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Though it is still really cold in Boston and the ground is covered with snow, tomorrow is the first day of Spring.

It is possible to cast an astrological chart for a moment in time, such as the Spring Equinox, which has relevance both collectively and personally. The symbols in the chart convey messages about the potentialities of “What is important now?”  “What are the dangers and the opportunities?” ” What is being asked of each of us?”

The Spring Equinox is defined by the Sun moving into the sign of Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. The head of the year. The Sun just spent 12 months traveling through all of the signs, and is now in the last degrees of the last sign, Pisces, before it will move into Aries tomorrow, March 20, 2018, at 12:16 PM EST.

The Spring Equinox is by definition always a new beginning, but the energies of the chart for this Equinox symbolize a new beginning that is very much colored by karmic consequences of the past. There is a need for a reality check, as well as a demand that we align our actions so that they meet standards of universal justice and morality, lest there be adverse consequences.

The chart for the Equinox is not forgiving. It does not say, “Just let by gones, be by gones, let’s press the reset button and get on with things.” Not so fast. In this case, the freedom and freshness that often accompany a new cycle is much more fettered and weighty than usual. Though the Sun moving into Aries is typically a full steam ahead type of energy, at this time there is a reigned in quality, like driving simultaneously with your foot on the gas pedal and the brake. Realistic considerations of what really works and what does not in all areas of life will be imperative, and a need to understand both the big and small lessons, both on a collective level and in our personal lives. There is a demand for maturity and seriousness at this time, to reconsider our intentions and to proceed cautiously and responsibly.

It seems unlikely that those in positions of power, who have transgressed and have not thus far been held accountable, will continue to enjoy immunity. They will reap what they sowed. There is a melody playing that says that the time has come for the paying of karmic dues.

In the new cycle there are also clear themes of wounding and healing represented. Healing that actually comes through the wounding is symbolized. An example of this can be seen in the tragedy of the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, with students mobilized around the country on behalf of stricter gun control. Another example is the exposure of the reality of pervasive sexual abuse in all spheres of life, the government, Hollywood, sports and the Olympics, with victims finally empowered to come forward and to speak out. This is true as well for oppressed minorities who are rallying together, raising consciousness about the true nature of  the experience of being a black person in this country, exemplified by the Black Lives Matter movement. We are now witnessing a record number of women and minority candidates running for public office. The wounds are being acknowledged and there is a call to activism that has not been seen since the late 60’s.

The chart for the Equinox focuses attention on the centrality of the plight of our planet, and that an emotionally connected response to the ecological crisis is required of us. Though overwhelming, we must not defend against the unfolding disaster with dissociation and helplessness. Activism on behalf of the natural world is integral to our mission and purpose at this time.

The chart for Equinox reflects the reality that we are living in times of greatly accelerated evolution. We are constantly bombarded with so much information, stimulation and change, that it is difficult to assimilate and keep up with what is going on. This results in a disorientation and surreal quality to our experience. There is no end in sight to the intensity and pressure that all of us have been experiencing for the last 10 years. Yet in the midst of all of this extreme turbulence, each of us continues to be called upon to make the unique heart centered contribution of which only we individually are capable. In order to do this, the chart recommends that we emotionally tune into what do we really care about? What are our values? What matters to us in the long run?

At this time also, we will particularly benefit from attending to the basics of self care: feeding ourselves, moving our bodies and getting sufficient rest. It is also of vital importance to take pleasure in the body, the senses and the beauty of the natural world. We need to focus on what brings a feeling of security and calm amidst the storm. Self nurture is not only essential and protective, but will provide the platform which will allow us the greatest possibility of fully contributing.

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My beloved yoga teacher, Jared Hirsch, begins most classes by spending a few minutes welcoming and connecting with each student who is new, and asking them about their yoga practice. Last week he called upon a woman who responded that she had practiced in the past, but not for a while since having had a baby. She was now hoping to get back to doing yoga. Jared encouraged her to tune into where she is now, rather than trying to recapture her past practice. What may have been appropriate then, may no longer be useful now.

Their exchange prompted a regular student, Marcia, to offer that she had recently attended a seminar about working with patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. She was reminded of something she had  learned in the workshop about the difference between habilitate vs. rehabilitate. To habilitate is to help an individual thrive in their present circumstances and condition, rather than having a goal of rehabilitating them, so that they may return to their previous state.

This distinction struck me as having wide applicability. There is no rewinding the hands of time. You cannot go back. It is so much more adaptive and realistic to work on accepting the changes and losses that life brings, rather than pining for the “good old days”.  Some ordinary losses are children growing up and separating, the death of beloved family members, friends and pets, relationship disappointments, illness, the aging of the body and our own mortality.  And yet mourning is also an integral stage on the path to acceptance. You can’t skip it. That does not work either. But it is a tragedy to get stuck there and make your life a monument to your losses. Eventually it is important to let go and embrace where you are now.

This process is facilitated by attending to and savoring all of the blessings. I call it blessing consciousness. In the Jewish tradition there are traditional blessings to be recited for every occasion. The following is a very incomplete list: there are blessings for waking up and going to sleep, for washing your hands, for normal excretory function. There are distinct blessings for vegetables, fruits, bread and baked goods. There are blessings to be said when witnessing celestial phenomena such as a shooting star or comet, or when witnessing natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes. There are blessings for hearing thunder and seeing lightening. There are blessings to be recited when beholding the vastness of the ocean, the majesty of the mountains or the miracle of a rainbow. There are specific blessings to be recited when eating a new fruit for the first time, for seeing a person with a physical deformity, or when enjoying a beautiful fragrance.

