LSD, Lilly and me, floating in a tank

Float pod, photo by Sattvic Planet

Float pod, photo by Sattvic Planet

 

“In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind, there are no limits”

-From The Center of the Cyclone, written by John C. Lilly, M.D.

 

Literature cited
Isolation tanks, or float pods, are increasingly popular these days and can now be found in large cities throughout the US West. Celebrity Joe Rogan deserves some credit for spreading the word as he often raves on his podcast about the benefits he enjoys from owning a tank and floating regularly in his home. However, the person who deserves the most credit is a scientist named Dr John C. Lilly who invented the concept during the 1950s. You may have heard of Lilly if you ever listened to The Joe Rogan Experience, and you can usually find one of Lilly’s books for sale at a float studio. Lilly did much more than pioneer this meditative therapy, he took the concept further than any of us can imagine. Lilly was fascinated with exploring the human mind, and unlike most scientists today he was willing to experiment with his own mind rather than the minds of his test subjects. One such experiment involved taking LSD and then entering his isolation tank on multiple occasions to learn more about human consciousness. Since I was interested in having a similar experience I decided to read his book The Center of the Cyclone prior to my first journey. The book is a personal account of his LSD influenced float tank experiences along with other stories of mind exploration. Lilly seemed to be writing the book not only to document his pioneering efforts, but also to provide assistance and warnings to others who might follow his path.

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Here’s to the crazy ones

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

-From Apple’s Think Different advertising campaign

 

Apple_logo_Think_Different

 

Why in the world would a website like Sattvic Planet glorify the lyrics from a television commercial of a powerful corporation? Over the past year on multiple occasions I have written about the destructive role that corporations play on the health of people and planet. I often write negatively of the pharmaceutical industry, genetic engineering companies such as Monsanto, junk food companies such as McDonalds, and extractive companies such as Exxon. Yet, this is the third time a quote related to Steve Jobs has appeared on Sattvic Planet in the past year. Jobs led Apple to become the most valuable corporation on the planet, and today everybody and their mother has an Apple product in their pocket. Apple has very much become a mainstream product, perhaps not to the extent of Microsoft or Coke, but they are in no way a part of the counter culture. The irony here is that the Think Different campaign of the late 90’s appears to be born of the counter culture. In a society of mass conformists afraid of being different, the Think Different campaign is at least partly responsible for launching Apple to new levels of wealth and popularity.

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Music as Medicine

 

 

From bobmarley.com

From bobmarley.com

 

“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain”

Lyrics from Trenchtown Rock, performed by Bob Marley and the Wailers

 

Bob Marley was born 70 years ago on February 6, 1945. I wanted to take this opportunity to briefly examine these famous lyrics and what they mean in the context of preventive medicine. On this blog I frequently refer to the concept of Food as Medicine, which refers to the practice of preventing and even treating disease through the diet. I also frequently target the pharmaceutical industry as an over used and harmful form of treatment that too often takes the place of simple lifestyle modifications. Instead of finding the source of a symptom, pharmaceuticals are frequently used to mask the symptoms and allow the patient to continue the destructive behavior that is causing disease. The language we use says much about our beliefs as individuals and as a society. For example, many people use the term “medicine” to describe the pharmaceuticals they are taking for various diseases and conditions. When I think of medicine I imagine some form of therapy that does nothing other than to support, heal and strengthen the mind-body-spirit. From my perspective medicine is an odd choice of words as there are often many unwanted side effects associated with these drugs. Admittedly, people suffering from serious diseases may not respond to other methods of treatment, though it just seems like two steps forward, and one step back. Another example is to describe a powerful plant medicine such as Ayahuasca as a “drug”, while an indigenous shaman from the Amazon rainforest might prefer the word “medicine”. How is it that one culture uses certain plant medicines to heal a wide range of conditions, while another culture declares the substances illegal, and without medical value?

Fill in the blank as Medicine

Listening to Marley sing Trenchtown Rock it sounds as if he is describing a sick patient being dosed with painkilling drugs, yet he refers to nothing more than the sound coming from his guitar and your speakers. So we have Food as Medicine, Plants as Medicine, Music as Medicine, and the list goes on. What about Travel as Medicine when we change our surroundings and get inspired by a new perspective? Or perhaps Career as Medicine when we feel good about our professional purpose and the people we work with rather than grinding through the daily routine to earn a check that pays the bills. For those of us living in the cloudy Pacific Northwest we could even talk about Sun as Medicine. These are ideas I plan to explore in greater detail as I travel to South America this month; I hope to share the results with you soon, ciao!

