It seems to be a common theme that we as human beings do not particularly fancy change. Many fear the outcome of their future reality or even the outcome of their future selves while others fear the energy commitment involved in undergoing change. I agree that change can be intimidating and scary, but this view only represents one angle, one perception of this dynamic situation. All things, even photos or people, have good angles and bad angles. If we take the time to change our perspective over a certain situation, we will inevitably alter the way we perceive the changes whether we want them or not!
One of the hardest parts of making a change is putting forth the effort and finding the motivation to start. We often find ourselves trapped in a comfort zone- or what I actually see as an “uncomfort zone”- a restrictive space which seems to contain all we know or all we think we can control. We allow ourselves to stay perpetually in the same daily routine, same environment, or same relationship, even though we know it is not in alignment with our inner nature .
What may hold us back, of course, is the unknown. Will I make it? Is it worth it? Am I going to be okay? The answer to all of those questions is yes. You will make it, it is worth it, and you will be more than okay. The beautiful thing about change is that you can manipulate it however you want. If one try doesn’t fit right then you have the ability to try again. We do not have to feel stuck or trapped. We just need one feeling of bravery, one piece of courage.
Before we decide to take the plunge, however, it is important to realize why we are trying to implement these changes in the first place. There are a myriad of reasons, ranging from the simple desire of new scenery or a deep, necessity for a newer and healthier environment. Being able to identify why we want this change or why we need to change ourselves can make the process less overwhelming and ultimately more successful and meaningful. By doing this, we can motivate and energize our efforts behind why we really want to move on. There is no one right way to begin making changes, but it is almost always a bad idea to start worrying about the when and the how without first starting with the why.
And when it comes to change, there really isn’t such a thing as “an end goal.” The human experience is by definition, a state of dynamic fluidity. We are living examples of the most incredible acts of iterative evolution. Whether you believe in an act of divine creation, evolution or some combination of the two, human beings are miraculous change agents, experiencing or bringing about more change than any other living creature we currently know in existence. Fearing, resisting or denying change, is denying the most intrinsically beautiful human capacity, a capacity I believe we need to recognize now more than ever,
Change, you see, is not permanent, yet we must recognize that periods of profound “becoming” are often followed by periods of deliberate “being”. We must become aware of these seasons, of when we have made the changes we desired, of when we need to rest, reflect and grow from this new place of being. If we continue to move around in perpetual states of “becoming”, we will only become detached, lost or cold.
As you progress through stages of changes, take time to reflect and write down your goals- reminding yourself that changes is not about following plans, but following the heart that deeply believes in the evolution of you.
There will be days when you slip up, forget and start to fear the change coming; however, this is not a sign of failure, but a sign of growth, a sign that your chrysalis is warming to the rays of the sun.
Despite all of our “mental trepidation” we may not actually be afraid of change itself. We may not even be afraid of what it brings, or if it is worth it, or if we are capable of it.
We may just be afraid to start or we may just be afraid that there is no end.
We simply must learn how to begin, to identify why we want change, to stay grounded in our goals, and to finally take the plunge into the unknown.
A little over 5 years ago, as I sought to restart my life, I stumbled across ancestral health and the so called paleo diet. It was a rabbit hole that not only changed my life, but gave me life. In those 5 years I have read more blogs, listened to more podcasts, watched more videos and participated in more trainings that I can honestly count. If I were Popeye, this knowledge and exploration would be my spinach.
I could have never imagined as a young medical student just trying himself to get well and find his purpose that I would one day be using the power of creation and faith, evolution and science to help my patients and myself remain well.
As of today, I have been a medical doctor for just over a year. A resident physician with so much to learn. While I have MD after my name, you will not find MPH, PhD or any other acronym soup. On paper I am not a researcher. I have no special public health training and have not spent years in a research lab. I certainly have no money, no big grants behind my name and my mentors do not have the letters Dr. in front of their names.
As a fourth year medical student I took the challenging task to design my own mindfulness program and research study, and with the help of a close friend and mentor pulled it off. I didn’t do it for recognition or because I had to. I did it because students needed help, needed self care, needed reflection, and I wished to show them and others how valuable it could be. While in the end the study was small, underpowered without “statistical significance” 8 people’s lives were positively changed and I now knew that I could do this.
Fast forward a year and a half and I find myself leaping from the cliffs again.
