This is the story of my journey. Where I am today and why I do what I do is still very much alive and, as life itself, is always changing and evolving.
It began in Kansas, where I grew up learning good Midwestern values and a strong work ethic. Years later in 1990, when I received my Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from the University of Kansas, I had no intention of working in the health field. Little did I know that a series of events was about to transpire which would propel me into my destined path as a health professional.
First, it was severe pain in the middle of my back between my shoulder blades. I was a university student at the time, and less than 20 years old. It didn’t make any sense to me that I might be really sick… And so I was content to blame it on stress. It seemed a likely culprit, and having heard that meditation might be of some help, I enrolled in an on-campus meditation class.
Finding a spiritual path
Not long after that experience, I had begun dating a woman who immediately invited me to attend a meditation program. I replied with a very enthusiastic, “YES!” Of course, I had no idea what to expect or where it might lead. The answer, it seemed, was found in Eastern Philosophy. That meditation experience opened the door into what has become for me a very meaningful spiritual path. It was just the beginning of my transformative process.
What came next, after graduation, was my move to California, where I worked for about 9 months before deciding to live a monastic life. This was obviously another turning point. For seven years, I embraced my new spiritual life, living in ashrams in both the United States and in India. Each day I chanted, meditated, practiced yoga, performed seva (selfless service) and did a great deal of contemplating.
It was a time of enormous expansion for me. It was as though I was finally learning all the things I was never taught in school – the true meanings of kindness, respect, honor, companionship, mindfulness, patience, commitment and compassion. Though they could never be measured, these qualities became a central part of my life. My intention had at last become clear: I sought to live in an enlightened state… Only, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. I had read about others who had achieved such states, so I knew it must be possible. And so, in the wisdom of the ancients, I would set out to “know thy self”.
It seemed that certain physical issues had become an inevitable part of my great spiritual quest. During my time at the ashram, some of the long-time yogis pointed out to me that I had some digestive issues (I can only guess that it was the acne on my boyish face that gave it away). I changed my diet and begin eating more live foods. It was my first time experimenting with diet. In fact, the idea that foods could affect my health was new to me, but I was open and began making changes… lots of changes. I adopted vegetarianism into my ashramic lifestyle. Though it eventually proved not to be such a healthful choice for me, it was undoubtedly a necessary step in my learning process.
Then, toward the end of of my stay at the ashram, came the cancer. It’s an illness I wouldn’t have looked for in someone living the simple life of reverent service that I had come to know, but deep within me was buried a great and unresolved emotional turmoil. The battle within was about whether I continue being in a committed relationship ( I was already married) or do I renounce all worldly life and become a sanyasi, a monk. The result was a level of stress far beyond what my body could bear.
Illness, Recovery and Studying
Not knowing any better at the time, I went the traditional medical route. I saw this doctor and then that one, none seeming able to help. Tried some medications but felt worse. I declined chemo and radiation. I was so frail that I am not sure I would have survived. So I sought answers from other sources complementary to traditional medicine, like chiropractors, colon therapists, psychotherapists, acupuncturists and energy workers. Still, nothing was working.
In the meantime, I had become extremely weak and thin. At six feet in height, my weight was a meager 128 lbs. I looked like I should be six feet under, and often I prayed either to be taken or shown the way. It was a period of great physical suffering. I was chronically fatigued. My whole body ached. My mind was unstable, and I was extremely depressed. I could not stay awake during the day, and I could not sleep at night. I was a wreck.
At some point, it occurred to me that there must be a way to heal the body with food alone. I cannot say which reading inspired this thought, as I was already knee deep into all kinds of books and research on sickness and healing – just that what I discovered somewhere between the pages was my innate love of health. The more I understood, the more I was amazed at how the body worked. Though still very ill, I felt I should go to school and study Oriental Medicine. Despite the sickness, which remained with me throughout most of my training at Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine, in 2002 I emerged a graduate with a Master’s Degree and a License in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
It was during my studies there that I discovered a way of eating which transformed my life. I noticed results immediately. I finally was able to put on some weight and generally began to look healthy again. My new diet, which was totally raw and included vegetable juices as well as animal proteins and fats, was making a tremendous difference. Every day, I could feel more and more life force returning to me.
I had heard about and met with a nutritionist in Malibu, who assisted me greatly in my recovery. Under his mentorship, I felt I was earning two degrees at once – one in Oriental Medicine and the other in Nutrition. At last I was beginning really to see how powerful food could be in turning around a person’s health. Diet, lifestyle and nutrition have since become foundational pieces in how I approach my work.
