Monday, December 8, 2008
We would like some calls made to the committee members, but NOT a blitz of phone calls. Therefore, DO NOT have everyone you know make a call. JUST you.
You will most likely be speaking to a legislative aide when you call and not one of the senators. Please be brief and courteous and thank the senator for his past support and request the senator support our bill, S1311 again on Thursday, Dec. 11th. All but one senator voted in our favor the last time our bill came up for a vote.
Only one senator is new to this committee since our bill was last up for a vote and that senator is Senator Scutari. In his case, you should just ask for his support
The phone numbers are as follows:
Senator Raymond Lesniak - 908-624-0880
Senator Gerald Cardinale - 201-567-2324
Senator Bob Singer - 732-901-0702
Senator Nicholas Scutari - 908-587-0404
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Call-in ALERT !!
We are quickly approaching the Jan.1 deadline for NJ’s mandated flu shot
We just don’t know how many kids will be excluded from daycare & pre-school if they don’t have their flu shot as of January 1, 2009. We have never needed Vaccination Choice in NJ more… act now
And let your voice be heard! Apparently 10,000+ signatures on our petition are not getting the attention of NJ lawmakers.
Make just 5 phone calls (and email to everyone you know, to do the same) if you value VACCINATION CHOICE
Call-in will be on Mon. Dec. 1- Wed. Dec. 3 (and beyond).
Who to call:
(1) Governor Jon Corzine: (609) 292- 6000
(2) Heather Howard (NJ Health Commissioner): (609) 292-7837, or try her email: email@example.com or fax: (609) 984-5474
(3) Your 3 NJ Legislators: To find your district and your 3 state legislators, go to http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/
and then check here to see if they are one of 35 sponsors already http://njvaccinationchoice.org
- it’s important to thank those already signed on, and encourage them to actively work to push it forward.
- If they are NOT on board- ask them urgently to co-sponsor NJ legislative bill A260/S1071, the Conscientious Exemption to Mandatory Immunization.
As the Jan. 1 mandatory flu shot deadline is upon us, it is URGENT that they support and pass
Assembly Bill A260 (on the Senate side it's known as S1071) as soon as possible. If time permits, share your own reasons why you want vaccination choice.
The coalition would also like to hear your stories of how the current system of religious and medical exemptions in NJ are working for your family. Please email them directly to: Sue at NJAICV@aol.com
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
If you want to go further:
(1) Call other key legislators that can move this forward:
Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (856) 742-7600 – leader of NJ Assembly
Senate Pres. Richard Codey (973) 731-6770 – leader of NJ Senate, sometime NJ Governor
Senator Joseph Vitale (732) 855-7441 – Chair, Senate Health Committee
Senator Loretta Weinberg (201) 928-0100 – Vice-Chair, Senate Health Committee
(2) Refer to the Coalition’s Top Ten Reasons NJ needs this legislation, for talking points
(3) Visit the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice (NJCVC) at http://njvaccinationchoice.org
Our web page has:
- updates on CVC efforts (click here for a Status Report)
- coming shortly - FAQ’s about the new mandates
- how you can help support & join this fight
- timely news & info on our Blog
- informative video clips
- Details/pictures of our Oct. 2008 Rally in Trenton
- useful links for doing more research yourself
- and more…
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Much of my time and efforts lately have been geared towards a couple of bigger projects. One is my course of study in Classical Chinese medicine with Daoist priest Jeffrey Yuen. It is an unfathomable amount of material to get through and digest. I will post material on this content and my experience with it soon.
The other is that much of my writing these days has been diverted into a book that I have begun writing on Chinese medicine for the public. I have made lots of headway on this project and am about 100 pages in. My goal is to have a book ready for publication by the end of the year. I will post excerpts soon.
Please don't stop visiting....
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I am forwarding this email from a dear friend who is embarking on a trip and fund raising effort for a noble cause. Please read below. Thanks.