Having partnered with my close friends, some of the most authentic and beautiful people I know, Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt of Autoimmune Wellness, I am seeking to further explore the power of nutrition, health coaching and that indescribable drive to heal. As a team, we have come together to design a pilot research study, the first medical study of the nutrient dense elimination diet known as the autoimmune paleo diet for autoimmune thyroid disease or Hashimotos. In 2016 Angie and Mickey partnered with a clinician from Scripps, a major medical and research institution to study the effect of AIP on IBD. Needless to say what they showed was nothing short of remarkable. 12 of the 15 participants went its clinical remission after just 6 weeks of the nutritional intervention. Yes indeed, food is power.
I am speaking to you today to ask for your help. As I mentioned before, I have no special training in research, I have no grant funding, I just have a couple friends as passionate as I to somehow conduct a research study to show just how powerful food and human connection can be. In order to pull this study off, to cover all the laboratory and research expenses we need close to $10,000. This grassroots research project is a testament to the power of human innovation and answering a need to do something much greater than yourself. I humbly and sincerely ask that you consider donating to help make this research study a reality.
I have been accused before of having an agenda, for turning everything into some form of “natural medicine.” So to those people I say sure, I have an agenda. To relieve suffering and help those hurting find a path to sustainable health in all the ways that God and the mystery are showing me how.
Maybe it’s time you got a agenda too.
Curled up in bed, lights off, the cold weather begging to come in through my window, and a slow pain- coursing from head to toe. This was my expression of loneliness. Loneliness, is shown and felt differently for each person. It can be shown through anger, timidness, quietness, or over exploitation within one's personal life. My loneliness was expressed through a quiet and numbing pain. Not only this, loneliness changed who I was and changed how I acted.
I felt as if it was necessary to constantly go out and meet new people and avoid all the pain I was feeling. In certain ways this did help. It was nice to meet new people and spend my nights away from a dark room; however, from this place of loneliness, I was starting to meet the wrong people, spending my nights in ways that were actually detrimental to my well being and healing. I wanted that feeling of connection so badly that I started to give away parts of myself that should have stayed close to my heart and found those pieces of me falling into the hands of others who were not going to do me well. In those moments though, I felt whole and I felt wanted. I had felt the “connection” I was looking for, even though it had been temporary, it felt warm and authentic. If I had looked past the veneer I would have found the truth that the warmth and authenticity I had felt was simply a mirage- a placebo effect of what was missing.
After a months of avoiding my pain, and losing parts of who I was; I decided I needed to find a way to heal. I traveled back home to my loved ones for two weeks on summer vacation. It was ironic coming home because I had originally left because of loneliness and a desire for change. When I arrived, I was immediately embraced by my mother and in that moment I felt better. I felt less alone. The days continued and I was with people who unconditionally loved me, supported me, and cared about me. I also began to start doing the things I loved again; such as reading, writing, spending time outside, and just spending time by myself, healing. With this time, I began to ponder and realize that loneliness is not conquered by meeting new people or forcing yourself to connect, it is overcome by connecting with yourself and coming back to those who truly care, love, and support you.
Conquering loneliness is an interesting process and revelation. What I believe is the most critical step in this revelatory process is realizing what or who is causing you to feel the ache of loneliness. After identifying the cause, remind yourself that you do not deserve or need to feel this way. Remind yourself each and every day; and reward yourself by doing something you love- whatever it may be. On hard days, try and head back to your roots. Head to your loved ones; family, friends, or even a journal. Focus on platonic, healthy relationships that are equal and supportive. Head back to you. Make time in the day to do one thing that brings you joy. Finding simple things that you enjoy doing alone can be the most beneficial way to get rid of unwanted thoughts and feelings. Being able to spend time with yourself, doing what you enjoy, brings satisfaction and strength. Head back to you.
There will be many days where you will be curled up and the cold will be begging to come in through the window; however, those days, like all days, do pass. The sun will always rise. The weather will change and you will no longer be curled up. When you pass through hard times remember who you are, how far you have already come, and how far you will go. Go back to the people who love you unconditionally and are readily available to you. Above all, the loneliness will not win and you will not give up. The innate human desire to be free from loneliness, disillusionment, and disconnection won’t let you.
