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Archive for the ‘Health and Wellness Matters’ Category

The other day someone mentioned to me that America’s health crisis could be largely resolved if people would avoid everything in the middle of the grocery store and only buy items currently on the outer walls.

I had to think about the statement for a moment, but once the picture of the last grocery store I visited filled the screen in my mind it occurred to me that he was on to something. Perishables – vegetables, fruit, juices, milk, eggs, fresh meats, fresh breads and so on – line the perimeter of just about every big-box grocery store. The middle of the store, conversely, showcases heavily processed, sugared, salted, chemically-enhanced conveniently packaged whole and fresh food substitutes.

My brother-in-law and I were chatting the other day about how few people have a chance to see their food in its original, live state before it is butchered, harvested or processed. Chickens to most children nowadays are slabs of clean, skin-free meat enclosed in styrofoam and shrink-wrap. Cows, pigs, lamb and fish suffer the same misunderstanding. There is hardly any connection between the original plant or animal and its eventual consumer anymore.

In my mind this creates a situation where healthy food choices are more difficult to make. Everything in the grocery store is put on equal footing, the primary difference typically has little to do with the item’s provenance and everything to do with its price to the average consumer. Fair enough, but I have to wonder if we are missing something by accepting the “big-box” distribution system which is backed by industrial agriculture as the only possible solution.

I came across a courageous talk given by an 11 year old, Birke Baehr, at the recently held TEDxNextGenerationAsheville. Sometimes children put it best, despite their lack of life experience.

Wasn’t that wonderful? Don’t you love the fact that he wants to be an organic farmer when he grows up? I wish Birke well. What an inspiring story.

Is our present system sustainable? It’s hard to see how it could be. If we are to escape from the downward spiral we are presently on relative to the health of our nation, we need to take Birke’s advice and learn about ways to get back in touch with real, wholesome and nourishing food. Believe me, there’s more to it than getting sufficient macronutrients.

I’d love to hear what resources you use to help you make healthy food choices as well as any success stories you’ve come across…

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A friend forwarded a fantastic link to me the other day and I thought you would enjoy it as you think about how to handle the remaining weeks you have to live.

The average person in the Western world now lives to the ripe old age of roughly 75 years in a body that properly cared for could live much longer. Look more closely and you see that you have 900 months or 3,600 weeks to do what you are going to do while on earth.

If you haven’t heard of thevisualMD, they produce fascinating educational videos on topics such like health and wellbeing. This particular video gives you a good feel for what they do and for what you can learn in just a few short minutes:

http://www.thevisualmd.com/health_centers/wellness/the_9_visual_rules_of_wellness_preview/return_to_the_path_of_good_health

My readers and subscribers in the USA will no doubt be enjoying some version of Thanksgiving today. Thanksgiving to me is a time for appreciation, celebration and remembrance.

The freedoms and security we enjoy now came at a great cost to many over the years. As is so often the case in history, great nations were subdued as a new order was established, disenfranchising some while empowering others. It’s not pretty, but it happened and I have no doubt that it will continue to happen in the future unless there is a fundamental shift in human consciousness.

How that would happen I am not sure, but the possibility of its occurrence is something that I am not entirely willing to write off. I’ve received a number of links to the increasingly popular “flash mobs” that are popping up in public spaces around the country, where planned but unannounced musical or dance performances are put on to the delight and amazement of an unsuspecting crowd. It’s funny to see how significant an effect a small catalyst like that can have on people. They are inspirational!

Inspiration needn’t be contrived or practice to be effective. In fact, every conversation you have, every glance you give one of your fellow human beings, every word that comes out of your mouth can either inspire or discourage those within view and earshot.

As you celebrate this Thanksgiving, make an effort to give thanks for the blessings you’ve received in your life. Share your appreciation of others…don’t be shy. Emphasize that which you wish to grow in others and take note of but don’t dwell on that which is destructive or abrasive. All things come to pass and as with the Abominable Snowman, once the teeth are gone you might find a helpful and enjoyable person underneath the grizzly facade.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Mitochondria from a Mammalian Lung, Image by Wikipedia

I love to hear the head of my Practitioner Support team (the group in my company responsible for technical marketing and education) speak about health and wellbeing. Her passionate interest in restoring normal flow to the body’s various systems fascinates me – and our clients – to no end.