A Jewish parable which I have always loved goes like this: A woman dies and goes up to heaven. She stands before God in to have her life reviewed and to receive judgment. God does not interrogate her about all of her failures, shortcomings and wrong doings, but instead asks her,  “Why did you not more regularly partake of all of the permissible pleasures that life offers?”  Good question!

Want to habilitate? Cultivate blessing consciousness and partake of the permissible pleasures.

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This past weekend I learned how to implement an efficient, effective and creative technique for treating trauma, chronic pain, stress and a variety of psychiatric conditions such as phobias, OCD and depression called Accelerated Resolution Therapy, which goes by the acronym ART. The woman in the picture is Laney Rosenzweig. the originator and founder of this method. It is being used successfully in the military to treat PTSD, but its applications are much broader than for treating only trauma, including some surprising successes  for conditions like fibromyalgia.

There are several studies underway comparing this methodology to other common approaches, as well as published papers in The Journal of Military Medicine, and I expect that we are going to be hearing much more about it. The beauty and uniqueness of ART rests not only upon how remarkably quickly symptoms are resolved, usually in 1-5 sessions, but also upon the prominent role which the imagination and metaphor plays in the healing process.

Practitioners are instructed to carefully adhere to a  standardized multi step script that has been precisely and thoughtfully crafted and the patient follows the directions.  Attention is paid to bodily sensations in between privately imagining scenes. If the sensations are distressing they are removed, and if they are pleasant or positive they are amplified.  At each step the patient follows the practitioner’s moving hand to stimulate smooth pursuit eye movements, which is one of the elements through which the magic of ART occurs. Ultimately the patient visualizes a wished for scene and outcome. This method of voluntary positive image replacement is one of the key features that distinguishes ART, and is at the heart of the success of the method.   Laney has also drawn upon Gestalt therapy techniques, where a patient might recruit earlier selves or imagine wished for conversations with relatives as part of the healing process. A session can usually be completed in an hour.

The way that ART actually works is not yet well understood, but in a private communication to me Laney wrote, “People forget to focus on they wonderful Voluntary Image Replacement as a key element if ART’s success. Getting rid of images from view with the aid of the eye movements is the thing that definitely differentiates us from everyone else. Most therapies focus on cognitions while we focus on the images. We recognize that the images hold the key to getting rid of the symptoms.”

ART uses smooth pursuit eye movements, similar to the rapid eye movements that are present when we dream, which reconsolidate memories. ART is loosely related to EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization Response, in that both make use of eye movements, but differs from it in fundamental ways. Laney has said that ART goes way beyond desensitization and actually “POSITIVIZES” memory.  The technique uses voluntary replacement imagery generated by the patient herself to change the affective relationship to memory.

ART is not hypnosis. The brain waves generated by the two methodologies are quite different. A patient does not lose the knowledge of what occurred, but the memory loses its negative adverse charge.

One of the unique features of ART is that it is not necessary for the patient to share much of their internal process with the practitioner. There is no need for the patient to “tell their story again”. The scenes can be played out privately. Similarly, practitioners are not as likely to experience “compassion fatigue” as they are accompanying and guiding the patient and facilitating the process, but not exposed to the painful material in the same way as with EMDR or other existing modalities.

There are three criteria that are essential for ART’s success. An individual needs to be able to hold onto thoughts for the duration of the session, needs to be able to move their eyes, and has to be motivated. This last caveat is the most complex. My training in psychoanalysis has sensitized me to unconscious factors such as unconscious guilt and other conflicts and inhibitions that create resistance to change. And of course there is always the possibility of secondary gain when it comes to illness.

That being said, I learned about ART from a fellow holistic adult and child psychiatrist, who was so thrilled with the results that she was getting in her practice, that I was inspired to take the training myself. Tomorrow I will try it for the first time with one of my patients. I am particularly intrigued about the potential of ART to help patients with mysterious chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia.

Below is a two part video of a woman who suffered with fibromyalgia for 20 years which resolved with one session of ART. Critics of ART say that the claims are “too good to be true”. The proof will be in the pudding. I will report back to you with my results.

Fibromyalgia Gone After One Session of ART - YouTube

Fibromyalgia Gone After One Session of ART [Part 2] - YouTube

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2018 is a year that will bring huge shifts in the prevailing energies as multiple slow moving planets will change from one zodiac sign to the next. The slow moving planets impact us collectively. They are disrupters of the status quo. In October of 2017 Jupiter moved into the sign of Scorpio. Just a few days ago Saturn moved into its own sign Capricorn, in April 2018 Chiron will move into the sign of Aries and in May 2018 Uranus will move into the sign of Taurus. These shifts will combine to produce a massive amount of change in the service of preparing us for the profound energetic shift in January of 2020 when Pluto and Saturn will join together at 22 degrees in the sign of Capricorn with Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and the Sun all very nearby.

So what does all of this mean in plain English?