I am going to Israel this November on a very special trip, and I want to take you with me! I am traveling with Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, an organization that works to protect the rights of all – Jews and Arabs alike – in Israel and the West Bank. We will be visiting with the leaders and members Rabbis for Human Rights and other Israeli human rights groups like Betzelem, the Israeli Human Rights organization, Machsom Watch, women who witness the treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, Shovrim Shtika, soldiers who break the silence about human rights abuses and many others. Rabbis for Human Rights and these groups are partners dedicated to realizing the founding vision of Israel to be a state based on the prophetic ideals of justice freedom and peace. As Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary, I am going to Israel to express my solidarity with their inspiring vision and the courageous work of these Israelis.
One of the most important events on this trip will be the planting of trees in Israel and on the West Bank as part of Planting Justice: The Two Trees Campaign of Rabbis for Human Rights. These will be trees of life hope and peace, trees planted with the intention of building a future where both Israelis and Palestinians will enjoy security, dignity and peace.
And this is how I'd like to take you with me: I hope you will want to be one of my trip supporters, and by extension, a supporter of the courageous and righteous work of Rabbis for Human Rights and its partners by making a donation to the Two Trees Campaign. Our group hopes to give Rabbis for Human Rights $36,000 raised from our friends, family and community. As part of my commitment, I've set a goal of raising $1,000 for Rabbis for Human Rights before I leave. You can give your contribution in honor or memory of someone and Rabbis for Human Rights will send the honoree a certificate. By participating in this way, you will be planning the trees with me. As another way of taking you with me on this journey, our group will send you a report on our trip when we return.
Below you will find a flyer about the Two Trees Campaign and a contribution form. You can also find out more about the campaign and make a donation online by visiting: http://www.rhr-na.org/story/
Please let me know if you make the donation online so I can acknowledge your gift and count it towards my fundraising goal.
B'virkat Shalom-Salaam/Blessings for Peace,
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Senator Stephen M. Sweeney, Primary Sponsor
Senate Commerce Committee Members
Senator Nia H. Gill (Esq), Chairperson
RE: S565 Strong Opposition
I wish to express my strong opposition to Bill S565, which would allow Chiropractors
to include acupuncture and Chinese herbs in their scope of practice, with minimal
When I put my health and well being into the hands of a licensed healthcare professional,
I expect them to be fully trained and competent. Even though MDs practice acupuncture
with abbreviated training, chiropractors are not trained as MDs, and have inadequate
training in dealing with blood borne illnesses and invasive procedures. They also have
significantly less training overall, than an MD.
This bill significantly compromises public safety and consumer confidence by
allowing the licensure of lesser-trained health care providers and in allowing this
licensure, also lowers the standards of education of the profession of acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine.
Please Vote Against S565
Re: S565 STRONG OPPOSITION
Senator Nia H. Gill (Esq.)
Chairperson, Senate Commerce Committee
425 Bloomfield Avenue, 2nd Floor
Montclair, NJ 07042
Senator Raymond J. Lesniak
Vice Chair, Senate Commerce Committee
985 Stuyvesant Ave.
Union, NJ 07083
908.624.0880 phone ext.17
Senator Nicholas P. Scutari
Senate Commerce Committee
1514 East Saint Georges Ave., 2nd Floor
Linden, NJ 07036
Senator Gerald Cardinale (DDS)
Senate Commerce Committee
350 Madison Ave.
Cresskill, NJ 07626
Senator Robert W. Singer
Senate Commerce Committee
2110 West County Line Rd.
Jackson, NJ 08527
Senator Stephen M. Sweeney
935 Kings Highway, Suite 400
Thorofare, New Jersey 08086
Monday, May 12, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Acupuncture Today article
Thursday, April 24, 2008
58 Cranberry Run
Southampton, NJ 08088
Here is a sample letter that can be adapted by anyone:
Re: Legalize Raw Milk
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is intended to express my deep concern and belief in a very important area of health and nutrition, namely the dairy industry and the availability of raw milk.
The health benefits of raw milk far out weigh that of pasteurized milk and an increasing number of studies are confirming this fact, a fact that has been well-known since the inception of pasteurization. An historical look at pasteurization reveals that the purpose of this technique was to aid the dairy industry and small farmers in their ability to make milk accessible to the general public. Pasteurization was intended to be a short-term solution until the technology was available to allow raw milk to be sold inter-state.
