The Intuitive Process: Emergent Understanding, Instinct, Imagination and Hypothesis

What To Do v3
I‘ve always trusted my instincts, but I had no idea how much grief they have saved me, quietly guiding me behind the scenes in all my decision-making, until this disease hit me. It is quite possible that instincts that have caused me to do, and not to do, some things, even though consciously I was motivated to do otherwise, could actually have saved my life.

To explain this, here’s a bit of background on some of the things I’ve done, and not done, more or less instinctively without really understanding why, in the last few months and years:

  1. Early in 2003 I started this blog, just for a lark. Quickly it became a lifeline, a sounding board for my ideas about the world and about life, and a connection to hundreds of disgruntled, underutilized and extraordinary people, who made me realize I had been living in a self-constructed intellectual ghetto.
  2. At the end of 2003, unhappy, overwrought, and in constant conflict with corporate management, I decided to walk away from my employer of 27 years. At the time I was very well paid, and was admired and getting along well with everyone except senior management, which was making some absolutely execrable decisions.
  3. In 2004 through early this year, I have toyed with at least a dozen potential ways of making a living, and, to the great consternation of those people who gave me wonderful leads, encouragement and references, backed away from all of them.
  4. In 2005 I cut myself some slack, thanks to insight from readers and readings and new online friends, but most especially after reading Straw Dogs. In two years my blog title had gone from ironic to deadly serious to self-parody.
  5. In 2005 I began to pursue the ‘sweet spot’ at the intersection of my Gift (what I am uniquely good at), my Passion (what I love doing) and my Purpose (what is needed that I am here to provide). I have often come close to accepting two out of three, only to dig in and refuse to compromise, and start the search again. What’s more remarkable is that my Passion has been shifting dramatically and inexplicably over the last year — to passions that are much less ambitious and stressful, more peaceful, more local and more personal. My instincts are driving this, and my brain has, as always, been slow to catch on.
  6. This year, after some stressful bad news in March, I changed my diet for the better, and then began an exercise program. I also got new office furniture to encourage better posture — the chronic back problems I’ve suffered the last three years have all originated in the neck and shoulders (I also started looking into yoga, and seriously tried to take up meditation). Six weeks after starting the exercise program I felt and looked better than I have in thirty years. Then, nearly a month ago, I got leveled by the symptoms that have now been confirmed as ulcerative colitis.

Looking back at all these ‘instinctive’ changes1, all of which had people doubting my sanity, I realize that my body was telling me I had to start taking much better care of it, and of myself, and that that was what drove all six changes. When I started the blog I knew something was very wrong, but wasn’t sure what it was — just that I needed to figure it out and take action, soon. Leaving my conflicted job was a necessary and liberating step, but I knew myself well — I needed to work quickly to find something else that was more meaningful and less stressful, since I could not afford to retire early. All the leads I have balked at since were exciting, potentially life-changing, important opportunities — all of which carried with them enormous stress, which I have always handled badly. At the time I thought I lacked courage, but now I realize I wasn’t equipped for the journey, my constitution wasn’t up to it, and my body was telling me so every way it could. What appeared to be procrastination, or opportunity squandered, was in fact the instinct of self-survival doing my ‘thinking’ for me.

Giving myself a break, in 2005, becoming much more humble and focused about what I hoped and planned to do to make the world a better place, may have kept me from nervous collapse. At the same time I realized I could not allow myself to get back into jobs that were too taxing (area 4 on the chart above), unfulfilling (area 5 on the chart above), or unappreciated (area 2 on the chart above). After two years of area 2 consulting work, however, it was my instincts, not my supposedly smart mind, that told me that this wasn’t working out — that it wasn’t my lack of drive and perseverance, but simply the fact that what I had to offer was way too far ahead of the market to be recognized and valued properly, and that consulting, for me, would inevitably be 10 parts anxiety and frustration for each part satisfaction.

The bad news earlier this year caused me a lot of stress at a time I was already coping with all the stress I could handle (yes, even some things I haven’t told you about, dear readers!) But I didn’t consciously give up soft drinks, caffeine and (most) alcohol. My instincts were at work, preparing to enable me to mitigate the debilitation that this stress was already starting to wreak on my system, by recruiting my diet in the healing process before the disease had even hit. Likewise the exercise, which I just suddenly ‘felt like’ doing, and which, by strengthening my body in the two months before the colitis hit full force, also allowed me to cope much better with the last agonizing month.

