We recently had the pleasure of hosting a Facilitator Live Chat with Resilience Toolkit Facilitator Juliet Hwang (she/her; Cohort 7) about her experiences of implementing The Toolkit with first-year medical students at Kaiser Permanente. Read below for a brief excerpt from Juliet’s live chat with Nkem. This exclusive content is available only to certified facilitators. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Mighty Networks and catch the recording of our entire chat!
My name is Juliet Hyun Jung Hwang. I’m Korean-American, a cis woman, and identify as queer. I live here on the land of the Tongva people, otherwise known as Long Beach, CA. I was born in Korea, and my parents left Korea at that time it was under military rule. So we immigrated here in the 70s. I grew up in New York in a mostly Korean community. I witnessed a lot and grew up in a home with a lot of trauma – internal, systemic, intergenerational. My parents are both physicians, and so I think that’s how they were resilient – was creating community and figuring out ways to heal. And so I went to medical school with that model in mind – clearly, things had been passed down to me.
My time in medical school was really a time of self-healing. My orientation was, “how am I going to help people if I don’t really understand what’s going on with me? And parallel to my medical training, I found my mindfulness community. I’ve been practicing since 2001, in the Plum Village tradition, so I’m in the lineage of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. So mindfulness really influenced my journey of healing, and kept me really grounded. And understanding that healing was really about integrating the mind and body, which is not what I was learning in medical school.
I eventually trained as a pediatrician in New York. I came out to LA in 2006, for a fellowship in pediatric hematology oncology, at Children’s Hospital of LA, and realized – I really loved connecting with the patients. But I was completely devastated when I lost my patients. So that spiraled into my own existential crisis: “What am I doing? Is this really for me?” So actually, probably one of the hardest decisions in my career was to leave the fellowship. Because as a Korean woman, you don’t really give up on anything…you just kind of keep going, going. And I really dove more into spiritual practice and healing practice. And have been on this journey, experimenting with my own body.
The path of embodiment has really been this other phase of my journey, and the Resilience Toolkit really helped lay that foundation for embodiment – introduced me to the concept and gave me actual tools. What’s really important is I can name things that I was feeling, I can identify things, and now I can address them, whereas it was kind of hodgepodge before. So it’s been this lifelong journey. I’m still learning.
And I love being in community with other people who are just trying to figure it out. We’re trying to heal ourselves, heal each other, pass on the knowledge, figuring out what works. How can we improve things? How can we get this out to people? Because clearly, our society’s really breaking apart at the seams, and I’m really seeing that in my clinical practice. I’m a general pediatrician, I teach mindfulness, I’m a Dharma teacher, and also a professional coach. I teach at the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine. And I have a special role there as a reach coach, which is kind of a mindfulness and resilience teacher for the new generation of medical doctors. And so that’s why I started teaching the Resilience Toolkit for medical students.
If you are interested in connecting with Juliet, you can find her on www.embodiedhealer.com.