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When I moved to Montreal I was pretty excited and I had a lot of ‘imaginations’ about how everything would go. Of course the reality was far from the ideal I carried in my mind, but that is another blog for another day. After the first exhilarating month of sightseeing, photo taking and exploring I secured my first apartment and a job. When I finally moved in I discovered the apartment had no fridge or stove. Apparently in Quebec the landlord does not have to provide them and tenants often move around town, with their appliances! What a concept. It also had no bathroom door since I had seen it before all the renovations were complete and well, it just never got done. I got over my shock quick enough and a new friend took me out to shop for and order my kitchen parts. That door came much later, and it was a great, solid door since I was in charge of having it installed.

The appliances arrived along with the first day of snow in November, and it was a substantial amount. I was on the balcony at the top of the stairs grinning as I could finally cook again. The delivery guy yelled up at me in French, “You smile!” He had to bring up that new fridge and stove on those famous Montreal outside steps. It did not stop snowing that winter, not until April, and the world I had entered was a constant white. I not only had to adapt to a whole new culture, a new city but also to a completely different environment. I am sure that my excitement carried me through and the lucky fact that I like winter. It was my first true taste of what it is to be …. Canadian.

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Eventually the adjustment caught up to me and I had a bad fever the following Autumn. Seasonal shifts can be hard on the system, but in Montreal, they are extremely tough as they shift on a dime. I decided to take my bike to get some OTC products from the Jean Coutu although in hindsight I should have asked someone to get them for me. However, family was far away and I did not know many people yet and the friends I did have had already done so much for me that I decided not to bother them with something so seemingly small as a trip to the pharmacy. In my feverish haze I was doored on Duluth street and got a huge bruise on my thigh, a good five inches across. This was way worse than a flu and I had no idea what to do next.

After some panic doused by some tears, I called an old friend who was now a TCM doctor and living in Montreal. He even offered me an old-fashioned doctor’s house call, amazing. He treated the bruise in the style of his Chinese lineage and I am forever grateful since to leave such a large bruise without proper care could have meant chi stagnation or blood stasis in the area that later could have led to stiffness and coldness, or even disease processes such as cancer due to faulty signals and cell mutations. The other thing he did was to convince me to come to his clinic and study Qigong as that would help my leg heal and have even greater benefits to my general health. I took his prescription and learned the basics of TCM and martial arts over the next few years.

Disease is the very thing we need to move forward

What I am sharing is not a story but a lesson. How disease, illness and even an accident can be the guidepost or the reminder to get our health and ‘joie de vivre’ on track. The flu was a really just a sign of my lowered immune system after an intense winter of change, adaptation and excitement, all of which lead to stress. Even though it was the good kind of stress it was still stress taking a toll on the system. I would have recovered from the flu but the bike accident put me in a place of requiring assistance and some new tools to move forward in my life at the time.

The training was life changing, giving me strength, endurance and a state of health that I still benefit from and I came out of a traumatic experience feeling better than I had before. I could have brushed off the situation and simply medicated myself, but then I would not have found the tools, self-responsibility, action and ultimately healing that was there for me. The accident was the very catalyst I needed.

When I started studying homeopathy I decided, logically, that to know what homeopathy was truly capable of I needed to stop my training and TCM treatments. When the program was over and I was starting my practice I wanted to go back to training but kept stalling. Procrastination is a universal human condition, that I have as much as anyone. And as the lesson is teaching, it was not my great health that got me back to what I needed, but my lack of it. This time it was a totally different and benign situation. I am very sensitive to noise and when I am doing OK I can adapt and filter it. But when I am not doing OK noises are like jack hammers on the brain and reduce my nerves to shreds. I can get irritable, cranky and wanting to retreat.

If you are not getting the message, it can get louder

After four months of saying I need to start training again and feeling a lot of stress, the not so good kind this time around, it was my partner that catalyzed my action. He had some downtime while I was working at home in my office. His inclination that day was to watch a Netflix series of high drama with lots of screaming. Each traumatic discourse and ‘oh my god, life is over’ scream was like nails on the chalkboard. By that evening I was imploding and there was really nothing I could think of to improve my mood other than doing a lot of Qigong. So I started, I was desperate. And that was that, I was practising again, doing my apple a day to keep the doctors, and meds, far far away.