 

Restoring optimal cellular function is one of her favorite topics and one particular component seems to come up whenever the topic of cell health comes up: mitochondria. She calls it the “powerhouse of the cell” and at times, “the digestive system of the cell,” though she is quick to qualify that it does “much, much more.”

Mitochondria are the cell’s power producers. They convert energy into forms that are usable by the cell. The conversion process is an aerobic one, so it also helps to oxygenate the cell. According to my friend, smooth functioning of this flow system allows the body to rebuild and maintain health.”

Many doctors are finding that impaired mitochondria function is quite often at the root of chronic degenerative disease. One source of impairment is toxicity. Apparently, toxins tend to lodge in the mitochondria and these toxins can block the natural flow systems in the mitochondria, creating a need for long-term supplementation and disease management.

Healthy parts set the stage for a healthy whole. The body has a remarkable capacity for healing if given the right surround and if you restore the powerhouse to its rightful function you dramatically improve the overall health of the body.

There are many ways to improve cellular health, particularly when the tools and techniques pioneered in the field of bioenergetic medicine are employed. One of the challenges for practitioners who work in this area is to keep up with the mounting levels of toxicity found in the air, water and food we ingest.

These toxins are more often than not driven deeper into the body by the body’s own self-protection mechanisms, by improper medical treatment and by overly zealous cleanses and detox programs that are no doubt undertaken on the basis of good intentions.

As I mentioned, the body has a remarkable ability to repair itself, given the right support. This process cannot and should not be rushed, for so doing tends to compound the situation more than resolve it.

I imagine that the scientific and medical communities will continue to find ways to restore these remarkable yet tiny cellular citizens in the months and years to come and I look forward, with great anticipation, to the day that chronic degenerative disease is felled at the root.

Don’t you?

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Vision is a powerful sense.

Whether the capacity for vision is the product of thousands of years of evolutionary development or the result of an original design modified over time by the aforementioned invisible hand, vision is a marvelously powerful tool. While roughly 0.3% of the American public is legally blind, I have heard it said that the majority of people relate to the world around them primarily through their visual sense. Even if you are an auditory or kinesthetic learner, I’ll bet that you rely heavily on your vision to help you navigate your world.

It is often easier to understand a new concept when you can see how it works. Advances in computing are transforming education at the moment, and I am amazed by how quickly young children pick up new concepts with the assistance of visual aids. Subjects that formerly required the ability to imagine or picture a theory or process can now be portrayed in graphic detail, thanks to computer-generated graphics.

One such development caught both my eye and interest the other day, and it comes to us from the field of scientific animation. XVIVO Scientific Animation aims to provide knowledge through animation. Two of their visual productions in particular made me think that had I seen such animations earlier in my education that I might have elected science rather than political science and business as my major:

I mentioned yesterday that our bodies are marvelously designed. It excites me to have a visual representation of the tiny processes that translate the invisible life force into visual tangible expression. Watching these videos heightened my awe and appreciation for the little things in life that make life possible and led me to think more about the lifestyle choices I make from day to day.

The food you eat, the attitudes you hold and the investments you make in the world around you all reverberate through and impact the various layers of organization in your body – systems, organs, tissues, cells and so on. There is an increasingly popular system of medicine called “Functional Medicine,” which is based in part on the idea that our increasingly toxic world is impacting the normal function of the very cells that make a healthy life possible. The result? Simply put: what is now commonly recognized as chronic disease.

Why are healthy lifestyle choices important? Because they can have a positive impact on the very processes depicted in these stunning visual animations. Healthy cells, productive mitochondria, unpolluted intercellular material, and so on translate into better health and a greater sense of wellbeing.

I hope that you, as I did, can see the importance of maintaining a clean, healthy body in a new light because of the pioneering efforts of companies like XVIVO. They say that seeing is believing and I have seen and I believe!

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I had an unusual conversation yesterday that I feel is worthy of further consideration. A new acquaintance, whom I have not met in person, asked me where I thought the world was headed. What a whopper of a question! She qualified her question with a mention of the Mayan Calendar, which as I understand it predicts a massive shift in the year 2012 and a number of her own observations on the matter.

Many predictions of doom and death have come and gone – even within my lifetime – with little to no outer evidence of their coming true. Some claim Nostradamus pointed to big changes in our present era while others made more specific predictions based on astrological alignments (e.g. 5/5/200) that ended up being no more devastating than the Y2K bug.

