In this episode of the Hope4Med podcast, we feature Dr. Jill Wener, a nationally renowned expert in physician wellness who has published several articles on Kevin MD, led physician wellness programs around the country, and lectured at the national level on stress and the benefits of meditation and tapping. Dr. Wener shares her experiences with stress and burnout in her medical career and how meditation helped her well-being. She explores the benefits of meditation, tapping, and EFT for growth and wellness and the resources available to us when we are open to something new outside traditional allopathic medicine.
Connect with our guest, Dr. Jill Wener
[00:00:00] Dr. JB: Ever wish for a safe place to have conversations that need to be had? A place where you could say the things that need to be said? Welcome to Hope4Med.
[00:00:16] Hi everyone, welcome back to the Hope4Med podcast. I am your host, Dr. JB and today’s guest is Dr. Jill Wener. She is a nationally renowned expert in physician wellness, she has published several articles on Kevin MD, led physician wellness programs around the country, and lectured at the national level on stress and the benefits of meditation and tapping. In addition to her online and in-person meditation tapping programs, Dr. Wener leads meditation retreats all over the world and is the co-founder and chief wellness officer of the TransforMD Mastery Retreat for women physicians. Welcome, Dr. Wener.
[00:00:57] Dr. Jill Wener: Thanks so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here.
[00:00:59] Dr. JB: And we are so happy that you took the time out of your busy schedule to come talk to us today.
[00:01:05] Dr. Jill Wener: Of course, I can talk about stress reduction and wellness all day long. I’m very happy, very happy to chat with you.
[00:01:12] Dr. JB: So, Dr. Wener can you introduce yourself to my listener? Tell us about what made you decide to go into medicine.
[00:01:19] Dr. Jill Wener: Oh, gosh, going into medicine. That was like, I think predestined for me. My grandfather was a cardiologist, my dad and his three brothers were all doctors, my mom’s brother was a doctor and they all trained in Canada. And then, just growing up, it was something I always considered. I never really felt pressured to do it, but it just kind of felt like, sure, like that’s something I could do. I did have a lot of pressure to become a professional by my parents which is interesting to look back on, like they were like, “you have to be a professional, you have to be able to support yourself in case you get divorced, and you don’t need to depend on a man to support you.” I mean, it’s just like this very explicit method. And a lot of my friends growing up in the eighties got that message as well, that I’ve talked to since then. So yeah, I went into, I did fine in science in high school, I enjoyed it, and I started off pre-med at college just to see if it was something I liked, and then I was lucky enough to have a chance to work with a family doctor as a medical assistant one summer and totally loved it. And so that was when I knew that I was doing the right thing. And went from there.
[00:02:18] Dr. JB: Do you have siblings?
[00:02:20] Dr. Jill Wener: I have an older sister.
[00:02:22] Dr. JB: And did your sister also go into medicine?
[00:02:25] Dr. Jill Wener: She didn’t. She didn’t. I always joke, sort of not joke that she’s artistic one. We both had very different skillsets and talents and interests and it’s funny cause I always thought I wasn’t artistic and I started taking some art classes an adult, and I’m not all that bad. So I’m a little sad looking back that I had pigeonholed myself as the not artistic one, but yeah, she did not have, I think she started off pre-med like maybe 90% of people who go to liberal arts schools do, and then just decided pretty quickly– she ended up doing graphic design and is absolutely amazing at it.
[00:03:00] Dr. JB: So then you fell in love with family medicine, and so you entered residency knowing that you’re going to become a family doc, never changed your mind?
[00:03:09] Dr. Jill Wener: Actually, no, so I worked with, you know, when you’re in college, you’re like desperate to get clinical experience and you’ll like do anything you can to learn what medicines like and also to look good on your applications? So that the doctor that I worked with happened to be a family physician. He’s a friend of our family, but I actually went into med school thinking I was going to do ob/gyn. And then in, I guess it was my third year of med school, I really, really liked my internal medicine residents– sorry, clerkship– and I really loved the like group dynamic and the discussion and the thought process involved in it. And I also loved OB, I felt like there were, I don’t know, I think I had, there was a moment where I had a patient who had a murmur on my OB GYN rotation and like people weren’t as interested in discussing that, and I felt sad about it. I think OB GYN is amazing and it’s also probably isn’t the thing that lights me up as much as I thought it would, as much as internal medicine ended up lighting me up. So I did my residency in internal medicine and became a hospitalist after that in Chicago.
[00:04:09] Dr. JB: Okay. And what was residency like for you?
