In this episode of the Gentle Magic podcast, I'm delighted to share with you my interview with Child Psychiatrist Katheleen Friend MD. Her presence and insights are so healing and empowering.
I first got to know about Kathleen through her first children's book, The Greatness Chair, published in 2019. The tools she taught through this book empowered me with a new way to appreciate and help my children honor their unique greatness qualities on a daily basis.
In this interview, Kathleen gave her healing and empowering answers to my burning questions as a sensitive parent:
🎧 How do we hold space for ourselves as highly sensitive adults, and teach our children to honor and manage their sensitivity too?
🎧 How do you take care of your sensitivity on a daily basis so you can keep holding space for all these children and their parents who experience challenging situations?
🎧 When did you learn about Heart Rhythm Meditation and how did it shift your Child Psychiatry practice?
More about Kathleen Friend MD
Kathleen Friend MD is a Child Psychiatrist, international speaker, children’s author, musician, and Heart Rhythm Meditation teacher currently living in Tucson, Arizona, USA. Her mission is to expand the paradigm of Child Psychiatry to embrace a holistic view of mind, body, and spirit.
She is the author of two children's books, The Greatness Chair and Sarah in the Greatness Chair as well as a soon-to-be-published guidebook for parents and teachers called, Lessons in the Greatness Chair: Bringing out the Best in Children and their Grownups. She can be reached at www.drfriend.net.
More about Bingz Huang, Host of the Gentle Magic Podcast
Since 2019, I've been passionate about sharing the message of Gentleness as a Gentleness Ambassador.
If you resonate with the message of Gentleness, please do visit the following links for more messages on Gentleness:
With gentle gratitude,
BingzSupport the show (https://ko-fi.com/bingzhuang)
welcome to the gentle magic podcast with your host Bingz Huang I have witnessed how adding a tiny dose of gentleness adds magic to my everyday life and I would love for you to experience the same magic too come join me by adding your sacred presence through listening to this podcast and taking some inspired action from these stories poetry and interviews of practicing gentleness thank you for being here [Music] in this episode of the Gentle Magic podcast I'd like to share with you my interview with Child Psychiatrist Kathleen Friend MD who is also an international speaker children's author, musician, and heart rhythm meditation teacher currently living in Tucson, Arizona, USA. Her mission is to expand the paradigm of child psychiatry to embrace a holistic view of mind, body and spirit and i truly love her mission both as a sensitive person and also as a parent myself i first got to know kathleen through her children's book, The Greatness Chair, that was published in 2019 and um I found the tools in her book really helpful for helping me improve my relationship with my kids and actually reached out to her as a fan so so this was how our relationship started and i I'd love to share with you all the the brilliant insights the answers and her her beautiful heart-centered presence that it emanates throughout our interview so enjoy this interview thank you so much for joining our interview, Kathleen, and i'd like to first ask you what what's going on in your business so what have you been busy with so far what I'm up to these days is you know you know I wrote the greatness chair and I have a second book that followed up on that about a girl Sarah in the Greatness Chair, you know just to take the technique a little further and um and I've got a third book for parents and teachers that's currently and it's really like an eight-week program about guiding them it's kind of like The Greatness Chair, It's at the end of the seven, eight weeks it's like it's preparing the parents and teachers to become more sensitive actually to be more sensitive in their heart okay so it's really about preparing them for greater sensitivity and um and I'm much more interested in this work than traditional psychiatry you know i still work i still work as a child psychiatrist at a hospital and but I feel kind of lucky because I'm able to talk to these teenagers or teenagers and a lot of them are very sensitive you know and they're so sensitive and everybody is affecting them because because they're so sensitive and so everybody keeps telling these people to you know not be so sensitive right yeah and and I tell them just the opposite i tell them there's challenges to being sensitive it's it's a hard journey i mean but but but it's better to keep your heart open and be sensitive and learn how to deal with your sensitivity than to turn it off yes yes so I kind of I kind of deal with that that's how I deal with that topic in my work feeling a lot of chills yes and it's really interesting because it's it's not just girls sometimes it's boys too for them yes that's right and so some of these young men and i'll just look at them I'll say you know I can see you know you've got a very sensitive heart you feel a lot don't you and they'll say yeah I'll say well okay so your job is to learn how to survive but keep that heart open and so they all look at me like what so even in my traditional job i'm trying to help people keep their hearts strong and but but open and to see and then of course to be able to see greatness but yes yeah so that's kind of what i do so that's so exciting i wrote an article that was quite popular with other sensitive readers and in it i i share about how as sensitive people when we grow to become parents and we feel how our kids are actually sensitive too it's it's