Season 2
48 Minutes

E79 | Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams | When A Highly Accomplished Human Takes A Sabbatical

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams is a family-practice physician who is also board-certified in holistic medicine. She is the founder and medical director of Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine and Chi Center, where she specializes in holistic approaches to health and sexuality.

Rachel has authored and co-authored 5 marvelous books including “The Multi-Orgasmic Woman,” “The Man’s Guide to Women,” “BodyWise,” and “Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love,” the latter co-authored with John Gottman, his spouse Julie Schwartz Gottman, and Rachel’s own husband, the writer and editor Doug Abrams. What happens when such a highly accomplished human takes a sabbatical?

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Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  00:00

Whereas Western medicine is so powerful, I love it. I wouldn’t practice without it. We need it but it is incomplete. It’s like a sever. It’s like an arm severed off the body. It doesn’t include all these other things that would make it whole and better able in terms of healing people.

Achim Nowak  00:23

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT PODCAST. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected FOURTH ACTS, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started. I am just delighted to welcome Dr. Rachael Carlton Abrams to the MY FOURTH ACT PODCAST. Rachel is a family practice physician was also board certified in holistic medicine. She is the founder and medical director of Santa Cruz integrative medicine and Qi Center, where she specializes in holistic approaches to health and sexuality. Rachel has authored and co authored five marvelous books, including the multi-orgasmic woman, the Man’s Guide to women bodywise and eight dates, essential conversations for a lifetime of love. The ladder co authored with John Gottman, his spouse, Julie Schwartz, Gottman, and her own husband, the acclaimed writer and editor, Doug Abrams, I have the pleasure speaking with Rachel at the end of a sabbatical, which practically screams the question. So what’s next? Hi, Rachel.

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  01:58

I’m so happy to be here. Thanks for having me out for you.

Achim Nowak  02:01

It’s my pleasure. And without going to all the details, you were introduced to me by a former guest wide door. And that’s always the best way to meet somebody. And I’m just just thrilled. Like it’s a question I asked every guest and I want to preface it this way. When you have had an illustrious career, when somebody is a physician, like you always wonder when you’re a young girl and teenager, and mom and dad asked you so Rachel, you know, what do you want to do when you grow up? Did you say I want to be a doctor.

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  02:37

I said I wanted to be a veterinarian, veterinarian. Yeah, I was enamored of the All things bright and beautiful book series about the veterinarian. And my father, who is a pastor, and apparently wanted to be a doctor said to me, well, sweetheart, if you’re going to spend all that time in school and all that money, don’t you want to be able to help people? And I was like, You’re right. So I basically decided to be a doctor when I was 10.

Achim Nowak  03:06

Yeah, it feels so funny to choose between animals and people. I was listening to going well, what a wonderful dad to know how to ask that question.

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  03:17

He is wonderful. And he’s also a lover of animals. And I too, have really, I mean, this will be some of the theme today. But I feel like who I was at age five. Yeah, he’s who I’ve come back to be at this moment, at 55. And it’s so interesting. And at that time, I spent an enormous amount of time wandering around the woods by myself, found great meaning and fascination with nature and animals, which is what I wanted to be a veterinarian and I find myself now really moving back into. And really feeling like, in this stage of my life, I really don’t just stand for people. I stand for all living beings, everything. No one being more or less important than the other. Yeah.

Achim Nowak  04:14

Well, let’s since you opened the door to the big conversations already. If I put out the world, the word soul and spirit where and how do you experience those? Because in my mind that’s connected with the word experience with animals with people. Are you okay, playing with those two words a little bit?

