A Pilgrimage to Bhutan: Making Sense of 2012 – Part I

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What we can be sure of is change, the unpredictability and shifting nature of life.   How we relate to that change determines everything – does it beat us down or hone us into more refined ways of being, does it tear apart what we know leaving nothing, or does it guide us into a deeper relationship to what is true, to our deeper nature and a richer texture of life, like a grain of sand that becomes a pearl.

This year, 2012, has symbolism and meaning for many in ancient times, and for many today – the end of the world, a time of upheaval, and of renewal.  For me, in my small world, it has been an unusual and extraordinary year – of deep peaks and valleys, of experience throwing me back into the questions that all of us at one time or another must confront such as why am I here, why do bad things happen, how do I make sense of loss and change, what is true and how do I live fully now, and how should I spend this one precious life?

Over the past year, my older sister, Carrie, died slowly from biliary cancer.  Environmental toxins are causing an increase in this type of cancer.  She was young, a single mother, and had two children, my niece and nephew.

Despite a desperate struggle, she died last month in my home surrounded by her family singing songs, offering poems, prayers, and laughter. It was out of order – her parents, my parents, buried her.  Her children are not yet raised; her life, so incomplete, was gone in one breath.

I also sadly ended a marriage of eight years.  And so I took a pause, and went to do the things that restore me, that slow me down enough to notice what is true.  For me it is walking in the mountains and offering myself in the service of others.

In the fresh and raw place of these changes, my 24 year old daughter Rachel and I went to Bhutan on a trek to a sacred mountain, Jomolhari, altitude 23,000 feet, and to a Tibetan boy’s orphanage at Menri Monastery in the foothills of the Himalayas in India, to pare away the known and see what is left.  It was a sort of pilgrimage to sacred outer and internal landscapes. For thousands of years, human beings have made pilgrimages to such sacred places.

And in my life, at this moment, it was time for that pilgrimage.   I would like to share some of my experience with you in several blogs with the hope that in them you might find a way to make your own pilgrimage in thought, place or deed that brings you closer to what is true, essential and eternal in life, to peace, and happiness.  It is not the kind of thing I am prone to share, but it informs all of the work I do to help create healing in the world.



Bhutan

We begin in Paro, nested at 7,000 feet, a small, rugged, mountainous town.  It is a cold, crisp and dark morning. I awoke from fitful dreams of my sister struggling to find a way to live, to find a way back.  The Tibetan Buddhists believe in the Bardo, a transitional state where the soul is lost, confused, and uncertain of its state.

For 49 days it is believed that the soul seeks to reconnect with life, family, friends, and the departed feel as though they are still alive but no one responds to them; and this creates great suffering.  Perhaps it is that or my sadness, but in the deep dark nights in my dreams she is there, palpable, real, resisting death, longing desperately to live.

I do not pretend to understand how this life works, my place in it, or how to arrive to a place that is settled, authentic, powerful, and clear, but I am trying.  As I return to the East where I spent so much of my youth, either as a mythical place explored in ancient texts and practices, or thirty years ago in the physical places and spaces of Tibet and Nepal where I wandered as a young man in search of meaning, I am reminded of the foundation upon which I have built my life, beliefs, attitudes, and aspirations that are who I am.

I am reminded of the notion of compassion and the Bodhisattva committed to the liberation from suffering of all sentient beings, of loving kindness, of impermanence and non-attachment, of clear and present awareness of what is without judgment or ideas of this or that, of realms of consciousness and beings beyond the senses and beyond knowing, of merit and the endless cycle of life, of discernment, of seeing what is true, and of our true or Buddha nature and the Buddha nature in all things. These are the quiet and unspoken principles that are the filters through which I experience life.

Being here, visiting the sacred places, in this sacred country where these Buddhist principles are their constitution, their declaration of interdependence and interconnection of all things, I am quieted and happy, but less certain than ever of how things should be – only open to how things might be if I relax, let go, be present, show up, pay attention, and listen for what is true in everything.

I have failed at this many times, have made many mistakes, but now in this little crack in my life where, as Leonard Cohen reminds us, is how the light gets in, I am sensing something luminous and possible. With the death of my sister, the drama of the divorce leaving me raw, and in the questions, I sense a transition to something different – though I am not sure what it is.

Jomolhari Trek

It is a day’s hike up the river toward the sacred mountain Jomolhari; I awoke nestled in my sleeping bag warmed by a hot water bottle that reminded me of the safety of my childhood, something my mother offered when I was sick.

Here in this remote valley, in this even more remote country, Bhutan, nestled against the border of Tibet and India, is a place that rejects the values of the West, of material success in exchange for “Gross National Happiness”, a measure of life’s quality, of how we care for each other and the earth. It is place that outlaws smoking because it kills and enforces driving slowly and safely. It is a place that educates the young and whose last king abdicated power to introduce democracy and describes himself as a servant, parent, caretaker, and steward not a ruler.

Though poor, a gentle happiness exudes from the Bhutanese I have met. They are graceful, generous, and kind. The landscape and the people are imbued with core Buddhist values – loving kindness, compassion, peace with the impermanence of life, understanding the cycles of life, death and rebirth, and of creating merit in this lifetime which shapes a different way of being in each day.

When we arrived at our destination we climbed up a steep mountain to an 8th century monastery, the Tiger’s Nest.  It is perched on the edge of a cliff, held on by angel hairs, the place where Padmasambhava (or Guru Rinpoche) meditated for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days, 3 minutes and 3 seconds in the 8th century and brought Tantra and Tibetan Buddhism to Bhutan and Tibet, offering an accelerated path to enlightenment.

The monasteries are sacred ancient places where, for over a thousand years, the Dharma (the Buddha’s teachings) have been taught, the sutras (prayers) chanted, the butter lamps lit, where offerings were made, and where thousands upon tens of thousands of prostrations were done by the humble caretaker of a 7th century monastery that has worn grooves into the wood that somehow fits everyone’s foot regardless of size.

The walls speak and resonate with the sacred, ancient Thangka paintings. They adorn the walls telling the story of Samsara, the endless wheel of life, of the Buddha and his disciples, of Guru Rinpoche and his eight manifestations and consorts with whom he formed mystical union and achieved the Great Enlightenment.

They speak of demons representing the demons of our minds and statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, of Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, who returned from the gates of enlightenment to work for the liberation of all sentient beings. He made it his life’s work to teach all of us the power of loving kindness and to heal and remake the world through compassion. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th reincarnation of Avalokiteśvara.

These Buddhist values permeate Bhutan – values of compassion, non-attachment, discernment of the true nature of reality, the nature of our minds, the Buddha nature of all people and all things,  the impermanence of life, our Self versus self, our true nature versus our ego mind, our thought forms as impermanent, and of the seeking toward witnessing the play of our minds and our lives as part of Samsara, of Maya, the illusion that arises and passes.

It is the belief that the cultivation of happiness is, all at once, understanding the true nature of things, the beautiful, wondrous, magical nature of life and it’s preciousness, and that one of life’s greatest achievements is to be awake to that preciousness in every moment, in everyone, and in everything.

Against the backdrop of this sacred and protected country, absent of all things familiar to the West, Rachel and I set out on our pilgrimage to the sacred goddess mountain, Jomolhari, to the roof of the world.

This pilgrimage is not easy or always pleasant, as we find out while sitting cross-legged for hours in a monastery on a cold morning.  It takes us away from what is known, comfortable, and easy, where we confront only our minds, our fears, and our beliefs about the limits of our body.

And there we are left only with the vastness of nature, the cold, the deep biting cold, each other, and the play of our minds. With each step toward the sacred mountain we shed layers of what and where we are, shed ideas and notions of what is true and real, and come directly in contact with unadorned experience.

We walked yesterday for hour and hours, past small villages and the beautiful square houses of Bhutan, where animals, cows, pigs, and horses lived below, humans on the middle floor, and food and hay were stored on the top floor.

Electricity and roads have just come in the last few years, but are still absent for most of the country. Life is slow and simple, people grow Bhutanese red rice and turnips, tend animals, wash clothes, and make everything by hand.

Time stretches out like a vast ocean here, not hurried along in some chaotic race to nowhere. What are we to do with our one precious human life, a life so rare that it is likened to a turtle who comes up for one breath once a century and in order to create one human life he must poke his head through one small yellow yoke floating upon all the seas.

What are we to do with this one wild and precious life, as the poet Mary Oliver asks us, but to be awake to its wonder and beauty and live each day with gratitude and loving kindness and service to each other.

Yes, there is suffering, and from a great suffering I have just emerged, the suffering of my sister, Carrie, dying slowly from the ravages of bile duct cancer that slowly twisted and turned off her bowels. The suffering of a mother who was not yet ready to leave her children, who clung to life even as she took her last breath surrounded by all of us, her family, her children, her friends singing to her, blessing her, reading her Rilke’s poetry as she took her last breath.

My own suffering is in losing my beloved and only sister, witnessing the pain of my elderly parents burying their daughter, and of her children losing their mother. Of course there is suffering.  It is real, and yet how we meet it and how we dance with it determines if it devours or enriches us wearing us smooth and beautiful like rocks pounded by the sea.

How we meet the cycle of life and death and, as the Buddhists believe, rebirth, determines if we greet life and greet each other with loving kindness or with bitterness and resentment.   The basic Buddhist belief is that in the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth everyone at one time was your mother or will be in the next life, highlighting the value of loving kindness toward all beings.

This simple idea, so hard to achieve, is the path to happiness.  And so it is – we set out on this trek alone, unadorned, as no one, and with nothing, simply to meet ourselves and the world as it is.

Now I crawl from my sleep back to meet the day, to have a camp breakfast by the side of this glacial river, as our camp cook brings us hot tea and we head up the trail toward the unknown, a little bit of suffering heaped upon a big dose of happiness.  Click here to continue to Part II and Part III.

Wishing you and your family a very happy and healthy holiday!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

P.S. Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

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157 Responses to A Pilgrimage to Bhutan: Making Sense of 2012 – Part I

  1. Kristofer Young, DC (@FxMedChiro) December 22, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    Mark,
    To be able to hug you.
    You lead me/us because you are free to know yourself and to share what you are finding.
    You are a doctor and a friend.
    Many thanks!
    Kris

  2. univer-sal December 23, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    Mark… I too lost my only sister (to melanoma) this year. She too had two young children…my niece and nephew.. and my parents had to bury her. Its something that I will never quite comprehend as it has opened a huge gap in all of our lives.. a space that will never be refilled. I have found some solace in time and my spiritual lessons.. in looking after myself and being there for my family. Thank you for sharing your story with us… that healing can come in all lessons and forms.. in journeys and in stillness.
    Bhutan is a place that has been on the top of my list to visit for about 4 years. I have only not gone because no-one I know wants to go with me… but your story has instilled a deeper longing to go there and so be it, if it will be that I go on my own. My life has stalled… and if I will find my way forward in the healing that you found there that will make me happier too.
    Thank you also for sharing your wisdom and knowledge in your books, blogs and videos. I start at IIN this year to help spread the word of healthy eating and living to my friends and family… and hopefully beyond.
    Happy and healthy holidays to you too Mark.
    Sally

    • Barbara Sanders December 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

      Truth is the target, whether medically or spiritually. I would encourage you to seek Truth – your journey has
      not yet begun.
      barbara

      • Helen December 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

        There is truth in the world. It works quietly and calmly through every experience,. It speaks of the truth of Jesus in Matt 28 that it will be in the world until the end of time. So, it is still here. I could say where it can be found but to find it for oneself is overwhelming. Check the way Jesus sent out his ministry and find how Jesus followers had fellowship together after He arose. After discovering these things, search for these things in the world. You should find it.

