To the Heroes
There’s no doubt about it.
This pandemic is changing things.
It’s also changing people.
To all the brave healthcare providers on the frontlines, showing up every day, toeing the line, thank you. You’re indispensable.
To the essential workers, who never signed the Hippocratic oath, but who still show up daily to perform their regular duties as they clean, wipe, stock and sanitize, all so that our society can get basic needs met during this shut-down, we appreciate you.
To to all my fellow integrative medical colleagues, I have enormous gratitude for all the knowledge you have shared so generously. Whether it was through free webinars, forwarded in e-journal links, compiled articles, and posted resources, we too have stayed cohesive. As a community, we all have stayed up into the wee hours of the mourning to pour through the research on the latest science, shared emails and insights at ungodly hours, discussed interventions, treatments, and procedures to ensure we do what is right by our clients and patients to the capacity we are allowed to. You inspire me.
Heroism exists amid the chaos, crisis, and disruption.
Through the darkness, losses, fear, and grief, a light for new opportunity emerges.
It is there if we look for it.
The Winds of Change
The past few weeks, I’ve been keeping you up-to-date with the latest happenings through my recent posts. Last week, I decided that it would be my last detailed weekly update in order to focus more on resiliency and how to navigate through these winds of change.
That’s not to say that I’m going stop keeping up to date with the science and updates, and continue to be available for your questions, I assure you, I’m here for you through this and always!
At the end of this post, I have listed some of my resources that I skim through, read, and study on a daily basis in case you desire to keep up with this science regularly.
The fact is, I know you are already getting bombarded by that type of news. I’m guilty of it!
Whenever we feel uncertain, the attempt to regain control can be something that is helpful or harmful. Bombarding oneself with too much media in order to feel “informed” can backlash and cause more discontent, helplessness, and stress. In fact, it’s even been said to be addictive which is why it can be hard de-program our brain from being “on” all the time, even if we know we “should.”
But it can be done.
As we take this invitation seriously and continue to protect the vulnerable, we also are called to come together and evaluate how we approach our wellness and health at an individual, national, and global level. What starts with us ripples out.
I want to share with you something a dear friend sent out. It’s an excerpt from a writing piece. Though written at a different time, the content still reflects or our own context:
“We were made for these times” by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Beyond the frontline, the emotional delusion, anger, and even disconnect that is expected and normal to experience with trauma, there’s also something else bubbling up, that is shifting on a global scale. We can tune into it if we can tune-out the noise long enough. The stability and safety we are all desperate for may actually be closer inside us.
You can’t find it on the news or in someone else’s interpretation.
You will only discover this gentle, bustling stream underneath the panic and fear-mongering clickbait. If you can stop long enough to get a moment of silence, you may feel that shift.
An Invitation for You to Consider
What if this viral pandemic, in its attempt to harm the physical, also made room for healing the world society? A world where the healthcare system continues on its trajectory of more collaboration, enhanced equitable financial distribution, and a transformation from the contagious collective consciousness of fear into one of true humanistic compassion.
The days of stressing over jean sizes, mean tweets, grasping for material and superficial forms of happiness could be a distant memory of the past as the true meaning and what really matters in life begins to emerge.
Literally, we have been given the gift of time to change for the better, or, to put it bluntly, just sit and complain about how the world is ending and the sky is falling.
The schism between mind-body can exert its will powerfully. Our current disconnection between our ability to provide our body with what it needs to stay well and the naturopathic philosophy that honors the innate wisdom of healing is drowned out by negative news.
Yes, the virus is real, yes, people are dying, but yes, many more are also living and mist will survive.
So, today, how are you living?
Below is a compilation of excerpts from some reflective readings (bold emphasis mine). The links to the full texts are also provided.
I invite you to explore the excerpts and read the full articles of those that you feel called to. At the conclusion, I share three questions for you.
Reflective Readings for Inspiration and Finding Your Resilient Spirit
“Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure” by Aisha S. Ahmad
“The answer to the question everyone is asking — ‘When will this be over?’ — is simple and obvious, yet terribly hard to accept. The answer is never.
Global catastrophes change the world, and this pandemic is very much akin to a major war. Even if we contain the Covid-19 crisis within a few months, the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect. There is simply no way that our lives will resume as if this had never happened.”
Global catastrophes change the world, and this pandemic is very much akin to a major war. Even if we contain the Covid-19 crisis within a few months, the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect. There is simply no way that our lives will resume as if this had never happened. And so, while it may feel good in the moment, it is foolish to dive into a frenzy of activity or obsess about your scholarly productivity right now. That is denial and delusion. The emotionally and spiritually sane response is to prepare to be forever changed.
The rest of this piece is an offering.
“Cornation” by Charles Einsten
For years, normality has been stretched nearly to its breaking point, a rope pulled tighter and tighter, waiting for a nip of the black swan’s beak to snap it in two. Now that the rope has snapped, do we tie its ends back together, or shall we undo its dangling braids still further, to see what we might weave from them?
