Sunday, August 28, 2016

Inspire / Expire

This is the second time within a few months I have visited this place to pay respects to people (younger than me),,,both dedicated their lives to helping others.  Through the sorrow of the homily, I remember the words "its not how long you live but more importantly how you live life".

Last week I was throwing a diva tantrum in my brain thinking I have no time.  I was working 12 hour days, missed hugging my son good night, listened to alot of unhappiness during doctor hospital contract meetings, hardly spoke with my best friend/partner for life, painfully documenting hours of patient encounters in a computer system that was updating its servers, unable to work out or hike...thank god I had Davidji and his newest guided meditations to help ground me.  In fact, when I start to catch myself stepping onto the pedestal of ego to accept my diva award.....I just think back to the casket at the front of the funeral home carrying the lifeless remains of someone that was near and dear to humanity. A lifeless body with makeup, a favorite garment, a watch that stopped ticking....surrounded by pictures that celebrate joy, love, excitement beauty....the reason we get up everyday to a new sunrise ready to live life.  I stimulate my frontal lobe to conjure up, what would it be like if I was there, would my pictures say I was happy, did I contribute to the universe, would my kids be able to fight back the tears with memories of spectacular experiences with me?  Did I do my part to make the world a better place?

Passages in some of the oldest books of wisdom paint the picture that we are crude vessels that temporarily carry and express the energy/spirit/breath of the universe.  Eventually we surrender the vessel back but the spirit rejoins the universe to continue existence as nature or a sunrise or an inspiration (inspire and spirit both come from the same root word of breath).  Right about now some of my atheist readers will be rationalizing that nothing spiritual can be proven ...... but I am pretty sure even the most concrete thinking non believer will get to a point in their journey when they yearn for a higher power to help take the last walk.  As a doctor I have been witness to it many times, the sense of calm that comes over the sufferer.  Whether it is preceded by the most searing chest pain imaginable OR persistent difficulty in catching a breath to to point of passing out OR being wheeled away by the anesthesia guy into the operating room and saying the last goodbyes to family and friends OR  being taken off life support just in time for family and friends to wish a bon voyage OR getting the last morphine dose...there is usually a point when the anguish and facial grimace are replaced by peace and a face that just resembles sleep.  I believe that is the point when the universe fills our lungs with calm...we get to see the big picture that our lives are temporary expressions of the same energy on borrowed time.  The crude material that makes up flesh and bone isn't important, what matters is the way the universe pumps life into the vessel to play the music that would only exist on paper.

When we go through life day by day, just to get a paycheck, or live for Friday when we can go out and get wasted, or refuse random acts of kindness assuming someone else will do it...we don't allow the expression of the music inside us.  Its not that we are obliged to contribute to the universe and support life, it is in our DNA to express life and support the symphony with our individual musical notes.  In ayurveda its called dharma, purpose in life.  We cant find it in a formula or in a book, you just get this overwhelming feeling of peace when your doing what the universe created you for. I think its the same peace we can experience right before our last breath when you accept the universe back in and surrender the vessel back, well I feel in my heart that when you find your expression of energy/spirit/breath, a sense of calm and joy rewards your actions by unraveling DNA to give you such a natural high.

I think its easy for us to put the blinders on and just physically go through the motions of an 8 hour work day, get home, have a drink, watch mindless TV and go to sleep.  The point to ponder is are you feeling fulfilled?  Are you happy? Have you found your purpose in life?  What will your homily be like...did you contribute?  did you suffer? OR did you live your life hair on fire, driven to express yourself just living with an endless source of energy that seems to be a beacon for others to also search out for their individual expression. Aim to breath your last breath full of energy, creativity and peace....INSPIRE.