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From bobmarley.com

 

Nature as Medicine?

Nature as Medicine?

 

An Owner’s Manual for life

Photo by Roy2k.com

Photo by Roy2k.com

 

When we were born, our bodies didn’t come with an Owner’s Manual that gave us instructions on how to operate this new vehicle, or did it? What should you eat, how much should you exercise, and when is the best time to sleep? These are all questions that some of us may be thinking about if we want to recover from poor health, or if we are striving for optimal health. However, if we are not thinking about these questions then we must have already found an answer, so where did that answer come from? If you were fortunate to be born into a family of knowledgeable parents then you probably received most of your guidance from them. Yet many people are not so fortunate, and receive guidance from their parents that steers them away from health. Besides our parents, if we are not actively asking questions on how to live then we are likely to receive guidance from our media, which seems to have displaced our culture. The media saturates our senses to a level that dilutes whatever remnants of traditional knowledge there are remaining in our society. Who are the village elders passing down their wisdom in modern America, McDonalds, Coke, Monsanto? I guarantee that if you are not actively asking questions on how best to operate your body through life then you are receiving answers from a constant stream of corporate advertisements and television shows. Don’t fret, because I’m here to tell you that there is a reliable source of knowledge available to all, but only if you are willing to open your mind.

Ayurveda = Knowledge of Living

Assuming you already know what Ayurveda is, let’s summarize by defining it as one of the oldest systems of medicine known to humans. Sure, there are plenty of books on the market today explaining how to eat, but who to believe? Butter was good then it was bad, and now it is good again, depending on whom you talk to. Perhaps you place all your trust in science, but even this powerful tool can produce some conflicting results depending on how the research is performed and who funds it. I find comfort in receiving guidance from a system of medicine that has survived the test of time, especially when it is supported by modern science.

The Daily Regimen

In Ayurveda the term Dinacarya refers to the daily regimen. I find it fascinating to know that a daily regimen exists for the sole purpose of promoting optimal health, and that the source of this knowledge was not contaminated by the influences of money. Pure knowledge that is presumably free of ego, profit, confusion, or other forms of interference. So if you are asking the question of how best to live for optimal health, and you trust Ayurveda as a reputable source of traditional knowledge, let’s begin with a very brief introduction to Dinacarya. The following list is from sunrise to sundown.

Awaken: early is best, before sunrise, usually between 3-7.

Evacuate waste: with regular digestion this should be first on your list.

Drink: warm or room temperature water, up to 750mL.

Cleanse the mouth, eyes, nose, and throat: Techniques include scraping the tongue, brushing the teeth, filling your mouth with oil, gargling, using herbal rinses for the eyes, nasya and neti pot for the nose.

Breathe: deep-breathing exercises known as Pranayama.

Therapeutic smoking: no, this is not an excuse to smoke cigarettes, rather medicinal herbs are used in small doses. Vaporizers could provide a healthier alternative.

Exercise: people may be surprised to learn that you should only perform to one half of your strength. Stop when perspiration, dryness and heavy breathing begin.

Massage: full body self-massage using plant based oils, though dry massages are sometimes appropriate.

Bathe: minimize or eliminate soap, instead soak in fragrant waters, remove oils with bean powders, and clean your hair with herbal rinses.

Yoga: remember, this is not a form of exercise; it is preparation for meditation.

Meditate: to attain mindfulness

Eat: diet is at the core of Ayurveda and can’t possibly be summarized here, but every factor related to eating is considered. Eating 2 meals per day is recommended.

Duties: finally, you can begin the duties of your day, while practicing the mindfulness attained during meditation of course. Naps should be avoided.

Sex: before bed, winter and spring are the best times.

