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Something in me, dark and sticky
All the time it’s getting strong
No way of dealing with this feeling
Can’t go on like this too long

We are onto something with the scientific discovery of the microbiome and what that whole inner ecosystem of life is doing to keep us alive and healthy.

A microbiome is the ecological community of various microorganisms that literally share our body. This discovery has always emphasized the importance of these microorganisms inhabiting the human body and their relationship to our health and disease. Research has estimated there are 100 trillion organisms that make up our microbiome, meaning that for every one of our human cells there are at least 9 microbial cells, and so it is often said that we are 1/10th human and 9/10ths other living beings. These tiny microorganisms help us to perform life-sustaining functions that we couldn’t perform without their collaboration, which is why we need them and why they are so important in staying healthy.

Research is suggesting that “the mammalian immune system, which seems to be designed to control microorganisms, is in fact controlled by microorganisms.”[1] Let that sink in a bit. It is also these ‘foreign’ microorganisms that establish whether we are susceptible to illness and poor health. Therefore the microbiome would play a major role in autoimmune issues like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and perhaps some cancers.[2] Any altered mix of microbes would also be linked to obesity, depression, bipolar disorder and other stress-related psychiatric disorders.

They are like the soil in which we, the beautiful plant, grows and thrives.

This is for real
Digging in the dirt
Stay with me, I need support
I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt 
 
The more I look, the more I find
As I close on in, I get so blind
I feel it in my head, I feel it in my toes
I feel it in my sex, that’s the place it goes

In looking at health holistically, we understand that the human being evolved along with the microbiome. One did not develop and then the other jumped into the garden because it looked like a pleasant place to take up residence, we have always depended on this collective inner ecosystem for our life and health. Every time we have stressed or abused our body, this inner community is also affected and their health will decline or in extreme situations, the less helpful microbes will flourish instead.

Antibiotics are known to disrupt the gut flora and kill off healthy microbes that aid in digestion and in nutrient absorption and conversion. Chronic emotional stress can affect the microbiome health just as it affects us. Being born by cesarean section is known to reduce the number of microbes we develop throughout our life. Food that is no longer fresh and nutrient rich can disrupt the microbes, just as whole, fresh foods can nourish and replenish this flora. The recent craze to take probiotics, prebiotics, yogurt and other fermented foods, wild herbs and foraged foods are excellent ways to maintain a healthy digestive system as well as the other systems supported by the microbiome.

The truth is that past chronic stress, trauma, lack of vitality are all showing up later on in the symptoms that are labelled as common diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and depression. The underlying root cause goes back to understanding what is causing the stress, trauma, lack of vitality and in turn depressing the immune system. This root cause is poorly addressed by conventional medicine and medications as only the diseases (current symptoms) are treated. During a homeopathy session however the root is explored, and hopefully discovered in the process, and each individual is provided with a holistic treatment that can help the body to overcome the results of any stress, trauma and lack of vitality. When this treatment is well received by the body, a person can regain their healthy state and this in turn can slowly build a healthier microbiome as their overall health is restored.

I’m digging in the dirt
Stay with me I need support
I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
To open up the places I got hurt

The microbiome is our own dirt, and in order to heal the inner ecosystem we need to start digging. Get the support you need to dig in your own dirt!

~

 

This song is about “investigating the layers within yourself” and is an angry song that deals with Gabriel’s dark side. He explained to Uncut magazine: “I read lots trying to understand the buttons that operate and make you feel the way you do. When you have self-knowledge, you don’t fall into the same behavioural traps. One of the keys is – take responsibility. Blaming anyone else, especially in relationships is a futile activity and not going to move you forward.”

~

  1. Round, J. L.; Mazmanian, S. K. (2009). “The gut microbiota shapes intestinal immune responses during health and disease”. Nature Reviews: Immunology. 9 (5): 313–323. doi:10.1038/nri2515
  2. Wu, Shaoguang; et al. (2009). “A Human Colonic Commensal Promotes Colon Tumorigenesis via Activation of T Helper Type 17 T Cell Responses”. Nature Medicine. 15 (9): 1016–1022.doi:10.1038/nm.2015. PMC 3034219 PMID 19701202.

~

How does holistic treatment support healthy living? Why try homeopathy? Having a life long study in the principles of nature and healthy living, Lauren Trimble is happy to share her knowledge and experience. The art of retuning the body’s natural healing capacity & developing consciousness in a compassionate and gentle way is the gift that homeopathy brings to her current holistic practice. If you enjoyed this article find out more at Birdsong.

