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?

Consciousness

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.

Beliefs

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.

Safety

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.”

Validity

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.

Preventative

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.

Participatory

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.

Personalized

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.

Summary

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.

 

 

 

 

 

GMOs: A Bigger Picture

The topic of GMOs can bring up a lot of different responses and emotions. Many people don’t think about GMOs much, or just believe the conventional party line that they are safe and nothing to be concerned about. But anyone who thinks for themselves and looks into the issue generally gets all fired up.

I can see their point of view, but we need to approach GMOs with reason as well as emotion. The topic of GMOs is complex. There are many different ways that foods are genetically modified and different strategies have different potential health consequences. What is true for one kind of GMO may not be true for another. GMOs cannot be lumped all together as a single sound bite.

But, no matter their health consequences, we have a right to know what is in our food. GMOs should be clearly labeled, just as the protein, fat and carb contents ought to be clearly labeled. You have a right to choose what to put into your body. (Even in the current climate, you can still choose, if you are willing to do the research and shop and eat out in the right places.)

On one hand, if GMOs are as safe as Big Ag claims that they are, they ought to be able to convince us with clear, unbiased scientific studies. On the other hand, that Big Ag is so actively involved in controlling what studies get done and what studies get published, cutting off the funding for any institution that does not do their bidding, putting their executives on the boards of scientific journals and forcing the retractions of damaging studies that have been published, spending millions of dollars fighting state GMO labeling initiatives, and other such behaviors just raises the suspicions of those of us who are skeptical that we are being told the truth about GMOs.

But, like I said, GMOs are a mixed bag. For example, the first genetically engineered food product approved by the FDA in 1990 was a form of E. coli engineered to make the enzyme chymosin, which promotes the ripening of cheese. Roughly 80% of hard cheeses sold in the US are made using chymosin from these E. coli. But this is the same technology that is used to train E. coli to make human insulin. The vast majority of the insulin now used in the US comes from genetically engineered E. coli. Does using a genetically engineered enzyme in the production of cheese make the cheese more harmful to you? I would find that difficult to believe.

On the other hand, one strategy used to make corn less susceptible to soft-bodied caterpillars is to genetically engineer the corn to make Bt toxin within its tissues, so that when the caterpillar eats the corn, it dies. Bt toxin is thought to be safe for humans. In fact, farmers can spray the bacteria that make Bt toxin on their plants and still meet government criteria for being organic.

But there are two problems I see with eating corn impregnated with Bt toxin. First, Bt toxin kills the caterpillars by increasing the permeability of the membrane lining their intestines. Increased intestinal permeability is called “leaky gut syndrome” in people. It eventually leads to body-wide inflammation and the development of food allergies and auto-immune diseases. Bt toxin, by itself, probably does not cause leaky gut in humans, but it has recently been discovered that Bt toxin binds with a protein commonly found in mammalian intestines and the Bt-protein complex causes leaky gut. (http://www.gmofreeusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2011_11_JAT_CytotoxicityOnHumanCellsOfCry1AbAndCry1AcBt.pdf) Since conventional medicine ignores food allergies and leaky gut, these influences would not be noticed in any food toxicity studies. The rate of auto-immune diseases in the US has skyrocketed since the introduction of Bt corn in the US. (Just a correlation, so far, not a proven causation.)

The second problem is that a bacterium that causes tumors in plants, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, can transfer genes into plant and human cells. It is used in genetic engineering. It is a natural bacterium in soil and in your intestines. It can move the gene that makes Bt toxin from the corn you eat to the friendly bacteria in your intestines, turning your own microbiome into a pesticide-producing factory (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/bt-corn_b_2442072.html). Once your own friendly bacteria start making Bt toxin, how do you get them out? This may be one more cause of leaky gut syndrome and, thus, chronic inflammation.

Also, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round Up®, was first patented as an antibiotic. It kills the bacteria in the soil and in your gut. Very little is yet known about the microbiome of the soil and your intestines so, again, adverse reactions to altering these things would likely be missed in toxicology studies. Yet, all of your physical health starts with the health of the soil. And the more we learn about your gut microbiome, the more important it looks. Eating foods with glyphosate residues and spraying glyphosate-containing compounds around your yard are very likely detrimental to your health and the health of everyone else.

There are many more details about the health effects of foods with different GMO strategies, I just presented a couple for illustration.

So, some strategies for genetic engineering are probably safe and other are probably not. It is not accurate, nor wise, to lump all GMOs into one category. What is clear is that GMOs are here to stay. So we really need to get politics and corporate profits out of the way of good, unbiased science and take a clear, honest look at what we are doing to ourselves and the planet with this technology. 

GMO—Another Possible Root to Chronic Illness

Something is going on. In the Nineties, it was fairly easy to help a chronically ill person get better. Have them stop dairy and rheumatoid arthritis would go into remission. Lose a few pounds and their blood pressure would normalize. Now days it seems like chronic illnesses are more common, they are happening to younger and younger people and they are much more difficult to get to go away. Why?

It’s not genetic. Sure it is partly genetic in that your genes participate in how you respond to your environment. But the recent increase in chronic diseases is not due to changes in your genes. Genes don’t change that quickly. Epigenetic regulation of your genes may be involved, as the epigenetics can change quickly in response to environmental changes. But that’s just the point. It all hinges on environmental change.

So what has changed in our environment that is creating all this chronic disease? Researchers have been trying to find the answer to this question for years. Is it the increased exposure to electromagnetic fields in the proliferation of cell towers, radio and TV stations, wireless networks, cell phones and such? EMFs do have health effects, in my opinion, but they probably only contribute a small factor to the overall equation of environment and health.

Could it be pesticides and herbicides? Rachael Carson showed as early as the Sixties that we can run but cannot hide from these things and their use and concentration in the environment has only increased steadily since then. I think these compounds are definitely a factor in our decreasing fertility, increasing miscarriage rate and increasing problems with ovarian cysts, perimenopausal symptoms, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers. But I’m not sure they are that related to the increase in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in our society.

So what could it be? I’m going to make a case for GMO foods and the use of the specific herbicide Roundup®.

