AH: What was your first experience with homeopathy, how did you get started?
Zaren: I took a two week introductory course in 1976 and when the course was over I realized that homeopathy was my life’s work. I started to explore, at that time, how I would learn homeopathy.
AH: Were you looking for an alternative?
Zaren: I was attending births, and was feeling quite tired. However I was not looking for an alternative.
AH: It seems that your specialty is obstetrics and gynecology.
Zaren: In the past that was true, but I learned a long time ago that one has to have a very strong foundation and know materia medica before one can specialize.
AH: After you learned homeopathy, you gave up your practice as a midwife?
Zaren: It just seemed to slowly go in the direction of homeopathy. I started to study with George Vithoulkas and this led me in the path of pure homeopathy.
AH: How long did you study with him?
Zaren: About eight years.
AH: In the United States did you continue to study?
Zaren: I studied on my own, saw as many patients as I could, but I did not study with anyone else in the United States or Europe. Too many teachers cause confusion for me. The actual patients were my teachers. In 1987 I was invited to do my first seminar in England, then in Switzerland and it went on from there.
AH: Being a homeopath is a big job, it’s not just about the practice, once you have an understanding of the system you are automatically put into a teaching position, even to re-educate your patients from the beginning.
Zaren: A large part of being a homeopath is patient education. At the end of every consultation I educate the patient. This is very important, because the patient must take responsibility and they need to know what this is all about in order to stay with the process. Sometimes its like explaining the unexplainable.
AH: You must be successful because you are invited all over the world.
Zaren: I have been studying homeopathy a very long time, and have a great deal of experience, and this must be shared with others.
AH: How did you become so involved in Germany?
Zaren: It started in July of 1988 when I was invited to give a seminar from cases that I would be taping on video two weeks before the seminar. The seminar was a great success and Toni Drahne, M.D. invited me back to this same hospital in October of 1988 to do a four month project showing the efficiency of homeopathy and the cost effectiveness. I was placed in the OB/GYN, urology, neonatal, pediatrics section of the hospital. Every case was put on video along with the follow ups. I saw cases I would never see in my own practice and learned a great deal. After that I was invited to do supervisions for homeopaths, which was also a learning experience for me and the students. There were about 40 homeopaths who observed my case taking live through closed circuit television. When I was finished the patient left, and I went into the room where the students were and gave an analysis of the case. The students would share their analysis of the case, and remedy choice, then I told them what came up for me. The patient then would come back every three months for two years. This is one of the best ways for the post-graduate student to learn homeopathy. In fact the next supervision I am doing is in Santa Barbara in March of 1997.
AH: How did your methodology develop?
Zaren: I saw that I was not getting a success rate in my own practice that was satisfying enough. Maybe the first two months were great, but then the cases relapsed or problems started to occur. I decided to work six days a week seeing patients to get the experience. After many years, and many patients, I realized that every living organism is a functional unit. It is not simply a mechanical sum total of organs or symptoms. Mind and body are not separate or parallel to one another, but constitute a unity. Every moment of our lives, both waking and sleeping, our emotions affect our organs, musculature, and hormonal processes, and visa versa. Every experience we undergo leaves some residue in our bodies, and every unexpressed feeling continues to exist within us. In sum, character and body are fully interdependent.
I felt that homeopathy needed to be looked at as being the mind and the body are not separate entities. I felt that the role of emotions in health and illness were discounted. We don’t put symptoms together and come up with a remedy that came up the highest. We have to focus the case where the biggest wall or congestion occurs. I realized that to understand and cure such illnesses as heart disease, asthma or arthritis, it is absolutely essential for the homeopath to be familiar with emotions and how they are suppressed or distorted. Studies of organic structures, in terms of symptoms, no matter how thorough, can only provide a partial picture of the dimensions of health or disease. We have to really understand the living organism. Also, the etiology of infectious diseases such as typhoid or tuberculosis was not as simple as it had appeared in the days of Pasteur or Koch; susceptibility to such illnesses was intimately related to the overall emotional-physical health of the individual. It is well known that many people could be exposed and never develop the disease, some persons would succumb very quickly and others would become ill more slowly. We must understand that our basic constitution is really the critical determinant of whether we develop a cold, influenza or other illnesses. This susceptibility encompasses both emotional and physical factors. So, the individual’s characteristic emotional state is one determinant of whether microorganisms will multiply or be repelled by the body’s natural defenses. I would see from my practice, that anyone who suppresses his or her emotions runs the risk of serious health consequences. Most modern degenerative diseases originate in these long-standing patterns of emotional deadening, which begin to create subtle bodily tensions. The insomnia, tension or depression that results is perhaps eased but not erased by tranquilizers. A heart attack or stroke does not “suddenly happen.” Illnesses date far back into one’s life where a trauma or trauma’s took place. Our dispositions are established during the first few years of life. In infancy and childhood, we form particular ways of reacting (walls) to tension producing situations, and these walls remain deeply embedded in our souls, as well as our physical body. It is really only through homeopathy that such behavioral patterns (walls) can be effectively altered. I have also learned that accumulated emotional suppression contributes in another important way to illness. The heavily walled person is likely to develop a serious disease later in life, through both self-destructive means of coping with chronic pent-up feelings and insensitivity to the body’s messages: when to rest, sleep or engage in vigorous exercise. I feel that unless we have vividly experienced a sense of physical well-being, we will not be aware that certain tensions or emotional strains can be triggers to disease. The less able the patient is to “hear” their body’s inner voice the greater the likelihood of pushing the body beyond it’s optimal limits, creating the potential for illness.
