” The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there? “
~Jack Kornfield~

The development of medical insurance and pharmaceutical industries has profoundly changed the way medicine is practiced.

Patients and Providers have experienced erosion of connection and autonomy.

The medical-industrial complex has created a dehumanized and depersonalized experience for patients and providers.

One way of looking at this dehumanizing transformation is to compare it to the development of “mono-culture” in modern agriculture in the inner continental United States, a region that – for eons, in its natural state -thrived with diverse and rich grassland ecology. Keep in mind the interconnections of our practices ripple throughout the world. Unhealthy conventional farming practices not only impact the local lands, but the “mono-culture” products (corn syrup and corn-based additives for starters) contribute to obesity and chronic disease for those eating the processed foods. Run-off of chemicals and waste poison our waters all the way to our oceans.   The land degrades from its natural state. All the connections become degraded!

STRIPS is beginning to reverse this sad state of affairs back to the natural condition, healthier for all.

The majority of physicians practice within the medical monoculture. By bringing full presence and empathetic connection to each patient encounter, physicians create “strips” of care within this unwieldy giant complex.

Teaching mindfulness and compassion skills to physicians is the beginning of returning to the natural state of human beings caring for other human beings.

We may not be able to turn back the tide on the medical industrial complex completely, but we can create “STRIPS” of mindfulness and compassion, one interaction at a time. Sowing these seeds of caring connection creates growing islands of natural goodness that heal the de-humanization occurring in our present medical complex, returning authentic compassionate care to our current so-called “health care” system.

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Jeff Horacek, MD has been a practicing primary care doctor for nearly 20 years and is the medical director for Mary’s Woods Retirement Community. While working for Providence Health System in 2007, Dr. Horacek developed a deeper recognition and appreciation of the mind-body-spirit connection through meditation and yoga. This connection has become an important part of his personal and professional life and integrates that knowledge into his work with geriatrics, diabetes care, health coaching, prison populations and drug/alcohol treatment centers.