Archive for Author Dawn Marie

About the Author: Dawn Marie
Dawn Marie has been a longtime advocate for all forms of healing from biomedical to complementary. Having struggled with various health issues herself, she shares her journey and insights to help others who are struggling with chronic conditions.

Intuition and Healing

This is my philosophy paper that I wrote for my first class, Foundations of Holistic Health. I am quite happy with it. I hope you enjoy reading it. I struggle with APA formatting, which I tried to include below. Feel free to drop me a note if you have a suggestion.


Intuition and Healing

There are many pathways to take to the roads to health, wellness and illness.  With my years of personal experience on each these journeys, I have discovered that no one path is right for everyone and that taking positive responsibility by advocacy, and being an active participant in your healing journey is vital to your overall well-being.  Over the last century, there has been an assumption that biomedicine is capable of fixing all medical issues and diseases with a pill or a surgery, when in fact, it only alleviates the symptom and frequently does not address the root cause.  Essentially, the human is reduced to merely a physical body that operates like a machine – diseased and broken parts are repaired and replaced without acknowledgement of the person’s experience with the disease or life.  There is a massive disconnect between the living, breathing, loving, laughing person, and the diseased body part in this same person’s body.  What is more provocative, is the question of why biomedicine can provide competent technical care, but fails to provide humane and dignified care that seems fundamental to the human experience (Marcum, 2008).  This is not to discredit biomedicine, but to help understand how to provide quality, whole care by understanding that mind, body and spirit all connect to form one being. Holistically approaching our health and wellness with a variety of methods is fundamental to achieving the best possible outcomes to live a life with meaning and intention, therefore, striking a balance between spirit, body, the mind and technology.  This paper will address how intuition is intrinsically fundamental in relation to health, wellness, illness, the changing tides in approaches to complementary care, how both modern healers and patients need to approach the healer/patient relationship and how modern healers are forging a new frontier as social activists.

Perspectives on Health, Illness, Wellness and Paradigm Shift

The 1946 preamble to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Constitution (“Constitution of the World Health Organization”, 1946) is quite succinct in their definition of health, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” It is very clear that they do not view health as the absence of disease, but, they view it as a much broader human experience including both emotional and social aspects.  Despite this enveloping view, in the 50 years following there was a shift away from health as a whole, focusing solely on the body’s function rather than looking at how the body functions in its environment.  There are age-old adages, “follow your instincts” and “gut instincts,” and other similar sayings in nearly every culture and for a good reason.  Humankind, by its birthright, is an instinctive and intuitive species.  Instinct and intuition is what has allowed us to evolve and thrive for thousands of years.  While the advent of biomedicine has made significant advances in health care, it has decreased people’s natural intuition, by becoming dependent on scientific findings rather than trusting their intuition and what their body is telling them.  Paired with the increasing demands on our time in our modern world, we learn to ignore our intuition, but, it is always present (Lin, 2003).  Even though many people have overlooked their most basic intuition when it comes to the fundamentals of their well-being, there are changes happening throughout biomedicine and the world around us.  O. Carl Simonton, a radiation oncologist who began including lifestyle counseling to his patient’s treatment regimens, refers to this as “inner wisdom” in his books The Healing Journey and Getting Well Again (Simonton, 1978, 2002), which served as a ground breaking book.  Inner wisdom is a tool to increase your sense of power, well-being, and peace of mind.  Inner wisdom is further described by former surgeon Bernie Siegel in his book, The Art of Healing as “powerful inner resources for healing and problem solving (Siegel, 2013).”  It is this profound inner wisdom, teased out by use of imagery and meditation, paired with all the wonderful tools we have in the worlds of biomedicine and other holistic healing modalities that are the key to attaining a true sense of health and wellness.  As the 2007 Shift Report so concisely states, “When people start believing that they have choices, that their lives have meaning, then the future becomes a place to protect, not fear (The 2007 Shift Report, 2007).”  This is abundantly true in all stages of health, illness and wellness as there are many studies related to positivity and their disease outcomes for multiple sclerosis, breast cancer and heart disease (Scheier & Carver, 1985).  Biomedicine, along with guided visualization, meditation, nutrition, yoga, energy work, herbal medicine and other holistic treatments are all tools to add to the toolbox.  Both healers and patients need to realize that the paths to wellness include a variety of options and by utilizing all of these tools to create a quality healing experience.  Over the last half century, holistic care has become a more accessible and often the preferred modality of care amongst patients of all ages.