I think as homeopaths we must know what health is. The visible signs of health are a relaxed, relatively wall-free musculature, with good posture and muscles capable of alternating tension and relaxation; a warm skin with good turgor, capable of producing warm perspiration; a lively and variable facial expression; and a regular, quiet, strong pulse. Healthy individuals are able to breathe fully and deeply. Their eyes are bright and alert with lively pupillary reactions and their eyeballs are neither protruding nor sunken. Above all, these persons will feel emotionally and physically strong and are able to experience pleasure emotionally without guilt. There are emotional indicators of good health. These include being free from anxiety, the ability to perform work in a satisfying, productive way; and particularly, the capacity for close loving relationships with others: spouse, parents, children and friends. Those patients who for one reason or another are incapable of achieving intimacy with others run a higher probability of eventually developing some form of serious illness. Just because someone is married does not necessarily mean that they are capable of having intimacy.
AH: You are a very keen observer, how did you nourish that within yourself?
Zaren: I have now been in therapy for the last twenty years. I saw in my own childhood how I was encouraged to live within my mind not my body. I was taught to think, plan, decide, analyze, and to follow through on that mental strategy. I was taught drag your body after you -attend to it only when it complains through sensations of exhaustion, tension, or distress. Otherwise follow your head.. I was taught to succeed, concentrate on your goals. Use your brain and discipline your feelings. Don’t expect much pleasure in life; it is just not meant to be. I still have some of this, but I decided a long time ago to focus on my own body. When I started to do homeopathy it was very clear to me, from my own work, that the homeopath must treat the entire personality or character of the patient, and not simply his or her symptom or chief complaint. One of the very important ways to understand the organism is through the body language, and this I learned in my own process. I learned that a homeopath has to see a patient (1) through their physical expression, or body language. We can see a great deal of the patients emotional make up, particularly their unresolved tensions of suppressed feelings; (2) Through certain bodily rigidities, such as a tight jaw, raised shoulders, rigid pelvis, or stiff neck, relate to specific remedies; and (3) That in our society, most patients typically remain unaware of these chronic tensions, which I call their walls, or defenses are greatly resistant to change.
I discovered that long drawn out interviews with patients about their childhoods or personal difficulties were really not necessary for an accurate diagnosis or the remedy. The patients own body loudly and clearly discloses basic difficulties, such as the inability to make full emotional contact with others or to completely release longings and pent-up feelings. There are countless minute and subtle ways, the body sends a loud, urgent message to those able to read it. Words can lie. The mode of expression never lies. I think as a homeopath, we must focus on the patients breathing. You will see patients with emotional problems breathe in a shallow, superficial manner. Their breathing is far from regular with numerous spurts and sudden shift in rhythm. General body posture is also a key element in revealing the inner person. If the head is thrust forward or the pelvis pulled back or the legs locked tight at the knees, it tells us a lot about the patients inner problems. If the shoulders are hunched up, it signifies that the person is frightened and ready to ward off an expected attack (stram.). The extent to which an individual moves in a relaxed, straightforward manner or keeps the shoulders erect and balanced with the ground is a measure of a healthy self. Another important indicator of the inner state is vocal quality. All of us respond spontaneously to the sound of others’ voices, independent of the specific meaning of their words. I have found that the quality or emotional tone of the voice is often far more important than the patients chief complaint and is a basic indicator of emotional and physical well-being. I could go on and on, but I think you have the idea.
AH: Your books are rich with psychological and emotional information.
Zaren: As I have said earlier the mind and body are not separate or parallel to on another. In our literature there are many remedies, including the polychrests, where the emotional component is missing and we must understand this.
AH: How does spirituality play a part in your practice?
