Friday, September 28, 2007

The Tao of Daily Life

There are many books on the market today that tell you how to relieve stress, but there are very few that reveal how to truly achieve a joyful and stress-free lifestyle.

The Tao of Daily Life: The Mysteries of the Orient Revealed, The Joys of Inner Harmony Found, The Path to Enlightenment Illuminated by Derek Lin is one of those rare books.

The philosophy of Daoism is, in my opinion, the mindful complimentary practice to Chinese medicine for the body. Rather than treat physical symptoms of disease, if you stimulate the immune system so that the body naturally returns to health, the symptoms of disease will just as naturally disappear. If you are healthy, there is no disease, and if there is no disease, there are no symptoms!

The writings included in The Tao of Daily Life stimulate the mind to avoid conflict, the mental equivalent of illness, and nurture mental health and emotional balance through the retelling and discussion of metaphorical stories from China's ancient past.

The book is well organized for daily life and ease of study.

Appropriately enough, the first section is called "In The Morning." The six stories in this section introduce you to the simplicity of Daoism and the ways you can begin to bring balance and harmony into your daily life. Remember, the way you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. It is important to start your day in balance and at peace.

"At Work" is the title of part two and consists of nine tales. Work – on the job – is the place where most people seem to run into the greatest conflict. Personally, I think it starts with the inner conflict of working at a job not because you love it, but to make money. If you work at a job you truly love, there is little conflict. If you are unable to work at a job you truly love, the stories in this section will show you how to appreciate and benefit from the challenges you encounter in your working world.

You are "With Friends" in the seven stories included in part three of The Tao of Daily Life. One of the reasons I believe we incarnate into physical beings is to learn the Art of Cooperation. The means getting beyond yourself and into your relationships with others by appreciating that your greatest importance is not your "I" but your "We," your place in the Whole of the universe. This is the lesson that comes through in these seven, often-amusing stories.

The five stories in part four are about being "With Family." The members of your family are the first actors on the stage in your interpersonal development. How you live and nurture the cooperation within and between your family members determines how you will interact with the rest of the world. The five tales in this section show you how to work around those familial challenges to create peace and harmony around your home. This is especially important because this is where you go to relax and rejuvenate every night (or at the end of your work day, whenever that occurs). If you don't have peace and harmony at home, you won't be the best You that you can be!

The final section is "At Night." Many of you – myself included – are so busy that you fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day and – if you look back at the day at all – you usually wonder what you did that day. The details are lost in a blur of commuting, meetings, phone calls, errands, and other daily tasks. This last section shows you the value of reflecting on the day just past. Your reflection should not only look back non-judgmentally upon what you did or what you might have done better, but on what you learned, and how you changed and grew as a compassionate, universally-connected person by mindfully experiencing the events of your day. The seven stories in this section help you walk your path within as well as the path you share with others.

If you are serious about living a life of peace and harmony, Derek Lin's book The Tao of Daily Life is an excellent place to start.

You may start here:

Friday, September 14, 2007

Increase In Death Rates and Side Effects From Prescription Drugs

If there weren't enough already, here are a couple more good reasons to go holistic in your healthcare choices: Deaths from drug reactions nearly tripled in the seven years from 1998 to 2005, and (this is so shocking I'm almost speechless) over 90% of the adverse reactions people report to their doctors are never passed along to the FDA or the drug companies, possibly because your doctor is biased toward the drug companies that are giving him or her gifts and other perks.

The two articles below arrived in my mailbox this week….two in one week!….that discuss the deadly dangers of prescription drugs that no one is talking about except the families of the deceased.

If you don’t do anything else, please….Please….keep the following web address handy and write to the FDA yourself if you or a loved one experiences adverse side effects from prescription medications. The life you save may be your own. MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

Analysis: Deaths From Drug Reactions Up
By LINDSEY TANNER – September 12, 2007

CHICAGO (AP) — Reports of dangerous side effects and deaths from widely used medicines almost tripled between 1998 and 2005, an analysis of U.S. drug data found.

The number of deaths and serious injuries from prescription and over-the-counter drugs climbed from 34,966 to 89,842 during the study of reports to the Food and Drug Administration.

Potent narcotic painkillers including Oxycontin, sold generically as oxycodone, were among 15 drugs most often linked with deaths in the study. Drugs frequently linked with serious nonfatal complications included insulin, the arthritis drugs Vioxx and Remicade, and the antidepressant Paxil.

The report adds to recent criticism of FDA oversight on drug safety, including its handling of serious problems connected with Vioxx, which was removed from the market in 2004.

