When Dr. Mitch Tishler first opened his chiropractic office in Munson Meeting in October 1987, someone gave him a small ficus tree. That tree still stands in his light-filled examination room, where its branches tickle the ceiling.
“All I do is water it once a week,” Tishler says of the tree. “I think it lives on love.”
Like the ficus tree, Chatham Chiropractic Wellness Center has grown in place, and love is a big part of what it thrives on. Tishler says he makes it a point to see only one patient at a time and to be fully present for each one.
“Nowadays, to be sharing health care practices in that way—it’s precious,” he said. With the burdensome requirements of health insurance, “There’s an enormous back end” to the practice, but “I don’t let it get in the way,” he said. “It’s patients first.”
After more than 30 years in Chatham, Tishler feels intrinsically connected to the community. “Pretty much everyone’s come through the door,” from fishermen and plumbers to student athletes, he said. “It’s been an honor to serve the community.”
Tishler holds the distinction of being the first person to start a business in what was then a brand new complex. “I was the first person here at Munson Meeting,” he recalls. “It was me and the Munson family.” The only other business here at the time was Munson Gallery.
After earning his bachelor of science degree at Connecticut College and then his doctor of chiropractic degree from National University of Health Sciences in Chicago, Tishler traveled the world for a year with his then wife, because it had always been his dream to do that. When they arrived on Cape Cod, “I had 50 bucks left, and $50,000 worth of student loans.”
Although his wife’s family lived here, “That’s not why we chose Cape Cod,” he said. “I just love the ocean. I’m a sailor, and I sail 12 months a year.” Tishler, who grew up in Connecticut, said he never even vacationed on the Cape, but he was drawn to Chatham, and when he saw Munson Meeting, which was then just being built, he felt it would be the perfect place to open his practice. “There are so many levels to healing, and some of that happens before you walk in the door,” he explained. “This place is already nourishing when you walk in.”
Tishler’s practice was thriving when Munson Meeting ran into financial troubles and went into foreclosure. There was a public auction, and Tishler ended up buying his unit on a Friday afternoon, when his bank had already closed for the week. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” he recalled with a smile, shaking his head. “I called the bank on Monday morning.”
At around the same time. Tishler pursued another dream by co-founding Cape CARES, a nonprofit that delivers a range of medical services to people in Honduras. Tishler served as the organization’s president for seven years, traveling frequently to coordinate and provide medical and dental care to first one and later several villages in Honduras.
In 1998, Tishler experienced what turned out to be a life-changing event when he was badly injured in a car accident. “I like to say there are no accidents,” he said, explaining how, recovering from two successive surgeries on his leg, he felt compelled to begin writing. It was unlike any writing he had ever done, because for starters, he felt called to write with his non-dominant hand. He wrote page after page of poetry that he was amazed to see was very legible—a departure for someone whose everyday writing was hardly that. He set the verses aside, and it was not until he had recovered and began seeing patients again that he found himself quoting passages that seemed helpful.
“Whenever anybody asked me about a concern, it would come to me that there was a writing that spoke to that,” he said. He began photocopying and handing out his writings, which he eventually compiled.
“That’s how the ‘Seeing With Heart’ journey emerged,” he said.
“Seeing With Heart” workshops are now part of Tishler’s practice, which includes a second chiropractor, Janet Miller, and two massage therapists. The backbone of the practice, he said, is his business manager, Debra Mead, who has been with Tishler since very early on. “I’m replaceable, she’s not,” he says of Mead.
Tishler, who has two grown children, has authored two books: “Me, Finally: Navigating Life with an Open Heart,” which details the “Seeing With Heart” 12-session experience, and “Seeing With Heart,” the original writings that inspired the program. Using metaphors to guide people along their own journeys, “Seeing With Heart” aims to cultivate inner peace and self-love.
Describing the experience as “powerfully transformative,” Tishler devotes as much time and energy to “Seeing With Heart” as he does to chiropractic work, and says the two often converge.
Because he loves what he does, “I have yet to work a day in my life,” Tishler said.
Learn more at seeingwithheart.com and chathamchiro.com