How Barry Kerzin got the job of
being the Dalai Lama’s personal physician [07:15];
Why allopathic medical
providers shouldn’t discount traditional health care systems
“Traditional health care systems are rich. They are
almost always complementary with allopathic modern
Advice Dr. Kerzin would give to
his younger self upon graduation from family medicine residency in
the late 1980s [24:25];
The dangers of too much empathy
Empathy is standing in the other person’s shoes. But
you can become too close emotionally. You can inadvertently end up
taking on or owning the pain of the person that you're trying to
take care of.
you adopt a patient’s suffering and you don’t know how to clear it,
the consequence can be a full-blown burnout syndrome.
“We're much more prone to go along the path to burnout
if we practice empathy rather than compassion.”
Compassion, which is just about
a half step back from empathy [29:15];
Kerzin teaches the importance of moving beyond empathy
taking a half step back, it allows us to see more because we're
less emotionally involved. It allows us to make better decisions on
how to reduce the suffering for that patient and how to be more
effective with our treatment,
Compassion is the wish and the action, when we're able,
to reduce or even eliminate pain and suffering.
feeling tone when we're practicing compassion is joy, because we're
trying to help somebody. It's tinged with sadness because we feel
their pain, though we're not overwhelmed by it.”
Methods of teaching compassion
on a curricular level [33:20];
Kerzin founded the Altruism in Medicine Institute
whose vision statement includes
the aim to “transform medical education to incorporate curricula of
self-compassion, compassion for others, mindfulness, and resilience
as essential as anatomy, physiology, and
Studies have shown that compassion improves health in
the fields of immunity, neurology, and cardiology. Additionally, it
helps health professionals remain sane.
Compassion is taught in a lecture-based format, small
group setting, videos, and then applied in one’s daily
Kerzin recommends this mantra to cultivate compassion:
“Just like I only want to be happy and not have pain, so does the
other person just want happiness and not want to hurt.” If we
recognize this commonality, it connects us.
The Buddhist practice of
unconditional compassion [39:45];
The importance of mutual
respect, even in the face of difference [43:35];
Replacing jealousy with
first step is realizing the benefits of rejoicing and appreciating
the deficits of jealousy. Jealousy robs you of your inner-peace. If
you’re able to rejoice and appreciate the other’s success, you’ll
feel much better.
second step is recognition of what you’re thinking and feeling, and
being aware when jealousy is at play.
third step is learning how to replace (not suppress) jealousy with
process takes practice.
“You're not suppressing jealousy, because we know that
suppressing your negative emotions never works since they still are
The pillars of self-compassion
more time in the present moment and observe your inner
life/thoughts/feelings (this is Mindfulness with a capital “M”).
When you’re undercutting, criticizing or doubting yourself, you’re
remembering something from our past or fearing for the future. We
can train ourselves to drop into the present moment through
regular, daily mindfulness exercises. Tools include meditation,
art, music, being in nature.
concern for the welfare of others.
kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack.
Forgive yourself and then forgive others. Start with
forgiving yourself of the small things. This is a solo activity
which allows you to open your heart and to be a more happy
Lessening the impact of an
Bodhisattvas -- people who have
universal compassion that excludes no one [56:15];
What it’s like to live in
Dharamshala and to be the Dalai Lama’s physician for the past 15
Kerzin shares that His Holiness is, in many ways,
beyond human. His mind is incredibly deep and profound. As a
patient, he puts you at ease.
should with every patient interaction, Kerzin does his best to
inform the Dalai Lama of his medical options so that he can make
his own decisions.
Dr. Kerzin’s prescription for
longevity in medicine [01:07:45];
Shownotes by Melissa Orman, MD