"This growing toll of serious injury shows that the existing system is not adequately protecting patients and underscores the importance of recent reports urging far-reaching legislative, policy and institutional changes," the authors said.

The analysis appears in this week's issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. Its authors are Thomas Moore and Michael Cohen of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a nonprofit educational group that analyzes drug safety issues; and Dr. Curt Furberg of Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

They analyzed excerpts of reports on serious side effects received by the FDA between January 1998 and December 2005. A total of 467,809 serious complications were found. Reported deaths nearly tripled, rising from 5,519 to 15,107.

A disproportionate number of complications occurred in elderly patients. Women were more often victims than men, 55.5 percent compared to 45.5 percent. Children were involved in 7.4 percent of the problems.

The FDA issued a statement saying it is aware of the growing number of reported problems and takes them seriously, but the reason for the increase "is not completely known."

"While some of this has to do with the increasing number of prescriptions, there are clearly other factors responsible for this increase, such as the increase in public attention to drug safety, and use of the Internet to make it easier for the public to submit," Dr. Gerald Dal Pan of the FDA's surveillance and epidemiology office said in the statement.

Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican and frequent FDA critic, said the report is another indication that the FDA's review of drugs already on the market "must be rigorous and timely."

Why Doctors Often Dismiss Drug Side Effects

Patients’ concerns about drug side effects are often shrugged off by their doctors, according to a survey of 650 patients who were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.

Statins, such as Lipitor and Zocor, are common drugs with widely known side effects that include liver damage, muscle problems, memory and mood changes, and more. In the case of muscle problems, if the side effect is not recognized it can progress to a potentially fatal condition called rhabdomyolysis.

Nonetheless, patients who responded to the survey said that they had to initiate a discussion about side effects with their doctor, and when they did:

47 percent said their doctors dismissed their muscle or cognitive problems, and said they were not statin-related

51 percent with a type of nerve pain called peripheral neuropathy said their doctors denied a connection to the drugs

32 percent said their doctors denied a connection between their symptoms and statins

29 percent said their doctors "neither endorsed nor dismissed the possibility of symptom link to statins"

Rather than attributing the patients complaints to the drugs, many doctors instead blamed the “normal aging process” or denied the symptoms entirely. Aside from not addressing the health concern in the patient, this ignorance toward a potential adverse drug reaction (ADR) means that no “adverse event report” is being given to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Side effects are already underreported by 90 to 99 percent, according to one Harvard Medical School expert, and the FDA relies heavily on such reports to gauge a drug’s safety once it hits the market.

In short, the survey suggests that the FDA is missing out on a wealth of ADRs because doctors are not recognizing them in patients.

The study’s authors believe that statin-related side effects are not the only one’s being missed.

They suggest that many other drug side effects are also being ignored. The researchers speculated that doctors’ tendencies to ignore drug side effects may be due to the powerful ad campaigns touting medications’ benefits and downplaying side effects.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

I strongly agree with many of the posters on this article that doctors should not be made scapegoats to this unfortunate finding. Most physicians are intelligent, well intentioned individuals who truly believe that they are dong the best they possibly can for their patients. They are clueless that they are merely pawns in the system that is spending tens of billions of dollars EVERY year to manipulate and deceive them into believing drugs and surgery are the best solution for chronic degenerative health conditions.

When you think about it for awhile it is not that much of a stretch since it certainly true for acute traumas, all they had to do was extend that view to degenerative diseases and when you have tens of billions to invest in purchasing the best marking minds on the planet, this is a relatively easy change to achieve. The results speak for themselves, the drug companies have been fabulously successful in capturing the minds of logic of most of the brightest and educated professionals our country has ever seen.

BUT, they have only done this temporarily. The Internet will change all that. This site is helping to educate consumers and health professionals alike about the fraud and deception. So many physicians are deceived that they are not at all motivated to listen to their patients' concerns about the medications they’re taking. This is particularly tragic when you consider that prescription drugs result in more than 700,000 visits to the emergency room in the United States every year.

It is also a shame that doctors are so quick to interrupt their patients as it may be only have about 23 seconds to state your concerns before your doctor will interrupt you, which may at least partly explain why most patients had to initiate the drug side effects conversation, or not have it at all.

Physicians certainly do have some responsibility here, particularly in being familiar with, and open to, the fact that drugs often cause side effects (and sometimes strange ones at that).

Drug Companies Are Influencing Your Doctor

In the United States an estimated 80,000 drug company representatives, backed by more than $19 billion of industry's combined annual promotional budgets, are visiting doctors every day.

These visits are influencing your doctor, essentially biasing him or her in favor of drugs.