[00:04:12] Dr. Jill Wener: Ooh, residency. I don’t know. I came out of med school like I was sort of a superstar. I didn’t do as great my first two years, but my third and fourth year, I did really well clinically and I got like shockingly good board scores. I was not expecting them, and so I think they were like, “you’re a superstar, go to these top ranked places,” and I went to University of Washington in Seattle, which was an incredible program. And I think that I was, when I got there, I was kind of like a little fish in a big pond and it just felt like– it was fine. My program was fairly malignant at the time, there’s been new leadership since then, so I think it’s a lot different now, but my program was pretty malignant. I think I just suffered from a lot of maybe imposter syndrome or self doubt, I learned a lot, I did fine, but I never really felt like a valued, like, I felt like a little out of place there and maybe a lot of other people did too, but some of my colleagues had already published in the New England Journal, and I was still reading it. I don’t feel like I came into my own as a person, nor did I feel like I was valued as much for who I was during my time there, but I don’t necessarily regret it. ‘Cause I feel like I got an amazing education and was raised to be very independent and have a lot of autonomy and I loved my time in Seattle. It’s a beautiful place to live and I just, I feel like it was a tough place to go in there and feel like I fit in.
[00:05:36] Dr. JB: So, we hear these terminologies a lot. “Malignant.” Could you break that down to my listener a little bit? What do you mean by that?
[00:05:44] Dr. Jill Wener: Sure, sure. Malignant is sort of like, I mean, I don’t think we ever really used the term benign, but it was, I would say it’s like the opposite of supportive. You go into a place, you’re like worked super hard, no one cares all that much about you or like who you are as a person. The schedule’s really rigorous, and obviously residency is going to be hard anyway, but we had, we got some like citations for our work hour stuff, and there was a lot, just a lot of pressure and it didn’t feel– and honestly, at the time, it’s not like I was dying for meditation courses and they weren’t giving them to me. I was not interested in like wellness type stuff, but I think there’s a way to care about the human being without talking about wellness. It’s just feeling like you matter. And I just, our leaders, I didn’t know my program director and the associate program director, they had– my perception was that they had favorites and I wasn’t one of them, and God only knows what the reality was, but I just felt like a little bit lost in the flow, a little bit lost in the shuffle. And I don’t think anyone. I mean to me, I mean, I had residents who were nice. It just, it kind of had a reputation of being kind of hardcore.
[00:06:52] Dr. JB: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a really great description of just trying to put words to descriptors of different programs because you hear that like, “oh, this is such a malignant place to be,” and that even carries through into when you graduate residency and you pick jobs in different locations, some are a little bit more malignant than others.
[00:07:12] Dr. Jill Wener: Totally.
[00:07:12] Dr. JB: So yeah, but you made it through. You finished residency and then you went on to Chicago to work?
[00:07:20] Dr. Jill Wener: I did. I did. Yeah, my sister had had twins during, actually right the day before hurricane Katrina. So like August 28th of 20, whatever year it was, 16 years ago. Her twins were premie, they’re fine now they’re 16 and totally healthy, but I just remember thinking, why am I so far away from family? I grew up in Atlanta and so I really wanted to move to Chicago. I did college in Evanston, Illinois, so I knew the area and I still had some friends in the area and just really wanted to have my adventure in Seattle, but I wanted to be closer to my sister and her kids. And I think by the end of residency, I was ready to get out. And it’s funny, even now talking about it, I can feel in my body, this like icky feeling in my chest talking about residency. It was just so weird, I don’t feel like I talk about it that often, but it’s sort of like that, that feeling comes up pretty quickly. Which leads me to realize that there’s some unresolved issues there.
[00:08:15] Dr. JB: Well, my argument has always been that burnout starts early. There’s something that happens when somebody starts in medical school, right? Cause when we start medical school, we start our health professional schooling. We’re actually really excited. The path leading up to it is grueling. The pre-med courses are not easy, we have to jump through these hoops of the MCATs or whatnot, but then finally we jumped through all these hoops, we get there, we get our acceptance letter and we are so excited. And we enter wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, feeling like we’re going to cure the world, and something happens at some point after we start our training, be it when we’re in medical school or when we’re in residency, that we leave completely different people.
[00:09:06] Dr. Jill Wener: It’s true. It’s interesting. Like I remember getting burnout a couple times during med school. One of them was on my OB GYN rotation and then I kind of got through that. And then I left med school, like as a fourth year just like, everyone was jealous of me, of how much I loved internal medicine, like how psyched I was. And I was like, I’m going to be a chief resident, I’m going to do all these things. And I remember– we start like July 1st– by August, I was, that was the first time I got burnt out as a resident, and it took me until January of my intern year. My first year of residency, I was on a hem-onc rotation and I had this 19-year-old patient, who I will never forget, with leukemia. And she ended up dying and I, I cried, like I sobbed, and I remember feeling like, wow, I’m crying, this feels so good. Like, it feels like I’m human again. I feel like I’m connecting to my emotions the way I would want to. Of course, it was sad and I was, you know, but it just felt like a little bit of a relief to feel human emotions again, the way I was used to feeling that. And that was telling, I think.
