My days start differently now than they did a year ago. I arrive in my private practice office and take a seat on a meditation cushion as the sun breaks through the curtains. New Orleans streetcars can be heard passing by outside, splintering the stillness of the morning. I grab my phone, turn on Clubhouse, and join my friends and fellow healers in meditating to sounds transmitted by a Chinese medicine physician in Maryland. Practitioners from other areas of the world join in and share the experience in what has become a sacred virtual space.
I initially joined the virtual sound app Clubhouse at the start of 2021 to gain some business connections and help me continue to grow my integrative psychiatry practice. I was searching for my tribe, for the patients who wanted the whole person approach to better their mental health. A physician coach I admired (and semi-stalked) on Facebook posted about a new audio app and how it had substantially increased her social media following. She included a line graph illustrating the dramatic change in traffic to her website since she started utilizing it. At this point, I’d recently created a weekly show on YouTube and was engaging in regular media appearances, so the idea of an app that would allow me to just talk without too much forethought sounded like the perfect fit. I signed up for the Clubhouse waitlist. Within a day, a friend invited me in, and I began to explore.
Clubhouse is an app based on sound. Users navigate via a virtual hallway filled with active and upcoming rooms that can be entered with a click. Once inside, rows of photos show who is in the room. Moderators are marked with a green jewel beside their photos and are at the top of the screen, on the stage, which means they can unmute themselves and speak at will. The audience can choose to listen to the conversation or click the hand raise button to be invited onto the stage to speak and join in on the fun. Rooms are run differently depending on the topic and leadership style of the moderators. Some moderators go in order of who comes to the stage to be certain everyone can speak. Others may get starstruck and skip people if a user with a large following enters the room. Smaller rooms often result in numerous people on the stage speaking as they would in an actual physical board or, depending on the topic, a living room. It’s a vibrant, interactive space no matter the topic.
The Clubhouse app was a bit overwhelming when I first joined. I entered into a hallway filled with influencer rooms speaking about making a million dollars or monetizing social media. My first thought: This was just another place that would require me to be constantly “on” and hustling. Fortunately, I happened upon a women’s business group hosting daily rooms for Clubhouse newbies, and they shared how I could determine what I would see in the app. There are clubs to follow, and these clubs host rooms that center on a specific theme. Once I learned to customize my experience, I began to search for clubs that aligned with my interests. I followed the people who led them, including other integrative medicine healers and mental health advocates. I looked to see what clubs they had joined and soon followed those clubs as well.
I discovered a room that meets daily and challenges its followers to declare their intentions for the week. They remain accountable to one another for follow-through by reporting what happens next. Coaches, artists, and healers join in a shared path of growth. Soon after I began to share my own goals, I realized one of the beauties of this app is that it allows you to reach out in real-time for a human connection that spans time zones and miles.
As I continued my Clubhouse adventure, I began entering rooms just for the fun of it. I met artists, actors, and people from areas in Ireland where my parents met before immigrating to the United States. I discovered shamans, tarot readers, and trauma-informed energy healers. I participated in new moon rituals and burnout prevention rooms. I met fellow doctors who were talking about their passions in ways that inspired me to continue discovering my own. I began embracing my feminine energy and brought this to my sessions with my patients. My personal growth has been profound and meaningful, and I have realized what makes me an effective healer is also what makes me human: Connections to fellow beings and my willingness to learn and evolve my thinking.
With this, I challenge you to consider your own path. Where are you in your journey towards becoming a healer? I encourage you to open your heart (and ears) and discover your tribe. I invite you to come listen and learn. Come speak and evolve. Come and be true to your inner self. See where that takes you.
Holly MacKenna is an integrative psychiatrist.
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