Happy New Year (and a humble suggestion for a resolution)

As you are making your New Year’s resolutions, I would hazard a guess and say that what you want most this year is to be healthy.

You see, to me, being healthy means to be happy. It means to have enough affluence to be comfortable and reasonably free to pursue your dreams. It means having deep sustaining relationships and meaningful work in the world. It means feeling fulfilled, challenged, excited to live each day. It means having a fairly good grasp on how it is that you create so that you can create a life that is pleasing to your soul. It also means having your mind/body/energy working well enough to sustain you through it all.

And who wouldn’t want that?

Now you just have to answer the question, “How do I move from my present life to my ideal, healthy life?” That is what the Seven Tools of Healing are all about.

As you may imagine, there are several steps involved.

Your mind/body/energy needs certain things. Just as you need good food for your body, you also need sustenance for your mind and energy, such as high quality ideas to think about and good sources to replenish your energy. And, just as your body needs exercise, so does your mind and energy. They also need good rest. There are practices for all these things and your inner wisdom can help you choose which practices you need that also fit with your life.

Then you need to remove the factors that wear and tear you down and replace them with factors that build you up and sustain you. Again, your inner wisdom can help you figure out what those factors are and what to do about them. Practicing the Seven Tools of Healing puts you in contact with your inner wisdom.

Finally, for your ultimate healing, you need to go deeper still. Unless you want to continue spending all your time and energy chasing around trying to change what has already appeared in your life, you need to get ahead of it by figuring out how to take conscious control over the factors that determine what you are creating as your life.

This may sound a little esoteric, but it is the most important step in order to achieve real healing. At the same time, simple, reliable, and effective ways to change the determinants of your creative flow elude most self-help programs. The Seven Tools of Healing fills this gap. Practicing the Seven Tools is the best way I’ve found to find limiting beliefs and align them with higher truth. The more your personal truth aligns with higher truth, the healthier you get.

So, please, I ask you, put “Mastering the Seven Tools of Healing” high on your list of New Year’s Resolutions. Do this and I think you’ll find that most everything else on your list pretty much takes care of themselves.

The Seven Tools are really a set of skills that you can learn and hone with practice. Then, when you apply these skills to whatever is going on in your life, healing happens. See www.the7tools.com for resources to help you master the tools.

My Journey Writing "The Seven Tools of Healing: Unlock Your Inner Wisdom and Live the Life Your Soul Desires"

I’m not a bookish person. My wife and a couple of my kids are bookish people, so I know the difference. But I felt compelled to write The Seven Tools because,

·         My whole career, I’ve witnessed people working long and hard to make lasting healing changes in their lives.

·         They spend huge sums of money and untold hours seeking these changes: workshops, on-line courses, books, meditations, seeing a wide variety of practitioners, taking tons of supplements…on and on.

·         Most of the time, they have great insights and “aha moments” and make some progress, only to later fall off the wagon and return to their old patterns, or have some new health problem crop up with a similar symbolic significance.

·         I wanted a way to help these people: to help them make inner changes that last, that truly transform, that heal their lives on deep levels. So I started studying the world’s healing traditions.

·         But, more importantly, I also listened deeply and honestly to my patients, trying to understand their experiences—especially when they did not fit the conventional medical model—to observe what worked and what didn’t.

·         I’ve been practicing integrative medicine since the mid ‘80’s and I’ve followed some people for years on their healing journey. This long perspective has allowed me to make some observations about healing that elude my colleagues with more transient practices.

·         Over many years of practice, study, and stewing about it, I figured out why deep inner change is so rare and what to do to accomplish it on a more reliable and consistent basis.

·         What I’ve learned has been helping my patients for years and now I want to share it with the world.

Coming from a background in Conventional Family Practice, I have to admit that what I learned surprised me. Our society is so deeply dysfunctional in many important ways, a truly healing path is a major diversion from the path of the herd. Many of the foundational concepts I uncovered involve how the unconscious mind and Consciousness work: not frequent topics of conversation in a doctor’s office. To many in our culture, these ideas are unexplored and unfamiliar, though they have been with us for thousands of years. It takes courage, curiosity, and trust to embark on a healing path. It is helpful to have a mentor or guide, and a supportive community.

My fervent hope is that this book can be one of your guides to make your healing journey more efficient, effective, and in alignment with the Laws of Consciousness; that many mentors will get trained in these ideas; and that small pockets of communities practicing the Seven Tools will pop up, grow, and coalesce.

How Do You Know if You are Stressed?

I saw a middle-aged women in the office this week who works at a local tech firm. She came in for her annual free preventative wellness check-up that is a part of Obamacare. Since stress either causes or exacerbates nearly every major disease in our society, and since stressors are a universal human experience, good preventative health requires an effective way to protect yourself from the adverse effects of stress. I think these preventative visits are a good time to talk about how to do that.

But she had an interesting question: how do you know if you’re stressed? She was serious. For her, personality issues with her team-mates, other teams not getting their stuff to her team on time, long work days, high-pressure deadlines, and intense learning curves were the norm. And for everyone she knows. “Isn’t that just normal?” she asked.

If by “normal”, you mean the majority of people experience it, then, yes, being chronically stressed is now normal, but it is not good. Every ten years, the American Institute of Stress conducts a major survey of Americans. Each survey for the last 30 years has shown an increasing number of Americans self-identifying as being highly stressed until the last survey, over fifty percent of Americans so identified.

Interestingly, over the same time period, surveys by the National Institute of Health have shown that the number of Americans living with chronic disease has also been increasing, until the last survey revealed that over fifty percent of Americans are now living with (and dying from) one or more chronic diseases. We don’t know if they are the same fifty percent, put there are plenty of studies linking chronic stress to chronic disease so it is really no surprise that the two have gone up hand-in-hand.

I would like to point out that this has been happening on Conventional medicine’s watch. Conventional medicine has ways to treat most of the symptoms of most chronic diseases but they are not very good at preventing or curing them. Similarly, what most of us are doing to cope with the stressors in our lives is not saving us. We need better ways to deal with the problems of chronic stress and chronic disease…and I’m here to say that we now have them.  

But I digress, back to my patient’s question. Once people develop a disease that is related to chronic stress, they often look back and say, “Yup, I guess I’ve been stressed for years.” But that is too late, it’s a lot more work to cure a chronic disease than to prevent it. A better approach would be to first notice when you are experiencing some of the early warning signs that stress is affecting you enough that it will eventually make you sick and then to act immediately and preemptively to make yourself impervious to stressors. You have to listen to your body and look at your life enough to see the early warning signs. Here are some of them:

·         Non-restorative sleep—you wake up in the morning as tired as you were when you went to bed. Also, waking up frequently and/or having trouble going back to sleep because your mind gets thinking of things.

·         Irritability—if you have a short fuse, if you fly off the handle, if you explode like a volcano, or any of those other great metaphors for losing your cool.

·         Decreased libido—too tired to make it and too tired to fight about it.

·         Tight neck, back, or shoulders—chronic tension held in your body anywhere, for that matter.

·         Bruxism—clenching your teeth in your sleep, if your dentist has recommended or given you a bite plate.

·         Headaches—most stress headaches are due to the tight muscles in your neck, but stress can cause other kinds of headaches, too.

·         Fatigue—exhausted, pooped, you only have enough energy for work with none left over for the rest of your life.

·         Digestive problems—heartburn, stomach pain, bloating, cramping, alternating diarrhea and constipation, loss of appetite.

·         Anxiety—feeling trapped in your life, or feeling like something dreadful is going to happen at any minute, or wanting to crawl out of your skin and go hide somewhere else.

·         Resignation—feeling like you just want to give up, like you’re too tired to keep going, overwhelmed.

If you have any of these signs, take the time now to learn how to make yourself impervious to stress. By the time you develop high blood pressure, obesity, arthritis, food and environmental sensitivities, leaky gut, autoimmune diseases, headaches, diabetes, cancer, ulcers, chronic back pain, depression and such, you’ve crossed the line and joined the fifty-plus percent of us living with a chronic disease.

You do not need to get sick from life situations over which you have no control. There are good answers to most of your stressors. I can help you with this in the office or check out all the resources available to you at my other website: www.the7tools.com.  