Jupiter spends one year in each zodiac sign, and on October 10, 2017 it moved into the sign of Scorpio. Scorpio is about sex, power, wealth and secrets. It’s about all things that are hidden. Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, magnifies and expands all that it touches. Jupiter’s ingress into Scorpio exactly coincided with the breaking news of Harvey Weinstein’s epic history of sexual misconduct. Since his victims came forward there have been a torrent of revelations involving powerful men in all domains of American life, business, politics, the arts, the media, exposing the rampant sexual abuse of women which has been going on for years, but is finally reaching the light of day. And just think, Jupiter has only been in Scorpio for 2 months. We still have 10 more months to go. I suspect that these disclosures represent only the tip of the iceberg. There is likely to be much more revealed about abuses of power, position and misappropriation of wealth as Jupiter makes its way through the remainder of the sign of Scorpio. I believe that we are going to learn a great deal more about the Russian connection with the past presidential election.

Just a few days ago, Saturn, the Lord of Karma, moved into the sign of Capricorn. Saturn spends 2.5 to 3 years in each sign. Every zodiac sign is ruled by a planet, and Capricorn is ruled by Saturn. This means that Saturn is now inhabiting its own sign where it feels most at home, and is its energy is very very powerful. Traditionally, Capricorn is all about hierarchical relationships, government, corporations, leadership, and responsibility. With Saturn moving into Capricorn, we can expect that that the natural consequences of the policies and practices of the government and corporations will become manifested. The chickens will come home to roost so to speak. What is working and what is not working will be evident and unmistakable. This will be particularly glaring in January of 2020 when Saturn meets up with Pluto, the Lord of the Underworld. At that point the shadow side of the misuse of leadership and power will likely reach a crescendo and create a situation which will shift the status quo in a dramatic way. It is interesting to note that 2020 is an election year.

From a Shamanic Astrological perspective, the symbol of Capricorn is viewed very differently and much less hierarchically. It is about the wisdom of the circle of grandmothers. In this tradition, the measure of the alignment of an action is the effect that it will have upon seven future generations. It may be that in the upcoming years when the energy of Saturn in Capricorn is so very powerful, and joins with multiple other planets in Capricorn including Pluto, that an increased awareness of the vital and essential nature of this perspective will take hold in the collective. The limitations and consequences of our short sighted approach will become increasingly evident and devastating. This Shamanic Astrological interpretation of Capricorn is a very hopeful vision to hold close to our hearts and one which I encourage all of you to cultivate.

In April of 2018 the asteroid Chiron will move from Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac, where it has been for the last 7 years, into Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. Chiron symbolizes wounding and healing. Chiron spends a variable amount of time in each sign, as its orbit is erratic. It will spend 8 years in Aries. Aries energy is highly individualistic and warrior-like. Chiron in Aries is a much less passive and accepting energy than Chiron in Pisces. Chiron in Aries may symbolize a time of recognition and anger about the wounding of the Earth and a renewed passion, vigor and willingness to fight for causes related to the survival and healing of the planet.

In May of 2018, Uranus will move into Taurus. Uranus spends 7 years in each sign. With Uranus the only thing that can be counted upon is to expect the unexpected. Uranus can be a symbol of trauma, but also is the symbol of a progressive and enlightened perspective, as well as electricity, technology and science. Taurus is an Earth sign, and is concerned with personal and material resources, values and the natural world. There will likely be an intensified focus on ecological events during Uranus’s soujourn in Taurus. It portends more environmental trauma but also perhaps out of the box solutions. Uranus also symbolizes revolution. Revolutionary movements, as it pertains to resources, may be born and potentially a reconsideration of the consequences of the concept of ownership, another Taurean matter. Taurus is also the symbol of the body, and with Uranus in Taurus, there may be breakthroughs and breakdowns as it relates to our physical body. It may be that the impact of electricity on the body will both intensify and perhaps also finally be acknowledged and better solutions discovered.

At the moment of the Winter Solstice the Sun was right beside Saturn in the sky. The north node of the moon is in Leo, symbolizing our collective purpose, and is ruled by that combination of Saturn and the Sun. Each and every one of us is being asked to own our power and authority and to shine our unique light into the world. We cannot wait or expect someone else to do it. We need to take responsibility for whole heartedly contributing our particular gift in service of the future of the children and the planet. There is an invitation to embody heart centered consciousness during this time of massive and accelerated change, when it would be natural and automatic to fall into dread and fear about survival.

Numerologically 2018 adds up to 11. Kundalini Yoga traditionally describes that every individual possesses 10 bodies, but there is also an 11th body, which is the sum of all 10, and which is associated with our union with the Infinite. This is the paradoxical tension of 2018. We need to both focus on making our particular and unique contribution as individuals, while simultaneously recognizing our essential oneness with the planet and all of its elemental, human, animal, and plant beings.

With this expanded consciousness we can most gracefully and skillfully position ourselves to surf these massive waves of change that are underway during this most remarkable time on our beloved planet, and also to act as midwives for the new paradigm that is trying to be born.

Many blessings to all of my readers for 2018.

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When I am feeling down and alone,  I often feel soothed by listening to dharma talks by Jack Kornfield, one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He moves me, often makes me laugh, and always gives me valuable perspective on the human condition. Listening to him, I invariably feel like my suffering is placed into a vaster context. It feels much less personal, creating a feeling of relief, peace and spaciousness.