Almost everyone I’ve ever worked with who is experiencing a disease that is due to increased inflammation or autoimmunity has digestive imbalances. The imbalances may be at the root of the inflammation or may be participating in the self-perpetuating loops that are going in their bodies. The most common digestive imbalance associated with increased bodily inflammation is leaky gut, also referred to as increased intestinal permeability.

Down in your intestines, there is a membrane that separates your stool from your blood stream. Its job is to invite in all that your body needs from your foods, like water, proteins, vitamins and minerals, and keep out all that your body doesn’t want in the blood stream, like partially digested food, bacterial waste products and such. If you could spread that membrane out flat, it would cover a tennis court. And it is one cell thick. Anything that disrupts the integrity of that membrane allows the contents of your intestines direct access to the luxuriant bed of capillaries that are waiting to carry away all that gets absorbed.

Leaky gut is a problem for your body and, at the same time, a fairly common occurrence. So your body has three back-up systems to help that membrane out. First, you get a new membrane every three days, so that if it gets mechanically abraded, it heals quickly. Second, all the blood from your intestines goes to the liver first before it goes out to your body. That is called the “portal circulation.” It is then the liver’s job to inspect everything that just came in. If it is a food, the liver will prepare it so the body can use it. If it is a toxin, the liver will prepare it so the body can get rid of it.

So, what does your liver experience if that membrane is too permeable? Right. It gets swamped with toxins and gets overloaded. Leaky gut is one of the most common causes of liver-overload which causes symptoms such as PMS and hypoglycemia, as well as immune dysregulation. If the toxic load gets too high, the liver cannot clear all of them in one pass of blood and some get out into the circulation, causing brain fog, disrupted sleep, aches and pains in the muscles and joints, fatigue and such.

The third back-up system is that over 60% of your whole body’s immune system is in the gut. The white blood cells line up along that membrane ready to catch any bacteria or foreign proteins that leak across. If that membrane is too permeable, then your immune system is on all the time. Your immune system is supposed to be like the fire department. It is on alert, but those trucks are parked in the garage the majority of the day. What if they were out roaming around 24/7? Yes, they would burn a lot of gas, the firemen would get tired and not be able to respond appropriately when needed and they would probably be doing some things they don’t need to be doing.

Your white blood cells talk to each other with chemical called “cytokines.” They are to the white blood cells like neurotransmitters are to your nerve cells. When you have the flu, it is not the virus itself that makes you exhausted, feverish and achy, those are the effects of cytokines. If you have leaky gut, chances are good that you have elevated levels of cytokines in your system. That explains why you may feel fluish at times, or feel like you are coming down with something then it never manifests. If your immune system is on all the time, you are in a pro-inflammatory state. You can turn inflammation on easily but cannot then turn it off very well. You get over-use syndromes like carpal tunnel and tennis elbow easily, injuries may take longer to heal, you get stiff and sore more easily and such.

So what does all this have to do with GMOs? Well, it turns out that GMOs and Roundup® are causes of leaky gut. There are two main mechanisms for this, as I understand it so far.

Roundup® kills weeds. It does so through several mechanisms, the dominant one being interfering with the shikimate pathway. “The shikimate pathway (shikimic acid pathway) is a seven step metabolic route used by bacteriafungialgae, parasites and plants for the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids (phenylalaninetyrosine, and tryptophan). This pathway is not found in animals, hence the products of this pathway represent essential amino acids that must be obtained from the animal's diet. However, this pathway is found with microbes that live within animals in the gut microbiome.” (Wikipedia)

This means that, while Roundup® doesn’t kill mammalian cells, it kills your friendly bacteria. In fact, Roundup® has been patented as an antibiotic as well as an herbicide. Any residues of Roundup® in your food will disrupt your friendly bacteria, which causes leaky gut and autoimmunity problems through other mechanisms besides leaky gut. Since weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup®, it is being used in higher and higher doses. Also, even though wheat is not yet genetically modified to be Roundup®-ready, Roundup® is often now sprayed on wheat prior to harvest so that it is more uniformly dried out. If you are not eating organically, you are ingesting Roundup® in biologically significant doses.

In addition to being genetically modified to be Roundup®-ready, corn has a second genetic modification stacked into it. GMO corn, soy and cotton (ingested as cottonseed oil) contain a gene that makes the plant make Bt toxin within its tissues. Bt toxin is named for the bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis, that makes it naturally. Bt toxin kills caterpillars by three mechanisms. Some it kills by poking holes in the caterpillar’s intestines (sound familiar?), some it kills by stopping their digestion and they starve and some it kills by allowing bacteria through the intestines and they die from infection. Bt toxin has long been thought to be safe for humans but recent research shows that it kills human red blood cells and kidney cells. And, while Bt toxin by itself does not seem to cause leaky gut in humans directly, it can bind with up to six different proteins found in the human intestine and the Bt-protein complex then causes leaky gut.

Also, there is some concern that Agrobacterium tumetaciens, found naturally in the soil and human intestine and used by the biotech industry to insert genes into plants, can move the Bt gene from the corn that you eat and put it into your own friendly bacteria. If that happens, then your own microbiome becomes a pesticide factory.

There is a large body of science that claims that GMOs are safe for humans. Many are starting to question the veracity of that body of science as much of it comes from the biotech industry itself, obviously a conflict of interest. Also, many of the studies were not carried out long enough to see the real effects of GMOs. The bottom line, as far as I am concerned, is that a number of physicians, myself included, have observed that our patients with gluten sensitivity, chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases improve more quickly and to a greater degree when they eliminate GMO foods from their diets. Until the real truth of GMOs is better understood, if you are experiencing any long-term health problem at all, I would recommend eliminating GMO foods from your diet.

There are several resources to help you do that. The best way to avoid GMOs is to consult the NonGMOShoppingGuide.com or download the free iPhone app ShopNoGMO. Look for products with either the “Non-GMO Project Verified” or the “Certified Organic” seal. Avoid ingredients derived from the foods most likely to be genetically modified. These include soy, corn, cottonseed, canola, sugar, papaya from Hawaii or China, zucchini, and yellow squash. 

To your good health.

Six Lifestyle Changes I Wish All My Patients Would Make

No question, lifestyle choices have a huge impact upon your health. Studies show that healthy lifestyle can prevent or reverse most of the chronic illnesses in our culture such as obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, strokes and cancer. Most of these same advantages cannot be achieved by taking pills.

