Therapeutic Lifestyle Intervention, which is the heart of Functional Medicine not only encompasses changes in food, but also the use of vitamins and botanicals, and the way we view our life.
As the concept of whole food, organic food, unprocessed food has become more and more popular, I think it is important that we maintain a perspective on what we are really trying to achieve with Lifestyle Intervention.
Sometimes we get lost in the details and forget the bigger picture. In part this is driven by the standard medical model that has conditioned us to name the disease and match the drug or treatment. In this model, we are clearly anticipating that there is one thing that is the cause of our dis-ease and that there is one band-aid that will fix it. If that were the case, you would most likely not be reading this article and you would be cured.
The epidemic of complex chronic disease is clearly an indicator of the failure of the current model to prevent dis-ease. The acute care rescue model and the use of drugs to dictate physiology is designed to halt processes in physiology that are out of control and save lives. Yet there must be something we can do before our house catches on fire to turn off these pre-disease tendencies and reverse unhealthy aging. This area is the focus of Functional Medicine/Lifestyle Medicine.
Besides its expertise in collecting the story of how the uniqueness of you has interacted with the story of your life and the environment that has interacted with your genes, it also helps co-create the wisdom and methodology of how to guide an individual in understanding their uniqueness and the environmental variables that might be contributing to their well-being or demise.
The variable that is easiest to modify is our food and life-style choices.
The value of food as medicine is that it contains complex signals that interact with our taste receptors, it triggers our digestive forces, it interacts with our immune system, and it also triggers a myriad of hormones including insulin. In other words, food is information that speaks to our body to regulate a variety of complex responses that contribute to our health. We now know it is more than just calories or fuel. It’s more than just carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
The way we combine our food, the quality of the food itself, how we prepare it, season it and even chew and enjoy it; all creates a complex interplay with our unique physiology.
It’s easy to take these complex variables for granted and forget to be mind-ful and relaxed when we eat. To celebrate the blessing and gift of the vitality of the food. To focus on the quality and vibrational energy within the food itself. Is it fresh, is it processed, is it charred, is it organic or sustainable? Did we offer thanks to the animals and plants that have surrendered their life force for us? Are we supporting the companies that treat the life-sustaining foods albeit plants or animals with respect?
In addition to nourishing foods that embrace the entire color spectrum and are rich in what we call phyto-nutrients, we also use botanicals and vitamins to support the unique physiology of individuals in Therapeutic Lifestyle programs.
Hence the concept of seasoning yourself. How many spices, herbs, and seasonings do you have in your spice cabinet? I believe the influence of the current allopathic model of naming a condition and matching a treatment is also applied to nutrient therapy. There is a tendency to name the symptom or condition and match the nutrient. The internet, health food stores, and practitioners’ offices are full of supplements. Do we use them like medication day after day?
People find that can be hard on their pocketbook, their GI tract, and their spirit. Oftentimes, I hear how many pills can I take day after day? I hear questions like well what one supplement can I take to get all that my body needs? Don’t get me wrong, I love supplements. As you report various symptoms, or we screen various nutrition tests, I am able to see the need for and recommend seasonings to try to support a change in physiology. However, after years of contemplating the use of adjuncts to food, I have come to think of nutrients and botanicals as seasoning. Do you season your food the same way every day or do you vary the flavors?
I propose this is how we use supplementation. We use it to support physiology as though it was a part of our spice cabinet. Some supplements may be more foundational. That is, we may need them more regularly, such as Vitamin D if you live in the land of no sun. There may be essential fatty acids like omega 3 oils that may need support especially if you don’t like sardines!
Now that we have mapped the genome, we can begin to see certain B vitamins may require support such as methyl-folate and the MTHFR genetic variance.
Unlocking the genome has allowed us to see some of the biochemical “Achilles heels” in individuals that invite additional nutrient support. However, when we read those reports, many of us read them through the reductionistic; name the genetic variance match the nutrient lens. This runs us into the wall of this nutrient is bad for this gene and good for that. Guess what, we are not linear, we are a complex dynamic interplay of dancing biochemical pathways that are always shifting and moving. The goal is to season and support their function using synergistic combinations of nutrition in ways that support the uniqueness of us as the individual.
There is no cookbook, no one size fits all formula. There is only the lens of system thinking that allows one trained in the art of peering into this complex interplay to guide the individual to find their TRUTH in a sea of complex, confusing, and conflicting information.
