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

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

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

And who wouldn’t want that?

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

As you may imagine, there are several steps involved.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choose the Best Way of Eating for You

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

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

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

a.      The Paleo diet

b.      The ketogenic diet

c.      The Ornish diet

d.      Weight watchers

e.      The Pericone prescription

f.       The plant paradox diet (low lectins)

g.      The Mediterranean diet

h.      The specific carbohydrate diet

i.       A low histamine diet

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

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

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

You Can Do This!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Hope for Head Injuries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Integral Medicine as Primary Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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