In the current medical system that comprises the Western method of health care it is all too common to have a one-size fits all approach to the diagnosis and application of treatments. This assumes a person is comprised of parts and that if a treatment improves or returns the function of a single part then the whole person will once again regain health. This follows the erroneous assumption that a human being functions similar to, if not the same as, a machine. An easy assumption to make if a health practitioner is only looking at the body or parts of the body. Once pieces of tissue are isolated and the chemical reactions defined, on paper they can look very much like a diagram of how a car is put together or how a computer is constructed.

However, a person is never just their body. They have a range of mental and emotional experience and something more, although we squirm to define it in scientific terms, a ‘spiritual’ awareness that completes the human experience. This takes us beyond cause and effect treatment such as going to the ER after walking down the street and bumping our head on pavement because we were struck by a large moving vehicle. The latest research on stress is suggesting we seriously consider that what ails us beyond those externally caused boo-boos may stem from the mind and not the body at all. (What Can Help Reduce Our Stress) So that means we have to begin to understand what the human mind is in scientific/medical terms … but news flash, we really don’t know yet. Although, we can more or less clarify what the mind is not.

In his article, The Empty Brain, Robert Epstein makes it quite clear that the brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. We are making a serious error to see the brain, the physical organ that ‘houses’ mind, as a computer. Using references from the book In Our Own Image by George Zarkadakis, he reminds us of the different metaphors used over the past 2,000 years to explain human intelligence.

“By the 1500s, automata powered by springs and gears had been devised, eventually inspiring leading thinkers such as René Descartes to assert that humans are complex machines. In the 1600s, the British philosopher Thomas Hobbes suggested that thinking arose from small mechanical motions in the brain. By the 1700s, discoveries about electricity and chemistry led to new theories of human intelligence – again, largely metaphorical in nature. In the mid-1800s, inspired by recent advances in communications, the German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz compared the brain to a telegraph.”

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Since the 50’s and 60’s it has been solidified as fact that the activities of the brain best match the processes of a computer. Yet according to Epstein, “no matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli. The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.”

He says that when a human is born they already have innate senses, reflexes and learning mechanisms. Without these capabilities present at birth, we would have trouble surviving into later childhood. What a human is not born with: information, data, rules, software, knowledge, lexicons, representations, programs, models, memories, images, processors, subroutines, encoders, decoders, symbols, or buffers. All the things that make digital computers compute. Computers store and retrieve, process and have physical memories. These actions are guided without exception by algorithms. Epstein argues that not only are we born without such things, we also don’t develop them – ever. So to discuss our mental life as if it were a computer has just confused us all regarding what a mind is and therefore what a human potentially is.

“The information processing (IP) metaphor of human intelligence now dominates human thinking, both on the street and in the sciences. There is virtually no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour that proceeds without employing this metaphor, just as no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour could proceed in certain eras and cultures without reference to a spirit or deity. The validity of the IP metaphor in today’s world is generally assumed without question.

But the IP metaphor is, after all, just another metaphor – a story we tell to make sense of something we don’t actually understand. And like all the metaphors that preceded it, it will certainly be cast aside at some point – either replaced by another metaphor or, in the end, replaced by actual knowledge.”

According to Epstein, when we re-member something we have to relive an experience. It is not captured in any other way than as a lived observation. Anthony Chemero, who also completely rejects the idea of a computer brain, describes it another way. Rather than making sense of the world by performing computations on mental representations of it like a computer, Chemero suggests humans rely on a direct interaction between organisms and their world.

“Because neither ‘memory banks’ nor ‘representations’ of stimuli exist in the brain, and because all that is required for us to function in the world is for the brain to change in an orderly way as a result of our experiences, there is no reason to believe that any two of us are changed the same way by the same experience. If you and I attend the same concert, the changes that occur in my brain when I listen to Beethoven’s 5th will almost certainly be completely different from the changes that occur in your brain. Those changes, whatever they are, are built on the unique neural structure that already exists, each structure having developed over a lifetime of unique experiences.”

This has two major implications according to Epstein. One, we never have to worry about a human mind going amok in cyberspace since we can never achieve immortality through uploading the contents of a brain. A fully operational AI is unlikely as algorithms do not mirror what real life in nature is actually doing. Second is what Epstein calls the uniqueness problem, in his opinion a problem that is both inspirational and depressing. In terms of the health paradigm we are seeing where individualized diagnosis and treatment is gaining popularity, in my opinion, it is very inspiring.