The Curious Story of Vitamin C

Vitamin C has an interesting story. It has lots of uses in your body. For one, it is an important co-factor for the enzymes that make collagen. That’s the tough, stringy protein that holds you all together. So scurvy, caused by an extreme deficiency of Vitamin C, is a disease where you are literally falling apart because you can’t make enough collagen.

The one-way valves in the perforating veins in your legs are made of collagen, so taking enough Vitamin C can help prevent their blowing out and causing varicose veins. Wrinkles and the thinning of your skin as you age is due to a loss of elastin and collagen in the skin, and adequate doses of Vitamin C over the years may slow down this loss. It is a co-factor for many other enzymes, as well.

Vitamin C is also a major player in the innate antioxidant system that is working inside all of your cells to keep their lipid layer membranes from going rancid and free radicals from damaging your DNA. Adequate levels of Vitamin C can prevent oxidative damage and possibly even prevent cancer. Linus Pauling believed that high doses of intravenous Vitamin C would be a safe and effective treatment for many cancers and he has recently been proven correct. (http://www.pyatthealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/IV-Vitamin-C-in-Cancer-Treatment.pdf).

So, what is an adequate dose? The US government set the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin C at 60 mg per day. This is the dose that has been found to prevent scurvy. But scurvy is a disease of extreme deficiency. What is a better recommendation for optimal wellness? Some researchers think doubling the current RDA would be enough (https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/69/6/1086/4714888), but I think Mother Nature might provide a better answer.

As it turns out, most mammals make their own Vitamin C. Cats, dogs, horses, cows, goats, and sheep, for example, make their own Vitamin C. In fact, all mammals do except for primates, guinea pigs, and some fruit-eating bats. Since we’re primates, for us, Vitamin C is an essential nutrient. We need to get it from our diets. Mother Nature is efficient, so, if you don’t need something, it goes away. That’s why fish living in caves for eons lose their eyes. Early primates lived on tropical fruits, high in Vitamin C, so they lost the enzymes needed to make their own.

If you look at how much Vitamin C other mammals make, it is surprisingly consistent across species at about 50 mg/kg/day. And, when an animal is stressed, that production can go up ten to thirteen fold to over 500 mg/kg/day. Interestingly, wild animals make more Vitamin C per kg then do their domesticated kindred. Animals who make their own Vitamin C are much less prone to heart disease and cancer than are domesticated animals and animals who don’t make their own.

A kg is 2.2 pounds. So, for a human who weighs 150 pounds, or about 69 kg, if they were a goat that weighed that much, their body would be making about 3.5 grams of Vitamin C per day, or about 58 times the RDA. And even more when they are stressed.

So, our RDA is good for the first two and a half pounds of you. And doubling that would treat five pounds of you. What about the rest? I think the RDA for Vitamin C should be set at 50 mg/kg/day. That’s the dose you would be getting if you were a monkey in the zoo. And not because the vet is a disciple of Linus Pauling’s, but because she knows that’s the dose that will keep you out of her office.

Why not treat yourself as well as a monkey? Take around three to four grams of Vitamin C every day, even more during times of stress.

There are all kinds of debates about the best form of Vitamin C and regimens for taking it to bowel tolerance and such, but these issues are splitting hairs compared to whether or not to even take the Vitamin C in the first place. I like the calcium ascorbate powder. It is buffered so the ascorbic acid (another name for Vitamin C) doesn’t bother your stomach, it’s a good source of calcium, it is inexpensive, and one-quarter tsp of powder provides 1000 mg or 1 gm of Vitamin C. Magnesium ascorbate might be even better since most people are also low in magnesium and don’t really need more calcium.

Regular daily doses of Vitamin C in the 3-5 gram range, depending upon your weight, is simple, safe, and effective prevention for many problems. (The definitive proof of this statement might not be here yet, but it’s coming. I can smell it.) Please make it part of you and your family’s wellness program today.

Choose the Best Way of Eating for You

How you eat is so important for your health that some prominent functional medicine practitioners have claimed that a good enough diet would prevent all disease. I think they’re getting a little carried away but the point is, eating in a way that is really healthy for your body is one of the primary pillars of your health. The problem is, no one can say what that best diet is. Because of different genetic make-ups and environmental demands, the best diet for you is highly personalized. “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”

How do you find the diet that works the best for you? I suggest you choose one of two main strategies.

1.      Since most of the major diets that have gained traction on the world stage are research-based and time-tested, look at several of them and pick one that appeals to you…and then stick to it come Hell or high water. Use the Seven Tools, especially Rule Number One and the Three ‘A’s, to deal with any feelings that come up, such as deprivation or urges to emotionally eat. Recent studies trying to find the best diet for people with type II diabetes revealed that all the diets tested worked and all of them didn’t work. The determining factor was adherence. So, most any sensible diet will work for you if you stick to it. Practicing the Seven Tools of Healing is a reliable way to get to know yourself well on deeper and deeper levels. The practice also enables you to use your feelings as messengers for how you are working inside instead of as automatic determinants of your eating and other behaviors. Because of this, when you practice the Seven Tools of Healing along with your diet, your chances of sticking to it go up. Some diets you might consider include

a.      The Paleo diet

b.      The ketogenic diet

c.      The Ornish diet

d.      Weight watchers

e.      The Pericone prescription

f.       The plant paradox diet (low lectins)

g.      The Mediterranean diet

h.      The specific carbohydrate diet

i.       A low histamine diet

j.       There are many more diets designed to address specific issues. See if there is one for yours.

2.      The second strategy, and this is the one that allows you to personalize your diet as much as possible, is to learn to listen clearly and carefully to your body about what it wants you to eat and then try your best to give it that. Then listen again in half an hour to see how you feel because you ate that. Over time, this strategy helps you develop very good listening skills, which can be applied to listening to your body in the many different ways it talks to you, and it helps you develop the ability to discern your higher-interest voice from your saboteur voice. (Because they can sound very much alike.) This one skill alone can keep you out of a lot of trouble.

Please take the time to find the best way of eating for you. Your efforts will pay you dividends for years and years to come.

How Do You Raise Your Kids to be Happy and Healthy?

If we want to make the world a better place, we have to fill it with happier, healthier people. That means you and your children.

If you are already wounded, sick, angry, disillusioned, depressed, apathetic, anxious, or in any other way disempowered, know that healing is always possible. The physical, psychological, and energetic medicines are getting pretty good at what they do. You just have to search out what you need. But, despite all their combined power, prevention is still the best medicine.

To that end, good parenting is the most important job there is for making a better world. And, just as the healing professions have made a lot of progress in the last thirty years, so have the ideas and practices that make for effective, humane parenting. One of the best places I’ve found that puts the best parenting ideas and practices together is Hand in Hand Parenting (https://www.handinhandparenting.org/).

They believe in setting developmentally appropriate limits while staying deeply connected to your child. They also believe parents need good support for all they do. One resource for you is their parent club (https://ml233-db3bdb.pages.infusionsoft.net/). They offer an impressive suite of classes and services for parents and families. Much of their material is free, while one-on-one consulting, on-line, and in-person classes are very reasonably priced. They even have trained professionals in many communities around the country (and in 23 countries around the world (https://www.handinhandparenting.org/who-we-are/certified-instructors/)). For example, Michelle Pate is the local instructor here in the Seattle area (https://www.handinhandparenting.org/instructor/michelle-pate/).

I have looked over their material extensively and am impressed. Having helped raise four children of my own to adulthood and worked with families in my practice for 33 years, I know how important parenting is and also how difficult it can be to find good information and help that you can trust. How do you know that what you are doing to help your child learn to deal effectively with life is going to result in them growing up to be humane and strong? It takes a couple of generations to prove that a particular construct and resulting techniques actually work.

If you’ve ever been at your wit’s end with your kids, if you’ve ever been exhausted, worried, uncertain of how to help your child through this behavior or developmental stage, Hand In Hand parenting could be your new go-to resource (https://www.handinhandparenting.org/sitemap/). And they have over thirty years’ experience, so they know their ideas work.

Check them out. See what you think. I hope you are as impressed with them as I am. And, please, give yourself the education and support you need in order to do this most important and challenging endeavor: stewarding big souls in little bodies into adulthood.

You Can Do This!

Your healing is always possible. Think about it. It is theoretically possible for you to become happier, healthier, and wealthier. You know this at a deep level. That is why you keep looking. The question is how?

Well, it turns out that there are two keys which you can wield that make your healing much more probable, much more likely. And those keys are Truth and Kindness.

