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.
I was so fortunate to be invited by my dear friends Steve Fullerton and Somers Stephenson to beautiful Monterey Va, in the grassy mountains of Highland County to give a talk on the Future of Medicine.
The talk is broken down into two main sections.
The first includes a discussion of the 7 Relationships- the 7 key lifestyle areas I see as important for optimal health.
I offer detailed descriptions and even some science for each area and offer practical tips to improve one’s habits within the 7 Relationships.
In part two I breakdown my definitions of ancestral and functional health and provide the basics of my clinical approach and systems based thinking.
I then walk through a real life case study, making parallels to the key dysregulated systems and offer my thoughts on testing and diagnostic approach. I provide a therapeutic hierarchy and offer my comprehensive treatment recommendations including lifestyle based therapies targeting the 7 Relationships as well as targeted supplementation addressing the identified physiologic disturbances and dysfunctions.
I conclude the talk offering my hopeful solution to our epidemic of chronic disease which includes collaboration with health coaches and nutritional therapy clinicians. I describe my recent work collaborating with Angie Alt as part of her SAD to AIP in six program addressing autoimmunity through nutritional and lifestyle approaches.
I really hope you enjoy this talk and will sharing more of my work in the near future!
In conjunction with his recent guest post: Is Baking Soda An Effective Treatment For Autoimmune Disease? we are so excited to announce Rob’s partnership with Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt and the entire team at Autoimmune Wellness. Over the next few months Rob will be sharing space with Mickey and Angie as part of this new collaboration, taking part in social media q/a sessions, writing quarterly articles and engaging in a new exploration of clinical research: studying the role of multidisciplinary, health coach and nutritional therapy practitioner led diet and lifestyle interventions for stopping and even reversing chronic autoimmune disease. More clinical research into the efficacy of the the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) and health and nutritional coach based interventions is a must and we are here to push this movement forward!
Dedicated to the flourishing of your being