    • Debi December 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      Mark, my heart dropped when I read your sister died of biliary cancer. My sister just passed Sept 4th of choleangiocarcinoma … aka biliary duct, rare & aggressive cancer! I definitely believe environmental factors or years of allergy meds contributed to the cells in that very specific area mutating & killing someone so quickly!
      My deepest sympathy to you & all those affected by horrible cancer.

      • Leona December 30, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

        Our mother died 4 years ago… the same cancer. She was 93 and it also seems prevalent among that older generation. It is a tough cancer, because it seems like by the time it is diagnosed, it is too late for any real treatment. My sister has heard of a number of women in their 80s and 90s who lasted only about a month after their diagnosis. I think the chemicals we are being exposed to might affect this disease. I feel sorry to hear about these young women leaving children behind.

        • Arleeda January 12, 2013 at 11:58 am #

          I am going to Bhutan next month, so this is of interest to me. I am going with Overseas Adventure Travel, in a small group of 14. We will be led by a native guide, and a hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is on the schedule, although probably nothing as vigorous as the route Mark and his daughter took. I just post this to say for those who don’t have a traveling companion (my husband has dementia), there are ways to go where you want to go.

  3. Gwen December 23, 2012 at 6:04 am #

    First, I would like to say how deeply sorry I am to hear of the loss of your sister and the dissolution of your marriage. I have gone through divorce and lost a parent, am losing the other (through Alzheimer’s) have lost several beloved pets to cancer and have lost my good health in my early 30’s over a decade and a half ago.

    All this coupled with the recognition that no matter how humanity tries we always seem to have wars, disease, hatred and violence. (We also have joy, love, compassion and peace) but these things seem to ebb and flow. These realities sent me seeking answers that were not readily available or were non-existent in both the religion of my youth and the secular wisdom of today. I needed to understand.

    I am still on that journey. It has taken me to paths winding through the land of mystics, gurus, yogis and rinpoches. It has taken me to those that have been to the other side and returned with knowledge and experience that can only be understood from BEING. Experience. All of it. Each moment, I have realized, is just to be, right there, in it’s agony, in it’s ecstasy or in it’s mundanity, to be, there.

    May you, and your daughter be guided safely through your journey, and may you find healing, discovery, awe and wonder. May you just BE, with each other, yourself and All, may you just, be. Much love to you both.

  4. karen December 23, 2012 at 6:14 am #

    Such an auspicious (as the Tibetans might say) day to be on the roof of the world, as the great cycle of the Mayan calendar turned the world over, to varying hooplas here in the West — and I thank you for bringing me to, and reminding me of, the simple and slow ways of this part of the world in your beautiful description of your inner and outer journey and the vast ocean of time that stretches before you each day, to be filled with gratitude, loving kindness and service. I was simply transported.

    May you feel a rain of blessings,

    Karen

  5. Regina Dyer December 23, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    Dear Dr. Mark,
    Just wanted to say how sorry I am to read about your beloved sister. Her children will be okay because they have you for an uncle. May she rest in peace.
    Also, I want to thank you for your beautiful writings about your pilgrimage to Bhutan. It was very interesting, descriptive and heartfelt. I hope you continue to find the time to share your journeys through life with us.
    One of your many followers,
    Regina Dyer

  6. Nancy Silver December 23, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    Deepest sympathy on the loss of your sister and the pain of divorce.
    I lost my sister when she was 40, had one miscarriage and lost my only child at the age of 18. I have tried since to live my life in a way to honor their lives cut so short. I have ended two marriages and both my parents are gone. I have several wonderful “rental” relatives that have supported me for many years.
    The past year I experienced some deep spiritual challenges and questionings. I will save your comments to read from time to time as they have just helped me enormously. Thank you so much.

  7. Dale Rennie December 23, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Great article. Here’s more food for thought:

    To be more and more at ease. To be more and more here and now. To be more and more a watcher — indifferent, not expecting anything, not desiring anything. To be happy with yourself as you are. To be celebrating.

  8. Kate December 23, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    The Buddha acknowledges detachment from suffering — and from joy — as the center of Dharma. I wish you peace and understanding this Holy Day season.

    From one of your ardent followers,

    Kate

  9. Patricia Bewley December 23, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    Dr Hyman thank you for baring your soul and sorrows and joy with us. So sad about you sister and as a Dr i am sure even more feelings of powerlessness. I can only relate to life as a destiny for each of us when these things occur. I think we all get ” lost ” from time to time in this thing called life, a reading like this put things back into focus. I pray for kindness for all beings .

  10. Laura Blockel December 23, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    How sad to lose your only sister in a horrible process of suffering and pain. Your journey marks what each one of us must ask of ourselves at some point in our lives if we are to be truly alive. The depths of pain make possible new heights of joy, for we emerge from the pain stronger and more receptive to true beauty. In the words of Paul; “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts.” Rom 5:3-5 Your life’s work has dramatically improved the quality of my own life. Though I have never met you or spoken to you, I truly have been transformed by your writings and medical practice. In 2013, I will pray that you find new strength and peace. May you also find moments which you are surprised by joy.

  11. Dana Schuetter December 23, 2012 at 7:36 am #

    Dear Dr. Hyman,

    Thank you for sharing what seems to be a raw and grievous time for you. Too many people are reluctant to share what it’s like when they walk, ‘through the dark night of their soul’. I lost my father slowly very slowly to MS. These things change you, probably always leaving a mark of question that can not be answered in this realm or lifetime. after what you experienced this year I’d rather be nowhere else than with Buddisht principle and prayer, May you, who offers healing to so many people, may you heal your spirit.

    Your patient ,
    Dana Schuetter

  12. Joel Kahn MD December 23, 2012 at 7:52 am #

    Condolences on you loss and thank you for sharing such deep personal insights. None of your students and readers are without similar struggles and the fact that you let us in your inner circle of pain and conflict help us feel that we are not alone on our life paths. Most of us will not get to Bhutan to search for answers, perhaps a book by you and Rachel of pictures of Bhutan and more of their Bhuddist beliefs might be a nice project to share with others.
    Hoping for a Happy Healthy 2013 for your family.

  13. Sandi Tiffany December 23, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    Dr. Hyman,
    I am so sorry to hear of your struggles with the loss of your sister…often at a loss of what to say I have been comforted with the knowledge, that if it hadnt been so good, it wouldnt hurt so bad…and my latest mantra..Life is difficult….taken from Scott Peck in his book the Road Less Traveled.

    I have been following you off and on since I first heard you speak at a Food as Medicine conference in Berkely California and then again in Balitmore, Maryland. I recently joined a hiking club and as I walked with someone they suggested a webcam on Diabesity, they were following the female physician….finally after struggling to pull it up on my kindle fire, I finallly watched it on my desk top…I was so excited when I saw that you had partnered up with Rick Warren, Amen and Oz to do the Daniels Plan. January 15th we will launch a small group using the plan that you guys developed…at this point still not certain who will show up (have only been worshiping here two months) but moving forward.

    Thank you for your driving passions and may this holiday season bring you peace.

    Sandi Tiffany

  14. Laurie Fuda December 23, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    Dear Dr. Hyman,

    I, too, echo Regina’s thoughts and send my deepest sympathies over the loss of your cherished sister and also the loss of your marriage. I thank you for sharing such intimate details of your pain and your journey. Please know that you are not alone, and I am praying that you find the strength to go on despite such deep losses. Sending you lots of love, peace and light and knowing that you have the support you need.

    With loving regards,
    Laurie

  15. Joyce Suggs December 23, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    Its been a spiritual journey this year for me also,struggling to believe the impossible with God. Diagnosed last year at this time with stage 3B inflammatory breast cancer. A year of treatments.

    Chemo, double mastectomy with lymph nodes (18) taken out, then onto 33 treatments of radiation..Now as of two weeks ago all has been complete and now setting my mind on dealing with expanders for reconstruction, but what we think is so
    important.. I need to choose my thoughts very carefully, we both need to believe that God has a great plan for each of our lives. Its a battlefield in our mind but I am learning with God nothing is impossible..

  16. Bill Graham December 23, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    Dear Mark,
    Thank you for your wonderful story. I am truly sorry for the loss of your sister. I just lost my mother to neuro endocrine carcinoma. I buried her the day before Thanksgiving. She was 82 years young. She was a beautiful vibrant woman who you would never take for 82. I truly believe she is in a much better place now with all her friends and family.
    Throughout my 52 years in life I have had many losses. I have also had much joy. I will be a grandfather for the first time this coming February. So one life has ended and a new one shall begin.
    I have read many books on Eastern Philosophy. I too long to take that journey to the sacred mountain. Although I have never physically left to meet the mountain, in my mind I have been there. As humans we are constantly searching and looking elsewhere when we need only look inside. We do not have to physically travel to far away lands.
    I will be finished with my classes at IIN in a few months and I plan to use my knowledge and life experience to do some public speaking to help heal as many people as I can.
    Be Well,
    Bill Graham

  17. Anna Husted December 23, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    Dear Dr. Hyman,

    What an amazing journey you have had…

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal story with us.

    May this holiday season bring peace, love and light into all the hears close to yours.

    Anna

  18. Patty Lemer December 23, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    Mark
    My deepest, heartfelt condolences. How difficult for you with all your wisdom to be humbled and impotent as you watched your sister die. Thank you for sharing your very human thoughts and feelings, and for doing so much to help others. Here’s to a healthy 2013 as we approach the “tipping point ” when more physicians recognize the role of toxicity in all illness.
    You are in my prayers. Keep searching and sharing.
    Patty

  19. Kim Gray December 23, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    Thank you for sharing this very personal process with us. It feels very healing, inspiring and uplifting as I read about your journey. Because of your reminders of what is really important, today I will remember to slow down, enjoy the small moments with my family, and treat every creature I am in contact with with loving kindness. I am so sorry for your loss.

  20. Diego December 23, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    Reading this specific blog and the people replying to it makes me remember and reinforce in me that we are pilgrims in this journey called LiFe. Thanks for sharing such and intimate part of your journey. It speaks loudly about the person you have chose to BE and the impact you have chose to have. I’m glad and blessed that i found your website a year ago and have followed your posts on health this long in search to better understand how a body heals and how to keep myself and others healthy.Even though i’m a Chiropractic student, i’ve always been moved by your work and today i know i’m following a friend with whom i share more than an earthy purpose of getting people well; but also a fellow pilgrim. May all continue to be well Mark. Enjoy the holidays!

  21. Ruth Freeman December 23, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    Hello Dr. Hyman,

    I am among the very many people whose lives have been changed by your work and I thank you. I also want to thank you for your courage in sharing your story with such authenticity and vulnerability. Your soulful commitment to health and willingness to face the shadows in life is as healing as the rest of the work you do. Thank you, thank you.

    Your presence and acceptance of your niece and nephew’s grief will be their most important lifelines right now. You may want to take a look at the book, “Guiding Your Child through Grief” by James and MaryAnn Emswiler. Jim Emswiler is the father of three children who lost their mother when they were young. The book is written by him and the step mother of those three grieving children. The founded The Cove Center for Grieving Children in Connecticut when we first started to understand the unique nature of children’s grief.

    Again, thank you for the work you do. It is often my most important lifeline and I have shared it with others who are benefitting as well. Many blessings to you -

  22. Heather December 23, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    Dear Mark,
    Sending you peace and breath. Thank you for sharing such intimate sadness you are feeling. I am sending your sisters children, your parents and you light . I believe you are probably on a very healing journey now at this time of utter groundlessness. Feel the earth, acknowledge your breath and connect with the beautiful culture of the Tibetans. With all of this sadness and groundlessness becomes an opportunity. Renewal, understanding and growth. One moment ,one breath at a time. Peace be with you and thank you for continually sharing your wisdom with us.