[00:10:09] Dr. JB: Yeah. I think these conversations are stuff that isn’t held or had all that often, but it’s really important because I think that our future physicians need to enter into the field of medicine with eyes wide open. My eyes were not wide open. When I started this, they were just like, I just had like stars in my eyes. I was just so excited and I think it’s important, you should be excited, it’s a huge achievement, but there’s a reality to it that isn’t really talked about that needs to be addressed and it needs to be changed, but they need to know the reality of the situation.
[00:10:54] Dr. Jill Wener: Absolutely.
[00:10:55] Dr. JB: And that’s what conversations like this do, and then two, when you said, oh, there’s so many emotions around residency that I guess I still have some processing to do around that topic or that time period in my life. It’s funny because I would say 9 out of 10 physicians would rather stop practicing medicine than ever go back to residency. Right? Can you imagine? I was just so happy to be done with this thing, I would never. And the thing about being a physician is you can’t, it’s not like I, as an emergency medicine doctor can say tomorrow, I’m going to be an orthopedic surgeon. Become an orthopedic surgeon. Right? I have to go back to residency. Oh no, no, no, no, never. So, I don’t think you’re alone. I know you’re not alone in your sentiments. But let’s not hound on residency. So, how, how long did you practice as a hospitalist?
[00:11:55] Dr. Jill Wener: Ten years. Ten years, yeah.
[00:11:59] Dr. JB: And what happened? Walk me through those 10 years that made you decide, “uh, 10 is enough.”
[00:12:04] Dr. Jill Wener: You know, it’s interesting, I never really intended to leave medicine. I was actually happy, but in 20– so I started in 20– I finished residency in 2006, so that’s when I started as a hospitalist. And my job was actually a great job. I worked at Rush in Chicago, it was academic hospital medicine, meaning that I had, for anyone listening who doesn’t know what that means, I had trainees, I had students and residents that I was working with pretty much all the time, and I loved teaching. It was really fun. And then in 2011, I mean, it was maybe the five-year itch, but also, the residency work hours changed and we opened up a new tower in our hospital without adding any staff. And so because the work hours changed so much it put a lot on the attendings and I just like burned out completely. And I got to the point where I was crying every day and I was, you know, I had no ability to, adapt. I had no ability to tolerate anything that wasn’t exactly what I was expecting it to be. And I would often cry or just have to like leave my office and go and chart from home because I just couldn’t be at the hospital anymore. And when one thing would happen, like a cat scan got canceled, or if a patient wasn’t going to be discharged, or if I had a student who wasn’t a hundred percent perfect. And so, I had never been a spiritual type or a seeker or anything other than a very type A, anxious doctor type who probably drank too much to manage my stress, and I met someone who told me they meditated twice a day and I was just like, ready. Like at that moment in my life, I was at such a low point with the burnout that I was like, I will try anything. And I knew it was something I needed to do. And I went to hear a teacher speak and everything he said just totally resonated with me, from a scientific perspective and from a ” my heart is broken” perspective, and I signed up for the course, learned how to meditate that week. It’s like a, you take a class to become a self-sufficient meditator kind of thing, it’s not a guided practice. And literally within three weeks, my road rage was gone, my burnout went away in a couple months. Like from the get go, I was feeling better and I knew that I was like onto something that was really helping me. And so I, I felt great. Around that time, I also, before I learned to meditate, I asked for three months off, of course, the following summer, so it was in like August and I was like, okay, I need some time off, but I can’t do it this calendar year, cause our schedule’s already made and everyone’s going to hate me, so I’ll keep coming to work, totally burnt out, knowing that next summer, I’ll have three months off. And then, in October is when I learned to meditate. So by several months in, I, I felt great and when I got back from my time off, I actually was able to get some academic protected time, meaning that my salary was paid partially for doing academic projects and more administrative stuff and I actually had the kind of a lovely career for the next five years. And my boss, I was promoted to the director of education in my division and with the director of faculty development, and I was doing all sorts of interesting projects, started to get this pull to do something different. And I didn’t know what it was. And I was like, I can do this for the rest of my life, but I’ll wake up when I’m 65 and I’m going to just feel like I missed out on something else that I was supposed to do. But in my paradigm, at that point, it was like, oh, if my boss gets a job in– cause he was one of those bosses that just believed in me from the get-go and brought out the best in me and developed my talents and my potential– and so I was like, maybe he’ll get recruited to be the chief medical officer in, or some care of medicine somewhere in Iowa, and then he’ll want me to go with him, and that will be my big, bold move. That was literally as far out of the box, as I could think. And then I actually had the opportunity to move. So it’s, at some point along there too, I decided to do my meditation teacher training, which is three months in India. And I talked to my boss about it and he’s like, what’s your five-year plan? And I was like, oh, actually, now that you mentioned it, I kind of want to do this thing where I go to India for three months, and then I’ll come back and be a hospitalist part-time. I literally never thought, oh, I’m going to become meditation teacher full-time, I’ll just come back and be a hospitalist. And he said, “you know what? I support you, that’s great.” And I remember feeling relieved and also disappointed that he supported me so much because I think I wanted it to be a line in the sand or a break or something, and I didn’t really explore that too much. But then I had the opportunity, before I went to India, I had the opportunity to move to China. And so I was like, you know what, life’s too short. You only live once. This was for a personal reason, and so I ended up leaving my job to move to China, just to kind of have an adventure, knowing that I was going to go to India for three months as well, and then I thought I’d go back to China and live there and then go wherever, wherever life took me. So I didn’t really mean to leave medicine. When I was in China, I was actually affiliated with the embassy there, they wanted me to work in their medical clinic. First off, like as a family medicine doctor taking care of children and stuff, which I don’t know how to do, and they didn’t understand that, and I was like, that’s illegal. I can’t, it’s not just something you learn, like they’re not little adults. They’re a whole different specialty.