That’s too bad, of course, because taking pills is quick and easy (and believe me, drug companies continue to look long and hard for pills that could offer these same advantages but none have been found…yet. But they will keep looking) and changing lifestyle is something only you can do. But it doesn’t have to be hard; it doesn’t have to be a drag.

Conventional medicine talks about lifestyle changes to quit smoking, not over-drink and to exercise regularly. These are all good ideas and I’m going to assume you already know the evils of tobacco, alcohol and modeling your daily activity after a sloth. So I want to talk to you about my wish-list for your lifestyle in addition to the conventional ones.

1.       No GMOs. The biotech industry has done a stellar job blocking, censoring and otherwise obfuscating the information about the health effects of GMOs. How much time, energy and money they put into this massive cover-up should give you some indication about how bad GMOs are for you, even without any data. What do they know that is so bad that they have to work so hard to keep us from knowing it? What little data that does get through the cracks (and is credible) is very sobering. A recent study comparing pigs fed GMO soy and corn to pigs fed the same diet but with non-GMO soy and corn found that the GMO male pigs had a four-times increase in severe stomach inflammation while female pigs had 2.2 times higher rate of severe stomach inflammation. The female GMO-fed pigs also had uteri that weighed on average 25% more than the non-GMO pigs. I believe that someday the truth will out, as it generally does, but in the meantime, you don’t need to be part of the giant genetic experiment these giant corporations are conducting on us without our permission. Until we can organize a meaningful revolution, the best each individual can do to stand up to these giant corporations is non-violent non-participation. Just don’t buy their goods. I will go into more detail on the health effects of GMOs in later blogs.

2.       Eat as organically as possible. You can’t completely avoid herbicides and pesticides any more but a study done by the CDC demonstrated that eating organically lowers the levels of these chemicals in your body to as low as one-eighth the level of the general population. Since these things have hormonal activity, eating organically is especially important if you ever want to have children. Feed you children organically because they may want to have children someday. Not only do high levels of pesticides and herbicides affect fertility, they can increase problems with periods in girls and lead to cancers later in life.

3.       Figure out how to be healthy in the face of stressors. Stress is now linked to 70-90% of the reasons why people see a physician. There are two categories of stress: those inside your skin and those outside your skin. Stressors inside your skin would be physiological things like hidden infections, allergic reactions, leaky gut, poor quality sleep, autoimmunity and such. These things can be assessed and treated by a competent Integral Medicine practitioner. Stressors outside your skin don’t exist. All that exist outside your skin are potential stressors and they are only stress for you if they trigger the fight or flight reflex in you. Your fight or flight reflex is triggered any time you perceive yourself to be either threatened or spread too thin. The key word is “perceive.” One man’s stress is another man’s recreation. The difference between them is how they look at the experience. How you look at an experience is determined by your world view (guess that’s why they call it that.) Your world view is made up of beliefs. Through the practice of the Seven Tools of Healing, you can identify and correct your beliefs. The goal for reducing the adverse health effects of stress is to work your beliefs around so that the vast majority of what you face on a day to day basis does not trigger your fight or flight reflex. (I’m assuming you don’t live in a war zone, an inner city gang or are in the process of breaking bad.) Of course, you have to pick your battles. If you are in a stressful situation and there is anything you can do to improve the situation and you want to do it, you ought to. Only work your innards around to tolerate intolerable situations if you can’t change them. And may you have the wisdom to know the difference.

4.       Practice awareness. Your life is feeding you clues all the time from all directions: how you are feeling physically, how you are feeling emotionally, what you are thinking, how you are acting, patterns in relationships, your dreams, your likes and dislikes. Pick up on the clues and follow them back to the treasure (YOU!) Be uncompromisingly honest with yourself about the truth of your clues. If you are out on a treasure hunt and you modify all the clues you find to be more to your liking, chances are you’ll never find the treasure. We rationalize, sugar-coat, repress, deny, inflate, transfer and do all sorts of other Freudian things to our feelings and other clues and then wonder why we wander around lost so much of the time.

5.       Trust what you know. Trust is a choice.   

6.       Figure out how to be happy. There are so many very intelligent, very unhappy people in the world, I often wonder why they don’t use their intelligence to figure out how to be happy. “Seek and ye shall find.” It’s not “Seek and maybe you’ll find.” “Knock and the door shall be opened.” It’s not “Knock and maybe I’ll open the door if I’m not in the shower.” “The masters love the Tao because if the student seeks it, the student finds it.” Again, no “maybe” about it. These are famous sayings because they capture an important aspect of Consciousness. Your questions will be answered. Ask how you can be happy. Then start following your nose. Real, deep, unshakable happiness is independent of your life circumstances, it is an inside job. Health and Happiness often go together because they branch from the same trunk. You have that trunk inside of you; it’s part of being a human being. Seek and ye shall find. 

At Last! A Tenable Theory about How Consciousness Creates the Mind and Brain

In this blog post, I’m going to indulge myself and totally geek out. I’m excited because I have found a plausible answer to a question I’ve had for years. You see, I have never believed the current neuroscience dogma that the brain is primary and creates everything else by its activity. Neuroscientists believe that neuronal activity in the brain creates mind and consciousness. Yet when I look at their data, so many of their experiments make so much more sense if you think about it the other way around: that consciousness creates mind and brain.

Neuroscientists have yet to figure out how the neuronal activity in your brain creates your mind and I believe they never will because it doesn’t happen that way. For many years I have believed that the thought happened first and somehow created the neuronal activity in the brain that was then able to translate that thought into action by the body. The brain is then just an information relay station, which, by the way, is how it is constructed: much like the old telephone switch boards. But I was really no better off than the neuroscientists because I couldn’t figure out how thoughts created that physical response in the brain. But then Amit Goswami PhD (http://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Doctor-Physicist-Explains-Integral/dp/1571746552/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426985231&sr=1-1&keywords=quantum+doctor+amit+goswami) gave me the answer. At least a very plausible one.