Covid-19 is showing us that when humanity is united in common cause, phenomenally rapid change is possible. None of the world’s problems are technically difficult to solve; they originate in human disagreement. In coherency, humanity’s creative powers are boundless. A few months ago, a proposal to halt commercial air travel would have seemed preposterous. Likewise for the radical changes we are making in our social behavior, economy, and the role of government in our lives. Covid demonstrates the power of our collective will when we agree on what is important. What else might we achieve, in coherency? What do we want to achieve, and what world shall we create? That is always the next question when anyone awakens to their power.
Covid-19 is like a rehab intervention that breaks the addictive hold of normality. To interrupt a habit is to make it visible; it is to turn it from a compulsion to a choice. When the crisis subsides, we might have occasion to ask whether we want to return to normal, or whether there might be something we’ve seen during this break in the routines that we want to bring into the future.
Read the full article here.
“The Virus Can Give Your Life More Meaning” by Deepak Chopra
Positive thinking isn’t enough. Feeling safe and secure is a state of awareness. It exists in us when we reach deeper than the everyday self. The everyday self cannot feel permanently safe. Outside forces loom too large and threatening. This is the time to take up meditation or return to it if you have lapsed. Your goal is to connect with your deeper awareness, the place where self-control and security comes from.
The superficial part of everyone gets involved in a crisis by staying glued to the news, attaching itself to worst-case scenarios, and dwelling on the terrible things other people are going through. None of this behavior puts you in control. It does just the opposite by fueling fear, uncertainty, and insecurity. Looking at updates once a day is more than enough. The rest of the time, remain centered in yourself and keep doing the sensible thing.
“Only a Silent Mind Can Be a Healing Mind” by Deepak Chopra
A crisis throws us into deeper confusion as it entangles us in too many wrong responses. Healing consists of allowing the silence to go in the right pathways. In every spiritual or wisdom tradition, pure consciousness unfolds, if let alone, in the direction of love, creativity, renewal, and evolution. There is no injunction that says, “Be still and let’s see what happens” or “Be still and who knows how that will work out for you?
Instead, the mindbody balance we all have relied upon since infancy is directed positively. Health and wholeness are the norm; creativity and renewal are the norm.
This is why I believe that the COVID-19 crisis can lead to healing, because without a doubt everyone feels the need for a rest. Follow this need toward your source, and it will be fulfilled. This is a time when the rest brings into play the infinite power of consciousness. All we have to do is align ourselves with that power at the level of silent mind.
“Navigating Financial Anxiety and the Coronavirus Stimulus Package with Financial Advisor Christopher Girbés” from Broken Brain Podcast with Dhru Purohit
Being aware of personal finances is an opportunity to create a system that works and to be prepared for the future, even when the present feels uncertain. Take financial power into your own hands by learning from this experience and preparing for the next one.
“Medical Hypnosis: Unlocking the Pharmacy Within” by Erik Goldman
Our bodies were created to heal automatically. The greatest lie we’ve ever been sold is the idea that our bodies cannot heal. I teach people how to control their own minds, so as to give their bodies some calm and peace. It is the most powerful self-help tool known to humanity.
Access the full article here.
Learn about nocebos and the power of the mind, placebos, here.
“A Naturopathic Doctor’s Approach to Nourish the Mind-Body and Support Mental Health Using Essential Oils” by Sarah LoBisco
The Unnecessary Schism of Mind-Body Medicine
The schism of mind-body in Western culture has led medicine to separate psychiatric illnesses from other medical specialties. Oftentimes, practitioners do not consider the intricate interplay between them. (source, source, source) This has led to fragmented care, increased health costs, and the stigmatization of “mental health.”
Thankfully, in recent years there has been some progress in both mental health and medical specialists acknowledging how mind and body are connected. Even the most conventional doctors have had to admit that the literature and their patients have proven that emotional stress does not just perpetuate many illnesses, but also instigates them. (source, source, source, source, source)
If one overwhelming thought can create downstream turmoil on the body in successive and rapid fashion, it becomes evident that physicians need to find means to balance the mind, as they address its physical repercussions, for true healing.
“Now is the Time To.” Message from Robert Holden‘s newsletter:
Now is the time to:
• Choose love over fear. Love is intelligent. Love is always relevant. Love is creative. When you apply love to a problem you find solutions that really work.
• Be socially responsible. Self-isolate if you need to, but also join together with everyone in being well informed, making wise decisions, and not spreading fear.
• Be healthy. Eat foods that love your body. Boost your immune system. Sanitize your thinking as well as washing your hands. Make healthy choices.
• Send a blessing out to all the doctors and nurses who are on the front-line administering medicine, love, and help to those in need.
• Be kind and love one another. If you need help, ask for it. If you can be of help, don’t hesitate. Acts of loving kindness are the greatest medicine because they heal the giver and receiver.
Thank you Robert Holden!