He  reminds me that we are all constantly in process, and that we cannot arrive, because we are nomads, just passing through. He emphasizes that all of the ordinary human experiences and emotions; pain and illness, grief and loss, disappointment and betrayal, separation and loneliness, fear of aging and death, are all just part of the nomad’s journey, and not a sign of failure or personal weakness. There is no perfecting ourselves or conducting ourselves in such a way that we will be immune. And that is just the way it is. Many years ago I had one of those little square newsprint calendars consisting of a Buddhist quote a day. I saved one of the 365 by Shunryu Suzuki, that is my office to this day. It reads “Each of you is perfect the way you are … and you can use a little improvement.”

But I also heard him say “the question is not the future of humanity, but the presence of eternity.” He was drawing attention to the Beauty and Mystery that is ever present in our daily lives, if we only are able to take it in. Much of our suffering arises out of this lack of sensibility to the magic that is constantly available to us.

This morning, I was transfixed listening to him quote a poem by Ellen Bass, “Gate 22”, published in her book Mules of Love. Bass transforms an ordinary moment in an airport, into an occasion for witnessing the transcendent.

At Gate C22 in the Portland airport
a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed
a woman arriving from Orange County.
They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after
the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons
and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,
the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other
like she’d just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island, 
like she’d been released from ICU, snapped
out of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it down
from Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing.
 
Neither of them was young. His beard was gray.
She carried a few extra pounds you could imagine
her saying she had to lose. But they kissed lavish
kisses like the ocean in the early morning,
the way it gathers and swells, sucking
each rock under, swallowing it
again and again. We were all watching —
passengers waiting for the delayed flight
to San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots,
the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man selling
sunglasses. We couldn’t look away. We could
taste the kisses crushed in our mouths.
 
But the best part was his face. When he drew back
and looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almost
as though he were a mother still open from giving birth,
as your mother must have looked at you, no matter
what happened after — if she beat you or left you or
you’re lonely now — you once lay there, the vernix
not yet wiped off, and someone gazed at you
as if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth.
The whole wing of the airport hushed,
all of us trying to slip into that woman’s middle-
     aged body,
her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses,
little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.
Here is video of Ellen Bass reading her poem:

Ellen Bass: Gate C22 - YouTube

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There is a narrow outdoor porch on the second floor of my Victorian home that overlooks the street, where I love to sit and watch the world go by. Sometimes when it is hot in the summer, I will spend the night on the porch and fall asleep to the sound of the crickets.  When the sun rises before 5 AM in May, I like to go and sit out there in the cool early morning air filled with bird song and meditate. It’s one of my very favorite spots in my home, and it’s entirely seasonal. It cannot be enjoyed year around.

Joy and excitement fill my heart in the Springtime when its finally warm enough to resurrect the space, to uncover the furniture, to set out the cushions and tablecloths and rehang the lanterns and pictures. And in the fall I always feel a deep melancholy when I must pack all of it up again and put it away for the winter, even though I know that I will enjoy it once again in the Spring. The life cycle of the porch is circular, it follows the seasons and always repeats.

Other changes are more linear and uni-directional. My children are all now young adults and do not live at home with me anymore. They will not be babies or young children again. Hopefully one day they will have babies. And I am growing older each year and am increasingly aware of the limits of time and mortality.

I recently was introduced to a poem about death that I thought was so beautiful and comforting, that I wanted to share it with my readers. It feels appropriate at this season of the year in New England, as the leaves fall from the trees, the light wanes and the veils between the worlds are the thinnest. The poem is by Joshua L Leibman, a Boston rabbi, who wrote a book entitled Peace of Mind in 1946, which was a best seller and one of the first self help books ever published. When I learned that Liebman died at age of 41 of a heart attack, it made this poem especially poignant.

Death is not the Enemy

I often feel that death is not the enemy of life, but its friend; for it is the

knowledge that our years are limited which makes them so precious. It

is the truth that time is but lent to us which makes us, at our best, look

upon our years as a trust handed into our temporary keeping.

We are like children privileged to spend a day in a great park, a park

filled with many gardens and playgrounds, and azure-tinted lakes and

boats sailing upon tranquil waves.

True, the day allotted to each of us is not the same in length, in light, in

beauty. Some children of the earth are privileged to spend a long and sunlit

day in the garden of the earth. For others, the day is shorter, cloudier,

and dusk descends more quickly as in a winter’s tale.

But whether our life is a long summery day or a shorter wintry

afternoon, we know that inevitably there are storms and squalls which

overcast even the bluest heaven and there are sunlit rays which pierce

the darkest autumn sky. The day we are privileged to spend in the great

park of life is not the same for all human beings; but there is enough

beauty and joy and gaiety in the hours, if we but treasure them.