It has to do with quantum weirdness. A little background. Quantum mechanics deals with the behavior of matter, energy and information at very small scales, such as the size of atoms and smaller. At these micro scales, the Universe is very different from what we’re used to at our macro scales. For example, matter and energy can act like both a particle and a wave. Particles are discrete little bundles like billiard balls. The can smack into things, like x-rays hitting the silver particles in a piece of film. While waves can diffract and constructively and destructively interfere with each other like the ripples on a pond when you drop two pebbles at the same time a few feet apart, or like when sound waves wobble as you’re tuning your instrument. It is hard for us to imagine how something can be a wave and a particle at the same time.

How physicists resolved this duality is by realizing that what quality the quantum world reveals of itself depends upon what the scientist is looking for. If you set your experiment up to look for particle-like properties, that is what you see. If you set your experiment up to look for wave-like properties, that is what you see. The observer, by exercising conscious choice, determines what the quantum world serves up. This, by the way, is the same way that Spinoza resolved the mind/body duality a couple of hundred years ago. Goswami maintains that quantum mechanics requires the existence of consciousness: the same consciousness that is the missing piece in medicine.

So once the photon is emitted and before it is detected, it exists as a probability function with many possible outcomes. The very act of measuring the photon collapses the probability function down into the one manifest reality that is measured. Once the function collapses, the other possibilities are lost for that particular event. Now what is curious is that even though quantum weirdnesses only show up at very small scales, since the 1930’s observers have noticed an uncanny correlation between the quantum world and the workings of the human psyche. Fritjof Capra talks about this (http://www.amazon.com/Tao-Physics-Exploration-Parallels-Mysticism/dp/1590308352/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427219753&sr=1-1&keywords=the+tao+of+physics.)

So imagine that you, as pure consciousness, exists as a quantum potential function. As each moment of your life’s experience gets “measured” as your conscious experience, that potential function collapses and becomes you in this very moment. And just as the potential function of a photon can collapse as either a particle or a wave, Goswami does a great job explaining how the human potential function collapses simultaneously into several “structures” in time and space. One is your physical body, another is your energy, another your mind, and another is what Gaswami calls the “supramental”. I see this supramental functioning inside you as your Inner Wisdom, your Buddha Nature, your Christ Consciousness, your Anandamayakosha or whatever you want to call it. The potential function that describes you simultaneously creates, when it collapses instant by instant, all the koshas in the Vedic model of a human being.  

So the thought in your mind doesn’t create the electrical activity in your brain any more than the electrical activity in your brain creates your thought. They are both created simultaneously as your potential function collapses into what you experience, or measure, as this present moment. An un-collapsed potential function exists within consciousness and, until it collapses, is outside of time and space. This fits our observations of mind/body/energy interactions where they each seem to be a correlate of the others, changes appearing simultaneously in all three aspects rather than one causing changes in the others. This explains how therapies acting on the energetic can change the body’s biochemistry or therapies acting on the mind can change the body’s biochemistry and vice versa. So this model fits a lot of what I see in my office every day as well as what the ancient Vedic sages observed over thousands of years.

And this idea of human potential consciousness simultaneously collapsing into these aspects explains yet another observation, that being that what you believe seems to play a very central role in both how you perceive and interpret your world and in what you are able to bring forth and manifest in your life. This central role of beliefs can now be explained if you theorize that what you believe influences how your potential function collapses. Just like whether or not you set up one slot or two slots for the photon to pass through determines whether or not you see particle or wave behavior, your own potential function collapses to be in harmony with, to be congruent with, what you already believe. Your beliefs are like the slots. The beliefs that you hold right now set up the experiment of your life, so to speak, to determine what the next moment of your life “measures” as the experience of your conscious self. So changing your beliefs changes how your potential function collapses and allows it to create different moment by moment experiences for you. The Seven Tools of Healing shows you how to find and change any limiting beliefs you may hold that are creating the things in your life you want to change.

I love it when something so simple can explain so many different things and be internally consistent across so many disciplines at the same time.

Getting the Most from Your Medicine

The placebo effect is one of the most important clinical observations that cannot be explained by the conventional medical model. Many clinical scientists have tried to deal with this outlying phenomenon by discounting it, ignoring it, subtracting it out of their data and other machinations (http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674669864) But if conventional medicine cannot explain the placebo effect, it can at least quantify it and learn to harness it for good.

In a recent article (http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/6/218/218ra5.full.pdf) researchers compared placebo to 10 mg of rizatriptan (Maxalt) in migraine headache. They compared the results from seven different scenarios. The first was the pain levels for a headache with no treatment as a baseline. The other six were a placebo labeled as either a 1)placebo, 2)50:50 chance of placebo or medicine and 3) 100% chance of medicine. And Maxalt was similarly labeled as 4) placebo, 5) 50:50 chance of placebo or medicine or 6) 100% chance of medicine.

They found some interesting results. First, placebo accurately labeled as a placebo still offered some pain relief compared to no treatment. Second, placebo labeled as 100% chance of Maxalt gave the same pain relief as Maxalt labeled as placebo. Interestingly, the best pain relief was in the scenario of Maxalt labeled as 50:50 chance of placebo or medication, though not statistically significantly different from Maxalt labeled as Maxalt. The take-home message? The patient’s expectations not only made the placebo work better but also the made the Maxalt work worse. Beliefs are self-fulfilling prophesies. People who believe that medications are poison are helping to create that experience for themselves.

Here is one way you can put this information to work for you. Real holistic medicine is inclusive, not exclusive. Real holistic medicine includes conventional medicine. Sometimes the power of pharmaceuticals and surgery comes in handy. If you are ever in a position where you need to take medications, you might as well get the most benefit and least harm from them. Years ago, I came up with this visualization that has helped many of my patients and I want to share it with you. I was working with a woman who said she was allergic to just about every antibiotic she had ever taken. At that time, she was having a severe sinus infection that was not responding to nasal saline irrigation, steaming with essential oils, antibiotic herbs, immune boosters or anything else we were trying. She did not want to see an ENT for surgery.