Changing Attitudes across Generations

Watching my parents’ generation, I have seen a blind trust of biomedicine and reliance on their doctors to prescribe the correct drugs, treatments and surgeries.  As they have aged, and more pills are added to their daily regimen, they are beginning to question what is truly happening with their healthcare and quality of life.  While there is still a fear of not following doctors’ orders, more seniors want to look outside the box to see if there are better ways to manage their healthcare to find pain relief and natural ways to deal with aging minds and bodies (Katz-Stone, 1998).  Seniors are recognizing biomedicine is not a panacea for their ills and are looking towards the inner wisdom their parents and grandparents observed.  In my own lifetime, I have seen an enormous change in how people are approaching their health.  People are living far more consciously, connecting to their innate wisdom by following yoga practices, adopting healthy diets, making exercise a priority, engaging in spiritual practices, listening to their bodies, connecting with nature and understanding that as humans we are far more than a complex system of organs that run like machinery.

The Interchangeable Roles of Healer and the Patient

A critical shift for the modern healer in this new paradigm is to understand that they play a pivotal and varied role in the care of their client.  We may play the role of a facilitator, and not necessarily leading the treatment modality; acting as both a consultant and compassionate champion; an intuitive advocate; and as a guide or mentor.  Biomedicine has largely focused on a detached relationship between patient and healer, leaving both parties in a precarious relationship.  The patient feels they are not being seen as a human, thus their disease and treatment becomes a larger source of fear and isolation, making them feel powerless. In turn, the healer questions their ability to truly care for their patients (Siegel, 2013, p.13).  In stark contrast to the distant doctor-patient relationship that is so prevalent in Western medicine, in South African traditional healing, this patient-healer relationship is deeply rooted in personal connection.  The relationship model is so intertwined that should the patient die, the healer goes through a grieving period where they remove their ceremonial artifacts and do not practice.  With this sacred relationship broken and their healing powers diminished, the healer must be treated by another healer before they can practice again (Micozzi, 2011).  It is this kind of interconnectedness that brings a sense of meaning not only to a person’s life and health that is vital for overall well-being for the individual and the community.

From the patient perspective, the most important part of the healing process is taking an active role in their health, illness and recovery.  The patient’s new role may be a team captain, which assembles an “A-Team” to help coordinate their healthcare by including integrative and fitness coaches, medical professionals, dieticians, family members and friends who focus on the patient’s healing intentions and to help guide them through a health crises (Block, 2009).  As many patients have taken a backseat to the doctor’s prescriptions and recommendations, it is time for patients to reclaim their power, their inner wisdom, to look at the various pathways and make decisions on what is their best course of treatment.  Treatment modalities cannot be limited, but, should be explored to find what resonates best in the patient’s world.  This might include traditional biomedicine of surgery and medications, but could combine, yoga, meditation or guided imagery. It may take a determined holistic approach that eschews biomedicine altogether and looks towards diet, alternative and homeopathic medications, exercise, yoga, meditation or prayer for healing intents. One of the most critical pieces of the patient’s healing journey is belief.  It is what resonates with the individual that makes the most sense for their treatment based on their basic belief systems.

Belief systems are powerful tools that can work with or against the patient’s treatment goals and outcomes.  Deeply connected to values and morals, beliefs are usually strongly held, and personal and affect the individual’s world view.  If the patient does not have an internal concept of power, or an ability to generate internal energy or emotional resources such as self-sufficiency, they struggle with their healing process. (Myss, 1996)  Ministering and sometimes helping the patient to remodel their belief systems requires diligence, compassion and respect on both the part of the patient and the healer.  It is this responsibility, intuitiveness and self-reliance that keeps the healer-patient relationship dynamic and fluid, by exchanging ideas and exploring new pathways for the patient’s healing intentions.