After my time at university, I went on to learn too about the ancient practice of Medical Astrology. In my quest to learn the cause of my illness, I had discovered Astrology and come to view it as a way of understanding one’s self through archetypal images. Given my awareness that, until the 17th century, one could not be a doctor unless he was also an astrologer, the study seemed a natural extension of my medical training. I applied all I had learned medically to astrology, trusting that over time this kind of knowledge would be of great benefit to my clinical practice. And in fact, my instincts were correct. Over the years, Medical Astrology has proven itself a pivotal tool in helping me to assess the entire health of a person.
Integration and Practice
While developing my practice over the next several years, I found other mentors who assisted me on my path to understanding both what caused disease and what was required for health. One who made a significant impact on my thinking was Dr.Mick Hall, ND. His basic understanding of how the body worked helped me shift my paradigm from what I had not been taught in my medical training. I then met and worked with another nutirtionist in Venice who did live blood cell analysis. His knowledge of nutrition and approach opened up a whole new understanding to how food could be applied to health. His perspective on the internal environment cased me to change many things about my dietary approach and introduced me to the importance of minerals as one of the foundations to health. I feel truly blessed to have had so many good teachers.
New discoveries came as I sought to understand why some people did not recover. Even after I had rid myself of cancer, getting adequate, restful sleep at night and feeling energetic during the day was an on-going difficulty. I only began to see why, however, after watching a DVD on neuro-feedback, which a colleague had recommended to me.
Dr. Mick Hall had once told me that trauma was the cause of most disease, which seemed to make sense given the events surrounding my own illness, but now I understood better. I began to see clearly how trauma and stress could literally change the structure of the brain, which in turn could alter the physiology of the body. The brain could override the body! Suddenly, it made sense why some people (myself included) struggled to improve in certain areas even after embarking on serious nutritional programs. What neuro-feedback seemed to offer was a practical way to help deal with those traumas without the need for psychotherapy or as an adjunct to therapy. Neuro-feedback could literally train the brain to function better and react more healthfully to stress.
At the time, I had been doing everything I knew to improve my own sleep naturally, but all the stress and trauma from events in my own life had altered my brain waves and thereby affecting my daily health. But after 30 sessions of neuro-feedback, my brain wave patterns had begun to change. The results I got were exactly what I had hoped for – better sleep at night, all night, and more energy during the day.
It was all the encouragement I needed to incorporate neuro-feedback training into my regular clinical practice. I focused my attention for many years on this aspect of recovery, as well as the various stages of stress and how they affect the entire human organism. By reviewing the brain map images produced by my neuro-feedback equipment, I could see how each person was coping with stress. I could observe how the training began to improve each one’s physical and mental health. I had come quite a distance from some of my earlier teachings – that if a person’s brain lacked the proper nutrition, it would lead to an imbalance in brain wave function which would directly impact their emotional and psychological state. What seemed more true now was that it was never entirely one way or the other. On a deeper, more personal level, I was beginning to understand and really appreciate the delicate and dynamic way the brain and body were actually, always, working together.
Those of us in the field seem always to be discovering new ways to interpret that unique relationship between stress and mind-body conection. The most recent, for me, was my introduction to Hair Mineral analysis. I had already been aware for some time that a proper balance of minerals was essential to healthy brain and nervous system function, but when I did my own hair mineral test I was shocked to see the imbalances present, especially considering that I had been supplementing with very high quality minerals for six years. I knew I could do better… So why wasn’t I?
What I came to realize was that stress doesn’t just affect the brain. It can also impact the way our bodies regulate minerals, and long-term chronic stress can lead to severe nutritional and mineral imbalances. It was now clear to me that by measuring the minerals present in the body we can accurately understand where we are in the stress cycle. And apparently, my broad-spectrum, bio-available mineral supplements still were not specific enough to restore the imbalances I had accumulated over the years. What the body needed was food and food based-supplementation more specifically targeted to its unique oxidation cycle (i.e. how our cells generate energy by metabolizing proteins, fats and carbohydrates). Without it, we’re simply not getting the nourishment we might think we are. Understanding this important detail has helped me in determining the most appropriate nutrition and supplementation plans to bring a person’s brain and body back into balance.
So, as you can see, the journey has been long, and each exciting step has better equipped me for helping others. But by no means is the story complete. There is still much I have to learn. Just as my own body has been my teacher over the years, so has each one of my clients, and I am so grateful to you all for the parts you’ve played, and continue to play, in my path of discovery. The more I have listened, the more I have learned. It is my great pleasure to be able to use the knowledge and experience I have gained over these last 14 years, in assisting those who are unwell and wish for better health and happiness.
Wishing you good health,