These windows of function, such as the Nutr Eval by Genova Labs, genetic testing, general blood work, and other progressive tools give us a glimpse into physiology and its function. This data in conjunction with a thorough understanding of the phenotypic expression (i.e. the presentation of the environment-gene interaction of an individual on the physical plane), their story, their symptoms, allows us to make educated suggestions to support and change the expression of the genes while monitoring specific outcome points to see if we are succeeding.
At our current level of understanding, it is a “Braille method.” We are feeling our way through, one individual at a time. Yet this process invites the individual to actively participate in the co-creation of their health. To make choices with awareness and not just blindly follow the recommendations of the latest article about their symptom or the recommendation of a practitioner.
When I trained in medicine in the 80’s we were programmed to work hard to save lives. Over the last 40 years the tools of conventional medicine have failed to impact the epidemic of chronic disease; that low-grade burning misery that people feel that does not always have a name. The idea that there is one thing that we can do or find to fix these issues is unrealistic.
And at best at the end of the day no matter what road to health we chose we are all just guinea pigs. There is no secret formula. There is just the Holy space between the teacher and the student each holding the intention to find the pearl that is needed to shift the energies contributing to the dis-ease. The power of belief is the key. I tell my patients to go where it glows. Within each of us is a deep knowing, a guide if you will. Our mission as individuals, as spiritual beings is to connect with the lens of our heart the part of us connected to the wisdom of our soul and allow that place to help us navigate this sea of confusing choices with a partner trained in the healing arts as our guide. Someone you trust. Yet we are not surrendering our power to the guide rather we are listening from the place of knowing and making our best choice in each moment to propel ourselves along this journey of healing, this journey of life.
We all need healing on some level whether that be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. We all have burdens in our heart that we carry.
Let’s make the journey together drawing on the Foundations for Healing: self- awareness, understanding how our choices in life affect our well-being and self-empowerment, the ability to make the choices that honor the purest essence of ourselves. The third ingredient that facilitates these qualities is connection or community, a tribe of like-minded people to share that journey.
So let’s move away from magic bullet model, the quest for the one thing to cure us and instead focus on the quality of our lives, our thoughts, our choices whether that be our food or our supplements, the way we speak to those around us, our internal self-talk, the way we care for our body mind and spirit, our families, and our relationships. Let’s restore gratitude, reverence, gentleness, and love into our day to day lives in our every action or reaction.
As we draw on the tools to support our day to day physiology think of seasoning yourself with a variety of flavors whether it be in your food, your supplements, your sacred practices, your exercise, or your relationships.
My prayer for you is: May your life be rich, may it be easy, may it be filled with grace.
Blessings to You and to your health…
Dorothy Sprecher, M.D.
Longing is an energy of the heart that acts as a beacon drawing to you that which is held in the heart.
How does one characterize the longing?
Some is silent behind unconscious doors shaping the conscious part without the true knowing.
The conscious part is then formulated by the mind which often has the desires of the heart all flowered up in a sacred language cast out in a prayer-like story to the great divine information field.
Yet underneath the incantation is the silent force of secrets locked away in Pandora’s Box; secrets of the heart not fully revealed but deeply powerful.
They come unbidden in a cloaked Pavlov dog energy unbeknownst to you. But their effect is clear as the beacon brings to you the dance of life; the karmic destiny story that leads you down the yellow brick road to your divine destiny.
Granted there are many dead ends, bunny trails, and detours.
Some of us do not even realize we are on the yellow brick road.
We may think life is pointless in purpose and we wander from event to event stuck in a victim rescuer perpetrator triangle much like a pin ball machine bouncing here and there sometimes winning sometimes losing but seemingly out of control. A puppet of the forces we may or may not be aware of.
Such is the nature of longing, multidimensional, ready for dissection as consciousness blossoms in the traveler on the golden road of life.
Surely one of those bunny trails or detours will fracture the hold of the cosmic merry go round; that victim rescuer perpetrator triangle, so that the true road will begin to glow. Longing leads to awakening if you let it.
As I said, however, it is mysterious and secret and warrants observation both inside and out by the eyes of the soul so that the karmic lessons may be untangled and the soul may fully incarnate, liberated on the earth plane, to offer it’s gift to the greater good of the whole.
Before we incarnate, you know, we decide our divine destiny. Longing is a program imprinted in our DNA to insure we attract to us all we need to crack the shell so that we may awaken. For some a light tap will do for others a sledge hammer is necessary.