Then for each of us the moment comes when the great nurse, death,

takes us by the hand and quietly says, “It is time to go home. Night is

coming. It is your bedtime, child of the earth. Come, you are tired. Lie

down at last in the quiet nursery of nature and sleep. Sleep well. The

day is gone. Stars shine in the canopy of eternity. ”

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I have wanted to raise the consciousness of my readers regarding the biological impact of electromagnetic radiation  (EMR’s) or electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) on human health and the environment for a long time, but have felt so dismayed by what I have been learning, that I have wanted to avoid it. It is clear to me that our exposure to EMR’s is an unacknowledged public health crisis.  This is yet another very inconvenient truth, just like the devastating impact that our dependence on fossil fuels has on the planet, or the ethical dilemma that the consequence of the mass production of meat is cruelty to animals. It’s overwhelming to accept that our current first world culture and practices are completely unsustainable and damaging not only to the environment, but are seriously degrading our health.

The bulk of what I learned about EMR’s has been via Dr. Martin Blank’s excellent book “Overpowered” , which was published in 2014. Martin Blank, PhD is an expert on the health-related effects of electromagnetic fields and has been studying the subject for over thirty years. He is a scientist with two PhDs, one from Columbia University in physical chemistry and the second from the University of Cambridge in colloid science, and serves as an expert regarding EMR safety for the Canadian Parliament. Everyone should read this very important accessible book to understand the reality and magnitude of this problem, and what we can do about it.

Before reading “Overpowered”, I thought that the problem had to do with cell phones and wireless technology, but now understand that we are adversely impacted by our exposure to all electricity, including common low tech devices such as hairdryers, toasters and electric clocks and blankets. Who knew? ! Some of our exposure is completely unavoidable, such as the exposure we sustain due to the frequencies in our environment from cell phone towers and electric power lines, but there are some simple steps within our control that we can take to reduce the harm. I will list some of them at the end of the post.

Prior to 200 years ago, our only exposure to EMR came from sunlight and other cosmic sources, lightening and geomagnetic forces. ” In 1879 only 250 people owned telephones in all of New York City, just ten years later, dense forests of telephone poles were sprouting eighty and ninety feet tall, bearing up to thirty cross-branches each. Each tree in these electric groves supported up to three hundred wires, obscuring the sun and darkening the avenues below.” (The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life p 75, by environmental activist Arthur Firstenberg.) This is a picture of New York City during a March blizzard in 1888. As you can see from the photo, cities became electrified practically overnight.

Electricity and our capacity to harness it is the foundation of modern civilization. Just as there was an Iron Age and a Bronze Age, Dr. Blank suggests that we are now living in the Electromagnetic Age. Electricity has enabled all the staggering rapid technological and scientific advancement of the modern era.

The applications of electromagnetic technology, however, has resulted in our ever increasing bombardment and exposure to higher frequencies and dosages of radiation. Humans cannot see, touch, taste, or smell EMR, which understandably contributes to our capacity to deny the risks of exposure. Its effects accrue over time, and are proportional to the duration and intensity of exposure.

Electromagnetic frequencies cause damage to our intricate and delicate DNA and is related to the development of cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, infertility, depression and suicide. “Scientists, doctors and researchers have long accepted that ionizing radiation, such as the ultraviolet rays that accompany sunlight, or the X-rays that you are exposed to in your doctor’s or dentist’s office-can harm and destroy DNA. It has been assumed, however, that non-ionizing radiation from power-lines, television broadcasting and cell phones did not harm DNA.” (Overpowered p 51) This is not the case. Non-ionizing radiation can react with and harm DNA which can cause mutations and even cell death and lead directly to serious medical illness.

Just as the tobacco industry suppressed the scientific evidence regarding the hazards of cigarette smoking, there is a profit motivated strategy to manufacture doubt about the negative health effects of wireless technology. There has been a repeated assertion that there is no “proven link”, that the data is inconclusive. “It appears that the response of governments and industry groups to this lack of specific cause and effect relationships between non-thermal exposure to EMF and negative heath effects has been to formulate regulations and safety standards that ignore them completely. While there is plenty of science indicating the presence of significant health risks at non-thermal levels, as far as safety standards and regulatory frameworks are concerned, EMF is harmful to humans only at levels powerful enough to result in increased temperature (the so-called thermal effect). No recognition at all is given to any potential health effects at lower, non-thermal levels of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation even though non thermal biological effects have been scientifically demonstrated for over a century.” (Overpowered p 161)

Here is a partial list of some of the steps that you can take to reduce your exposure. All of these suggestions are followed by fully elaborated explanations in Overpowered.

I know that these recommendations can feel like an unwelcome hassle. But it’s important. Making even small changes can make a difference cumulatively.

There are two key principles:

  1. Minimize your use of of EMF generating technology
  2. Maximize the distance between you and those EMF sources when they are in use..

Do not live near high voltage power lines.

Stay away from transformers.

Live as far from cell phone antennas as possible

Don’t use electric blankets or waterbeds.

Run extension cords away from furniture and keep cords organized.

Switch from electric to battery alarm clocks.

Energy efficient appliances generate less pollution than older less efficient models

Don’t use fluorescent lights

Don’t use dimmers of three way switches

Don’t use microwaves, but if you do, get out of the kitchen when the microwave is on

Put your cell phone on airplane mode when not in use

Don’t put your cell phone in your pocket

Laptops are not for laps

Minimize use of hairdryers and electric razors

Consider using an ethernet cable rather than wifi in your home

Turn the wifi router off at night

Switch to plastic eyeglass frames and foam mattresses which do not function as antennas.