[00:16:55] Dr. JB: I was going to say, I thought children are little adults, you just half the dose of everything. Yeah.
[00:16:59] Dr. Jill Wener: And their culture there was totally toxic also. It was just as bad as medicine. It was this very like individualism, like martyr, and the woman working in the clinic there, the doctor was like, bragging about how hard she worked. And I was like, okay, I just got out of a situation, a career path where I was working really hard and I want to try something different. So anyway, I didn’t join their clinic there. I went to India for three months to do my meditation training and by that time I was six months out of practicing medicine, and it was then that I was like, you know what? I can’t go back. I recognized there was this whole other, for me, like baseline level of stress and pressure of staying up to date with medical knowledge or feeling bad about yourself for not reading enough. Just that, that whole like existence as a doctor has a level of stress, not like, oh, I had a stressful week or I have too many patients, but just even the existential life as a doctor had carried the stress. And I had a new skill, I was able to teach meditation, this practice that totally changed my life. And so I decided I’m going to teach that full-time and that’s going to be what I do, and I don’t resonate with the version of me that was wearing a white coat and running around the hospital, doing all the things that doctors do. And so that was when I decided not to go back. So it’s a slightly different story than, maybe a very different story from some other folks who leave medicine. But, I knew in 2011 when I was burnt out that the problem wasn’t medicine, that the problem was me. I knew that for me personally, I needed to, I could get a job in a different place, but I knew I would carry my unhappiness with me. And so for me, the meditation was the thing that really helped me with burnout. And after that point, I did great. Yes. Obviously the medical system, healthcare system is horrifically defective and broken, but that wasn’t what got me. That wasn’t the problem for me then. And of course I could see those problems, but I needed to do my own work to really get through it.
[00:18:53] Dr. JB: A lot of people are really hesitant about the whole transitioning out. And it seems like in your case, it was the opportunity you had in China that– I mean, was it a hard choice for you to say “I’m going to go to China” or was it like “yay, I’m going to China, see you guys later.”
[00:19:10] Dr. Jill Wener: It was “yay.” I was going for a relationship. I was, for someone who I had met like 10 years before and who was like the one that got away, and so we reconnected and he was in the foreign service, and so I was like– Like, that was right when ISIS was putting videos of people online of like beheading people and just, it felt like, as it still does, but it felt like the world was falling apart. And I just thought, you know what, life’s too short, I’m going to just, I just remember like all that, all the stuff when ISIS was such a big deal and I was just felt like everything is so, so bad in this world. I’m, I’m just going to take… ’cause I’d already started to get that itch of something different and it looked very different than what I thought it would be.
[00:19:48] But I was psyched and it felt weird to leave my job, but again, like even when I left, I gave notice and I wanted to leave, my three months notice or something would have been like early summer, and I got a lot of pressure from my job to stay through the summer ’cause they’re like, we’re not going to find anyone else and everyone’s gonna be mad at you when you leave, and do you really want that to be the way, the lasting impression people have of you is you leaving them in the lurch of? So I was like, all right, fine. So I re-certified for my boards for 10 years before I left anyway, so I just stayed through end of September and then I left. And by that point I was done, by that point I was like, I’m sort of doing this like six months purgatory thing where I can’t really move on to follow what I want to follow yet ’cause I need to stay here and fulfill someone else’s version of what my obligation was. And so, at that point I was ready to go and I was excited to like, be in love and, having this adventure. And I did, I think I cried on my last day when I left, like I was, cause my best girlfriends in the world were from Rush, and Rush was the only place that I knew professionally after residency, and they were always wonderful to me. And it was a really a great workplace, I thought. So, it was bittersweet, but it was mostly exciting.
