John PattersonMind-Body Medicine Faculty
“Inertia is a powerful force,” says John Patterson, M.D., an integrative medicine physician and instructor for Saybrook’s Graduate College of Mind-Body Medicine,who practiced rural family medicine for 30 years. “Unfortunately Kentucky ranksnumber 1 or 2 nationally in terms of smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and poornutrition- all habits that are partly inherited from the family and interpersonal environment. They are socially built in to people’s lives, so trying to get people to make even small changes can threaten their identity, their connection with the people they know and love.”
But John is part of the solution. As a medical student, he was forced to put his interest in integrative health aside to get through medical school. However, with a very stressful internship ahead, he wanted to learn healthy ways to manage stress.
“I learned to meditate right after graduation. Before long I was learning yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback and skilled relaxation.” he says. “It seemed obvious to me that these things are important. They can be very effective. They have the potential to reduce the need for medication, and if you can reduce medication use you can reduce costs, you can protect people against side effects and drug interactions, nutrient depletion and a sense of dependency. But more than that- the use of a self-empowering mind-body skill doesn’t just help you reduce or stop the blood pressure medication – it can have positive side benefits that affect the entire physiology. The innate internal healing environment of the mind and body can be mobilized and nurtured.”
Today John focuses increasingly on teaching stress management for patients with chronic disease and burnout prevention for helping professionals. He is also creating a consultation practice to which other physicians can refer patients with stress-related and chronic conditions. In Lexington KY, he operates the Mind Body Studio where his medical student wellness classes meet and where teachers offer classes in meditation, mindfulness, yoga, Nia, drumming and dance. “Mind body skills and stress management can complement conventional treatment for patients with conditions ranging from anxiety, depression and insomnia to high blood pressure, diabetes, pain and many others. “
John continues to learn new skills in Mind-Body Medicine, getting additional certifications, and learning how to apply them – inside and out of the doctor’s office. As part of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s international team, he traveled to Israel, Gaza and post-Katrina New Orleans to train local professionals how to apply self care skills in their own lives so they can share them with colleagues, patients and clients.
“Potential Saybrook students need to know- there are career opportunities to practice these skills around the world, from your back yard to half-way across the globe,” he says. “Institutional and organizational thinking in medicine , business, education and industry is moving in this direction.”
It’s a change he’s been helping to make for over 30 years.