Healer as Social Activist

Building on the role of the healer as a facilitator, the work of men and women over the ages who were bringing healing “to the people” have provided fundamental therapies to those who may not have had accessibility or the interest to pursue what is considered mainstream standards of care.  In our not so recent past, these social activists have gone through tremendous amounts of strife from institutionalized medicine, which accused them of being witches or had laws enacted to prevent midwives from providing care to patients or to ban women from studying in medical schools (Ehrenreich & English, 2010).  In recent times, there has been the American Medical Association’s (AMA) decades-long attempt to obliterate chiropractic care, referring to practitioners as “unscientific cultists.”  A federal antitrust suit was brought against the AMA and subsequently ruled against in the early 1990’s (Hayes, 2012).  With this sometimes violent, oppressive and systematic suffocation by the “established” medical world, it is important to understand how political tides can change.  As modern healers, we need to draw on our inner wisdom to continue to provide dignified care to our patients and to observe the cultural shifts going on in the world around us.  By organizing and staying connected to one another, it is our strongest support in maintaining high standards of care within our own vocations and having a professional collaborative to create better ways to continue to have meaningful practices.

Intuition as a source of healing inspiration

Intuition is a small but mighty piece to the healing puzzle for the patient, the healer and our social world. It can provide precious insight into personal health, healing and wellness by providing a bridge between “medical and moral reasoning” (Braude, 2012) but also to the wellness of our global community.  We are all born with an innate sense of intuition, which needs to be developed and nurtured. By finding those pathways which provide us the best possible terrain in which to flourish, embracing our natural intuition and listening to our minds, bodies and spirits, modern healers offer the best possibility for society to achieve our individual and collective goals for health, wellness and healing.



Marcum, J. A. (2008). Reflections on humanizing biomedicine. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 51(3), 392-405. doi:10.1353/pbm.0.0023

Constitution of the World Health Organization. (1946, July 22). Retrieved October 5, 2014, from

Lin, C., & Rebstock, G. (2003). Born a healer. United States: Chunyi Lin.

Simonton, O., & Henson, R. (1992). The healing journey. New York: Bantam Books.

Simonton, O., & Simonton, S. (1978). Getting well again: A step-by-step, self-help guide to overcoming cancer for patients and their families (1992 ed.). Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher ;.

Siegel, B. (2013). The art of healing. Novato: New World Library.

The 2007 Shift report: Evidence of a world transforming. (2007). Petaluma, CA: Institute of Noetic Sciences.

Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1985). Optimism, coping, and health: Assessment and implications of generalized outcome expectancies. Health Psychology: Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 4 (3), 219-247. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.4.3.219

Katz-Stone, A. (1998, January 19). A different dose: Seniors are discovering alternative medicine as a way to stay healthy. Retrieved September 30, 2014, from

Micozzi, M. (2011). Fundamentals of complementary and alternative medicine (4th ed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Saunders Elsevier.

Block, K. (2009). Life over cancer: The Block Center program for integrative cancer treatment. New York: Bantam Dell.

Myss, C. (1996). Anatomy of the spirit. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Ehrenreich, B., & English, D. (2010). Witches, midwives & nurses (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Feminist Press.

Doctored [Motion picture]. (2012). United States: Jeff Hays Films.

Braude, H. D. (2012). Intuition in medicine: A philosophical defense of clinical reasoning. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press.

Five Free Film Screenings

Nutrition is fundamental for health, but, sadly, many Americans pay little attention to what they are eating. Jeff and Laurentine, from Food Matters, have been passionate advocates for nutrition and natural health. They have created a number of eye-opening films that explore the world agriculture, healthcare and food industries. Their work came from a very personal place, that is, in helping Jeff’s dad take control of his health by changing his eating habits and looking for natural solutions.