Drug companies do not stop there. They spend millions each year to influence Congress, and similar amounts to influence YOU (via TV commercials, magazine ads, and the like) to ask your doctor specifically for their drug, the way you might ask for a particular brand of food in the supermarket.

Only a very well-informed, open-minded physician will be able to withstand this brainwashing (that actually starts way back in medical school)!

What can you do?

You are making the first major step already; you’re getting informed about what’s really going on.

YOU now know that if you suspect a drug is causing you a side effect, you must be sure that your doctor does not dismiss it. If he or she refuses to acknowledge it, you must seek out another doctor who will. As many Vital Votes readers have also pointed out, you can make a difference by printing out informative articles from and elsewhere, and giving them to your doctor.

Doctors are only human, and many will be very receptive to the information contained in these pages.As the Washington Post article points out, you can also report drug side effects to the FDA directly (regardless of whether or not your doctor does), and I urge you to do so if you’ve experienced any.

Finally, my advice for your health and wellness holds true in this circumstance as well; you can reduce your reliance on the fatally flawed medical system (and thereby your risks of drug side effects) by eating the right foods for your nutritional type, exercising, and relieving stress with a tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Teeth and the acupuncture channels

Recently, I was reading the Alternative Health section of "New Connexion: Pacific Northwest's Journal of Conscious Living" and came across an article that really caught my interest. It was about Whole-Body Dentistry.

That in itself is an interesting topic because it recognizes that we humans are our own, individual ecosystem; having dental work on one tooth can affect many other parts of the body than just the mouth. I rather like this enlightened quote from the author, Mark A Breiner, DDS: "In fact, both physicians and dentists have been trained to overlook almost entirely the fact that attached to every tooth is a person." He does not make this mistake!

In his article, Dr. Breiner also talked about the relationships between each individual tooth and the corresponding acupuncture channel, saying "Seemingly unrelated physical illnesses can be caused by dental problems … because of their effect on the body's energetic meridians." I had heard that such correspondences existed, but before now had not actually seen the chart that displayed the tooth-by-tooth details.

What does this have to do with stress? (Remember, you are an ecosystem!)

Stress can cause a person to grind their teeth or clench their jaw, often during sleep. Grinding leads to the wearing away of tooth enamel leaving you exposed to decay. If you wake with a sore jaw and don't know why, you may be a tooth grinder or jaw clencher. Additionally, the vibrations this sends along the various acupuncture channels into your body could eventually cause organ stress and malfunction.

Changes in your body chemistry caused by stress – often excess acid – can weaken tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay. Traumatic childhood events have even been known to leave identifiable lines in the tooth enamel. (Source)

Below is a chart of the associations between each tooth and the parts of the body linked by acupuncture channel. For drawings of the channels, check my Acupuncture Charts topic tag

To reduce stress, practice Eight Pieces of Brocade qigong! It will restore your health and wellness by balancing the energies of your body through the acupuncture channels as it reduces stress, enabling you to achieve a calm, meditative state of mind. There is much information on this style of qigong in the articles included in my Eight Pieces of Brocade topic tag.

To learn more about the fascinating and human-body, eco-friendly topic of whole body dentistry, read Dr. Breiner's book:

Dental chart courtesy of Natural World Healing.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Daoism on Instructing / Teaching

In honor of all the schools opening the day after Labor Day, today's writing is "Instruct" from p. 194 of Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony by Deng Ming-Dao.



The correct teaching is like flowing water.
Flowing water should nurture, not destroy

Many teachers think only of themselves. They want to be admired. They are like a dangerous and raging river.

Other teachers are pious, but so love their own learning that they cannot bear to make it accessible, even to their students. Great knowledge, they say, can never be compromised. They are like a river too wide to cross.

The best teachers think only of the student. They bring out the best in the student, regardless of their own inclination, and work to convey knowledge in a way the student can absorb. They are like a life-giving stream.

Those who are teachers in Tao therefore uphold this ideal. It doesn't matter if the teacher is famous for a certain subject; if the student doesn't need that, the teacher will teach what the student needs. It doesn't matter if knowledge is infinite; the teacher will begin the student on the path to exploration so that he or she is never left confused and lost. It doesn't matter if the time grows long; the teacher is patient and nurtures the student through all the stages of the student's learning.

The teacher who brings out the best in the student is the greatest master.

I'm sure we all know people who can be described by this writing.