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  04:37

Absolutely. It’s actually part and parcel of what I’m doing right now. So I was a very spiritual child. Some people are just born that way. My dad was a pastor. So it gave me a context for all of that. And I had lots of spiritual experiences in nature, and a felt experience of the Devine, also in church, and you know, I went on to really study religion quite a bit, I got very interested in Buddhism, I got very interested, I got got interested is really not the way to put it. I began being interested in in feminism, paganism and Buddhism when I was in college, and then I spent some time in Israel in Jerusalem, and really just fell in love with Judaism, I converted to Judaism, I did a master’s thesis around women and menstrual ritual and deep dive into Judaism. And, and then I studied and wrote three books on Taoism. So you asked me about the soul. And I immediately started talking about religion. I mean, because the two are related for me, but also because I would say the guidance of my soul has been deep, entrenched, like a tap root for me and my my whole life. Since the time I was a child,

Achim Nowak  06:09

I want to pick up on on two words, you just so generously put out? paganism? I’m familiar with that. But a listener might not be or might have odd ideas of what paganism is. So when,

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  06:25

which would make a lot of sense,

Achim Nowak  06:28

or the experience of paganism. What does paganism mean to you? Or how have you experienced paganism? Yes,

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  06:34

well, okay. And I’m just gonna start by saying, I’m not an expert, but in my understanding, paganism refers to religions that feel that the imminent world that nature itself that the Earth is, in fact, divine. So this is a huge swath, in fact, the majority of religious traditions, but because it includes every indigenous tradition, and I would argue that, you know, part of the reason I fell in love with Judaism is because it really was at one time and indigenous tradition of a land base people in a place. And then it evolved, of course, from there. So every indigenous religion and including, were those of us from European who are of European ancestry, I am, where we come from, there were very strong, pagan religious experiences there. And Christianity, which I grew up in is very critical of paganism, because it was fighting against paganism, only because it’s powerful. And I’m a lover of all spiritualities. I’m very grateful for my Christian upbringing, I don’t have, I don’t think any religion is bad, I actually think religion is necessary. But at this moment in my life, I’m most drawn to what I really feel inside my body, what I experience in nature and on the earth. So a spirituality that is grounded in the cycles of the earth, in the cycles of the human body is much more interesting to me, because it’s so old and intrinsic to who we are.

Achim Nowak  08:18

As I’m listening to you, I had to pick a formal form of spirituality that I spend most of my time it’s skin dualism, and I have a lot of Buddhist friends. Why Hinduism over Buddhism? My experience, is that my right to use that I experience Hinduism as more sensual. Yes, as a very sense, connected spiritual practice. And everything that you’re talking about, which also in my mind relates to your writing is about the senses and kinetic embodiment and kinetic experiences. And am I reading this correctly?

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  08:57

1,000% 1,000%. So Hinduism, you know, and I’m an integrative doctor. So people might not know what that means, either. But

Achim Nowak  09:06

it means that I’ve been what does it mean?

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  09:09

So it means that I have been trained in addition to Western medicine. So I went to a Stanford and a top medical school, serious Western medicine, education, but integrative medicine is the exploration, the deep exploration of preventive medicine. So that’s nutrition, exercise, really love and relationships, purpose, those kinds of things and their influence on health, which by the way, is absolutely freaking enormous, responsible for 90% of what causes illness in our in the country you and I are currently living in which is the United States. So that’s also true in many other places. And integrative medicine looks deeply at those factors, but also studies, verbal traditions of this continent and other continents. So these Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, which is the healing tradition of Hinduism, and here’s what I love About those traditions and when I said I was interested in and I’ve studied Taoism, which is, think of Hinduism and Taoism as like, cousins, you know, and all your Vedic medicine and Chinese medicine as cousins, so many so much overlap, so many similarities, so many beautiful conversations between them. And each of those traditions are our whole, by which I mean, they have a spiritual tradition, a meditation tradition, an exercise tradition, a healing tradition, both herbal and hands on a sexual tradition, both of them were talking about them being embodied, and a movement tradition, yoga, or tai chi or Qigong. So their whole, they really have all those things that I just said affect health they they have within them, whereas Western medicine is so powerful, I love it. I wouldn’t practice without it, we need it, but it is incomplete. It’s like a sever. It’s like an arm severed off the body. It doesn’t include all these other things that would make it whole and better able, in terms of healing people. Yeah.