Starting October 21 – November 2, Food Matters is hosting a very special online screening of  five important films including; Food Matters, Love Bomb, Super Juice Me, Carb Loaded and Hungry for Change. Included with each of these films is a lecture with leading health and wellness industry experts. This is a wonderful opportunity to see these films for free.

DAY 1 & 2: OCTOBER 21 – 22
TUE 21 – WED 22

DAY 3 & 4: OCTOBER 23 – 24
THU 23 – FRI 24

DAY 5 & 6: OCTOBER 25 – 26
SAT 25 – SUN 26

DAY 7 & 8: OCTOBER 27 – 28
MON 27 – TUE 28

DAY 9 & 10: OCTOBER 29 – 30
WED 29 – THU 30

DAY 11, 12 & 13: OCTOBER 31 – NOVEMBER 2

Get your free pass to watch these films.

Live/Love: Ten ways to live holistically every day

Here are ten suggestions for living a holistic lifestyle.

1) Live with Intention – live mindfully.
2) Embrace your inner wisdom – trust your instincts.
3) Inspire the world around you – be the person you aspire to be.
4) Share your journey – reach out to others.
5) Express your emotions – don’t bottle them up.
6) Move your body – relieves stress and makes you feel good.
7) Be the change – advocate for what you believe in.
8) Seek possibility – even in trying times there is always the possibility of choice.
9) Explore your passions – explore your creativity, embrace nature.
10) Love – open your heart

Music: “Green Grass of Tunnel” by Múm

One of the most powerful meditations

Last week my professor shared a meditation with us that was extremely powerful. Then, this past weekend at the American Holistic Medical Association conference, this same meditation was repeated by Bob Anderson, who spoke about his 40 years of experience and important Holistic contributions that have been made during his career.

The meditation goes like this…

Disidentification Meditation from Ken Wilber

Disidentification Meditation from Ken Wilber

“I have a body, but I am not my body. I can see and feel my body, and what can be seen and felt is not the true Seer. My body may be tired or excited, sick or healthy, heavy or light, but that has nothing to do with my inward I. I have a body, but I am not my body.”

“I have desires, but I am not my desires. I can know my desires, and what can be known is not the true Knower. Desires come and go, floating through my awareness, but they do not affect my inward I. I have desires, but I am not desires.”

“I have emotions, but I am not my emotions. I can feel and sense my emotions, and what can be felt and sensed is not the true Feeler. Emotions pass through me, but they do not affect my inward I. I have emotions, but I am not emotions.”

“I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts. I can know and intuit my thoughts, and what can be known is not the true Knower. Thoughts come to me and thoughts leave me, but they do not affect my inward I. I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts.”

“I am what remains, a pure center of awareness, an unmoved witness of all these thoughts, emotions, feelings, and desires.”

This is a meditation written by the American philosopher Ken Wilber.

Movement is the best medicine for lower back pain

In my mid-twenties, I had what I disparagingly call my “farm accident.” I was tilling my tiny urban garden and one of the wheels fell off. Since I always struggled to start the darn thing, I figured I wouldn’t turn it off, but, prop it up with my one hip, grab the wheel and pop it back on and make sure the pin was in place so it wouldn’t fall off again. While doing this, I felt something pull in my right lower back, and radiate out to my hip. I ended up finishing my task and I went into my house, took some ibuprofen and crawled into bed.

Weeks turned into months and the pain simply would not go away, in fact, it got worse. I was at a concert and had to walk up a set of stairs to get to the rest room. I was in tears by the top of the steps. The next day, I made an appointment with my local doctor and they did an x-ray of the area and didn’t “see” anything. The doctor hypothesized that I had arthritis (at 27) and gave me some muscle relaxers. They didn’t really make the pain go away, they just made me care less. I don’t care for taking any more medication than I have to, so I decided I needed to try something else.

