Mastering the optical illusion - spinning dancer

Understanding why an optical illusion works can teach us some aspect of vision. Beating the illusion, however, can be more compelling. The spinning dancer by Nobuyuki Kayahara is one of my favorites. It relies upon incomplete movement and depth cues, forcing your brain to make a choice. Because the light does not illuminate the body in ways to suggest direction of the spin, the image is ambiguous. You might see her spinning in one direction and then suddenly flip. Which way do you see her spinning? If you stay with it for a bit, do you see her flip? Can you make her flip at will? Play with it a bit before moving on to the hints.

Using your capacity to understand a human body in movement through your embodied experience of it and through mirror neurons, try the following:

  1. Tilt your head opposite the direction you see the dancer’s head. Wait a few moments. Did if flip? If not…

  2. Notice her head is slightly tilted back. Keep your head in the same position and tilt your head slight backward. Flip yet? If not…

  3. Keep your head position and add an extended arm, mimicking the direction opposite to what you see.

Now play around until you can flip back and forth at will. Have fun, please share, and leave your comments below.

Embodied perception in the age of the attention economy

Technology is increasingly personal. Do you understand how this impacts you? Feeling more distracted? That’s intentional. Confused by too many options? That’s human. Overwhelmed by information? That’s innate limitation.

First, how did you we get here? More importantly, what can you do about it? In this age of intimate and intentional tech, embodiment promotes the antidote: empathy.

Intimate tech

With the introduction of tactile interface, the hardware of our digital devices is self-adjacent and the software is immediately responsive. These two points have changed our relationship with technology. Touch is a sense that can signal safety and familiarity. For you to touch something in a manner that is nonviolently interactive implies to your nervous system that you trust this thing enough to engage with it in your peripersonal space. As it continues to become more personal, the natural evolution of intimate tech is for it to become embedded in you or an extension of your physicality.

Intentional behavior

Software becomes smarter every day: it has troves of information and its processes are self-learning and generative. Artificial intelligence has reached a point where it is not transparent, even to the developers who designed it. Big data and deep learning are upending what psychologist Daniel Kahneman terms ‘slow thinking’. Artificial intelligence (AI) has made the slow deliberation of cognitive analysis a fast but disembodied process. With no need to consult and check gut instinct, AI can process data more consistently and more rapidly than human capacity.

As a data point, you are identified, profiled, and targeted in ways previous generations have never seen. In order to persuade you, understanding motivational psychology for manipulation through technology has become a dedicated school of academic study. In many respects, tech is exhibiting a type of intentional behavior.

In the information age, what is the limited resource? Information is free-flowing and easily accessible. Your attention, however, is something that you have in limited amounts. The intention for many tech companies is to capture your attention and accumulate your data for precise targeting. The perfect product in this age is not what they sell to you, but the vehicle with which you give your resource to them. In exchange for searching a free library of information or a free way to share your personal stories, in the attention economy you have become the product. Tech is consuming your attention, tracking your activities and movements, profiling your purchasing patterns, driving you to more extreme sources of information, and manipulating your vulnerabilities.

Empathy through embodiment

In this context of intimate, intentional tech that is changing how we perceive and interact, it makes sense to educate yourself on what creates your experience of the world: what is universal, what is specific to my family, what is specific to my culture, what is unique to me? If you investigate what creates your deepest experience of the world in terms of your own universally human functions, you’ll start to understand what others experience as well. This is the basis for empathy.

Cultivating empathy starts by tuning into yourself. Intimate and intentional tech has revealed what is largely unconscious in our daily action. It is a wake-up call to expand skills of perception and to elevate intentional behavior. Social psychologist Sherry Turkle puts forth conversation as a key way to learn the social dance of accommodating to another person. The back and forth that she describes is grounded in mirror neurons, receptive listening, and sensing into the felt impact of words. Literacy researcher Maryanne Wolf studies the generative power of reading to spark imagination and an expanded experience of self. Perception in this case is happening in your mind. Can you allow yourself to get swept up into the story and characters? Good writing helps take you there, but reading for deep experiential impact is a skill that requires practice.