So I thought about it for a minute and said to her, “Do you know what it takes to get a medication approved for sale in the US? It takes literally millions of hours of people’s time and effort. And most of the people who work developing and testing new drugs, except perhaps for the top executives of drug companies who are actively manipulating the market, medical education, the practice of science, legislation and anything else they can get their hands on to increase their profits, are doing so because they honestly believe that their efforts will help someone somewhere. That means that that little pill represents literally millions of hours of people’s good will aimed at you. Hold it in your hand for a moment, give thanks to all those hard-working, caring people with your mind’s voice, swallow the pill and see it going to wherever in your body you need it to go, doing what it needs to do to help you and leaving the rest of your body alone.” She agreed to give it a try. I wrote her a prescription for an antibiotic, she took it, got better and had no allergic reactions or other side effects.  

Since then, I’ve seen this visualization help people tolerate chemotherapy better, not get usual side effects from opiates, blood pressure meds, antidepressants and such. You have a powerful mind. Learn how to use it to help yourself heal, increase your happiness and decrease your limitations.

“If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right.” –Henry Ford

Consciousness as Medicine

The placebo effect is one of the most important clinical observations that cannot be explained by the conventional medical model. Many clinical scientists have tried to deal with this outlying phenomenon by discounting it, ignoring it, subtracting it out of their data and other machinations (http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674669864) But if conventional medicine cannot explain the placebo effect, it can at least quantify it and learn to harness it for good.

In a recent article (http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/6/218/218ra5.full.pdf) researchers compared placebo to 10 mg of rizatriptan (Maxalt) in migraine headache. They compared the results from seven different scenarios. The first was the pain levels for a headache with no treatment as a baseline. The other six were a placebo labeled as 1)  a placebo, 2) 50:50 chance of placebo or medicine and 3) 100% chance of medicine and Maxalt was similarly labeled as 4) a placebo, 5) 50:50 chance of placebo or medicine or 6) 100% chance of medicine.

They found some interesting results. First, placebo accurately labeled as a placebo still offered some pain relief compared to no treatment. Second, placebo labeled as 100% chance of Maxalt gave the same pain relief as Maxalt labeled as placebo. Interestingly, the best pain relief was in the scenario of Maxalt labeled as 50:50 chance of placebo or medication, though not statistically significantly different from Maxalt labeled as Maxalt. The take-home message? The patient’s expectations not only made the placebo work better but also made the Maxalt work worse. Beliefs are self-fulfilling prophesies. People who believe that medications are poison are helping to create that experience for themselves.

Here is one way you can put this information to work for you. Real holistic medicine in inclusive, not exclusive. Real holistic medicine includes conventional medicine. Sometimes the power of pharmaceuticals and surgery comes in handy. If you are ever in the situation where you have to take medications, you might as well get the most benefit and least harm from them that you can. Years ago, I came up with this visualization that has helped many of my patients and I want to share it with you.

I was working with a woman who said she was allergic to just about every antibiotic she had ever taken. At that time, she was having a severe sinus infection that was not responding to nasal saline irrigation, steaming with essential oils, antibiotic herbs, immune boosters or anything else we were trying. She did not want to see an ENT for surgery.

So I thought about it for a minute and said to her, “Do you know what it takes to get a medication approved for sale in the US? It takes literally millions of hours of people’s time and effort. And most of the people who work developing and testing new drugs, except perhaps for the top executives of drug companies who are actively manipulating the market, medical education, the practice of science, legislation and anything else they can get their hands on to increase their profits, are doing so because they honestly believe that their efforts will help someone somewhere. That means that that little pill represents literally millions of hours of people’s good will aimed at you. Hold it in your hand for a moment, give thanks to all those hard-working, caring people with your mind’s voice, swallow the pill and see it going to wherever in your body you need it to go, doing what it needs to do to help you and leaving the rest of your body alone.” She agreed to give it a try. I wrote her a prescription for an antibiotic, she took it, got better and had no allergic reactions or other side effects.  

Since then, I’ve seen this visualization help people tolerate chemotherapy better, not get usual side effects from opiates, blood pressure meds, antidepressants and such. You have a powerful mind. Learn how to use it to help yourself heal, increase your happiness and decrease your limitations.

“If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right.” –Henry Ford

The Benefits of Listening

Learning how to listen to your own inner wisdom is the best skill anyone on a healing path can master. Case in point: recently, a patient I’ve been working with for years for her fibromyalgia has been going through a difficult time with insomnia. She falls asleep okay but then wakes up two hours later and cannot go back to sleep. She is very sensitive and often gets paradoxical reactions to both medications and supplements she takes. That means she often experiences the opposite to what the medication is intended to produce. For example, she tried trazedone, which was first developed as an antidepressant but was so sedating that no one could take the antidepressant dose without sleeping all day so we now often use a fraction of the antidepressant dose as a sleep aid. She took one dose and lay awake crying inconsolably all night. Antianxiety medications give her panic attacks and so forth. So we could find no medication or natural supplement that she could both tolerate and that was effective. She was nearing total melt-down after weeks of not sleeping.

For so many of my patients who get paradoxical reactions to medications, it is as if that is their body’s way of saying “Drugs are not your path to healing.” Most of them eventually find that consciousness is their path. My patient has been working hard on her issues with a therapist, making important changes in her life to take good care of herself, eating well, exercising; in other words, doing all the right things but all to no avail. One evening, in desperation, she was looking through her notes just to make sure she hadn’t missed anything when she came across a little yellow sticky note I’d given her at a recent visit. It read, “Cure and curiosity come from the same root word. Get curious about yourself, about your life and what is happening to you.” She told me later that she told herself, “I’m going to get curious about this insomnia. What’s at the root of it? What does it need?” Then she got still and the message “detox” came into her mind.

I would have not thought to recommend detoxing to her because she had already eliminated her reactive foods and her digestion was working pretty well. She sat in a sauna for 30 minutes, went home and slept for 9 hours straight. The next day she sweat for another 30 minutes and slept 8 hours that night. She said that she got the insight that her toxicity was actually her body’s response to her underlying chronic anxiety.

She has continued her listening and recently reported that she sees how she’s been trained from childhood to give her power away. Her inner wisdom has given her recommendations for what to do about that and recently, when her x-husband filed to sue her for increased child custody and child support because she makes more than he does, rather than get all stressed out about it like she would have, she, instead, turned around and filed her own suit against him for the six years of child support that he has not paid her. She is now inventorying her life and changing all the ways that she has been taken advantage of and given her power away. She is sleeping much better. 

Health Insurance and Water Bills

What if we paid for our water the way we pay for healthcare?