hard it's hard to cope with it yourself and also teach your kids how to to to honor and manage that sensitivity so so i just like to ask if you have any advice yeah what i recommend is a practice a specific kind of meditation practice that works with breath and heartbeat called heart rhythm meditation and the reason i do that is because if you learn that kind of meditation it helps it helps strengthen the heart i don't know how else to put it it helps you be able to take in all of the things that you can sense all of that without getting off balance it's a way to take in all the feelings all the sensitivities but yet stay balanced at the same time and it's a simple it's well simple i guess in a way the basics are simple which is learning how to do a really a really deep rhythmic breath and counting your heartbeat learning to feel your heartbeat from the inside and you literally count your heartbeats like eight heart beats in eight heartbeats out and you scent to yourself with your breath and heartbeat and that's that puts your body and your brain and everything in this very safe container and it allows you to handle energies that come towards you and just absorb them so when you say absorb do you mean it gets transmuted too yes yeah it's like you're transmuting them yes because if you establish with heart with breath and heartbeat you strengthen the electromagnetic field that's around your heart right you know we here we have each of our chakras and energy centers there's a field created by that chakra and the heart is the strongest one so the heart has the strongest electromagnetic field and when it's strong it extends it extends past our physical body and it influences people who are in our atmosphere they don't know that but it it's it's almost like we're creating this very calm and coherent presence and atmosphere and other people start their rhythms then come into line with your rhythm it's like it's like entrainment do you know what that means yeah yeah it's almost like your heart then entrains people in your environment they come in on your wavelength and you're setting the wave length very steady and calm do you mean that it becomes like a source like an infinite energy source you know you do I mean you know we all of us already are a source of energy all of us we're constantly broadcasting information from our hearts whether you know no matter what it's happening automatically that's why people when you walk into a room and you feel the vibe like oh like it's either like like oh i feel great like around someone or like ooh like you know you don't feel good you're feeling the energy of that person's heart that's what you're feeling so we are always broadcasting information from our heart and so what we want to do is not only be able to take in energies from other people without being thrown off-center but we also want to broadcast the right information in our environment and it all rides on breath it's all goes really back to the breath like like there's so much energy in breath but it's got to be deep, and rhythmic and you know it takes a lot of breath to do this and when you couple it with the heartbeat it just sets up a rhythm it sets up a rhythm in the heart in the brain and it gets transmitted to the whole body through our heartbeats you know as our heart beats it is also sending that information to every cell of our body this coherent rhythm you know it kind of looks like a sine wave you know like there we go like that so and my new the book that I'm writing for parents and teachers is going to include basic teachings on Heart Rhythm meditation to help parents and teachers be able to study themselves you know what I mean so that they can be in the right state to be with the children yes so so it gets easier to not uh overreact yeah kids yes yeah and at the same time not to check out either not to have to like turn away because it's too much but you can actually stay present but not react you know not react in a way that you don't want to you know what i mean yeah so and um so so the kids can learn this too yes and and children yeah and children can learn it but children the thing is about children is when their brains and their nervous systems are developing it's the adults well it's the people in their environment but mostly the adults who help it's our job to try to help the child learn self-regulation in their own nervous system like they call that you know co-regulation have you heard that word co-regulation right so it's our job to be the leaders in that and so we need to be in that coherent state in our own nervous system and then that we can then co-regulate the child and unfortunately at least the parents that I see and this is not to blame them it's hard you know a lot of my people i see have really challenging kids okay you know they really test the limits of of most people um and but they they don't know how to stop their own reactivity they they don't know how to stop the only way they know how to stop it is to like walk away or like totally ignore the child or scream or whatever you know what i mean but they haven't learned how to stay present with the child when the child say is having a bad time or a meltdown if the adult can stay calm and present the child will start to come into alignment with us and then suddenly those big scary feelings that they have they start to learn that they're not so scary they're not as scary as they thought because oh mom can handle that dad can handle that so they learn not to be afraid of their feelings yeah just curious about like how the actions relate to the chakras so when we ignore them and leave the room does it translate to our hearts closing off I think I mean I do think that there's a place