Leaving Medicine To Cultivate Compassion

When I left medicine at the end of November in 2016, all I knew at the time was that I wanted to find a way to bring compassion back into medicine.  

My whole life I have been empathic and energetically sensitive as well as health conscious. I started studying nutrition and exercise when I was 14. This led to Sports Medicine studies in college.  When I graduated in 2002, I obtained certification as a strength and conditioning coach; I held this certification for 10 years. It would be several years later before I transitioned to a vegan diet mid-2009; this was the 1st catalyst in my path to self-transformation.  In addition to my health, my emotional state of mind improved noticeably.  Furthermore, this was also the year I became certified as, and began my career as, a Physician Assistant.  I continued to study nutrition and movement and began to recognize that self-care played a large role in overall health.  

When I transitioned to a whole foods based vegan diet in 2009, it repaired my ability to digest at a physiological level.  This was paramount to my transformation.  With my physical health restored, the deeper work began.  You know the saying; a healthy gut is a happy gut.  Well, so it was.  My skin started to glow, my energy returned and I rarely, if ever, got sick. Clearly there is a strong connection between gut health and physical health.  I learned this first hand.

Stress at work was high, and it started to impact me in a different way.  Instead of getting sick, I could feel tension in my body and an overall sense of distraction and emotional duress. This continued to propagate itself over the next several years until yoga found me in the spring of 2013.  The 2nd catalyst had arrived.  After being told I need anti-anxiety medication by a family member, I scheduled my first yoga retreat at Kripalu Yoga & Retreat Center in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.  I knew it was possible to reduce my stress and anxiety in a more holistic way.

In 4 days, I learned how to meditate, create more balance in my life and most importantly:  how to breathe.   That was the biggest takeaway.  I became more mindful of different aspects of my day, learning how to journal and to meditate.  I also learned how to perform yoga asana.  When I left, I had a CD to listen to and practice my breathing to while driving in the car.  On the way home, I bought a weighted hula-hoop because I needed more fun in my life.  The breathing and hula hooping became regular daily practice along with some yoga asana that I could remember.  Things began to shift for the better.  For the first time I set clear boundaries with my family.  Self-care is not selfish was my mantra at the time. I practiced putting myself first and saying “no” until it became easy to do so. And, even when it was uncomfortable, I was able to breathe and respond instead of react.  I had learned how to start digesting  at an emotional level.

Over the next year, amazing things began to unfold.  I returned to Kripalu to complete a week-long nutrition immersion program which inspired me to complete Colin Campbell’s online Whole Foods Plant Based certificate training program 6 months later. It was during this online program I learned about the discipline of Lifestyle Medicine.  I thought to myself, finally there is a way to integrate medicine with the lifestyle changes I’d been counseling patients on for so many years.  In October 2014, I attended a Lifestyle Medicine conference in San Diego.  While there, I met a physician who invited me to join her lifestyle medicine practice in Houston, TX.  I was so excited!! This was my dream job!

I spent the next 3 months organizing and packing, preparing for the move to Texas. I left March 1st, 2015 taking only my 2 cats and what fit in my Mazda3 sedan.  Ten days later I arrived in Houston.  The job was not all it promised to be, and for my own health, I left after 3 months and found a job working in Digestive Health.  Meanwhile I had started practice yoga regularly; it was my main coping strategy during this difficult transition. 

The more I practiced asana, the more my subtle body awareness increased.  My intuition strengthened.  It became challenging to be at work; I could feel so much all the time and hadn’t learned how to hold my energetic boundaries.  There was so much pain and suffering, every day.  Not just the patients, and my own as well. There was no need for so much dis-ease.  If there was just a little more time, the root issues could have been addressed and health restored.  But the system was not supportive of this approach and in November of 2016 I resigned.

In the 6 months after I resigned, I trained in Hatha yoga, Trauma Informed Yoga Therapy and Reiki.  I continued to study Ayurveda, nutrition and essential oils.  In June 2016, Vedic Thai Bodywork entered and changed my life.  It was the most transformative art I had experienced, and it guided me back to my faith in God.  I was now digesting at a deeper more spiritual level.  

Nurturing Vedic Touch was born to create compassion by addressing the many layers of touch, through Vedic Thai Assisted Yoga and Intuitive Life Guidance based on my diverse background and knowledge.  This is how I am bringing compassion back into medicine: by providing compassionate touch for health.

With gratitude,

Kristen

Kristen Jardine