That said, I cannot help but feel that we are living in a momentous era. My reply to the question was qualified by the fact that I work in the field of energetic medicine, where the physics of the body are given as much weight as its biochemistry. For instance, doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), an effective system of medicine developed thousands of years ago in the East, work on the basis that what happens physically in the body happens first in the energy flow of the body. To a TCM practitioner, disease manifests first invisibly in the energetic body before it appears in the physical body.

Many of the more “sensitive” or “intuitive” types I know share the conviction that change is afoot. It may not yet be visible or tangible to the typical person, but as with our health, the invisible precedes the visible and the canaries in the mine are agitated. Just as I am open to the observations of my trainer who is infinitely more sensitive and perceptive in the field of horseback riding, I am inclined to listen to those more sensitive to me as I refuse to be prejudiced by the view that says “I can’t see it or measure it so therefore it is not real or valuable.”

Maybe the predictions related more to the energetic pattern of the body of humanity – its physics – than its actual, physical body. Maybe the failure is occurring at that level, as we speak? Who knows, really? Are we so bound by the present borders of our understanding – both scientific and spiritual – that we are willing to dismiss the possibility, without any consideration at all? Snobbery and fanaticism are as rife in the scientific community as they are in the religious community and I believe that we could all benefit from a more open-minded view of the possibilities.

I’ve often wondered if the changes that need to be made to move off of the path of self-destruction relate to the necessity of making more subtle, internal and therefore less visible changes, for what’s true of the individual tends also to be true of the body of humanity. A good driver, for instance, makes the constant adjustments in steering and pace in a way that the more extreme moves are not required. Making the little changes obviates the need for the larger, more dramatic and dare I say, cataclysmic changes down the road.

In medicine, you can make the change at the level of qi, with often imperceptible interventions. You can make the changes when biochemical or physical precursors to disease are discovered. Or you can wait until the disease manifest fully, an approach that requires the most invasive and potentially dangerous interventions. The longer you wait to deal with something, the more difficult it will be to handle. Isn’t that true in all spheres of life?

I have faith in humanity. I am not convinced that we are inexorably bound to destroy ourselves as a result of what has come to be known as “human nature.” As I’ve mentioned before, what is accepted as being permanent is only perceived as such because it has been around as far back as we remember. We must leave room in our thinking for possibilities that we cannot conceive of from the confines of the box we live in today.

My new acquaintance mentioned that she had recently lost just about everything in her life and as a result she thought a lot more about life than she ever had. I felt for her and can appreciate what she went and is continuing to go through, though I hope that it doesn’t have to come to that point for the human race as a whole.

Let’s make the changes now, step up our game, relinquish the tendencies that are obviously of no benefit to anyone, present or future, and create a brighter world together.

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Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother", Image by WikipediaEconomic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body – the producers and consumers themselves. ~ Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover’s response to the Great Depression– a fiscally conservative approach that relied more on a call to confidence and volunteerism than governmental intervention – failed as the businessmen and consumers he sought to inspire refused to dance to the tune that he piped.

Hoover’s presidency marked a transition between the old and the new, the tipping point between the country’s Jeffersonian roots and the realities of an increasingly urbanized modern society. His response to the Great Depression, which hit just eight months after he took office, tested his resolve and ideology. To his credit (and he is not viewed as one of our better Presidents by many), he stuck to his guns, refusing to let the pressure of the situation sway him from his fiscally conservative convictions.

I was intrigued by his quote this morning as its underlying principle holds true when considering the health of our physical bodies. Systemic health is dependent upon cellular health. Properly functioning mitochondria provide sufficient energy to maintain healthy cells in an increasingly toxic world, and healthy cells determine in large part the relative vitality of tissues. Strong, hydrated, elastic tissue then forms robust organs that combine to create a healthy you.

Cellular health is the foundation for wellbeing. The world we’ve created for ourselves, particularly since the advent of the industrial revolution, presents an increasingly toxic terrain into which the cells that compose the body of humanity are born. Toxins, both endogenous and exogenous are rapidly accumulating in living things, causing impairment of normally functioning systems that eventually manifests as what we call disease.