The purpose here is to help the mind untangle from the drama and see the dance of the beacon of the heart; to intuit the journey as a soul’s plan and free oneself from the VRP triangle.
Life has a wisdom. A lesson, for it is the stuff of soul to free itself from hidden forces and Pavlov’s dog so it may reunite with the full mantle of its glory.
Contemplating life from this perspective changes our relationship with life. Each experience takes on new meaning when we view it with our soul’s eyes. Each person becomes part of the play of consciousness there by divine appointment to offer a pearl for our evolution.
Funny how we get stuck in the play of opposites rejecting bad and longing for good without recognition that the so called bad clears the way for the good.
This is the trick of longing.
Our heart casts out the flowery story for the goodness and the silent sticky part travels silently enmeshed within it to attract our next dance. Until the unconscious imprinting and silent stickiness is fully healed often times we find our selves in another growth edge.
Learning and illuminating.
These painful hard experiences peel the layers of stuckness from the heart; the shadows that block the full realization of our soul’s glory.
They often appear as a dark night of the soul where our energy field is thrown into chaos; a random, incoherent, disorganized vibration.
In chaos it is hard to remember who you are, what your purpose is, or whether or not you are still connected to the divine. It can be lonely and frightening.
This is where faith comes in. Faith is a memory in the rational and logical mind, the unfailing belief that the experience has divine meaning and purpose.
Faith then stimulates longing, the story of what our heart would like to see manifest. Then the beacon is cast out reshaping the randomness of chaos into the next manifestation and divine adventure. Restoring a new vibratory coherence hopefully a little more awake and aware than when we entered the chaos.
Such is the journey of enlightenment. The stages described by Ron Roth. We awaken to our soul and begin to purify or we purify and begin to awaken either entry point to the journey works.
As we awaken we begin to illuminate seeing the glow of divine in our lives; sensing the connection to a force greater than us as real and tangible.
Illumination is powerful and seductive and draws us along in a divine journey. Our energy field fills with the light of the connection with the sacred mystery until our quantum vibration reaches the limits of its current form. Then boom we explode into chaos, the dark night of the soul often precipitated by an earthly drama that overwhelms us.
Momentarily lost, shocked, and confused our being witnesses the unsettling randomness of chaos.
So much of our patterning would like to cast out judgments and fears into that chaos as we try to make sense of the experience. I believe we hold onto those reflex patterns because they are so familiar. They are our default setting and they require conscious effort to change.
This is where the discipline of the spiritual path comes in. The knives if you will; to cut a way through rational and logical mind belief, to reprogram the old victim mentality and embrace the story of the process.
The story being that chaos is a fertile field and not to be feared.
It is the opportunity to make a quantum shift to a higher field vibration.
A chance to reach a new vibratory state that allows the vessel of you to contain even more light. To expand to greater horizons.
Our goal is to continue the cycle between Illumination and the Dark Night of the Soul until all shadows of longing are revealed and purified through grace and we become deified; that is, fully incarnate souls walking on the planet for the healing of each other and our world until we have fulfilled our divine destiny.
Longing is the energy of the heart that propels us on the journey. Even though it has its unconscious secret parts; the conscious traveler who is awake is always mindful of the process. They view the shadows that erupt in the dance as opportunity to clear the smudges from the mirror of their heart. So that the quality of radiant grace that casts out as a beacon from their heart becomes clearer and more divine with each event.
Conscious souls, those who are awake have the privilege of dancing together in the crucible of relationship. A training camp or forge that makes golden the heart in an accelerated way; provided you have the courage to dance at the razor’s edge where the fire is hot. Not shrinking from the fire that burns and the knives that slice away the shadows that distort the light and longing and block deification.
What a privilege, the dance of conscious love; watching the ego squirm in the light as we beam grace at one another.
Promising to watch and not get lost as the physiologic cascades are set off by the residue of Pavlov’s dogs buttons. Rather promising to watch the cascade as we find the button and bring the healing grace in to liberate.
This is how longing becomes golden; by cultivating the identity with the one who watches. Through practices that remind you of your soul. Through disciplines that placate the mind. Through rituals that strengthen the heart. Through the practice of love in all its many forms….compassion, forgiveness, patience, gentleness, tenderness, divine intention, caring, service, devotion, self care… The promise of seeing the ones who are drawn to your life as divine souls here to help you re-member who you are and facilitate your unique journey to divinity.
Then the ultimate longing, the deepest secret of longing, will be revealed and fulfilled. Divine union with the source of all.
I am home.
I am no longer.
All is One.