So my instincts were right all along, and they have saved me big time. Now it’s time for ‘me’ (my brain, anyway) to start doing its share of the healing work. This starts with the realization that the body (especially the digestive system) is a massively complex system — far beyond the ability of the conscious mind to ‘manage’ or even fully understand. While most doctors at least have the integrity to admit they haven’t the foggiest notion what causes ulcerative colitis (or any of the other thousands of auto-immune deficiency and hyperactivity diseases that are one of the top health scourges of our time), coming up with some hypotheses about possible contributing and catalyzing causes (causes plural — there are no ‘single’ causes in complex2 systems) is a necessary first step to identifying preventative and therapeutic treatments (treatments plural — same reason). Who knows, while the doctors are busy doing what they must, contending with patients’ symptoms by using simplistic trial-and-error treatments, we could ultimately put them out of business by making their remedial work unnecessary — finding preventions for everything from digestive illnesses to respiratory illnesses to allergies to AIDS to the rash of inadequately diagnosed immune-system disorders to, perhaps, even the ‘psychological’ disorders that are plaguing us all in this time of endless coping and forced adaptation and struggle.

My hypotheses, which are initially instinctive to me, will disappoint a lot of people. I don’t think it’s likely that the causes of these diseases are principally genetic (though a predisposition to contracting them may be — that’s not the same thing). I also don’t think it’s likely that the causes of these diseases are bacterial, viral, parasitic, or prionic in origin (though exposure to such agents could catalyze onset of the diseases). I believe the causes are likely to be environmental, the chemical cocktail of artificial toxins we eat, drink, wash, breathe, brush up against and otherwise take into our bodies every second of every day. Those who are skeptical that the same poisons that are destroying the soil, the water, the atmosphere and global ecosystems everywhere are also destroying our bodies’ microspheres, should review the case against tobacco.

It is quite likely that even when these hypotheses of environmental cause of most remaining illness and disease have been compellingly argued, we will not be able to do much to prevent or ‘cure’ our bodies of what we have been doing to them. We’re too late to save our planet from the scourges of global warming. And we’ll likely be too late to save our bodies from the painful, wasting deaths that the same man-made toxins are quietly wreaking on them.

But at least we’ll have tried, and at least we will know. We will know that the executives of ExxonMobil and Monsanto and Koch Industries and Phillip Morris and the rest of the world’s megapolluters will ultimately be remembered in history as the most monstrous, willful and indifferent mass murderers of this civilization they have so effectively and greedily exploited. Just as Big Tobacco, with the armies of expensive lawyers and the politicians in its back pockets, will never pay for its crimes against humanity, and just as ExxonMobil will for the same reason never pay for the Exxon Valdez or any of its other environmental holocausts, we are going to have to settle for knowing, not retribution, compensation or even remediation from the corporate monsters killing us all.

So, back to what I know, what I don’t know and what I imaginatively or instinctively hypothesize about ulcerative colitis, starting with three hypotheses:

  1. Hypothesis 1: Immune Disease is Caused in Part by ‘Modern’ Malnutrition: By ‘malnutrition’ I don’t of course mean a shortage of consumed calories. And (thanks in my case at least to my wife’s cooking), I don’t mean lack of variety or balance in cuisine either, though unbalanced eating may be part of the problem for some, and it was a major problem for me in my ‘single’ years. No, what I’m referring to in this hypothesis is something much subtler and more ubiquitous: the lack of variety of natural micronutrients and non-nutritional microorganisms in what we eat, drink, breathe and otherwise continuously take into our bodies
This is the internal analogue of the way we use and treat the land, the external space under our ‘civilized’ care. In gatherer-hunter societies we allowed biodiversity to proliferate, we ate a staggering variety of different foods, and we at them with everything that came with them — all the bacteria, micro-organisms, parasites and ‘dirt’ attached to them. As a result, our bodies evolved to cope with this astonishing array of nutritional choices and ‘unfriendly’ substances, in minute amounts, learning to use exactly what it needed, urge the body to crave more of those needed things, and to neutralize what hurt it. Before we messed with the program, our bodies became exceedingly good, over a few million years of practice, at doing this, without the need for antibiotics or medical ‘experts’. And while few early humans lived to old age, this is because they were eaten young, in the interest of the greater Earth organism, not because they were sickly — anthropologists increasingly agree that prehistoric humans lived a much healthier, more disease-free, and usually longer, life than most civilized humans ever have.

