September 12, 2017
The first time I met Dr. Kelly Brogan, it was like a girlfriend marathon. We spent six hours together, mostly talking. We shared the most intimate parts of our lives, the words tumbling out of our mouths as if we couldn't share them fast enough. I felt like I already knew Kelly; we just needed to catch up. What disarmed me the most about her, was how I could tell all my secrets to her so easily - even things I'd never shared with anybody before - and how comfortable she was at telling her story.
Kelly is the real deal - and she wants to know the real story. She is motivated by the truth. Her truth. Your truth. The truth about medications. Wellness. Food. And the capital T Truth. She uncovers the truth + shares it with us readily. She is a doctor who pours over PubMed articles like a kid eating candy. She gets to the bottom of what is truly beneficial for us - and what is not.
We feature her here in celebration of her new online workshop, Calm Body, Clear Mind, with a few of our favorite questions:
My favorite flower is a Rose. What Roses evoke for me is actually a phrase that I’ll borrow from Ram Das, which is “fierce grace.”
In my practice I ask my patients to spend 2 hours in nature once a week, doing nothing. No writing, no friends, no music, just being in it. I ask them to do this because this simple practice actually changed, I believe, and reconfigured my own nervous system. It was very challenging for me, initially, because we are so habituated to a certain level of stimulus, that to just do nothing by yourself, to just be in the natural world for a period of time, can be quite uncomfortable. But it can speak to your body, your soul, and your mind on a level that would be very difficult to achieve through a different means. So it’s become quite foregrounded in the way that I discuss with patients their potential for healing.
I think also something really profound is happening, and it’s not only in the zeitgeist of lifestyle medicine that is becoming more available through the power of digital communication. It’s through the scientific literature where we are beginning to understand what nature has been trying to tell us for a long time - we are all connected. As the planet succumbs more and more to our program of domination and control, and as the planet becomes sicker, we, too, are mirroring that sickness. We are sicker and in more complex ways than we have ever been in the history of humanity - it’s almost like a poetic reminder that we are all one entity. And we’re seeing this idea of interconnectedness with our environment actually being confirmed and explored in the scientific literature. For example, there’s this study of the microbiome, which essentially positions us as something called a holobiont. This means that we are not just a human with good bugs inside us and then bad bugs outside of us, but that we are this super organism that is comprised of other micro-organisms and systems. And this microbiome is inextricably connected to its environment - such that even walking in the forest for 15 minutes can change your microbial makeup, so that you are in fact this constantly evolving matrix of nature itself. And if that’s not a powerful reminder of what so many already intuitively know, then I don’t know what is.
I base a lot of what I do around one of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes which is “When you know better, you do better.” I’ve always felt very strongly, even when I was in conventional medicine, about the importance + ethical mandate for informed consent. And this notion that when we are presented with ALL of the available possibilities and ALL of the known information in as objective a means as possible, then something will resonate with our soul. At that point we will be able to identify the path forward that is most consistent and aligned with our existent belief system.
It’s only recently being acknowledged that belief is a very very powerful, if not the most powerful, variable, in the outcomes we explore and examine in medicine. This has very much become the focus of my platform, the tagline for which is “Own your body, free your mind.” A huge part of that is to take responsibility for the many ways in which we have outsourced our power ~ to doctors, to agencies, to authorities, to government, to our parents, to our friends + family. And to take that power back and understand that you are in a position of IMMENSE power over your trajectory, over your health experience. The information that I put out through my writing, the very complex and nuanced concepts that emerge from the very latest scientific literature, support a very different story than the one that we have been told by conventional and orthodox outlets.
This is the story that I try to share on my platform through my writing, through A Mind of Your Own and also in behavioral, experiential form through Vital Mind Reset, which is our online program. This all serves the new story, so to speak, which is that YOU determine what is possible. And that the notion of chronic disease and chronic illness is a belief system. So if you can move out of that, particularly if you can move out of that through an experience in your body, then you can begin to enter into new phases of your spiritual growth that might have previously been limited by your physical challenges. So in my clinical practice I work to heal the body physically through actually quite basic lifestyle interventions. What I find is that through this process, there is so much more reclaimed energy and so much expansion that allows for the spiritual evolution and transformation that seems to attend that process of often dramatic physical healing.
Interested in learning with Kelly? She's launched a free online workshop, Calm Body, Clear Mind, to share with you powerful tips + tools to get rid of brain fog + fatigue, dissolve feelings of anxiety and unlock your inherent healing super-powers. Click here for access!