However, like most things, money seems to be a determining factor in decision-making. Once the industry realized how much money was to be made by selling pasteurized milk, another alternative was never pursued. The ability of big business dairy farmers to have milk sit in vats for days on end putrifying with harmful bacteria only to be pasteurized and allowed to be sold wound up being the norm. But the time has now come to allow the individual to decide the kind of food/milk/dairy it would like to consume rather than big business or governmental agencies.
Pasteurized milk due to the loss of enzymes and probiotics cause diarrhea, cramps, bloating, gas, gastrointestinal bleeding, iron deficiency anemia, skin rashes, colic in infants, osteoporosis, increased tooth decay, arthritis and a host of other serious and chronic ailments. In fact, many prominent doctors believe that pasteurized dairy is a key factor in the formation of many cancers.
More and more studies are showing that raw milk is by far healthier than pasteurized/homogenized and that any health risks are far outweighed by the health benefits. The Mayo Clinic has undertaken a RAW MILK CURE to treat diseases. It has been used throughout the ages to treat an endless variety of illnesses. And until the big milk companies became involved, raw milk was widely accepted as a healthy, affordable food available to rich and poor.
By studying the history of pasteurizing milk, one comes to understand how big business has put money in to the pockets of legislators who will support their interests, not the interests and health of the citizens they represent. Please do not prove yourself to be one of these legislators.
Let’s put our focus toward maintaining healthy cows, producing healthy raw milk, who are allowed to graze on pasture – not on subsidizing big farms that own cows who can barely stand, never see grass, and are in pain due to all the hormones and antibiotics that are being pumped in to them – and by those very companies who want to suppress any facts which support the health benefits of raw milk.
Please help to expand our rights to buy raw milk. The health of all of our families, and countless others, depends on it.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Ben Saves The World blog
Sunday, April 6, 2008
What distinguishes this from other systems of medicine is the relationship that is created and fostered between patient and practitioner which serves as the foundation for the initiation of the healing process. This is not a one-way street and requires cooperation by both parties.
First, the physician counsels the patient regarding the relationship between particular behavioral patterns (including diet, exercise, sex, etc.) and the illness in question, and then treatment assists and supports the body's own healing forces. A physician's job is to return physiology to normal. His effectiveness depends entirely on the accuracy of the diagnosis, on the wisdom of the counseling, on the patient's willingness to change, and on the correct choice of treatment modalities for the rebalancing of the body's physiology.-Dr. Leon Hammer
Nobody denies that assuming responsibility for oneself is the ultimate in growth and development. The physician must identify the energy leaks, and the patient must seal them by changing his lifestyle. It is, however, only one step and cannot be taken until the organism and person are strong enough. This strengthening is a collaborative process and must often begin with help from an outside source. Chinese medicine provides this outside source in many ways.-Dr. Leon Hammer
As health practitioners we are of value to the people who consult us only if we can offer them something significantly different from the usual response. Of course, we recognize and acknowledge the negative in all its destructiveness. However:
We are needed for our ability to recognize the positive quest for contact beneath the negative emotions and behavior.......
This is the beginning of a 'new experience' with someone who is reliably more concerned with finding, and responding to, the positive rather than the negative in them; with someone nourishing rather than condemning; with someone capable of putting, at least temporarily, another person's needs ahead of his or her own.
Only as we allow a 'new experience' and provide a new model can our contact with our patients be a truly healing, growing, therapeutic experience.-Dr. Leon Hammer
Thursday, April 3, 2008
China is on the fence--indicating an openness to talks with the Dalai Lama, while at the same time pressuring other governments to support its continuing crackdown. Each day, more leaders declare their stance. It's time to redouble our efforts--click below to send a personal message to your head of state, urging support for dialogue with the Dalai Lama--and check out the photo gallery from Monday's day of action!
Together, we've built an unprecedented wave of global pressure. The Avaaz petition is one of the biggest and fastest-growing global online petitions on any topic in history; since it launched on March 18, it has been signed by 100,000 people per day--an average of more than 4,000 per hour, day and night.
Politicians understand that there is power in numbers. We need to show them that they have more to gain by listening to their own people--and heeding the cry for help from Tibet--than by giving China a pass in the lead-up to the Olympic Games.