The digestive system is the very definition of complexity: It contains more nerve cells than the nervous system, so many different enzymes and sub-processes that most of them have not been (and may never be) mapped (the genome is a snap by comparison), the enteric nervous system, chemically very similar in makeup and function to the one managed by our brain, and billions of highly specialized organisms, each evolved for some essential purpose needed to sustain human health. But today, food processing, the elimination of over 90% of varieties of food we have eaten for millennia (in the interest of agricultural efficiency) and the soaking of our foods and drinking water in chemicals deliberately designed to impoverish the richness and diversity of organisms we consume, means that this incredibly intricate and finely-honed system is largely unused, standing around ‘unemployed’ looking for something appropriate and useful to do. If you’re unemployed long enough you lose your craft, and when essential micronutrients or undesirable microorganisms finally come along now they can surprise our bodies, which may no longer be able to know, from practice, how to handle them properly. Mistakes occur and are compounded and crises are created as a result. The system staggers and breaks down from disuse caused by the malnutrition — the lack of practice — we give it. Exactly in the same way the land we plow into monoculture and soak with artificial fertilizers breaks down, unable to restore itself, starved of natural nutrients, impoverished, blows away in the wind and runs off in the rain, unable to support life at all.

  1. Hypothesis 2: Immune Disease is Caused in Part by Antibiotic Toxins: With the natural systems impoverished, malnourished, and bereft of the practice and learning needed to do their job, civilized humans decided they needed a backup system. Just as they did to the land with agriculture, the chemicals of choice for doctors to treat our internal ecosystem were the most potent poisons we could find: the word antibiotic means ‘life-killing’. But we thought we understood complex systems, so the same twisted thinking that came up with the oxymoron ‘antibiotic therapy’ soon added ‘chemotherapy’ and ‘radiation therapy’ to the lexicon. The same simplistic, militaristic thinking that prevailed in agriculture and in war is now employed in the war on all life in the human body, as if the body were some simple mechanical system whose billions of essential living parts were superfluous and dangerous. What malnutrition didn’t mess up, the man-made poisons in our water, food, soil, air, pills, and deliberately sprayed on our gardens, our lawns, and on every surface of our homes have.
When I was in my teens, before the discovery of retinoin, the drug of choice for runaway acne (which I suffered from) was tetracycline, a potent antibiotic that I consumed, on doctor’s orders, several times daily for a decade. The drug slowly cleared my acne but wreaked havoc on my digestive system, causing chronic diarrhea and frequent digestive system upsets. I was warned not to take it with milk products or antacids which would lessen its effect. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that that ten years of self-poisoning has contributed to my current condition.
  1. Hypothesis 3: Immune Disease is Caused in Part by Musculo-Skeletal Distress: From my early teen years, my posture has been poor. Lousy school furniture, gradual reduction of exercise as coaches focused their attention on ‘star’ athletes, loss of social self-confidence leading to a semi-permanent slouch, staring away from a world I found bewildering, cruel and unbearable. One girl friend, when I was in my twenties, said I stood as if I were ‘hollowed out’. For decades my body adapted to this strange stance, complaining by means of frequent neck and shoulder aches, and an inability to stand for more than a half hour without developing a sore back and having to crouch on my haunches to relieve it. Then recently, as described above, this awkwardness started to create debilitating spinal distress, to the point that at times I couldn’t lie down, couldn’t sit, couldn’t stand. Three times I went for physiotherapy. Once I was hospitalized, convinced it was a heart attack. My physio applied a technique analogous to traction treatment, extending my spine. It was briefly exhilarating, but caused bizarre immediate after-effects — abdominal aches, indigestion, and terrible skin breakouts. I stopped going. And then, when I started exercising, I read about the importance of running posture — an erect,  hips and chest forward posture rather than a hollowed-out, curved running posture. I tried it, and it worked, but it was excruciating — the same symptoms as the traction, but worse. I relapsed into a curved running posture and my performance plummeted. That was just before the ulcerative colitis showed its full fury. My final note before abandoning the exercise program reads “focus more on running posture and monitor reactions carefully — something wrong here”.