The most critical discovery I have made moving into holistic medicine is that we are innately empowered with all that is necessary to heal, and that the task and the challenge is quite simply removing the blocks. My entry point for assuming responsibility for all areas of my life was a diagnosis of Hoshimotos’ Thyroiditis, which the conventional medical system would have us believe is just a sort of bad luck disease that befalls you and all you have to do is take your prescription. That was the fork at the road from which point I decided that I had control over the unfoldment of my life. I think that self love actually comes later. But self commitment can be foregrounded. We can say “yes, I will do that”. And every single day say “yes I will do that.” And then the experience of this commitment in your body awakens a knowingness that then propels forward into all sorts of expansion.
I have taken my experience into my own hands to the extent that any time I am confronted with a challenge, something that I don’t like about my life experience, some short-coming, or some place where I’m feeling victimized, I actually ask myself “What am I getting out of this?” And I identify the ways in which I am actually co-creating that challenge. We’re encouraged not to ever think this way, because it feels like blaming the victim. But I’ve actually found that many times when we’re stuck in loops of chronic anything, it’s because we are getting something out of being sick + labeled that we don’t believe we could get elsewhere. It may be love, it may be a sense of validation of an inner-felt wrongness that is now externalized in the form of a label. It may even be a means of saying “no!” Because in our society if you have a migraine, you can say ‘no’ to going out to the movies with a friend. You can’t say no simply because you want to sit home and meditate. It’s a socially sanctioned means of bowing out of the demands of society. And so I that’s a whole mindset that I have embodied.
I followed the literature on meditation and specifically mindfulness-based meditation for many years before I actually adopted a daily practice myself. It wasn’t until my beloved mentor, Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, passed very suddenly over 2 years ago, that I said “Alright. Everyone’s been talking about this meditation thing. I’m pretty desperate, I’ve never felt this grief-stricken or disturbed in my entire life, so I better avail myself of what I know is out there.” The day after he died, I began a pre-dawn practice and I have never missed a day since. Part of the way that routines of self care are built, I believe, is because you experience and embody a shift associated with it. We never change our minds because of information, we change our minds because of experience.
After 2 months of meditating before dawn, just for 11 minutes a day, my entire nervous system began to re-configure. I remember one day getting home and walking up my driveway, which is actually a time when I feel more stressed, but I remember one day walking up my driveway and just. feeling. stillness inside me. And since that time I’ve observed that I never get stressed out. My practice is an investment in resilience and in a kind of protection from fear that has served me incredibly.
Part of the way it’s served me is also that it’s made me a much more powerful clinician and space holder for the very intense challenges like grief and sadness, pain and suffering, that most often in this society warrants psychiatric medication. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the risks of these medications, from the physiologic to the spiritual level, far outweigh the benefits. So in order to hold space for all of these challenges that freak our society out, things like hopelessness or immense surges in emotion, I have to be constructed pretty fearlessly, and I have to be trusting, fundamentally, in the nature of the human organism, and the teacher that is these felt experiences. And I think my own practice is what allows me to do that to the extent that I have been able to witness hundreds of people move through the alchemical process that is the transformation of these powerful shadow emotions into incredible expansion that they never thought possible.
I think one of my great superpowers as a conscious entrepreneur and activist is my curiosity. And that’s often the only necessary ingredient! I am always seeking more information, I am always seeking to learn. I have certainly gotten to place where I am very comfortable admitting when I am wrong! I think that this curiosity was most peeked by my personal health journey as I was diagnosed with Hoshimotos’ thyroiditis and led me to explore a whole new world. Literally, a whole new world that I never would have known existed if I had said “well I already know everything there is to know about this”!
But curiosity has also driven me to the point of over-consumption of information, which I would say is the shadow side of that quality. Sometimes it feels like there is so much more for me to learn that it’ll never end; I have a stack of books a mile high on my desk and another next to my bed. So I think it’s a necessary complement to curiosity to also trust a sort of receptivity that doesn’t come through information. And that’s been a more challenging but potentially more important pursuit for me. To trust that I am learning through simply being open, that it doesn’t have to come through books and words and lectures. I think the rest of that, the extension of that, is a kind of faith in synchronous resonance, a faith that what is important for me to see will present itself. And I’ve had this experience countless times. Often I will have a very personal experience sometimes, or sometimes it will be that I read an article, literally 10 minutes before I interact with a patient and it was exactly what I needed to tell them in that clinical experience. And I’ve had these kinds of profound synchronicities that again and again have confirmed my sense of faith and trust in an unfolding that I do not have to direct, even with my curiosity.
I have been fortunate to be inspired by many different sources. One of the earlier and most profound was/is a journalist named Robert Whittaker who wrote a book called Anatomy of an Epidemic, which absolutely changed my practice because through the science that he shed light on, I put down my prescription pad for good. I’ve also been tremendously reconfigured by my relationship with Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, who was a holistic clinician best known for his radical remission cancer cases through totally natural protocols involving detox and personalized diets. And what he did for me was to show me that my instincts to stand in the space of radical holism were worth trusting. He showed me that holistic medicine has the capacity to facilitate bodily healing in every single arena. And short of emergent situations, getting hit by a car or falling off a roof, I have come to hold a space for non-pharmaceutical medicine, that I certainly don’t think would have been possible if I had not interacted with him and his patients.