It is important to have this lesson sink in. It was my MICH homeopathy teacher with 20+ plus years of experience in the healing arts that teaches how disease is ‘the opportunity to come home!’ When we see disease or an accident as an obstacle or a distraction keeping us from doing what we think we are supposed to be doing, we aren’t doing ourselves any favours, instead we are getting in our own way and not listening to our own deep knowing.

Any well designed system has blinking, red lights or warning alarms that start to get our attention when the system is about to malfunction. It is a precautionary measure that can safeguard the ongoing function of the machine, and to keep it out of the scrap heap. The human warning system is more complex of course and it is individualized while we are still relatively healthy, as we get sicker it becomes more general and can be lumped into broad and then later into specific categories. Such as: “I don’t feel well and here are all the various things going on specific to me, to I have extreme anxiety about such and such, to I have a malfunctioning organ system and these are the symptoms, to I have a test result that is showing that I have cancer of the blank.”

Embrace the opportunity to come home

Obviously the best time to listen is before we get doored and definitely before we might be diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to accept the doctor’s opinion that, without a test result or a specific diagnosis of something serious, we must be and are OK. Rather, if we can get the support we need as soon as the adaptation is not functioning, we can avoid a lot of misery later on. Again, as a wonderful teacher described it, imagine you are a boat on the ocean and you are heading for a distant destination. Without realizing it the navigation system went off by 0.01 degrees. You don’t notice it today or next week or even a month from now, but a year or even ten years later your ship is so far off course that to correct it you would have to make a huge effort.

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Most of us don’t hear the bells or notice that the ship is a tiny bit off course, or we do and we just don’t take the time to do something about it. Then the car hits us and we have to slow down and take notice. I might not have studied homeopathy if that car door had not steered me onto the TCM and Qigong path and later that path steered me to taking the program at MICH. This was something I had wanted to do since I was in my early 20’s, practice a healing art, but I had gotten off course.

It is essential to know who we are, and how to live meaningful lives. Perhaps, like many people, you have postponed the dream of your heart. Disease can help us realize the many things holding us back from inhabiting our lives to the fullest, holding back the creative flow of our own destiny. ~ MICH

The Development of Ego,
from Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa

(This is an excerpt from the chapter that introduces the Ego and its development, and which I have added images to. We can all benefit from a better understanding of what the ego is, especially when we are seeking to know ourselves better and to seeking what is possible in spiritual development. It also gives us some deeper understanding of when we feel a neurotic or confused mind and this becomes a really great launching place for the homeopathic process of case taking. I personally prefer the Buddhist view of the Ego and of what the nature of our reality is over some of the modern writings, especially when it is suggested by some that can suppress or even get rid of the ego. That would be the same as saying we have a right hand so let’s get rid of the left thumb, we don’t seem to need it anyways. I hope you can gain something from this, enjoy!)

~

” As we are going to examine the Buddhist path from beginning to end, from the beginner’s mind to the enlightened one, I think it would be best to start with something very concrete and realistic, the field we are going to cultivate. It would be foolish to study more advanced subjects before we are familiar with the starting point, the nature of ego. [ ]

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If we do not know the material with which we are working, then our study is useless; speculations about the goal become mere fantasy. These speculations may take the form of advanced ideas and descriptions of spiritual experiences, but they only exploit the weaker aspects of human nature, our expectations and desires to see and hear something colourful, something extraordinary. If we begin our study with these dreams of extraordinary, “enlightening” and dramatic experiences, then we will build up our expectations and preconceptions so that later, when we are actually working on the path, our minds will be occupied largely with what will be rather than with what is. [ ]

It is necessary, therefore, to start on what we are and why we are searching. Generally, all religious traditions deal with this material, speaking variously of alaya-vijnana or original sin or the fall of man or the basis of ego. Most religions refer to this material in a somewhat pejorative way, but I do not think it is such a shocking or terrible thing. We do not have to be ashamed of what we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate; we can plant anything in it. Therefore, in dealing with this subject we are not condemning or attempting to eliminate our ego-psychology; we are purely acknowledging it, seeing it as it is. In fact, the understanding of ego is the foundation of Buddhism. So let us look at how ego develops.

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Fundamentally there is just open space, the basic ground, what we really are. Our most fundamental state of mind, before the creation of ego, is such that there is basic openness, basic freedom, a spacious quality; and we have now and have always had this openness. Take, for example, our everyday lives and thought patterns. When we see an object, in the first instant there is a sudden perception which has no logic or conceptualization to it at all; we just perceive the thing in the open ground. Then immediately we panic and begin to rush about trying to add something to it, either trying to find a name for it or trying to find pigeon-holes in which we could locate and categorize it. Gradually things develop from there. This development does not take the shape of a solid entity.