Here is a YouTube excerpt of a keynote address given by Dr. Blank:

Dr. Martin Blank: Electromagnetic Fields - YouTube

ADDENDUM

Since initially posting this a few days ago, it was brought to my attention that Bulletproof Radio’s most recent episode featured an interview with Dr. Joseph Mercola titled “The Real Dangers of Electronic Devices and EMF’s” It’s worth a listen.

The Real Dangers of Electronic Devices and EMFs - Dr. Joseph Mercola - YouTube

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On August 21, 2017 a dramatic celestial event will take place. A total solar eclipse will traverse the United States from coast to coast. It will make landfall in Oregon at 10:15 AM and progressively diagonally cut a 60-70 mile wide swath of darkness across the states until it reaches South Carolina at 2:36 PM. It will be the first total solar eclipse to travel across the entire continental United States in 99 years. The last one occurred on June 8, 1918.

The red line on the map indicates the path of totality, where day will briefly become night, as the Moon precisely aligns between the Sun and the Earth, casting a shadow, and blocking the Sun’s light from reaching us.  The longest amount of total darkness will be 2 minutes and 40 seconds, when it reaches Carbondale, Illinois. Along the periphery, a partial solar eclipse will be visible, extending from Canada to the upper part of South America. The path of totality will then depart off the coast of South Carolina, head out across the Atlantic Ocean, and will not touch land again. Seventy-five minutes later it will disappear into the sea close to Africa.

Solar eclipses are super charged New Moons, signifying new beginnings and are symbols of great change. They have been closely observed and charted by cultures around the world since ancient times, and typically are seen as powerful omens. One of the most common interpretations is that they represent an upending of the established predictable order; day becomes night, disrupting our normal conscious functioning. The residual effects of an eclipse are said to be felt up to six months after its occurrence.

The total solar eclipse of 2017 will occur in the sign of Leo, latin for lion, and is all about courage and heart centered consciousness, meaning that we acknowledge our inextricable connection to one another and to the web of all creation. Leo is associated in its elevated vibration by warmth, joy, generosity, generativity and the very particular legacy that an individual leaves for the future, including her children and creative works.

We are living in a time of impending catastrophic environmental disintegration. We are confronted daily by a steady drumbeat of news reports of record breaking heat, fires raging all over the globecollapsing polar ice sheets and rising seas, and the massive extinction of species creating a loss of biodiversity not seen since the the era of the extinction of the dinosaurs.

There is desperate and urgent need for us to awaken to the heart centered consciousness symbolized by Leo, and to contribute the unique individual gift of which each of us are capable. There is no time to lose,  and the world needs each of us.

One of Leo’s elevated expressions is the noble good king.

The dark expression of Leo is narcissism, selfishness and vanity, and is associated with authoritarian heartless leadership. In the face of the dire unfolding environmental collapse, our president is attempting to withdraw American support for the global Paris climate accord in the name of “putting America first“, and hopes to enact legislation which would deprive children and the most vulnerable in our society access to health care in order to give tax cuts to the most wealthy.

The 2017 total Solar Eclipse in Leo marks a turning point. Are we going to act with courage, to speak out and do whatever we can to reverse a situation that is jeopardizing the future of our children and future generations, or are we going to passively stand by in helpless passive denial? It’s time now for sacred activism on behalf of planetary healing. Get involved, organize, demonstrate, donate, speak out, vote.

Occasionally I have received comments from readers to the effect that they really like my blog, but I should not spoil it by mixing in politics. The situation in our country is desperate and inimical to holistic health. There is no distinction at this point between the spiritual, the mind, the body, the heart and the political. Our health is being systematically undermined by financially motivated policies benefitting only a small powerful elite with complete disregard for the public good.

May you be moved to embody the highest vibration of the Leo archetype, courage and heart centered consciousness, in the name of the children and the future. Special insights and intuitions about what you can do are most available if you spend time in nature, in prayer and meditation during the time of the eclipse. Here is a link to determine what time the eclipse will occur in your time zone.

I dedicate this post to the Great Mystery and Beauty out of which all things arise, to our connection to one another and to the web of all Creation.

This post was inspired by an article that appeared in the most recent issue of the Mountain Astrologer by eco astrologer Stephanie Austin entitled “What Would Love Do?”

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Inflammation is one of the most powerful factors which determines health and illness. Levels of inflammation in the body are very strongly influenced by dietary choices. In my holistic practice of psychiatry, one of the most important conversations which I have repeatedly with my patients, is the fundamental importance of following a non-inflammatory diet. This conversation must be had repeatedly, because diet is one of the very hardest things for most people to change.

For optimum health, I believe that a Ketogenic Diet, one that is high in fat, adequate in protein and low in carbohydrate, exerts the most anti-inflammatory effect. This combination changes the way energy is used in the body; instead of deriving energy from carbohydrates which convert to glucose, energy is sourced from fats which convert in the liver into fatty acids and ketone bodies. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, is correlated with myriad health benefits. In contrast, elevated levels of glucose leads to inflammation, insulin resistance and accelerates aging.

Research on the impact of a ketogenic diet for Cancer, Autism, Alzheimer’s Disease, ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Sleep Disorders, Headaches, Bipolar Disorder, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease is emerging, and I anticipate that we are going to be hearing much more about its health benefits and novel applications.