I have a number of women that I am inspired by, including you all! I am incredibly inspired by the grace and authenticity, the kind of soft power that is represented by LOTUSWEI. I now have a honed sensing device, where my soul recognizes these sources of inspiration, and they tend to really overlap. Another one of our shared colleagues is Dr. Christiane Northrup, who is arguably one of the only female physicians in the holistic space who is authentically holistic and has been fighting for the true empowerment of women’s bodies and the foreground of women’s wisdom for the better part of 30 years. She is a dear friend at this point in my life, and a source of great counsel. So that’s just to name a few.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention: it was a critical part of my awakening experience to have a natural birth with my first daughter and a home birth with my second. That level of inspiration could only be characterized as Kundalini awakening. Because it puts you in contact with a kind of Shakti or goddess energy that really educates you on a soul level on what it is to embody this kind of fierce grace. What it is to embody a kind of power that is not a warring energy, that is not a fighting energy, and that was my first, truly first experience, of surrender in service of something greater. And my girls continue to inspire me to build and create and manifest a world that I feel good about them living in.
I have been very curious about this myself. Once we demonstrate what is possible in terms of radical healing, you would think that everyone would drop everything and start engaging in the practices associated with this kind of healing! But they don’t. And part of that I think is actually fear of the unknown. I think that we become very familiar with the identity that chronic illness labels confer. While of course with all of our conscious minds we may want to move past that and to heal, there may be a greater fear of what could come with that shift than there is a fear of living chronically ill.
Sometimes I have patients who adhere to all of my recommendations around detox and nutrition related dietary practices, but they really struggle to make a commitment to a daily meditative practice. And while I am a Kundalini Yoga zealot, I have no specification for what they do for 3 minutes a day beyond the fact that they pause and sit. They can pray, they can do mindfulness meditation, they can do the meditations I recommend, it doesn’t matter, but I do believe that it’s not optional any longer. If you do want to heal, it is no longer optional to avoid this ancient practice because our nervous systems are under unrelenting stress and that is totally incompatible with a healing state. But I don't because my patients are disorganized or forgetful or just defiant, it’s actually because they know, once they commit to meditation, they will become a clearer channel for what needs to be reconfigured in their life in order to become more authentically themselves. And this may require dissolution of relationships, including divorce, it may require changing their job, it may require severing ties with family members, it may require moving or adopting a baby. These major changes are scary to us, and so I think that may be one the greatest forms of resistance.
Sometimes another is time. I am very familiar with the time excuse, as a very busy person. But it’s actually much more empowering to use language like “I am choosing not to do something.” Because it actually puts you in a position of authority over your own life experience rather than being victimized by it. And the truth is that we have the capacity to make time should we choose to. I made all sorts of excuses for why I couldn’t dry-brush in the morning, for example. I don’t have time, that extra minute is better spent meditating or whatever else. But the truth is once I decided to commit to it, and I associated that behavior with a trigger - I put the brush right in front of my shower door - it became routine. And now I don’t even think about it. Once you make the choice to focus your energy on something, you actually amplify its power - you can make possible something that otherwise seemed unavailable.
There is a very long list of practices that have shifted and amplified my health experience, ranging from different Ayurevedic practices, daily gratitude, detox practices, clean eating, LOTUSWEI flower essences!
But I actually will just echo what I’ve already expressed, which is that the single most powerful commitment I have ever made to myself was to never go a day without at least 3 minutes of self-reflection, in the form of meditation. And I think that without acknowledging the critical importance of this devotional energy, it’s very easy to lose connection with your compass, to lose connection with the fabric of the natural world. So as long as I maintain that commitment, if everything else is compromised, I know that I will find my way back. And that’s why I have convinced myself that the clarity of a woman as a vessel for planetary healing is essential, and this clarity can only be achieved through a meditation practice. Rather than use your mind to try to solve problems that cannot be solved, as Einstein said, with the same consciousness that created the problems, you are in that flow of understanding what it is to intuitively feel ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This kind of expansive creativity, insight, inspiration, I believe will come through the vessel of women. But if we are not practicing and honoring the vital nature of that dynamic energy, then the entire planet will mirror that back to us.
Interested in learning with Kelly? She's launched a free online workshop, Calm Body, Clear Mind, to share with you powerful tips + tools to get rid of brain fog + fatigue, dissolve feelings of anxiety and unlock your inherent healing super-powers. Click below for access ...
Kelly Brogan, M.D. is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the New York Times bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms.
We share Dr. Kelly and her work because we think she is an amazing woman doing good + vital work in this world. Weare affiliates of her paid offerings, and may receive a commission on any referred sales. ;)