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Rather than being either a Mac or a PC, humans are each truly unique in their genetic makeup but also in the way their brains change over time. Epstein sees this as depressing because a neuroscientist could never begin to comprehend the kind of complexity given that any life experience could involve changes in a thousand neurons, a million neurons or even the entire brain and that pattern of change will be different in every brain, even if the experience was the same! Individualization in the realm of science and medicine has always butted heads with the human machine/computer part paradigm. And this entrenched view is no longer what is best serving patients nor are the models related to it best serving patient needs, in fact, it is often failing these needs.

Practitioners don’t have to wait a 100 years for science to figure out how basic neuronal connectivity works and other mysteries of the mind in order to interact and be informed by a patient. Already there are models that see patients as unique with an individualized experience and perception. This means considering their subjective experience as part of the symptomology, and even placing that inner experience with more importance and relevance than objective signs and test or lab results as a better means to finding successful treatments. It is too simplistic to confuse a complete human experience for mechanistic parts and functions that could be replaced or restored. Yet again, we are facing a shift of health care paradigm when it is better to stop using a one-size fits all treatment model assuming it will work best for everyone.

 

How does holistic treatment support healthy living? Why try homeopathy? Having a life long study in the principles of nature and healthy living, Lauren Trimble is happy to share her knowledge and experience. The art of retuning the body’s natural healing capacity & developing consciousness in a compassionate and gentle way is the gift that homeopathy brings to her current holistic practice. If you enjoyed this article find out more at Birdsong.

A safe, gentle support for childhood development and its associated ills

The frequent illnesses of children can be bewildering for many parents. And in the modern medical climate it is hard to believe that illness and disease have an important role to play in growth and development. Homeopathy can offer a safe, effective, and inexpensive approach to first aid, acute, and chronic issues that arise in the course of raising a family. For simple first aid and acute situations there is a usual group of homeopathic remedies that are known and a decision for the specific remedy can be made simply and quickly. There are numerous pages online, family kits, and how-to books that provide easy to follow protocols and once the basics of homeopathy are understood, it is usually simple to find remedies for these kinds of situations.

For more chronic, longer lasting conditions, it is more complex. Often homeopathy can address the underlying causes reflected in difficult physical, emotional, behavioural, and psychological problems for younger children and babies. In these chronic situations sometimes parents will notice that their child is simply restless or discontented and can’t figure out what to do for them. It is difficult for their doctor to make a diagnosis or give treatment at this stage before there are no obvious signs or functional symptoms. Perhaps the child suddenly becomes whiny or clingy, or becomes afraid of the dark. Or the child is not as vibrant as before, gets bored easily, or lacks the concentration they used to have. Sometimes a child becomes aggressive or acts destructively and there is no explanation for this sudden shift in behaviour.

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These can all indicate a child who is no longer in balance and is struggling in their adaptation to new changes and to their own maturation, and since a young child grows so quickly it seems like each week they are facing very different and new challenges.

We are all constantly changing and adapting

Every one of us is in fact changing according to our needs, to our growth and to environmental changes. We are always in flux, adjusting, adapting, evolving, this is just occurring more often and at a faster rate in children than in adults. In health each of us is dynamic, allowing life to change us, adapting, integrating and embracing the newness of each day. When this natural experience of life becomes stuck then we are unable to adapt and to accept, we will want to hold onto something, to not let go and make static what must remain in flux. We all experience both poles of this dynamic and the degree to which we are in each pole relates to how vital and healthy we are.

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Take grief for example, an experience of the loss of something we hold onto because we value it, and then we are not able to accept other changes. We all know the experience of sadness and loss and how different that feels to the times when we are open and ready to embrace each exciting, new day. Children are no different and supporting them in their challenges and illnesses with homeopathy allows them the chance to grow, to become vital and robust, to develop a strong immune system and to develop more flexibility and adaptability when the next challenge occurs.

However, if we stop or suppress the symptoms of the challenge or illness arising, this chance can be lost. The body will now add to its load of adaptation an unresolved experience and will reroute its need for growth and change to another location or situation while still carrying the old one. This eventually taxes the system and the psyche, and the child’s natural development is impeded or even stopped on various levels, sometimes permanently, until the original adaptation or need is supported and allowed to inform the individual’s process.

