I will be honest, I love Pastor Rick Warren.
He is persuasive, he is provocative, he stimulates my thinking and above all he has allowed me to see and embrace the idea that I am radical.
Profoundly and beautifully radical.
Now, you are probably thinking “ ‘Radical’ why in the world would I want to be considered radical, doesn’t that mean being fringy, leftist, rightist, extremist?”
The short and truthful answer is no.
For the English word “radical”, you see, actually comes from the Latin word “radicalis” which means “to be rooted in” “to have deep roots.”
Rooted in? Deep roots? Sounds like something worthy of being to me.
What scares people more than someone who is intelligent, beautiful, powerful or wealthy, is someone deeply rooted in the nourishing virtues of gratitude, faith and love.
I will be honest again, people have made fun of me for my medical approach, for my eating habits, people have questioned my faith as a Christian because I meditate, people have called me fringy because I encourage dietary changes and supplements instead of drugs, people have laughed at me for my recommendations and my thought process.
But through it all, I remind myself of one thing:
I don’t have to be everyone’s best friend or anyone’s for that matter, I just have to be God’s.
And God only wants faithful, loving and radical friends.
Sharing all of this, I acknowledge each and every one of you has been challenged, has been misunderstood, has been judged, has been targeted for any number of reasons.
I am sorry, but we do not need pity, or to even feel sorry for ourselves, because God doesn’t feel sorry.
On the contrary, He, She, Our Divine actually finds joy in the faithful human being holding firm to virtues that heal, nourish and support flourishing.
For the biggest threat, you see, to our future flourishing, is not the presence of other’s doubts or questions of our purpose, but our own.
To combat this, we need roots, deep, impenetrable, unshakable roots.
What is my purpose? What foods do I need to nourish my body? What will I do when faced with an antagonizing person? How will I protect myself from the dark side of social media and popular culture? How will I continue to appreciate, love and support others through all things?
We need answers to these questions, we need roots, and we need to rely on faith when we face uncertainty and don’t have the answers.
Over the past few months, as I have grown as a new, young doctor, I have often felt inadequate, unknowledgeable and overwhelmed with the complexities of medicine, with the needs and limitations of hospital based care.
But through it all, I have been unwavering in my faith, deeply rooted by my calling, knowing I am a here to be a vessel to bring healing, to grow closer to God and help others grow close too.
I continue to nourish my body with whole foods. I spend time outdoors. I cherish the infrequent but irreplaceable hours with my girlfriend and our animals, I play and grow with the children at my church as part of our youth ministry. I have the challenging conversations with my patients about lifestyle change before medications. I explore and seek answers to things I don’t fully understand, remaining feverishly curious, and I never for a second forget to stop, breathe, meditate and pray.
I am grounded in my faith and my exploration of root cause resolution medicine.
To some this may appear odd, non-conformist or irrational.
To me it is just being radical.
Rooted, righteous and radical.
Isn’t it about time we all got a little radical?
For many of us, learning has become an after-thought. Perhaps, because of the current construct of our academic institutions and the “there is always something more” paradigm, we have actually started “fleeing” or “escaping” learning in order to find a more “comfortable” place devoid of curiosity and challenge. In this flight we can also start convincing ourselves that learning implies resolution and that when we get a multiple choice question correct on a test we have succeeded in actually learning something. Like any process, however, learning is a dynamic JOURNEY that is not restricted to lecture halls or libraries and encompasses something much greater than right or wrong. In order to truly embrace a life where learning is a pursuit, a process of integration, we must open our eyes to the many ways in which we observe, appreciate and understand the world.
Buddhist psychology offers us an interesting framework in which to expand our concepts of learning and understanding. Within this framework, the first level of learning involves the acquisition of knowledge through mere observation, hearing others speak, and reading the written word. In short, this level is basically accepting what you hear and read to be true and incorporating that into your understanding of the world. This level, however, is rife with bias and assumption and it isn’t until we enter the next level involving conscious reflection, action and reflection once more that we begin to truly deepen our understanding. Encouraged by curiosity and the conscious choice to dig deeper, ask questions, and test what you have heard and seen, this level allows for a broadening of your lived experience, but it too, has its downfall in being quite energetically demanding, requiring regular, conscious choice in one’s action and purposeful reflection. It isn’t until we reach the final level of understanding where, through the lived meditative experience, we seemlessly integrate and internalize our world of ideas, descriptions and practices into something that is simply “just us.”