The ketogenic diet was used very effectively to treat epilepsy in the 1920’s, until anti-convulsant drugs were introduced in the 1940’s, when it fell out of favor. It’s easier to take pills than to follow a restrictive diet, and the pharmaceutical industry’s lobby is very influential.  Pharmaceuticals, as opposed to dietary changes, remain the standard of care today in conventional medicine, not only for epilepsy, but for so many medical and psychiatric conditions that could be ameliorated and even cured with appropriate dietary intervention. This is the case despite the many common adverse frightening side effects associated with use of medications, and not to mention the expense of the drugs.

Many people report that a ketogenic diet increases mental clarity and vitality, and effectively reduces chronic depression and anxiety. People generally report significant weight loss when following a high fat diet. In the past, I have hesitated to recommend a ketogenic diet to my patients, because it can be quite difficult for the average person to implement. The transition from burning glucose for fuel to burning ketones can be physically and psychologically demanding. Not only can it be hard to  refrain from eating beloved and habitual foods, but it is also a challenge to figure out how to palatably get most of your calories from fat.

A much needed resource has just appeared on the scene, which makes the Ketogenic Diet much more accessible, Leanne Vogel’s beautiful new book, “The Keto Diet”.  Leanne seems to have thought of everything. She has many helpful remedies for trouble shooting common dilemmas and symptoms, and action plans which address all manner of contingencies. Her clear recommendations are customizable according to an individual’s metabolic needs, which she recognizes may change over time, and for which she offers accommodations and solutions.

Like so many women living under the patriarchy, Leanne has personal experience with disordered eating and preoccupation with body image, and the approach she advocates is born out of her own process. The voice that shines through the pages is very authentic, intimate and funny. Last October I had a conversation with her about an integrative approach to cultivating holistic health when I appeared as a guest on her podcast, Healthful Pursuits, and was moved by her refreshing genuineness and capacity to connect.

The Keto Diet also contains many yummy and practical recipes. In contrast to many other low carb cookbooks, Leanne’s is dairy free and based on nutrient dense whole foods. One recipe that I found particularly useful is her tasty Keto Lemonade. (p. 422) As I mentioned above, the process of becoming fat adapted, switching the metabolism from burning glucose for fuel to burning ketones, can be quite difficult for some people. A most uncomfortable systemic illness can occur in some people called the “Keto Flu”. Some of the symptoms can include brain fog, headaches, dizziness, irritability, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, carb cravings and hypoglycemia, heart palpitations, diarrhea, muscle cramps, fatigue and weakness. It does not happen to everyone, is transient and can be managed by taking the following measures.

Leanne recommends drinking more water, increasing your intake of electrolytes, eating more fat, engaging in movement, increasing supplementation with magnesium and  potassium, and increasing digestive power with digestive enzymes, probiotics and fermented foods. She recommends preparing Keto Lemonade, which is full of electrolytes, and sipping it throughout the day during the transition to fat adaptation.

KETO LEMONADE

4 cups of water

1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice

1-4 tablespoons aloe vera juice

1/4 teaspoon finely ground Himalyan salt

4-6 drops stevia (optional)

1 cup ice cubes for serving

Fresh mint and thinly sliced lemon for garnish (optional)

Combine all ingredients together and shake.

Leanne makes many engaging instructional videos. Here is one where she describes what to expect when you start eating a high fat diet.

What To Expect When You Go Keto. - YouTube

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Illness related to mold exposure is something that I had heard of, but did not take to heart until recently. This fall I started Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training which required a daily home practice.  I set up my yoga props in a cozy corner of the carpeted finished basement and practiced there for at least an hour every day. Kundalini Yoga often involves long deep breathing as well as a rapid breath pattern called Breath of Fire. After about two weeks of inhaling the basement air, I began to feel an overwhelmingly heightened sense of anxiety, profound depression and began to wake up multiple times throughout the night. There were no other symptoms. I was baffled as I could identify no obvious precipitant.

During this same time period, one of the readers of my blog wrote to me and mentioned that she had been diagnosed with toxic mold and thought that I might be interested in the topic. She wrote “I am going to bet that many of your psych pt’s have this mold based illness, and that you will love this info and find it very useful in your practice…” I wrote her back, thanked her, said that it sounded really interesting and that I looked forward to learning more about it.

I don’t know why I stopped going down the basement to do yoga. I must have been feeling too miserable to practice. But a few days later, my anxiety started to melt away, the depression lifted, and I started sleeping through the night. After three days I felt completely fine again. Suddenly I remembered the e-mail, reread it and began to wonder if toxic mold had been causing me to feel so awful. The growth of toxic mold is initiated by water damage, and there had been flooding in my basement several years ago. Testing the basement revealed very high levels of mold. I am now in the process of contracting for remediation and trying to minimize going down there until it’s safe again.

The more I learn about toxic mold the more grateful I am that avoiding the moldy basement was all I needed to do to recover. This is not the case for many people. Mold toxins can accumulate in the body, continuing to wreak havoc long after exposure ceases and require an extensive and often arduous course of treatment. But for everyone, the first and most crucial step in treatment is to identify where the mold is located and to get away from it.