Sleep: between 7 and 11 is best, especially if you’re waking between 3-7 in the morning…

Unlearn all you’ve learned

Well, I had to be concise as each of the above topics could easily fill an entire page, or in the case of eating, an entire book. Consider this an introduction to a subject that you can dig deeper into later if you are interested. The dinacarya appears to be very time consuming doesn’t it? To be honest, I am definitely not completing a full daily regimen every morning. However, I include as many practices into my day as possible, and some days are better than other. For example, on days when I don’t work it is possible to complete much more of the regimen. Before you dismiss the daily regimen as being impractical in this modern world, think of it as a goal you strive for, but recognize that you may never fully reach. Perhaps you can’t do a full body self massage with oil every day, but once per week is more reasonable. To my young readers, remember that you don’t have to live like everybody else. Instead of working 60 hours per week to buy a huge house and fancy car, have you considered working less and using the free time to focus on your health and happiness? We really need to examine our priorities in life. And to the busy single mothers with small children, it only takes 15 seconds to scrape your tongue!

 

“Instant quick, new improved, hurry hurry rush rush, world on the move, marijuana illegal, but cigarettes cool, I might look kind of funny, but I ain’t no fool”

-From Synthesizer, performed by Outkast

 

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Everything’s connected: US Election results

The phrase “everything’s connected” is often used within the spiritual community to describe their feelings and experiences on a higher level of consciousness. Ecological and Environmental Scientists also frequently use the phrase in reference to the cause and effect relationships between plants, animals, microorganisms, chemicals, climate, and many other factors that play a role in the web of life. This phrase also applies to Ayurveda, preventive medicine and human health. Recently, a visitor to this website commented on what he perceived as a lack of focus regarding the topics posted here. I appreciated this critique and interpreted it as, there is a lot of information being offered here beyond what you might find from a typical health site. In this fast paced modern world people are overwhelmed with information and they need to find quick and easy advice, so I understand his criticism. Posting an article about the US elections results may at first glance seem to be another out of focus topic, but hopefully the following will demonstrate that everything really is connected, including human health and American politics.

 

GMO Labeling campaign contributor Dr Bronner's

GMO Labeling supporter and campaign contributor Dr Bronner’s. From Facebook.com/drbronner

 

GMO Labeling

Some might say that if voters can’t approve GMO labeling in the foodie paradise that is Oregon then it can’t pass anywhere. However, the story is not that simple, specifically Monsanto and other agrichemical companies outspent their opponents by 12 million dollars and saturated the TV with their advertisements. Just as in Washington, surveys showed support for labeling in the weeks prior to the election, but in the end the Oregon measure lost by only 1%. What does it mean when corporations spend millions more than their opponents yet barely win? It demonstrates the power corporations have influencing important decisions that affect our food and health, and it also demonstrates that this fight is certainly not over. I imagine Bob Marley singing about Monsanto when he says:

 

“If you are the big tree, let me tell you that, we are the small axe, sharp and ready, ready to cut you down, to cut you down”

Lyrics for Small Axe, performed by Bob Marley

 

Bob Marley

From bobmarley.com

 

Recreational Cannabis

Speaking of Bob Marley… the pioneering spirit of the Pacific Northwest motivated voters there to blaze a new trail for the rest of the nation to follow, as they often do. The momentum generated by Colorado and Washington State continued as citizens in Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC voted to legalize the recreational use of Cannabis. Whether or not you decide to partake should be your decision alone, and not that of the government. Let’s be honest here, this is only a plant, and for a country to criminalize the consumption of Cannabis, yet declare itself “the land of the free, and home of the brave”, is quite simply ridiculous. Not only is Cannabis a plant, but it is also believed to have many medicinal properties. In this case the will of the voters prevailed partly due to a lack of major corporate opposition. Citizens in 4 US states now have safe and legal access to a natural plant medicine that has potential to replace pharmaceuticals and their associated harmful side effects. More importantly they can do this without having to get a prescription from a doctor which empowers them to take control of their health.

