bowen f white md
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Welcome to my world

Come right in and look around to see if you find something of interest.  My interests?  First, I’m an educator studying human nature and relationships.  I write and speak about what I have learned/am learning so you may learn something about yourself.  "Are you a motivational speaker?" you ask.  I’m not a motivational speaker.  I’m a perspirational speaker.  I motivate myself and make other people sweat.  Meaning?  Meaning I talk about what we all share in common regardless of our differences.  Meaning I talk about our best kept secret and how it gets in the way, if ignored, of having the life that is only ours to live.  It gets in the way when we want to connect with others: our kids, spouses, clients, customers, patients, students, partners, bosses, employees and most of all, our best self.  And it gets in the way of helping others do the same.  Why should that make folks sweat?  Well, sweat is a stretch.  Think metaphor.  I stress others because I start with the premise that I am the problem in my stressful life.  And they are the problem in their stressful lives.  That is often perceived as the bad news.  The good news is, if I am the problem, I can be the solution.  Same goes for them.  And I don’t think we can live that solution without other people participating in our journey.  There’s the rub!  We need other folks with whom we can be vulnerable and our best kept secret gets in the way of having those connections.   So we’ve come full circle back to that secret.  What’s the secret? And, what can we do about it?  Join me on the journey to find out.


all about me

       or at least just some of the good stuff


Bowen F. White, M.D. combines the talents and expertise of a physician, speaker, consultant, and author. He travels the world conducting seminars, consulting and speaking to public and private organizations.

In 1983, Dr. White founded the Department of Preventive & Stress Medicine for Baptist Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri and the Department of Wellness and Health Promotion before leaving to pursue a private practice and a career as a consultant and speaker.  He has given hundreds of keynote addresses and some highlights of his consulting experience include a six-month team building project at NCAA headquarters, three years as corporate medical consultant to the Hazelden Foundation, multiple presentations for Medtronic, Inc. (including their Medtronic Leader program), has been the graduation speaker for MFS leadership training programs, multiple presentations for the Institute for Management Studies, lectured to graduate students at Stanford University on play, design thinking and innovation and worked with the Kansas City Royals on performance enhancement.

As an organizational physician he is interested in the “people piece” of the workplace puzzle: Creating Healthy Work Environments, Team Building, Leadership, Performance Enhancement, Stress, Managing Change, Sales, Ethics, and Communications.  His programs emphasize the need for individuals to take responsibility for their own health and well being as he helps organizations create suspiciously healthy workplaces.

Dr. White’s training programs, seminars, keynote speeches, management retreats, executive mentoring and spouse programs have had an immediate, practical application for such organizations as: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 3M, AVEDA, Association of American Medical Colleges, Duke University Medical Center, Beth Israel Hospital, Mercury Marine, Inc., the Foreign Service Institute, Hallmark Cards, New York Life Insurance, Federal Reserve Bank, MFS, Ameriprise Financial, DuPont and the Georgetown University Law Faculty.

His message is international. In addition to presentations throughout the US, he has presented at conferences in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Germany, Austria, India, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Panama and Israel. He has spoken to educators, managers and the aviation industry in the UK (London, Manchester, Edinburgh), and to staff members stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary.

The International Management Center in Budapest asked Dr. White to share his expertise with managers studying their emerging market economy.  He has also discussed aspects of executive training and quality programs with industrial managers in Osaka, Japan.

In addition to appearing on the front page of the Wall St. Journal and on national television programs such as CBS This Morning, Desmond Morris’ The Human Animal and the PBS series The Promise of Play, Dr. White is often interviewed by radio, newspaper and magazine journalists.  He has eight years of experience as a weekly TV health commentator for Kansas City’s CBS-TV affiliate and also had a three-year stint writing a weekly newspaper column, entitled “Patient Potential,” for the Kansas City Business Journal.

Dr. White is married with four daughters. He contributes his time to The Gesundheit! Institute and is a founding board member for the National Institute for Play. He is the author of two books: Why Normal Isn’t Healthy and with John MacDougal, A Clinician’s Guide to Spirituality. In addition he created two audio series: The Cry of the Heart and Dr. White’s Complete Stress Management Kit.

Definition of health:

The ability to work, to love, to play and to think soundly.

Ashley Montague

In Why Normal Isn't Healthy I express my bias that it’s possible to be healthy regardless of whether you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, let alone some other mental or physical diagnostic label.  How’s that possible?  The origin of the word "label" comes from Middle English: denoting a narrow strip or band and Old French, ‘ribbon.’  Hence, a "label" is a very narrow way of covering or way of defining someone.  My belief is that it’s a poor indication of the actual reality of a person’s ability to work, to love, to play and to think soundly.  

A ribbon is often the thing that is the outer decoration of the gift within.  It doesn’t indicate or define the inner contents.  Rumi has a wonderful poem with the lines:  

We search this world for the great untying

of what was wed to us at birth

and gets undone at dying.

Question, do we have to wait or can we open before actually dying to find the treasure?  Rumi goes on:

We sleep beside a stream, thirsty.

Cursed and unlucky his whole life,

an old man finishes up in a niche

of a ruin, inches from the treasure.

That may be normal but it certainly isn’t healthy.  My bias is that it isn’t until some wake up call, the unlucky encounter with cancer or the illness of a loved one that tips over the old way of being in the world and something, some new one spills out.  It often isn’t gentle, that untying.  It may take getting your heart torn out of your chest.  But it doesn’t have to be.

We can untie the ribbon of acculturation. We can unwrap the person waiting to be born by first recognizing the possibility and then releasing her into our current life.  We don’t have to go anywhere.  Although you can.  We don’t have to go study with someone.  Although you can.  Right now, right where you are in your life, what is most important?  Not what is urgent.  What are the changes we need to make to birth the “us” that we really want to be?  And then live out that life in how we work, love, play and think.


Click here to read first chapter

"Thank you Bowen White! I feel a whole lot better. Reading Why Normal Isn't Healthy reminded me of being in your kitchen again, tasting wisdom from a friend. If you want to be healthy and be the person you dream of being, Bowen can sure take you there."

Patch Adams MD, Director, Gesundheit Institute


"Wise, witty, wonderful. Bowen White navigates the inner territory in a way that speaks to everyone's heart. This book is an essential guide to all who are on the path from normal to healthy. It is a very lighthearted but sage look at ourselves. Maybe that is a key message here: to take ourselves lightly while treading on a profoundly meaningful path. Bowen's work is a great resource for those who seek balance, play and vitality in a seemingly hectic world." 

Marty Sullivan, MD  Cardiologist and Director, Duke Center for Integrative Medicine


"A master of innovation, Bowen White gives us the tools and information we need to change ourselves and to move culture. From Bowen we learn how to create an environment more conducive to creativity and growth. We understand the value of being comfortable with ourselves and of allowing others to feel the same. Funny and intelligent, Bowen leads readers on an exciting exploration of the Fourth Pole-- a trip you won't want to miss!"

Sue Klepac, Inventor of Possibilities, Lucent Technologies