for a reset you know and for some people a reset is you know go to your room and just you know chill out but that's okay but what you ideally what you want to do is stay with the child not really separate but stay see if you can reset while you're still in the presence of the child and the minute they show the minute the child shows any anything that shows they're calming down right away you say ah I noticed you aren't yelling quite as loud now you're really starting to get into better control or oh you you aren't hitting you're not hitting the the pillow you know you're just yelling now you're starting to get in control you just you just look for anything where the child is starting to come back into control and you you you want to mirror that back to them and and show them oh that's what you're doing you know and that teaches them like oh like they're like oh that's what's the beginning of self-control feels like and it's and it's really hard to do that if you if you have the child goes to the room and you shut the door and you go away there's no teaching now sometimes you have to do that i mean that's certainly better than screaming and yelling right you know what i mean you have to pick your you know you have to do the best you can but ideally you want to stay with the child so that the learning can go on [Music] yes and you can be there as soon as they can reset themselves you want to be there to celebrate that with them and point that out yes i think we you need to redefine what celebration means because culturally it feels that celebration is about like special occasions but these things like celebrating little things that they did right i feel like it's so uh needed to to like um infuse more into the way we educate our kids so yeah and i love them celebrate yeah that's that's true i like what you said that sometimes we think that you're right we wait oh we're going to celebrate a birthday or we're going to celebrate a special and we're waiting for that celebration but yet there's so much we can celebrate every day you know from the little things and and sometimes those are even more bring more joy than the big stuff yeah the quiet sort of celebration and not like um nagging and scolding on a daily basis and then taking even more energy to celebrate like it's all big energy expenditure and i think it's it's hard for people who are climb sensitive so yeah so i like i like that kind of uh celebration i'm talking about thank you and um yeah and i think our brain i think our brains like celebrations you know i think it it makes happy chemicals in our brains to celebrate brings more joy and um and what about uh you as a business owner as a professional um who are also sensitive and and you work in a hospital so so personally i i tried to work in a hospital i said intern i couldn't take it like it just feels so overwhelming so i'm very curious and like how do you um take care of yourself okay that's a great question um how do i take care of myself well the first thing that i do is that i have a i do have a daily meditation practice so i do practice heart rhythm meditation every day to train my nervous system you know it's like a training really um so that if i'm in a situation that's overwhelming in the hospital it's like my body remembers how to go back to a meditative state i remember it i just so i have to just stop myself and take a couple of breaths in and out of my heart i just you know i just think of my heart or even if i'm really desperate i just put my hand here and i take a couple of breaths in and out my heart and that settles me my body is conditioned you know from all these years it's like okay it's like everything slows down for me when i do that but but it's because i practiced it i practiced it in in the situation of quiet and calm okay so that's it's like um i didn't practice it when things were really difficult i practiced it when things were easy and then over time i found that when i was in the difficult places if i just could remember i could bring my stuff back so that would be i would say the biggest thing the other thing that's really been helpful to me over the years is that i have um um changed my expectation my expectations so when i'm with a patient and they have a terrible life and terrible circumstances i mean i see kids that have lives that you just can't imagine i mean they're like they did not they're not lucky you know and um and i i realized when i was younger i thought well i want to fix i want to fix this you know i i'm a doctor you know i what's what's in my toolkit how can i fix it and and i did that you know i did my best with tools to fix things and i still want to fix things but more more and more i think it's not for me to fix i just need to show up and just be with that person simply be there present fully present for them and i find that if i just show up like that they they feel my heart and guess what when they feel that and they drop into their heart and feel a little bit calmer and safer they come up with their own solutions people are smart there's a there's we know how to heal there's an innate wisdom healing wisdom in our bodies right and you know we have to believe that if we just set the conditions for another person there's a lot they can do to find their own answers and their own healing does this make sense i'm crying because i think i i went through a similar journey i mean that's that's why i took up energy hearing because um yeah i witnessed a miracle when um i was just doing healing on my college scoliosis the shoulder base and it got readjusted in just a few sessions and i wanted to go and fix people so i didn't have that kind of similar kind of miracle but it taught me to be more um present