Truth is important because “you shall know your truth and your truth shall set you free.” That means that if you want to be free of anything in your life, like your chronic disease, addictions, depression, anxiety, pain, dysfunctional relationships, ring around the collar…anything at all…you need to work with your truth of it. That Law of Consciousness isn’t “you shall know your fantasy and your fantasy shall set you free.” That’s one of life’s biggest bummers because working with your fantasy is soooo much easier. But it doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked so far so you might as well admit that truth, give it up, and resign yourself to finding and knowing your truth.

And Kindness is so important because it is what actually changes things, it’s the true alchemist. Healing implies change. So, if you are at this place in your life where you need healing and you want to move to that place in your life where you are healed, something has to change. The question is what and how? Your Truth will tell you what and Kindness is how you do it. Except for a few surgical procedures, compassion is the only thing I’ve ever seen heal anyone in over thirty years of medical practice.

These keys are yours. You choose whether or not to use them. I highly recommend you choose to because that will greatly shorten your suffering. You only have so many years to live. Why not live them with as much happiness, health, and wealth as possible? Why put it off? Each year, a greater percentage of us is living with a chronic disease. A recent survey1 showed that over sixty percent of Americans are living with a chronic disease, and forty-two percent with more than one at a time. That means that what we’re doing across the board, as a society at large, to heal ourselves isn’t working very well.

It’s no big secret that our healthcare system itself is sick and needs to heal. But you don’t need to wait for that to happen. You can heal yourself right now. You are not a victim…not of other people, not of bureaucracies, not even of the environment (being victimized is a universal human experience; being a victim is a way of seeing yourself…not the same thing). You have more personal power than you realize. It’s time to step up and claim it. That is all.

Practicing the Seven Tools of Healing is the best way I’ve ever seen to accomplish all of these things. With them, you can skillfully and accurately find your truth and be kind to yourself about it. Your head can know what your heart already knows, which allows you to become comfortably ensconced in your personal power and live from your deeper knowing.

Read The Seven Tools of Healing, practice them every chance you get. Every moment holds your Truth. It is sitting right there in front of you and inside of you, ripe for the knowing. And you already have a great heart. Just learn to aim it at yourself, too. You are just as worthy of your love as anyone who has ever been born or ever will be born. I have every faith that you can do this.

https://www.rand.org/blog/rand-review/2017/07/chronic-conditions-in-america-price-and-prevalence.html. Accessed 8/11/2018.

Doctors and Deer in the Headlights

I had an interesting experience yesterday. I went to a six hour, state-mandated training for physicians on recognizing suicide risk factors and treatment of suicidal ideation. And, even though I have mixed feelings about the legislature dictating requirements in medical education (I guess it’s inevitable, but should be kept to a minimum. I believe physicians should be able to self-regulate for the highest good of patients.) it was really quite good. Did you know that over ninety percent of people who survive their suicide attempt change their minds and live on until they die of other causes? And that most suicides are theoretically preventable? Henry Ford Health Systems, a local HMO in the Detroit area decided that the acceptable number of suicides in their patient population was zero and they did staff training and made policy and organizational changes and actually achieved a zero suicide rate for two years so far.

Anyway, what I found interesting is that when the presenter was talking about using antidepressants to treat people under 25 years of age, they are known to actually increase anxiety, agitation and suicidal thoughts. Everyone in the audience already knew this, but when it came to talking about what else to offer these young people as treatment, everyone, including the presenter, looked like deer in the headlights. All he had to offer was to educate the parents that these were known side-effects of the medications and, though they may theoretically increase the number of teen suicides, untreated depression also increases the risk of suicide.

There was no talk about that, well, if kids are getting depressed this young, maybe there is a genetic component and they should have their methylation status checked. No talk about other treatments for depression such as L-tryptophan, 5-HTP, SAMe, homeopathy, acupuncture, removing food reactions, healing the microbiome, relieving cranial restrictions…nothing like that. It was astounding. There were probably a hundred doctors in the room, all intelligent, caring people, yet they were so restricted to only pharmaceutical solutions, that they would stand by and let their patients die rather than research and recommend other options. Of course, they referred to mental health specialists for family systems or psychological problems.

I think that the take-home message for you, the medical consumer, is to know that, no matter what issue you go to them for, conventional doctors are the way they are, and protect yourself. Know that most of the advice you get from them likely comes from that pharmaceutical perspective. Know that there are always several different treatment options for any given person having a given condition. Don’t take a treatment that you are uncomfortable with until you have explored your options. Trust your gut regarding what you are comfortable with. Look into what may be offered for you by integrative medicine, functional medicine, Chinese medicine, mind/body/energy medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic. There are lots of options so you are very likely to find some that are effective and safe for you.

And, of course, Integral medicine has an approach to help people who are at risk for suicide. More about that later.

New Hope for Head Injuries

If you have had a head injury, or what medicine calls a “traumatic brain injury” (or TBI), medicine has had very little to offer you in the way of treatments to improve your chances of recovery…until now. Newer understanding of what goes on inside your brain and its blood vessels when it gets injured has led to the development of some very effective Functional Medicine and Physical Medicine treatments.

Normally, your brain is kept in a much protected, pampered environment. It is covered with a fine, delicate membrane closely applied to all of its convoluted surfaces, floating in a very specific fluid, called cerebrospinal fluid, and encased by a tough fibrous membrane that lines the inside of a hard, boney box called your skull. Even the blood vessels in your brain have a special lining to them that only lets in what the brain needs and keeps everything else out, especially the body’s inflammatory process. This is called the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Tensions in the membranes around the brain or restrictions in the bones of the skull can have a big influence on how the brain works.

When you hit your head, whole cascades of changes start happening. Like shoes in a shoebox when you shake it, the brain can slosh around inside the skull and bang up against the hard, bony barrier, bruising the delicate tissues. The BBB gets disrupted and inflammation can start to develop in the brain. This further breaks down the BBB and a vicious cycle gets started. This is why some people can have more brain dysfunction a month or two after a head injury than right away. It also slows recovery. With repetition and over time, these changes can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

To effectively treat head injuries and post-concussion syndrome, the injured brain needs to heal, the BBB needs to be re-established, and the tensions and restrictions in the membranes and bones need to be released. Ideally, it all needs to happen at the same time. A combination of functional medicine and Cranio-Sacral therapy can do this.

Jack was a ten year old boy who hit his head during a car accident two months before I first saw him. He was referred to me by his physiatrist because he continued to have a headache and double vision to the point where he couldn’t read to do his school work. The physiatrist had him on an excellent functional medicine protocol for head injuries that helped his memory, but the headache and double vision persisted. The optometrist was wanting to fit him with prism glasses but the physiatrist and his mother wanted to try a course of Cranio-Sacral treatment (CST) first.

We did have a working hypothesis to explain his double vision. There is a double-layered membrane inside the skull that separates your cerebrum from your cerebellum. It forms a kind of trampoline for the back half of your cerebrum to sit on. Three cranial nerves run the muscles that move your eyes. As you can imagine, their movement must be very precisely coordinated in order for your eyes to track together correctly. These three nerves come out of the brain stem and run a short distance between the two layers of the tentorium before entering the back of the eye socket on their way to their muscles. Abnormal tension in the tentorium can affect these nerves, disrupting their fine coordination and leading to eye tracking problems. Anyone with eye tracking problems deserves a good Cranio-Sacral evaluation.

After his third CST treatment, his double vision resolved and he was able to read again. His headache localized to a place in his right temple where several sutures of the cranial bones come together. Another three CST sessions got all of them freed up and his headache also resolved. Incidentally, his older sister had had four concussions over the past few years and was just living with a constant, dull headache. One session of CST resolved her headache.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), is a big problem in the US. In 2013, there were about 2.8 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths due to TBI (https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/index.html). Falls, moving vehicle accidents, and sports injuries were the most common causes. Sadly, in children under 4 years old, assaults are the leading cause of TBIs. TBIs can range from very mild, with no long-term adverse effects, to fatal. The more severe the TBI, the more likelihood of long term effects such as memory loss, emotional swings, learning problems, headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sounds, neurological deficits, and such.

