Rachel Naomi Remen—Here is a woman consciously playing her role in the world transformation occurring. Rachel Naomi Remen has been referred to as one of the earliest pioneers in the holistic health field. It seems an important aspect of her life destiny has been to reconcile and unify the conflictions arising between the heart and mind, as it relates in the medical and holistic health professions. "I think we have made a trade between mastery and mystery, between information and wisdom." she said.
She is the Co-Founder and Medical Director of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program; the Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine; Director of the UCSF course The Healer’s Art; Founder and Director of the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness, along with being an author and public speaker.
The "The Healer’s Art" course is about recovering, strengthening, and preserving the meaning in the work of modern medicine. Observing many faults, such as the extreme isolation of doctors, in the medical culture, she has developed the course for freshman medical students to assist them to hopefully get off on the right foot in what is a notoriously challenging school to get through and profession to live. She does this in part by getting them connected with each other in a deeper way, through facilitation and encouragement of right relationships amongst each other in the profession, naming and overcoming fears, and helping them to get in touch with their souls. She attempts to inspire her students to go beyond "the divisiveness of our expertise, to inhabit the unity of our commitment."*
"It always makes me wonder if there really isn’t only one role and one profession—and that is service. We each do this with our own skills or gifts or expertise, but it is the same work." Remen talks about U.S. culture having a "shadow" which "represses the wholeness of its people...persuades us to diminish ourselves" in exchange for approval. "...our culture [has] edited people very severely—the heart, the soul, the intuition were not acceptable; all that was respected was the intellect, the facts." "We are taught that objectivity is an invulnerable stance. But objectivity actually makes us vulnerable. From an objective stance, no one has access to his or her human strengths. You cannot cry or grieve or even pray. You don’t even know that you’re loved by the people you are serving....It prevents us from finding meaning. If the heart is a way of seeing, meaning is found when you see through the heart. The objective stance, distancing yourself, holding yourself apart, makes it impossible to find meaning...Meaning is found only through genuine relationship."
There have been times and cultures in the past, as well as some to this day, that have held the healers and doctors with great respect and honor. In the USA Remen is doing her part to revive the worthy qualities and a higher vision within this ancient tradition—ones that have been largely lost in the modern health-care, with its "business value system" dictating decisions. Check out her books: Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal , and My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging.
From Global Community Communications Alliance, we thank you Rachel Naomi Remen for what you do for the healing of the people of this planet.
* All quotes are taken from "The Doctor’s Dilemma: Returning Service, Grace, and Meaning to the Art of Healing," an interview appearing in Whole Earth Magazine , Summer 2000.