Say, for example, that you went to the bathroom and flushed the toilet. The water company would supply the water. They would then submit a bill to your water insurance company. If your water company is in-network with your water insurance company, the insurance company will knock thirty percent off the bill your water company submitted and pay that, assuming your deductible was met, then send you an explanation of payment for the flushed toilet.

But if your water company was out-of-network with your water insurance company, they might refuse payment all together or make your deductible twice as high as your in-network deductible.

But your water insurance company might need more information before they can pay the claim. They send you a form to fill out. Was that you who flushed the toilet or was that someone else? Do you have any other water insurance? Was that toilet flushed on the job? Then they deny your claim. Based on the information you submitted, they determined that you really didn’t need to flush right then. Or perhaps you’ve exceeded the allowed number of flushes this calendar year.

You call them and wait on hold for 40 minutes. Once you get a live person to talk to, they tell you that you have to talk to this other person. They transfer you and you sit on hold for another 40 minutes. This person tells you that you filled out the wrong form and that they really needed the information from the water provider. “Just have them write a note for you stating that you really did need to flush then,” they tell you.

You call your water company. They write a letter to your water insurance company. The water insurance company reviews all the records and determines that you did need to flush then but that you didn’t need five gallons so they are only going to pay for three. And to avoid all this confusion in the future, the next time you need to flush, just have your water company call and get prior authorization.

Then you go to take a shower. Your water provider asks you, “what part of your body do you want to wash today?” They inform you that if you wash your whole body in one shower, the insurance company won’t pay for it. And so on it goes.

Addictions

My definition of addiction is feeling management. Any time you are doing something or thinking something to make yourself feel any differently than you do in that moment, you are practicing your addiction. That addiction can be anything from heroin to television, from Emotional Freedom Technique to affirmations. I like this definition for addiction because it points directly to the treatment: learn to be present with however you are feeling right now.

Learning how to be healthy with your feelings, no matter what they are, is the best treatment for addictions I’ve ever seen. All the rehab programs that are successful teach their participants this skill. And they encourage them to practice this skill until they can use it with even the most powerful feelings. Rehab programs that are not successful generally are teaching their participants other ways, besides drugs or alcohol, to avoid their pain and other feelings. These are nothing more than substitution addiction programs.

Being healthy with your feelings means that you are fully aware that they are there, that you fully accept the truth of them and that you follow them back to their roots, their genesis, their source (see Feelings – Part I and Feelings – Part II for more on that). Signs and symptoms, of which physical and emotional feelings are a subset, are clues that something in your system is out of balance. They are clues we need to follow.

So, let’s say that you and I are working together on a treasure hunt. We find a clue that says “Proceed three blocks east and two blocks north, look for an orange box.” You look at that clue, get out your pencil and start scribbling, “I hate going east. I’m changing that to south. I hate orange so I’m changing that to blue, and instead of a box, I’m going to look for a flag pole.” And off you go with your new clue that is more to your liking. How successful are you going to be in the treasure hunt?

In real life, your feelings are the clues and the treasure is a healthy, fully realized you. We alter our clues all the time, we don’t follow them and then we wonder why we don’t get better.

Your addictions are asking you to be impeccable with your feelings and to find and be your truest self, which is also a Spiritual path. Every addict I’ve ever met has three personality traits in common: they are all very bright, very creative and very sensitive. Put those three traits into the same person, drop them down into this cesspool of human suffering and it’s going to hurt. Addicts are often trying to get out of that pain. Rather than finding other ways to ignore the pain, it is better for the addict to learn how to find the blessings in those three traits, to turn them from being curses.

Here is what I suggest. Engage your intelligence in a challenge. Challenge it to help you find lasting real peace and happiness, not just a momentary escape. Keep challenging yourself, keep searching and stick with it until you figure it out.

Engage your creativity because chances are, you are going to have your own unique path to your peace and happiness. Other people’s journey might give you suggestions or encouragement, but you have to walk your own path in your own way. Again, look inside yourself at least as diligently as you look outside yourself for answers.

With your sensitivity, you can listen quite deeply. You will be able to hear inner information that others have to practice for years to access. Trust what you hear. Follow your heart’s knowing. It will help you navigate fears and limited beliefs and get through. Work with someone who gets addictions on this level.

Tom Green, Patti’s late uncle and a lifer in AA, was fond of saying, “The alcoholic is a Spiritual Seeker.” And how right he was.

Copyright 2013 Steven M. Hall, MD

Previous Posts in this Series: 1.  Healing Implies Change 2.  Emendation 3.  Faith 4.  Awareness 5.  Acceptance 6.  Compassion 7.  Feelings – Part I 8.  Feelings – Part II 9.  Feelings – Example 10.  Feelings and Diet

Feelings and Diet

How to use a healthy relationship with feelings to have a healthy relationship with food

The last three blog posts laid out a fairly simple method for how to be healthy with your feelings and gave an example of how easily we’re lured into feeling management which keeps us blocked from important information in our lives.

Being healthy with your feelings is important in its own right, but you can use that skill to be healthier in other aspects of your life as well. For example, until you develop yourself to the point where you transcend physical influences, how you eat is far and away one of the most important influences upon your health. Studies have shown that a healthy diet can promote healthy pregnancies, prevent heart disease, diabetes, obesity, strokes, Alzheimer’s, cancer and even depression. Health educators have done a pretty good job in our culture. Anyone who wants to know what a good diet is can readily find that information. You probably already have a pretty good idea about how you’re “supposed” to eat, what’s bad for you and what’s good for you.

Yet, how often do you eat that way? And why not? Any time you find yourself eating something that that little nagely voice inside bugs you about, why do you go ahead and eat it anyway? There’s information in all this. In medicine, we’re constantly telling people to change the way they eat but it is the rare person who takes our advice and builds themselves a whole new life with it. Years ago, I got some insight into why that might be the case.

I read an article about two tribes that lived on either side of a river that was a tributary to the Amazon. As neighboring tribes often are, they were enemies of each other. Both tribes had access to essentially the same food in the jungle, yet what was acceptable food for one tribe was taboo for the other. How you ate made you part of your tribe. For hundreds of thousands of years of human development, fitting into your tribe meant survival, being ostracized by your tribe meant death. When we ask someone to change the way they eat, we don’t realize it, but we are really asking them to change tribes. That is no simple request for our non-conscious minds! In addition, you may have other more personal reasons, such as needing to feel safe, etc, to keep you in your less-healthy eating patterns.