Achim Nowak  11:09

We’re gonna go deeper with this. But I want to before we go there would you give our listeners just a little snapshot of being a family physician, who’s also an integrative medicine practitioner. And if we can set it up this way, if you had to just tell us a story or moment where you go, this is why I’m a physician. This is what I love about being physician. But at the same time, I know in every profession, there are the moments that the dark side where we go, this is what’s hard and frustrating about being a physician, can you give a snapshot of either ends of the spectrum for us?

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  11:47

Sure. So I practice integrative medicine with other practitioners who are integrative practitioners. So, chiropractor and osteopathic Doctor pediatrician, the naturopathic doctor to acupuncturists, a trauma and ketamine assisted psychotherapy therapist. So it’s a it is a a nest, following my patients walk in the door. They feel held really by by everyone whether or not they’re particularly seeing that person. So if it feels different, I love that I love practicing in there sometimes referred to as my coven.

Achim Nowak  12:26

That that already is another expression form of being holistic, right? Exactly. You together,

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  12:32

oh, and the power of it. So I have a patient that I began seeing when I was in a regular medical practice. I’ve been in practice for 22 years in the town that I’m in. And I knew her when she was 13. And she had a rough adolescence. And I knew both her parents because some things went down and we had to coordinate it. And just recently, and I’ve been with her through multiple relationships, she finally found a beautiful person to be with and they’re together and that she’s had a difficult journey with pregnancy. And we’ve incorporated herbal medicine, nutritional medicine, I referred her to the acupuncturist, who specializes in fertility. And she herself is your medically trained. And she’s now in her 30s. And she just got pregnant, and is into her second trimester and is going to carry this pregnancy and I mean, there’s just nothing like walking someone’s path with them like that. You know, it’s it’s another way that I get to be a doctor mother out in the world. And it’s so deeply satisfying. And that my work with her, you know, influences who she is and what she chooses and how she is and then this baby that she’s going to bring into the world. It’s a it is it’s a lovely way to practice. And I’m still practicing in the United States Medical System. And let me just tell you, it sucks. It sucks. The amount of insurance billing malpractice documentation, what has to be done, in order to see patients is enough to make you nuts. I saw a a statistic yesterday in a presentation I was seeing that a primary care physician if they did everything that was recommended in terms of preventive care, and nutritional counseling and all these things. With a typical number of patients, which is 2500. It would take 21 hours a day. It’s insane. It’s insane.

Achim Nowak  14:42

It’s insane. You just told us Go ahead please.

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  14:46

Yeah, no. Please jump in. Save me from this.

Achim Nowak  14:50

You tell this beautiful story about what I heard is being a companion to somebody who is now giving birth drone child and where my mind was knowing, you know giving birth is it happens because, well traditionally because two people have sex, if we can be treated another ways right now, and as your in your in your own writing, you know you have a gorgeous book called the multi-orgasmic woman, I mean that. That to me alludes to, to pleasure and choosing pleasure, and inviting more pleasure. Yes, please. You talk about the word, pleasure, the importance of pleasure, inviting pleasure, anything that’s important to you since you wrote that

