Pam Kircher About Me Contact Me
Tai Chi NDEs Integrative Medicine End of Life Issues Reflections
  Section Home
  Tai Chi for Arthritis
  Tai Chi for Diabetes
  Sun Style 73 form
  Selected Reading List
Tai Chi

Near-Death Experiences To Medicine To Tai Chi: What's That All About?

The progression in my life from a NDE to family medicine to hospice to integrative medicine to Tai Chi seems natural to me, but I am often asked about my career path. Behind that question I sometimes sense another question, "Can't you make up your mind what you want to be when you grow up?" Perhaps when you finish reading this article, you'll agree with me that my path has been a natural one given my values and interests and experiences.

When I had my NDE at age six, I realized that this life on earth was a small part of the much longer life of my soul. Like other NDErs, I came to value loving connection with other people, time in nature, and time to be in stillness. I was not particularly interested in material possessions or in achieving positions of power. With no fear of death, life becomes much lighter. There is enormous freedom in having no fear of death and in having no need to amass material possessions.

Hence I chose medicine because it was a way to be helpful and to deeply connect with other people. After I was in family practice for awhile, I was drawn to hospice work through my talks about NDEs and through my counseling of people in grief. People in the last few weeks and months of life come to see that what really matters is our connection with other people and ourselves. Material possessions and social standing hold little interest for us as we approach death. With my NDE values, I felt right at home with the hospice patients.

In serving hospice patients, I saw that the complementary therapies such as music, art, gentle touch (healing therapy), acupuncture, and aromatherapy were very helpful in their physical, emotional, and spiritual care. I began studying these modalities in order to be a better caregiver and to be a champion in bringing those modalities into the hospice setting. I found that the integrative medicine (a blend of conventional allopathic medicine and complementary modalities) allowed people to be much more comfortable and in touch with their feelings so that their quality of life in the last stages was greatly improved.

In studying the complementary modalities with hospice in mind, I found that they were helpful at all stages of life. I became intrigued with the question of what effect it would have on a community if integrative medicine were the standard of care. I became the Medical Director of Mercy Medical Center in order to combine complementary therapies with the excellent conventional medical care that in-patients were already receiving. We have developed a Touch, Love, and Compassion (TLC) team that brings music, aromatherapy, massage, and healing touch to the bedside. It is used widely throughout the hospital and has been the model for several other hospitals developing their own programs. In the community, we have been teaching Healing Therapy to nursing homes, public health, physical therapists, counselors, etc. with the intention to have it be widespread throughout the community.

One of the complementary modalities that I explored was tai chi. Tai chi is a balancing tool that brings the intellectual and spiritual person into their bodies, often for the first time. It is a balancing tool that allows people who live primarily in the physical to feel something of the peace and stillness of meditation and prayer. It allows sedentary people to begin to move and explore their bodies without doing injury. It allows each of us to become friends with our bodies—to gently notice what is different from day to day in our bodies. It encourages us to become stronger, more flexible, more upright, more still—not only in our bodies, but in our daily lives as well.

From my perspective, this really is a career path with a logical progression. The next step is to share what I have learned through my website, writing, lectures, workshops, and consultations. Thank you for joining me in this life adventure.


back to list of articles