Most medical treatment of TBI is focused on treating the symptoms caused by it (http://www.msktc.org/tbi/factsheets/Emotional-Problems-After-Traumatic-Brain-Injury), but this new approach works to heal the brain and BBB so the symptoms just naturally resolve. Not all brain injury is traumatic (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/professor-cromer-learns-read/201203/after-brain-injury-the-dark-side-personality-change-part-i), and not all brain injury can be healed, so having these coping and supporting treatments can come in handy (https://www.brainline.org/people-with-TBI), but more healing is possible than we, as a society, are accessing.

Just learning to cope with the long-term changes caused by TBI isn’t your only option anymore. There is now much more hope for healing from concussions and other head injuries than the medical literature would lead you to believe. Anyone who has experienced a head injury or concussion deserves a good CST evaluation and functional medical support. This combined approach can help speed brain healing and decrease the number of long-term adverse effects of TBI (personal clinical experience). I now offer this complete service in my practice.

The combination of specific functional medicine concepts with Cranio-Sacral therapy can give you the best chance for healing. If you have had any head injuries and you suspect you may still be experiencing any effects from them, there is new hope. Please come in for an evaluation. If you know anyone who has had a head injury, spread the hope: please pass this along to them. I appreciate the chance to help them, too.

Why I Don't Support Medicare For All

I’ve been an advocate for universal healthcare since the ‘70s when I first became aware of such issues. But Medicare for all is a baaaad idea. There are better ways to achieve universal coverage and cost containment. Our federal government cannot be trusted with something as important as healthcare. A perfect example is Trump’s recent unilateral decision to stop paying insurance companies their cost sharing reduction subsidies, causing insurance premiums to soar for millions of people. Just think what he would do to a federally-run single payer system!

Even though there are government run single payer systems in other developed countries, such a system in the US would be a total disaster. Why? Those other systems work in countries where the federal government has the best interest of the people at heart. We have no proof this is the case in the US. Our federal government has the best interest of corporations at heart. (And, even though corporations are people (right?), that’s not going to help you any.)

For example, during the G.W. Bush years, he passed a law prohibiting Medicare from negotiating with drug companies for better prices. That’s pretty blatant. Drugs are so much cheaper in Canada because their medical system negotiates for better prices. (By the way, you can take advantage of that by having the prescriptions you have to pay out of pocket for filled through an on-line, mail-order Canadian pharmacy. Still perfectly legal. Bush tried to make that not so but couldn’t get it through.)

And when have you ever seen a government social program that wasn’t chronically under-funded? With the current conventional medical mindset dominating medicine, there is no way that we would not have rationing of healthcare. And the first to go would be anything conventional medicine considers alternative, the next would be the “less necessary” surgeries, such as those for pain from herniated discs. MRIs and expensive blood work would be regulated and more patients would be harmed and more physicians would get sued for missing diagnoses they couldn’t make because they couldn’t get the tests run.   

How could such a system be protected by the vagaries of whatever administration was in power? What would Regan, the Bushes, and Trump have done to such a system if it were already in place when they took office? What would happen to it if the radical right continues to gain momentum?

A single payer system would stifle medical innovation. If Ma Bell hadn’t gotten broken up, we’d all still be using rotary dialing.

Supporters of Medicare for all are also using funny numbers to support their arguments. They say that Medicare is so much more efficient than private insurances, with a 2-4% overhead compared to the 20-26% overhead for private companies. But that efficiency is achieved because they farm out most of the work to administer their plans to the private companies. And what they pay the private companies for that work is not included in their administrative overhead.

On the possible plus side, with a single payer system, it is easier to see that real wellness and prevention makes sense. It may motivate major societal changes, such as stopping the taxpayer subsidization of junk food, decreasing air and water pollution, outlawing cigarettes, taking real steps to make the workplace less stressful, expand parenting classes, and other such measures. But these advantages can also be gained by other ways to achieve universal coverage and cost containment that are not dependent upon the government. I have blogged previously about such a system.

So, please, give the matter some careful thought. If we adopt Medicare for all, we’d be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. You deserve better.

Integral Medicine as Primary Care

When you need medical care, how do you want to be treated?

·        Do you just want the symptoms treated or do you want to also get to the root causes and make meaningful changes there?

·        Do you want your health challenge treated in isolation or within the context of your whole life?

·        Do you want conventional medical treatments on one hand, getting loaded up with a shopping bag full of supplements on the other hand, or a rational, reasoned approach using the safest, most effective options from either or both camps?

·        Do you want your care determined by recipes and algorithms or do you want to be listened to and receive care carefully personalized to you?

·        Do you want to wait until a disease shows itself or are you interested in staying healthy and vital in the first place?

If you like the latter options, then you would like Integral Medicine as your primary care.

When you think about it, where do you go to get your whole self treated?  

Of all the medical specialties available, I went into Family Practice because I liked the idea of treating you as a whole person: not just a physical body, but as a thinking, feeling human being with family and social interactions, immersed in a physical and energetic environment. Every aspect of your life influences your health, so every aspect needs to be able to be evaluated when searching for the root causes of your health issues. I found out early in my career that conventional Family Practice, as broad-based as it is, is poorly equipped to treat you as a whole person.

So I kept exploring…and thinking…and trying different ways to treat my patients better and better. But when you look at all of conventional medicine and all of alternative medicine, there are so many different theories about health and disease, so many different treatment modalities, so much to know, that no one can know it all. And our time together in the office is finite. So most practitioners specialize in one area of medicine or another. Over the years, I found myself specializing, too, but not in any disease or organ system. I found myself specializing in a way of problem solving.

And this way can be applied to just about any problem anyone has come to me for help with. It turns out to be particularly helpful for chronic diseases. You see, a chronic disease resists our attempts to treat it. Otherwise, we would treat it, it would go away, and it wouldn’t be chronic. So, if you have a chronic disease, and half of Americans do (and half of them have more than one at a time), finding and treating the root causes is especially important. A chronic disease often asks us to cast a wider net and dig deeper because the root causes are often not where we think to look first. Integral Medicine is very well-suited to help you do this.

But you don’t need a chronic disease to benefit from Integral Medicine. It is also the best preventative medicine I’ve found. If you talk to a conventional doctor about prevention, they think you’re talking about immunizations. But there is so much more to real prevention. More and more, doctors are also taking into account diet and exercise. But there is much more to real prevention than even lifestyle choices. How you see yourself and the world has a major impact on the choices you make and how your body responds. Integral Medicine can help you work on this level as well as lifestyle, etc.

The main point I want to make is that you don’t have to just live with things. Healing is always possible. There is almost always an answer to your life’s problems. Let’s work together, let’s apply the Integral Medicine process to help you find your health, vitality, and real purpose in your life. Don’t give up until you’re happy with your health.

Corporate Hijinks Cost Millions of Lives

Recent evidence found in library archives proves that, in the Sixties, the sugar industry paid top-ranking nutrition experts at Harvard Medical School, to do an exhaustive literature review and prove that sugar had nothing to do with heart disease. The experts did as they were paid and the review was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967.

This review swayed the entire research community away from sugar and toward fats as the culprit. So, for the last fifty years, cardiovascular research has focused almost exclusively on the role of fats and cholesterol on the development of hardening of the arteries; and the pharmaceutical industry has focused on fat and cholesterol lowering drugs.

The food industry, meanwhile, has focused on low fat foods, often replacing the fat with sugar. Just what the sugar industry wanted.

So, now we have an epidemic of diabetes while heart disease is still the number one killer in our society with strokes, also caused by hardening of the arteries, running at third. (All cancers put together is second.)

Back in the Sixties, studies linking sugar to heart disease were starting to accumulate, that was what had the sugar industry worried. Their hijinks put off the truth for fifty years, but science, when done correctly, is self-correcting, and, finally, the truth about sugar is coming out.

What we now know is that it is the rate of change of sugar levels in your blood stream that causes the initial harm to the membrane that lines the inside of your arteries. Once injured, fats do get deposited under the membrane which then go on to form the arterial plaques. So it is easy to understand how fats could have been blamed, since they are what make up the plaque. But if the arterial lining doesn’t get injured in the first place, the plaques don’t form, no matter the cholesterol level.

Most integrative physicians and naturopaths have known about the sugar connection all along and now the conventional medical system is catching up. Many diabetes clinics now treat pre-diabetes and type II diabetes with a no GPS diet. That stands for no Grains, Potatoes, and Sugar diet. Those are the foods most likely to cause rapid swings in the level of blood sugar. They recommend filling in those lost calories with, you guessed it…fat. And they’re getting great results.