A person who is like a dangerous and raging river:
I belong to a couple of email discussion lists, and know of a couple of message boards where people can post messages about the I Ching. Posting to them, there is a fellow who is brilliant. A true genius. However, his posts are so far over the heads of the rest of us, it isn't even funny. When asked to explain his ideas, he becomes belligerent, telling people they aren't too bright, otherwise they would see "the obvious" as he has. When he isn't rubbing people the wrong way, he's putting down everyone in sight. He's been banned from more than one list because of this. This is sad, because here is a person who could be a great teacher. Unfortunately, he himself will probably be his only student because his only concern is to impress people, not help them understand "the obvious."

A person who is like a river too wide to cross:
Then, there are other people who tell you just enough about a topic to whet your appetite, then can't say another word because they would be "giving away secrets." It's not even a case of drawing you in for money, wanting you to sign up for their course or buy their book. They just plain won't say another word because, now that they know they have you hooked, they aren't sure you are "worthy" to accept the knowledge and use it in a right and righteous manner! The most interesting thing about them is that when you finally stop asking them to share their knowledge, they wonder why you stopped asking!

Teaching, or "Instructing," is an interesting topic with several avenues to explore beyond looking at what others may offer us. Do you realize that, whether you are alone or with others, you are teaching every single moment of every single day?

More often than any other method, even formal education, you teach others through your actions and words. If you say one thing and do another, it generates mistrust. After all, how do people know where you stand, or where they stand with you, if your words do not match your deeds?

Actions speak volumes. For example, I consider all life to be sacred. As a result, when I discover an insect inside the house, I carefully capture it and put it outside. One time, my husband, who does not consider spiders to be something he cares to cozy up to - in fact he usually squashes them - saw a spider ambling across the television. He got up, coaxed it onto a page of newspaper, and put it outside! I was delighted, not to mention rather stunned. I've told him - nicely of course - how beneficial spiders are to the ecosystem, and that we shouldn't kill them. While he agreed with that ideal in principle, his behavior was still to "squash the spider" whenever one appeared in the house. When he returned from letting out the spider, he said, "See, I'm learning!"

Many people will say they believe that spiders are beneficial, but when they find a spider in the house, they usually go the route of squashing it. They do not live their words. What sort of thing are these people teaching you about themselves? What sort of thing would you teach people about yourself if you behaved this way? You would be teaching confusion and mistrust.

What we often don't stop to think about is that, as far as teaching goes, we are our own Master, our own "life-giving stream." We ourselves are probably the most important life-giving stream we will ever encounter. Every habit you have ever acquired - good or bad - is a lesson you have taught yourself. Everything you say to yourself, whether it is encouraging or discouraging, is a lesson in how you see yourself.

It's very true that if you respect and like yourself, others will like and respect you, too. To allow your life to resemble a life-giving stream rather than a too-wide or a raging river, be very aware of the lessons you teach yourself. When you teach yourself positive things, you will teach others beneficial things, too, and they will learn favorable things about you; that you are trustworthy, a good and loyal friend, someone who is kind, nurturing, and compassionate.

Finally, the famed psychologist Carl Jung believed that our dreams have much to teach us though the lesson is sometimes difficult to see. Recurring dreams are the most potent - they definitely have something to tell you. The key to dream interpretation is to look at the symbols in your dreams and determine what they mean to you. Dream dictionaries may be fun, but the symbolism found in them may not be the same as your experiences with the symbols you dream about. To identify the symbolism, you may need to delve deeply into your past.

For a while in the early 1990s, I had a recurring dream in which I walked through a house in which every room had two doors. I wandered from room to room, entering each room through one door and leaving through another, until I arrived back where I started, which was always in the kitchen. The symbolism on that one is pretty easy to see: I wasn't finding nourishment (food) in the normal places (the kitchen), but I was just going in circles searching for the right kind of sustenance.

The final occurrence of the dream had a very different ending, and the last piece of that puzzle settled into place. The end of the final repetition of the dream saw me enter a small room, quite abandoned, dark (the window was boarded up), and dusty. Against the wall was a trunk - the old-fashioned kind with the rounded lid - and it was quite securely locked! So, what was the meaning of that?

Well, it told me the end to my wandering was near, and that I would find at the end of the road something quite old. (When I was young, there was a trunk like that in my mother's attic. In it were very old books. They were my aunts' old school books and weren't all that old, but as a child, I found them very ancient and fascinating!) Shortly after that final dream, I began my study of the I Ching - a very ancient book indeed!

Here is the final link to the symbolism in the dream - and it may seem like a coincidence, but it speaks volumes to me - almost from the beginning of my study of the I Ching, I have kept my I Ching coins in a small box that is shaped like a trunk with a rounded lid just like the trunk in the attic.

So, to learn what your dreams are trying to teach you, look into your past and your personal symbolism. I'm sure you will discover something valuable to you.