Mind Over Body: How Meditation Aids Recovery
KIMBERLY EWERTZLicensed Psychologist and Spiritual Director of Gilroy’s Blue Lotus Meditation & Yoga Center, Paula Whang-Ramos, began a journey of self-discovery 27 years ago when she was diagnosed with cancer.
After undergoing two surgeries for the disease, she was cured, only to have the cancer return in 1997; nine years after the first diagnosis.
But something had changed for Whang-Ramos between her first and second diagnosis. She’d adopted the mindfulness, meditation and stress reduction lifestyle learned through her teachings of tai chi and Qi Gong. The positivity generated from her teachings of the Chinese practices aided her greatly during this time of crisis.
After undergoing an operation to remove her entire cervix, Whang-Ramos’ doctor explained that the biopsy showed “clean margins”; the operation had successfully removed all traces of cancer. He went on to explain that the entire surface of her cervix had been covered with cancer.
“So I actually received the confirmed diagnosis of cancer; after it was taken out,” Whang-Ramos said.
Reflecting back on all she’d gone through, the psychologist realized the significant benefits that a holistic lifestyle had made for her. This prompted her to incorporate the approach into her psychology practice, with the understanding that none of us are just a mind and a body, that we are all much more than that.
“Through regular meditation and conscious living practices, we can directly experience and live from the empowering peace, wisdom, joy and love of our essential wholeness; even in the face of illness, stress and great loss,” Whang-Ramos said.
Ten years ago, inspired by her continued search to find a path that reflected a level of openness and practical ways to live, she found the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment (CSE) in San Jose.
“My experience in the Source of life is that it is eternal, and the source of everything, but it is not limited by anything it’s created,” Whang-Ramos said.
She found what she’d been searching for at CSE through its founder and spiritual Director, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, who became Whang-Ramos’ mentor during her time there.
Upon attending her first service at CSE, she broke into tears. “The energy and the presence just broke my heart open, and I knew I found my spiritual home with a doorway wide enough to welcome sincere seekers from all backgrounds,” Whang-Ramos said.
Soon after, she decided to pursue a Masters of Divinity degree, which would allowed her to offer teachings, as well as provide her with personal growth and the ability to offer more to those she served. After her graduation in 2010 from CSE, Whang-Ramos approached O’Brian about offering South County a spiritual center; an area she’d lived in for over twenty years. O’Brian agreed and sent Whang-Ramos to head up the center.
The spiritual director believes that it was the community that brought the center, “…an oasis of wholeness and peace,” to South County.
“It’s not that the center brings the people, it’s the hearts and the yearning for peace in our community that brought the center to South County,” Whang-Ramos said.
Since its opening in Gilroy last year, the Blue Lotus Meditation and Yoga Center has established a weekly mailing list totaling three hundred and has served over 1,500 patrons this past year. Over one hundred meditation groups were led by Whang-Ramos, and she’s taught over seventy Spiritually Conscious Living classes and offered approximately forty spiritual direction sessions. The spiritual director sees no reason that those numbers won’t continue to increase.
Nine years ago, waking up at sunrise on her 50th birthday, Whang-Ramos headed outside, took a picture of the sky and made a promise to herself.
“In gratitude for the fifty years of life that I’d been given, I wanted to offer my remaining years in service back to the Source of life, so that’s what I’ve been doing,” she said.
Whang-Ramos has every intention to continue serving her community through her service at the center for years to come.
For more information on the Blue Lotus Yoga and Meditation Center, located at 8347 Church Street, Gilroy (in Dry Creek Village), consult the website at bluelotuscenter.org.
A Welcome Addition To South County
KIMBERLY EWERTZAt 31 years of age, Dr. Clayton Schiltz, already a successful senior engineer at Sony, felt he wasn’t making enough of a difference in his life.
“I had always thought about being a doctor, even before I went into engineering, and it was something that the older I got, the more I thought about it,” Schiltz said.
“There was an intrinsic reward in being a physician. That’s what drew me to the field.” Dr. Schiltz said.
With this goal in mind Schiltz left his engineering position and returned to college, full-time, to acquire the prerequisites needed to pursue his dream.
“It ended up being a five-year process to get my medical degree,” Schiltz said. The additional year was due to his pursuit of a second degree, the masters in health sciences.
Dr. Schiltz, an Osteopathic Physician, and a board certified dermatologist, graduated from medical school in 2010. DO’s have a slightly different branch in their training, as they are taught the osteopathic manipulation of the body. According to Schiltz, a DO tends to look at the overall picture of what’s going on in their patient’s life.
“You’re looking at the person as a whole, as opposed to just treating a specific disease,” Dr. Schiltz said.
With degrees in hand, Schiltz spent the next four years in Michigan, completing his dermatology residency internship at a hospital associated with Michigan State University.
“When you’re a resident you’re already a physician, you’re practicing medicine, you’re just specializing in your field,” Dr. Schiltz said.
In 2014, his residency completed, he and his fiancé, Kim Ngo, decided to head back home to California.
Although San Diego was their original destination, the couple decided to move nearer to family and friends living in and around South County. This decision led them to their current home in Marina.Once they were settled in, Schiltz took on his next challenge, finding the best location to set up his practice.
“It makes it more rewarding to have your own practice,” Schiltz said. “To know you kind of took this from nothing, from an empty office space, to what it is today.”
His search revealed that the Gilroy area, where Schiltz had grown up, had a shortage of dermatologists.
“I was really surprised, especially with how much Gilroy, and Morgan Hill and Hollister have grown, that there were not more options,” Dr. Schiltz said.
This revelation provided the obvious answer as to where the good doctor would establish his practice.
“This is my hometown, and this is where I want to go back to,” Dr. Schiltz said. “It’s fun to come back and be able to offer this service that really wasn’t available.”
Coastal Dermatology opened its doors in April of 2015. Schiltz offers full-service dermatology for the treatment of acne all the way up to severe skin cancers, including a procedure called, Mohs surgery.
“I also do cosmetic dermatology, which has become a very big field, especially here in California,” Dr. Schiltz said.
Cosmetic dermatology encompasses everything from general skin care to procedures such as Botox and filler injections, for fine lines and wrinkles.
“I also have cosmetic lasers that can help with the texture and tone of the skin, as well as pigmentation issues,” Dr. Schiltz said.
Office hours for Coastal Dermatology, located at 7888 Wren Avenue, Suite A110 in Gilroy, are Monday through Thursday from 9am-5pm, and Friday from 9 until Noon. Consult the website for additional information regarding services offered, including skin care product lines endorsed by Dr. Schiltz, at coastaldermatology.biz.