Think about all the people who developed heart disease and strokes over the past fifty year who maybe didn’t need to. Those kinds of corporate hijinks are still going on; some say more than ever. As government funding for research continues to get cut, private special interests are funding the research more and more. And they like to get what they pay for.

So, as a medical consumer, how can you protect yourself? After all, research is important. Researchers are required to reveal sources of research funding, but this is small protection. If the results of the research flies in the face of common sense, like the large study funded by General Mills that “proved” that sugar consumption has no influence on children’s behavior at school, or contradicts the ways of nature, you might be suspicious of it. You can always check in with your own deep inner knowing and trust what is right for you, no matter what the “experts” say. Research has shown that the people who do that are the ones who get better.

What to do with all these Feelings since the Inauguration

A patient asked me an excellent question yesterday. She asked, “What do you recommend people do with their feelings of angst, anxiety, anger, or fear since the inauguration?” I want to address this because I’ve seen several people whose autoimmune diseases have really flared in the last couple of weeks. I suspect that this is due to increased stress levels.

Consciousness feeds off of itself: fear begets fear, anger begets anger, and love begets love; so the first thing we want to do is not contribute to the lower vibrations. But we don’t get there by stuffing our feelings or denying that they are there. I’ll talk about what to do with these feelings in a moment, but first, I want to give some clear and practical advice.

A good response to what is happening in our country, nay, even in the whole world, is to dig deep into your center and ask yourself, “How can I do my best work in the world?” For example, if you are a teacher, your best work might be to teach with the most kindness and personal connection to your students you can muster. For me, that would be to help my patients find their true healing to the best of my ability. Not everyone can be a community organizer or political activist, but everyone has something of value to give to the world. Find your gift and figure out how best to give it.

One reason we’re in the trouble we’re in is because the rich have gotten too rich and now have the power to grab everything for themselves. You vote in elections but you also vote with every dollar you spend. As much as you can, support local economies. Buy from local farmers instead of from General Mills, buy from small shops instead of from Walmart, buy from local artists, listen to local musicians, do whatever you can to spread resources out rather than concentrate them with large international corporations. This will help to create a more diverse, robust community.

As to all those feelings that keep flooding in, first, just let them in. Feel them as fully and you can and practice being kind to yourself that you are having those feelings. Repressing, denying, rationalizing, sugar coating, or trying to change how you are feeling in any way backfires and makes those feelings more persistent. Your feelings are just the result of whatever you become aware of passing through your world view. Your feeling itself is never the problem. If there is a problem at all, it lies in whatever you are aware of, or in how you are looking at it.

If you resist your feelings, or the opposite, wallow in them, you risk contributing to the low vibrations floating around the planet. Just see your truth of however you are feeling, leave it alone, and choose to focus, instead, upon being kind to yourself that you are currently experiencing that particular truth. The kindness will change your feelings. You don’t have to force any changes on yourself.

This approach works because your creative energies flow wherever you focus your attention. Repression and denial are forms of attention. So, you want to free yourself from any of that. And you do that by fully accepting the truth of however you are feeling. Then you make a conscious choice to focus on kindness toward yourself. When you do that, your creative energy flows toward kindness, creating more of it, thus making your life, and the world as a whole, better.

Give this approach to your feelings a try. I bet you’ll be amazed at the results. Together, we can stop this backsliding of human consciousness and get it growing in a higher direction again. Here’s to a better planet moving forward.

If you like these suggestions, please share. Thanks.

The 3 Best New Year’s Resolutions to Create Lasting Change: Not your grandma’s resolutions

By Grace Porter, LCPC


Ok, maybe they are your grandma’s resolutions. Chances are I don’t know her or anything about her so who am I to say… But this a non-traditional way of looking at New Year’s Resolutions-a way that just might work!


New Years is a time of reflection as we say goodbye to one year and start thinking about ringing in the next. 2016 has been a hard year for many people and many of us are hoping for change in the coming year.


In previous years, have you tried to hold yourself accountable for creating the changes in your life by making New Year’s Resolutions? How well has it worked? The thing is, change IS possible but we often go about it the wrong way. We cannot effort our way into being different. Will power only goes so far! The process of change works differently than that. I’m not going to get into that here because you can read about it in our other blog posts but I will say this: Telling yourself you will eat better or go to the gym more often or get more sleep or cut back on alcohol or any of the other resolutions people make may work for a hot second but it won’t create the lasting change you seek.


A few years ago, I was in the habit of attending the gym regularly with two of my friends. We would grab ellipticals next to each other and gab while we ran. We joked that it was our group therapy. Well, January rolled around and we couldn’t find any machines next to each other, let alone three ellipitcals in a row. But by the 3rd week of January we were back to our normal routine because, you guessed it, all the resolution-based gym goers were gone!


Are you wanting to make changes in the New Year what might work better? Here are 3 Resolutions I suggest for the coming year (and of course I say that they work best together so maybe resolve to rock the revolution trio, okay?)


1      I will practice mindfulness. For some, this might mean meditation, either in a group setting or at home, but mindfulness is actually much more than that. It is a practice of becoming aware of what is present in any given moment. We can practice mindfulness by paying attention to our emotions, to our physical sensations, to the patterns that present themselves in our lives, to our thoughts, to the situations we find ourselves in, to what is happening in our relationships, and so much more. We cannot create change unless we know and accept where we truly are. Mindfulness is the practice of making space in our consciousness for what we are actually experiencing, and it is something we can choose to do moment by moment throughout the day or at a designated meditation or journaling time. And of course, mindfulness works best when we can be with our current truth in a kind and gentle way, and this brings us to resolution number two.


2      I will practice compassion for myself. Compassion is a practice of looking at ourselves and our situations from the heart’s perspective. It is loving kindness and gentleness. Compassion helps us hold space for our truths even when we are suffering or struggling. At The 7 Tools we call compassion “the Alchemist” because it is the transformative function. The practice of compassion puts our heart in the driver’s seat of our creative powers. Then, the thoughts, feelings, and choices that support our highest self just naturally start to flow. Our energy is freed up to be motivated by love. And love works toward our highest good.


I have found for myself and for my clients that the practice of compassion does not always change what we do on the outside (we might still choose to eat healthy food or go to the gym) but that it shifts the internal motivation from a place of self-criticism and fear to a place of love and supporting oneself.  It is the difference between not eating the cake out of fear that it will add to the waistline and not eating the cake because what the body needs in this moment is a seaweed salad. Or fully enjoying eating the cake without making justifications or self-demeaning remarks about it. Compassion breeds choices that are based in love and support, not punishment and restriction. We don’t have to try to create change when we practice compassion, it will happen on its own. The trick is to have compassion for yourself even when you become aware that you have not been having compassion for yourself.


3      I will keep showing up for myself even when things get hard. Often, when we start looking to create lasting change in our lives, we are confronted, (or maybe accosted is a more apt word), by the fears and beliefs that have kept us in our current patterns. It can feel vulnerable and scary to go to those places. I have had clients ask me if they will feel this way forever or say that they are afraid that if they look at a certain piece of their “stuff” that it will overwhelm them. The truth is that whatever you have experienced so far in your life, you have survived it. Our healing can be manageable and we don’t have to do it all at once. If we look at the piece that is in front of us and just keep on doing that, with time, we get where we need to go. But as one client recently told me, “This is hard!” And it is. It takes diligence, forbearance, and persistence (and compassion!). And it is so worth it. That same client also frequently tells me that various things are feeling better and that the more work they do, the more manageable the next piece feels. The river of sorrow does not sweep them away and they feel more courage to be themselves. As Dory has been known to say, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”


So Happy New Years from all of us at The 7 Tools of Healing! If you want more info about, well, any of this, check out the other blog posts or sign up for our mailing list. We’ll see you in the New Year!

Certain of Uncertainty

I’d like to introduce Grace Porter, MA, LCPC, the first guest blogger I’ve had on this site. She received her BA in International Studies with an emphasis on Conflict Resolution from Beloit College and her MA in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis on Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the state of Maryland and has a private practice in Annapolis. She has been studying and teaching the Seven Tools of Healing since 2006 and teaches her own Taming the Bear: Taking the Bite out of Stress classes. She is also a certified facilitator of the Amrit Method of Yoga Nidra. And she is my daughter.

