Dr. Russell Kennedy is a practicing medical doctor, professional stand up comedian, corporate speaker, author, television host for pilots on the A&E / History Channel and W network, and certified yoga and meditation teacher. He has been described as a “funny, scientific spiritualist”. Dr. Kennedy is intimately aware that spirituality is a scary word these days, but his definition does not have any religious connotation whatsoever, it simply means finding your inner self, something that many of us have lost in complying with the ever increasing demands of our frenetic environment.
Dr. Kennedy has practiced traditional Western medicine since 1991 and in the last five years he has added aspects of Eastern medicine to his practice, especially in treating stress, anxiety and depression. He has a very firm grounding in science and Western Medicine, but acknowledges growing scientific evidence that Eastern practices decrease the perception of stress, boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and promote a sense of centeredness and well being. He believes that Western and Eastern forms of medicine have their respective strengths and weaknesses and his approach draws the best from each modality.
He has often said “What’s wrong with using both medication AND meditation?” Dr. Kennedy holds degrees in Brain Science (Neuropsychology, University of Victoria, 1987) and Medicine (MD, University of Western Ontario, 1991). After graduation from medical school, he moved back to his hometown of Victoria, BC for internship and practiced emergency medicine & obstetrics until settling into full service family practice in 1994. He worked as a GP for 10 more years until he burned out of Family Practice and moved to Vancouver to become a stand up comedian (no kidding).
He loves entertaining and helping people laugh, but found that comedy is based almost purely on judgment, and despite all the laughter, stand up comedians are often quite an unhappy and judgmental group of individuals. Dr. Kennedy likes to tell people that if you want to be a happier person instantly, just do this: drop your judgment of others, your environment, and especially yourself. In an attempt to balance the judgment he needed to observe the frustrations of human life to write and perform stand up, Dr Kennedy took up yoga in 2007 and found it so beneficial that he became a certified yoga teacher (CYT) that same year. He still teaches yoga / mediation and has a special interest in teaching stress reduction to the doctors of tomorrow at the University of British Columbia in the Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry. However, you don’t have to be a doctor to be stressed, and Dr. Kennedy enjoys showing people from any background how to “maintain the brain”.
His talk “A Refill on Your Perception” is designed as an ultimately practical guide to calming the mind. It describes the scientific basis for stress and why the stressed brain actually produces more stress in a futile attempt to decrease it! Once you become aware of how the brain creates stress you can stop it before it gets out of control. Dr. Kennedy provides cognitive strategies to adjust the perceptions and attitudes we have around the stressors in our lives and how to use mind body techniques to create space around those stressors. “Space is the antidote to stress” and there are ways to use the brain’s natural neuroplasticity to your advantage, teaching your brain to be more open. The more open your mind is, the less likely you will be a prisoner of old programs that likely created your stress in the first place!
Dr. Kennedy believes that work life balance is attainable for all, and offers ultimately practical ways to get off of life’s treadmill and get back in balance with our inner selves. He has blended his background as a professional stand up comedian with a mixture of science based western and eastern influences to produce a talk that is innovative and entertaining, with the ultimate goal of showing people how to instantly experience more fun and joy in their lives.