with people instead like the presence being present is much more important than helping them to solve their problems so yeah because they are a lot of people if you get out of the way they'll come up with a lot of solutions i mean you're there to help it's not that you don't i mean i do offer advice to people you know what i mean but but i also you know i find that i do that too much actually and i i'm really trying to hold myself back a lot more so to help people find their own truth they own their own truth inside their own heart you know yeah like who am i to know what's right for you know you know i i feel like i'm just there to shine a light you know like help me shine a light on you to show you who you are who are you you know who are you you're more than you think you are you don't know you think you're this you think you think you're you're the diagnosis some doctor gave you or you're this but you're more than that let me help shine a light to help or mirror to help you see those parts of yourself that you're missing that are already perfect just the way they are yes right and and now and energy healing is really interesting because i have learned some techniques and i started for a while doing it and what i realized very quickly was that you could help people by moving their energy you know between their chakras and you could help clear but if people did not change the underlying thing that caused that energy disturbance it was it'll probably happen again yeah so then i got interested in well how do we go deeper so that people don't keep recreating the same energy imbalances you know so i'm sure you probably have a lot to say on that yeah um so so I discovered that energy healing has two broad categories um the first one is proactive it can go very you can become very diagnostic to find the root cause and the other way is to trust that by holding space that the person that the root cause will appear that the body has its own intelligence so so I'm veering towards that side yeah and very happy that yeah I really think it's interesting I think we're kind of talking about the same things and we each got there our own way because of you know our life experiences and where we live and but you know at the end of the day the truth is there's only one truth i mean you know like everything converges after a while into the truth you know if there's kind of one truth if you keep going down down down you know so it's just beautiful I would be I'm sure you do really beautiful powerful work and your sensitivity of course, was your great door an opening to be able to do this kind of work [Music] you know and um because without that sensitivity you it's really hard to be a healer yeah yeah it'sI just have one more question:
did you learn about all this heart resonance before you did your psychotherapy training or was it halfway through? No, it was much later much later no, I learned Heart Rhythm Meditation 10 years ago and you know I did my training in psychiatry almost 30 years ago now so when I was training, interestingly my training was pretty good because psychiatric drugs were just I mean they were available but Prozac you know the first yeah the first antidepressant that really was easy for people to take prozac you know and it didn't have too many side effects that actually came out when I was doing my residency in psychiatry so there was still tremendous emphasis on psychotherapy so a lot of my training was in psychotherapy and the drugs were kind of an afterthought the doctors who came after me little by little they didn't learn very much psychotherapy anymore and it was all drugs so I feel really fortunate that I trained many years ago so even though a lot of the things that I learned early in my career I don't use those techniques the psychotherapy techniques i think things have moved yeah you know i think the techniques have gotten better you know but I never felt that drugs were the I mean they have a place but I never thought they were as important as a lot of psychiatrists now now believe but now I didn't find out about the heart until 10 years ago and it changed my life totally changed my life how did you get into ah I had a friend who was taking an online course by this group that teaches heart rhythm meditation and I really like this person and I thought you know, she's very smart and I thought you know if she's interested in this there must be something to it so then I took i took an online course and you know it was like okay but it was online you know this was ten years ago everything wasn't online then and I thought well this is okay but i didn't really really get it and then I thought well they're giving an in-person program maybe I'll just go in person and see what it's like and when I walked into the room with about there were maybe maybe 30 40 people attending this workshop and the teachers and i walked in and i felt I felt this heart and I didn't know what it was okay I didn't know what it was but I was feeling the heart energy of people who practice like this and I thought to myself ah I want this I knew I wanted it and so i took they had a two-year program called the university of the heart they still run this program and so I joined right away and I kept taking classes and you know and now i'm a teacher for them you know so it really changed my life I'm happy I'm fulfilled I'm aligned. I feel like all the things i do like you know just writing those children's books and all this stuff that would have never happened if I hadn't learned how to get into my own heart because those books that came from my heart they didn't come from my head you know they came they came from someplace else thank you so much for all your sharing you're welcome