Thursday, July 25, 2013

Presenting Members With Alternatives

Time and again I read about proponents making grandiose claims about alternative medicine whether it is a miracle pill/supplement, a bracelet that can cure you from pain, or a drastic diet that can turn you into an Adonis. Every time I find myself changing the channel, turning the page, or leaving the room. But there are other times when I sit back, listen, and once they are done preaching I ask them a very simple question. I never ask anything tricky or that is an attempt to catch them in a trap. Every time I have done this my question has been either dismissed or I am given a general that their snake oil can cure anything.

Given my past experiences, I went into yesterday’s Rotary meeting with some underlying consternation but, to be fair, I sat back and I listened. Our guest speaker’s background was so diversified that I couldn’t help but give her my attention and see what her view is on her chosen profession. It was also in the best interest of the club that I remain neutral as I was acting President yesterday and I didn’t want to interfere or have a negative impact on the club.

After opening the meeting in both the traditional and in our own unique manner, I was honored to be a part of a long overdue occasion… the official welcoming of a new member. I recall that day fondly and, I can now say, it is just as special when you are the one welcoming someone in to the club. With all the Rotary business taken care of for the day, we moved on to having a lively lunch before welcoming our guest speaker to the podium.

Dr. Joanna Carmichael is the Founder & CEO of the Kalyana Centre (formerly The Center for Oneness) in Narberth, Pennsylvania. Her background includes 26 years in the nursing field (including psychiatric nursing) along with over 20 years of clinical experience in the pharmaceutical research industry. During that time she committed herself to simultaneous studies in Holistic Health, Metaphysics, Divinity, Yoga, and Ayurveda resulting in two doctoral degrees which has given her a well-rounded perspective on health and healing and its intimate relationship to spirituality.

Her desire to create a place of beauty, healing and transformation where people can come to experience a variety of modalities in Alternative Medicine resulted from an intention that began when she left the pharmaceutical industry permanently in 2008 and opened the centre in September 2009. “Starting this Centre has been a dream come true,” said Carmichael. “My intention to do this at a time where we need healing on all levels became manifest… I had the vision and now the vision has me.” It is here where she educates people with regard to meditation, yoga, and ayurveda to help people primarily with the one thing that plagues us all… stress.

Carmichael’s belief in the interconnectedness between physiology, psychology and spirituality and the need for conventional as well as complementary modalities provides a vast array of choices by which the individual can begin their journey into healing. Her background in both the hard sciences and in alternative medicine is a combination that allows for a much more holistic approach to the problems of individuals. Being able to seamlessly combine the two is something that few have been able to accomplish and understanding the limitations of both is a powerful tool to apply to the care of her clients.

Also of note is that this is not just all business and profit for Carmichael. This is a deeply help passion and something that she offers, in part, as a service to the community through a free community meditation program which she offers every Monday and Wednesday (Thursday with another practitioner) from 6:00 – 6:30 pm at the Centre. During these open sessions, attendees are invited to decompress from the day's activities and connect with like-minded people for a half hour of meditation with the overall objective being that “through meditation we are also tapping into the wisdom of our soul, where we can experience the field of infinite potential, creativity, health and wisdom.”

It is because of people like Dr. Carmichael that I do my best to keep an open mind and listen to the perspectives that may be radically different from my own. Sometimes my views don’t change while other time, such as yesterday, I am willing to accept the merits of some alternatives. This also demonstrates the importance of Rotary in exposing people to ideas, professions, and individuals that they wouldn’t normally come across during the normal course of their day.

What have been some of topics covered during a Rotary meeting that you wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to? Who have been some of the more memorable speakers? Has your overall perspective been changed through Rotary? Please note that all these questions can apply to other clubs, fraternities, organizations, etc. Feel free to answer based on your personal involvement in any of the above not just Rotary.