We're privileged to be alive at a time when people anywhere can reach out and support people everywhere--instantly. If we have the power to make things better, we have a responsibility to act. Thanks for what you've done so far, for the people of Tibet and for a more humane world for all.
Ben, Ricken, Graziela, Galit, Paul, Iain, Pascal, and the Avaaz team
PS--Here are some links with more information on the Tibetan protests and the Chinese response:
"China softens Dalai Lama stand" -- Wen Jiabao calling for dialogue
Dalai Lama expresses appreciation for world reaction, appeals for continued support; also sends appeal to the Chinese people:
China announcing support from governments around the world:
Leaders across Europe and Asia starting to back dialogue as the way forward:
Chinese Prime Minister attacks "Dalai clique", leaves door open for talks:
Other Chinese signals:
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The Center for Acupuncture will post in its offices and website/blog information about each charity that it chooses. Final decisions about the charities chosen will be made by myself and my wife, Ann, but we strongly encourage patients and anyone so inclined to let their recommendations be known. We plan on choosing from local, national and international charities.
Information on our first charity is coming soon......
Thursday, March 20, 2008
After decades of repression under Chinese rule, the Tibetan people's frustrations have burst onto the streets in protests and riots. With the spotlight of the upcoming Olympic Games now on China, Tibetans are crying out to the world for change.
The Chinese government has said that the protesters who have not yet surrendered "will be punished". Its leaders are right now considering a crucial choice between escalating brutality or dialogue that could determine the future of Tibet, and China.
We can affect this historic choice--China does care about its international reputation. China's President Hu Jintao needs to hear that the 'Made in China' brand and the upcoming Olympics in Beijing can succeed only if he makes the right choice. But it will take an avalanche of global people power to get his attention--and we need it in the next 48 hours.
The Tibetan Nobel peace prize winner and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama has called for restraint and dialogue: he needs the world's people to support him. Click below now to sign the petition--and tell absolutely everyone you can right away--our goal is 1 million voices united for Tibet:
China's economy is totally dependent on "Made in China" exports that we all buy, and the government is keen to make the Olympics in Beijing this summer a celebration of a new China, respected as a leading world power. China is also a very diverse country with a brutal past and has reason to be concerned about its stability -- some of Tibet's rioters killed innocent people. But President Hu must recognize that the greatest danger to Chinese stability and development comes from hardliners who advocate escalating repression, not from Tibetans who seek dialogue and reform.
We will deliver our petition directly to Chinese officials in London, New York, and Beijing, but it must be a massive number before we deliver the petition. Please forward this email to your address book with a note explaining to your friends why this is important, or use our tell-a-friend tool to email your address book--it will come up after you sign the petition.
The Tibetan people have suffered quietly for decades. It is finally their moment to speak--we must help them be heard.
With hope and respect,
Ricken, Iain, Graziela, Paul, Galit, Pascal, Milena, Ben and the whole Avaaz team
PS - It has been suggested that the Chinese government may block the Avaaz website as a result of this email, and thousands of Avaaz members in China will no longer be able to participate in our community. A poll of Avaaz members over the weekend showed that over 80% of us believed it was still important to act on Tibet despite this terrible potential loss to our community, if we thought we could make a difference. If we are blocked, Avaaz will help maintain the campaign for internet freedom for all Chinese people, so that our members in China can one day rejoin our community.
Here are some links with more information on the Tibetan protests and the Chinese response:
BBC News: UN Calls for Restraint in Tibet - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi
Human Right Watch: China Restrain from Violently Attacking Protesters - http://hrw.org/english/docs
Associated Press: Tibet Unrest Sparks Global Reaction - http://ap.google.com/article
New York Times: China Takes Steps to Thwart Reporting on Tibet Protests - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03
Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.
TOXIC SOUP OF PLASTIC TWICE THE SIZE OF U.S. FORMS IN OCEAN
The University of Hawaii is set to launch an expedition with the goal of confirming a new trash "continent" in the Pacific Ocean. A vast expanse of floating trash has been collecting in the Pacific Ocean into a mass that scientists are now referring to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The thick mass of plastic soup, located approximately 500 miles east of California, is now reported to be twice the size of the Unites States. The collection of debris comes as no surprise to experts in this area. According to a recent report from the UN Environment Programme, on a global level, each square mile of ocean water contains an average of 46,000 pieces of floating garbage.
Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers
CANCER-CAUSING INGREDIENT FOUND IN LEADING "ORGANIC" & "NATURAL" PERSONAL CARE PRODCUTS
A newly released study commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and overseen by environmental health consumer advocate David Steinman (author of The Safe Shopper's Bible), revealed the presence of the undisclosed carcinogenic contaminant 1,4-Dioxane in leading shampoos, body washes, lotions and other personal care and household cleaning products claiming to be "natural" or "organic". The study results, to be released this weekend at the Natural Products Expo in California, are already sending shockwaves through the "organic" and "natural" body care industry. Laboratory tests showed that products certified under the USDA National Organic Program DID NOT contain this toxin, but most of the best selling personal care products claiming to be "organic" (but not USDA certified) contained the cancer-causing ingredient. All leading self-proclaimed "organic" brands have at least a few individual "certified organic" ingredients, but for most of these top-selling brands, the product, as a whole, is not USDA organic certified, thereby allowing the presence of synthetic toxins. Similar studies have revealed the presence of this toxin in conventional personal care products, but this is the first study indicating the presence in misleadingly labeled "organic" and "natural" products.
Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers
CONSUMER TIP OF THE WEEK:
HOW TO AVOID 1,4-DIOXANE IN YOUR PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS
| ||QUICK RELATED BLIP: |
INDUSTRY IGNORES CONSUMER CONCERNS & CREATES BOGUS "OASIS" ORGANIC STANDARD
A new "organic" standard for personal care products has been created exclusively by conventional industry members like Estee Lauder (owner of Aveda), Loreal and Hain (Jason, Avalon), without any input or comment period from organic consumers, organic farmers or personal care companies who have achieved USDA National Organic Program certification for the majority of their products. The OASIS standard allows a product to be labeled outright as “Organic” (rather than “Made with Organic Specified Ingredients”) even if it contains hydrogenated and sulfated cleansing ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate made from conventional agricultural material grown with synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and preserved with synthetic petrochemical preservatives like Ethylhexylglycerin and Phenoxyethanol. As always, the OCA recommends consumers look for personal care products certified under the USDA National Organic Program.
Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers
our work fighting for the rights of organic farmers and organic consumers!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
So, while I would love to say that my vacation was a time of rest, and back to work a time of activity, the reality is that my home life, my work life and my vacation times are a blend of these opposites. My challenge this month will be to find a way to make these opposites more peaceful and blend together more seamlessly. How to find time to relax while working; how to be productive without compromising my health; to have dedicated time to practice my tai ji more diligently; to cut off working/studying with ample time to wind down before bedtime; and to retire in the evening earlier.
Friday, February 22, 2008
As I mentioned in my last post, February is the month of business in the Year of Sagely Living. I have found that to be successful in business it is imperative to take time away from business. It allows for a renewal of energy, perspective and vision for the future. My next week is designed to accomplish exactly that. I am off for 8 days to Manuel Antonio and Dominical, Costa Rica.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
It is also very fitting that at the end of the month I go on vacation, back to a place that my family loves: Costa Rica. For us, there is no better place to get in touch with our essence; to truly be inspired. I will use this trip to help me solidify my truest goals for what I want in my life.
In addition, in the spirit of business, I have spent the last couple months updating/modernizing and augmenting my website for the sake of attracting more individuals to the benefits of acupuncture, herbal medicine, Contemporary Oriental Medicine, Contemporary Chinese Pulse Diagnosis and alternative medicine in general. Please take a look and browse the new site at your convenience: Center for Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine website.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Check out his post here.
Alert: Stop Deceptive Labeling of "Naturally Raised" Meats
Consumer polls indicate the average person imagines meat labeled "Naturally Raised" comes from animals that spent their drug-free lives freely roaming the fields of a family farmer, eating wild flora and fauna, and being (at least somewhat) humanely slaughtered. In fact a 2007 Consumer Reports survey shows 83% of consumers assume such labeling means “it came from an animal raised in a natural environment.” In stark contrast, the USDA, under pressure from big agribusiness, has released a standard for "Naturally Raised" meats that is so weak it would apply to a cloned animal raised in the confines of a factory farm. The public comment period on this labeling standard only lasts until January 28, so take action now before this type of labeling becomes as ubiquitous as corporate lobbyists on Capitol Hill.
