Joseph Campbell, author and lecture, known for his work in mythology and religion, has been an inspiration in my life and when I reflect on the statement, follow your bliss, I know this bliss is the essence of desire. Desire is desire is desire and how we channel that desire makes all the difference in our lives and what we create from that desire is evidenced in our lives by what is happening in the present moment.
Over the years of pursuing my educational studies, certifications, and Buddhist practices, it was following my bliss that was essentially guiding my path. When I finished my graduate studies and began working as a Nurse Practitioner, educating and teaching my patients about health was the driving force behind my work. The focused attention on disease that has plagued medicine, instead of preventive lifestyles, was discouraging and a drain to my bliss. I certainly acknowledge the necessity for management of a disease process; however, educating on how to stay healthy is a much gentler life path than treating disease.
After several years of practice, many patients were expressing sexual concerns of which I knew very little about. The educational process in Nursing and Medicine gave very little attention to sexuality, and certainly no attention on healthy function and pleasure. This led to my post-masters certification in Sexology with the American Academy of Clinical Sexologist. This was very helpful, yet still a great part of the education seemed mechanically based. When I met Gina Ogden, PhD, at a workshop at Esalen she was conducting, I knew I was on track.
Gina Ogden, PhD, author and lecturer, became my mentor and supervisor in pursuing my national AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapist) Counselor certification. Her work in integrating spirituality and sexuality is the focus in my sex counseling. Currently, she and I are collaborating on a project addressing the lack of education and assessment tools absent in Integrative Medicine that bespeak a multi-dimensional framework when evaluating and diagnosing sexual dysfunctions.
In the winter of 2007, I began my Fellowship in Integrative Medicine, a two year program at the University of Arizona, Tucson, under the tutelage of Dr. Andrew Weil. This program emphasized concepts in health promotion and preventive care. Why healthcare is founded on this premise is such a quandary to me because it seems so logical and effective, versus the way our current healthcare (disease-care) system governs the management of patient care.
Ultimately in following my bliss, I have a practice that truly integrates the whole person. We are multi-dimensional beings having physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual experiences. As a health and sexual healthcare provider, having patients step into their lives as a multi-dimensional being and not as just a body, they will encounter an integration process that moves them in the direction of well-being. In this process, patients may for the time begin to integrate body, mind, and spirit. And this is the path to bliss. So today, acknowledge the whole person you are and tap into what you desire in life and then follow that and don’t stop!
Sherri Aikin is a Fellow of Integrative Medicine, Nurse Practitioner, Sex Counselor, Mindfulness Facilitator, and Life Coach.
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