Homeopathy is helpful with those subtle shifts of behaviour mentioned above and to return the natural developmental process so that the child can adapt and continue to grow and evolve. Life can once again be enjoyable and appreciated, for the child, as well the parents and other children. The many stages of childhood development involve a movement towards greater independence and the defining of a separate self, a unique person, which is why these challenges and diseases are not always obvious or physically based. The homeopath, or the educated parent, can chose from a wide range of remedies aimed at supporting the body’s own healing response and at the same time allowing the child to move through a childhood illness rather than suppressing it. For children under the age of seven, it is also important to stress the interconnectedness they experience within the family and taking the case of the parents to understand the ‘environment’ of the child is an excellent means to help with the child’s symptoms.

It is important to point out that for serious and life threatening situations, the only sensible choice is to seek out immediate medical attention. I am talking here about what can be done when we notice the early indications that there is something ‘off’ with a child. For parents who are concerned about side effects related to medication, homeopathy as an energetic approach that rarely has complications when taken with conventional medicines, and there are no worries about future negative effects on the developing child. Through the homeopath’s questioning and the parent’s observations, a remedy can be found to alleviate the child’s discomfort and to rapidly ease their symptoms.

Homeopathic remedies are also gentle and safe for a mother and her unborn child. They can assist both with the changes brought about by every stage of pregnancy and birth and there are well known homeopathy protocols to reduce trauma induced symptoms and speed up the healing during and following the birthing process. Homeopathy can offer a multitude of long-lasting, beneficial effects during all stages of the birthing process. It is never too early or too late during the obstetrical process to use homeopathy, whether you choose conventional hospital birth, natural home birth or midwife-assisted birth.

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For parents and families, homeopathy is a gentle means of supporting children in their development and growth and the associated illnesses, and thus encouraging a child’s health for years to come.

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How does holistic treatment support healthy living? Why try homeopathy? Having a life long study in the principles of nature and healthy living, Lauren Trimble is happy to share her knowledge and experience. The art of retuning the body’s natural healing capacity & developing consciousness in a compassionate and gentle way is the gift that homeopathy brings to her current holistic practice. If you enjoyed this article find out more at Birdsong.

More and more, stress is found to be the root of most Western disease and illness.

I had a client a while ago who was having a hard time making choices and wanting to erase the results of the choices she did make, wishing she could go back and make a different choice after the fact. This was creating a great deal of anxiety and fatigue, which is why she decided to come for homeopathic treatment. Part of what she described in the sessions was that when something was hard to do, such as losing weight, she experienced a sense of failure. Her reaction to this was to over think things as a way to be sure her decision would be the correct one.

“I prefer having feedback and reinforcement to know I have  made the right decision and thus succeeded.” She experienced this at home with her partner and children, with her parents and family, and when she was at work. When I asked her when she did not experience this difficulty with decision making in her life she said that on a recent canoe trip she had felt really good. “On the water you are following the currents and you have to adjust, a decision is not permanent, there is instead a responding in the moment rather than a definitive choice.” In the outdoors, she realized that her physical actions were not encumbered by complex decision making and that she knew what to do and so felt confident. She could move forward and not drag in this uncomfortable state of unsuccessful decision making.

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What this client was describing relates to the basic stress response, although it has the flavour of her own individual experience.

How does the stress response happen?

I was pointed to the work of Hans Selye and his stress model the “General Adaptation Syndrome” by a recent interview with Tom Myers I listened to this week. Selye defined the stress response and how aging and disease are linked to chronic exposure to stress. It is important to note that stress is not all bad for us. Selye noticed that the body adapts to stressors with a predictable biological pattern so that the internal balance, or homeostasis, can be restored and maintained.

How does this work?

In an attempt to retain homeostasis, (the tendency of the body-mind to maintain a stable internal environment despite changes in external conditions to reduce disturbance to its normal condition or function), the body uses the hormonal system which is connected with the fight or flight response. With this response, the body tries to resolve the disturbance quickly and efficiently and does so by releasing hormones that enable the body to combat stress as immediately as possible. Selye discovered that although the body-mind wants to control or reduce the stress, there are limits. The finite supply of the body’s current energy to adapt to the stressful environment is limited and is even more compromised when the body-mind is exposed to the stressor continuously.

Selye broke this process down to three stages.

  1. Alarm Stage: The body-mind labels a stressor as a threat or danger and in order to retain a balance it immediately activates its fight or flight response system and releases hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. This allows for the body to perform in a way it usually can’t. Think of being able to climb up a 80 foot tree in order to avoid a hungry bear or lift a car off the body of a child.
  1. Resistance Stage: After the body has responded to the stressor, success means that the stress level has disappeared or greatly reduced. The next part of the response leads to much weaker bodily defences as it allocates energy to the repair of any damaged tissues and the production of the stress hormones lowers.If the body-mind remains on-guard however, whether the stressors still exist or not, the body is required to stay in the fight or flight response continuously. It may not be as strong a response as it was during the initial response but still requires a extreme performance and production of stress hormones.
  1. Exhaustion Stage: This only occurs if the stress has been persistent for a long period of time. The body will start to lose its ability to combat the stressors and reduce their harmful impact because the adaptive energy is becoming drained. This is what leads to burnout, overwhelm or stress overload, which can lead to health problems if not resolved. Now we have a body-mind that is susceptible to disease states, in particular autoimmune type diseases.