Learn more and take action:
EPA WANTS YOU TO DECIDE -- SHOULD TOXIC PESTICIDE BE BANNED?
The EPA has opened a public comment period on whether a toxic pesticide used on food and cotton in the U.S. but banned in much of the world, should be taken off the market. The pesticide, endosulfan harms the hormone system, and low levels of exposure in the womb have been linked to autism, male reproductive harm and other birth defects. The Organic Consumers Association is joining with Pesticide Action Network and other allies in gathering tens of thousands of petition signatures to ban this toxic pesticide off the market now. Learn more and take action:
Friday, February 8, 2008
Friday, February 1, 2008
1 hr 29 min 41 sec - May 26, 2007
Average rating: (318 ratings)
Description: Excellent documentary showing how dangerous artificial sweetner Aspartame is. From its history, to its effects this video is enough to shock anyone into really looking at there food labels next time they shop. Aspartame is a toxic food that came into the world as an investment By Donald Rumsfeld, while ignoring the deadly effects the tests showed. Take a good look at this video, it could save lives.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
So, what did I actually accomplish:
1. I have committed to watching a minimum of one hour of my PhD dvd lectures while taking detailed notes at least 2 nights per week after the kids go to sleep. I have been able to achieve this thus far and have been doing so 4 nights per week.
2. I have committed to a more diligent practice of Chen taijiquan. I have continued to take weekly classes, driving into NYC every Sunday morning. And each night (more like 5 nights per week) I spend approximately 1/2 hour practicing my forms after studying. It's been a great way to unwind from the less than perfect posture of watching dvds on a laptop computer.
3. More time with family: I have made a concerted effort to spend more uninterrupted time with my kids (without checking the phone, emails, etc.). I have spent Tues and Fri afternoons with the family as I finish with patients early on those days. I have taken the kids bowling, away for the weekend and have taken my son out of his kindergarten wrap around program to spend more time with him. (We are also in the process of organizing a plan to homeschool. Yes, more ambitious. I'm sure this will spur some more blogposts soon.) My lunch break has been more playtime than worktime.
4. While I have not been able to take any additional classes in Tibetan medicine as my translator is not available and Rinpoche is travelling, I have been continuing my Medicine Buddha practice.
5. As January deals with learning, I also read The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. An excellent book (which also ties in my tai ji practice). See it here.
6. Publishing articles and video lectures: No additional publishing this month, however, I am starting to work on the next article which has a mid Feb deadline. The video lecture will gain some momentum in mid March after my vacation to Costa Rica and trip to Gainesville.
7. In the midst of all this, January has been a month of tremendous reflection on how I want to live my life, how I want to raise my children, where I want to live, and how to propel myself in that direction. The discussions go on daily in my household as I try to practice more of what I preach. One of my biggest lessons this month is that change must come.
So, all in all, it's been a good month. A good start with a long road ahead.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Friday, January 4, 2008
While watching my dvd lectures from my teacher, Jeffrey Yuen, he discusses how so often patients come to see practitioners to rid themselves of their symptoms, but never see the connection to their lifestyles. Most look forward to getting back to their lives pain -free, cancer-free, or free of whatever ailments are plaguing them. But we must instruct our patients that their lifestyles are the problem. To do otherwise, we are simply treating the branch, the manifestation.
To heal, we need to change. We need to be brave enough to change our lives in a way that is conducive to health. On a spiritual level, this means non-attachment. It means cultivating a way of life that transmutes our physicality towards spirituality. The goal of qi gong, for example, is to alchemically transmute our jing (essence) to qi, then from qi to shen to expand our consciousness and experience emptiness, the non-duality of all things.