  23. Candace December 23, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    It is not every day that an article grabs my attention like yours did. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your beautifully written words of inspiration. We have suffered loss in our family and watched as loved ones heal in different ways, some for the better, and some for the worse. You either accept life as it is dealt out, slow down and find happiness in the world around you, or fall victim to chaos, building a wall around you that only few can enter; a complicated and rushed life filled with busy-ness and things that in the end don’t enrich your life.

    To find peace, to stop and smell the roses, and to enjoy some of the little things around us in this heavy laden world of technology is a real challenge, but it sounds like you have accomplished this.

    Thank you again for your encouraging words. I am sorry for your loss. I hope the memories of your sister remain close in your heart forever until you see her again.

    With hope for peace and happiness, may your family have a blessed holiday season.

    Candace

  24. Linda Kaplan December 23, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Dearest Dr. Hyman, I am so moved by your story that it has taken me a little while to figure out what to write here, in this public forum.
    I am so sorry for your loss of your sister, the loss for her children and for your parents. I love that all of you were together singing and reading poetry. Such a lovely way to be with her. I cannot imagine the sort of pain your family is enduring and the subsequent aftermath of that feeling ” what is next”. May her memory be a blessing.
    The human connections we all feel around love and grief; life and living…The fact that you share so much of you, not only in this way, but in the way you heal with others is remarkable and so fully human.
    I am also sorry for the loss of your marriage and all the upheaval this has caused for you. I can’t imagine a more healing place for you and your daughter (same age as Elysha…-I so understand more) to be, but Bhutan. My dear friend, also a doctor, also someone Ben worked with in SF, was also in Bhutan last November. In January, 2012, he lost his wife to a traumatic accident. The guides in Bhutan lit butter lamps in her honor once they were told what happened. As well, when I was helping to put the pieces of life back together; his current resident brought dinner and spoke of going to Bhutan that spring. I mentioned perhaps some of Helen’s ashes might be spread there as it was the last place they had been and such a sacred journey. That is exactly what happened and she is forever a part of that landscape.
    So much of our journey we can feel alone and lost… I want you to know that you have done so much for so many. I am so glad you have this time with your daughter to meditate and be in the now and re-ask all the questions all of us ask ourselves.
    I so appreciate that you share so much of who you are and are driven by the internal humanness we all are. If we can look at the challenges that life holds and say.. yes, thank you…. perhaps we can learn more about what really matters and what it is that we are doing in this short time in this world.
    Discussing this in your blog feels to me your way of connecting to all of us in the deepest way possible. To be fully human and open; this allows all of us to look deep into ourselves. I believe only then can we truly be healthy. It is not only what we eat or how we live, but how we feel about who we are…
    I am eternally grateful for all your knowledge, for all your wisdom, for being who you are. I am grateful you are a part of our family by being Elysha’s doctor and by wanting to be a mentor to Ben. I am grateful that you could see into Elysha in such a caring, compassionate, loving way that you have helped her to be as healthy as she is. Without your insight and love, I am not sure we would have this story to tell.
    It is an honor to share in pieces of your life and to have you as a part of ours.
    To your good health. ~Best Always. Linda

  25. Carrie Kiser December 23, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    Dear Dr. Hyman:

    I wanted to say how sorry I am for the loss of your sister and of the turmoil and loss of your marriage. Such blows! I hope you find peace and the answers you are looking for. Taking the time to let your spirit sore after such grief is a healthy prescription and doing that journey with your daughter must have been incredibly comforting.

    Your words have helped me so much this past couple of years so I hope the words of strangers can help to ameliorate your pain with the knowledge that this is a huge, worldwide family and caring for one another really is the best way to help ourselves and others.

    Take good care,

    Carrie Kiser

  26. Carol December 23, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    Thanks Dr. Hyman for sharing I can’t tell explain how much this touched my heart. God bless you and your family.

  27. Dorothy Sprecher MD December 23, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    Dear Mark,

    With heartfelt gratitude I honor the richness and depth of your words as you pour forth your heart for the blessing of the world. In this time of many tragedies and tumultuous change it is so easy for us all to get lost. Your leadership is crucial and deeply valued. I send prayers and grace for your continued role as the Modern Day Prophet of Functional Medicine which in it’s essence touches not only the physical path of healing, but allows for what this piece symbolizes; and that is, the true purpose of our journey as spiritual beings having a human experience.

    Blessings to your heart in this time of transition.

    Sincerely,

    Dorothy Sprecher MD

  28. Patty Benjamin December 23, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Dearest Dr Hyman,

    My deepest thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope you find comfort in and feel my light and love enfolding you..
    Thank you for sharing your story with us, not only does it reinforce the feeling that we are not alone, but, gives us the chance to support you in that knowing.

    What a true blessing you were to your sister at her time of transition. May you find comfort in that as well. I lost my husband 13 Years ago, when my daughter was 3. The feeling of loss does not go away, but, with time changes and becomes less raw. Please know that my daughter, who is 16 now, is flourishing and thriving, as will your niece and nephew, who have you in their life to help them.

    If I or my daughter can ever be of any assistance to you or your family, please allow us to help! The greatest advice I was given and will share with you is this: Don’t let anyone should on you! Everyone grieves in their own way and their own time.

    I am also sorry to hear of your divorce. The universe must have something very special in store for you!

    Wishing you and your family love, comfort and healing this holiday season and blessings for new beginnings this New Year!
    Namaste,
    Patty

  29. Frank December 23, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Hi Mark, Rachel,

    I empathize with you…in the sincerest of ways……you might not realise this but I can tell that you are there to “connect” with your daughter in the deepest ways possible…..Just love and care for her as best you can and I hope you find what you are looking for regarding the sense of life but you already practice it – selfless service to others!!!…I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful and positive contributions you have made to all of mankind over the years. All of the lives you have touched in positive ways, all of the lives you have inspired in so many ways…..you are a gem of a human being..you take care and have an awakening happy holiday with your babe in tow !!

  30. Mary Taaffe December 23, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Thank you for sharing your story. Our hearts pray for you during this most difficult time. It seems now is a is a good time to let you know that you have been very helpful to me and many of my friends and family in terms correcting diet-and feeling better. I enjoy your blogs. Your work counts and your continued efforts with the government to place a higher priority on functional medicine in the United States is a wonderful gift to us all. Bravo to you! Happy & healthy holidays to you and your precious family.
    Mary

  31. Elaine I. December 23, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    What a touching & enlightening story!

    After waking up at 8 am at my sister’s house. Her husband & her two little ones still asleep. I wonder what to do with myself this early on a Sunday morning… & so I check my e-mail & see this beautiful letter written by Dr. Hyman. Honest in its delivery, simple yet complex; I am moved by the truthfulness of his words & his candid account of his experience.

    From one human being to another, Dr. Hyman your message was truly enlightening, necessary & helpful, as we need to be reminded today & everyday (most especially around the holidays) the impermanence of life. I’m so very sorry for the loss of your sister. My sister is my best friend, & she has two boys, so this story really penetrated my soul as I couldn’t imagine what Christmas would be like without her here.

    God bless you for being so humble, & through your difficult experiences with death & divorce, continuing to use your life as a vehicle for change & to inspire & uplift others.

    We truly are here to serve our purpose, though we may not always know what that is. I thank you for the work that you do.

    Your writings have inspired me in SO many ways you cannot imagine! Because of your medical background & your insistence that food be our medicine, it is with great happiness & gratitude that I’m able to say I have managed to get off all medications as of November of this year, going gluten/wheat-free as of December 5th, & underdoing a 4 day retreat in Phoenix, Arizona this past November with my mother… I FINALLY after living most of this year in the crevices of darkness, am finally entering the light. I NOW embrace the new year in this strong, determined, courageous body, mind & soul that I now walk with. It’s taken me A VERY long time to get here, but I know longer regret the past, as long as its brought me to this point, then I am grateful. :)

    Thank you to the work that you do! Wishing you & your family a healthy, happy & prosperous New Year!
    Amen,
    Elaine

  32. Bonny Carroll December 23, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing, Dr. Mark. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Virtually hugging you all.

  33. Sherry December 23, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Dear Mark-

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart and soul. Your willingness to reach out and share with everyone (and you do reach so many), to me, is yet another example of how we are coming to realize that we are indeed all one. How can this not lead to a compassion, fair and just world? Hearts are opening and, I am sure I speak for many in that – we can feel your deep suffering and are honored to share our compassion and love with you to help move through this.

    Your outreach with functional medicine is helping so many – and this personally sharing will truly boost the spiritual aspect of the healing process for so many. Your work is so valuable and needed today. Thank you.

    Much love,

    Sherry

  34. M Sharon Frickey December 23, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Dear Dr Mark — I’ll play “Hallelujah” for you and your daughter today. At 74 I find the crack opens a tiny bit more each day. I’ll light a candle for your beloved sister and a candle to help light the hole in your heart and one more candle for
    your journey. Namaste
    Sharon Frickey

  35. Jude December 23, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Thank you for making this writing, a gift from your journey to ours.

    And thank you for your good work in the world, your powerful voice for integrity and truth about health.

  36. Deborah December 23, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Thankyou Mark, You are truly an inspiration to me. You are most surely on the path to enlightenment and doing wonderful work. Wishing you well, with love Deborah

  37. pinktumbleweed December 23, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Dr. Hyman, I am very sorry for your loss….I feel your pain but in a different way as I have lost a son. There is nothing as difficult as losing a child. I try to live through his smile each day and by helping others…..it is very healing. We have to remember, they are only one breath away in the next stage of this journey…and we will eventually be with them. Thank-you for sharing your story……. God Bless and Merry Christmas.

  38. dan c December 23, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Mark,
    I am sorry for your loss. Is it time for all of us to face the reality that has been staring humans in the eye?
    As we all seem to search endlessly for some god or another to make sense of Life, the answer is always right in our hand. It isn’t what we believe about things, but what we DO. Thank you for the lovely story. Many people will never get that opportunity, but will be enriched from it. The generosity of life is that we are born with two unalienable aspects of our souls: the Right to Try to Live and the Responsibility to Give More Than We Take. That’s life in a nutshell and I thank you for helping me get it down to one sentence.
    “Do
    Be
    Do
    Be
    Do…”
    – Frank Sinatra

  39. edgar December 23, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    You are a sensitive, gracious man.

  40. Radi December 23, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    Thank you for sharing your deeply personal and moving story. What you have described is something that resonates with so many of us as we too embark on our healing journeys to come to terms with the loss of those we love so much. I was touched by your description of and response to Bhutan. Having spent four years there nearly a decade ago, I revere this wonderful country, people and Mahayana Buddhist culture, which have so much to offer us in terms of our learning as individuals and communities in these turbulent times of change. You are so right – change is the one thing that we can be sure of!

    Respectful Regards,
    Radi

  41. Jenny December 23, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this journey. I look forward to more.

  42. gerard December 23, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Dear Mark,

    Thank you for your courageous post and the questions you open up. I’m very sorry for the loss of your sister. Our quest for deeper meaning is sometimes driven by inspiration and sometimes by crisis or pain. It is moving to see someone who has achieved so much, and who has been a positive influence on so many people and on the field of health, question things even further.

    My experience is that the search for human purpose unfolds in two ways. One is we discover the inherently extraordinarily positive essence of life. The other is that we discover our purpose, our way of making a contribution. Your life and positive presence and meaningful contributions reflect you must already have the knowledge of both. However for some of us, our contribution and the expression of our purpose looks to find ever deeper ways of expressing itself and we will not be satisfied until we further define why we are here.