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  15:42

book. Yeah. So I really find the Taoist framework around this to be enormously helpful. So in Chinese medicine, and an Ayurvedic medicine, for that matter, there, it’s all based around the concept of the flow of life energy, which is called prana, and your Vedic medicine and chi and Chinese medicine. And the flow of chi can be smooth that can be blocked, it can be too little, you know, like any river, and sexual energy is referred to as Jing chi. So it’s just another form of life energy. And that’s how I think about it. And this isn’t just your betta Taoism, like if you look at in ancient Hebrew sources in Judaism, they also talk about sexuality as lifeforce also. And it is sometimes translated as the evil impulse. But it’s absolutely necessary for creation. So I think the the way that we conceptualize a pleasure in a western context is, so remember, I talked about the severed limb of Western medicine? Well, this is severed limb of Western thought. So you know, back to Decart, now hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and not just him, of course, but that influence on how we think about the body, that the body is evil and bad. And the whole point of being on Earth is to get beyond and over the body, in fact, to torture that body too. And it’s not just Christianity, you know, there are pieces of Buddhism. And there are many other traditions that really feel that suppression of bodily impulses, bodily feelings, and pleasure is the point of being spiritual. And I would strongly argue, based on scientific evidence, that pleasure is uniquely healing for the body. So in Dallas, thought, it’s thought that sexual energy is like in many of these traditions, it’s, it’s fiery, so it can do damage. They say, you know, it can heal you or can burn your house down. And the point is, to be able to channel it, to be able to experience it, and then utilize it in ways that are kind and productive. And that may or may or may not have to do with being with another human, you know, this is a practice that can be done in your own body. So pleasure, the sensation of this sexual energy, this Jing Chi in the body is intrinsic to human experience, you know, it’s easier to understand how we’re supposed to be for health, if we look at communities that have not been westernized in that way that have not had it beaten out of them. And if you, you know, are ever in, you know, I was in remote villages in Fiji, or in Africa, or in South America, or even in these subcultures within our own country, so much more affection, so much more laughter, so much more clear conversation about sexuality, it’s like, well, this is how the human animal thrives. And when you cut off pleasure, you also cut off all those healing hormones and neurotransmitters that pleasure brings to the body. Why would we do that? You know, pleasure is our is our gift from God.

Achim Nowak  19:13

When I hear the word orgasm, I want to give you some sense of what for me as a male. I think it’s part of living those, but part of the connotation is, I think the pressure that exists is we need to get to orgasm. For many people, I think there’s the performance expectation attached to it, right. And in I know, as I get older, I just want to test this. There’s more pleasure when when I perform less, or when I give myself permission to not perform, or I give my partner permission to not perform and so we don’t have to people putting on the sex show for each other. And instead, it’s a different kind of exploration, which is also liberating. I’m in my 60s and we have a Audience listeners who are in the stage of life, that can be the liberating part. Does this make sense what I’m saying?

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  20:08

Oh, 100% In fact, I think it’s really essential, because, and this from someone who wrote a book called The multi orgasmic. I had to explain that a little bit. I probably wouldn’t have titled it that. But my husband had just co authored with Montek. Chia, the multi orgasmic man. So the title was to keep it in series. I don’t think orgasm is the point. I think orgasm is fun. I think orgasm is like, you know, a fireworks experience of pleasure. It’s cool. Get all these great, you know, hormones and neurotransmitters in your body. It’s great. And it’s not the point of intimacy. The point of intimacy is pleasure. And how ever you have that pleasure is fine. And in fact, in Dallas sexuality. Endowed with sexuality for males, there is a teaching that orgasm, orgasm and ejaculation are separate. We don’t have to go into that further but, but for most men, that’s not the case. For most men orgasm is ejaculation and ejaculation for a male depletes Jing chi depletes chi. So there’s a thought that having less ejaculation as you get older is better. It’s healthier. It sustains chi and Jing chi, sexual energy, and it’s better for the body. So I really think and I often say about orgasm, the way you get to orgasm is you follow pleasure, and you relax, because orgasm cannot be sought and accomplished. You’re particularly for females, that falling back into the experience of orgasm is more how it goes. And that’s about surrender. And what do you surrender to? Connection, intimacy and pleasure?

Achim Nowak  22:01

I love that phrase you used falling back into that was beautiful. In my work as an executive coach, as opposed to support very successful men and women, with CEOs of C suite leaders, and very often, you know, usually somebody calls me and they tell me everything that’s great about this person, and then we get to the butt, which is the area the opportunity of improvement, right? Which is why coaches and especially with women 50% of time what I hear, can you help her just relax. And this is this is about your public persona, not about the bedroom. But the the idea that relaxation. And I’d say having trusting who we are having faith, and not overcompensating for things that we are even conscious of is the detriment? Would you speak to that also, from your experience as apparently physician and the healer?