On a physical level, healing requires significant lifestyle modifications. Dietary changes (avoiding cold, damp, greasy, fried, preservatives, chemicals, refined sugars, etc. and eating for health, not pleasure, eating live whole foods, etc. (see the Resources page on my website for a really good introduction to Eastern nutrition), habitual patterns of movement (ie, sitting all day at a desk leaning over our keyboard which kills the qi in our chest), and perhaps most importantly our habituated emotional responses. If we are living lives of quiet desperation, unhappy in our marriage or work, unhappy with how we look or feel, we must make radical changes to secure our health. If we are having difficulty containing our anger, if we are experiencing depression, we must seek out their roots.
Dealing with roots of our habituated responses is incredibly powerful and the entire subject of humanistic psychology as detailed in Dr. Hammer's Dragon Rises, Red Bird Flies is very well laid out. Learning how one's behaviors, rooted in early life, shape our health across the entire bodymind spectrum, and gaining the tools to make the appropriate changes can spark a profound healing.
So, as we have decided this is the 'year of sagely living' we must strive towards this ideal by rooting out our behaviors that are synonymous with imbalance, and replacing them with habits that foster health and well-being.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
The "Year of Sagely Living" is the brainchild of my good friend Brandt (Abdallah) Stickley (see Even Unto China) and Eric Grey (see Deepest Health) and I am fortunate to be involved in this at its inception. The idea is that over the course of the next year (beginning today) we make the commitment to cultivate the skills (academic, clinical, spiritual, etc.) of the superior physician. A syllabus of sorts has been created (see below) that will help guide the process. January 1st marks the beginning of scholarship and study. Each month will have a unique theme based on a synergy with the energies of each season and time of year. Excerpted below is the syllabus from Deepest Health.
While all these categories are areas that many of us are already cultivating to various degrees, the syllabus will allow a renewed commitment and strengthened focus on a monthly basis. Each of us involved will also share our experiences online on our respective blogs.
January - Gall Bladder, Zi 子 (Rat): Scholarship/Study: This category will contain practices to develop us into true scholars in the Confucian/neo-Confucian tradition. Why this pairing? The seasonal energy is still in winter, a contemplative mood prevails, but the Yang is rising. Similar to this, we can see scholarly pursuits as ACTIVE passivity. One generally sits still, but one’s mind is hard at work.
February - Liver, Chou 丑 (Ox): Strategy/Business: This category will contain practices in the realm of business development and strategic planning in the professional world. Why this pairing? The Liver is the general of the body, so has a natural affinity for this kind of activity.
March - Lung, Yin 寅 (Tiger)- Activity/Rest: This category will contain practices having to do with appropriate cycles of rest and activity in daily life - for instance, appropriate waking times throughout the seasons. Why this pairing? This earthly branch and the essence of the Lung Zang is all about peaceful tension between opposites, like the time of the year associated with both. Further, being mindful of our need for balance between rest and activity is great preparation for the often overactive spring/summer energy.
April - Large Intestine, Mao 卯 (Rabbit) - Care of the planet/consumption: This category will contain practices that develop us into compassionate and sane consumers, while helping to develop our deep relationship with the natural world. Why this pairing? April is a time when we can see the beauty of nature all around us, so is a great time to contemplate our dependence on it and responsibility towards it. Also, the negative side of LI/Rabbit is a tendency to run rough-shod over the needs and wants of others, these practices will seek to counterbalance this.
May - Stomach, Chen 晨 (Dragon): Physical cultivation: This category will contain practices that help us to shape our physical bodies into ideal vehicles for the transmission of healing energy. Why this pairing? The natural world has exploded into full splendor and the weather in the Northern hemisphere will be warm enough in most places to warrant moving around outside. The ST is an Earth organ and is related to the flesh of the body, which we will be building with these practices. Think also of the dragon and its association with martial arts and other physical cultivation practices.
June - Spleen, Si 巳 (Snake)- Food choices - This category works in tandem with the previous one to help maintain the physical form of the body in an optimal way. Why this pairing? June is actually a great time to do fasting or other food restriction activities because most of us don’t feel any great desire to eat excessively in the summer heat. Further, reducing the burden on digestion will help us to focus on absorbing the pure Yang energy so abundantly available in June.