Rather, this development is illusory, the mistaken belief in a “self” or “ego.” Confused mind is inclined to view itself as a solid, on-going thing, but it is only a collection of tendencies, events. In Buddhist terminology this collection is referred to as the Five Skandhas or Five Heaps. So perhaps we could go through the whole development of the Five Skandhas.

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1.

The beginning point is that there is open space, belonging to no one. There is always primordial intelligence connected with the space and openness. Vidya, which means “intelligence” in Sanskrit — precision, sharpness, sharpness with space, sharpness with room in which to put things, exchange things. It is like a spacious hall where there is room to dance about, where there is no danger of knocking things over or tripping over things, for there is completely open space. We are this space, we are one with it, with vidya, intelligence and openness.

But if we are this all the time, where did the confusion come from, where has the space gone, what has happened? Nothing has happened, as a matter of fact. We just became too active in that space. Because it is spacious, it brings inspiration to dance about; but our dance became a bit too active, we began to spin more than was necessary to express the space. At this point we became conscious, conscious that “I” am dancing in the space.

At such a point, space is no longer space as such. It becomes solid. Instead of being one with the space, we feel solid space as a separate entity, as tangible. This is the first experience of duality — space and I, I am dancing in this space, and this spaciousness is a solid, separate thing. Duality means “space and I,” rather than being completely one with the space. This is the birth of “form,” of “other.”

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Then a kind of blackout occurs, in the sense that we forget what we were doing. There is a sudden halt, a pause; and we turn around and “discover” solid space, as though we had never before done anything at all, as though we were not the creators of all that solidity. There is a gap. Having already created solidified space, then we are overwhelmed by it and begin to become lost in it. There is a blackout and then, suddenly, an awakening.

When we awaken, we refuse to see the space as openness, refuse to see its smooth and ventilating quality. We completely ignore it, which is called avidya. A means “negation,” vidya means “intelligence,” so it is “un-intelligence.” Because this extreme intelligence has been transformed into the perception of solid space, because this intelligence with a sharp and precise and flowing luminous quality has become static, therefore it is called avidya, “ignorance.” We deliberately ignore. We are not satisfied just to dance in the space but we want to have a partner, and so we choose the space as our partner. If you choose space as your partner in the dance, then of course you want it to dance with you. In order to possess it as a partner, you have to solidify it and ignore its flowing, open quality. This is avidya, ignorance, ignoring the intelligence. It is the culmination of the First Skandha, the creation of Ignorance-Form.

In fact, this skandha, the skandha of Ignorance-Form, has three different aspects or stages which we could examine through the use of another metaphor. Suppose in the beginning there is an open plain without any mountains or trees, completely open land, a simple desert without any particular characteristics. That is how we are, what we are. We are very simple and basic. And yet there is a sun shining, a moon shining, and there will be lights and colours, the texture of the desert. There will be some feeling of the energy which plays between heaven and earth. This goes on and on.

Then, strangely, there is suddenly someone to notice all this. It is as if one of the grains of sand had stuck its neck out and begun to look around. We are that grain of sand, coming to the conclusion of our separateness. This is the “Birth of Ignorance” in its first stage, a kind of chemical reaction. Duality has begun.

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The second stage of Ignorance-Form is called “The Ignorance Born Within.” Having noticed that one is separate, then there is the feeling that one has always been so. It is an awkwardness, the instinct toward self-consciousness. It is also one’s excuse for remaining separate, an individual grain of sand. It is an aggressive type of ignorance, though not exactly aggressive in the sense of anger; it has not developed as far as that. Rather it is aggression in the sense that one feels awkward, unbalanced, and so one tries to secure one’s ground, create a shelter for oneself. It is the attitude that one is a confused and separate individual, and that is all there is to it. One has identified oneself as separate from the basic landscape of space and openness.

The third type of ignorance is “Self-Observing Ignorance,” watching oneself. There is a sense of seeing oneself as an external object, which leads to the first notion of “other.” One is beginning to have a relationship with a so-called “external” world. This is why these three stages of ignorance constitute the Skandha of Form-Ignorance; one is beginning to create the world of forms.

When we speak of “ignorance” we do not mean stupidity at all. In a sense, ignorance is very intelligent, but it is a completely two-way intelligence. That is to say, one purely reacts to one’s projections rather than just seeing what is. There is no situation of “letting be” at all, because one is ignoring what one is all the time. That is the basic definition of ignorance.

