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 Conversations with Leaders in Self-Care: A Field Guide to Stress 
Interview with Kenneth R. Pelletier
   as interviewed by Tom Ferguson MD

It's nice when so many things start coming together. Everything in this kind of work keeps coming back to some idea of individual . . . I don't know quite what to call it responsibility is laden with so many unfortunate connotations.


Self-care! That's it. It's just paying attention to a beneficial way of living your life so that your exchanges and interactions with other people are loving and caring, and your attitudes to your self are that way, too. The kind of meditation we've been talking about is a fine way to come at it—although people come to it by very different roads. For some people, paying attention to nutrition leads to paying attention to other areas of their life. Others come at it through exercise. They realize that they can't even run around the block if they're feeling tense, and they get interested in meditation. Another person might start meditating and then realize, "Wow, I really don't like that gut hanging over my belt." Suddenly this person is into considerations of diet and weight. It's really a very organic, unified process of discovery.

Paying attention.

Paying attention. Investing your life with attention. Was it Socrates who said, "The unexamined life is the unlived life," or something like that?

That's it. Meditation, biofeedback, relaxation methods, autogenic training—they all allow you to take a break from a cumulative, destructive cycle and to induce the parasympathetic rebound with all its attendant- slowing down and relaxing effects. On a psychological level, it's taking that break, taking time to see why you're involved in a particular phase of the rat race and whether you want to stay involved.

Another thing, too—all these things should be fun. Too many people are so dour. They're going to be healthy if it kills them. The person who drives himself to jog and hates it. The person who eats so austerely and with such a restricted diet that it's really masochistic. The person who insists on meditating half an hour twice a day whether it really fits into his life or not.

They're equally not paying attention.

Yes, because when you're doing it right, there's a spark, an element of vitality, of discovery, that makes it really exciting. You've got to follow the little messages from inside that tell you what's right for you, no matter what any expert says. If that spark's not there, you're sunk. no matter what you do.

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 About The Author
Tom Ferguson, M.D. (1943-2006), was a pioneering physician, author, and researcher who virtually led the movement to advocate informed self-care as the starting point for good health. Dr. Ferguson studied and wrote......moreTom Ferguson MD
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