 

Good morning, let the stress begin

 

How is our stress addressed in the homeopathic case taking?

In medicine distress is described as an aversion and arises when a person is unable to adapt completely to the stressors and the resulting stress. A person can then develop maladaptive behaviours such as aggression, passivity or withdrawal. In psychology, stress is the feeling of strain and pressure. Positive stress helps improve performance and plays a factor in motivation, adaptation, and reaction to the environment. This is know as eustress and is the good part of being stressed. Health exists only in reaction to the stresses we experience that develop our growth, feeling of fulfillment, satisfaction and well being. Even our ability to respond is tied to having an original stressor that we have to react to. Researcher found that babies who lacked stimulation and touch were stunted and underdeveloped. Even so called negative stimulation was more beneficial to their growth than the lack of it!

Eustress is never defined by what the stressor is, but by how each individual perceives that stressor. Some people may be more curious than afraid of a bear but they run up the tree anyways. Others may be terrified and convinced the world is ending as they miraculously scramble their way up the branches. Stress can be external and coming from the environment, the bear chasing you up a tree, but it may also be created by internal perceptions that cause an individual to experience anxiety or other negative emotions surrounding a situation. Go back to my client who could not make simple decisions because her perception of making a wrong choice seemed much more threatening and dangerous in her mind than it was in reality. We can experience stress, or perceive things as threatening, when we do not believe that our current resources for coping with the stressor are enough for what the circumstances will demand.

In other words, when we think the demands being placed on us exceed our ability to cope, we can then perceive stress.

This is why we can’t look at stress alone as the problem but we have to get to the roots of the person’s inner experience of it. This is impossible to do with a blood test or an MRI, but is possible when explored in sessions with a homeopath trained in this method.

Saying it all over again in Myer’s words

  • Distress is the opposite of eustress, a positive stress that motivates people.
  • Emotions are always the body and mind trying to get in synch with one another.
  • Resolved emotions build mental and physical health. Unresolved emotions break it down (meaning they lead to disease states).

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To maintain the homeostatic balance either the sympathetic nervous system is dominant while we feel under threat and we express it by the fight, flight or fright responses, or we return to the parasympathetic in order to repair, repose, rest and restore. All of the fight, flight or fright responses are highly muscular actions. This extreme action dissipates the chemicals that arise during the sympathetic state helping us to go back to the parasympathetic state. But if you keep stimulating the sympathetic response, it never goes  back to the opposite side again. Stimulated again and again, we get stuck, unbalanced, and this leads to exhaustion and fatigue.

This client originally came into the office complaining of anxiety and fatigue. It was only through our exploration that the root of her stress was found to be decision making and the related misperceptions. After taking a homeopathic remedy she immediately felt less anxious and had more energy again. This allowed for a greater exploration in later sessions of how her stress response got stuck in the sympathetic response. She was able to greater understand the triggers she has to perceived stressors and to find out more about who she is, while the remedy helped her body regain homeostasis.

Matching our inner picture of the world with what is actually happening

Myers feels that getting ‘stuck’ happens when people don’t make themselves felt in the world by having the sense that they can change the world around them. When no matter what a person does, react, lash out, get angry, suppress, and it has no effect they will experience the opposite of eustress, distress. Then they are constantly stimulated and yet can do nothing to release themselves from the stressor. Most of us have at least one thing in life that seems to be constantly wearing us down or that we are avoiding unsuccessfully. Modern urban life is a stressful experience with a large number of stressors and a high degree of stimulation.

According to Myers, if we experience eustress we feel that our reactions are reliable. However when the inside and outside world do not match up, the perception of the world that you experience in the body-mind versus the data you are getting from the outside world, this difference creates stress. It is basically a lack of matching the inner picture of the world with what is actually happening.