 

“So you’ve got to legalize it, and don’t criticize it, legalize it, yeah, yeah, and I will advertise it”

Lyrics from Legalize it, performed by Peter Tosh

 

The urban blues

The US map Wednesday morning looked like it was completely painted red, with a few blue dots where the major cities are. The red Republicans took control of the congress from the blue Democrats. How is this change of power connected to health and preventive medicine? A quick analysis of the Republican’s environmental philosophy should help answer that question. Common sense tells us that without a clean environment we have nothing, no air to breathe, water to drink, or food to eat. Yet the Republican philosophy seems to be the opposite; “remove the burdensome environmental regulations that prevent us from growing the economy” is their rallying call. Sure, we all benefit from a strong economy, but growing the economy while destroying the environment is a recipe for disaster. I suppose it all boils down to whether you believe that in the end technology will save us. Should we pollute our clean rivers to make money, and then spend that money building machines to clean our drinking water? This is the political party that calls climate change a hoax, this is the party that blocks the designation of wilderness areas, and this is the party that fought a national health care system until the bitter end. I might sound like a frustrated Democrat (I’m actually independent), but all I really want to know is why a party that calls themselves conservative seems to understand very little about conserving the natural resources that we all depend upon. Yes, everything is connected, and the people you vote for will either protect our environment or sell it to the highest bidder. The League of Conservation voters, not to be confused with the league of conservative voters, is a great resource this time of year. Their scorecards tell you exactly how the incumbent candidates previously voted on important environmental legislation.

 

“Tell me man, can you eat your money?”

Lyrics from Money, performed by The John Butler Trio

 

Was Agent Smith a Republican?

Was Agent Smith a Republican?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sattvic Nation?

Admittedly, the scope of this site can be quite wide at times, and while politics may seem completely unrelated to preventive medicine, this past election shows us that everything really is connected. How we vote determines whether we are eating GMO foods, have access to potentially medicinal plants, and choose leaders who are good stewards of our natural resources. We are what we eat, and yes we also are what we vote for.

 

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Together we can abolish Daylight Savings Time

Dark Side of the Moon album art.

Dark Side of the Moon album art.

“And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking, racing around to come up behind you again”

-From the lyrics for Time, performed by Pink Floyd

 

It’s that time of year again. Here in the US we will be adjusting our clocks back one hour on Sunday, and Tuesday we will be voting in local and national elections. As the two events coincide I thought it would be a good opportunity to briefly examine the subject from a preventive health perspective, as it will clearly take action by our state or federal governments to end this confusing and arguably unhealthy practice.

Utah ponders, Russia acts

It is difficult for me to imagine having much in common with the people of Utah, a deeply conservative and religious state, yet recently there have been efforts underway by lawmakers there to permanently end DST based on a study that showed support from the citizens. Arizona and Hawaii are currently the only US states not participating in DST. Russia, like Utah, is another part of the world I ordinarily would not expect to lead the way, but the recent time change there will be the last for that country since it has decided to permanently end DST. It is difficult to imagine such a bold decision happening here in the US anytime soon given the current paralysis within the congress resulting partly from a flood of money into politics following recent Supreme Court decisions. Ridding the country of this practice will likely happen state by state just as we currently see with the legalizations of gay marriage, recreational cannabis, and possibly genetically engineered food labeling. Proponents from all three movements adopted a state by state strategy after realizing that a stagnant congress was unlikely to make any progress in the near future.

Why abolish DST?

Reasons for ending or maintaining the practice vary far and wide, from people wanting more light at the beginning or ending of their days, to businesses afraid of losing money, to researchers debating over whether the practice saves energy. Despite the diversity of opinion and scientific study results, there is one reason we should all be able to agree on; changing the clocks twice per year is quite simply annoying. Why do we do it? Does anybody really know? Who’s steering this ship anyway? For a nation full of sick, stressed and under rested people to go through this process twice per year makes little sense. We need all the help we can get and having to suddenly adjust our sleep schedules this way is just one more hassle, like the morning commute to work, in a long list of stresses that we deal with.

The natural perspective

The theme to this website is “Traditional lifestyles for a modern world”, and in the case of DST this theme is very applicable. You may argue that adjusting your sleep schedule is not that difficult, but as our lifestyles move further and further from traditional ways, the health problems begin to accumulate. They may be subtle at first, or perhaps you can’t even link the symptoms to the cause, but the effects are cumulative, and the more we can do to offset these causes the better we will be. Electricity, lighting, and clocks are all wonderful tools that allow us to live however we want, whenever we want, but in doing so we lose touch with the rise and fall of the sun and other natural rhythms of earth. A perfect example of this is the night shift worker who labors at the time when they should be sleeping. Even worse is the worker whose shift frequently alternates between night and day. Ask yourself when do you eat, or when do you sleep, and whether the timing of these activities is helping or hurting your health. One small habit I have begun recently is to try and dim the lights towards the beginning and end of my day. You can imagine how dramatic a transition it must be for our body to be exposed to hundreds of watts of light one moment and then lying in complete darkness the next, or the opposite when you awake. In addition, I find it helpful to abstain from the stimulation of internet or movies as close to bedtime as possible.