 In these uncertain times, it is good to get a refresher on how to use the Seven Tools to be healthy with all the feelings that come up in us.

Certain of Uncertainty

You know that feeling when you are waiting for the test results to come back? That pull from all the different possibilities? Feeling trepidation about what bad news might be waiting for you and that hope that it will be good news. Or maybe even fear that it will be good news because you have become so accustomed to making the best of a bad situation and it feels scary to allow in the good. Or maybe there is some part of you that is not ready to let in the good at all. In that moment of uncertainty all options are possible and it can be hard to remain grounded.

Brandon A. Trean has said, “It is how we embrace the uncertainty in our lives that leads to the great transformations of our souls.” If we are somehow able to make space within ourselves for not knowing and the infinite possibilities that accompany that uncertainty, if we maintain our faith and our centeredness, what marvelous growth can unfold? So we call on patience then, as we wait for clarity. And we practice holding space for ourselves and for others. And we have compassion for what we see and experience. And an ever deepening understanding of what is.

Over the last week or so I have been sitting with a myriad of feelings and what has come up time and time again is uncertainty; and with it questions about how to stay grounded in my truth when the possibilities are swirling around me. As I talk with my friends, family, and clients, I see it arising for them in different ways as well. It feels so visceral everywhere I turn. People’s health, politics, people starting new ventures and being unsure of outcome, people peeping into deeply locked parts of themselves and being unsure of what will come pouring out, and so much more. We know that patterns are clues about work that is waiting to be done, about information that is ready for consciousness.  I know this pattern of uncertainty to be an opportunity for introspection and growth.

There is this sense of waiting during which foreboding and hope are dueling to the death. At times, it feels terrifying, paralyzing. Other moments it feels motivating. Action, any action, seems imperative. Even in the exciting things, waiting in a place of not knowing can seem unbearable.

And yet we are certain of something: in the moment of encounter with these feelings, it is certain that we feel uncertain. And so we feel it. We sit with the reality of this moment as we know it and compassionately accept both it and its implications. We hold both an awareness of the outcome we want and the reality of the moment we are in now.

If we open ourselves to sitting with our uncertainty, we open ourselves up to the potentiality of all possible outcomes and the reality of not knowing. And when we think about it that way, is it any wonder it can feel so overwhelming?? If only we knew, we could prepare ourselves or take action or we could relax and allow the unfolding. Sitting in that place of uncertainty certainly can feel unsettling.

And so we hold our center and compassionately make space for this moment. We trust that somewhere in the midst of all of the mayhem there is a path forward. We can remain calmly alert, aware of outside circumstance and our own inner knowing. We remember The I Ching (Book of Change) says, “Remain steady and allow the world to shape itself.” And when the time comes for action we can be ready.  

Be Impervious to Stress, Part II

Conscious and Unconscious Beliefs

To summarize what we’ve covered so far, a stressor can be defined as any experience that results in the triggering of the fight or flight reflex in your body. This is a very ancient reflex because it has been so successful evolutionarily, and it is deeply engrained. When triggered, it effects nearly every process in your body. You cannot stay stressed and stay healthy at the same time, that’s just how you’re designed.

You have essentially three different nervous systems in your body. The one you probably know the best is the central nervous system, comprised of your brain and spinal cord. Your intestines also have their own nervous system and some estimate that it actually has more neurons than your brain. (Therefore, don’t underestimate your “gut feelings”.) Then there is your autonomic nervous system. It is made up of two parts: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic runs your fight or flight (or stress) response and the parasympathetic runs your snooze under a tree (or relaxation) response. All three nervous systems are working all the time and communicate with each other.

When you are in a healthy state, the sympathetic and parasympathetic balance each other. When you are stressed, the sympathetic system dominates and you are in what we call “sympathetic overload”. I bet you’ve heard that term.

Sympathetic overload makes you feel like you are being threatened, even when you’re not, leading to anxiety; it raises your heart rate; induces rapid, shallow breathing; increases your blood pressure, blood sugar and muscle tension. It also dampens down your immune system and shunts blood flow away from your intestines. Your body is designed to tolerate stress for about three weeks. After that, the stress can cause some self-perpetuating physiological loops to get started in your body. Once that happens, even if you get out of stress, the effects keep going in your body. The gift that keeps on giving.

If this sounds like you, come on in for an evaluation or see another good integrative physician, get the loops diagnosed and snipped, and you can get your vitality back.

But, before any kind of medical treatments can help you, you need to get out of the stress. Otherwise, all any practitioner can do for you is give you a set of crutches: you can hobble around a bit better, but your leg is still broken. A good integrative practitioner can help you with any physiological stressors and self-perpetuating physiological loops you may be dealing with, but how do you keep all the potential stressors that are occurring outside your skin from getting under your skin?

As we discussed earlier, that depends upon how you look at your life…and that depends upon what you believe. All the beliefs you’ve formed and all the conclusions you’ve drawn determine how you look at your life. Now, here’s the tricky part: you might think you know what you believe, but that’s not true. You only know about the beliefs that you hold in your conscious mind. As it turns out, you also have a whole set of beliefs in your unconscious mind. To restructure your relationship with stress, you need to be able to change any belief that is making your daily experiences feel like stress, whether that belief is known to you or working in the background. Just because something’s in your unconscious mind doesn’t mean it’s unreachable. There is hope. There are ways to work effectively with the unconscious mind.

Once you identify the belief, the same process can be used to change it, no matter where it came from. So, first, let’s talk about how to find beliefs that are operating in the unconscious and bring them into the conscious. Then we’ll talk about how to change them in a way that avoids getting into an arms race with them. 

Be Impervious to Stress: Six Simple Steps

“Stress” and “daily life” are rapidly becoming synonyms. Surveys over the last three decades show that an ever-increasing percentage of Americans describe themselves as “stressed out”. In the latest survey, that percentage was over fifty. Physicians now estimate that stress is the cause of over seventy percent of doctor visits. Stress is a major factor in heart disease, our number one killer; strokes, our number three killer; cancer, our number two killer; depression, anxiety, autoimmune diseases, insomnia, diabetes, high blood pressure, addictions, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue…the list goes on and on. And for just about any health condition you have, the symptoms are more severe when you’re stressed than when you’re not.

So, it is becoming abundantly clear that if you want to be healthy now days, you have to learn how to be healthy with stress. That’s a big topic, but it’s doable. You can learn how to be in situations over which you have no control and stay in your personal power at the same time…and I’m going to show you how.

What stress does to your body and how it does it had been thoroughly discussed other places (see Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky (and that reminds me, you have to add digestive problems to the list above)) so I won’t go over that here.

Basically, there are two major categories of stressors: those inside your skin and those outside your skin. Inside, or physiological stressors, include such things as infections, allergic reactions, chronic pain from whatever reason, not sleeping well, and such. These kinds of stressors generally require diagnosis and appropriate treatments at the level of causation, not just suppressing symptoms, to resolve. Integral medicine is a great way to work on these kinds of issues. You can listen to and learn from them, but, generally, they do not get better by just changing your thinking about them, though sometimes they do. I want to focus now on the stressors outside your skin.

Technically, nothing outside your skin is stress. All that exist out there are potential stressors. They are only stressors for you if they trigger the fight or flight response in you. This stress response is triggered whenever you perceive yourself to be either spread too thin or threatened in some way. The key word here is “perceived”. One person’s stress could be another person’s recreation. The difference between those two people is the way that they look at their experience.

But once you get stressed, your body starts responding in a matter of milliseconds…way too quickly to stop and do your positive breathing exercises. Once your adrenal glands give you a squirt of cortisol in response to the stress, it stays in your blood stream for over three hours. So, you only need two or three stressors a day to effectively spend the entire day in the stress response physiology. The way that your body is designed, it cannot stay in the stress physiology for long periods and stay healthy at the same time.

So, to stay healthy in the face of life’s potential stressors, of which there are more and more all the time, you need to be able to work with whatever determines your perceptions, whatever determines how you look at your life experiences. This means that you need to learn how to work with your mind.

Stressors from the old jungle that nature created for us generally asked us to make physical and social changes in order to adapt. The stressors from the new jungle that we’ve created for ourselves seem to be asking us to make changes in our consciousness and sense of personal responsibility in order to adapt.