Both of these avenues of empathy-building can be amplified when you understand yourself from a bottom-up approach. That means you examine the very nature of your sensory experience. Do you understand how you relate to the experiences of gravity, sound, and light? It’s something you can learn with guidance and intention, over time, but you can start right now by understanding the characteristics of these forces.

Gravity is a force that is constant and present at all times. It is steady, reliable, and powerful. Working with gravity through posture, walking, and physical challenge, you develop an internal experience of support and power.

Sound is essentially tactile. It is vibration of the eardrum, of the bones, of the skin. Sound perception lays down the emotional foundation for communication and is the core of social engagement. Perceiving sound well organizes your posture for receptive listening.

Light is processed through your visual system on multiple levels, but ultimately interpreting light to form visual input that is meaningful is an experiential and constructed process.

Steady, emotional, constructive. These phenomenal experiences of gravity, sound, and light integrate within you as a scaffold for the more complex skills of social interaction. The complexity of the world that is revealed by intimate and intentional tech is what we have yet to examine deeply within ourselves. The most fundamental dynamic of our human experience is understood through the deepest layers of embodied perception.

Connection and the biological roots of survival

Survival through the feeling of connection is a visceral and subjective experience of being merged with the environment in a way that is free of destructive conflict. It is primarily a deep, emotionally invested concept because it is tied to survival. It is the felt reality of being connected to the gravitational field and held by the space around us. This feeling is cultivated again and again throughout our lives by our way of relating to the environment. It is not an innate experience; in fact, it is imprinted during the bonding process and reinforced in every relationship we have. Foundational elements that scaffold emotional connection is etched into our bodies through touch, emotional navigation, and sound. 

*image credit

Bonding and the human experience

The bonding process is psychological in nature but is deeply rooted in the essential biological demand of survival. A baby cannot survive without bonding to a primary caregiver, thus the felt experience of this original connection is associated with survival.  The caregiver feeds, protects, but most importantly, models to the baby the emotional and social skills necessary for independent survival. The psychological feeling of attachment for a person is molded by his own experience as an infant and the biological requirements for survival.  

According to the psychological models of attachment theory, how this bonding process happens is important to emotional health because it establishes a pattern, on a neurological level, of how we establish attachments in future relationships.

hands touching baby feet.png

Touching, pressure, and the definition of self

How does the bonding process get encoded into a nervous system? The tactile experience of bonding is one of the primary ways this happens. In the skin, there are specialized receptors that respond to changes upon it: light touch, pressure, pain, vibration, deep pressure, tension, stretch, temperature, pleasure. In his book Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind, neuroscientist David Linden describes how deeply touch and emotions are linked through receptors that are specialized to communicate affect.   

The bonding process is a practical proving ground for the newly forming brain. Before seeing colors or learning how to clap her hands, a baby drinks in the feeling of being connected to the caregiver. The experience of connection is a physiological process, not a loosely defined existential concept. This feeling is the root of our psychological understanding of connection. The receptors in the skin, joints, muscles, and ligaments transmit signals to the brain, defining self-identification in terms of spatial real estate. Studies on touch at the Haptic Research Laboratory in Germany indicate that “tactile stimuli go much deeper than visual or auditory stimuli and they are recalled for much longer.”

Being held confirms to the brain that “this is the boundary of my body”, “these are the limits of my volume”, “these are the borders of my being”. As pressure gets tighter from the outside in the form of a hug, the contents of the body put more pressure against the skin from the inside and against these organs. These cavities in the body have more room for variation than those cavities in the body. Being held is literally learning more about what sort of volume one inhabits.

Touch has been shown to increase weight gain in premature babies, decrease levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream, and improve immune function. Touch deprivation makes for a poorly defined sense of self. That is a literal sense of self, of boundaries, of limits. This literal sense forms the basis for the psychological sense of self, boundaries, and limits.