    Even as we may have reached certain heights, for many of us, it is important that we keep reaching further and be very clear about what the future calls us to.

    Thank you for your continued example,
    Gerard

  43. Sandy Rousso December 23, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Dear Mark,
    Your post moved me. Just got back last night from a Mayan pilgrimage to the ancient ruins, and opened your email. A new friend on my trip mentioned to go to Bhutan. My brother had surgery on the solstice for advanced renal carcinoma and I struggled in Body, in Mind, and in Soul this past year to where it forced me to stop everything for two months. As a holistic nurse that was quite challenging. What came at the deepest level of my being is that everything is a cycle and we are truly interconnected to the cosmos and one another. In the Mayan language they say, “In La’Kesh”…. You are another me, I am another you.
    In this fifth cycle out of five and as we enter the sixth cycle, may we all continue to stay on the road to find Peace, Cooperation, Gratitude, and Wisdom.
    In Trust, Love, and Respect,
    Sandy Rousso

  44. Janie December 23, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    Thank you Dr. Hyman for sharing this beautiful message. I lost my best friend this past November, I feel both lost and hopeful at the same time. Your journey, along with your deep desire to experience what life has presented to you, is spiritually moving. It is beautifull to feel alive. With sympathy, hope and blessings to you and your family.

  45. arlene December 23, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    I am so sorry for the loss you endured. My husband passed away 2 months ago. It is not easy, but I have the knowledge of the bible to help me. I know that death will be done away with, and that God’s kingdom will rull over this earth forever, then there will be no more suffering, pain or death. In the book of Psalms it tells us that the wicked will be no more, and the meek ones will possess the earth and find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace. In Revelation it tells us that God will wipe out every tear from our eyes and death will be no more. In Mathew, there is the Lords prayer where it tells us to pray for God’s kingdom to come on the earth as it is in heaven. We will have peace on this earth!I have looked into many religions. I believe in Jehovah Witness, I know that they have the truth.

  46. Sarah December 23, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    A moving description about your perception of life, deeply inspiring. We have lived through the death of a young child this year and his mum is just now coming out of her coma. How do we tell her? How will her heart bear it?
    We do lose track of what really matters in this life, but I am convinced that giving to others of ourselves and compassion for fellow human beings are at the top of the list. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.

  47. Ted December 23, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal stories. It is so difficult to see others suffer from the loss of loved ones. We can only hope that there is a better place beyond this one.

    We all indeed contemplate life itself and our place here. We all need to think deeply as to how to best spend our precious few moments. I for one am thrilled that you have chosen to share your knowledge. You have helped to change my life physically and in some ways emotionally.

    Thank you and Merry Christmas!

  48. Vicki Weissler December 23, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Thank you for sharing your very personal inner and outer journey. I am sorry for your losses and truly appreciate your journey to the east. I lived in an ashram in India for a few years in my twenties and it has shaped my life. To slow down enough to be with our rhythms, our hearts and minds is so healing and I was very touched to read your words and process. Thank you for all that you do and share. Blessings to you and your family.

  49. Marlene December 23, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Having once experience the “oceanic experienced” on a mountain in Italy, I wish you the same joy, feeling of oneness with the universe, and enlightenment.

  50. Enkan December 23, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    This was a surprising article and I applaud you. The precepts of Buddhism can be foundational to most anyone’s understanding of life. Thank you for approaching this subject in such a thorough and personal way. I only have one quick comment: ‘Sutras’ are the teachings, the actual words of the Buddha, and are not ‘prayers’, as you stated.

    Thank you again!

  51. Kayla December 23, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Thank you for being so open in your vulnerability. I am truly sorry for your family’s and your personal losses and inspired by your willingness to go deep as you ascend a physical embodiment of Aliyah, rising up to become closer to Hamakom, The Place, our Source of creation, healing and the life cycle. May we all be moved by your courage to become more connected in the Spirit of love, compassion and meaning.
    My father also died of bile duct cancer. I was blessed to be in his presence in the moment of his last exhalation of breath. Heartbreakingly wondrously beautiful, really. And I am blessed to be a cancer survivor of seven years, who has learned much about how to take care of myself from your books and blogs. Thank you.
    I am a fellow traveler. I struggle on a daily basis to maintain awareness of the divine in all people and things, as I blunder through, limited in my being infinitely humane by my unfathomable humanness, and frankly, occasional anger and ingratitude when it comes to suffering losses. Maintaining balance, equanimity, serenity, peace of mind and a loving heart as I make meaning with my life is my intention, but not always my implementation. I will carry the inspiration of the simpler life you describe in Bhutan, and of you and your daughter ascending as a reminder of another way. I will do my imperfect and forgiving best to cultivate deeper awareness, gratitude, courage and lovingkindness to honor those who have gone before us. Yitgadal v’yitkadash – to honor our Creator’s greatness and holiness.

  52. Kayla December 23, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Thank you for being so open in your vulnerability. I am truly sorry for your family’s and your personal losses and inspired by your willingness to go deep as you ascend a physical embodiment of Aliyah, rising up to become closer to Hamakom, The Place, our Source of creation, healing and the life cycle. May we all be moved by your courage to become more connected in the Spirit of love, compassion and meaning.
    My father also died of bile duct cancer. I was blessed to be in his presence in the moment of his last exhalation of breath. Heartbreakingly wondrously beautiful, really. And I am blessed to be a cancer survivor of seven years, who has learned much about how to take care of myself from your books and blogs. Thank you.
    I am a fellow traveler. I struggle on a daily basis to maintain awareness of the divine in all people and things, as I blunder through, limited in my being infinitely humane by my unfathomable humanness, and frankly, occasional anger and ingratitude when it comes to suffering losses. Maintaining balance, equanimity, serenity, peace of mind and a loving heart as I make meaning with my life is my intention, but not always my implementation. I will carry the inspiration of the simpler life you describe in Bhutan, and of you and your daughter ascending as a reminder of another way. I will do my imperfect and forgiving best to cultivate deeper awareness, gratitude, courage and lovingkindness to honor those who have gone before us. Yitgadal v’yitkadash – to honor our Creator’s greatness and holiness.

  53. Tianna December 23, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Dr Hyman,
    I was unexpectedly moved to tears this morning as I read your post. Tears of feeling your suffering. But also tears of knowing there is still a simple life to be experienced, that there is a place where this exists. The simple life that exists in the Buddhist teachings you list throughout and how far we seem from that each day. Thank you for this unexpected sincere post on this “health” website. A reminder that I try to teach to my patients, that the spiritual, the intellectual and the physical are so intertwined. Namaste.

  54. kristin December 23, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    Dr. Hyman – Thank you for sharing your very personal journey. Your words have touched me deeply this morning. Life is such a crazy, unpredictable, sometimes unbearable experience. It’s just so tricky to rise above the things that drag us down, and yet at the same time sit unflinchingly right in the middle of them. This passage from the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra (Lorin Roche’s Radiance Sutras translation) is one of my favorites, and speaks to this point beautifully:
    “Sting of a wasp,
    Rip of a nail,
    A razor’s slice,
    The needle’s plunge.
    A piercing word,
    A stab of betrayal,
    The boundary crossed,
    A trust broken.
    In this lacerating moment,
    Pain is all you know.
    Life is tattooing scripture
    Into your flesh,
    Scribing incandescence in your nerves.
    Right here
    In this single searing point
    Of intolerable concentration,
    Wound becomes portal.
    Dive through to the
    Wild brilliance of the Self.”
    Thank you for inspiring me by sharing your journey. Many blessings to you.
    Kristin

  55. Stephan December 23, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Thank you Dr. Hyman for sharing so deeply and eloquently of your losses and your insights. I am also moved by the passing of your sister, the ramifications of this, and the ending of a marriage. These events are like watersheds that when traveled up and over often lead to a deep valley. I also find great comfort and spiritual nourishment by living in the mountains and visiting other wild places.
    Bhutan seems like one of the few sane people in an overcrowded insane asylum, that would be the countries of this world. Just knowing that this place exists gives me hope, and I am actively working toward visiting Bhutan soon.
    I want you to know how much I appreciate the work you are doing. You are a voice of reason, and you are building a community of like minded people that is growing and feels very powerful! Thank you, just knowing that there are people like you out there also gives me hope.

    Regards, Stephan

  56. Danielle S. December 23, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Dear Dr. Hyman,

    Please accept my sincere and heartfelt sympathies for your loss.
    As it has been for many of us, this past year has brought about trials and tribulations and karmic lessons we wish we were better prepared for (are we ever?) To say that I completely understand what you went through would be redundant, I see in the sincerity of your readers’ responses a brave solidarity of which I can become part of.
    I lost 3 dear ones in a matter of months as well and before my world collapsed irrevocably, I too left for a distant shore for an 11 months pilgrimage into my …past in the hope of again becoming able to envision my future. A Tibetan monk at a monastery deep in the mountains gave me a modest and unassuming singing bowl and a lesson in impermanence which changed my perspective on life and death, causality and the human life as part of a universal cycle of becoming.
    What I understood trying to make sense of my in limbo reality, echoed the words of a modern Philosopher I am quoting here ad lib “I journeyed far and wide to find Enlightenment, my true Self and Purpose…and at the end of the journey, at the top of the mountain, I found them in myself. They have always been there.”
    I am humbly offering a word of solace, if I may. In this word of apparent contraries, we would not know joy without it’s opposite, sorrow and grief. We never actually loose a loved one, they were never ours to begin with but their memory lives on in the hearts and minds of those who loved and remember them. That is perhaps the closest we can get, as human beings, to immortality.
    Healing is a journey too, mostly of self discovery and understanding. I wish you and all safe journey to find yourself and hope.

    Merry Christmas.

  57. Kathleen December 23, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    Thank you so much for your soulful sharing, Dr. Mark! My mother died after a lingering and debilitating illness related to her bowel and it wasn’t until two months before her death that they found the real problem was celiac. She was 76 lbs. when she died, but during her seven month ordeal in the hospital, she came into a deeper understanding of herself. She said it was as though throughout her life she was like a tightly bound bud, and that through this depth of pain she experienced, she was brought into full bloom. We don’t understand the whys of life, but when we can go through the fire and extract the precious essence of soul growth that is possible, life deepens and expands our comprehension. And that of course is the paradox. When everything is fine, we are coasting through life, but when we face the big challenges, we have to drop our defenses and pretentions. That is when our true nature is revealed, and that is when we grow.
    Thank you again for your depth of sharing!

  58. Brook Altman December 23, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    Mark-I am so sorry about your loss and I feel your sadness about a life cut way too short. Your trip to Bhutan was clearly profound, life accepting, life affirming and has you holding your daughter closer to your heart. You are now on a more enlightened path and I’m sending you love, light and magic in 2013.

  59. Matty M. December 23, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Your story truly touched my heart. Because of your willingness to open up and BE with what is,
    you will heal beautifully. Thanks so very much for your inspiration. Wishing every Blessing to
    you and your family, now and in the new year.

  60. Dana Chapeskie December 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Dear Dr. Hyman,

    Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life! We are blessed that you are in this world with all your knowledge, compassion and wisdom. You have helped so many!

    My heart goes out to you as it is sometimes difficult this time of year after experiencing loss.
    Warmest wishes to you and your family!

    Love and light,
    Dana

  61. Susan December 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Mark, my heart goes out to you and your family. You truly have had a difficult year and I hope that 2013 brings you the answers, rest, and fulfillment you are seeking. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened by Truth and you will be comforted by the Comforter. Blessings to you and yours in your search.

  62. sondra barrett December 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Thank you so much for your honesty and sharing the integrity of who you are. I know the losses you are suffering and the rent in the fabric of your life go deep and will fill your life, for now, with sadness as well as fuel for transforming them into something more. You are an inspired teacher and this journey you are going through gives us all something to feel and think about. Bhutan is on my list, too, so perhaps in this lifetime I’ll get to enjoy it as you have.