For the first time in my life I visited a chiropractor. Through x-rays they discovered that my first and second lumbar discs were not the usual “pie shape” but more flattened, and my right hip was higher and pushed forward of my left hip – so essentially twisted. While the chiropractor did alleviate some of the pressure, I still had a tremendous amount of pain and it felt like I had a persistent knot in my lower right back. I went for treatment for about six months and I finally gave up on the chiropractor because it got to a point where I wasn’t in significant pain any more, but it also wasn’t making it better.  (It didn’t make it worse, either.)

Struggling on and off for a couple of years, I resorted to ibuprofen, random chiropractor trips, and massage – I simply wasn’t getting the relief I needed. I had read about how wonderful Pilates was for strengthening your core muscles and I began doing Pilates at home with a VHS tape. (Yes, this was some time ago.) It was a simple mat Pilates workout that had two 20 minute sets. I started out doing it about 2 -3 times a week, then I slowly increased it to a daily practice. After about three months, I started to realize that my back pain has subsided. The further I got into my Pilates practice, I noticed not only did my back not hurt, but my body was also leaner and stronger. It seemed counterintuitive at the time, but, I knew it made the difference for me.

I walk, run, lift weights, and practice both Pilates and yoga now. My back pain, while still present, is not overly significant and I now see a chiropractor on a regular basis for maintenance. My back is in the best shape it has ever been.

There is a great video on YouTube by Dr. Mike Evans. He talks about movement and back pain. It is very thorough and explains why “motion is lotion” and one of the best treatments for lower back pain. I hope that you will consider trying a safe exercise routine to help alleviate your lower back pain rather than resorting to medication only.

As always, please consult your doctor before doing any new form of exercise.




If you need a reason to quit drinking diet soda…

rusty_sodathis one is pretty compelling.

The University of Iowa conducted a 10 year study that indiates that drinking diet soda with aspartame may raise your risk of heart disease. This study included 60,000 women and tracked their consumption of diet sodas and their cardiovascular health. Compared to women who never or only rarely consume diet drinks, those who consume two or more a day are 30 percent more likely to have a cardiovascular event and 50 percent more likely to die from related disease.

This is the largest study of its kind, but, the data is consistent with previous studies that linked diet soda to metabolic disease. The correlation to diet soda drinking and heart disease is not fully understood and researchers hope this sparks further research. The speculate that the women who drink two or more diet sodas a day tend to be smokers, have a higher prevalence of both diabetes and high blood pressure, and have a higher body mass index.

Over the average followup of 8.7 years, the primary outcome—defined as a composite of incident coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, coronary revascularization procedure, ischemic stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and cardiovascular death—occurred in 8.5 percent of the women consuming two or more diet drinks a day compared to 6.9 percent in the five-to-seven diet drinks per week group; 6.8 percent in the one-to-four drinks per week group; and 7.2 percent in the zero-to-three per month group.

Data was adjusted to account for demographic characteristics and other cardiovascular risk factors, including body mass index, smoking, hormone therapy use, physical activity, energy intake, salt intake, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and sugar-sweetened beverage intake. Even then, the connection existed.

It’s still early in the research, but it’s pretty compelling. If you are a regular drinker of diet soda, you may want to eliminate or cut back your consumption and move to other beverages. My recommendation is to squeeze lemon or lime into water. If you still want a sweet drink, use a natural sweetener like stevia, which will not alter your blood sugar levels.

Why the lotus is important to me


Stock photo from

When I started thinking about moving toward holistic wellness coaching and why it was important to me, I kept gravitating towards the lotus flower and its rich symbolism in Eastern traditions.

In Buddhism, the lotus is a symbol of fortune. Let’s think about the type of environment that the lotus lives in…muddy, murky water. Even in this environment, the lotus is able to achieve its ultimate goal, to rise out of the murk and become a gorgeous blossom. A symbol of rebirth.

There are many, many more meanings for the lotus flower including color, but for me, the concept of rebirth and transformation was so important.

Having struggled with massive health issues and rising above them, I truly believe that my success has been not only in the hands of skilled doctors and surgeons and nurses, but also in the hands of the skilled practitioners in nutrition, naturopathy, energy healers, qi gong, massage and chiropractic practitioners. It’s also been in my own hands as I have always followed my own path, advocating for myself with all my practitioners to find the treatments courses that are right for me. I wish to share my experiences with others and help them find the best course for them in their own healing journeys.