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  23:01

For sure? And I would say, No, that comment came up in the context of sexuality. And I do want to say also, that I think sexuality is just a mirror for life. Yeah. So people who are lacking in desire, are lacking in Chi life energy in life, in general, it’s not necessarily about sex, and particularly females. So one of the things that I am actively pursuing right now, is a really different way of inhabiting the world that is feminine, that is respectful of the earth and nature and my own body. And I just want to say, as someone who’s worked in high level hospitals as a female physician, that that is not the context of business, or professional life, currently. So taking a female, and I’m not, I’m not an essentialist, there are plenty of men who have a more highly evolved Yin sense or feminine sense than some females. I know. So this isn’t just an it’s not just a male and female thing. It’s really a masculine feminine thing, and we all have both. But if you take a human, particularly a female, and you stick her in a context that does not value, the limits of her body, it doesn’t value her nature, which is cyclical, and it doesn’t value that. Let’s just say she’s a mother. Some women are somewhat art, but if she is, that’s the most important thing to her. And yet this context, asks of her that she sacrificed everything to be present professionally. it and it’s Can I guess? It’s fucking impossible. It is impossible. It is this this bullshit that I was fed in the 80s, that you are going to be the professional woman who does it all? Bullshit, there’s no balancing that there is no balance there. You can choose it or not choose it, you can try to alter it. But you can’t expect someone to be whole complete and at peace in a context that is basically unfriendly to her nature.

Achim Nowak  25:36

But if I’m playing devil’s advocate, you know, I could say, well, it’s easy for Rachel to say that because she’s doing her own thing. She is her own boss, she has her own medical center. But she doesn’t have to work for a hospital, she doesn’t have to work for a corporation. What kind of guidance would you give to a female listener who was maybe often feels out of balance within the performance expectations of her professional work?

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  26:05

Thank you for that. That was the next thing I want to talk about. And the reason I said the first part is that I didn’t wouldn’t want anyone in that context, if you’d like, there’s something wrong with them for feeling that way. Yeah, like, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you. Personally, I think it is a mismatch. And then the other thing that I would say, because all of us have to provide for ourselves and make a living. And we want to do that in a way that doesn’t drain us, personally. So. And I think that many females, myself included, push ourselves way beyond our reasonable limits, in terms of sleep, food, exercise, rest, which is different than sleep, and connection. And if I could, I mean, I’ve been working with women for decades now, around these issues. And sleep, I would say is the number one thing, the average person in the United States sleeps 6.2 hours a night, the average amount that people need is eight, or even 8.5, in some studies, at the turn of the last century, and 1900, people got 10 hours of sleep, just imagine, if you’ve looked like close to that now. And it doesn’t look good on us, you know, the six and a half hours of sleep is not working, people are extremely stressed, extremely anxious, extremely depressed, and depleted. And then it’s hard to relate to people with any patience, or, or openness to difference. And you know, the thing that is most common about the corporate environment is that you are interacting with a wide variety of people with a wide variety of personalities, and from a wide variety of backgrounds. And to do that with an open mind requires a tension, you know, it requires some effort. So sleep. And then the second thing I would say, is some tiny form. And I say tiny because I was a working mother of three children under five. So I get it, how we’re splitting hairs with time here. But some tiny form of prayer, meditation, whatever you want to call it. What I used to do in those years is wake up in bed in the morning, and with or without a child having jumped on top of me, I would take a deep breath, I would say gratitudes. And I would ask for help with what was hard. And I would set an intention for the day, like one word, particularly I don’t know, three minutes. But even just tiny, tiny little things like that can make a difference in terms of our, the guidance of our soul. As we go about our day, what you

Achim Nowak  29:11

just described to me connect, it connects to the word connection used, which is starting today with a more conscious and deeper connection with you. And your desires, your hopes, what your body is feeling all of that, you know, and the ritual you describe, is a container for for that connection. Right? Yeah. Because as I hear, listen to all your practices, what I’m also hearing is the importance of just being in tune with your energy, your energetic needs and the energy of others. So if we build on that, because it sounds good, and I have my own energy practice, but somebody might go What the hell does that mean? Yeah, how how How do we develop a stronger conscious experience of our energy, the energy of others the energy dynamic between two people?