[00:20:56] Dr. JB: And you were onto new exciting adventures. And so, did you ever work as a physician in China or you passed on it and you didn’t do anything medically related while you were there?
[00:21:07] Dr. Jill Wener: No, I didn’t, because partially of what I already mentioned, not wanting to get sucked back into that, mindset, but also I knew I was leaving for three months to do my meditation teacher training in India, and so I didn’t really, before I moved to China, I didn’t try to get a job, it’s like, who’s going to hire someone that’s going to then be gone for three months. So when I got there, one of the cool things you can do as an ex-pat is you can reinvent yourself a little bit, particularly depending on where you are, but I thought maybe I’ll get a job at the CDC or the WHO, which were all headquartered there and I had some connections being part of the embassy. And actually, the joint commission had some projects they were doing internationally and so I actually met a woman there to see if I could get involved in science or healthcare, but in a different way, so when it came down to it, A- it just wasn’t meant to be, but B- I didn’t have any other skills. Like, I was a doctor, I was a good doctor, I could teach medicine and I could do faculty development curricula, but there wasn’t a need for that anywhere and so I remember feeling a little bit like, huh, I don’t really have anything I can do. And so I’d been at a time for me, and I actually applied for a job as a science and health technology reporter in the embassy, but that one went to someone who was– I was just like a girlfriend of a foreign service officer, I wasn’t married, so they get, there’s like hierarchy in terms of who gets those jobs. So I didn’t get that job, but of course it ended up working out great because I went to India and then me and the dude broke up, which was all sorts of good news for me because that was just not the right relationship for me. So I ended up moving back to Atlanta after my teacher training and after my three months in India and not living that whole ex-pat lifestyle. So, I tried building version of that, I didn’t expect to not work for the rest of my life and then I thought, oh, I’ll be teaching meditation when I’m in China. That will be so interesting, but like really challenging because I was on a tourist visa, like I wasn’t on a full visa, and so I just said, you know what? I can’t worry about these details now. And it ended up being the correct, the correct move because I didn’t end up moving back there anyway. So yeah, I did work for a while here in Atlanta doing medical like disability application review, permanent disability application review, that was my like fill in the gaps of my income while I’m growing a business from scratch, which also I had no idea how to do when I finished my teacher training. So I did that work, so I was using my medical license, but in a very different way.
[00:23:29] Dr. JB: Wait. So are you telling me that there wasn’t a class in residency that talked to you about how to make a business? You’re making me laugh, about how to make a business, really?
[00:23:40] Dr. Jill Wener: I know! They didn’t teach us any of that and like knowing your worth and like setting prices and marketing and social media. Yeah, none of that. I think there’s a lot more social media savvy doctors now, but when I left and started my business in 2016, there was much less of that.
[00:23:58] Dr. JB: Oh yeah. I mean, social media, I remember clearly having, having lectures on social media and they said, get off Facebook, get off all social media, or you’re gonna lose your license and get kicked out of school, essentially was my take home from that, so yeah.
[00:24:13] Dr. Jill Wener: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So, yeah, it was definitely a new– and also like briefly at the start of COVID, I thought I should volunteer to like offer my services at Emory and we were doing credentialing, I was like all the way through the credentialing process, and then I found out that their hospitalists weren’t slammed. They weren’t actually, because so many other patients were kept out of the hospital for so long, they didn’t have enough patients to see. So I was like, this is just for my ego. I’m just trying to be a hero. You know what I mean? And they don’t need me and I haven’t practiced medicine in five years and I’m not helping anybody. So I decided not to do that and just choose to support healthcare professionals in the way I had been doing, which is through stress reduction and wellness.
[00:24:52] Dr. JB: So, let’s talk a little bit more about that, like what you’ve transitioned into and what you’re doing. Can you talk to my listener about what is EFT and tapping?
[00:25:02] Dr. Jill Wener: Sure. So, EFT is called the emotional freedom technique or tapping, my first foray into wellness as a doctor was meditation and that was my first entrepreneurial like career shift after clinical medicine. And then, it turns out that meditation doesn’t fix everything, which I sort of, you get indoctrinated in any training that you do. We got indoctrinated in medical school, I got a little indoctrinated in my meditation training, thinking like, this can fix everything if you just meditate enough, but I meditated plenty and I still had stuff that I needed to work through. And I was going through a tough period in my life, and I met a woman who was a tapping practitioner, and I did one session with her and it was like, I felt like myself for the first time in months. And part of it, I was just putting a lot of pressure on myself as a meditation teacher that I’m not supposed to have problems and that I’m not supposed to be human, which is totally not true, but at the time that’s kind of what I felt pressured to put out in the world at least, and to believe about myself. And so, I worked with her for a year and a half, two years, and it was amazing. I mean, we worked on so many things, self-limiting beliefs and traumas and difficult relationships and lots of different stuff, processing that, and then she said, “Hey, I’m doing a teacher training, are you interested?” And I was like, oh my God, absolutely. It was because it was so life-changing for me. I continued to meditate and teach meditation, but also was really loving the tapping.