This does not have to be good or bad, but is simply the body-mind saying there is a difference between what I thought would happen and what is happening. The body-mind mobilizes to change it in two ways, either to change the self, or to change the external information to match the picture of the world that you have. An example Myers gives is when you get a parking ticket, either you pay it to restore the agreement between the inner or outer, or you refuse to pay and change the world by saying it is not fair and you will fight the ticket in court. If you successfully do either, the stress will resolve and you will not have distress but instead experience eustress, your reaction was reliable and successful. If you can’t make a choice and do nothing but put the ticket in the glove box yet continue to think about how to bridge the incongruity between the internal and external world, that will lead to chronic distress and then exhaustion and later issues like autoimmune diseases.

He is basically saying that people cannot make the gap between how they are supposed to be in the world and how they are in the world. This perception is key to understanding the basis for the stress people are experiencing and this is explored during a homeopathic session. Other approaches to stress reduction include meditation, high-intensity exercise and moving to a secluded cave in the Swiss Alps.

 

How does holistic treatment support healthy living? Why try homeopathy? Having a life long study in the principles of nature and healthy living, Lauren Trimble is happy to share her knowledge and experience. The art of retuning the body’s natural healing capacity & developing consciousness in a compassionate and gentle way is the gift that homeopathy brings to her current holistic practice. If you enjoyed this article find out more at Birdsong.

 

When we consider health, the first thing many people do is to go and seek the counsel and advice of a professional. Usually this involves a medicine or treatment and sometimes a suggestion to stop drinking coffee or eating certain foods and to get more exercise. I hope that in the coming years health professionals do not stop there. I have met many people recovering from serious health conditions that tell me the most important part of their healing process was learning meditation. If you study yoga or martial arts, meditation is par for the course. If you are a conscientious vegan or vegetarian likely you have either tried it or currently practice it. In the West, meditation is no longer the practice of monks in distant countries; everyone has access to learn and practice it. Often it helps to find a mentor to guide us into a suitable practice that fits with our unique circumstance.

If we are on a healing path, we need to consider meditation as part of that process. And in a holistic practice we must understand that the act of healing goes beyond the actions of the professionals and the action of medicaments, we must be part of this process, we must also take action ourselves for our self!

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I have always appreciated the Tibetan Buddhist approach to such things so I will share that with you. I found a good description from the book Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa on how to approach a healthy meditation practice. This offers an excellent introduction into meditation practice and a good reminder for those already practicing.

The basis is the idea of “letting be.” We can experience that there is a sane, awake quality within us that manifests only in the absence of struggle. This is a reason to meditate although we are not trying hard to do it. Proper meditation is not a lazy, trance like state of mind nor is it mental gymnastics. We don’t have to lose our intention but neither do we work hard to achieve something. It is a way of dealing however, with our neurotic states of mind, which have energy, speed and a certain pattern.

“The practice of meditation involves letting be—trying to go with the pattern, trying to go with the energy and speed. In this way we learn how to deal with these factors, how to relate with them, not in the sense of causing them to mature in the way we would like, but in the sense of knowing them for what they are and working with their patterns.”

The idea is like how a musician might tune his guitar. It is not ideal to make the strings too tight or too loose. In meditation, we are not wanting to impose anything too forcefully on the mind, nor to let it wander. It is a letting the mind be in a very open way, and feeling the flow of energy without trying to subdue it or letting it get out of control. You want to go with the energy pattern of mind. This is proper meditation practice.

This gives us a needed break from our usual thinking patterns, that are either too manipulative and imposing, or running amok and uncontrolled. What we are usually observing in this form of meditation is the ego’s discursive thoughts which are continually running through our minds. This is the concept of the monkey mind defined as a mind that is unsettled, restless, capricious, inconstant, confused, indecisive and uncontrollable. It will be there regardless and the absence of it is not a sign of a successful attempt at meditating!

 

Monkey Mind Buddha sculpture

It is important to reiterate that this approach to meditation is not a means to ‘kill’ the ego or to suppress it. We often forget the ego’s role after reading modern, self-help rhetoric. The ego is always seeking to identify itself, associate itself and maintain a specific idea of itself. It basically translates as the sense of self and anchors us in the faculty of self-awareness. In Buddhist terms, the ego maintains our sense that we are a solid, continuous self and this is to shield us from the threatening and confusing aspects of our existence. I like the metaphor I heard the other day, that if we didn’t need the ego to define us as a separate self, then walking across the street would be extremely dangerous since we would see no problem being one with a moving truck. So step one is really accepting that the ego is part of us and is here to stay!

So back to the letting be, the more we generate thoughts, the busier we are mentally and the more convinced we can be of our materially based existence, this is a big struggle. The ego wants to activate thoughts, to overlap thoughts so nothing can be perceived beyond them. Our current society in the West is overburdened with tools that help us continue these thoughts; Facebook, film and television programs, long work hours, materialistic pursuits like shopping, making to do lists, constant busyness. We rarely pause to find stillness.