July - Heart, Wu 午 (Horse) - Community building/charity - This category speaks to our need to be an integral and contributing member of a number of communities. It also involves the practice of compassion in a world where inequality is the norm. Why this pairing? The summer is a wonderful time to participate in community-oriented projects! Also, the Heart and Fire (the Heart’s element) are about intimacy, about connection to Spirit — both of which are well represented in the idea behind this category.
August - Small Intestine, Wei 未 (Sheep)- Ethical Behavior - This category will include practices not covered in other categories that have some ethical dimension. These practices are likely to be very individual and defined by a person’s background, spiritual/religious practice and culture. For example, practicing “Right Speech” through abstinence from cursing. Why this pairing? The Fu (hollow, Yang) organs are said to transmit the essence of their associated Zang (solid, Yin) organs. SI exemplifies this relationship in its devotion to sacrifice as a way to manifest the Heart’s mandate of connection to Spirit in the purest sense. Also because many of the “ethical behavior” practices we discussed are somewhat prohibitive, it resonates with the descent into metal energy that the earthly branch Wei represents.
September - Bladder, Shen 申 (Monkey)- Arts/Aesthetics: This category involves the use of our creative faculties - particularly as they pertain to the arts associated with Chinese medicine, such as calligraphy. Why this pairing? These activities are Yin within Yang - they are still, yet active - like scholarship. More importantly is the symbolism of 申. One of the meanings of this character is to stretch, and the oracle bones show it as two hands pulling something in opposite directions. We might think about this as the intercourse between Heaven and Earth, the Human Being in the middle being the substrate that is stretched between those two poles. I think Art facilitates this threefold communication.
October - Kidney, You 酉 (Rooster/owl): Chinese medicine specific skills: This category includes the refinement of Chinese medicine related skills, such as hand techniques in acupuncture. For those not in the field, you might look into developing skills that will help you in your work. Why this pairing? The Kidney is often said to be the root of all skill and expertise. Also, with the cool calm energy of autumn, one can become focused enough to substantially increase specific skills.
November - Pericardium, Xu 戌: Relationships: This category will involve practices that help us develop more mature and meaningful relationships with others. Why this pairing? Pericardium is frequently said to mediate intimate relationships. One interesting symbolic note is the association of the earthly branch Xu, which means - essentially - weapon. This speaks on many levels to me. For instance, we must be careful to avoid violence in relationships, on whatever level. Also, relationships are a bit like handling weapons — if you’re not careful and mindful, it can come back to bite you. Finally, the late fall and winter are good times for relationship oriented activity, given that most of us desire to stay at home with family and friends as the weather cools.
December - Triple Burner, Hai 亥: Spiritual cultivation: Although we will be looking at spiritual dimensions of all kinds of activity throughout the year, this month we will give it special attention. These practices will probably be quite individual, but there may be some shared goals - such as having a daily meditation practice. Why this pairing? I’ve always learned about TB as being the mysterious “in between,” the mover between worlds, the ultimate stillness. What a metaphor for spiritual practice!
To assist in this endeavor, I will also institute some ground rules. As I have been ongoingly engaged in studying pulse diagnosis and writing about it, I am committed to publishing articles regularly on this topic and have an agreement to publish a series with the Chinese Medicine Times. (The first article can be found here.) I also have plans with others to publish a video lecture on the same topic.
As I have recently begun a PhD program in Classical Chinese medicine, I also commit to studying the video lectures at least twice weekly and integrating the information into my practice.
I have been involved in martial arts since the age of 8, however, the demands of raising a family and running a busy practice have sidelined that passion for approximately 5 years. In November I have once again begun the study and practice of tai ji quan and commit to regular practice and qi cultivation.
I also have the unique opportunity of a close personal relationship with Lama Doctor Tsewang Ngodrup Rinpoche (see Rangnang Ogminling Bendirya Kunphen Ling) a gifted spiritual teacher and traditional Tibetan doctor. I have begun private classes with Him in Tibetan medicine and will continue to pursue this avenue of cultivation. My Buddhist practice is tied in with this study, and my commitment to bring this spirituality into my practice and life in a more authentic way is strengthened.
I also dedicate uninterrupted time to spend with my wife and three children. So often the busy days pass with squeezing in work and family time, the two often commingled into the same block of time. I will make separate time for work and for family, the latter being more active and involved.
More to come....