[00:26:24] So I became a tapping practitioner in the spring of 2019 and have been doing that in addition to the meditation and then some other work that I’ve gotten into around that same time as well in the anti-racism space. But the tapping has been so, so good during COVID in particular, the meditation you have to do regularly, the practice feels good and it’s easy and you get benefits quickly, but if you don’t do the practice, you don’t get the benefits. With tapping, you can get the benefits if you do it once a week, once a month, once a year, you can get the benefits, you don’t have to learn how to do it. It is easy to learn if you want to, and I’m actually offering a teacher training, like a beginner level one, but the tapping, it can be done in a group setting, it can be done one-on-one, you can tap on really, really deep traumas or you can tap on, “I’m mad at my husband for not doing the dishes,” like it can be any– that was so gender-stereotyped– but there’s, you can tap on anything and you can tap on pain, and you can tap on relationship problems, on how to making a difficult decision, phobias, traumas, all sorts of stuff. And so, it’s been great in COVID because I can show up in a space online for an hour or 30 minutes and make a lot of people feel much better versus a meditation course, which is like, if I’m teaching it live, it’s four days in a row, a total of eight hours, and then they’re good to go. Or my online meditation course, which is 15 modules, and then they’re good to go. And so this is like, I can do it right now with you and you can feel better and you can get rid of, you know, process some of that stress and face Whatever emotion, the distressing emotion that you’re experiencing, you can face that right now and process that, and then feel better without shoving it away and pretending that it’s not there. And of course, as we know with COVID, there’s just been the entire range and then some of emotional responses to what’s happened. So that’s a little bit more about tapping.
[00:28:07] Dr. JB: So, I still don’t have a complete or a really good grasp on tapping. So is it kind of like a guided meditation, like more engaging, active, is that kind of what it is?
[00:28:19] Dr. Jill Wener: That’s a great question, and I thank you for clarifying that I didn’t talk at all about the technique itself. So basically it’s the stress reduction technique that uses some of the same energy centers or meridians that are used in traditional Chinese medicine or acupuncture, and I’ve actually tried to do some research onto like, has this technique been culturally appropriated? Because it was, it’s attributed to a white man who started it named Roger Callahan maybe 40 years ago or something. I haven’t found any other evidence of it being taken from any other culture, except that these energy centers, these meridians are the same as used in acupuncture, but instead of using needles, we use acupressure or tapping. And there’s about 10 or so of these places on the face and chest, there’s some additional ones you can use as well, but for the most part, we’re using several on the face and chest, just tapping lightly on these spots and as you go through tapping on them, you say, whatever is distressing and you say it out loud. So if you’re feeling anxious about a talk, you have to give next week, you’d be like, I’m feeling, I’m anxious, like as you’re going to the point, you say I’m anxious, I’m so anxious. I’m anxious about this presentation I’m giving next week. I’m anxious that I’m going to mess up. I’m anxious that there’s people watching me who can make big decisions about my career.
[00:29:30] All this anxiety, and you’re staying the negative stuff over and over again, which we’re not really used to in our society, in our wellness world, we’re used to being like, oh, affirmations and positivity. And don’t feel bad, like put your energy on the positive, which I agree with a lot of it, but we’re all humans and we all have emotions that are distressing and we don’t necessarily always have a way to process it. And people say, sit with the emotion, just sit with it. But like, no one tells us how. Okay, sit with it, and now what? And so, as we’re tapping and saying these things out loud, what’s happening is it’s sending calming signals to the stress center of the brain, the amygdala and hippocampus, and rewiring how they’re processing and perceiving that previously distressing stimulus. So all of a sudden you’re tapping and maybe your anxiety level’s at a 9 out of 10 and you’re tapping through it, and then you’re like, oh, it’s like, it’s not as strong, maybe it’s like a 5 out of 10. And then you keep tapping, and you’re like, I’m actually really excited about this speaking opportunity. And I’ve done this before, and why am I– like people have these amazing insights and it really does calm the nervous system down in a way that does not run away from the uncomfortable emotion. In fact, it confronts it head on, and then it’s able to calm the nervous system in that way. So, that’s the technique and it’s generally guided in some way. So I do it with people one-on-one, it’s almost like a therapy session, or I do it in groups where I’m guiding the group. I also have some like, and other people do this too, it’s not just me, but like I have a guided tapping, it’s like a tapping meditation possibly but your eyes are open while you’re doing it. That’s like a, I have on my website, like a five day anxiety challenge. It’s all tapping on different components of anxiety. So that’s prerecorded and I’m not interacting directly with the person, but they can still tap and get a benefit from doing it even in that setting. So it doesn’t have to be done live. So, it’s great because it’s so widely applicable.