In the next installment, we will go over what determines how you look at your life experiences, then we’ll talk about how to find and change those determinants so that you can face the vast majority of what you have to deal with every day without triggering the fight or flight response in your body.  

How to Practice the Ideal Medicine

How Integral Medicine is put into Practice (Please read the blog post "The Ideal Medicine" first. Thank you.)

As I said, Integral medicine is my attempt to give you this ideal medicine. Many people have similar ideas about the ideal medicine. The problem has been, “How to put these ideals into practice?” The medical community’s best attempt so far is integrative medicine.

Integral medicine is my version of integrative medicine. I needed to develop Integral medicine as a distinct practice because there are some major problems with how integrative medicine is getting practiced most of the time.

True integrative medicine is more than just sticking a few herbs on the side of conventional medicine. For example, it looks at you as a whole functioning system rather than reducing you to 12 or 13 organ systems. This results in different ideas about how your variety of problems are interrelated, and such. Conversely, integrative medicine is not just any kind of alternative medicine: it must include the best parts of conventional medicine. So most of the alternative practitioners who call themselves integrative practitioners are not, really. They can be a member of an integrative treatment team, but they are practicing their own specific alternative therapy. If they are not also trained in conventional medicine, what are they integrating?

The Integral World View

The major hurdle that has made developing a truly integrative medicine so difficult has been the fact that conventional and most forms of alternative medicine are based upon radically different world views. And those world views mix like oil and water. To create Integral medicine, I have utilized a third world view where conventional and alternative medicine can meet as equals and the best of all forms of medicine can be synthesized into one seamless, philosophically consistent system of medicine. This third world view is called the “Integral World View” and was developed by Ken Wilber.

A Scientific Model for a Whole Human Being

The next step to developing your ideal medicine, after integrating all of the valid and effective ideas and treatments about health and disease, was to figure out how to treat you as a whole human being. To do that, I needed a deeper understanding of what that is than is offered by the conventional medical model. I found what I was looking for in the concepts of a human being developed by the ancient Vedic sages thousands of years ago. This view underlies Ayurvedic medicine and yoga. They saw a human as being made up of six aspects that are arranged as sleeves within sleeves, like the Russian nesting dolls. The sixth, or inner-most aspect is pure Consciousness, not consciousness as a neuroscientist uses the word (awake, as opposed to being in a coma) but the Consciousness that underlies all of creation. They also called this aspect of you the “true self”.

A symptom is a clue that something somewhere in your system is out of balance. Understanding how these different aspects, like your body, energy, mind, and beliefs, interrelate helps me understand where the primary imbalance is to be found so that you and I can find the best treatment to get that imbalance balanced.

I like this model because it explains many things that are a mystery in medicine. It explains what your mind is, for one thing, (hint: it is not your brain) and it helps to explain the mind-body connection. It sees your energy as just as real as your body. There are many more advantages to this model of a human being that are too numerous to get into here.

How to get to the Root

The next issue to address in developing your ideal medicine, now that we can use any valid treatment and idea and treat you as a whole human being immersed in a social and environmental milieu, is to get to the real root of your problems.

When you are wanting help for your health challenges, you have two major strategies you could pursue. You could work on changing what has already been created (which is what most conventional and alternative medicines do), or you could find and change the determinants of your creativity so that you stop creating what you don’t want and start creating what you do want. You can also do both strategies at the same time, which is what I generally recommend when you are starting on your Integral treatment plan.

What has already been created is being expressed as your symptoms. So trying to change what has already been created would be to use symptom-oriented treatments. This can be helpful when the symptoms are so loud that they are disruptive to your life. It is okay to treat depression while you are rooting out its cause. It is okay to treat pain while you are rooting out its cause. It is okay to treat your high blood pressure, high blood sugar, asthma, allergies, inflammation, whatever your symptoms, while you are rooting out the cause.

The main problem with effective symptom control is it often removes your motivation to root out the cause once you feel better. But you wouldn’t do that, would you? That is so last century. Besides, if you ever want to get off of your medications, you will have to get to the roots of your problems and treat those. There are reasons you are taking those medications. If you simply stop them, you will be back to where you started. To effectively get off of your medications, you need to put some other supports in place first. If you find and treat the root causes, your problems resolve and you won’t need your medications any more. So, what are the roots?


According to the Vedic model we were just talking about, Consciousness is creative. Every aspect of the physical universe is an expression of some aspect of the infinite Consciousness behind it. This Consciousness is timeless, it is outside the laws of physics. It created those laws. Since every aspect of the physical world is an expression of Consciousness, that means that all of your symptoms and the imbalances behind them are also expressions of Consciousness.

As humans, we have access to this infinite Consciousness, that sixth aspect, our true self. Yet, who do you know is fully expressing infinite Consciousness? I’ve not met anyone like that. So, that implies that something limits our access to this Consciousness and determines what aspects of it get to come into material existence as the experiences and stuff of our life. Whatever that something is, that is the determinants of your creativity. The real roots of your health challenges, whatever they are, are whatever allows those particular aspects of Consciousness to be expressed in your life.

What could do that? The Vedic model gives some ideas that are worth exploring. This is what I experience when I work on someone:

·        The inner-most aspect, pure Consciousness, feels like a core of intensely bright white light that runs up and down the middle of the torso.

·        Around that core of light is the fifth aspect that is totally transparent, like the glass around the flame of a hurricane lamp. This is your inner wisdom, your inner watcher, the wise, loving observer of you living your life.

·        Around that glass sleeve is a sheet of black plastic, totally opaque to the bright white light. This is the fourth aspect in the model, your intellect.

·        There are little pin-holes in the black plastic scattered around it that let little rays of light through. These are the contents of your mind, your beliefs and conclusions.

·        Your mind, energy, and body are then three more sheaths created by the light of Consciousness that makes it through the little pin-holes.

Each little ray of creative Consciousness that passes through each pin-hole creates experiences in your life that are consistent with the belief that is the pin-hole. Beliefs are, quite literally, self-fulfilling prophesies. When you change your beliefs, those little pin-holes move around, allowing different Consciousness through, creating different things in your life.


So your beliefs are the determinants of your creativity. “Man is as he believes. As he believes, so he is.” –von Goethe. (I think the same holds true for women, as well.) “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right.” –Henry Ford. Our society has understood the importance and power of beliefs for hundreds of years. And, it turns out, you get to choose what you believe, with the right practice.

Since you get to choose what you believe, you can heal. To really work on the root causes of your health issues, you would need a way to find the belief that is allowing that issue to exist in your life and change it into a belief that allows you to create more of what you want. Many therapists and health practitioners understand this, yet developing effective, reliable, teachable techniques to change beliefs has been surprisingly difficult. Some, like Byron Katie’s work, EMDR, Focusing, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), are getting pretty good but there is still room for improvement.

When I looked at why finding and changing beliefs was so difficult, I saw that it had to do with two issues: how your mind works and the Laws of Consciousness. Without going into a big, long explanation, basically, you need a way to get to the hidden beliefs in the nonconscious mind and you need a way to get them aligned with higher truth that works within the laws of Consciousness. I have found a way to do both. And I can teach you.

Inner Wisdom

Actually, you already know how to heal, at least your inner wisdom knows. But since it is hiding out behind that sheet of black plastic, your conscious mind cannot readily connect with it. You first need a belief that you can hear and heed your own inner knowing and that opens up a little pin-hole that makes it possible. You can create such a belief in your mind by choosing to have faith that you can do it.

If you do whatever it takes to connect with your own inner knowing earlier rather than later on your healing path, you will save yourself a lot of work, time and money. Imagine, if the pioneers had worked on inventing the helicopter first before heading west, how much easier their travels would have been.

Your inner wisdom is very smart. Not only is it monitoring all of the physiological processes in your body and keeping them in balance as much as it can, it knows when things get out of balance and sends you a message that it needs your help. Learning how to hear and heed your own knowing is the best preventative medicine. It also knows what it needs to correct the imbalance, so it will direct you to treatments that both work and have a low risk of side-effects for you. I’ve seen people’s inner wisdom direct them to try treatments that neither their, nor my, conscious minds would have ever thought to try. And those treatments usually work miraculously.