 

Photo by roy2k.com

Photo by roy2k.com

“And everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon”

-From the lyrics for Eclipse, performed by Pink Floyd

A healthy democracy

Remember as you change your clocks tomorrow and drop you ballot in the box Tuesday that a vote for Sattvic Planet is a vote for better health. If you choose me as your preventive medicine representative I promise to always place the health of people and planet ahead of profit and politics. Say NO to DST, say YES to good sleep!

 

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LSD made Steve Jobs “Think Different”

Artwork by Symbolika

Artwork by Symbolika

 

This weekend marks the anniversary of Steve Jobs death, and for me it marks my day of birth. Three years ago, on what I can only describe as a serendipitous day, I celebrated my birthday with the purchase of the first Apple computer I have ever owned, and on the exact same day learned that the man responsible for creating my new computer had just died. Prior to that day I had never once taken the time to think about Jobs, yet since then I have discovered much about the man who is arguably one of the greatest inventors of modern times, culminating last month in me listening to his autobiography audiobook.

Think Different

Apple ran an advertising campaign in 1997 called Think Different, and based on some of the following quotes Jobs really did think different following his consumption of LSD. In the Steve Jobs autobiography written by Walter Isaacson, Jobs is quoted as saying:

“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could”

In John Markoff’s book, What the Dormouse Said, Jobs describes his experiences with LSD as:

“One of the two or three most important things I have done in my life”

Jobs is also on record with the US Department of Defense as having admitted to using LSD 10-15 times and describing the experiences as:

“A positive life changing experience”

 

Artwork by Symbolika

Artwork by Symbolika

 

World’s most valuable company

What exactly can we learn about these honest confessions describing some extremely personal moments from his life? Many people suspect that psychedelic substances have the potential to enhance creativity in people, and Jobs said that taking LSD was a positive, profound, life changing experience that altered how he saw the world, so naturally there is some speculation that LSD played a role in the enormous success of Jobs and his company Apple. Just how successful has Apple become? It is considered to be the most valuable company on the planet with a valuation of approximately $600+ billion dollars during 2014. A few years ago Apple took that title from the reigning champion Exxon. It is important to note that Exxon is a company that exists simply to extract resources, a process that leads to the destruction of the planet in forms such as ocean oil spills, climate change and air pollution. Unregulated resource extraction for the past few centuries has been one of the most common ways to generate wealth in America; coal, lumber, and seafood are only a few examples. Perhaps we are seeing a glimmer of hope that the most valuable company is now one that exists to create and not to destroy.

 

steve jobs locus

Meditating on a Mac in the lotus pose.

 

The war on drugs

If you think about it the connection between LSD and Apple’s success is really quite fascinating. Apple is an American company, and America’s political system is dominated by capitalism. The leaders of this country would like to see nothing more than the birth of a hugely popular, market dominating investment opportunity like Apple. At the same time the leaders of this country have decided that nearly all psychedelics are illegal and have no medicinal purposes despite a massive amount of traditional knowledge supporting the opposite. Medicines like ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, san pedro / huachuma have been used by indigenous people for thousands of years. Steve Jobs took LSD even though it was illegal, and it is very possible that his psychedelic experiences played such a major role in altering his consciousness that he was able to create products that were innovative enough for his company to be the most valuable on the planet. Jobs had a vision for his products that left most of his competitors scrambling to keep pace with him. Where did this vision come from and why were his competitors unable to see what he saw? The US criminalizes people for simply trying to alter their consciousness and is a fiercely capitalistic country, yet it is entirely possible that psychedelics helped Jobs build the world’s most valuable company, so I wonder what the investors on Wall Street would have to say if the war on drugs had actually succeeded in deterring Jobs from LSD.