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2.

The next development is the setting up of a defence mechanism to protect our ignorance. This defence mechanism is Feeling, the Second Skandha. Since we have already ignored open space, we would like next to feel the qualities of solid space in order to bring complete fulfillment to the grasping quality we are developing. Of course space does not mean just bare space, for it contains colour and energy. There are tremendous, magnificent displays of colour and energy, beautiful and picturesque. But we have ignored them altogether. Instead there is just a solidified version of that colour; and the colour becomes captured colour, and the energy becomes captured energy, because we have solidified the whole space and turned it into “other.” So we begin to reach out and feel the qualities of “other.” By doing this we reassure ourselves that we exist. “If I can feel that out there, then I must be here.”

Whenever anything happens, one reaches out to feel whether the situation is seductive or threatening or neutral. Whenever there is a sudden separation, a feeling of not knowing the relationship of “that” to “this,” we tend to feel for our ground. This is the extremely efficient feeling mechanism that we begin to set up, the Second Skandha.

3.

The next mechanism to further establish ego is the Third Skandha, Perception-Impulse. We begin to be fascinated by our own creation, the static colors and the static energies. We want to relate to them, and so we begin gradually to explore our creation.

In order to explore efficiently there must be a kind of switchboard system, a controller of the feeling mechanism. Feeling transmits its information to the central switchboard, which is the act of perception. According to that information, we make judgments, we react. Whether we should react for or against or indifferently is automatically determined by this bureaucracy of feeling and perception. If we feel the situation and find it threatening, then we will push it away from us. If we find it seductive, then we will draw it to us. If we find it neutral, we will be indifferent. These are the three types of impulse: hatred, desire, and stupidity. Thus perception refers to receiving information from the outside world and impulse refers to our response to that information.

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4.

The next development is the Fourth Skandha, Concept. Perception-Impulse is an automatic reaction to intuitive feeling. However, this kind of automatic reaction is not really enough of a defence to protect one’s ignorance and guarantee one’s security. In order to really protect and deceive oneself completely, properly, one needs intellect, the ability to name and categorize things. Thus we label things and events as being “good,” “bad,” “beautiful,” “ugly,” and so on, according to which impulse we find appropriate to them.

So the structure of ego is gradually becoming heavier and heavier, stronger and stronger. Up to this point ego’s development has been purely an action and reaction process; but from now on ego gradually develops beyond the ape instinct and becomes more sophisticated. We begin to experience intellectual speculation, confirming or interpreting ourselves, putting ourselves into certain logical, interpretive situations. The basic nature of intellect is quite logical. Obviously there will be the tendency to work for a positive condition: to confirm our experience, to interpret weakness into strength, to fabricate a logic of security, to confirm our ignorance.

In a sense, it might be said that the primordial intelligence is operating all the time, but it is being employed by the dualistic fixation, ignorance. In the beginning stages of the development of ego this intelligence operates as the intuitive sharpness of feeling. Later it operates in the form of intellect. Actually it seems that there is no such thing as the ego at all ; there is no such thing as “I am.” It is an accumulation of a lot of stuff. It is a “brilliant work of art,” a product of the intellect which says, “Let’s give it a name, let’s call it something, let’s call it ‘I am’,” which is very clever. “I” is the product of intellect, the label which unifies into one whole the disorganized and scattered development of ego.

5.

The last stage of the development of ego is the Fifth Skandha, Consciousness. At this level an amalgamation takes place: the intuitive intelligence of the Second Skandha, the energy of the Third, and the intellectualization of the Fourth combine to produce thoughts and emotions. Thus at the level of the Fifth Skandha we find the Six Realms as well as the uncontrollable and illogical patterns of discursive thought.

This is the complete picture of ego. It is in this state that all of us have arrived at our study of Buddhist psychology and meditation.

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In Buddhist literature there is a metaphor commonly used to describe this whole process, the creation and development of ego. It speaks of a monkey locked in an empty house, a house with five windows representing the five senses. This monkey is inquisitive, poking its head out of each window and jumping up and down, up and down, restlessly. He is a captive monkey in an empty house. It is a solid house, rather than the jungle in which the monkey leapt and swung, rather than the trees in which he could hear the wind moving and the rustling of the leaves and branches. All these things have become completely solidified. In fact, the jungle itself has become his solid house, his prison. Instead of perching in a tree, this inquisitive monkey has been walled in by a solid world, as if a flowing thing, a dramatic and beautiful waterfall, had suddenly been frozen. This frozen house, made of frozen colours and energies, is completely still. This seems to be the point where time begins as past, future and present. The flux of things becomes solid tangible time, a solid idea of time.