Those are my first three hypotheses. There will probably be more. Since this is a complex system problem, I will never be able to prove or disprove them, but, through careful self-experimentation, I can develop persuasive evidence that, at least in my case, they appear to be valid (or invalid). I will end up with a credible theory of the causes of my disease, and, from there, I can develop an appropriate treatment program that will deal with the causes, not the symptoms.

This will be a lifelong program. We can never hope to understand let alone undo all the damage we (civilized humans) have done and are still doing to our bodies, but we can learn and remediate and improve, one tiny bit at a time. My dear readers have provided me with over 100 possible elements to a treatment program, and I will work through them painstakingly. The ones at the top of the list are holistic and modest in their claims, embracing complexity. Those at the bottom of the list are the ‘miracle’ cures, drugs, herbs, magical ‘expert’ spiritual healing and other techniques that promise, all by themselves, to solve the problem, and criticize all ‘competing’ therapies. The pushers of such miracles don’t get complexity any more than doctors, and I am highly suspicious of them (especially when the pages are full of price lists, or the information is ‘secret’ and only available by buying the book or the magic ingredients).

Ultimately I believe this is the only way out of the trial-and-error one-size-fits-all anti-life warfare of modern medicine, the learned helplessness that has incapacitated us from taking charge of and responsibility for our own health and well-being, and the relentless poisoning of our ecosystems, macro and micro, by greedy, indifferent corporations hiding behind the inherent complexity of ecosystems that will never, to the satisfaction of our carefully-rigged laws, be able to bring them legally to account.

The shock and awe drug (prednisone) I have been persuaded3 to take is just beginning to work, I think. The pain has, for most of the day, subsided from 5-7 levels to 3-5 levels and the insomnia relents for a precious 3-5 hours per day, so I feel at least sane again.

Forward, ho, small steps at first.

1. My instincts have also had me immersed daily in my hot tub, at a temperature higher than doctors advise, for quite a few years now. It seems to alleviate extreme itching (which seems to be weather-related), neck and shoulder stress, anxiety, and also provokes my imagination. And more recently I’ve developed a craving for varied fresh fruit and ice whipped up in a blender, no additional ingredients. I need to fold these into the theory and hypotheses I’m developing, but I’m not yet entirely sure how these strange instincts ‘fit’.
2. Doctors, lawyers, politicians, corporations all hate complexity. As I explained in an earlier article, this hatred is an occupational hazard for most adults — the political, social, educational, technological, communication and economic systems in which we are forced to work, and which use simplistic, bizarre and absurd mechanisms to assess our ‘performance’ within them, cannot accommodate or even appreciate complexity, which must by necessity be (over-)simplified, both to render most of what we are forced to do in the workforce un-ridiculous and bearable, and to enable us to persuade a dumbed-down public that it is actually valuable and helpful and hence deserves to be ‘paid’ for.
3. During the delirium of pain and sleeplessness just before I started taking the drug, it suddenly came to me that Bush and the war-mongers of the world, those who believe violence is an answer to anything, behave very much the way an out-of-whack immune system behaves — attack everyone, good and bad, take no prisoners, brook no dissent, assume we’re all inherently bad and need to be bullied into obedience to the ‘one true way’ by sheer force. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, I thought, if there was a prednisone the world could ‘take’ to suppress and rid itself of Bush and the simplistic ‘over-active antibiotic’ thinkers like him? At that point I realized that if my damaged immune system is running amok like the world’s violence-lovers are, maybe I do need some terrible drug to shut it down, just for awhile, until some sanity in my tiny internal world prevails again. How’s that for twistedthinking?

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17 Responses to The Intuitive Process: Emergent Understanding, Instinct, Imagination and Hypothesis

  1. Mike Gale says:

    Have you considered that the after effects of spinal traction and “improved” running posture, might have been a healing crisis.In other words, it was fixing you and in the process detoxing/fixing your body.I’ve seen some evidence that this idea sometimes seems to be “right”.

  2. Mike Gale says:

    You are looking at three root causes:Bad nutrition.Anti-biotics.Musculo Skeletal factors.I’ve seen these things convincingly tied together through a model of a damaged digestive system letting oversize material through which triggers the bodies defences, which tightens muscles, which… One “treatment” was to hit the syndrome from multiple angles, meditation, diet, exercise especially stretching… Apparently this can eventually get the compex system back into synch, but 6 months may be optimistic for timing.