“In true meditation there is no ambition to stir up thoughts, nor is there an ambition to suppress them. They are just allowed to occur spontaneously and become an expression of basic sanity. They become the expression of the precision and the clarity of the awakened state of mind.”

A good analogy here is that the gaps between thoughts are the empty blue sky, and the thoughts are clouds. The clouds will pass and reappear, we can only wait and be observant and some days will be like July summers and other like November storms, that is just how it will be.

The same with emotions, in meditation we neither encourage or suppress them. By gentle observation we can let them be as they are without them being forced or manipulated and in seeing them clearly in this way they will no longer tend to entertain or distract us and can instead be e-motions, energy in motion that is inexhaustible and fulfills egoless action.

By this examination of the thoughts, emotions, and other activities of the mind, the Buddha found that there is no need to struggle to prove our existence or to struggle to be free, for the absence of struggle is a form of freedom. These gaps between thoughts are where we find our sane, awake quality and the observing is a way to truly know our unique self. Meditation is a place where we return to our true nature, where we can easily tune into the whole and re-tune our body’s innate healthy states both mentally and physically. And it can be done for no cost but time and no effort but patience.

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This month I am celebrating; I have a diploma in homeopathy and naturopathy from MICH, the Montreal Institute of Classical Homeopathy. This is considered to be a master’s program that brings students through a discovery of what homeopathy is, how it is practiced with various homeopaths’ methods, use of the MICH Method, an overview of naturopathic methods, a long list of various studies as well as a thorough passage to understanding what a healthy human is and how disease states are experienced and expressed.

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Check out the Birdsong Facebook page.

Four and a half years ago I decided to shift gears and returned to my other passion in life, the healing journey. A good friend recently asked me what the most important thing in life is and I responded with the same answer I gave many years ago as a child when my older brother posed this question to me. Love. My friend’s answer was health. I am starting to see how these two words intersect. I think my art career was a passion based on love whereas what I am doing now is based on a passion for health.

At MICH we also learned the fascinating history of homeopathy beginning in 1789 when the founder Samuel Hahnemann first expressed publicly his ideas about the pharmacological principle, the Law of Similars. (Homeopathy is a combination of two Greek words, homoios meaning “like, similar, of the same kind” and patheia meaning “disease.”) This law was not his invention but was previously described by Hippocrates and Paracelsus and was recorded by many ancient cultures such as the Mayans, Chinese, Greeks, North American Indigenous people and Asian Indians. It has been around a long time yet no one could fully unlock its potential. Hahnemann was a chemist, scientist, medical doctor, inventor and translator of nearly every historical medical text available at the time and was therefore able to develop the law of similars into a complete medical system. This system comprises a collaboration of the Three Branches; naturopathy, homeopathy and allopathy (traditional Western medical practice.)

My website Birdsong Holistic is also launched this month. Along with general issues I offer support for Lyme disease and for Social Anxiety Disorders. Both very serious conditions that can entirely disrupt a person’s life, even to the extreme level where someone cannot leave the house and their isolation affects their career and social life. Often there is either a misdiagnosis or a prolonged and difficult treatment. A holistic approach can help to speed up recovery and address what other approaches can’t.

http://birdsonghomeopathy.weebly.com

People have various reasons that bring them to seek out a Homeopath, Naturopath or a Holistic Practitioner. Some of those reasons are:

  • I heard a story from a friend whose issue improved with homeopathy and I would like to try it as well.
  • I have been through all the medical options available and nothing has helped my situation so far. It can’t hurt to give an alternative approach a try.
  • Homeopathy and naturopathy look at each person as an individual. The cookie cutter, one size fits all approach does not seem plausible when we are all so different from each other.
  • I prefer to try something that is completely energetic and natural since I am sensitive and react strongly to everything.
  • If they are using homeopathy in countries like England, France and Switzerland for all kinds of conditions then it must have some validity.
  • I understand that the body-mind connection is part of health and disease and I prefer to try a method that takes the whole person into account.
  • I like that it is safe and gentle so I don’t have to worry about it making things worse or causing other health concerns.
  • Homeopathy is a sustainable and ecological practice and I have concerns for the environment so I need to know my healing journey is easy on the planet.
  • I have a preference to use something natural without the reliance on pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures.
  • I have heard that Homeopathy can help facilitate my inner journey and inner development.