(try this exercise link)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Detox you Brain

It’s so cool to witness when people / patients find a way out of suffering. Even if not labeled with an injury, infection or inflammation...when getting into a “good stride” - the eyes get brighter, shoulders go back, chest comes forward, belly gets flatter- even the voice gets full with power and creativity. All those Chakra / Energy points of the body LIGHT UP and I can see a change in the way a person is interfacing with the world. Most of us have witnessed when someone walks into a room and makes heads turn, (not even wearing expensive things, or being handsome, pretty, tall, loud...). It’s usually that person who is magically silent but charismatic and carrying an aura of confidence . You just want to take a few steps closer and listen in or investigate “who what and where” this person is about. Like wandering closer to a crackling campfire in the midst of a cold night.
It’s kinda what happens when you find a good diet, a rewarding exercise routine, a sleep-full night, or even a certain way to correct posture just enough so that annoying muscle ache can stop for a few seconds. What I find is universal with this “good stride” is that it is usually preceded by a stuck time in life followed by a “detox”. Detoxing the gut, detoxing the liver, detoxing the blood, the detox diet, rinsing the nose, clearing the breath, scrubbing the skin...we’ve all done our versions of this and felt a little better afterward. Sometimes to the point of feeling refreshed, sometimes to the magnitude of being “on fire” with energy. Alot of people forget to do the one part of our bodies that really need it the most...Detoxing the Brain.
The brain weighs about 3 pounds, is composed of tissue that does not break down (compared to skin cells, blood cells, sperm, eggs......) and is the only organ that can continue to grow and evolve even into old age. Physically we cant’t really detox the the 100,000,000,000 neurons that make up the brain. BUT if you look at what those neurons do...they use chemical messengers to set up an electric charge and through that action, a thought is created and stored in the frontal lobe. This is what sets the human species as being on top of the evolutionary ladder compared to lower lifeforms. Unfortunately, this is also a disadvantage compared to other lifeforms in that some humans with ruminating thoughts, traumatic experiences, self defeating ideas can go through life suffering ,sorrowful, socially isolated. You have probably witnessed when someone with those qualities walks into a room. People will want to move away, look away, stop listening to or stop engaging that “bad karma” person.
This is the exact quality and thought pattern that you would want to Detox out of your Frontal Lobe. When we go on a great vacation, we push the reset button on our brains. When people go with me on hikes and we hit our summit, the eyes get brighter, shoulders go back, chest comes forward, belly gets flatter- even the voice gets full. We have effectively Detoxed our Brains. Richie Davidson out of University of Madison Wisconsin has found that certain types of mental training will improve the resilience of the brain when confronted with negative life events. Without a regular practice of mindfulness, the brain can be stuck in a rut (like that circle that appears on your screen when your computer is downloading a video stream so painfully slow). This practice can be achieved several ways, you can be like the monks Davidson studied (the Dalai Lama being the most well known), or getting out to nature (like Dr Eva Selhub wrote about in her book Your Brain on Nature), or going through a 5 days immersion at the Chopra Center (I took Seduction of Spirit and met Deepak Chopra when I started my “detox practice”), or something as easy as listening to Davidji with Guided Meditations for Awakening Your Spirit (one of the best voices for meditation I have ever heard). What ever technique you stumble across and adapt to is just that...a practice that should be done on a regular basis. The human brain has about 50,000 - 70.000 thoughts per day. Some of these thoughts can add to being stuck, some of these thoughts can propel us to being that person who walks into the room and turns heads.
The bottom line is that if you do not have a regular practice of Detoxing the Brain, at least twice a day for 5-30 minutes at a time, you are missing out on the one cheapest, simplest ways to reverse suffering for yourself and others around you. If you don’t get it on your own, try hiring coaches (psychologist, counselor, yoga teacher, energy healer...) to design a practice that’s sustainable. Be patient with the journey as it does get frustrating to turn off the thoughts that want to take you on a roller coaster ride of more thoughts and ideas and to-do lists. As my friend Davidji says while doing your mindful practice, when you notice you’re drifting away to thoughts sounds or physical sensations, ever so gently, drift back to the practice. Finding a way to “ignite” your detox practice will get you to be the biggest campfire you can be.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Thanks Dad

My Dad has always been a teacher.  He taught me not to take crap from bullies.  He showed me the value of embracing education.  He inspired me to change lives.   He showed me how to double clutch, heel toe the pedals, controlling the yaw of a car with tire speed.  He encouraged me to work hard but shoot for a reward.  He ultimately showed me that even when faced with death, you are still in control.