The inquisitive monkey awakens from his blackout, but he does not awaken completely. He awakens to find himself trapped inside of a solid, claustrophobic house with just five windows. He becomes bored, as though captured in a zoo behind iron bars, and he tries to explore the bars by climbing up and down. That he has been captured is not particularly important; but the idea of capture is magnified a thousand times because of his fascination with it. If one is fascinated, the sense of claustrophobia becomes more and more vivid, more and more acute, because one begins to explore one’s imprisonment. In fact fascination is part of the reason he remains imprisoned. He is captured by his fascination. Of course at the beginning there was the sudden blackout which confirmed his belief in a solid world. But now having taken solidity for granted, he is trapped by his involvement with it.

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Of course this inquisitive monkey does not explore all the time. He begins to become agitated, begins to feel that something is very repetitive and uninteresting, and he begins to become neurotic. Hungry for entertainment, he tries to feel and appreciate the texture of the wall, attempting to make sure that this seeming solidity is really solid. Then, assured that the space is solid, the monkey begins to relate to it by grasping it, repelling it or ignoring it. If he attempts to grasp the space in order to possess it as his own experience, his own discovery, his own understanding, this is desire. Or, if the space seems a prison to him so that he tries to kick and batter his way out, fighting harder and harder, then this is hatred. Hatred is not just the mentality of destruction alone; but it is even more a feeling of defensiveness, defending oneself against claustrophobia. The monkey does not necessarily feel that there is an opponent or enemy approaching; he simply wants to escape his prison.

Finally the monkey might try to ignore that he is imprisoned or that there is something seductive in his environment. He plays deaf and dumb and so is indifferent and slothful in relation to what is happening around him. This is stupidity.

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To go back a bit, you might say that the monkey is born into his house as he awakens from the blackout. He does not know how he arrived in this prison, so he assumes he has always been there, forgetting that he himself solidified the space into walls. Then he feels the texture of the walls, which is the Second Skandha, Feeling. After that, he relates to the house in terms of desire, hatred, and stupidity, the Third Skandha, Perception-Impulse. Then, having developed these three ways of relating to his house, the monkey begins to label and categorize it: “This is a window. This corner is pleasant. That wall frightens me and is bad.” He develops a conceptual framework with which to label and categorize and evaluate his house, his world, according to whether he desires, hates, or feels indifferent to it. This is the Fourth Skandha, Concept.

The monkey’s development through the Fourth Skandha has been fairly logical and predictable. But the pattern of development begins to break down as he enters the Fifth Skandha, Consciousness. The thought pattern becomes irregular and unpredictable and the monkey begins to hallucinate, to dream. When we speak of “hallucination” or “dream,” it means that we attach values to things and events which they do not necessarily have. We have definite opinions about the way things are and should be. This is projection: we project our version of things onto what is there. Thus we become completely immersed in a world of our own creation, a world of conflicting values and opinions. Hallucination, in this sense, is a misinterpretation of things and events, reading into the phenomenal world meanings which it does not have.

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This is what the monkey begins to experience at the level of the fifth Skandha. Having tried to get out and having failed, he feels dejected, helpless, and so he begins to go completely insane. Because he is so tired of struggling, it is very tempting for him to relax and let his mind wander and hallucinate. This is the creation of the Six Lokas or Six Realms. There is a great deal of discussion in the Buddhist tradition about hell beings, people in heaven, the human world, the animal realm, and other psychological states of being. These are the different kinds of projections, the dream worlds we create for ourselves.

Having struggled and failed to escape, having experienced claustrophobia and pain, this monkey begins to wish for something good, something beautiful and seductive. So the first realm he begins to hallucinate is the Deva Loka, the God Realm, “heaven,” a place filled with beautiful, splendid things. The monkey dreams of strolling out of his house, walking in luxuriant fields, eating ripe fruit, sitting and swinging in the trees, living a life of freedom and ease.

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Then he also begins to hallucinate the Asura Realm, or the Realm of the Jealous Gods. Having experienced the dream of  heaven, the monkey wants to defend and maintain his great bliss and happiness. He suffers from paranoia, worrying that others may try to take his treasures from him, and so he begins to feel jealousy. He is proud of himself, has enjoyed his creation of the God Realm, and this has led him into jealousy of the Asura Realm.