    Blessings and love to you and your family.

  63. Ingrid Marcroft December 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    Oh my. Thank you for sharing your heartbreaks and exultations so intimately. We send warmth to you and hope you can sense the love of so many, who all travel alongside you on this pulsating ride of inhaling and exhaling.

  64. karen December 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    sending love!

  65. Marge December 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your soul search for meaning. Many years ago we lost a daughter who left two small children without a mother. I would like you to know that those two little ones are now grown and one of them has three children of her own. They are wonderful loving, caring adults, and so life goes on. Following the loss of our daughter, I went through a lot of the pain and seeking that you are going through now. I eventually had a breakthrough moment when I experienced all existence both material and otherwise as ONE! What we catagorize as good and bad were just two sides of the same coin and the human brain is a filter that limits our knowing this so we can live life as separate individuals. There is no way to rationally explain this, but for me I know it is true. Last month I lost my husband and closest friend after 59 years of marriage. Life alone will be an adjustment, but the intense pain of loss is not there because of that long ago experience. I pray that you will have a similar breakthrough and healing!

  66. Jody Berger December 23, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    Dr. Hyman,
    2012 has been a big year for so many of us, with so many lessons and so many peaks and valleys. I’m sorry for your loss and I am inspired by your writing. Thank you for sharing,
    Jody

  67. Judy December 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have discovered that when we take the time to live a simpler life, it slows us down enough to make realizations about ourselves, life and the whole of existence. I am glad your daughter is able to touch this while she is still young. Life and death are a part of the cycle and each of us must find our own path, and as we do, we light the way for others. Again, thanks for sharing your story. Judy

  68. Tim Miller December 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Thanks for a wonderful and fascinating post, including the gorgeous photos. I look forward to the future posts in this series.

  69. Sheila James December 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Dear Mark,

    I am so sorry for your losses. Thank you for the vulnerability and transparency of your writing. I am sitting here with tears, allowing a still pause to feel…feel all of the sadness and suffering, all of the joy and wonderment…the poignancy of this human condition.

    Blessings to you and Rachel on this pilgrimage and to your family’s continued pilgrimage in the life that continues.

    ~Sheila

  70. Tammy S December 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Dr. Hyman, Thank you for sharing this very touching and emotional pilgrimage with me. I am so sorry for your losses. I have praying about and considering highly a pilgrimage of my own. Nothing as far around the world as you, but a couple hours a way. I have an autistic adult son and to go farther than that for a day or two is not realistic. Thank you for once again inspiring me.

    I am praying for you, your family, and the precious children of your sister. I pray that the comfort of God surround you.

    Merry Christmas and may 2013 bring a deeper sense of joy to you and yours.

    Tammy S.

  71. Richard Winterstein December 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Mark,

    I admire you. I am sorry for the passing of your beloved sister. I feel like we all know her now. She is as lovely as you relate her to be to us.

    Thank you for all the help you provide and serve us with The Blood Sugar Solution.

    I really enjoyed taking the journey and trek with you to Bhutan. Keep working with us all…we need you and your loving and caring doctoring. I pray for your kindness and goodness to spread more and more.

    -Richard

  72. dawna masters December 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Dear Mark,
    My heart goes out to you and your family. My enthusiasm goes out to your willingness to feel, to grow and to experience.
    Your path is one of the Heart, and I believe will lead you exactly where you want to go.
    I have had my teachings, an unexpected death of my spouse at age 53, single parenting our daughter, a second spouse departing and leaving our 2 children with out their father, my own recovery using natural modalities from breast cancer, and a son and sister going through substance abuse recovery. All this and more speak to me about my ability to accept, to forgive and to allow.
    Many blessings to you, your daughter, your niece and nephew and all those you love,
    WE are moving to a new way to experience the Reality, our personal pain, our Mother Earth’s pain and our fellow beings’ pain are healing.
    thanks for all your good work, your contribution, your generosity,
    Thank you for your Life.
    love from Dawna

  73. Linda December 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Dr. Mark,

    Grateful that you are taking the time to focus on inner healing. I am sorry for your loss. Have you read Dr. Eben Alexander’s “Proof of Heaven?” Your sister is in an amazing space.

    Will you be raising your niece and nephew, or has the father come forward? I wish them a lifetime of love, no matter what, and hope you will write down your memories of your sister to share with them.

    I am grateful for you and your writings and videos. You have helped our family.

    Namaste,
    Linda

  74. Constance December 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Dr. Hyman,
    Your message has come at a critical time in my life. Thank you for posting it. After reading about your journey, I became relaxed and content somehow. I have known loss like yours and the search for meaning. Your message was a reminder that I am not alone, not in the spiritual sense anyway. Just a thought; could you lead a group to Bhutan? I ask because I do not know the first thing about traveling to the Far East. Yet, I have wanted to go to places like the base camp of Mt. Everest. But, like the previous comment, I don’t know anyone that would like to do something like that. (It is definitely not like a trip to Disney!) Anyway, thank you again and safe journey and your daughter.

  75. Tianna December 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Dr Hyman,

    I was unexpectedly in tears while reading this post. I was feeling for your recent suffering. And also to read of a place that survives on simplicity. It’s a difficult thing to find in our chaotic lives. We all yearn for that simplicity of the Buddhist teachings that you list, and perhaps we get a glimpse every now and again when we sit quietly on our mats. But to be surrounded by that….I would be in awe. And I thank you for capturing that in your writing. Thank you for an unexpected reading this morning from this “wellness/health” site…..it reminds me of the fact that I try to impress on my patients….that the spiritual, the mental and the physical bodies are so intertwined. Here’s to your wellness in mind-body-spirit in 2013. With Gratitude…..

  76. Ann December 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Dr Mark,

    For God so loved the world that He sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world that whosoever that believes upon Him shall be saved. John 3:16. I ask that you would seek out this Jesus that you too can received all the promises that the Holy Bible offers. Here lies the answer to all your questions to life, here on this earth and beyond.

    With Love,

    Someone who cares

  77. Debra December 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Dr. Mark,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. Her children will be grateful to have you as an uncle to help raise them.
    I truly loved your your insights and will share some of your writings with my patients as well. I love that you are becoming a whole person and that wholeness will be experienced with all of your patients who are blessed to receive your help.
    I am so grateful to know that you are out there using your great insights and skills to better people’s health and well being. Thank you for being here.

    Peace,
    Debra

  78. Debi December 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    My Dear Mark Hyman,

    Thank you so much for sharing your dificult and soul searching journey.. I to have lost a brother to a fatal disease and went through a painful divorce. I applaude you for searching for meaning behind the suffering as many people run from the pain, rather than search for the life lesson in it.. I too had dreams of my brother for the first month after his passing, of him not wanting to die and also left behind 2 young children. The consouling part came when he presented himself in a dream and introduced me to a Dr. (in heaven) who helped him pass. I feel much better knowing he is at peace now and I pray your sister has someone helping her as well.. I enlisted the help of many prayers..

    Sending light, love and peace !
    Debi A Drake
    Health Coach chc, AADP

  79. nancee mcpherson December 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    Thank you for your choice to publish this series of posts. I was drawn to the information you shared when I first found your work. But what kept me engaged initially was your own story of how you came to this work.

    I am sorry for your losses. This has been a tough year for many of us. I’ve reached the age where I’m starting to lose close friends I’ve spent most of my life with. My friend Annie passed on Tuesday, having chosen to stop chemotherapy and embrace whatever life she had left.

    I was in tears as you shared your journey. I believe telling our stories and listening to each other’ stories is part of the healing for us all. As a nurse and fellow traveler, I appreciate all the work you do and share.

    Thanks again!

  80. Cheryl December 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Dr. Hyman-

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful, human journey. My heart aches for your losses, but it holds hope for the future. Thank you also for your work towards health, and happiness. I am so grateful.

    Namaste and wishing you peace-
    Cheryl

  81. Linda Thomas December 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Dr. Hyman, Thanks for sharing your very personal journey with us, your readers who care about you. I, for one, (there are such beautiful people leaving comments here), wish you peace, light and love on your way. There does indeed seem to be a personal and collective revolution under way of the sort that is bringing an awakening of the heart to the importance of connection to one another and to Mother Earth. I hope you continue to find purpose in your work when you return to your everyday life as a physician and healer. We need more like you who speak for us more silent ones. Meantime, take all the time you need to explore and learn what you need to learn. At 73, I’m realizing that treks, both inner and outer, continue to call us and amaze us. Blessings in the New Year to you and your family.

  82. Carolyn December 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    For all you have done for others, for your healing and your reform of medicine, I thank you. May all your challenges in 2013 be those you choose. Blessings.

    Carolyn

  83. Lisa Ryder December 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    This has been a year of loss and recovery for me as well. For all those out there that struggle, don’t give up, no matter how old or young you are. Life changes, eventually old wounds heal, don’t give up, from my experience even when in constant pain life gets better when you strive to become better. Thank you for sharing your story of recovery Dr. Hyman, the data you have given me has helped me save my life and I am now in a better place because of my ability to use the data correctly. I also practice a form of insight Buddhist meditation called Vipassana, and Tibetan meditation called Chod. May we all find peace and happiness!

  84. david December 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    thank you for such full, rich revealing of your life.
    such truth is what real life is made of.
    i am blessed by your openness.

    david

  85. Susanna Perkins December 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Thanks for sharing something so intense and so personal. I’m sorry to hear of your losses.

    I am forwarding this URL to my daughter, who is leaving for a semester study abroad in Bhutan in February. We’re all excited about her chance to visit this tiny and unique country and to explore its Buddhist teachings.

  86. Christine December 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Dear Dr. Hyman, my fellow traveler in life…
    May the raw emotions you shared bring healing to many and to the earth, as well as to your Self, your Soul! May you find peace within that heart space where the Divine lives, resides and breathes life into you and us all! May you be filled with a luminous, enveloping, pure white light that lifts you up and brings you face to face with the I AM! and may you find strength to continue to serve this earth, to heal your heart and believe in Love once again and to BE the shining light that you already are and always will BE!!!!

    Namaste,
    Christine

  87. Lee December 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Thank you for sharing…keep practicing all that you know and learn and learn and learn and learn…namaste x

  88. Kelly Peyton December 23, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your journey.

    I hear a terrible sadness in your words, which I can’t begin to truly understand. But also a sense of renewal borne from your pilgrimage. I think you have shared with your daughter not just an extraordinary experience, but also a way of responding to grief and trauma that will be a light for her in dark times. Just as I am sure your sister and the experiences she gave her children will continue to help them in their lives even though she cannot.

    Namaste, and may 2013 bring us all closer.

  89. Audrey Lampert December 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  90. Gayook December 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    My heartfelt sympathies for the loss of your beloved Carrie and the end of your marriage, two major life altering events. This past year has been a very challenging one for my family and me. In 2011, I lived in Bali for 6 mos., then Singapore for another 6. December 2011 I came home for the Christmas holidays, planning to return to live and work in Singapore. I am a qigong healer, an ancient Chinese healing art that was passed down to me from my father’s lineage.

    However, that was not to be, for I was hospitalized with a 16 cm tumor in the gastrointestinal tract, so this past year has been one of dealing, not only with my second bout with cancer, but the unexpected major change in my life plans. It is the cancer that brought me to your website. However, it is your article on Bhutan that urged me to write here. Bali reminds me of your description of Bhutan, even though it is a Hindu island. I lived with a small rice farming family in a small village called Kerambitan. I found the people living without many of the modern conveniences we have, but they have each other in a way unknown to the West. I will never forget their kindness and accepting a stranger into their hearts.