So if the way that you are eating is making you sick, or very likely to make you sick sometime in the future, how do you get yourself to change? I see two ways.

The first way is a great way to practice awareness and trusting yourself. When it comes time to eat, take a moment, get centered inside and ask your body what it wants to eat. Get some sense about what that would be. If possible, go eat that. About 30 to 60 minutes after you eat, tune in to how you are feeling now because you ate that. Over time, and with practice, you will get very good at hearing what your body wants as well as discerning whether you are listening to the little devil on one shoulder whispering into one ear or the little angel on the other shoulder whispering into the other ear.

No published list of shoulds knows your moment to moment biochemical needs so this way of eating makes good sense to me. As they practice listening, I’ve seen my patients get very good at detecting imbalances in their digestion that needed addressing, at picking up food reactions, at telling what combinations of foods work for them and what don’t and so forth. Also, being able to tell the difference between your real inner loving guidance and the saboteur is a helpful skill for other areas of your life as well. Knowing how to work well with your feelings greatly facilitates this kind of learning.

The second way to change how you eat is to pick some kind of diet—some kind of regimented way of eating—commit to that and then use your healthy relationship with your feelings to deal with any feelings that come up because of how you are eating. You may have to deal with feelings of deprivation as your diet does not allow you to have something that you love to eat. You may have to deal with feelings at pot-lucks or if you eat out with family and friends. But all sorts of feelings may come up: anger, fear, grief. You may find yourself trying to rationalize yourself out of your commitment. Remember, if you give up lightly on your commitment, it’s not much of a commitment. This is also a good chance to practice will-power and renewing your commitment to yourself one day at a time.

But stay very aware of your feelings. Follow them back to their roots. See where they are coming from. See if those roots are really true from a Spiritual perspective. Be kind to yourself as your stomach digests your backbone.

Copyright 2013 Steven M. Hall, MD

Previous Posts in this Series:
1.  Healing Implies Change
2.  Emendation
3.  Faith
4.  Awareness
5.  Acceptance
6.  Compassion
7.  Feelings – Part I
8.  Feelings – Part II
9.  Feelings – Example

Feelings – Example

We’ve talked about how feelings, both physical and emotional, are messengers bringing you information about what’s going on inside of you. By getting the message from the feeling, we are often in a position to take meaningful, appropriate action to correct any imbalance or problem that the feeling may be “talking” to us about. That imbalance could be a lack of water, food or specific nutrient; it might be we need to get up and move around; it might be that we are harboring a host of limiting beliefs. Physical feelings do not always have physical causes. Emotional feelings do not always have emotional causes. Each feeling needs to be listened to and followed to its roots in a non-judgmental, unconditional, honest way. Any fiddling with the feeling risks blocking you from your truth.

Elizabeth (not her real name) belongs to a fairly active and close-knit group of people who collect and distribute food to house-bound elderly in their community. She is generally self-assured, confident, energetic, out-going and well aware of the messages coming to her from her body. She is very health-conscious: grows most of her own food, eats organically, her lifestyle includes plenty of exercise, she treats naturally when needed, has a spiritual practice, great relationship…stuff like that. Not too long ago, a couple of women in the group decided to take a disliking to her.

They think that she violated an agreement or something and no amount of explaining was able to change their minds. For months, these women would, seemingly out of the blue, bad-mouth her or back-stab her. Nothing she did made the situation any better. Over time, she started experiencing more anxiety and felt like she’d lost her Spiritual center. She was not sleeping as well and had become more hyper-vigilant. She also found it more difficult to listen to her body. She said she knows now how it feels to be bullied. She’s worried that the chronic, smoldering anxiety is planting the seeds of disease in her body and wants to “get back to” her sense of calm and confidence. She’s been meditating more, but it’s not working.

First, what she’s feeling is very common in people who are being attacked, whether the attack is physical, verbal or psychic. One often feels hopeless, trapped, demoralized, anxious and even depressed. She’s not used to feeling this way and now has more compassion and understanding for people who do, but she really wants to get back to how she was feeling before these two women started back-stabbing her.

This is a perfect example of what we do to ourselves with our feelings. We don’t like how we’re feeling now and we want to feel something different. So we often try to make the uncomfortable feelings go away with techniques as simple as ignoring them or as sophisticated as creating entire New Age philosophies to rationalize them. Even intelligent, psychologically adept and spiritually minded people do this. The trouble is, it doesn’t work very well.

We often try to make changes to the outer circumstances in order to change how we’re feeling. If there is anything that you can do to improve the outward situation and you feel called to do it, you definitely should give it your best effort. It was reasonable for Elizabeth to make a couple of attempts to clear up any misunderstanding that may have happened. But once that does not work, what others think, feel or believe, especially about you, is out of your jurisdiction. Unless you’re a whiz at advertising, you might not be able to effect much change in that arena.

Elizabeth was getting very clear about that. We talked about feelings and how to see them as messengers and how to stay with the feeling just as it is. We discussed the difference between thoughts and feelings. One does not need to indulge unsupportive thoughts and it’s okay to note that such thoughts are there and redirect your focus, but you want to really hear what your feelings are trying to say to you before doing anything to make them change or go away.

I spoke with her several weeks later and the anxiety was still there to some degree, but she had realized that she could not change these women so she wasn’t going to taking it so personally. She had concluded that she didn’t need to put any more effort into trying to convince these women of anything and instead was able to focus on the question, “What is the Universe trying to teach me through all this?” She realized that these women’s treatment of her bothered her so much because they were impugning her integrity. Her integrity was important to her and she didn’t like being misunderstood.

She decided that 100% integrity wasn’t enough. She resolved to keep a close eye on herself and live in “1000% integrity.” As she’s been doing this, her anxiety had been slowly abating and she’s feeling her confidence and energy return. She’s also opening back up to information from her body. Instead of seeing the anxiety and sense of disconnect as the problem that needed to be addressed directly, she was able to listen to the deeper themes underpinning the feelings and deal with them. As she did so, the feelings changed. In other words, the messengers didn’t have to keep bringing the same message once that message was dealt with in an appropriate fashion.