In a series of studies on anorexic women, Dr. Martin Grunwald illustrated how a dysfunctional sense of self can be rectified by directly affecting the receptors in the skin. Dr. Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in Florida notes that in friendly touch, the Pacinian corpuscles (pressure receptors in the skin) send signals directly to the vagus nerve, thereby stimulating a slowing of the heart and decrease in blood pressure.

Facial expressions and emotional vocabulary

Humans are social creatures, wired for living with others beyond the bonding phase of life. Before language, there is communication through facial expressions. One of the most disabling aspects of being on the autistic spectrum is the inability to measure the social temperature through facial expressions. Discerning emotional cues is something we learn to do by example and is perhaps the single most important guiding principle we possess as social creatures. In his book Building Healthy Minds, Dr. Stanley Greenspan states that emotional processing - far from being regulated by intellectual vigilance - is instead the internal architect, conductor, or organizer of our minds. So emotional processing, not cognitive thinking, drives our psychological profile, which in turn lays the foundation for ease in cognitive processes. I'll state that again, because as adults we are often of the belief that we should tame our emotions: healthy early developmental emotional processing provides a foundation for ease in cognitive function.

The infant learns what is dangerous and what is safe in order to survive by attuning first and foremost to the social and emotional responses modeled by the primary caregiver(s). The bonding process is less about what a caregiver does for the child and more about what the caregiver implicitly teaches the child about behavior for future survival. In this bonding process, the infant’s neurological system is learning a style of interaction that sustains life. Ideally this style has a feeling of safety, but many times the process of bonding for survival may not feel safe. For example, unpredictable behavior from a caregiver that creates an environment of “walking on eggshells” entrains a person’s nervous system to remain on high alert. Or at the other extreme, the example of expressionless reaction to life due to depression can stunt the emotional modeling that should occur during this process. Abuse or neglect in the relationship with caregivers negatively affect a person’s capacity to easily form meaningful bonds in later years.

Sound as origin of connection

Our systems start contextualizing in the womb.  The ambient, low frequency, rhythmic noise of heartbeat, fluid movement, digestion and breathing creates a backdrop of white noise, a matrix of sound that surrounds and secures the fetus.  Suddenly, a high frequency sound pierces the matrix - it is the voice of the mother. It’s pacing and melodic range stands out from the background and arrives on the sound landscape irregularly. This novelty sparks a curiosity, a desire for connection. The fetus is drawn to the sound and from this moment on, the organizing principle of sound (and in particular the melodic organization of language) provides context and meaning. The interest and desire to connect has been established. French ENT Dr. Alfred Tomatis inspired the field of modern sound therapy through his discovery of the complex and essential function of efficient and meaningful sound processing on the human system.

Our embodied life through filters of perception

Embodiment is a way to use your body for greater insight into your mind. To understand how you perceive is to understand how you create meaning. The more embodied this process, the more clarity you can have in your self observations. The more complete your understanding of the perceptual process, the more compassionate you can be with yourself and consequently with others.

Your understanding of the world starts with your experience of it, and it is full of sensory impressions. You navigate the sensory forces in your life through the filters of your interpretation. To understand how that works, you have to go back to the womb, where sensory systems begin to develop.

Screenshot 2018-06-08 19.54.15.png

Inside the womb, you are held within a pressurized, fluid environment that gives you all you need. Light, sound, scents, and microgravity reach you and begin to shape your sensory perception. In fact, your auditory system, sense of deep touch, and sense of movement are well-formed before you emerge from the womb. The Tomatis Method is a sound therapy program developed by a French Ear Nose and Throat doctor who recognized this before the rest of the medical community did.

Emerging from this enclosed environment, your entire world is transformed with an explosion of light, high frequency sounds, strong scents, and increased gravitational force.  All of these forces are no longer mediated through amniotic fluid, and the pressure systems internal to you reorganize. Your lungs begin to breathe on their own; the expanding pressure of your viscera distends your belly.

