You Are What You Eat…

Simple and pithy, this adage pretty much sums up a healthful approach to nutrition. Our bodies are designed to thrive on a varied diet of whole, unprocessed foods—fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs; proteins from sea and land animals; naturally grown and processed grains and beans; and fermented foods. Despite regional and cultural differences, traditional diets throughout the world are all based on some combination of these basic foods. These are the foods that humans have evolved eating and that have kept us healthy for eons.

Every calorie we ingest either fuels the inward energy that creates, nourishes, and heals every cell in our bodies, or is used to generate the outward energy that helps us act in the world. In the process of transforming food into inward or outward energy, toxic byproducts are formed that are oxidative and pro-inflammatory. Nutrient dense, healthful foods can efficiently make healthy cells, produce balanced energy, and at the same time reduce the creation of waste byproducts.

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The Spirit of Eclectic Medicine

Both Eastern and Western healing traditions have long known that strengthening vitality is the basis for improving health and recovering from illness or injury. Early American herbal systems such as the Eclectic tradition understood this concept as central to healing. In my 25 years of clinical practice, I’ve found that enhancing vitality, although often ignored in modern medicine, is essential for health. As such, the Eclectic model has provided me with a wealth of information that informs my healing practice today.

As their name implies, the Eclectics encouraged exploration of every system of medicine, regardless of its origins, to discover and apply the most useful principles for the wellbeing of humanity. The basic principles of Eclectic medicine can be distilled to these simple precepts:

  • Nature is the great physician who, if permitted and not interfered with, provides for our physical requirements.
  • Disease (dis-ease) of whatever nature is caused by a lack of equilibrium (an imbalance), the result of an abnormal condition in the body, or the result of congestion due to poor elimination.
  • These conditions of dis-ease can be truly cured only by the use of plants or other agents that conform to the laws of life and assist the powers of nature.
  • A physician is spiritually inclined; he or she loves and lives for their profession. Their feelings are always for those who suffer and their intention is to bring as much relief to the ill as may be in their power.

The Spiritual Journey

Many people naively view the spiritual journey as a means to euphoria, a type of drug-like high, and a magic carpet ride to bliss. However, this is not a realistic expectation. The spiritual journey involves the purification of the unconscious; therefore it is an exercise in letting go of the false self, the programmed self, and the self who is climbing the ladder to false happiness. The spiritual journey is a humbling process, because it requires letting go of the self that we know and identify with. When we step onto the spiritual path, we are called to change how we respond to life circumstances and how we choose to be in every aspect of our lives.

The distractions of life are powerful, and it’s all too easy to be consumed by the tasks, responsibilities, and desires that arise, causing us to stray from our spiritual center. When we embark on a spiritual journey, we need guidance and support to help us stay on course. Contemplative prayer is a simple, accessible means to cultivate the discipline that the spiritual journey requires.

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Finding God In Music

One of my favorite musicians is the great jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. It’s not only his consummate skill as a musician that inspires me, but the way that he finds and expresses God through his music.

One evening, as Coltrane performed one of his most well known pieces—“A Love Supreme”, he ascended to new heights of superb musicianship. Everything came together in a transformative experience for Coltrane, and he communicated this transcendent experience to the audience through his saxophone. As he left the stage, his drummer heard him softly say, “Luke 2:22-29.” Coltrane recognized that he had touched heaven, and that he was doing what he was meant to do in this earthly existence.

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