Homotoxicology is a promising system of medicine that focuses on relieving the body of these pernicious invaders, both biologically and energetically. Based on the idea that healthy components make up a healthy whole, homotoxicology recognizes that layers of imbalance and toxicity can be peeled away by supporting the body’s natural pathways for detoxification, step-by-step until the original cause or imbalance is addressed at its source.

I remember my macroeconomics professor at the University of Michigan describing the fact that much of what happens in an economy is based on human emotion, which is given shape incidentally, through the foggy lens called human perception. I can understand why President Hoover was so intent on bolstering producer and consumer confidence, for absent that foundation governmental, top-down intervention – even when massive – more often than not, fails to achieve the desired result.

We matter more than we tend to think we do, just as our cells matter more than we tend to think they do. Problem-solving requires first and foremost the establishment of the right perspective on the matter. Too close and you’ll lose the forest for the trees. Too far and you’ll miss critical detail. Whether you’re considering how to regain personal health or how to reestablish a healthy economy, the principles are the same. The variation comes in application.

Take care not to write off an approach just because it didn’t work out as expected, in the timing you had anticipated and in the way you envisioned. Free will is just one of the many causal factors that determines the shape of the future and sometimes a good thing or a valuable solution can be overlooked because it wasn’t received properly in the soil in which it was planted.

 

Herbert Hoover by Elmer Wesley Greene, Image by Wikipedia

I am hesitant to declare President Hoover’s approach a failure for this reason. From what I can see, the principles underpinning his ideology are at work – when the fitting application is made – in other fields. At any rate, we rose from the ashes then and signs are positive that we’re rising up from our more recent experience with the Great Recession.

 

They say that time heals all wounds, but I am not so sure that we have the time to let that work out in every situation. The healing of economic wounds as well as wounds of the physical body can be supported, but mustn’t be overly interfered with.

We are here to play an conscious and active role as we shape the future and with that comes a responsibility to think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

A laissez-faire attitude just won’t do, for someone else cannot do what you are here to do!

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Photo Credit: Lisa DeJong

A friend of mine told me that she was inspired by the example of others recently to start a new hobby. The hobby she chose, rowing, met several criteria for her as it was outdoors, involved opportunities for solitude as well as social time and provided exercise without physical exertion being the central focus. I wish I had a camera so that I could share with you the light that was in her eyes when she described her new-found passion.

 

Hobbies provide avenues for self-expression, personal development and  change in rhythm. My college soccer coach, who was a marathoner himself, taught me that varying the rhythm in distance running can provide for better performance and greater mental alertness over the long haul. The same could be said for your daily rhythms. If you are stuck in a “it’s time to make the donuts” repetitive rhythm, you might want to consider shaking it up a bit.

It is so easy to get into repetitive patterns that turn lightly-worn paths into ruts over time. I once heard someone say that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth and I feel strongly that everyone should find ways to have variety in life, to fill out flat spots in development and to express themselves more fully throughout life.

Consider this: no matter how old you are right now, dear reader, you are as young as you will ever be for the rest of your life. It’s never too late to start! Take up that hobby or activity that you’ve always thought would be interesting. What do you have to lose?

An active body and an active mind are an effective antidote to premature aging. Likewise, a balanced oscillation between activity and rest makes for better sleep, greater productivity when awake and a progressively more influential life. I find it strange that many people seem to give up on the idea that they can live generative, influential lives right up to their last living breath.

One of my readers, “FlyingGma” (Flying Grandma), is a grandmother who took up flying very recently in her life. I loved to hear her story and continue to enjoy reading her posts on her travels. Life needn’t be a bell curve, where you return to inactivity and impotence in your latter years. In fact, life can be and should be an ascending spiral, where its actors soar ever upward like a hawk in a thermal.

If you find something that lights your fire, that pushes you to perform closer to the edges of your present envelope and that calls for something new from deep inside of you, I will assure you that the rest of your world will benefit. Passion is contagious! Even the dullest aspects of your life will receive a breath of fresh air if you allow yourself to open up in new ways.

Gird up your loins, as they used to say, and enjoy a new challenge. The nature of the activity doesn’t matter; it could be physical, intellectual, esoteric, practical, serious or outrageous. The fact that you dive right in and let your mind and heart be caught up in a new field of creative expression is what truly matters, for flow begets flow.

I imagine that some of you have taken up new hobbies recently while others are contemplating them. Please share your stories! I’d love to hear them and how they affected your worlds.

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