For those of you wondering, what in the world does this mean?- this is just too out there for me, you are not alone, and so I offer real life example of these three levels of understanding in order to bring all of these conceptual ideas into a grounded, practical perspective.
Ever remember your mom telling you it was nice to say please and thank you? You might have thought this was important or on the contrary, rather silly, but in its early stages you accepted and understood this to be something you should do because your mom or dad said so.
Level one understanding.
Moving forward you started to choose to say please and thank you, greeting others with a friendly smile, giving a gracious hug or returning the favor of another with a thoughtful card. Consciously choosing and reflecting upon the acceptance or outcome of your actions, you actually started to understand that showing gratitude and giving thanks was something you did, not because your mom and dad said you should, but because it felt good to appreciate others, to connect, to rest in the joy that was that perfect hug.
Level two understanding.
Now many of us have likely stopped here, which isn’t a good or bad thing, it just simply is. To reach the third level, however, takes another experience all together, one of deeper contemplation and integration.
Anyone know that person at work who always volunteers first to bring in food for the potluck and not just chips or soda, the person who goes out of his or her way on a Saturday night to pick up that one thing from the grocery store you really didn’t need right at that moment, but would certainly be better off having, the person that offers you a ride home despite living on the other side of town, the person who is always there ready to listen as if you were the only person on Earth with problems? These people, it seems, are no longer "consciously" choosing to be gracious, to put others first, to embody compassion, it is just simply who they are and what they do. This my friends, is our attempt at describing the third level of understanding- an internalization that (in this example) gratitude and compassion are exactly what each moment requires, what every human deserves, and what the world truly needs, all of which, for the described “person” above, does not depend on the “conscious” mind, but on an innate understanding of human existence.
Pure, manifested love, embodied joy, and selfless giving realized at all three levels.
So what is your level of understanding?
Perhaps it's time we all stopped to see what it is we truly understand, for as I see it,
only then will we be able to discover what it we can actually seek to learn.
Read, Reflect, Repeat
1. Eat Real Food. Period.
2. Move around frequently. If you exercise, do something you enjoy.
3. Go outside. Period.
4. Feelings follow from actions, they do not dictate them. If you do not feel like doing
something, you probably should do it.
5. Surround yourself with ambitious, optimistic and curious people, notice I didn’t
6. Believe in something greater than yourself, and guess what, it doesn’t necessarily have to be God, but if you are unsure, cultivating a relationship with God is a good place to start.
7. Discover what you are good at, what you enjoy doing and what the world needs from you.
If you pursue this calling, you will not be disappointed.
8. Have a dedicated contemplative or reflective practice. Practice daily. If you miss a day, do not miss a second.
9. Protect yourself from blue light. You need to sleep, 7-9 hours. Period.
10. Protect yourself from technology. Electromagnetic Fields (EMF’s) are real. What
you cannot see CAN hurt you.
11. Social support is critical, but social media is not a silver bullet. Cultivate community. They need you. You need them. The interface is bliss.
12. Sit down and write your 4 key values, family, faith, self-care and service are mine.
This is not an exercise to help you discover your purpose or calling.
God or something greater has already decided this for you.
You simply must discover what it is God or your something greater has created for you.
THIS exercise is for practical purposes: How do I make decisions to fulfill my purpose.
Ask yourself before making any significant decision:
“Will this choice be in line with my values?”
Be mindful, be deliberate. Your soul will thank you.
13. Explore yourself, i.e. explore your mind. Be an objective observer. Seek stillness.
Stillness is not actually the absence of sound, but the absence of noise.
14. Pray, it’s universal, it’s your personal relationship with God or something greater than yourself.
Prayer empties, it fills, it builds, it reveals, it heals.
And if you thought prayer wasn’t for atheists, tell that to Alain de Botton.
15. Breathe and know that you are breathing. For if you are alive, you are breathing and if you are aware of your breathing, you are most certainly alive.