I have often struggled with this universal teaching, and more specifically, with this concept as presented in the Bible through the teachings of Jesus Christ. When first presented with the idea of "loving your enemies," I often find myself going down the road of why do they deserve it?, why should I "waste" my energy to extend love towards people that do not see me favorably?, I have trouble enough loving all the people I feel deserve and reciprocate my love.
You see, the inner dialogue confronted when one begins to explore this concept is certainly not the easiest to simply disregard. Over the years, as I have continued to grow and often stumble in my spiritual practice, in my purpose pursuit of mindful discernment, I have come to see this piece of universal wisdom in a slightly more optimistic and rather "doable" light.
So begs the question
What has led me to see this advice through different eyes?
Where does one actually begin?
In an answer to the first question, I will say more than anything, more than my study of scripture, my daily moments of prayer, my evenings of asana and reflection, what has drawn me to see the act of "loving your enemies" as not only possible, but necessary has been MY PATIENTS.
As clinicians I don't think we pause and reflect enough to recognize what is actually being birthed and transformed in the VERY SPACE between doctor and patient. We can easily forget the immense vulnerability of our patients, often times bearing their deepest traumas and personal self loathing as we sit back and wander off into constructing a differential diagnosis.
For as I see it, "Loving Your Patients" is actually a deep act of "Loving Your Enemies"
What did you just say?
Yes, loving your patients and honoring the vulnerable space that can either be one of healing or one of further fragmentation involves the act Jesus so eloquently taught: Loving your enemies.
Now to bring context to this statement, I am not saying as a clinician and healer, your patients are your enemies, not at all.
What I am actually referring to is much more akin to "Loving Your PROBLEMS" or in this case, the fragmentation and hurt of our patients.
As I mentioned above, as you start to enter the vulnerable space between clinician and patient, you can certainly focus and find the superficial symptoms or other distracting scars, OR you can start to discover the root reasons behind this person's suffering. You can unearth childhood traumas, periods of absent love, acts of self destruction, negative self talk, and the list goes on and on.
Being gentle and loving these potentially destructive and self defeating thoughts, the acts of self sabotage and self care gone astray, loving the aspects of the patient they most desperately wish they no longer possessed requires a deep act of LOVE, and one perhaps, both clinician and patient would choose to just ignore.
When we discover the past trauma, the periods of absent nurturing presence, the fear of our patients, their reactivity, and the projection of our patients' frustration and cynicism into our lives, do not run away, do not get defensive, for YOU HAVE FOUND PRECISELY WHAT NEEDS THE MOST ATTENTION AND LOVE.
Fill the voids of your patients with presence and compassion, be gentle towards the parents, partners or strangers who may have enacted deep acts of hurt or even hatred upon your patient for they too likely suffered the same insults and simply transmitted the fear, the hatred, the loathing into another generation.
As we come to understand the complex world of epigenetics and the regulation of genetic expression, trauma, absence, fear and disdain are not simply transmitted through families as part of deeply embedded and maladaptive psychosocial frameworks, they are altering the expression of our genetic code and changing our core physiology: the terrain itself which the soul must traverse.
As I bring this post to close, I want to bring this back into the universal, extending my description from the clinician and patient dynamic into the world of simple human connection and relation. Every day you will be greeted by antagonists, problems, challenging people and unfortunate circumstances.
What if the next time you are faced with an act of hostility or hurtful misunderstanding, instead of responding to the individual with an equivalent level of hurt and hostility, you start to truly see the place from which the hostility emerged and start asking the questions:
Who hurt you?
Who was not there for you?
What about yourself do you not love and accept?
How can I fill these voids or replace these hurts with love and understanding?
You see, "loving your enemies", or love at all for that matter doesn't have to be about hugs and kisses.
For Love, as He knows it, was never meant to involve touch at all.
Whether you are just getting started trying to shift your dietary choices to a more ancestral approach, or whether you’ve been living this way for a while, it’s possible that you’ve worried about the financial costs of eating this way. Maybe you’re motivated to eat a more evolutionarily-aligned diet, but anxiety kicks in every time the total comes up at the Whole Foods check-out. Or maybe you would just like to be able to whittle down your spending, but don’t want to have to sacrifice nutritional quality by purchasing cheap foods.
Disclaimer: If you are on a therapeutic diet under the direction of a practitioner, some of these tips may not apply. Strict adherence is often necessary. Always consult your practitioner before making dietary changes.
Dedicated to the flourishing of your being