“Complexity in the Time of Corona” by Michael Wayne
Emergence takes place in viruses by nature of their ability to mutate; when they see that they need to adapt to circumstances, they get creative and innovate into something new and novel – hence this current version of the coronavirus, of which there are already four existing ones that endure, has been called novel. And emergence takes place in humans by their ability to adapt and evolve into novel ways of doing things.
Emergence is a creative process; it allows for the new, the innovative, to come forth. And this could be the ultimate lesson of complexity in the time of the coronavirus: it’s time for humans to adapt and to adopt more complexity in body and mind – to become more healthy and to think more holistically – and in the process, evolve to new possibilities. If this is the case, when all is said and done, there is great potential for many profound and important lessons to be learned.
(Bonus Beneficial Resource by Fullscript, “Tips to Stay Healthy During Self-isolation”)
“Resilience to Adversity Can Be Learned Through Adaptation and Positive Attitude, Research Has Demonstrated” by Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
Research has been quite powerful in identifying the damage that adversity, stress, and trauma can have on the young developing brain, which has been shown to be especially vulnerable as a consequence of the brain’s greater plasticity during childhood and adolescence. This same heightened plasticity, on the other hand, presents key opportunities for preventive interventions during development. The adult brain, while less plastic, does retain the ability to change over time. Indeed, learning itself—learning from experience, one might say—depends on the ability of synapses, or connections between neurons in the brain, to become stronger or weaker in response to events in our moment-to-moment existence.
A “rich body” of research, the authors noted, has identified factors contributing to resilience in adulthood. These include: higher emotion regulation, greater executive function (the brain’s higher cognitive abilities), the ability to be optimistic, the ability to cope with adversity, the capacity to re-evaluate one’s experiences and reactions; and having and seeking social support. “Many of these protective factors are interlinked,” the authors said.
“Is COVID-19 Leading to a Mental Illness Pandemic?” commentary on Medscape
The lockdowns, quarantines, and the myriad of other disruptions can lead to alienation. In fact, it would be strange for us not to experience strong emotions under these extreme conditions. Life will get better! In the meantime, let’s encourage people to hope, pray, and use relaxation techniques and guided imagery approaches to help control anxiety, worry, stress, and issues related to PTSD. These approaches can give our minds and bodies periods of relaxation and recovery, and ultimately, they can calm our minds.
The full article can be found here.
The Swedish Approach by the Daily Mail – A Different Approach
- Follow up on if it works (click here)
Effects of Aromatherapy in blending oil of Basil, Lavender, Rosemary, and Rose on Headache, Anxiety and Serum Cortisol level in the Middle-Aged Women
I couldn’t let this article end without completing my promise to include another study on how essential oils can enhance our resiliency during trying times. Below is an abstract from an article that demonstrated that a combination of essential oils was effective in reducing headache, anxiety, and cortisol levels in 19 subjects.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of aromatherapy on headache, anxiety, and serum cortisol level in middle-aged women with recurrent headaches.
Methods: Nineteen patients in the intervention group and 21 in the control group participated in the exercise. They were randomly selected volunteers whose average headache score over 6 months with above 4 points on the visual analogue scale (VAS). The experimental group received aromatherapy for 5 days; inhalation (3 times per day) and an application on the neck and both shoulders (one time per day). Prior and post treatment scores in headache, anxiety, and measurement of serum cortisol in experimental group were measured. Then, these were compared with the control group. The headache score was measured by VAS; anxiety score was measured by State Trait Anxiety Inventory; serum cortisol was measured by Radio-Immune-Assay method.
Results: Decrease in headache, anxiety, and serum cortisol level in the experimental group was greater than those in the control group.
Conclusion: It confirmed aromatherapy is effective in reducing headache, anxiety, and serum cortisol level.
Conclusions- My Questions to You and Opportunity from Crisis
Now, after some reflection, my questions to you are these:
“After this time ends, which it will, and we reemerge, who and how have you transformed?”
“Who do you want to be in this ‘new normal?’”
“Did this time serve a purpose for us and the environment?”
Please share your comments and insights below.
My Sources of Science Information and Updates
For those who want to keep up to date with the current medical news and updates, here is a list of some of my daily and weekly sources.
- Science Daily
- Medical Express
- NY update Page
- CDC website
- Dr. Kara Fitzgerald’s page (Docs, it includes the 68-page bulletin from China on protocols and treatments)
- Integrative Practitioner’s Updates
- American Association of Naturopathic Practitioners and The Institute for Functional Medicine resources for practitioners
- Various Podcasts, my mentors, colleagues, and journal clubs, thank you!
My Disclaimer About Immune and Wellness Balancing Measures
The above suggestions are for overall health only.
According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures.
Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
For additional safety and medical information, visit my essential oils database. It includes a full category on how to use essential oils safely and potential drug interactions that can occur.
Please be extra cautious and be sure to check with your doctor if you have a seizure disorder. The Epilepsy Society of the UK lists certain essential oils implicated for their antiseizure effect as well as those that have stimulating properties.
If you and/or your physician are interested in consulting with me to assist with supporting the integration of essential oils safely into a therapeutic protocol, essential oils consultations are available.