India, Buddhism, Meditation, and Diet

It is important to note the many other factors that made an impact on Jobs and likely played a role in his success, including his trips to India in search of his greater purpose in life. Jobs was also a Buddhist, known to practice meditation, and nearly obsessive about eating healthy food which to him often meant being vegan. Psychedelics may not be for everyone, but they seemed to have changed Jobs life, and to imagine him not taking them because of their legal status, and perhaps not having the vision to create Apple would be a great loss to our culture. I know some people are critics of Apple and they will argue that the world would be no different whether or not Apple ever existed, but if you stop and look at his long list of pioneering efforts even the greatest critic has to admit that his accomplishments were impressive. It is impossible to know how much of a role psychedelics played in Jobs life, and it is impossible to know what the world would be like without Apple, but judging by his quotes on LSD I’m willing to say these substances hold much potential for technological innovations and spiritual advances in our lives.

 

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0 Easy Steps to Consciousness

Red_and_blue_pills

“You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”

-Morpheus from the movie Matrix

Mind Body Green Approach

A couple weeks ago I submitted an article to Mind Body Green (MBG), a popular healthy living website that accepts work from freelance writers. According to their website to increase your chance of being accepted it is best to submit articles that resemble others already published. After a quick review of their website I immediately noticed a trend; nearly all of the articles had a title that involved either 5 tips, 6 exercises, 7 principles, 8 foods, 9 steps, or 10 reasons; you get the idea. My first reaction was that I don’t want to write in that style, though I did want to get published so that I could reach a wider audience. While I applaud MBG for attempting to introduce easy remedies to improve people’s lives, I struggle with this approach to solving problems, and here are my top 3 reasons why (irony intended):

  1. Without your health you have nothing, and if you don’t have time for your health then perhaps you need to reexamine your priorities if you want to maintain a high quality of life. Of course this advice is easier to adopt for the young who have not yet made the decisions that commit them to busy lifestyles. Regardless, this is something we all need to consider because I don’t think quick tips are adequate to achieve meaningful change.
  2. It takes more than quick tips, and easy steps to bring optimal health into your life. Healthy living advice shouldn’t be comparable to lists we see for buying a new smartphone, or investing for your retirement. Having a healthy lifestyle is a continuous process that never ends. Besides, imagine how many lists you will have to remember after just one month of visiting the website; you will need lists to keep track of your lists.
  3. What we really need to achieve planetary and personal health is consciousness, not rules, tips, and tricks. Yes education is essential, and I understand that MBG is attempting to inform their readers, but what our society suffers from more than anything is a lack of consciousness. Consciousness has an amazing ability to fill in the gaps when information is missing. Sure, you may not have memorized what to do in every given situation, but if you attain a higher consciousness then you will probably succeed in making healthy choices when you need to make a decision.

Red pill or blue pill?

In summary, MBG never did publish my article, though it did receive a warm reception on this site. I compromised and made a list as all the other authors seem to do, but maybe a one item list wasn’t enough for them: Want to know the #1 place in town to eat? Better luck next time. As for you, ignorance may be bliss, but I highly recommend taking the red pill. Waking up to the ugly realities of our industrial agriculture-food-health complex might be disturbing, but having access to that knowledge will allow you to navigate your way through the maze towards optimal health.

If you swallow the blue pill…

In honor of MBG, here are the Top 7 signs you may be living an unconscious lifestyle, in my humble opinion. A couple of these are probably fine, but hopefully they don’t all apply to you!

  1. You often watch TV
  2. You don’t eat healthy whole foods
  3. You are bored, scared or annoyed by quiet / alone time
  4. You are extremely busy
  5. You don’t consider the environmental impact of your actions
  6. You drink excessive amounts of alcohol
  7. You have never tried meditation, yoga, breath work, or psychedelics

Red_and_blue_pills

 

 

The Season of Sweet

20140618_175859

“Set the gear shift for the high gear of your soul!!”