    Thank you for your article. I am going to share it on my blog (the above website) which deals with healing trauma using qigong. I know it will help readers know that while there is struggle, it is important for them to know that trauma can be overcome.

  91. Ricki Burleigh December 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    I was profoundly moved, touched and grateful for your e-mail and blog. This leads me to much pondering and contemplation of my own life’s path. I will re-read this numerous times for your inspiration and your profound observations and understanding. Many blessings…

  92. Melinda White December 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Dr. Hyman,

    Thank you for sharing this incredibly intimate and personal story. It just affirms why I follow your advice, and why you bring such value to the lives of myself and other. My condolences on your losses, it seems as if 2012 is a transitional year for you. I wish you all the best for 2013, and look forward to hearing more of your journey.

    As a Taoist, I also attempt to practice the simplicity of life as expressed in the Buddhist traditions. Some day I also hope to be able to make a pilgrimage to Tibet/Nepal/Bhutan. You remind me, however, that time is precious, and that sometimes you cannot delay taking the trip that your soul requires.

    Namaste.

  93. Phyllis December 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Thank you so much for this beautiful outreach to your readers…you will probably never know how many people you have touched, in so many different ways. There is so much loss and pain and suffering in the world, but our essence–who we truly are– is peace and love and joy. And that never dies. And when that essence is shared with others–as in your letter here–something beautiful and profound is achieved. In closing, as I often say in my prayers, “May we all find our way Home to the Light.” With love and gratitude, Phyllis.

  94. lawrenanne December 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    I’m so sorry to hear about your sister; I had wondered how she was doing but didn’t want to be intrusive. Thank you for sharing your internal and external travels and travails; your blog this month made me more aware of both the wondrousness and the fragility of life, and how important it is to live in each moment– even those moments that are so difficult. I believe that though there may not be a “reason” for life’s events, we each can find our own meaning in those events. Best wishes in the new year for finding that individual meaning for yourself, and my condolences for the losses ou’ve experienced; they hurt no matter how much meaning they will eventually impart.

  95. Linda December 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Dear Mark…
    After reading your journey on this site I felt a need to say
    hello and connect with you on a level we both understand..
    Bhutan and its spiritual magic; an undiluted culture
    of happiness..

    My path of destiny took me to Bhutan in year 2001..
    I was in the tourism industry and made an acquaintance
    with a Bhutanese tour operator and took my first group
    to Bhutan that year……….Over the past years I have
    returned often treking Jumolhari Trek in 2005..
    I will never forget the Goddess Peak and how close
    I felt to the heavens… I was fortunate to be on
    that mountain without any groups of people, other
    than my group I took on the trek…

    If you would ever care to look at my website which
    I created after my first trip to Bhutan, you can read
    an article I wrote (and published a few times)
    I wrote in 2002 and much has changed now in
    Bhutan, but my experience going up to the Tigers
    Nest will be with me forever..

    I wish you much happiness in your journeys,
    and perhaps you will return to the Land of the
    Thunder Dragon once more..

    Be well…….and Tashi Delek!..

    Linda

  96. Lewis Freedman December 23, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    My dear Mark,

    I love you. It it so generous of you, as usual, to share yourself in this way. I am touched, and feel you strength as a healer even more profoundly.

  97. Linda Thomas December 23, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    Dr. Hyman,

    Thanks for sharing your very personal journey with us, your readers who care about you. I, for one, (there are such beautiful people leaving comments here), wish you peace, light and love on your way. There does indeed seem to be a personal and collective revolution under way of the sort that is bringing an awakening of the heart to the importance of connection to one another and to Mother Earth.

    I hope you continue to find purpose in your work when you return to your everyday life as a physician and healer. We need more like you who speak for us more silent ones. Meantime, take all the time you need to explore and learn what you need to learn. At 73, I’m realizing that treks, both inner and outer, continue to call us and amaze us.

    Blessings in the New Year to you and your family.

  98. Marian December 23, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    Thank you so much for the inspiration, looking for peace in this world which we westerners desparately need. You have suffered two tradgedy’s and youhave my sympathy. I believe we should all have this kindness and love for others that we may not feel like always going the extra mile for…however, I am sure that it does get returned to us. My husband died at 52 yrs of age, always going out of his way for others, and I am receiving it back. It has been a life lesson to me, and it sounds like you also understand how blessings come back in a circle of life. My sister also died this year. I can see how important it is to enjoy the moment before us, and you expressed that so well in this journey; to find many meanings of why we are here. Many blessings to you as you continue to inspire us!

  99. Linda December 23, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    Dr. Mark,

    Thank you for sharing this painful part of your life. I’m so sorry to hear of your losses and hope that happy memories wrap around and hold you through the holidays.

    Also, ‘thanks’ for sharing some details of your trip with us, am glad you were able to journey with your daughter.

    Hugs to you,
    Linda O.

  100. Esther December 23, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Refuah Shlema ~ I wish for you the healing of your mind, body, and spirit; may the stretchmarks of your heart not hurt so much. Be well Dr. Mark, be really well.

  101. Steve December 23, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Wei Wu Wei wrote in “All Else Is Bondage” that only an object can suffer.

  102. Marianne December 23, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Mark, There are no words to express my deepest condolences felt for the loss of your sister and the pain of experiencing and witnessing the loss felt by family members. I can’t imagine what it must be like to experience the depth of such pain. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this trying time. May the heartfelt connection we all share bring healing and renewal.

    Thank you for sharing the truths of your life journey as you have done while continuing to bring the world together with greater conscious awareness, resources, strategies, and well being. Your generosity of spirit and legacy you are leaving each day is changing lives as we know it. With gratitude and appreciation for all you are and do.

  103. Debbie Kelly December 23, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    Mark,

    Thank you for being so transparent. I lost my best friend to Multiple Myeloma last month. What a blessing to have ever had them come into our lives. We are surely the richer. Thank you for sharing such personal feelings with all of us.

    Wishing you a year full of healing ahead!

    Debbie Kelly

  104. Margot December 23, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

    Mark, I am sorry about so many losses this past year. But you also had gains. I would wish for you that you know and have the experience of being loved forever and I also feel tempted to recommend to you a meditation technique of experiencing a completely still, but very holistic state of transcendental consciousness. But I better restrain myself as everyone has to find their own path in life, has to look for themselves. If your life experience were complete whole you wouldn’t feel the loss so much. The surface of life is always changing, but if there is enough nourishment coming again and again from the depth of life, change is not felt as loss so much because there is always fullness emerging like from an ever abundant well. Our lives will and must always mean – search for that well deep inside of each one of us. But hypnosis or any thinking in the end can’t reach there, can’t fathom it. It transcends thinking. It’s the experience of pure consciousness, the ultimate substance, that pure intelligence from which everything else is coming into existence. That experience is not reached by any forcing of the mind due to concentration. Concentration only keeps the mind active and doesn’t allow it to transcend and experience its own basis – the Self. But I know I can’t advise you. You have to find out yourself.

    I would also like to recommend to you reading Dr. Eben Alexander’s, the neurosurgeon’s, book on what he experienced during six days of coma due to a severe bacterial meningitis that put his cerebral cortex offline for a while.

    Wishing you to find your true home deep in yourself and the secure knowledge that you are forever loved. Margot

  105. David Lo December 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    Dr. Hyman,

    i valued your weekly posting and have learned a lot about health and healthy lieving.

    Happiness and sorrow are intertwined. There is a Chinese saying, to appreciate sweetness, taste bitterness.

    One’s journey is incomplete without experiencing both, and is the path to enlightenment.

    I grew up in Hong Kong slump. Yet I managed to survive and be happy,.

    Time heals.

    Sincerely,

    David

  106. Nicole December 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    ’tis the afternoon before Christmas in Australia and I have not long read your blog – thankyou Dr Hyman for sharing – It is a stinking 37 degrees and I am currently sitting in my duck pen watching new life enter the world – this little duckling is only hours young, weak and struggling in the intense heat – do I intervene and take her inside to cool a little and hydrate? or do I let nature take it’s course and leave her here struggling & squished inbetween her sibling unhatched eggs? As I contemplate the idea of taking her inside and caring for her with my children the fear of her not surviving on Christmas Eve whilst in my care also crosses my mind – this brings me back to your story Mark – nature and life can be wonderful but it can also be cruel and unfair – we must experience all of this to lead a fruitful life – “better to have loved than to never have loved at all” so the saying goes-10 minutes later she is wrapped in a tea towel cradled on my daughter’s lap watching Mickey mouse Christmas story on the tv – overloved and chirping away happily – may the magic and spirit of Christmas fill all your hearts X

  107. Reena Solita December 23, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing. Happy holidays.
    You are a blessing.

  108. Dazzle Shrestha December 24, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    Dr. Hyman,

    You are a true physician. You share your heart and intellect with patients. For sure you are here to inspire and heal people. Thank you for your generosity.

    Love

    Dazzle

  109. Kathy December 24, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    Dr. Mark, thanks for sharing. I imagine you find your self coming and going often. I just wanted you to know that I really admire your courage and am holding you and yours in prayer. God bless and keep you close to His/Her heart.

  110. Nirit Yadin December 24, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Dr. Hyman,
    I am so sorry for your loss.
    If it’s any consolation your friend Dr. Amen once said that your love for those you’ve lost cushions the trauma of losing them.
    And thank you for this beautiful piece, it resonates so much pain and light I had to read it in increments.

  111. Beverly Macaulley December 24, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    I, too, am very touched by your feelings in the depth of these life experiences. I want to share a “seekers” experience with you. I was in my late 40’s and in a 2nd marriage, not good, decided to give it up and go for “40 days in the wilderness”. The only wilderness I could afford was near Melbourne, Fl., where my father loved to fish and camp. I was living in a tent and earnestly seeking God and meaning for life. About ten days in, I sat at the beach at sunset and the world became this huge pearl and I was sitting as the grain of sand in the midst of it. The Alpha and Omega of the pearl. And I heard these words: “You have been searching for me everywhere and I am right where I have always been, inside of you.” I AM, ALL THAT IS, we all are. I can’t say that the peace of the moment has stayed with me, it comes and goes. I have learned that truth changes daily. The thought construct that carries me through is that we are all here for the physical experience and I will continue to enjoy it as long as I can, and respect the timelines of others who have transitioned from this physical experience, even when I kick and scream at losing the feeling I had when they were with me. I am 75 years old, the youngest of six, only two of us remaining. I hope you can find peace with your loss and know that you are a great instrument of healing in the work you do. I’m just beginning to lend my voice to trying to affect our diets and respect your knowledge so much. Thank you for the wonderful books. I believe you will find love by being love and peace by being peaceful. N’maste, Mark.

  112. Joan McLaughlin December 24, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    Mark, thank you for sharing your touching story about your sister, divorce & trip to Bhutan with your daughter. (you have such beautiful women in your LIFE :). Yours writings were so heartfelt and brought tears to my eyes. I have been following you for a while now with all your books, programs on PBS & on the Web etc. and I can say with absolute certainty that…’You are not only Passionate about what you do…You have found the PASSION of your PURPOSE’. I am proudly graduating from IIN in a few days & this past year for me was also filled with many peaks & valleys. What I learned through all of it was that as a ‘Spiritual being having a Human Experience, I am also a Human being having a Spiritual Experience.’ My AHA Moment came when I saw…’Louie Schwartzberg’s short film GRATITUDE with Brother David Steindl-Rust’s spoken words’ on TED X. This Film overflowed my heart in a way I can’t explain (please watch it), and I cried…not in sadness but in a cleansing sort of way; I’m sure you know what I mean. Then it came to me that it’s not only the NOW that I had to be in, but How I was in it. I realized that what got me through, kept me going & allowed me to rise above was MY HUMAN SPIRIT!!! That I was not just one or the other… that I am both Human & Spirit; the Yin & Yang. I believe that ‘Our Purpose is in the PASSION of our HUMAN SPIRIT’ and all our Human Experiences are designed to Spirit us towards that Passion of Purpose which continues to grow each & everyday. I am so grateful to you that you shared a part of your personal life with us ( as you said this is something you normally don’t do) because it gave me the opportunity to connect with you. Thank You Mark, JP Mac

  113. Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD December 24, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    Mark,
    My deepest condolences on your loss. You’ve been an inspiration and mentor to many of us physicians, and I thank you. Keep strong and moving on….