Now you begin to create your own filters of perception, your own independent amniotic sac of sorts, to help you organize the overwhelm of sensations.

filters of perception.jpeg

The first filter is emotional. Dr. Stanley Greenspan describes the process of how you have learned to use emotions as shorthand guidance for survival behaviors. Emotions are collections of sensations identified with meaning. The process of decoupling sensation from meaning is a process for a mature nervous system. It is a nervous system in self-observation.

The second filter is developmental (learning to be upright in the gravitational field, to nourish and comfort yourself for independent survival, find your boundaries, share, speak your needs, etc.). It is tightly encoded with the lessons you learn within the context of your family. Your culture becomes another filter of understanding as you learn what it means to belong to a larger tribe or community.

The context of the generation into which you were born, or the historical era of your life, is yet another filter through which you process phenomenon such as gravity, light, sound, scents.

To understand personal experience, we can look at the level of the filter. Psychotherapy often works with the filter of development, delving into family history and personal narrative. Immigrants can maintain a sense of belonging by maintaining their cultural filter in their adopted homeland. As a society, we grapple with the implications of the era of information and the implications of addictive, manipulative media on the generation we call digital natives.

under water.jpg

But what if instead of focusing on the filters, we identified with the phenomenon of what we experience through our senses:  light, sound, scents, pressure, gravity? The commonality of our collective human experience is there - something to which we all belong, regardless of the filters of our perception. Learning to experience phenomena with more precision, with more clarity, is a way to anchor into universal forces that are not colored by filters.

Can you embody the force of gravity very clearly through your bones, evenly through your joints, in a way that allows the force of gravity to move through you? It's an act of surrender from the normal 'doing' mode of cognitively-driven tasks. But it is also an engagement with the environment in a way that is driven by refined perception. In some traditions they call this using 'life force' and it feels like a sort of non-doing. There is a sense of action, but it is deeply supported instead combative. Like surfing, you are hooking into a force that is larger than yourself, allowing you to surrender and enjoy the ride. Learning to do this is a skill for a lifetime.

Deep brain function and daily life

What strategies do you take to get out of your own way? How can you finish that project that has been nagging you for months or years? What can you do to stay calm when faced with old triggers? Why can't you put into action ideas that are in your head?

Most people go to the mind to deal with themselves (meditation, mindfulness training) and some bring more body to the task with mind-body practices (yoga, tai chi, dance, somatic psychotherapies).

The Connectivity Project is an integration of several modalities I have worked with over the years. It's designed to get to your mind through the roots of your brain. Working on the deepest levels of brain coordination is an act of integrating the fastest functions in your brain. Balance, coordination, sound, and light processing are done at speeds beyond your cognitive control. When these systems are improved simultaneously, a synergistic improvement happens within yourself that may be hard to describe. But you feel it. It’s palpable and profound because it fine tunes the foundation you have grown used to. (content continues below video)

Big neurological shifts are experiences that are exhilarating and affect your whole being. Learning to walk on two feet, learning to ride a bike, feeling in the zone of the perfect tennis or golf swing, syncing up perfectly with your dance partner and the music. These are multi-system coordinative events that happen underneath the thinking mind. It feels like flow, it feels like action emerges out of you. It feels like you can get out of your own way.

The surprising health features in your bones

Of the many reasons to lower inflammation through dietary changes, the health of your bones might be a surprising one.

It has been noted that pro-inflammatory cytokines are intricately involved in bone loss. While decreased estrogen induces bone loss in menopausal women, pro-inflammatory cytokines mediate this process. What does that mean? Inflammation might be a necessary component for estrogen-deficiency bone loss. So lowering your inflammation can help not just your gut, but your bones.

In fact, restorative rest between workouts is good for your bones for this reason.

You should keep your bones healthy not only to avoid osteoporosis, but also to help with blood sugar regulation, testosterone production, and memory and mood! Our bones create a protein hormone called osteocalcin, which effects all those things.

More surprising still, bones create other hormones. So remember your bone health for overall well-being!