-From the lyrics for Run Like an Antelope performed by Phish

 

Locavore

Last week while I was browsing the produce section of my local food co-op I wondered what kind of fruit I should buy. Of course all the options that we are familiar with as Americans came to mind, and were definitely available to me. There were apples, bananas, pears, and oranges, as you would expect. Most of the apples and pears that we eat in this country come from here, Washington State, so that is usually a good option for me. However, this time of year most of the apples and pears we see are being imported from places like New Zealand since their harvest was likely a few months ago, while ours was nearly nine months ago. Instead of looking at these fruits that traveled thousands of miles to get here I focused instead on the many new fruits that are now available with the onset of summer. First we had strawberries, now we have raspberries and coming soon will be the blueberries. The Washington cherries have been amazing lately, and while local grapes, melons and plums are not what this state is known for, at least the California options didn’t require a plane ride across the ocean to reach my mouth. My observations continued as I passed the bulk section and saw the dried figs and dates that I normally buy, but needless to say, I passed on all these usual options and instead loaded my cart with some of the rare treats available now. As the sign on the cherry bin said, “get ‘em while you can”! And get ’em I did, in fact I have been gorging on fresh fruits lately like a black bear in an alpine meadow full of huckleberry.

20140705_185500

Short and sweet

Locavore was the 2007 Word of the Year according to the Oxford American Dictionary, so by now I’m sure we are all familiar with the concept. Evidence of this can be seen in the explosion of farmer’s markets across the country since then. Much has been said of the environmental motivations behind eating local, namely to reduce the miles your food has traveled, and to support smaller scale operations that may be more likely to follow organic methods. Of course there are also other social motivations such as knowing the person who grew your food, and supporting the local economy. From the health perspective we sometimes hear of the health benefits of eating fresh foods, which are much easier to acquire when they are grown nearby. I also wonder if there are even more subtle processes going on within the body; for example, if we eat a summer food during the winter, strawberries perhaps, then are we sending our body confusing biochemical signals? More research is probably needed on that one, and I’ll let you know if I hear anything on that subject. What I do know is that Ayurveda already considers the effects of eating seasonally on your health…

In Ayurveda

Summer is the season of pitta, so according to the Ayurveda tri-dosha philosophy there are certain foods that are better to eat during summer and others to be eaten only in moderation. Sweet is considered to be one of the tastes to balance pitta, along with bitter and astringent, and as we all know there is an abundance of sweet fruit available during the summer. How convenient! Some people may read that and mistakenly interpret this advice as encouragement to eat sugary foods like cookies and cakes, but that is not the intention. When I say that Ayurveda promotes eating sweet foods during the summer I’m talking about naturally sweet foods like plums, not processed foods with concentrated sweeteners added to them. Again, the other two tastes are bitter and astringent, so bitter foods like dark leafy greens, and astringent foods like lentils and beans are important components of a summer diet. The three tastes to eat in moderation during the summer are salty, sour and pungent.

What would Eric eat?

I’m happy to say that my kitchen is now free of all concentrated sweeteners including cane sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave, and even maple syrup. Not only are they absent from my kitchen in whole form, but you won’t even find these on the ingredient list of any products I buy, which is not too difficult since I buy mostly whole foods. The only concentrated sweetener you will find is some raw local honey, which is considered to be a medicinal food in Ayurveda. I know this may sound extreme, but with all the amazing produce available now, there really is no need to eat sugary foods. I’m not so disciplined as to avoid an occasional treat; all things in moderation, right? The point is that with all the sugars available in fruits, vegetables, restaurants, and social gatherings, why have more temptations in your kitchen? We are certainly getting more than enough even with a kitchen as sugar free as mine.

For further information on sugar see my earlier posts:

Our Paleolithic ancestors rarely ate sugar, should we do the same?

Agave *UPDATE* (Best oatmeal recipe ever, for dinner)

 

Sattvic Planet Tips

  • Shop at the farmer’s market, or food co-op
  • Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group
  • Eat local / seasonal
  • In summer eat sweet, bitter and astringent foods
  • Eat salty, sour and pungent foods in moderation
  • Remove concentrated sugars from your kitchen

 