  114. Leslie December 24, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Your heart and soul’s experience and your universal human struggle to find answers and healing is INSPIRING despite the deep loss and raw emotion you face. Thank you for sharing on so many levels and for eloquently capturing the challenges so many endure. You have made a difference in the lives of thousands, now we collectively have the opportuntity to wrap you in love and peace. May you and your dear ones be blessed with light and comfort.

  115. Janice December 24, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    Mark, my friend whom I’ve only met through this electronic age device,
    My heart hurts for your losses, and as the human experience allows us to feel empathy because of our own experiences, I am also grateful for the renewal of your spirit as you proceed forward. I’ve taken many of your gems and jewels you’ve shared and incorporated them into my own life experiences, with positive success. I wish you a very joyful and wonderful future surrounded by the people you love, the marvels of our world and the healing energy from both.
    Love, light and peace to you~
    Janice

  116. Lois Josefson December 24, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Dr. Hyman,
    Thank you for sharing thoughts close to your heart.
    As you look to your tomorrows, there is an opportunity which would benefit from your medical and personal experiences and insight. Would you please provide guidance on reaching you? Thank you in advance for your consideration.
    Blessings on you and yours as you go forward from the low points of 2012.
    Lois

  117. Madya Panfilio December 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Look up to the sky and whisper “I love you” and your sister will hear and feel your love….she is on to
    another phase of her journey through the universe. You and her children will miss her and will grow
    and with the growth will come greater understanding of love for her and yourselves.

    So too with a marriage – there are journey’s which you are now beginning to take which bring
    greater self awareness, as for our journey on Earth we go alone into the future, yet we have the whole
    universe of spirit with us. Our purpose in this and every lifetime is to learn to love our selves – to know thyself….
    and to enjoy all the hills and valleys along the way…for all emotion is God.

    You are loved and always guided.
    Madya

  118. Glenda December 24, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Ah yesss…I have followed your journey for many years now, but have never experienced your heart ‘breaking open’ to this extent as I read your words this morning. Because we are ‘all one’, those whom we touch and who in turn touch us deserve our loving care, as do we towards ourselves. Your sister, your wife, your daughter, your parents, are part of that circle that is closest to your heart, intertwined, no matter where you travel, no matter how far you take yourself. How can we be sorry for ‘loss’, any more than we can be exultant over ‘gain’? All is part of this great Wheel and our centeredness is illusory, like bubbles, but OH so beautiful. It appears you have immersed yourself in peace and witnessed non-striving. May that small kernal continue to grow in you and each and every one of us by the lovely telling of this part of your personal journey… Namaste

  119. Marilyn December 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    God bless you, Dr. Hyman, and thank you for sharing your journey of 2012 with us. It’s a needed reminder to me that you never know what a fellow traveler of life is experiencing and to always be kind. I visited Bhutan several years ago and you rekindled many wonderful memories of the people, landscape, and culture.

  120. Stefa December 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Dear Dr. Hyman,

    Now feels like the time to thank you for all the wisdom you’ve shared with the world: medical insights, recipes and now, your philosophical and personal questions and pathways. I’m deeply grateful for your presence.

    I appreciate all you said about your quest in Bhutan and I wish you as much ease as possible in finding and practicing the profound awareness you’re onto. Condolences on the loss of your sister and your marriage. Such losses to sit through, especially all at once! And, congratulations on finding the place you need to be right now and getting there and introducing your daughter to the sacred cliffs, valleys and beauties you’re traveling together. I’m moved and humbled by your generosity in communicating to the world what’s precious to you. Of course, flat out generosity is what I’ve come to trust you’ll offer after reading your stuff and watching your blogs and public appearances.

    I want to share a thought generated by my own observations from the corners I get painted into as I go along. Leonard Cohen also says, “There’s a blaze of light in every word. It doesn’t matter what you heard, the holy or the broken Halleluja”. I’m responding to your question of whether suffering “devours or enriches us”. For me, it’s both. As the poet, Rumi, said to the higher power in his perception, “You thrash me clean against the jagged rocks of eternal mind. How my colours bled til I turned to white….” In my case, every rebirth has demanded a complete death of some part of me—the old phoenix just won’t rise til it’s all ashes. So, I’ve learned to welcome being devoured by suffering and I still feel enriched by it. I’m not saying anyone else would experience it the way I do. Just letting you know there is this way that presented itself to me..I call it sitting in the fire. I hope there’s a less drastic way for others to encounter grief but for me, so far, there isn’t.

    I wish you and yours all the blessings life has to offer.

    Peace love and understanding,

    Stefa

  121. Betty O. December 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    Dear Dr. Hyman,

    I am very sorry to hear of your sister’s passing and of the end of your marriage. Your sister was very brave and I understand why she didn’t want to let go. Your article about your trip to Bhutan was powerful to me.
    As I read your article I thought of my husband’s passing this past July from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Just as your sister did, my husband, Bob bravely fought the cruel disease he was afflicted with. We were married for 26 years and we have a 16 year old daughter. Once Bob was diagnosed he first wanted to live long enough to see our daughter graduate from college. Then, when he realized how rapidly ALS was affecting him, he wanted to live long enough to see our daughter graduate from high school. He passed before she began her junior year in high school. Bob had a peaceful passing with all of our family and close friends surrounding him. We talked to him, sang to him, and held him.
    I believe there was a reason Bob passed when he did. I also believe my daughter and I were meant to go through this journey with him. We both have changed and I know we will continue to change.
    This gives me hope for you and your family. Stay strong through the holiday season as I know it will be tough. Once again I’m sorry for your loss.

  122. Nina Ann Bauer December 24, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    Dear Mark

    I was very touched by your post of ypur recent life changes. I am deeply sorry for our sister Carrie’s struggle and will pray fo her happiness and that of her chidren.
    it was nice to see your recent photos about your trip to Bhutan. I have been thinking and considering some way that i can meet with you and talk and learn about the work that you are doing . I have had many experience with death . I would like you to consider the following essay by my mentor , Daisaku Ikeda, I would also like you to consider the book , Understanding the Mysteries of life and death. You can obtain this on Amazon,com. if yoy have a probem please let me know

    I am so touched about your expression of your experience of your sister Carrie’s death. I have a niece Elena,who lost her mother, after less than four months of life. She is a such a treasure of my life, as was her mother,my neice.

    please see the follow essay

    ttp://www.daisakuikeda.org/sub/resources/works/lect/lect-04.html

    MY best regards, Nina

    Ninabauer9@gmail.com
    603.261.5169

  123. Sylvia Walters December 25, 2012 at 1:24 am #

    This year my mother died of Alzheimers and we had other close losses.
    I spent 6 months in Nepal years ago and it was life changing. I have also spent time in other third world countries and it is those experiences and values that I find most valuable when things seem to be going so wrong in my life. It is true that when one door closes another opens, and I hope that you will find peace coming from the new intercultural experiences that you have had.
    I teach intercultural communication at a college, and it is through learning about others that we learn about ourselves.
    Thank you for helping me to learn more about taking care of myself through the work that you do.

  124. Jan Quiett December 25, 2012 at 2:21 am #

    Greetings Mark
    I have just learned that today,Christmas Day 2012, my father has passed after 4 years bed-ridden from a perplexing condition that doctors just didn’t take time to diagnose correctly. After surgery, he could not get out of bed or feed himself which of course led to diapers at 80. The day before surgery he was talking, eating on his own and slowly walking. What a mistake! Water on the brain they called it, and perhaps a shunt………………wrong!
    After 4 years, his release on Christmas is a blessings. I hope he wanders quickly through the mire and finds his true light. The rest of us are working on the same issue in form. I can only trust the path and open my heart to more.
    Your journey, our journey, will never end because the end brings a new beginning, so lets just keep going and our hearts will triumph as they have it written in them.
    Thank you for your heart felt and joyful, though painfully felt, expression on this beautiful day.
    I sit with 30 students in Taiwan where East meets West. I hear the echoes of their laughter outside and hold the vision for them that they will walk this path I have forged, and find the courage to BE just who they are, facing doubts, analyzing fear and meeting themselves long before their light goes out. My father did not and I wonder where he is right now. My sleepless sleep last night was filled with tossing and turning, but no thoughts. I actually felt love radiating through my heart. And then this morning, the email of his passing. What a mystery.
    Now I am sharing it with the everyone………………………………………

  125. Diane Lassen, RN, Holistic Health Coach December 25, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    Dr. Mark,
    I am so sorry to hear of your losses, and I am thankful that you emptied your heart in sharing your soul with us, your readers. I know from experience, this kind of writing helps the writer as well, as it also helps the reader. Thank you. Your spiritual walk and writings touch my heart, and it reminds me once again, of the reason God sent his son to us on this Christmas day 2012, to come to this fallen world where although there is much beauty, there is also so much pain and suffering and sin. He did come to teach us how to love, how to live, how to serve others, just as you describe the people of Bhutan. God’s love transcends all pain and suffering, and through knowing Christ, we not only know His love, but we know how to love each other. We learn how to allow the beauty that is always there to come through and reach us in our moments of true need, in our depths, in our shadows so that we may learn from them and then, be able to assist others as they also have their moments of need.
    Blessings to you and to your family,
    Diane

  126. Linda December 25, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Dearest Dr. Hyman, I am so moved by your story that it has taken me a little while to figure out what to write here, in this public forum.
    I am so sorry for your loss of your sister, the loss for her children and for your parents. I love that all of you were together singing and reading poetry. Such a lovely way to be with her. I cannot imagine the sort of pain your family is enduring and the subsequent aftermath of that feeling ” what is next”. May her memory be a blessing.
    The human connections we all feel around love and grief; life and living…The fact that you share so much of you, not only in this way, but in the way you heal with others is remarkable and so fully human.
    I am also sorry for the loss of your marriage and all the upheaval this has caused for you. I can’t imagine a more healing place for you and your daughter (same age as Elysha…-I so understand more) to be, but Bhutan. My dear friend, also a doctor, also someone Ben worked with in SF, was also in Bhutan last November. In January, 2012, he lost his wife to a traumatic accident. The guides in Bhutan lit butter lamps in her honor once they were told what happened. As well, when I was helping to put the pieces of life back together; his current resident brought dinner and spoke of going to Bhutan that spring. I mentioned perhaps some of Helen’s ashes might be spread there as it was the last place they had been and such a sacred journey. That is exactly what happened and she is forever a part of that landscape.
    So much of our journey we can feel alone and lost… I want you to know that you have done so much for so many. I am so glad you have this time with your daughter to meditate and be in the now and re-ask all the questions all of us ask ourselves.
    I so appreciate that you share so much of who you are and are driven by the internal humanness we all are. If we can look at the challenges that life holds and say.. yes, thank you…. perhaps we can learn more about what really matters and what it is that we are doing in this short time in this world.
    Discussing this in your blog feels to me your way of connecting to all of us in the deepest way possible. To be fully human and open; this allows all of us to look deep into ourselves. I believe only then can we truly be healthy. It is not only what we eat or how we live, but how we feel about who we are…
    I am eternally grateful for all your knowledge, for all your wisdom, for being who you are. I am grateful you are a part of our family by being Elysha’s doctor and by wanting to be a mentor to Ben. I am grateful that you could see into Elysha in such a caring, compassionate, loving way that you have helped her to be as healthy as she is. Without your insight and love, I am not sure we would have this story to tell.
    It is an honor to share in pieces of your life and to have you as a part of ours.
    To your good health. ~Best Always. Linda

  127. Diane Ferland ND.A. December 25, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    Dear Mark,

    Thank you for sharing your inner journey with all of us. On December 21st we buried a very close friend, she had dedicated her life in taking care of others, teaching people how to be responsible for their health. Just like you, her life was a life of love and service. May God keep you in good health for many years to come. To you and your family, the very best for 2013.