  3. Carroll says:

    This is Dave’s brain.This is Dave’s brain on drugs ;-)If you never saw that American anti-drug commercial, you won’t “get” the reference, but in this case, I mean it as sort of a backwards compliment. If, in your current sleep-deprived state of distress you can continue to churn out such thought-provoking essays, well, all I have to say is…Go, Dave!

  4. David Parkinson says:

    Fascinating. Part of me watches your investigation with full attention, enjoying the intellectual play and struggle; part of me is horrified to find this so interesting. We are certainly conditioned in this society to turn away from sickness and not really want to know more than we need to about it (esp. when it’s someone else’s). So this is good shock treatment for your readers. Perhaps.

  5. Mariella says:

    When your instincts guide you to fruit and ice, maybe you are changing your Ph….. acid/alkaline relation… yin is alkaline: fruit is yin, cold is yin…. Glad to read you are beginig to feel better.

  6. Thomas Watson says:

    Dave, if you are concerned with spinal difficulties from your youth, then you should *really* look into chiropractic. Having your spine in a bad way can mean that nerves (flowing out from your spinal cord) can be pinched and damaged by the discs in your spinal column. Chiropractic can help correct these problems over time.While I am always skeptical of their claims (I still go to them regularly) they do say that a host of aliments are the result of a nerve ending that is being pinched and so cannot stimulate the bodies healing processes as it should.I definitely recommend it to you, it might be the key that unlocks your puzzle.

  7. lugon says:

    Dave, thanks. Regarding the first hypothesis, I read somewhere that one effective treatment for some self-inmune disease (maybe it was even ulcerative cholitis, but my memory doesn’t serve me well on this) was to feed the person with intestinal parasites (apropriately mashed up etc). Apparently, they worked under the assumption that the lack of “natural” stimuli “caused” the “disease”. Maybe look into “medline” for references on “ulcerative parasite”? Cheers!