Biological sleep tips

Getting enough sleep has been quantified as feeling like winning a quarter of a million dollars! But how do you get there? Most articles on sleep tips tend to focus on creating bedtime routines or changing the environment in your bedroom. I like to focus on finding solutions by understanding how the body functions. So here are three basics of your body's sleeping function and what you can do to impact sleep most directly.

Circadian rhythm
Your circadian rhythm is your body's clock, linked to the daily rhythms in your biology, from sleep, to digestive enzyme production, to cell regeneration, and hormone production. Master control of this rhythm is found in the hypothalamus, but every cell in your body apparently its own clock. Exercise outside in the morning to signal your circadian rhythm in a natural way.

Body temperature
The body normally goes to sleep when its temperature lowers. Taking a warm bath helps sleep because the body cools itself after the bath. If you tend to feel hot when you sleep, a better option might be sleeping on a cool pad like this one.

Deep breathing
There are many aspects to breathing well, and each can produce a variety of effects. In yoga, many people know the ujayii breath and use it incorrectly outside of asana practice. Ujayii can be used as a way to focus attention on the breath and get feedback from the sound produced by this technique. It is also a heating breath, so not an appropriate breath for sleep. A more appropriate breathing technique is one that lengthens the exhale, like this one.

Sweet dreams!


Creative living, coherent body

What is your artform?

The acquisition of a technique that frees the soul is the gift of an artform. You learn how to interact with the medium with enough ease to let you get drawn into the meditation of your process. For the visual artist that medium may be paint or charcoal to bring out the emotion of color or negative space; for the poet that medium is words that create a visceral experience of rhythm and pauses. Ultimately, your medium is merely the material through which you can richly communicate that which is deeply felt. But that skill takes time to cultivate.

Likewise, your own body is your artform. In developing a coherent body, you develop the ultimate sounding board of your mind. With me, you will learn to skillfully employ techniques that anchor the whole of your being into coordination, greater ease. It takes time and attention to the experience within yourself, but being embodied in the moment is allowing opportunities for satisfying insights. This is the purpose and mission of Coherent Body - to develop the art of knowing yourself through the portal of your body.


In memorium: What Desikachar taught me

A teacher who had a profound influence on me passed away Aug. 9, 2016. In late September 2001, I was in Colorado for a Yoga Therapy conference. It was early in my yoga training and I had only recently left my corporate job to pursue a career that touched my heart. The world was still in shock from the fall of the Twin Towers and I was uncertain about my upcoming trip to India in October. The keynote speaker was a man of grand stature, Desikachar, the son of the father of yoga as we know it in the Western world. After workshops with the bloated egos of certain American yoga teachers who fancied themselves gurus, or otherwise hawked their trade-marked system, I was disappointed with the educational possibilities in yoga as healing in the US. That is the backdrop against which I attended the keynote lecture, anticipating a man who was larger than life. (this entry continues below the video)

Desikachar walked on stage, not in robes or beads, not throwing around namastes, but dressed in street clothes, and I was moved by the normalcy of his presence. He was an ordinary man, not a guru nor a salesman, and his humanity was to me was more yogic than his lineage or the fanfare around him. He spoke in a light-hearted, casual manner, explaining his deliberate adaptation of his demeanor to meet our American culture. He spoke of the uncertainty and fear that was heavy in the air and the progressive nature of how healing happens. I knew at that moment that I would visit his center when I went to India, but I was still unsure if I would make such a trip in a world turned upside-down by commercial airplanes used as weapons. I approached Desikachar after his talk and asked if I could study at his center during my trip. I also expressed my concern about traveling there given recent events. He referred back to his talk, about the step-by-step nature of healing. Every step is a fresh start from which you are free to take a new direction. He remarked that I had taken a step to come to the conference. And the choice to go to India was only another step. Yes, I was welcome to come to his center, but the step was mine to make. And, of course, it was merely a step. I took that step and spent most of my 5-month trip at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.