Then he also perceives the earth-bound quality of these experiences. Instead of simply alternating between jealousy and pride, he begins to feel comfortable, at home in the “human world,” the “earthy world.” It is the world of just leading a regular life, doing things ordinarily, in a mundane fashion. This is the Human Realm.

But then the monkey also senses that something is a bit dull, something is not quite flowing. This is because, as he progresses from the Realm of the Gods to the Realm of the Jealous Gods to the Realm of Human Beings and his hallucinations become more and more solid, then this whole development begins to feel rather heavy and stupid. At this point he is born into the Animal Realm. He would rather crawl or moo or bark than enjoy the pleasure of pride or envy. This is the
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Then the process is intensified, and the monkey starts to experience a desperate feeling of starvation, because he really does not want to descend to any lower realms. He would like to return to the pleasure realms of the gods; so he begins to feel hunger and thirst, a tremendous feeling of nostalgia for what he remembers once having had. This is the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts or Preta Realm.

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Then there is a sudden losing of faith and the monkey begins to doubt himself and his world, begins to react violently. All this is a terrible nightmare. He realizes that such a nightmare could not be true and he begins to hate himself for creating all this horror. This is the dream of the Hell Realm, the last of the Six Realms.

Throughout the entire development of the Six Realms the monkey has experienced discursive thoughts, ideas, fantasies, and whole thought patterns. Up to the level of the Fifth Skandha his process of psychological evolution has been very regular and predictable. From the First Skandha each successive development arose in a systematic pattern, like an overlay of tiles on a roof. But now the monkey’s state of mind becomes very distorted and disturbed, as suddenly this mental jigsaw puzzle erupts and his thought patterns become irregular and unpredictable. This seems to be our state of mind as we come to the teachings and the practice of meditation. This is the place from which we must start our practice. [ ] I am afraid this has not been an especially beautiful talk, but we have to face the facts. That seems to be the process of working on the path.”

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There are many reasons I chose to study and practice homeopathy. The environmentalist in me loves how homeopathy is the only truly green medicine on the planet today. We are currently experiencing a green revolution sparked by a predicted lack of fossil fuels and by pollution and climate change. Even Alberta, the land of the dirtiest oil extraction method on the planet aka the tar sands, is struggling to find enough skilled workers in solar technology due to the increasing demand. It would have been ludicrous to say ten years ago that Alberta would be shifting their economy towards solar and wind power! That speaks mountains about how global the current green movement is.

I hope to remind people that we can green medicine as well.

The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that Western countries produce upwards of 6 kg per person, per year of medical waste. In America alone that would be 1,827,223,752 kg of medical waste each year including single-use gloves, syringes, soiled dressings, tissue samples, medical devices and radioactive materials. The medical system in America is not based on service, but on producing materials and medications, and on taking tests. Homeopathy on the other hand does not require a lot of diagnostic testing, equipment or expensive machinery and homeopathic remedies can be made in a fairly low-tech, manual process. Homeopathic doctors in the 1800’s often made their own remedies in simple home-based laboratories, however since there are numerous reputable and high quality laboratories, this is no longer necessary or desirable. The huge output of waste from hospitals and medical offices could be largely reduced by incorporating homeopathy into the Western model of health care. The cost to develop, maintain and purchase machines and equipment that diagnostics are currently dependent on could be redirected into preventative health measures and education about diet, lifestyle and exercise. And in returning to an old time method of care, increasing the ratio of health professionals to patients. People caring for people makes a big difference in health outcomes.

Western style medicines, as well as herbal based medicines, require resource extraction to provide enough product to help each patient. Imagine 300 million patients world wide with rheumatoid arthritis that want to use the extract of turmeric. Tumeric is fairly easy to grow and produce. However, if that same 300 million people are wanting to use goldenseal and suddenly there is a sustainability issue. According to Utne, goldenseal is one of the world’s best-selling herbs. “Widely used to treat infections, this small woodland plant grows plentifully in moist hardwood forests around the world. But large-scale collection combined with the expansion of timber harvests has made it increasingly difficult to find goldenseal in forests where it was once abundant. As HerbalGram (No. 41) reports, current demand in the United Kingdom alone threatens to decimate the species, since it takes decades to replenish the plant.”

