what each of you loves      about life—and then do those things.
    • Help him love his body—it will respond favorably through the strengthening of his immune system. Tell him not to think of his body or any part of it as “the enemy.” Self-induced healing does occur when your body knows you love it and you love your life.
    • Get at least one meditation CD (if neither of you have learned meditation techniques, get a “beginner’s” CD and then move on to a more advanced CD if you wish).
    • Learn the art of massage using healing aromas; you can also talk about beautiful visions of life that you both share like the waves on an ocean beach, the towering trees of the forest, etc., while you are massaging neck, shoulders, legs, and feet.
    • I believe we sleep to rest and communicate with that part of our brain that is responsible for this intuitive wisdom and our survival behavior so make sure your husband’s sleep (and you own) is restorative—before sleep (nap or before bedtime) have a ritual of saying some affirmations about gratitude and loving your life together as it is; you can also say affirmations that any dreams that come during sleep will be beautiful, positive, and/or answers to your questions and concerns.
    • When we get tired of our bodies, we turn the switch off and “fall up.” But for now, you can create a quality of life that is loving, positive, and beautiful.
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    Q & A with Bernie – October 6, 2014

    Question for Bernie

    Twenty-four years ago you saved my life through your book Love, Medicine and Miracles. I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer which had spread to my lymph nodes. I had a one-year-old baby and four other daughters to live for. Your book gave me the hope and the tools to survive. You also helped my best friend and soul mate fight off her leukemia for six years longer than the six months she was given to live. That was in the mid-1990s.

    In 2006, I was re-diagnosed, this time with liver and lung mets. I refused chemo and surgery and started visualizing fervently while looking for my cure, which, by now, I knew would present itself. It did appear in the form of a brilliant nutritionist and an oncologist prepared to work with a “crazy woman” who arrived for every appointment dressed to kill, no matter what my mood was.

    I was put on Faslodex, a hormone-blocking injection which, with diet, lifestyle changes, and visualizations, have rendered me cancer-free for five years. I stopped having the injection after I out-lived their longest surviving patient, and I’m still cancer-free after three years without the injection.

    Three months ago a young colleague of mine was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer with mets in all organs and bones. I sent her your book and your CD of visualizations, and I told her to search for her cure. She fired the team who told her to get into Hospice care and that she would not make it through this summer.  Last week she “passed” her PET/CT scan with flying colors with no mets in any organs and bone. Healing was detected where the bone mets had been. She ascribes her cure to your powerful words and healing voice, as well as to your advice that I passed on about taking charge of her cure.

    Thank you again for uncovering the secret for so many cancer patients. If only the rest of the medical profession would listen more closely to your words about empowering patients with hope and choices rather than just reading off result after bone-chilling result, condemning them to a man-made death sentence, which is what my personal trainer, Nick, has had to endure this week. He has been diagnosed with stage III colon cancer and has been given nothing but bad news. Enter Dr. Bernie Siegel (via your servant, me) and Nick just text messaged me that he has been visualizing 10x a day for the past two days and feels far more positive about his outcomes.

    I love you with all my heart and will continue to give your book to those around me who need it.  My motto is L′ Chaim which translates perfectly from the Hebrew to “To Life,” and I live that motto thanks to you.  L′ Chaim, my remote healer.

    Bernie’s Answer

    Thank you for writing.  As I have said many times, I feel like the fortunate one—I get to be the Coach for motivated people like you, which is a great gift to me.

    Peace,
    Bernie


    Question for Bernie

    I am from Israel and I have AML leukemia that is not responding to treatment. I am eating only fruits and vegetables, exercising, and meditating. What can I be missing? I am at the moment in the City of Hope in California for the treatment.

    I have a seven-year-old girl and three-month-old baby boy. I know I can get better but don’t seem to find the way to do so. I read your book, and I am writing a book also.
    Thank you.

    Bernie’s Answer:

    Love your life and body and live for yourself, not just because you are a mother.  Be your own child and take care of yourself lovingly just as you would do for your children. Don’t fight a war against the disease.  You must care for yourself with love so that your body gets the message that you want to LIVE.

    Another thing to do is add visual imagery to your day.  Visualize your body healing and getting healthier every day.  Keep meditating, too, as you have been.  Some people find it easier to meditate for shorter periods of time two or three times a day instead of for one long session.