Although I took a formal training at Desikachar’s center, it was my time spent outside of formal training - at the evening lectures, observing and interacting with their therapists, the regular chanting at the center, the osmosis of being present with the person in front of me, that embedded the teachings more deeply. Intention in personal interaction and clarity in first-person presence was the foundation of their message. Deep appreciation for the dimensions of a person was essential to understanding them. Clarity in your own mind was an essential resource to cultivate and draw upon. As an Asian, a teacher remarked to me that my culture was closer to Indian than American. A Japanese student even remarked that Tamil (the language spoken in that part of India) had the same grammatical structure as Japanese. I was born in Korea but grew up in the Midwest. I always felt American, even when I was mocked every time I entered a new school for looking otherwise, but my time in India revealed how deeply cultural origins live. My parents modeled Asian behavior and thinking. I absorbed certain aspects of that in ways I hadn’t realized.

At the KYM, they taught a mature approach to yoga therapy, practiced by adults dedicated to learning the philosophy and psychology of yoga. In their embodiment and in their practice, Desikachar and his senior teachers communicated that healing happens in the relationship. I learned this in India before I learned the neurological reality of how that occurs. In essence, yoga therapy is a meditation on the person in front of you, bringing any tool necessary that you possess to help that individual in their goals. It is a process rooted in the biology of social creatures, anchored in the humanity of our intentions, dependent on the clarity of self. It is a process that I continue to follow and I am indebted to Desikachar for his embodiment of it. Without the gloss of branded ownership, he shared his humanity with me.


Organic and under-nourished: gut rehab, genetic influences, and supplements

What if your diet is clean, yet you are not quite as healthy as you know you can be? Why are you feeling exhausted when you get 9 hours of sleep? When I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, I wanted to know what I could do in my daily life to get back to health, but there were few good leads.

It's only been in the last few years that the scientific community is taking leaky gut seriously and recognizing the contribution of gut dysfunction  to a growing prevalence of autoimmune disease.

As someone who eats organic, grass-fed, reads labels, and generally eats very little processed foods, basic information about good nutrition is not that useful to me. Yes, I know the deficiencies in the Standard American Diet. Yes, I already avoid having my meals at fast food restaurants.

Once you get past the basics, there is so much contradictory advice on healthy ways to eat and I am not fond of extreme dietary approaches. For those of you past the basics, I am going to share what I learned about gut health, the immune system, and nutrition for your benefit.  If you have gut issues of any kind (sharp pains, bloating, cramps, food that feels like it sits too long in your stomach after a meal, constipation, diarrhea), or if you have any chronic condition and you want to understand how nutrition can contribute to your healing, here are my cliff notes to help you get over the first big waves of information. Hopefully it may point you down a path that is specifically appropriate for your issue.

Methylation, endocrine negative and positive feedback systems, galactans, methionine cycle, histamine intolerance, innate and adaptive immune responses, sympathomedullary pathway, cytokines, homocysteine. These are just a few of the terms you might come across when trying to understand immunity, hormone function, and digestion. They are also issues you might encounter if you are looking at gut health. I've summarized four points to help sort through the mass of info out there and get you started on healing through nutrition:

1. Genetic profile matters

They say that personalized diets are not far off. But in the meantime, we clearly know that there is no one perfect diet across the board. In fact, a "healthy" diet may contain all the inflammatory foods that you should avoid, or it may eliminate exactly what you need.

You can expect that if you have an autoimmune condition, you probably have some level of defect in methylation. I took the 23andme test to determine to what degree I had genetic mutations (technically a polymorphism). If you decide to get your DNA profile, these results must be interpreted through Because of this ploymorphism, the B-complex supplement I was taking was toxic for me. I cannot convert the hydrochloride form of B6 in the supplement. If you have a specific genetic profile that diminishes methylation, you also cannot convert folic acid, a synthetic form of B9. Dr. Kresser is a reasonable voice when it comes to this body of info.

The most significant thing to know about methylation is its role in turning on and off genetic encoding. If you are genetically disposed to deficiencies in certain essential biochemical processes, you need to be more diligent about addressing your specific needs. 