  128. glenda December 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    A question for that person, or persons, who ‘monitor’ these comments…perhaps you would enlighten me as to why you found it necessary to censor my comment from yesterday… I am truly baffled… Warm regards to Dr. Hyman nonetheless, he is a true light on the planet.

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff January 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

      Hi Glenda,

      We do not censor comments and did not find another entry from you, sorry that you are offended.

      To you health,

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  129. Carol December 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. You inspire me to be a better person….

  130. Kathleen Friend December 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    Dear Mark,
    I was deeply moved by your post and also by the eulogy you gave at Carrie’s funeral. I knew Carrie briefly and she was a true joy and still inspires me by her memory. I spend dedicated time each day to remind myself about the importance of compassion, loving kindness and service. I am heartened by your immersion in these ideals. As a fellow physician, I believe we are in a great position to carry these ideals out into the world. I wish you many blessings as you heal.

  131. don mentzer December 25, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    Dr. Mark, condolences on the loss of your dear sister……..i, like so many people, searched for the meaning of life, why do bad things happen to good people, and the myriad of questions that we frequently have as human beings. Fortunately i was introduced to Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism some 43 plus years ago. Through following the doctrines of true Mahayana Buddhism, and doing myt Buddhist practice of chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to the Gohonzon, i have come to understand the answers to so many things that plagued me for years. Nichiren Shoshu teaches that we can attain enlightenment in this lifetime in our present form…..How freeing this is.. What we must do is to follow the teachings, do the practice and not add any of our/or others arbitrary ideas or beliefs….Might i invite you to learn more about this wonderful way to live? you can look at http://www.nst.org to get basic info. that site also has contacts for the six Nichikren Shoshu temples in the US. Best to you. Happy New Year. don mentzer, los angeles

  132. Katherine Bell December 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    I encourage you to read the Bible with an open mind. There you will find your Maker – a God Who is personal and speaks. And the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who is risen. The living Holy Spirit is available to indwell us and form the nature of Christ in us. Otherwise we are reprobates. From the Gospel of John Chapter 3:

    15 In order that everyone who believes in Him [who cleaves to Him, trusts Him, and relies on Him] may [a]not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] live forever!
    16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([b]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
    17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.

  133. Shirley December 26, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Thank you for your gift of sharing. May your suffering be lighter as it too is shared.
    Namaste.

  134. Dawn W. December 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Dr. Hyman,

    Thank you for sharing your journey over the last year. Everyone sadly seems to be touched by cancer in one form of another. It can be heart wrenching to watch someone you love drift away withouth being able to help. My own family lost our beloved father, grandfather, brother and husband Norman this June. Celebrating our first holiday without him was difficult and is not something anyone should ever have to experience.

    It sounds as though your pilgrimage was well worth it and good for the soul despite the many challenges that you faced in 2012.

    D.W.

  135. Dipika Joshi December 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Dear Mark,

    I have met you at IFM’S meetings and truly admire your energy and enthusiasm. I am deeply touched by your journey and pray to God that he gives you courage and wisdom to understand life. WE CAN ALL JUST KEEP ON TRYING, that is the name of the game. I am so sorry to hear of all the sadness.
    Maya and sansar (samsara) and detachment from it all is very hard. Doing the best you can without hurting people is a good day. ONE DAY AT A TIME! Then why do they cause you pain? That is MAYA. Buddha says pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.

    See you soon, next time I will come and give you a hug.

    Take care,

    Dipika

  136. chantelle December 26, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    Thank you for your story. I’m so sorry for the loss of your sister and your marriage. Yes bad things happen to good people, but its all about how you face it. I’m moved and inspired by your journey so far through Bhutan…I look forward to the next installment. BTW, This leads to another discussion about how happiness ties in just as much as nutrition to one’s overall health. God speed.

  137. Sargeant family December 26, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    Dear Mark, We send you our heartfelt condolences and prayers for everyone’s spiritual journey and transcendence during this difficult time. We are humbled by your growth and reflections and hope that one day all will be healed. We write with sincere gratitude, compassion and love.

  138. Carol Smith December 27, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    Thank you for this wonderful description of your journey. Your personal losses are poignant and resonates with all of us who have experienced similar losses and you remind us of the need to seek a compassionate way to live and to BE. Bless you.

  139. Julie December 27, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I am so sorry for your loss- the picture of you with your sister shows the depth of your love for each other and her spirit just shines through the photo. I appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and to share yourself on a personal level with your readers. I am a mental health professional, and sometimes the sadness and grief that we experience ourselves or through the experiences of others can be so overwhelming. As my son reminds me, however, these experiences shape who we are and how we give of ourselves to impact others.

    Your blog and books have been so important to me, both personally and professionally. I have recommended The Ultramind Solution to many of my clients who suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. I, too, am searching for ways to educate others on the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and the use of food as medicine. Our culture needs to change, and you have a very important platform to impact others. You have reached so many and inspired so many to be healthier-I appreciate you and what you do. May 2013 bring healing and peace to you and yours.

    Warmly,
    Julie

  140. Nora December 27, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Dear Dr. Mark,

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I will keep you and yours in my thoughts in the coming year. Thank you for sharing this difficult part of your journey. It makes my heart happy to hear that places like Bhutan exist. I would have no idea without you writing about it. Your questions have raised questions of my own. Where do I want to go? and more importantly who do I want to be in this world? Lots to ponder as I assess 2012 and set sail for 2013.

    Thank you again–your post has given me a much needed wake up call. I do not want to be the hamster on the wheel. I want to have purpose –even if its just practicing kindness daily.

  141. Cris Scoufos December 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Dear Mark,

    It was hard hearing that Carrie has passed. My heart aches for you. I still miss my dear sister who died from cancer 17 years ago. It was so nice to see her in February and hear her laughter. You are welcome to visit with your daughter and we would love to see Carrie’s daughter again. It was so nice that time you came to Kona together. Thank you for letting my family share those memories of your happy family excursion. She was so proud of you and the testimony you had given in Washington D.C. and I am too. It is hard to believe that was four years ago. You have made a huge difference in so many peoples lives. We care for you and wish we could take away some of your pain. Carrie will live on in my memories and I will always remember her warm hugs, her unreserved laughter and huge smiles.

    Aloha my friend,
    Cris

  142. Susan December 30, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Dear Dr. Mark,

    I am so thankful that you are releasing your story to the Universe, I believe that is the first step in healing.
    In feeling so sorry for the loss of your precious Sister, may I say that the way you described her passing is one of the most wonderful gifts that you could have possibly given her. To be surrounded by her family and passing at home in peace and love is the all encompassing and I believe should become common practice

    My boyfriend and I did the same for his Mom that passed last year, she died in his arms so peacefully while surrounded by all those that loved her in our home. It is such a beautiful, caring way to pass as opposed to being in a cold, sterile environment being cared for by helpful people you don’t even know. You did the right thing.

    I’m sure your divorce is painful and I am also sure that spending time with your lovely daughter Rachel (I know from personal experience that daughter’s named Rachel are lovely) is what you both need right now.

    Peace be with you and your family and know that 2013 will reveal new promises…may your cup runneth over with many blessings!!

    Warmly,
    Susan

  143. Debra Meale Hyden January 1, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Mark, thanks for opening up and sharing this. It was a wonderful article.

    Peace,
    Debra

  144. Heidi January 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. It is the greatest of gifts.

  145. maya January 5, 2013 at 2:08 am #

    such love and compassion……….yet we each walk alone with our experience. death and loss wake us to life…the darkest teacher…bringing us back to being present for the life we have. making the plea for gratitidue and acceptance.

    i am overwhelmed with the love and sharing…how your one act of sharing cascades into waves of heart felt validation and connectedness.

    what a gift in itself as dark mystery touches your life, our life.

    you are not alone in this walk.

  146. Tara Perlaki January 5, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    Thanks so much for writing and sharing this. Its a beautiful piece of writting that is both touching and inspiring.

    Thank you!

    Tara

  147. Patty January 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    So sorry to hear about your sister, Dr. Hyman. I lost my heart dog in August to bladder cancer, another cancer with a strong link to chemical toxins…lawn chemicals in particular. I wonder if it is possible to be truly healthy in this toxic world? I am still pondering whether or not I want another dog. His death rocked my world, was so unexpected and quick. I felt robbed of time with him, as I am sure you felt with your sister. Thinking of you…
    I love your work…you are a breath of fresh air!

    Here’s to a better year for all of us…
    Patty

  148. Carrie Young January 5, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Doctor,

    Please accept my deepest sympathies for the loss of your sister and the loss of your spouse. I am a nurse and have brought new life into this world and helped others transition from this world. Some of these losses were like your sister, to soon and difficult to understand “why”. The way youf family join together to share her last days was so fabulous and very moving. At some point you will be able to celebrate her life versus morn her departure. As a Christian I believe we will all meet again someday in the spiritual realm.

    I have felt the pain of divorce at a young age and did not handle it very well. For 17 years I struggled as a single parent but my children and the love of my parents kept me going. You have the resources within yourself, the love of family, and the love and respct of millions of persons you don’t even know to help you through this transition in your life.

    My oldest son resently divorced just prior to obtaining his PhD in mathematics. This gave his pause to reconsider his priorities in life. He stayed in central Illinois to be close to his small daughter and lives in poverty because of his choices. His focus is on sustainable organic farming. A far cry from becoming a mathematics professor. He works as a farm hand when work is available and is learning the farming business. For the winter he is restoring an old farmhouse for the priviledge of having a place to live. He hurts many times but change is always painful. I know he will one day acheive his goals because he has PASSION just as you have passion for the work that you do.

    As I mentioned before i am a Christian but I enjoy reading about your journey immensely. These people have accomplished what Christ taught to his followers.

    Thank you for bearing your soul and sharing your journey with us. Thank you for helping me and the millions of other lives that you have touched.

    May God bless you and your family. May he send comfort to you all and especially the children that have lost their mother.

    Sincerly,
    Carrie P. Young

  149. Lisa January 6, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful article. I am sorry for the struggles in your life like many of us your life has turned onto a path which has some pain, a new journey should renew you in time. I want to take a moment to remind you that you inspire many and have shared so much instruction from your wisdom and medical knowledge without expecting anything in return. You freely give information that can heal those who follow and listen and I think you are one of the most giving people I have ever followed. Please remember those of us that cling onto all the knowledge you have freely shared and find peace in knowing that many of us that have been touched by you, that you are unaware of will shadow you as you heal during this transition. With much respect and admiration, many your journey take you to a peaceful place. Lisa

  150. Stacy November 14, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    I was beyond moved by your sharing of your journeys… How touching to know that there are others who feel healed by simply being in the mountains and in nature and the healing power in helping others, while knowing the quiet strength of kindness, impermanence and non-attachment…truly parts of the whole of Buddha energy.

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