No Mud, No Lotus - Thick Nhat Hahn

No Mud, No Lotus – Thick Nhat Hanh

Here is a wonderful quote from Buddhist Monk Thick Nhat Hanh to meditate upon, “No mud, no lotus.”  You are the lotus and no matter what murky water that surrounds you, have the ability to blossom and thrive.

Five Things I Learned After Having Major Surgery

Gently handled flower

Stock photo from

I have a very rare form of cancer called a neuroendocrine tumor. It started in my pancreas, so I am known in the medical world as a PNET. It’s actually the same kind of cancer that Steve Jobs had. Even though it tends to be slow growing, it is a devastating disease with some patients having massive symptoms throughout their illness. I have lost many friends to this disease, so it is not something to take lightly or a benign illness as many in the medical community incorrectly believe.

I was diagnosed when I was 37, relatively young for the disease and had major surgery to remove the tumor from the tail of my pancreas, a bunch of positive lymph nodes and my spleen, which had been damaged by the tumor blocking the splenic vein. Even though I was told this surgery would be curative, the disease spread to my liver in less than a year after that surgery.

Even though I was offered a liver resection early on, I resisted having surgery as my first one was so complicated and was able to manage my disease for a number of years. Six years after that initial surgery, I underwent a second surgery to remove a portion of my liver and my gallbladder. Even though my second surgery was “easier” and without complications, I still had a significant amount of pain post-surgery that lasted for far longer than my doctors or I anticipated.

Here’s a few of the things I have learned throughout my journey.

  1. Get moving!
    The most important things you can do after surgery is to get exercise. You will hurt, it will suck, but it will get you on the road to recovery much faster. Choose a low impact sport – gentle yoga, water aerobics or walking. My personal choice is walking, as it a great way to get moving. My first walk after being released from the hospital was 40 minutes long….to go around my city block. It was slow. I took breaks. When I got home, I napped for two hours. But, it gave me such a strong sense of accomplishment. There is nothing like feeling like you can tell cancer to go eff itself.
  2. Eat like you give a damn!
    Even though you are recuperating and a bag of Chips Ahoy sounds like the perfect soul food, try to resist. I’m not saying you don’t deserve to treat yourself, but, your body will heal faster and more thoroughly if you are eating better. If you don’t have much of an appetite, healthy smoothies or juices made from veggies (and some fruit) are a great way to nourish your body, without taxing it.
  3. Take your meds!
    I’m not a fan of surgery, let alone prescription drugs, but, at some point they are necessary, even my naturopath and acupuncturist agree. Don’t be a martyr, if you need pain relief, do yourself a favor. If you have run out and still it pain, make that call to your doctor’s office and get a new script. It will give your body the extra time to rest and heal.
  4. Keep in contact!
    If you are like me, you’d rather cocoon and hide away from the world. Your friends and family are seriously concerned about you and have your best interests in mind. When they call, try to pick up the phone and talk, even if it is only for a few minutes. They will understand. When they text or email, get back to them with a quick note. If you need help with anything, and I mean anything, like maybe someone to walk with you or help you prepare food or take care of your pets, do not be afraid to ask. People will be grateful that you asked them and allowed them to help you during this time.
  5. Be gentle with yourself!
    If you are not recovering as fast as you expected, don’t beat yourself up about it. We all heal differently and some of us require more downtime. Take extra time off from work, or if you must go back, see if you can do a reduced schedule while you regain your strength. Don’t compare yourself to previous surgeries or even those of friends. Pamper yourself in a way that makes you feel great – maybe it’s a pedicure or massage. I have had wonderful Reiki and other forms of energy work during these times and have had significant shifts in energy and more importantly my emotional space.

While I sincerely hope that you will never have to experience any radical surgery, I hope that my handful of tips will help you or a loved one navigate this journey in a meaningful way.

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