Dietary Dissent is Patriotic

Standard American Diet

“Dissent is patriotic”, have you seen that bumper sticker before? I saw it more often during the campaign leading to the invasion of Iraq around ten years ago. Back then everybody was waving their flags, and the minority opposing the war was only to be found protesting in progressive cities like Portland, where I was at the time. Well, as we know now, public opinion swiftly shifted after trillions were spent, the casualties increased, and misinformation was revealed. A few years later and we chose a new president who promised to withdraw our troops from the battlefield if he was elected. The purpose of the bumper sticker I believe is to say that while the dissenter may appear to be unpatriotic for opposing the views of the majority, the opposite can often be true, as the dissenter is among the brave minority who sees a better path forward for the nation. And now is the moment where I connect the war in Iraq to the Standard American Diet (SAD). I dissent against the ways we grow, process and eat food in this country, and I don’t dissent because I hate freedom, I dissent because I am a patriot, and I know that there is a better way. There is a better way for our health, there is a better way for our environment, and there is a better way for our animals.

Don’t be S.A.D.

Thinking about the way we eat in this country makes me SAD. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are only a few of the common diseases people suffer from that are caused, at least in part, by our diet and lifestyle. Why do we do it? Because it tastes good; because it is most affordable; because it is most convenient; because it is our only option; because that is what all the advertisers told you to buy; because you didn’t know any better; because that is what everybody else is eating.

“Ignorance is taking over, yo we got to take the power back”

-From the lyrics for Take the Power Back, performed by Rage Against the Machine

 

Show your independence!

Even for those of us who can’t use ignorance as an excuse, we know that being different from the group can be difficult. It’s the 4th of July and while attending your friend’s party you begin to survey the table. You see hot dogs and burgers, sodas, bags of chips, and maybe some donuts, cake or ice cream. The meat is all factory farmed, the bleached white buns have no nutritional value, the chips have an ingredient list a mile long, the rest are all different variations of sugar. Nothing is homemade, local, fresh, or organic, so what to do? Sure, the 4th of July only happens once per year, but we all know these kinds of gatherings occur all throughout the year. Does anybody even know the purpose of the 4th of July anymore? I don’t think it is to launch fireworks and eat hot dogs. The purpose of this holiday is to take a stand against an oppressive system; to fight for a better way of life. Don’t be afraid to eat differently from the group, display your independence and eat with pride!

Strategies for surviving unhealthy social meals:

  • Contribute a dish for the group that will nourish you and eat only/mostly that
  • Use this as an opportunity to teach others if you are feeling extroverted
  • Tell others you are not hungry if you are feeling introverted
  • Eat before you arrive
  • Eat after you leave

Rage Against the Machine

Just as the person with the “dissent is patriotic” bumper sticker needed courage to drive down streets full of flag waving, ribbon wearing, war supporters, you too need courage to find a different way of eating. It’s not easy; there are holiday gatherings, office parties, weddings, and numerous other occasions where we eat socially. Food unites us, and nobody wants to be the person with the strange diet, but it’s their diet that is strange, not yours. It’s time to rage people! I say that jokingly, but only half jokingly because it truly is a machine that we are raging against. There are billions of dollars invested in keeping the food system exactly the way it is, not to mention the inertia from decades of learned behaviors by all the people in our lives.

“If we don’t take action now, we’ll settle for nothing later”

-From the lyrics for Settle for Nothing, performed by Rage Against the Machine

 ratm

In Ayurveda…

I often have to determine how much of the Ayurvedic philosophy to share with people when they are hearing about it for the first time. The subject can be a radically different way of viewing the world for some people depending on how they were raised, so I try to avoid overwhelming people with foreign Sanskrit words, and strange concepts. For example, with these articles I usually write 3-5 paragraphs without mentioning Ayurveda a single time, and then finally make the connection during the last paragraph. The reason for this is because there is a lifetime of information we need to unlearn before we can begin to learn a new way of living. With some people it seems that I could spend an entire year helping them unlearn the destructive diet and lifestyle of this country before I ever had to explain a single Ayurvedic concept. Occasionally people will say they’ve heard of the doshas; vata, pitta and kapha, but is it really worth explaining the tridosha philosophy to somebody that eats McDonalds every morning before work? Instead I think it is best to unlearn this idea that a daily serving of McDonalds is appropriate. Maybe the learning and unlearning need to happen in parallel, regardless, you get the picture. Americans are very SAD, but the time has come to display our Independence from the corporate food industry, and rage against the machine!

Hope you all had a great INDEPENDENCE Day!!!