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Thank you for your attention and for following this blog, future posts will continue to cover topics on homeopathy and health, sustainability and ecological innovations or various musings on what is hanging out in my mind.

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The four elements are often the most overlooked aspects of our health. A lot of time is spent on talking about diet, what to eat, how to eat it and what not to eat, but rarely is time devoted to talking about the air we breathe, the water we drink and the earth we stand on. Or in this case, are not standing on.

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So many of the recent breakthroughs in healthy living seem to be things that were once the wisdom of tin foil wearing nutters. Yet maybe these folks knew what they were doing in terms of what is the best way to support life. If we are bioelectric beings living on an electrical planet then when we are in contact with the earth there would be an infusion of energy. Liken it to an electrical foodstuff and if that is the truth, most of us are starving ourselves of it. Maybe they are not yet rock solid but recent studies suggest that contact with the Earth can restore and stabilize the bioelectrical circuitry that runs through the body, harmonize basic biological rhythms, increase self-healing functions, reduce inflammation and pain, improve sleep and bring about a sense of calmness.

All these great merits and yet almost half of the world’s humans are no longer benefiting since they are wearing rubber or plastic soled shoes and spending most of their life indoors. Half of all of us now live in cities and we just don’t get connected so to speak. The most we might contact the ground is at a park in the summer throwing off our shoes and lounging in the grass for a while. Welcome to the concept of Earthing, which seems pretty timeless to me and yet it is hard to know what we are missing when we aren’t ever physically touching the ground.

Biophysicist James Oschman, Ph.D. and author of Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis writes: “The moment your foot touches the Earth, or you connect to the Earth through a wire, your physiology changes. An immediate normalization begins. And an anti-inflammatory switch is turned on. People stay inflamed because they never connect with the Earth, the source of free electrons which can neutralize the free radicals in the body that cause disease and cellular destruction. Earthing is the easiest and most profound lifestyle change anyone can make.”

Surfaces that are conductive are grass, sand, dirt or concrete, while wood, asphalt and vinyl are not conductive. The problem is we just don’t live on earth and dirt in the city. There are lots of Earthing products that facilitate contact while inside of a home. However, I like to take design much further. Lately I have been wondering about how to design an optimal health inducing home. Everything from how the windows are designed to how to reduce the fuel needed for heating and cooling. This is the first in a series of posts on how to incorporate these ideas into modern living. A resurrection of the passion of Buckminster if you will.

So to bring Earthing inside I would suggest that houses could be built like a donut rather than a box. The ground would be part of the inside structure and contact with the ground could be made at any time of day and any time of year. There would be lots of issues to engineer around, such as freezing temperatures in northern climates, moisture issues and of course depending on what you put in this patch of earth, how to provide adequate light. I have total confidence in modern designers to come up with solutions for both earth ‘wells’ and their matching skylights. Light is another one of those nutrients we often neglect to include in our homes by the way. Skylights are incredible, just not in the bedroom in a city.

Casa-Chinkara-07-850x1314 and grass

The importance of having part of ‘nature’ in the interior life has a place in the home of the future. There are so many possible advantages beyond just Earthing. An article in Scientific America suggests that trees clean the air, and our feelings. A 2015 study from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology found that children exposed to greenery demonstrated better attention skills and memory development, possibly related to a reduction in pollution. Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, one of the study’s authors, suggested it was more than just a lack of pollution, “I think it’s also some kind of direct effect… you see quite a beneficial effect of green space on mental health.” There are many articles about how green space has a positive effect on mental health and how being in nature can reduce depression such as in this study, Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature. Urbanites are losing touch with what nature feels like, what it does to their body and how it helps them cope with the onslaught of urban stresses.

Yes, this image is also Photoshopped but I love the idea of a suburban home having an Earthing circle in the living room. Imagine watching TV with your bare feet on living, thriving grass or moss. A delightful tickle of life and earth electricity to recharge us after a long day.

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The major flaw in the idea would be anyone living beyond the ground floor. Although it is not impossible to engineer in second and third story earth ‘wells,’ it might not be practical or affordable. Unless of course it is found that they are providing an indisputable health advantage. As a designer, I also always consider what it might be like to clean an invention as well. If it does not clean easily or well, it will degrade and lose its value making it an unsustainable creation. Nature is a fickle thing and easily spoiled by stagnancy and toxicity. That too might prove a challenge, and I suppose like gardening, some might be more apt than others to keep their indoor patch of earth greener and growing more than others. Still, the potential is there and the health benefit is clear, why not consider indoor Earthing in every modern home.

 

 

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