    Make a list of negative words that describe how you experience having this disease.  Include words about the physical experience but also how the disease may be limiting your life.  Then think about any people or situations in your life that could be described using any of the same negative words.  To eliminate the disease, you also must eliminate the things from your life (people, situations, etc.) that cause stress because that takes away from your immune system’s ability to concentrate all of its efforts on eliminating the leukemia from your body.

    Peace,
    Bernie


    Question for Bernie

    In 1988, when I was 40, both of parents came to live with me. The same year my only son joined the army at the age of 18. So, as an untreated, self-centered alcoholic, my drinking went out of control.

    My mother had Wegener’s granulomatosis, and father had congestive heart failure after having open heart surgery in 1970 and 1972. Birdcage valves replaced his aorta and mitral valve. I tried a support group for Wegener’s and went to bookstores to find a book on how to help my parents. Love, Medicine and Miracles was a tape I found.  I felt hope when I heard it.

    I was trying to get my mother to stop smoking because of her disease, to no avail. In your tape, I remembered you talked about the woman who drove up to your office wearing no seat belt and smoking asking you to help her, but she was not helping herself.

    Dad died at 65 and mom at 66, two months apart, in 1989.  I then began my spiral as an alcoholic and hit my bottom six months later.  I will celebrate 25 years of sobriety in November of this year.  Five years after sobriety I was able to give up my cigarettes, so it has been 20 years of being nicotine free.  My younger sister died at age 41 of lung cancer 20 years ago, and my father had small cell lung cancer when he died of heart failure.

    I developed small cell lung cancer and did radiation and chemo, ending up on a feeding tube. I remembered the boy you talked about on the Love, Medicine and Miracles tape who had the brain tumor, and how he “blew it up” and it went away. Eleven years ago, I tried that visual image of blowing up my tumor and was cured, much to my doctor’s amazement.

    I asked God for at least 20 more years of life to make sure my three granddaughters were all grown up.  I know He was probably laughing, but I asked.

    I just wanted to thank you for being you and touching my life.  God Bless you.

    Bernie’s Answer

    You showed up for practice and rehearsed until it got done.  I am happy to be your coach.

    Bless you,
    Bernie

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    Q & A with Bernie – September 29, 2014

    Question for Bernie

    I have been dealing with ulcerative colitis since 1998 which was diagnosed when I was four months pregnant with my son. I’ve tried conventional medicine without success and am now being treated alternatively, but still not seeing a lot of improvement.

    This is making it difficult to have hope that the cause will be found and treated successfully.  Any insight you can give me is greatly appreciated.

    Bernie’s Answer

    Medication-wise, take the herb boswellia. It can do the trick.  To get help with the dosage and other support, go to Life Extension’s website at www.lef.org.  I also recommend taking curcumin which is an excellent and powerful natural anti-inflammatory.  You need to get it in capsule form and Life Extension can help you with that if you have trouble finding it.

    As we know from the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection, expressing internalized anger is very important.  Think about the words you would use to express what you are experiencing due to the colitis.  Then eliminate all other things (people, situations, etc.) in your life that you would use any of those same negative words to describe.

    Instead of asking why you got the disease, ask yourself “What am I supposed to learn from this challenge?”

    Make a serious effort to learn to meditate.  Even if you meditate for only a few minutes at a time two or three times a day, it will do wonders by giving your body the message that you love it even with the colitis.  Your immune system will respond positively to that message and get stronger to help you control the colitis.

    Think of a positive mantra (affirmation) you like and say it throughout the day.  An example would be something like “Every day I am getting healthier and stronger.”  If you need help getting ideas just google keywords like “positive affirmations” or “positive mantras.”

    Peace,
    Bernie


    Question for Bernie

    I have a small cancerous breast tumor.  My lymph nodes are clear yet the surgeon wants to remove some them.  My question is: Why does the surgeon want to remove them if they are cancer free?

    Bernie’s Answer

    I need more information to answer your question.  How did they determine they are cancer free?

    On the other hand, it is your life and body and your decision.  Decide on the basis of what feels right for you versus trying not to die. When I use the phrase trying not to die, I am describing a decision based on doing everything in the way of treatment available in mainstream medicine.

    Have a dream tonight and see what it tells you.  Tell me the answer to this question:  what color would your lymph nodes be if you had to draw them?

    Peace,
    Bernie

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    Q & A with Bernie – September 22, 2014

    Question for Bernie:

    I just had my first R-CHOP today for aggressive diffuse B cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and was hoping to find ways to enhance the effectiveness of the chemo. I am not finding info easily. I have been advised to take L-glutamine, do ozone ear insufflation and steam, colloidal and gold /silver homeopathy.