[00:31:15] Dr. JB: And essentially you are sitting with your emotions. This is just like a guided way to sit with your emotions and process them.
[00:31:24] Dr. Jill Wener: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And then, we tend to be like kind of walled off by our stress and our emotion. And so as we start to tap through our emotions, it’s like peeling back the layer of an onion, and we’ll have these beautiful “aha!” moments and insights or we’ll be like, oh my third grade teacher’s coming up, that one time that she told me that I had a stupid voice, and then like, oh, that’s why I’m afraid to speak. Or like, these memories that we’ve hidden or don’t realize are appropriate, or just like insights and “aha!” moments of reframing these emotions without having to force ourselves to reframe them. Like how cool, this is a great opportunity, I’m spending so much energy being stressed that I could just be spending preparing my talk. Like that kind of stuff. So it’s really, really powerful. And the benefits are actually really long lasting. And some of them, depending on the technique we’re using and the setting, can actually be permanent. There’s ways to process deep trauma, that’s definitely going to be done one-on-one, that’s not going to be done in a group setting or with prerecorded things, but, there’s ways to process trauma so that it’s… this technique is used in the VA with PTSD patients. So this is how it actually got to be studied and how it came to be recognized is by treating trauma, which God knows we’ve had plenty of that during COVID. So, it’s so, so, so relevant now, and I’m so grateful that I’m able to bring it to people.
[00:32:40] Dr. JB: And so the people that you work with with tapping, are they healthcare professionals or mix?
[00:32:48] Dr. Jill Wener: All the above. I do, I’m one of the founding board members at the Mindful Healthcare Collective, which is this really great group of nine women physicians who do various types of wellness stuff. It’s a free group on Facebook and we basically like lead free sessions. So since like the first week of COVID, once or twice a month, I’ve been leading free tapping sessions for anyone in healthcare. I have one-on-one clients who are in healthcare, who are not in healthcare, and then I have done some, like I’ll go in and I’ll do a session with medical residents, or I did a session for a cancer survivor support group. So it can really be, and it can be totally outside of healthcare completely, like nothing to do with cancer, it could be with a group of lawyers, so it’s very widely applicable. Just because of my background and because of my connections, I tend to end up with probably half of my clients are in healthcare and then the other half are free, free of healthcare.
[00:33:44] Dr. JB: The opposite of healthcare.
[00:33:46] Dr. Jill Wener: Yeah.
[00:33:48] Dr. JB: So, I guess a couple questions. Now that you are– are you still doing meditation too, or is it transitioned to–
[00:33:56] Dr. Jill Wener: Yeah.
[00:33:56] Dr. JB: So you’re combining both.
[00:33:57] Dr. Jill Wener: I do both. The meditation I do, I teach virtually over Zoom, like my live course, I teach Zoom, but I also have online courses and I have one that’s created specifically for doctors that has six hours of CME accreditation. So a lot of people take that and I’m doing some research projects involving that right now with larger organizations, and lead meditation retreats for women in healthcare . So, I still do that a lot, but I’ve also been incorporating, tapping more into my retreat. And I would say on a day-to-day basis, more of what I’m doing is tapping, but I still do kind of larger projects and larger events for meditation.
[00:34:34] Dr. JB: And is there a certain amount of time that you should be tapping for it to be effective, or is this something that could be done in like five minutes, ten minutes, is there a time limit to it?
[00:34:44] Dr. Jill Wener: It is as much as you want it to be. So, some people, like you can do it as needed, in the medical world we say PRN, so you can be like, “ah, I’m really mad at that patient, and I’m really, like that patient yelled at me and it felt really hurtful,” or “I made a medical mistake and I feel guilt” or “I almost made a medical mistake and I feel guilt,” or “I just got in a fight with my sister,” and you can tap on that. Or like, “I’m about to get on an airplane for the first time since COVID, ah!” And tapping on that. Or you can say I’m going to set aside 10 minutes every day and tap on something, tap on something that’s been weighing on me or stuff from my past or whatever. So it can be a regular practice or it can just be like a, like a spot cleaning and it works either way. You don’t have to be consistent with it in order for it to work. And you don’t have to have ever tapped before in order for it to work. There’s like no learning curve.
[00:35:32] Dr. JB: Wow. This sounds amazing, I never heard of tapping until this conversation. So this is really interesting.