So often, when we go through trials in our life, if we work with them in a healthy way, we improve; if we work with them in an unhealthy way, we often get closed down. Whether you feel opened or restricted by the challenges in your life gives you a clue as to how you are working with them.

When we are able to be healthy with our feelings and keep our efforts where we have jurisdiction, we get clearer about who we are and how to make choices congruent with that, we get physical healing as our bodies start working better, we often have more energy and find it easier to “get in the flow.” These are indications that healing has happened.

Be present with your feelings. Remember, no matter how you are feeling in any given moment, you can still be kind to yourself.

Follow these steps to get the messages from your feelings and make the changes that your painful or uncomfortable feelings are asking you to make. You can do this.

Copyright 2013 Steven M. Hall, MD

Previous Posts in this Series: 1.  Healing Implies Change 2.  Emendation 3.  Faith 4.  Awareness 5.  Acceptance 6.  Compassion 7.  Feelings – Part I 8.  Feelings – Part II

Feelings – Part II

To be healthy in general, we want to be healthy with our feelings. To be able to continue to use the stuff of our everyday life to grow and reach our full potential we need to be healthy with our feelings. Managing our feelings, wanting to feel a certain way and not feel other ways, cuts us off to important information about ourselves and can keep us stuck. So far we’ve talked about how feelings are messengers, therefore they are innocent. All your feelings are valid. You never have to say, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way.” You don’t ever have to feel guilty for how you are feeling. Alcoholics Anonymous says that feelings are not facts, but the fact is, you are feeling that way. There is information in that. You want to use that information to the fullest to help yourself heal.

Some feelings you’re going to like, some you’re not. That’s just the Yin-Yang of Nature. The tide comes in, the tide goes out; the moon waxes, the moon wanes. One is not better or worse than the other. The same can be said about your feelings. Learn to treat them all equally.

Physical and emotional feelings are just two sides of the same coin. Learn to listen to yourself on both tracks simultaneously. That tension in your shoulders has emotion behind it. That frustration is causing physical changes in your body. See both, get the fullest picture of your truth in the moment that you can.

Become aware of how you are feeling. For some reason, this makes it a whole lot easier for you to work with it. Unconscious feelings have an interesting property: even though we’re oblivious to them, they’re obvious to those around us. That’s just plain not fair, (especially when you’re married) but nobody said life was fair.

Next, admit the truth of how you are feeling to yourself. No point in lying to yourself. Working with a distorted version of your truth will not free you from whatever malady you are experiencing. Denying, repressing, rationalizing, sugar-coating or putting any other kind of distorting spin on the truth of your present moment will keep you stuck in your present perspectives, beliefs and patterns. You may be able to force the content of your life to change, such as changing partners or careers, but the same feelings and patterns will keep popping up over and over, until you stop fighting and just let in your truth.

Once you fully admit how you really feel and what you really believe, see how they have been impacting you down through the years. See what experiences you went through that led to the formation of those beliefs. You might see yourself as a small baby before you have object permanence lying in a room all alone, unable to see or hear anyone else, feeling unimaginable fear and abandonment. You might see yourself as a small child being tormented by older siblings or being sexually abused by a neighbor or family member. Just trust what you see, even if it doesn’t make sense at first. Memories often start out vague and flesh themselves out over time.

If you are doing this exploration yourself, hold yourself to a very high standard of integrity. Avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions. Stay with the observing and asking questions and you will avoid most of the detours and dead-ends on your path. During this process, if you are working with a therapist, it is very important that your therapist also not make assumptions or jump to conclusions. They need to stay with non-judgmental, un-loaded, open-ended questions and let you draw your own conclusions.  Studies have shown that false memories can be implanted in susceptible people, especially during highly emotionally charged moments. People also have the tendency to embellish and amplify memories as well. Both of these distort and block the truth, interfering with your healing. Whether or not your memory is literally true or more symbolic is very important if you want to engage the legal system and prosecute a perpetrator. But if your major goal is to release yourself from a limiting belief, the distinction is less important. Whether or not something you remember actually happened is immaterial as long as you work honestly with the feelings that you are having.

For example, I’ve had patients who were convinced that they had been sexually abused as children. They exhibited all the symptoms of PTSD around intimacy and so forth. But upon deeper exploration they saw that they had picked up on the abuse some of their classmates were going through and internalized that. If you put thirty children in a classroom, statistically, several of them will have been or are currently being sexually abused. A sensitive child can pick up on that and possibly own it as their own, like they do with so many other energies in their environment. But whether or not that child was actually abused is immaterial. They feel abused and that abuse still needs to be healed in them. We are all interconnected and interdependent. If you hurt yourself or another, you are hurting the entire system. Conversely, if you love yourself or another, you are loving the entire system. Therefore, finding and living from your source of deep inner love is something real and definite that you as an individual can do to make this world a better place for everyone, whether or not you ever sign another on-line petition. But I digress.

So once you are in touch with the experience that led to the formation of the belief, imagine bringing your present day adult self back in time to be with your younger self as you are going through those experiences. Ask your younger self how it wants you to be with it right then. I’d be willing to bet that it won’t ask to be attacked or annihilated; it won’t ask to be judged or criticized. Most likely, it will just ask you to be with it, to be supportive and understanding, to be kind to it. This is the compassion piece. If you can, give yourself what you are asking.

Usually, this is all it takes to get the limiting belief to change, to draw different conclusions from that original experience, to get the belief to align itself with higher Spiritual truths. Once the belief changes, then the feelings that are being generated by that belief change and that is often how you know that the change has happened. Any given experience has multiple possible interpretations. As you inventory the seminal experiences of your life, ask yourself, “How does God (or Spirit) view this? How does this look through Spirit eyes?” Trust what you know.

If you want to see an excellent, graphic representation of this kind of therapy, watch the Walt Disney movie “The Kid” starring Bruce Willis.

Copyright 2013 Steven M. Hall, MD

Previous Posts in this Series: 1.  Healing Implies Change 2.  Emendation 3.  Faith 4.  Awareness 5.  Acceptance 6.  Compassion 7.  Feelings – Part I