Toxic mold is apparently a more prevalent and a more serious problem than ever before. Due to common building practices of using Drywall or Sheetrock, which was not a material used in construction in the past, more people are now being exposed to toxic mold, as Drywall is a great medium for mold growth. The current practice of making homes more energy efficient, means that there is less ventilation with outside air and the toxic mold gasses can be trapped inside, potentiating their effect. There is also research that electromagnetic frequencies cause molds to release their toxins in self defense. The routers that are so common in our homes may be causing mold to become more virulent. In addition, in the 1970’s anti-fungals were added to paint which stimulated the mold to mutate and become more dangerous.

Mold allergies and mold toxicity are not the same illness. Mold allergies are due to mold spores that are inhaled and cause hay fever like symptoms. It is different than Toxic Mold, which is due to the volatile toxic vapors produced by mold that can cause a chronic inflammatory response, (CIRS), an auto-immune reaction caused by poor clearance of bio toxins. It can manifest with so many different and diverse symptoms, that it is frequently misdiagnosed. It is likely that many cases of chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, mast cell activation disorder and histamine intolerance, irritable bowel and leaky guy, multiple sclerosis and post treatment Lyme syndrome, which do not respond to treatment, are due to toxic mold causing a chronic inflammatory response. Unfortunately most conventional practitioners and even alternative practitioners do not include it as a possibility. It should definitely be on the list of possible treatable causes of medical and psychiatric symptoms.

Some of the common symptoms of toxic mold and CIRS are:

1. Fatigue

2. Weakness

3. Aches

4. Muscle Cramps

5. Unusual Pain

6. Ice Pick Pain

7. Headache

8. Light Sensitivity

9. Red Eyes

10. Blurred Vision

11. Tearing

12. Sinus Problems

13. Cough

14. Shortness of Breath

15. Abdominal Pain

16. Diarrhea

17. Joint Pain

18. Morning Stiffness

19. Memory Issues

20. Focus/Concentration Issues

21. Word Recollection Issues

22. Decreased Learning of New Knowledge

23. Confusion

24. Disorientation

25. Skin Sensitivity

26. Mood Swings

27. Appetite Swings

28. Sweats (especially night sweats)

29. Temperature Regulation or Dysregulation Problems

30. Excessive Thirst

31. Increased Urination

32. Static Shocks

33. Numbness

34. Tingling

35. Vertigo

36. Metallic Taste

37. Tremors

Toxic Mold is not recognized as a legitimate diagnosis by conventional medicine. Part of the reason for this is that vulnerability to mold toxicity is only present in 25% of the population, who in most cases, have a genetic predisposition. A family can all be living in the same house but only one family member will become ill. This is because that person is the only one with the genetic vulnerability. The conventional perspective of mold deniers is that if mold were really a problem, then everyone in the house would get sick, and thus it is discounted.

The person who has done the most research about Toxic Mold is a retired family physician named Ritchie Shoemaker, MD. He has written several exhaustive tomes about this topic including Mold Warriors and Surviving Mold. His website contains a wealth of information, as well as a list of a of practitioners trained by him in his protocol to treat Toxic Mold. A more accessible, very concise and excellent e-book on the subject is by Neil Nathan, MD, who was also trained by Dr. Shoemaker. It is titled Mold and Mycotoxins, Diagnosis and Treatment 2016.

Once the diagnosis is made, this is a very treatable condition, though it can take a long time. The treatment recommended by Dr. Shoemaker makes use of a pharmaceutical binder named Cholestyramine, an old cholesterol lowering drug, which can be quite hard on patients, though effective.  It is unpalatable and must be taken four times a day away from meals and causes side effects of heartburn, constipation and bloating. Jill Carnahan, MD, a functional medicine doctor in Boulder, who had her own personal saga with toxic mold illness, uses natural binders such as charcoal and clay, in combination with high doses of Vitamin C and glutathione, and reports good results. There is a fascinating interview with her at the bottom of this page entitled “Mold Testing and Mold Toxins.”

So many buildings in this country are water damaged, that it is very likely that many of the patients coming to psychiatrists with anxiety, depression, attentional problems, insomnia and brain fog are suffering from toxic mold. The appropriate treatment is not Prozac. In addition, many schools have sustained water damage and kids are being exposed to bio toxins in the environment which degrade cognition, attention and memory. It’s sobering to think about New Orleans after Katrina and the recent flooding in Baton Rouge,  and what the health consequences for the population must be from mold illness.

My awakening to the huge problem of toxic mold is an example of synchronicity, evidence of a non random meaningful universe. Had I not begun Kundalini Yoga Teacher training, I would not have been breathing deeply in the basement daily for an hour and fallen ill. Had that generous reader not written to me at that particular moment to share her discovery, I would not have connected the dots about toxic mold causing my debilitating psychiatric symptoms. And had I not connected the dots, I would not be able to share this information with you and raise your consciousness about this potentially very important cause of illness.

The universe provides all of us with endless opportunities to help one another, if we are open to allowing the Mystery to work through us. We are now in a time of enormous change and transition. Something new is being born and we are all being called upon to contribute, each in our own unique way. As we approach this darkest time of the year, the Winter Solstice, be a light to your community, and you will uplift yourself. Blessings and love to all my readers for the New Year.

Mold Testing & Mold Toxins by Dr. Jill Carnahan - YouTube

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