[00:35:39] Dr. Jill Wener: It’s so great. I love it so much and I, I don’t see a downside to it. I mean, if you go too quickly into childhood traumas and stuff, it can be overwhelming for the person, but, I’m, as a tapping practitioner, I’m taught very informed ways to do that. So, to go step-wise and devote just enough for people to tolerate it and just enough where it feels safe, but it’s still stretching them a little bit, but there’s like not the side effects from it. If there’s not– people cry, like someone has to be willing to like maybe ugly cry sometimes or get into some stuff that they may have been trying to pretend like it doesn’t exist, but it does exist, it’s just affecting us in different ways. But other than that, it’s really safe and it’s really gentle, so it’s like win-win-win, win-win as far as I’m concerned.
[00:36:26] Dr. JB: And I love the fact that it’s a path to be able to just release, release your stress and whatnot, and it’s something that can be incorporated, however frequently you want to. Right? It’s not like a structured practice that you have to do every single day or whatnot, which is also pretty appealing.
[00:36:45] Dr. Jill Wener: Yes, exactly. I agree. And also work with my– I tapped on my own sometimes, I was actually tapping, I had a difficult phone call yesterday with someone I care a lot about, but like some honest stuff had to come out, and I was tapping on myself the whole time. And when I’m tapping with people, they’re tapping on themselves, I don’t tap on them, but I was tapping just kind of on the point as we were having our phone call to just keep myself. Regulated. So it was really great, but if I’m really going through something, I’ll still call up my tapping coach and do a session with her. I haven’t done like a full package with her in a while, but, ’cause generally if you want to do the one-on-one stuff you want and to make the major progress, you want to kind of commit to a certain number of sessions so that you’re able to have that consistency, but it’s not meant to be something you do for your whole life every week. It’s not like– you end up becoming really self-sufficient with it.
[00:37:32] Dr. JB: Hmm. Okay, I understand that. Wow. I mean, it’s, it seems like it’s a very natural progression, your story, from the meditation into this new arena of tapping.
[00:37:45] Dr. Jill Wener: It really was. And I didn’t feel like I was looking for anything else to do– well, that’s not true. The meditation was great, but it felt a little bit like, okay, I wish I had another, some other tools and I was kind of looking for stuff. But when I first started tapping, I was just looking to process what I was going through and I wasn’t thinking, oh, well, I’ll end up doing this professionally. But yeah, it’s been such a gift in so many ways.
[00:38:06] Dr. JB: So if my listener is interested in learning more about tapping and meditation, how can they get in touch with you?
[00:38:14] Dr. Jill Wener: My website is a great place to start, jillwener.com, and my last name is spelled W E N E R, so jillwener.com, and I have meditation on there, have tapping on there, my programs for healthcare professionals, links to my anti-racism work as well that I do with Dr. Maiysha Clairborne, and my tapping programs that I have. I have like a tapping club, so that is something it’s for a small monthly fee, you end up getting access to incredible amount of resources and that’s just for women. There’s a freebie on my website, if you go to the website, a little pop-up thing will come and it’ll say, take the five-day free anxiety challenge, so they can sign up for that without having, it’s free and just explore tapping a little bit that way. So I think that’s a good way to start. And then of course, if anyone wants to take it deeper, doing the one-on-one sessions with me are a really great way to start.
[00:38:57] Dr. JB: Okay, perfect. So we’ll go ahead and make sure we include that in the description of our podcast. And we are nearing the end of our time together, and so do you have any last minute words of wisdom that you would like to share with my listener?
[00:39:14] Dr. Jill Wener: I would say, I have so many wise things to share. Um, no, I, I think that for me, medical training is so prescriptive, it’s kind of boxed in in some way, in a lot of ways, and like certain things are acceptable and certain things are not. And I think not only do we miss a lot of really helpful things for our patients, by looking down our noses at nonallopathic medical things, treatment options, but we also miss a lot of opportunities for ourselves. And I would say, first off, if you’re suffering and struggling, you’re not alone. And there are so many resources and just, I encourage people to be open to whether it’s tapping or meditation or coaching, which I’ve been exploring a little bit with a coach and it’s been amazing, or energy healing, there’s Reiki, there are so many things that actually have good data, that are so beneficial for people. And I feel like if I had just been open to them sooner, of course hindsight is 2020, but just know that there’s a lot of resources and ask around and be open to trying something new and you never know where it will lead.
[00:40:17] Dr. JB: Perfect. I think that’s absolutely perfect. You don’t have to feel stuck, there’s lots and lots of resources.
[00:40:23] Dr. Jill Wener: Yes, exactly. Exactly. I do what I do so that people that I work with don’t have to get to the point that I got to basically.
[00:40:33] Dr. JB: Yeah. Who says a doc can’t rap? D O C T O R J B. The greatest doctor to ever touch the mic. The greatest podcast ever broadcasted or prerecorded. Come learn some. Each one, teach one. I’m done.