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  30:12

Well, I mean, the first thing you have to start with, and the book I wrote most recently was body wise. So really learning how to listen deeply to one’s own body for health and healing. And the the idea being that if if you just take a moment or a breath, or briefly close your eyes, you have a sense of you can have a felt sense of your own energy level. And the other thing that’s useful for is as you’re making choices, because most people in a corporate context, in a professional context, for the most part are depleted, not everybody, but most people. And then not being depleted typically means saying no to more things. And the knowing what to say no to because it’s one thing when you’re saying no to things that you don’t want to do. But there comes a point in life where you’re saying no to lots of things that you really want to do. Because you know, that the experience you’re going to have in your body, if you say yes to that is not going to be joyful. It’s it’s going to be depleting. Right? So so the the checking your body and I often you know, I teach this yes, no exercise in body wise one, which is all about feeling into one’s but how does your body feel when you’re really a yes to something? We call it a whole body? Yes. How do you feel when? Oh, you know, somebody comes in and goes, Hey, I’ve got a great new idea. I want to, you know, develop this new project with you around this, that and the other, and you feel into your body? And is your heart squeezing and your chest collapsing? And now your stomach is tight? Yeah. Because you know, how much energy that’s gonna take? That’s a no, that’s no, you know, come in same conversation, all of a sudden, oh, your shoulders are back, your eyes are brighter, your chest is open, you feel a little tingly? Okay, that’s a yes, that’s a yes to that creative possibility. But we have to navigate with this just precious navigation system we’ve been given called our bodies.

Achim Nowak  32:29

A word from your sponsor. That’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast, fourth, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. So you told us when we started, you are 55 I know you have three young adult children in their 20s. And you’re just had a sabbatical. And you may still be in the sabbatical. So as I’m listening to you, I’m thinking, as you look to the future, and you as you do your own yes, no exercise for yourself, right? What? What are you more pulled to? Are there things that you haven’t done that go? Yes, yes, yes. Pick Me or other things? Because often we’re very good at stuff. And you go, no, no, no, no, no, I don’t want to keep doing this. I know, I’m good at it. But where are you with that in your own mind?