The remedies used in homeopathy are predominately made from substances that are either plant, animal or mineral in origin. The method of preparing remedies involves dilution and succusion and so only tiny amounts of any of these substances are required to produce vast amounts of a remedy solution. [There are many online sources explaining the dilution and succusion process and even some modern scientists suggesting that the mechanism to explain how homeopathy involves nanotechnology with the mitochondria providing the bridge between the material (the particle) and the immaterial (the wave), so that is not going to be explored in this post.] One goldenseal plant harvested from the English countryside could treat thousands of people, if not millions, as mind-boggling as that is to comprehend with our materialistic paradigm.

Honeybee_landing_on_milkthistle

A qualified homeopathic laboratory can use one bee to create a remedy called Apis Mellifica, (useful at the acute level for swelling, edema, burning & stinging pains), that can treat thousands of people. Any other system of medicine would likely require one bee for one or maybe several people. That amounts to millions of bees to treat a global population. I don’t think the bees would be too happy about that.

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, founded in 1812 “for the encouragement and cultivation of the sciences, and the advancement of useful learning,” has a jar containing a snake preserved in formaldehyde. It is a South American bushmaster (Lachesis muta) and was donated to their collection in 1830 by Constantine Hering, a homeopathic doctor and a major contributor to the early development of homeopathy. He helped found the Philadelphia Medical College of Homeopathy in 1848 which later became the Hahnemann Hospital and then part of the Drexel University College of Medicine. What makes this particular snake special is that it was the very snake that Hering used to extract the venom to develop the homeopathic remedy Lachesis. Although this remedy was introduced to homeopathy 200 years ago, Lachesis remedies manufactured today are still being sourced from the venom of that same snake! Now that is sustainable medicine.

South American bushmaster specimen donated by Constantine Hering

The quantum revolution is merely waiting for us to embrace it, and then we can put the brakes on stripping the earth of resources in future decades, particularly of plants and animals. To me, Homeopathy is a similar concept to Noah’s ark, as long as we had one sample of each and every substance or living thing on the planet, we could provide ongoing treatment and care with that floating dispensary for generations. This is exciting, no?

~

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.

 

Homeopathy and Dental work, for adults and children

This series of PDFs are free to download, simply message me at the Birdsong Holistic Facebook page and I will send you a link to download this first free PDF on how to use homeopathy for dental issues and procedures.

I am about to go to the dentist. Like most people, I really don’t enjoy this part of self care. I am getting prepared to make the experience as easy and as painless as possible. I started this PDF when I had a client consulting me for upcoming toddler dental surgery and another client whose little girl knocked out one of her front teeth. I added some other situations so the PDF covers the general needs of dental work.

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I would like to share a humorous story about how we can get in our way and affect our health, purely with thoughts and decisions! A long time ago in my early 20’s I went to the dentist and found out one of my wisdom teeth needed to be extracted. This was when I lived on Denman Island and the dentist had a mobile dental clinic in a school bus which was pretty cool. I had never heard of homeopathy back then and only knew an acupressure trick for pain relief, holding LI 4, the Hoku point above the thumb. I was sitting in his chair looking out the window at the general store and the soccer field thinking this was the first wisdom tooth I was going to lose and I let out a big sigh. Did losing wisdom teeth mean I was not going to be wise in my older years, I wondered?

The dentist was wonderful and I sat there as he prepared my mouth and the freezing and then reached for his extraction forceps. The funny thing was that as much as he pulled and plied, my tooth would just not come out. He eventually reached for larger forceps and then even larger forceps! Nothing. He was totally confused and decided to take a break. He got up from the chair and stretched a bit. I took this moment to consider what was happening here. Then it came to me, I had made a pact with myself that I would strive to keep all my wisdom teeth as they symbolized the attainment of wisdom to me and I had erroneously decided that without them when I would grow old, I would lack wise council. I realized this error, or at least that I could not hold onto it, and had a quick, inner discussion with myself. I retracted my decision and told myself it was going to be ok to let this tooth go, I did not have to hold onto it and that the best thing for me at this moment was to accept that the tooth had to come out!

The dentist sat back down, picked up the larger forceps again and prepared himself for another round with my tooth. I braced myself and again pressed the Hoku point on my hand. He put the tool onto my tooth and gave a good, solid yank. He nearly fell backwards off his chair! The tooth came out as smooth and fast as if it was merely sitting in a pound of butter. He shook his head, we laughed about how odd this was and he finished up the procedure. I had an incredible lesson that day, I understood how much control the mind can have over the body! And the pact I had made was earlier that same year so it was easy to remember making it. What about all the mental decisions we make that we forget? Especially when we are making big decision about ourselves every other day, how can we possibly remember them all?