    I want to see if there are any ways to increase the absorption of my chemo by the lymphoma. I don’t want to counteract the chemo, so I know for instance that large doses of Vitamin C will actually reduce the amount of chemo that will hit the cancer.

    Thanks for any advice.

    Bernie’s Answer

    Cancer cells thrive on sugar, so reduce the sugar content in your diet.  Read labels carefully as often there is “hidden” sugar in products.  Learn the different chemical names for sugar so you recognize them when you see them on a label or list of ingredients.

    Ask your doctor to prescribe the medication metformin for you and take two a day.

    Reduce your calorie intake by ½, and fast three days before the day of chemo, and one day after you get chemo. By doing this, your body will revise its metabolic rate while cancer cells can’t, and so the cancer cells will absorb more of the chemo.

    Also, an herb like curcumin helps, too, as it is a very effective, safe anti-inflammatory.

    See a naturopathic physician to help you with nutrition and supplements.

    Peace,
    Bernie

    Question for Bernie

    I was diagnosed with Stage 3b lung cancer (lung tumor plus lymph node damage). Both of these findings are on the right side of chest.

    I was made aware of the book entitled Getting Well Again, by O. Carl Simonton M.D., and reading his books introduced me to your work. Since then, I have read several of your books and have committed myself to follow your philosophy. That is, I’ve resolved to be positive and practice imagery and visualization to have my mind/body help me to fight against this diagnosis.

    I felt I was doing quite well with this approach, however last week, after I had completed six days of both chemo and radiation, my radiation oncologist met with me.  She immediately asked me how I was doing, and I immediately said, in a very upbeat manner, that I was “doing fine.” Unfortunately her immediate response was, “Well it is early yet,” then went on to tell me how difficult it was to design the radiation pattern because of the tumor position and lymph node position.

    She also went on to tell me that when we complete the remaining 24 radiation treatments plus six chemo sessions, we will be re-doing the CAT scan, MRI, etc. to see if the cancer has gone to my brain. My point is that I came into the meeting with her in a positive manner feeling that I was handling the situation well, and I was optimistic that the results would be good after the treatment. However within a span of about 10 minutes, she had me go from being very optimistic to visualizing that the cancer is in my brain. I left that meeting feeling very discouraged and disheartened.

    I meet again with her next week, and I strongly feel I need to tell her how she made me feel. Can you give me some advice on how I can approach the subject with her?  I would like to have my meeting with her end with a HUG; however I sense she is very technically competent but not so sensitive to feelings.

    Thanking you in advance for your advice.

    Bernie’s Answer

    Yes, it is important for you to tell her how her words made you feel, but don’t do it in a criticizing style, implying that it was wrong for her to tell you about the plan and the potential for brain metastasis. Just tell her how you felt because of her words.  If she apologizes, it is okay to stick with her.  But, if she makes excuses or blames you, get another doctor to replace her.

    The best doctors are criticized by patients, nurses, and families; these doctors accept that criticism because they want to improve and learn from their mistakes.  Those who don’t listen or make excuses choose to not hear criticism because they don’t accept it.  They don’t understand that the criticism is like a coach who tries to help you be a better person and perform better at what you do.  You can mention that, too, or show her my email.

    Peace,
    Bernie

    Question for Bernie

    Thank you so much for providing me a real answer to my specific question.

    Are you suggesting a water-only fast three days before and one day after? I have to take prednisone the day after chemo so fasting that day would be difficult. Any suggestions?

    Is there a specific diet you recommend? I was looking for a way to use glucose to throw the cancer off balance. This sounds brilliant.

    I am fortunate to be under the care of a doctor who has prescribed a homeopathic and Ayurveda program for me. I believe my doctor and Dr. Weil have collaborated in the past. I will return to my doctor after my treatments for a full Panchakarma and rejuvenation program.

    Thank you again for your generosity.

    Bernie’s Answer

    I’m not recommending a water-only fast, but cut calories to around 900 for the day.  A

    Vegetarian diet good one to follow.

    Remember, do not do it to avoid dying.  Do it to enjoy the journey of life.  In heaven the bitterest people are the vegetarians, the meditating, and the joggers who wish they had spent more time having fun and trying a few different foods.

    And speaking of humor, be sure to add a lot of that to your healing journey—every day give your immune system a big boost with several good laughs.

    Peace,
    Bernie

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