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  33:44

It’s really the question right now. So I have another three months of sabbatical. I took a seven month sabbatical. And I’m just gonna say to the listeners I desperately needed. COVID as a doctor was brutal. And I’ve been a doctor for a long time, and I just, I had all the classic signs of burnout, including wanting to drink more at night and have to drink more coffee in the morning and just depressed, really depressed and anxious and overwhelmed. And that’s not me. That’s not normal, Rachel. So I am in them in the middle of this question and the questions incomplete because I’m still waiting for information. So there’s some things I know I will be doing. I love teaching. I’ve always loved teaching. I’ve been teaching at Esalen Institute and blue spirit down in Costa Rica and a variety of other places for 20 years. Very meaningful for me very satisfying and fun. And increases my energy. Right. So just looking at what that looks like. I know that I’ll be doing leadership in integrative medicine. I’m on the board of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine and probably going to be leading that organization and we’re doing all kinds of really Gorgeous work in the world and in all of the Americas were involved with possibly helping the medical traditions in the Americas bring indigenous medicine into them. I’m very excited about that. So leadership, for sure. And then the question is my practice. And the only thing I’m clear about is I’m definitely not going back to the way it was. So the practice that burned me out, I can’t do that anymore. That’s done that’s complete, and I’m unsure what it’s going to look like. Next. I keep trimming things from it. And the body is still a no. So I’m listening. I’m really listening. And I’m also training to be a ketamine provider. I don’t know if you’ve ever talked about ketamine is a, it’s actually an anesthetic, but it’s used like a psychedelic for psychedelic assisted psychotherapy. So it is ketamine assisted psychotherapy. It’s actually revolutionising psychiatry, because because of its efficacy, and severe PTSD and treatment resistant depression, in OCD, and generalized anxiety, I mean, it’s, it’s kind of outrageous, and really only outperformed by psilocybin, which is mushrooms, and MDMA, all of which will be legal, I expect MDMA to be legal. In the next year, probably because the research is off the charts, we’ve never had such effective treatments for these severely debilitating diseases. So the other thing that you can do with those besides treat severe psychiatric disease is used it as an awakening of the soul, and the consciousness, and transformation. So, you know, I can spend all day talking about dietary changes and exercise and getting more community connection and sleeping more, you know, till I’m blue in the face. But if there’s always a reason that the person who already knows this, people know these things, reason, the person I’m working with is not doing it. And so having a transformational experience around that can be profound for people. And I want access to that for my clients and my patients. So a piece of what I’ll be doing is transformative work, starting with ketamine, because it’s legal.

Achim Nowak  37:38

I got really excited as you describing this, because it just, it just makes sense to me. You know, and I also believe in, and I love that you have the scientific data. And I believe the power of experimentation, you know, and trying new things. I really just applaud you. And since what you’re describing, there’s one thing you said that I want to just pick your brain on. And I’m paraphrasing, now, if I got this wrong, what you did is that roughly and still gathering information and data, like you’re still doing your sabbatical. What does information and data gathering look like? Curious about how that works?

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  38:21

Totally. Am I on PubMed? For example? Not if I can help it? Sometimes I have to, but no, so here’s what it means for me. And this is a very personal thing. You know, how do you make big decisions? How do you really feel into what your soul wants to do? That’s the question. And the answer is going to vary. So I can tell you the variety of things I’m doing, I am committing, and I’m on sabbatical, mind you, I’m not expecting any everyone should do this. But at this moment, I’m doing a committed meditation and prayer practice in the morning, which incorporates Jewish prayer, and mindfulness meditation, and Taoist ovarian breathing exercises, like it’s more about that if you’re interested. And tarot cards, and some ecstatic dance, and reading and walking in nature, like I got a really great download from a tree recently, really, very interested in the life in plant life and the remarkable connections of trees and plants under the ground, like the fact that trees can channel food to their offspring but also to other trees in the forest because they work better together and community. It’s It’s amazing. So I was walking in the redwoods. I live near redwood forest, which is a huge blessing. And I was inside a redwood trees was a giant redwood tree, a big Mother Tree And the download I got when I was asking for guidance was, you need to stand like a tree stand in the metaphoric sense. You need to be deeply rooted and interconnected with all your people. So in community, and not in a soft way in a real in a real way, in an in person way. And also in a digital way, but deeply connected with community need to stand in deep rootedness and connection with your community. And in order for you to branch out and bear fruit, you can’t be leaning forward, you can’t be leaning forward into the future, you can’t be leaning in a codependent way into your patients, your husband, your children, your friends, your community, or your desire to save the world. Because leaning forward is off balance, and you can no longer channel the life energy that you’re pulling out of the earth and down from the sky. And you can’t lean back out of fear of all these things, the people I love will not be well, global warming is going to destroy the Earth, there’s going to be catastrophe after catastrophe. You can’t lean back and avoid it either. You have to stand rooted and strong in the middle of it rooted into the nourishment of the Earth, open to the sky, the sun, the wind, you know, to dreaming and possibility and maintain your ground in order to survive and thrive.