  8. DaveThis is exactly where I am going too. Here is a review of a very new book that may be the Silent Spring for what we eatRob An Amazon review of the Hundred Year Lie by Randall Fitzgerald that I read on my way back from NPR the other day. I sort of knew that I lived in a chemical world but not really. Now I do which is one rason I am changing how and what I eat “Randall Fitzgerald’s “The Hundred Year Lie” is the most important, convincing and blunt health-related book I’ve read since Colin Campbell’s “The China Study.” My immediate reaction after finishing this book was fear, but it was followed rather quickly by a sense of empowerment and determination. I am recommending this book to friends and everyone in my family. Mr. Fitzgerald has packed an enormous amount of alarming and scientifically-based information on a wide range of topics that directly impact our health and quality of life into an engrossing, well-organized and shocking book. Even though much of this information has been available (with a bit of effort) for some time, I have not seen it organized so ingeniously or presented in such a stark, authoritative and grounded fashion. By “grounded”, I mean that it is alarming in its content but not hysterical in its tone. Hundreds if not thousands of scientists worldwide have been trying to sound the alarm about the effects of synthetic chemicals on our environment, bodies and reproductive capacity for several years, but because the information is so upsetting it has not been readily accepted or discussed by the larger population.In one of the book’s most mesmerizing chapters, Fitzgerald crafts a painstaking, revealing time-line of our last century in which it becomes possible to fathom the causes and effects set into motion by the introduction of synthetic chemicals, drugs and food additives to our lives. It becomes virtually impossible to accept that the exponential rise in cancer, heart disease, birth defects and diabetes are wholly unrelated to these trends in our dietary habits and exposure to unregulated toxins in our food, water and environment. Mr. Fitzgerald deftly juggles a wide variety of subjects, but the chapter that most outraged me is his chapter on the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on the reproductive potential of many species–including the human being. I knew that entire populations of amphibians and fish had been decimated by herbicides, fungidcides, pesticides and plastics, but I had no idea the extent to which the human population had been impacted. Among the many facts presented in this book worth careful consideration is that ten percent of American couples are unable to conceive, and that a recent study of in vitro fertilization revealed that 80% of three hundred embryos sampled from healthy women in their twenties were genetically defective (the actual percentage was probably higher, as only eleven chromosomes were tested). If that is not enough, consider that a 2001 study in China “found that 85 percent of university students tested were infertile.” Am I the only one who finds the implications of this chilling? And Fitzgerald provides page after page of this sort of information along with a bibliography whose sources verify it. I had trouble believing, for example, that in Canada there is a grossly disproportionate ratio of female to male births (less than 35% males) and was able to corroborate this by reading a study on a website managed by concerned scientists and cited in “The Hundred Year Lie.” Yes, it is hard to believe–and, Yes, it appears to be true.One reason this book is so solid is that it is not bogged down in sentiment or emotionalism, nor is it an environmental manifesto encouraging some sort of assault against the chemical, pharmaceutical and government regulatory agencies. It is blunter than that, and more in touch with the sad reality we face: We simply will never be able to count on the accurate dissemination of information about how to eat and live healthfully from government agencies like the USDA, the chemical industry that introduces thousands of untested chemicals into our foods and plastics every year, or from the pharmaceutical companies that have a vested interest in Americans remaining chronically ill with cancer, coronary disease, auto-immune disorders and diabetes. One look at the absurd Food Pyramid should tell you all you need to know about the reliability of the government regarding nutritional and health matters.”Hundred Year Lie” is lean and “nutrient-dense” almost to the point of being factually overwhelming. There is no padding, no wasted prose. Fitzgerald’s book is an eloquent, provocative, thoroughly-reasoned and ruthlessly pragmatic examination of the situation we find ourselves in, not as it could or should be in some Utopian world. He urges us to take responsibility for our own lives, to disease-proof our bodies and environments to the degree feasible–because, realistically speaking, this is our only option if we want to attempt to free ourselves from the misery of chronic disease. Admittedly, this is not a message most Americans seem to want to hear right now, which is one reason I fear this important book may not receive the attention it deserves. My hope is that we will be surprised, and that this extraordinary book will awaken people.My only criticism of this book is that I wish it were footnoted–I just like footnotes in science and health-related books. On the upside, the text and bibliography are so comprehensive that it is a simple matter to pursue avenues of interest raised by Fitzgerald. I believe this book is an important achievement: the right book, appearing at the right time, and I hope people read it and alert others about the content contained in The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health: Books: Randall Fitzgerald

  9. Indigo says:

    I’m sorry to learn that you are sick, especially with an auto-immune illness. One of my sisters has had an auto-immune illness (lupus) since she was in her twenties and the whole family has taken quite a ride with her over the years as she gets better then relapses then goes into remission again. I think you have a lot of insight of your own about what’s going on in your body. Environmental toxins are a huge part of auto-immune illnesses. I see it as being about stress. The body exposed to chronic, long-term stress eventually goes into hyper defensive action and can’t turn it off. The stresses of life include toxins, but also electricity (read The Body Electric by Becker for a real eye-opener), busy-ness, negative thinking (including too much news reading I’m afraid), turbulent emotions that are surpressed rather than being fully felt and released as they arise, and the person’s personal system of meaning making which may convey an impression of constant danger regardless of how someone else might view the same external environment.All I can see as a road to health would be to eliminate/reduce exposure to as many stressors as possible on an ongoing basis and to do more of whatever helps lessen the effects of stressors that can’t be avoided. My sister found getting attuned to a type of energy work called Reiki very therapeutic for her. The attunement itself seemed to release a lot of her blocked, turbulent emotional energy. She had a vicious childhood filled with ridicule and cruelty because she was in special ed, had poor eyesight, and was always emotionally pretty dysfunctional. The combination doesn’t go over so well for a poor black girl growing up in the South. I think she took a lot of the aggression and rejection into herself in the form of self-attack. Probably not a coincidence that she later developed a disease that involves her body attacking itself. The emotional healing of the Reiki attunement relieved a lot of the core of her primary life stressor – hatred. It also allows her to do Reiki energy treatments on herself whenever she wants.And I think you know that meditation is something I strongly recommend. Sounds like you gave up on that one recently. If you are in the mind to make a sizable investment you can try this game called The Journey to Wild Divine that uses biofeedback tools set within a video game environment to help you train your body to meditate. The hardest thing for beginners is they can’t tell when they are doing it right, so this game should help with that. It’s very popular so I’m guessing it must work, though I haven’t tried it since I’m already pretty skilled at meditation.Anyway, I’m just suggesting what I can think of. Wishing you all the best.