So, by putting all of this together: an integral world view so that all of your life can be taken into account with respect to your healing, a broad science so that all valid healing concepts and modalities are available if and when you need them, an expanded model of a human being so that you can get treated as a whole person living a full life, and a connection to your own inner wisdom so that you know how to eat, exercise, play and make other important choices in your life to be in your highest interest, we have a pretty good system of medicine to help you with any issues you face. This is Integral medicine as I strive to practice it.

Now we just have to heal health insurance companies…



The Ideal Medicine

If you could design the ideal medicine to help yourself heal and stay healthy, what would it look like?

Integral medicine is my best effort to offer you the ideal medicine. I have been developing it over the last 30 or so years of my career. Since medicine is a practice (some believe that means that we never quite get it rightJ), Integral medicine is a work in progress. I am always learning new things and thinking about how to offer you better service. I would like to hear what you think would be the ideal medicine for you. Below is what I came up with.


First, you would want it to be safe. Like Hippocrates said, “First, do no harm.” It turns out that going to a conventional medical doctor for conventional medical treatments is now the third leading cause of death in the United States (http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139). So, conventional medicine, as it is routinely practiced, does not meet this safety criteria. I think we can do better.

Conventional medicine encompasses a wide range of ideas and treatment options, not all of them bad. In fact, some are downright powerful and very helpful. When I broke my ankle, I was thankful there was someone around who knew how to screw it back together. But I was even more thankful that there was anesthesia and sterile technique for the procedure. But, once the surgeon was done, I took over with my nutrition and herbs, affirmations, visualizations, and exercises. I healed quickly and got a very good result.

So, for the ideal medicine, we want to be able to include the tools and techniques of conventional medicine but use them with the proper consciousness and in balance with other support. With carefully considered personalized use, you can receive the benefits of conventional medicine and avoid most of the hazards. I have spent years figuring out how to use conventional medicine this way.

Find and Treat Root Causes

Second, you would want your medicine to find and treat root causes of your problems, whenever possible. Most conventional, and even most alternative approaches, just put you on treatments that suppress the symptoms but do nothing for why the symptoms are there in the first place. I think this is due to the fact that our society in general, and the medical community in particular, has a very incomplete understanding of root causes.

I have some dedicated patients who have helped me understand root causes in more detail. They have stuck with me for years as we have peeled down through the layers of their health issues. These layers have a peculiar property: each new layer, when first it was uncovered, felt like the root causes until, with further exploration, deeper layers were found. We kept searching until the level of pure consciousness was reached. So far, we have not found any deeper layers.

What we have learned is that there seems to be some property of the Universe that I will call Consciousness, with a capital “C”, which is at the root of all of physical manifestation. Some properties of you determine what aspects of this essentially infinite Consciousness manifest as your life. Unless you are working with these properties of yourself and aspects of Consciousness, you are not working with the roots.

Whenever you are working to change things that have already been created in your life, you are treating symptoms. This is necessary much of the time and we are fortunate to have a very large palate of both conventional and alternative supportive treatments from which to choose. But don’t stop there. If you don’t also change whatever is determining what you are creating as your life, you will keep creating more of what you don’t want. Integral medicine integrates this two-pronged approach to your health issues: we use the safest, most effective, most natural treatments to support you while we are searching for and changing the determinants of your creativity. You can stop creating what you don’t want and start creating what you do want. I want your treatment plan to be personalized for you, so please let me know if you want to use this two-pronged approach.

Treat You as a Whole Human Being

Third, try to come up with some aspect of your life that has absolutely no impact or influence upon your health. Most people can’t. So, the ideal medicine would be able to take every aspect of your life into account when looking for causes and treatments. How you eat and exercise impacts your health. How you sleep, how you stress out, your relationships, your work, your play, what you think and believe, the environment around you…the list goes on…they all play a role in your health, and imbalances can occur any place in your system and fields, not just in your body. The ideal medicine would be able to treat you as a whole human being (not just a skin-bag of biochemicals) involved in society and immersed in your environment.

Utilize Every Valid Concept of Health and Healing

Fourth, people all over the world have been thinking about health and disease for centuries and some of them have come up with some pretty good ideas. The ideal medicine would have a place in it for every valid concept and every effective treatment that we, as a species, have so far devised. But, to put this noble goal into practice, two major challenges need to be met. First, we need to figure out how to determine whether or not a particular idea or treatment is valid, and then we need to figure out how to fit all of the valid approaches together into one seamless, internally consistent framework.  

Conventional medicine as solved these problems by being exclusive: it defined what it does as valid and excludes everything else. This strategy essentially ignores the challenges and leads to the exclusion of some very safe, effective, and affordable approaches that we would like to be able to utilize. Integral medicine rises to and solves these two challenges.

Integral medicine is inclusive but, obviously, not every idea can be included: there needs to be some validity to it. One of my students summed it up nicely, “I want to be open-minded, but not so open that my brain plops out onto the floor.”


So, how do we determine whether or not a medical idea or treatment is valid and effective? The materialist science upon which conventional medicine is based has its ideas about what is valid and what is bogus and it steadfastly refuses to accept the validity of any kind of knowing other than the third-person, objective knowing.

That is a problem because, if you want your medicine to be able to take into account all of human experience, humans can know things three different ways, not just one:

1.      You can know something objectively, by looking at it, examining it, and measuring its physical properties.

2.      You can also know something subjectively, your own impression or personal experience of something.

3.      And, it turns out, you can know something transcendently. You can just sit and think about something and a level of understanding of that thing will come to you. Have you ever practiced that? It is called “contemplation” and is a valued method of teaching in many parts of the world.

The scientific process of inquiry can be applied to each of the three ways of knowing, it doesn’t have to be limited to just the objective; and each way of knowing has its own way of sorting the valid from the bogus. So, your ideal medicine would, ideally, be based upon a broad science of all three ways of knowing, rather than the narrow science of only objective knowing. That would make it more able to take all aspects of your life and experiences into account. Integral medicine is based upon such a broad science.

Integrate all Ideas

So, we’ve solved the first challenge: how to determine the validity of all the world’s ideas about health, disease, and healing. The second challenge arises because these ideas and treatments are so varied, how do we get them to fit and work together? Some of them, Chinese medicine and conventional medicine, for example, come from such different world views that, unless both practitioners know each other’s systems, they can’t even talk to each other about a patient.

But every system of healing so far examined can be placed into one of the four quadrants of Ken Wilber’s integral world view. This integral world view provides the framework that can hold all the different healing traditions. If patients and practitioners are willing to adopt this integral world view and learn a bit about other healing traditions, everyone can get along and work toward the benefit of the patient.

I believe that the Integral medicine that I practice solves these two challenges so that we can bring to bear the best the world has to offer for you to use on your healing path.


Fifth, you’ve probably heard the saying, “A stitch in time saves nine.” I don’t know if this has been scientifically proven: in my experience, sometimes it saves a lot more than nine. The point is that prevention is often a better strategy than needing to dig yourself out of the pit once you’ve fallen into it. So, again, you would like your ideal medicine to be focused on prevention at least as much as it does on treatment. “Prevention” to the conventional physician usually means “immunizations”. But there is so much more to real preventative medicine. Learning how to listen to the messages coming to you from your life and taking actions when the warnings are little whispers generally prevents the need for a 2x4 upside the head. You don’t want your life coming after you with a 2x4, believe me.


Sixth, if you’re like me, I bet you don’t like being told what to do. I bet you like understanding the reasons you ought to do something and would like a say in the decision-making process. Your ideal medicine would be fully explained to you and encourage you to participate in the decisions and treatments, as much as possible.


Also, no one size fits all, so your ideal medicine would be personalized for you, for your unique genetic makeup, your personality, your life. You would be in the driver’s seat. Your practitioners are your advisors, not your dictators.  

A Healthy Delivery System for a Healthy Medicine

Medicine is also dependent upon the social systems used to dispense it. I bet you would also like your ideal medicine to be accessible and affordable. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the healthcare delivery system in the US is as sick as is conventional medicine. I have tried many different practice formats over the course of my career, looking for the best way to dispense Integral medicine. In order to get insurance coverage for you to see me, I have had to make certain compromises to stay within the requirements put forth my your insurance companies. But I keep searching and, for now, the compromises are working fairly well.


So, let’s summarize. You would like your ideal medicine to be:

·        Safe

·        Effective

·        Comprehensive

·        Preventative

·        Participatory

·        Personalized

·        Available

·        Affordable

Did I leave anything out? Please let me know if you would like to add anything to this list.