Achim Nowak  41:42

I hope we all heard I’m so appreciated that answer Rachel that getting more information and data is not traditional data research for you unnecessarily use the word download. It’s about being open to all sorts of wisdom. This is what I heard, and invoking all sources of wisdom. And when you describe your practice what so loved about it, I mean, within that that’s an integrative meditation practice, if I ever heard it, right, so you just you just put so many things into it. And it just makes sense. Now, if you final question. Again, somebody might be listening to you say, God, this Rachel’s doing all these cool things. You know, I’m so inspired by her these are really great. But I haven’t meditated much, or I haven’t studied all the things she studied, like, I wouldn’t even know where to start. Yeah, you would tell somebody? Where do you start? If somebody wants to move into what I’m gonna call a more a more embodied spirit conscious way of being?

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  42:52

Yeah. Well, I am actually as my project on sabbatical, developing a whole system of meaning. So I’m going to stick to that because it will be a resource, I believe. And so I’m doing it for myself first, because I want always should, and then I’m going to share it. And I really was thinking into, you know, what do we need in terms of transformation of our world at this time, and we’ve got all this messaging of fear and isolation going on in our media. And what we need is connection, like the trees like underground. And, and the idea that we can do this. So I base the whole system of meaning around four basic tenants. One is that we’re all connected to each other. So the trees, we can see their roots and the mycorrhizal network, we can measure it, we’re equally connected, but in the energy realm, to each other, and to nature. So we’re all connected, and we’re deeply connected to the earth, that there is enough for everyone if we share, and that collectively, we’re powerful. And the earth is precious. So the whole thing, the whole system of meaning is around those basic tenants. And then, in fact, I’m going to hold up, y’all can’t see this as you’re listening on the radio, but I’m going to hold it up for you guys for me. Yeah, so I have a whiteboard here, if you can imagine and on the whiteboard sort of creation of your Vedic medicine and Chinese medicines. So this is a completion of a system of meaning, which includes contemplative practices, music, movement, community, learning, reading, spoken word and ritual, all based on the human body and earth. So I’m developing essentially my own system of meaning. And I’m calling what’s meaningful for me, the point being that it’s different for everyone. And when I see a patient who’s deeply Catholic in my practice, and they, I believe, would benefit from a contemplative practice I suggest the rosary. You know, I suggest Hail Mary, in a way It matters deeply to each of us personally, but it doesn’t really matter in terms of effectiveness. It’s what speaks to you. And it can be anything.

Achim Nowak  45:12

Yeah. Beautiful. Thank you. I have no doubt that listeners will go, oh, gosh, where can I find out more about Rachel’s work? Obviously, your books are available in bookstores and on Amazon. But where else would you like to direct our listeners who are curious about what you. So the

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  45:31

best website is Dr., spelled out D o c, t, O R, Rachel ra ch e And there will be many updates, including the system of meaning over the next couple of months, because my idea is that we create it in a way that people can look in these different areas and look at Tibetan Buddhist practices and look at and pick what seems interesting or poetry and meaningful to them, and put it in their own system of meaning. And that there can be sacred sharing. So for example, if a local Native American tribe wants is willing and interested in sharing something, and I wouldn’t share anything, they weren’t, didn’t feel good about that there’s a way to give back that their sacred reciprocity, you know, to contribute either with a prayer or with a contribution to something they’re doing, you know, that we have ways that it doesn’t have to be cultural appropriation, it can be sacred reciprocity. And we can each have something that makes sense in our own understanding of the world. In 2022.

Achim Nowak  46:40

Rachel, thank you so much for the gift of this conversation. I want to say thank you for the gift of all the downloads you’re getting. You are integrating them and I look forward to where all of this is leading you and for you, but for all of us. So thank you.

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams  46:59

Thank you. Okay, and thanks, everybody, for listening. really my pleasure.

Achim Nowak  47:04

Bye for now. Bye bye. Likewise, what you heard, please go to my fourth And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao


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