Genetic tests may also reinforce and justify use of supplements. I am very reluctant to take supplements without good reason. In my case, vitamin D and a methylated form of B12 is indicated based on my genetic profile. It's still not verified by the scientific community as this is emerging science, but functional medical doctors use it clinically with success. It was part of my path to remission. If nothing else, it justified specific supplement intake.

2. Nourishment vs. detox

Healing the gut presumes some type of chronic dysfunction. It is a slowly depleting process. A depleted system needs nourishment, not cleansing. I live in Los Angeles, and the prevalence of cleanses and detox approaches is rampant and often unbalanced. Detox and cleansing is appropriate if you have been binging or otherwise had an acute overload. It is a process of stripping out. If, however, if you already have a pretty clean diet, an aggressive detox can deplete a system that doesn't require it.

Nourishment typically means more fats, protein, and minerals. Grass-fed sources of saturated fats, animal protein, and bone broth are good ways to restore a distressed digestive system. This nourishment should always be balanced out with extra vegetables. Across all forms of eating styles, increasing vegetable intake, particularly green vegetables, is non-controversial. Bieler's Broth is a particularly good way to meet extra vegetable needs for a depleted system.

3. Change food first to heal the gut

Nutritional consultant Margaret Wright was the first to cue me into specific genetic limitations that may contribute to biochemical dysfunction, basing that on my lab results. This started me down the path of eliminating foods that I previously would not eliminate. Functional medicine Dr. Amy Meyers, through her book, videos, and writing, helped me realize that eliminating gluten was not enough when you have an autoimmune condition.

I strongly encourage you to make the effort to change how you nourish yourself to support any medical approach you are taking. If you are constantly under-nourished, you may respond poorly to any medication, radiation, or surgery.

Whole30 is a good place to learn about an elimination diet.  The Perfect Diet is another source worth examining.  In most elimination diets you are removing grains, dairy, legumes. Another layer of elimination may include nuts/seeds, nightshades, eggs, fermented foods. That second layer of elimination was necessary for me in the first phase, but I have eventually brought that layer back in.

4. Supplements are not harmless

By starting with food first, I was able to gradually add specific supplements and watch their effect. How effective are supplements if you are burdening your system by the foods you eat?

As I said earlier, taking a vitamin B complex merely because I had Graves was not good for me, but I was running out of non-medical options. Do not supplement based on the diagnosis. Understand your specific genetics and state of health, as well as the nature of synthetic supplements. If you are quite unwell, supplement under the guidance of a functional medical doctor. Graves can be a serious condition so I am under the care of a thyroid specialist from the medical side. I got into remission through food only, but I can refer to her should my condition need medical assistance.

I believe you need to be motivated to avoid medications. I introduce supplements slowly to discover what recommended supplements work for me. Many multi-vitamins may contain forms you cannot convert, contain elements that you need less of, not more, or otherwise be inappropriate for your state of health. I use my subjective experience of energy level and endurance, plus labs to determine what is working for me. You can order your own labs through Direct Labs or Health Check USA. Bloodwork can be expensive and confusing, and you should be organized to track them, so it is best to have an initial test under the guidance of a medical professional as a starting point.

I hope these points have been helpful to move you on a path towards greater health.

3 steps to heal your gut naturally

Our gut microbiome ‘"has enormous implications for the sense of self,’’ Tom Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said. ‘‘We are, at least from the standpoint of DNA, more microbial than human." Increasingly, we are recognizing how much we are an expression of our gut health. Here are three steps to consider if you are serious about healing your gut naturally.

Step 1. Rid yourself of infection

Take 2 supplements: Tri-Guard Plus, a natural microbe/parasite/fungus healing blend and L-Drain, an herbal stimulation for your lymphatic system.

Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system does not have its own pump, so make sure to give it extra support to move things alone. Along with the herbal supplement, mechanical encouragement is essential for the lymphatic system: lymphatic massage, dry brushing, large movement with legs and arms to squeeze lymph nodes through movement, and shaking your body or making bouncy, quaking movements and smooth, internal "groovy" movements.

Step 2. Support your gut function with a temporary change in diet and a daily dose of bone broth.

There are many variations of this anti-inflammatory diet, but most eliminate grains, dairy, and legumes to allow your gut to heal. Add daily bone broth to your diet. 

However, if you have a medical condition like autoimmunity, you are better off following more specific guidelines from Dr. Amy Myers or acupuncturist Chris Kresser.

Step 3. After at least 2 weeks on the temporary diet, add a daily dose of a Bieler's broth, a balancing cleansing broth.

Dr. Henry Bieler was a medical doctor and a proponent of healing with foods. I often recommend his green healing broth as a supplement or 1-4 day cleanse.

The Tomatis Method® and finding your center

The Tomatis Method® is a sound therapy program developed by French ENT Dr. Alfred Tomatis. The implications of his discoveries are far-reaching because the auditory system is vital in both communication and body organization.

In my practice, I have found this program to be particularly useful when underlying balance and coordination issues may contribute to feelings of instability, lack of support, or fear of harnessing one's power. If you are in the LA area, contact me to determine if this method might help you.

3 Things: Shoulder pain relief

Try these three exercises to relieve your shoulder pain. Go slowly, do not push yourself into pain, and you will know if they are right for you. These three exercises encourage the shoulder blade to glide over the ribcage for easy range of motion.

#1 Thoracic spine stretch: This exercise enables you to connect spinal opening with shoulder blade glide. A stiff upper spine is often implicated in shoulder dysfunction.


#2 Dolphin: We are often moving our arms around in the shoulder joint. In this exercise, by moving your body weight through your shoulder girdle, you are stimulating the shoulder joint in a novel way.

# 3 Water bowls: This is an exercise I devised to coordinate movement of the forearm with opening of the ribcage and movement in the head in a way that trains the shoulder blade to find its range of motion. There are a lot of elements to it, so watch a couple of times before trying and imagine yourself doing it before you actually try it. Your arm should never be moving on its own as your head stays fixed. The point of this exercise is to free the head and neck movement while forcing the forearm to find it's movement pattern. The balance pods in my hands are merely there to challenge me at the wrist and forearm. Whatever you put into your hands should likewise be something you can balance on the palms of your open hands without grabbing it.

Body as an information process

There is a constant information exchange happening in your being. From your nervous system, to your digestive system, to your hormonal system, to your immune system, your felt sense of "self" is rooted in biochemical, electromagnetic, thermal, and pressure dynamics.

To understand this is to take a new approach to working with your body. Instead of a mechanistic view of your body as something to maintain in a contrived or artificial way, you can use your body to evolve your understanding of yourself and your potential. The body (and your uniquely personal experience of it) is the portal into a deeper self-knowing. To reference it is to complete a feedback loop of the dynamic, present moment.

What the hell does that mean?! Let me give you an application of that broader perspective in a very mundane example. Hip pain is often treated by strengthening and stretching muscles around the joint. But frankly, the body doesn't understand anatomical names of specific muscles or planes of movement. Technical words can certainly help us understand what we are experiencing by giving us more concrete and neutral language. But your body's understanding of its own hip is this: it is a major point of information convergence.

At a deep level, your body understands when it is aligned in a way that can direct the force of the weight it needs to support itself into the ground. If it cannot support the weight well, it might grip to stabilize itself. How does a body know if the hip joint can support well? There is feedback from the joint itself called proprioception and an overall sense of stability in the vestibular system. Some people will experience improved hip stability as a hip that moves smoothly, is painless, or feels open.

When you look at hip pain from that perspective, there are many implications to how you can resolve dysfunction. Is the midfoot moving well? Do the bones in the lower leg articulate well? Does weight transfer through the sacrum occur in the gait? This is a very different approach, and I welcome you to contact me to gain a different perspective on your particular issue.