Fatherhood is more than just having kids and providing shelter and  food.  It is an honor bestowed to 1/2 of the planet to propel a species forward.  There are some who do not support the position and drop the ball....(cant focus on them as it takes the beauty away from the title).  We should honor the ones that really carve out a chunk of time in what seems a mountain of burden to act as a beacon for young people to emulate.  The guys who "get it" have it hard wired in their DNA to put their arms around the ball,  head down, and plow forward no matter what lies ahead.  When I ask people to jot down a 2 week diet diary.....I try to get a snap shot of what they eat, how they vary food intake, what they crave.  Some dads with come in the 14 days of food journalling where every day looks exactly the same.  I look at them and wonder, "....this is ok with you?"  Apparently there is satisfaction in mundane and repetition....when it supports an overarching goal.  When the realization is- you have to "provide" even when the task requires the majority of your waking hours (starting at sunrise and ending at bedtime) to be actively supporting the family.  I remember a birds nest outside my window where every spring, the mama bird would keep eggs warm and papa would spend his whole day searching for worms and bugs then bringing home the prize.  It was in his DNA to fly out and provide  no matter how cold dark or wet it was.

I appreciate dad's who take on the roll of fatherhood with pride and honor.  It is too exhausting to listen to the stories of men who trash the honor and teach bad lessons.  On the flip side, it is so empowering to see when dad's step up the the plate and hit home runs in the face of adversity.

My father is one of these men.  He came over from a foreign country, established a foot hold for our family, taught and empowered the value of education, launched me and my siblings into the world, allowed my Mama to leave with family surrounding her and still seems to teach me lessons even though he isn't around anymore.

I miss you dearly Dad, I wish you where here to guide me .....thank you for being my inspiration.

Friday, April 22, 2016

I felt the Earth move....

I woke around 4, something was calling me to go downstairs.  Even my faithful companion Perry was too sleepy to wake and follow me down.  The slot blinds facing the pond were open and the night sky was glowing.  I moved to the window and looked up to see a deep breath of the moon.  Full and bright as a setting sun.  I decided to meditate to a mantra guided by Deepak Chopra in an old 21 Day Meditation.  Om Bhavam Namah = I am absolute existence: Cultivate Stillness and Commune with Nature.  It just happened to come up in one of the guided meditations I have on my phone.  After a few minutes of repetition....I became aware that the moon was moving.  (okay....we all know it takes the same course along the night sky over and over again!!) but this was different.  From my position on the couch, the silhouette of the moon was just small enough to "fit" between the slots on the blinds.  As I continued my mantra repetition.....I could see the moon moving from one slot to the next.  I thought: "that's weird" then returned back to meditation.  But trying not to think too much into this occurrence....the moon was trying to distract me.  Or was my mediation slowing down my perception so I could be a witness to the speed of the earth rotating - like riding on a carousel and pretending the carousel is standing still and the carnival grounds are all moving around you.  I continued to just be mindful of the my current place on the couch, the position of the couch in the house, the direction of the windows to the sky, the geographic location of my house to the continent, the tilt of the earth in relation to the moon, the reflection of the sun rays on the moon /through the window onto my couch and into my eyes.....all causing a reaction to my retina stimulating a nerve impulse to by occipital brain creating an image and an emotional response of craving this moment.

The connection with nature is soooo powerful and can cause a shift in the way we think and feel.  The above conditions took place over 15-17 minutes of me just waking up and following an urge to move.  There is no medication that can reproduce anything close to what I just experienced in that same speed with out side effects.  I consequently had my morning Sencha green tea and proceded to create this blog -all because I paused and took notice to something in nature that we usually are too busy to marvel.  This is what I love about feeling youthful, there seems to be a peace that young people carry as they have not been exposed to so many trials and daily life interactions.  They dont get caught up in the thoughts of "how does this effect me/whats in it for me/what can I get out of this event".  I think when you let go of an outcome, there is a freedom that allows clearer thinking, appreciation for here and now....ultimately being in the moment.

My adult parents, business owners, patients  -sometimes are so caught up in worry and over planning the future, over thinking the past that they miss what is the awe of nature happening in front of them. Earth day isn't just an appreciation for this planet, its taking time to be in the moment, let the curiosity inside you come out again and be mesmerized like your first trip to the Grand Canyon or touching a horse, or hearing thunder, seeing an eagle or floating the water, just the sun above, no worry about anything but where your are right now.  aaahhh.

Happy Earth Day

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Modern Medicine

"Imagine a cliff where people keep falling off and dying.  Instead of erecting a warning sign at the top of the cliff telling people not to approach, modern medicine just places ambulances at the bottom."
-Burkitt 1991