Zaren: My spiritual teacher is Sai Baba and I am very devoted to him and his teachings. I do not rely on him to give me the remedy, but my own spiritual teachings have taught me to have love and compassion for others and to keep myself centered. It is through the patient feeling my compassion for them, that helps them feel comfortable in expressing what they need to express and letting their own inner feelings come forward.
AH: You deal with many chronic cases, and one of the most difficult aspects of any homeopath is to separate themselves from their patients pain, I’m wondering how you accomplish that?
Zaren: I think its important for the patient and yourself to keep a boundary between their material and you. I learned many years ago to do this, as I used to come home in an exhausted state. It is a matter of starting to do this routinely and as time goes on it is effortless. I feel that one should not be distant, but take in what you want to take in and don’t take in what you don’t want to. It is very hard to come up with the correct remedy, when you merge with the patient, and you should remember it is hindering the homeopathic process, and the patient can feel this.
AH: Do you take homeopathic remedies?
Zaren: Unfortunately, I went to many very good homeopaths and have never received the correct remedy.
AH: It must be disconcerting to see how beautifully the remedies work, and never come to your own constitutional remedy.
Zaren: I don’t have any problem with that. I am put in a position to help the patient heal, and every day I see many miracles. I have taken other steps to help myself heal.
AH: In looking at women in homeopathy, has there ever been one woman who has had an influential impact on your life?
Zaren: When I was starting to study homeopathy, there were mostly men, so I never had an opportunity to study with a woman.
AH: Do you think that more women should be involved in homeopathy?
Zaren: I do. I think women are naturals for this work and usually have a more sensitive approach and many women patients would prefer a female homeopath.
AH: How have you found in your own practice that translation from the feeling into literature?
Zaren: By not living in my mind when I take a case, by understanding body language, by understanding and feeling the vital force. When we, as a homeopath, can read this, the patient does not have to talk. If we know the patient well enough, we know what is going on without being spoken. However, we must use the repertory to confirm all of our findings.
AH: You have done a great job in your books of translating the feelings into words, it must have been difficult.
Zaren: As the years are going on, it becomes a little easier. I am also doing a great deal of work on myself, which is imperative in becoming softer and more present for the patient and in writing my books.
AH: What has been one of your most significant cases?
Zaren: I am very lucky to feel that all of my cases are very significant, and all with a different flavor. One case, however, comes to mind. I was doing a seminar in Munich three years ago. A married couple who were both homeopaths approached me to do their child’s’ case. She was a three month old infant in the hospital. The infants’ mother had seven miscarriages and finally she became pregnant with this child. At five months in utero the baby was born. It was put in a special intensive care unit for these type of high risk infants. By the time I treated this baby, there were two operations that already taken place because of the heart. The baby could not breath on its own, and there was an alarm system as well as a breathing machine attached to the baby and the crib. The baby had to be tube fed. When the mother tried to nurse the baby, the baby would arch its back and refuse the breast milk, with the little strength that it had. The nursing staff asked that the baby not be touched too much, as this burns calories, and the baby cannot afford to burn any calories. The mother put a tape recorder in the crib and the baby often listened to this. The baby had mild hyperbilirunemia at birth, and by the time I saw the baby it was considered autistic. The baby had no eye contact and just stared off into space in a very indifferent dreamlike state. The baby was very pale, with dull eyes and almost appeared lifeless. If the drapes were opened in the room even minimally, the baby would cry. It did not like the sunlight or any other light to touch the eyes. The baby was due to have an operation in three days as the retina had detached from both eyes. I told the parents to give the baby Natrum sulphuricum 200c. The next morning I left to come back to the United States. The next day the remedy was given to the baby, within 30 minutes the baby opened its eyes looking directly into the mothers eyes and making very good contact for about one hour. This did not last as the doctors started to give the baby many painful eye examinations and the baby closed its eyes again. The next day the parents arrived at the hospital and they saw no baby in the crib. They were very upset and a nurse said to them “there was a miracle that happened last night.” She said the baby started to breathe on its own and they decided that the baby did not need to have the eye operation. The baby was observed for one week and then was allowed to go home. This was another example of the miracle of what homeopathy can do.
AH: Could you tell me a little about your childhood?
Zaren: I was born as a twin to a male, and have a brother three years older than myself. A tragedy occurred when I was twelve years old and my mother died. The whole family system changed and I was left alone a great deal, as my father worked a lot. I was not given very much affection and felt very lonely. This is where my own family became dysfunctional and my own wounding took place at this time. My brothers and I were very distant to each other and very little communication took place. I had a great deal of grief, abandonment, and neglect. I truly understand when a patient comes in that has any of that. Fortunately, I knew that something was wrong with me, and I sought out therapy twenty years ago.
AH: What was your first experience with homeopathy, how did you get started?