  10. Thomas Watson says:

    Yeah I’d recommend core strength exercises and massage as well. I’m currently doing courses overseen by the guy that runs this website. interesting thing he told a friend of mine was that if they could only do one thing for their body a week, the best thing would be a professional massage. Hmmm if only I had the money to cough up what equals $27 USD a week….no way, not on my minimalist budget…

  11. zach says:

    I’m sorry to hear you’re not well at the moment.I think this a big part of the human condition. We feel sympathy for those who hurt. Fear when we do. Wrap our arms around each other. I believe much of this society you seem to hate(?) was created out of love, in order to deal with pain and fear. Hypothesis: Immune disease is caused in part by cronic untreated Bipolar II disorder.

  12. Jon Husband says:

    quite a post, dave .. and there are very few people like you, who share so much of themselves with all others.For years and years and years now, I have indulged myself in long-distance swimming. I typically swim a mile and a half a day, which is about 49 minutes of continuous swimming. All scientific studies point to this length / time and more contributing to changes in the brain wave patterns, and of course swimming has long been touted / recognized as a very holistic form of exercise .. body supported almost magically by water, isometric resistance as you stroke. Since I swim for a fairly long period at a relatively intense level, it also through regular breathing becomes quite meditative.I am convinced that this habit of swimming as gentle but vigorous regular exercise is what has kept me relatively healthy, relatively un-anxious and relatively un-stressed during my adult life.

  13. Deirdre Day-MacLeod says:

    I stumbled across this post at a very interesting moment. Yesterday I found that a dear old friend had died at 47. Tomorrow I am going away to a Yoga Teacher Training retreat. So it is not just Jill’s death but a coalescing of a number of things. And so I read what you have written and I understand it.

  14. I would seriously recommend Alexander Technique to sort out any posture problems . It’s classed as alternative medicine but is based, as far as i can see, on rational ideas about the body. (I’m trained as a physicist and have a healthy skepticism about such things). It worked for me anyhow!

  15. You make some interesting points. I do think our bodies are delicately balanced, as is any natural environment, and that a subtle change can throw everything tumbling out of that balanced state. And yes, instinct, intuition, are real and of value. I’m deeply interested in studying intuition. I think we do use it to tune into our health. A change occurs in our understanding as soon as we begin to pay attention.I’ve gone through some similar changes over the past few years. I always intended to retire as early as I could, and after my mom’s death in 2002 I made a conscious effort to get there more quickly and retired from my former career in June 2003. So I’ve had these two big changes, and am looking at the rest of my life with a much-changed frame of mind about many things from dealing with less money to the meaning of life. Now that I’ve slowed down my pace I find it much easier to tune into my body as well as the world.

  16. Siona says:

    Oh, Dave.Yes, to everything you wrote. I have an autoimmune disease too (one, too, which affects my digestion first) and resonate so, so much with what you wrote, especially when it comes to the wisdom of the body. I’ve come to really value my ‘disease’; if I’m not impeccable about treating myself kindly the symptoms crop up, and it is, I think, a valuable thing to have learned to truly nurture and care for oneself. I think those of us with these sorts of problems (as well as those souls who are psychologically sensitive and who suffer emotionally the burdens of our way of being) are canaries in the coal mine. Putting an oxygen mask around the creature and saving the bird is great, but what we need to do is get out of the mine.

  17. Dave Pollard says:

    Wow. Terrific ideas, links, comments. Thank you all so much. Mike: My physiotherapist, who’s crosstrained in other skills (yoga, acupuncture etc.) is helping me with this self-experimentation process, and I think your comment about what the traction ‘released’ is right on. Gotta go holistic on this one. Rob: Right on. Still waiting for the book to come in — why isn’t it in the bookstores? Indigo/Jon: Terrific advice. Strangely enough, I’ve found using a power-washer (to clean patios and decks) to be very therapeutic, in ways seemingly similar to meditation: You have to go slow, focus your concentration on each mark on each stone, and you have a physical, tangible result to show for your work. After a couple of hours I’m relaxed, exhilarated, and ‘The Machine in My Head’ as Glenn Parton calls it, is, for awhile, silent.

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