Twenty or thirty years later, those mental pacts can still be affecting how our body is responding to life and situations, without our realizing it. Exploring our inner mental world with a homeopath can start the healing process to unravel these pacts and decisions and give us a more authentic understanding of what is actually happening in the current moment and make our present experiences healthier.

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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.

I have been a long time environmentalist. Maybe it is sharing my birthday with Earth Day, maybe it was the soy based pabulum I drank as a baby, or just a pure love of all things alive and growing. Whatever the reason, the natural world is important to me.

Almost everyone can agree that we need to focus on environmental issues. However, if we neglect health issues we are missing a key means of what is required to resolve them. These issues are a result of climate change, human caused or otherwise, but also a result of previous negligence of basic health needs. The key is to have a lot of people in a vital state of health who can make sound, conscious decisions and actions towards the sustaining of an environment that is supportive for all Canadians and the rest of the world. Unhealthy people, in my experience, are rarely in a position to act, they are often not capable of providing service to others and instead depend on a large number of services. They may not be able to make decisions in ways or have their voice heard in venues that can make a difference. The lack of health in the general population is like running a massive three-legged race instead of everyone being independent, strong and at their best to reach the finish line with their full potential supported.

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The environment will continue to exist whether we can survive in it or not. The issue is really how we relate to ourselves and each other. I would posit that the rising trend in healthy living is directly related to the threat of climate change and environmental degradation. We have to do something, that much is clear, but who is going to do it and is that ‘doing’ going to make things unexpectedly worse? For this reason I want to see the healthiest people at the helm of this kind of crisis. Not the wealthiest, or most affluent, or most popular, but the most sound of mind and body. So how can the majority of Canadians move to the helm and do something that does make a real difference for positive change?

To be healthy people need access to food that is whole, nutritious and fresh. We can’t continue to support food production that relies on over processing, chemicals and poor nutrient levels. People need access to water that is unpolluted by chemicals, toxins and byproducts of human waste whether they live in Nunavut or Downtown Toronto. The air people breathe needs to be free of exhausts, gases, moulds and the various toxins that are making unsustainable smog in our cities. These are just the three basics for survival; food, air and water. If these basics were clean, whole and unpolluted, health would improve vastly and people would feel what it is like to have a clear head and a clean body that works optimally and efficiently. They would have an improved ability to engage and act. This means putting more energy and resources on bringing these basic needs back up to a quality level as a first step. This would directly impact climate change in many ways.

What else provides a basis for health?

People also need to be surrounded by trees, grasses and gardens. Parks and nature spaces help reduce our stress and carry a reminder of what wild nature feels like. How many of us live in cities and have not walked or sat on green grass for 6 months or more! Without a connection to nature, we can’t understand what we are losing as it disappears because of development and ‘progress.’ People need access to nature to manage stress levels and anxiety, to develop healthy bodies as well as healthy mental and emotional states.

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Also, the medical system we have, that is reliant on pharmaceuticals and parts based, quick fix procedures, is not working the way it was expected to. Patients are not reaching a potential of health but instead are becoming less healthy. Each generation has more chronic illness starting at a younger and younger age and with greater intolerance and allergies. Again, it takes a healthy, conscious individual to have the interest and ability to get involved, to get active and to make good decisions based on the concept of serving the community as a group. We need to find better ways to address disease and illness than what we are currently doing. We can’t just go around assuming we can fix a single body part and all will be healed. People are a whole, not a collection of bits. They have a body, a mind, an emotional experience. How can we be sure the whole person is getting the treatment and support they need?

How can we change our mindset from one of crisis mode and putting out wild fires with buckets to one of a real, critical understanding of the environmental situation and the development of effective solutions that will support and sustain us all, including the environment around us. I argue it lies with each one of us, that we all need to get involved, to care and to offer up a service that we intrinsically are best at. We can’t do this when we are struggling with low quality food, air and water. We can’t do this when nature is a distant reality we haven’t experienced for years, or ever. We can’t do this when we are struggling with ongoing illness or disease that is at best being palliated by the treatments options presented to us. Until we focus inwardly, how can we ever expect to make a positive change outwardly? People’s health is the key and the best place to start.

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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.

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