Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Emotional Clean Up and Rebuild

August 2009 came and I finally had space to breathe metaphorically.  On a practical level the clean up of my old life was largely done, however on an emotional and spiritual level it was clear that I had lots to accomplish.  Not only was my love buzz gone, but I was getting tugged around by my cravings.  When I feel emotionally balanced I just like eating right and exercising and sexual cravings are at a minimum.  Lets just say that in August I was not emotionally balanced.  I was having to suppress these desires which I know is not healthy. 
So I made some changes.  I was inspired by three books at this time:
1)  When Everything Changes, Change Everything;  by Neale Donald Walsch
2)  Intimacy;  by Osho
3)  The Eternal Quest;  by Yoganada
They all recommended the same advice... meditate.  So that's what I did.  Instead of just meditating in the morning, I added an evening session (close to four hours total daily!).  Yoganada inspired me to use more self discipline.  So instead of caving into my desires to sleep in and drink coffee everyday, I forced some changes in behavior (the true spiritual paradox is when to just embrace and accept a situation versus when to change).  Yogananda also reminded me how important it is to keep a continual dialogue with the Higher Consciousness.  At first this was hard because I no longer had my passion, I no longer felt the presence.  It seemed like I was just faking this internal conversation.  But I kept at it.  Whenever I found my thoughts drifting through out the day I reoriented them towards the idea that a Higher Consciousness was right there with me.  I was honest with this partner.  I felt anger at God for losing my natural high.  I was frustrated I did not have that natural passion.  So I just said to God, this is all I got right now.  I was persistent and intent, but I didn't have the emotional power to back it up.  I prayed for that passion and asked for that loving presence to return.
I understood that this was just a phase in the many seasons of my life.  I felt lonely and uneasy at this time, but instead of trying to distract myself from these emotions I allowed them to be.  I did my best to just embrace the situation and let life bring opportunities to me.  Whenever I felt a craving, I reminded myself that lasting happiness cannot be found there and I would mentally cling to the Higher Consciousness.  
Very subtle changes started to occur.  I noticed more spontaneous opportunities to help others arise (this is the most powerful fuel for evolution) and I took advantage of every one.  I frequently made a mental note that I could let go of whatever expectations I had for the future if the Universe showed me a better path.  As these weeks progressed I became intertwined in more lives which started to lift my mood.  People started to come to me for advice which helped generate a feeling of self worth.  Any doubts I had about successfully applying the "tall promises" of Mindbody Medicine were fading away.  I was learning more and more tools to heal old emotions.
During this period I also spent hours reflecting on my past with journaling and using the
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to let go of old traumas.  I knew my efforts were being rewarded, but progress was slow at this time.   

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Dust Settles

Despite attempts to keep the family together, it became apparent it was a painful lost cause.  I was strong in my intent and my wife understandably could not join the passion.  She deeply wanted me to just "snap out of it".  Every decision she tried to make was like walking on broken glass.  She could not live life comfortably and also share my priorities. 
During this period of time I noticed my love buzz disappearing.  I could pull it back if I closed my eyes and focused or stopped talking, but it was not there spontaneously.  I also saw my old personality reappearing.  This was a difficult time.  I felt the world trying to force me back into the old role of Roger and I was losing my natural internal resolve.  I started to question whether this epiphany was real.  Just at this time I was reading more of the Cyberspace Ashram for more inspiration... and I got it.  I encountered a post called "Layers of Aura" .  This page described how some individuals can have there negative aura (which obscures our spiritual abilities) dissolved by some "outside help" to create a spontaneous spiritual experience.  And this is most likely to happen on December 24th or 25th due to the worldly loving atmosphere!!  This chapter created just the fuel I needed to realize that not only what happened was real, but that I was given a once in a lifetime chance to evolve! 
I saw no other option but to ask for a divorce.  I could not survive spiritually in that environment and my kids were getting exposed to more marital turmoil due to our opposing priorities. 
I continued to devour the website and finished it in April 2008.  At that point I was not sure of my spiritual path.  I imagined opening a holistic donation based clinic and living in the country.  However my wife had moved with the kids down to Metro-Detroit.  A divorce was pending and I learned that the court could force me to pay support based on my previous income.  I was confused.  At this point I communicated with the author of the website (he was the only person I trusted).  I was surprised that he recommended reconciling with my wife and definitely moving to Detroit to be available to my kids.  He confirmed that my dream clinic would have to wait until I satisfied the expenses of a divorce.  In fact true spiritual progress might not start until my kids were 18 years old. 
The delay was okay with me, as long as I had a clear path.  Between April and August of 2008 I undertook a major life overhaul.  I finalized a divorce, closed my clinic in Petoskey, moved my family and myself and let me home slip into foreclosure (I had no choice).  I opened a new clinic and decided to completely change the way I practice medicine to Mind Body Medicine.  I discovered travel neurology as a way to meet my expenses.  I also did my very best to be loving and accepting of my wife during the divorce process. 
After the dust settled in August and I finally found myself with a few spare moments I was concerned to discover I could no longer generate my love buzz even though I had been practicing the Kriya Yoga meditation!  Something needed to change.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Bomb, A Christmas Eve Spiritual Experience

As I mentioned in my last post, during the days leading up to Christmas in 2008 I was becoming inspired by the spiritual message at the Cyberspace Ashram.  I started making small life changes, but on the day before Christmas Break I decided my clinic billing policy must change too.  I had adopted a rather harsh policy of chasing after "out of pocket" payers and sending them to collections.  It was only a small part of the business income, yet I caused people so much suffering.  It no longer made sense.  I asked my staff to forgive all debts and in the future people would only pay out of pocket if they wanted to.
At home I questioned the way I disciplined my children.  I really couldn't justify much of the grief I caused with my new perspective of the Universe.  However my sudden change in parenting started to cause friction in the marriage as my wife was made to feel like the "bad guy".  I started to see that these changes were beautiful and I must continue to improve in grander ways.  I also realized my wife needs to know what I doing soon because it is going to start impacting her. 
On the evening of December 23rd I could only sleep 2 hours.  My heart was soaring as my body sent me the strong message "you are on the right path".  That evening I decided to take an "all or nothing" approach to my spiritual path.  I knew that the values of honesty, transparency, selflessness, generosity, self discipline, simplicity and living with in my means were not just rules to be followed, but instead ways in which to experience sheer joy in this lifetime.  At that moment I felt that I could not seriously accomplish those values practicing medicine or living in that enormous home.  It was extreme (and fanatical) but I made up my mind that night to quit my job, move out of that home, find a simple job where I could be totally honest and devote my entire life to loving every situation.  I imagined becoming a farmer or a carpenter and living in a small home in the country.  I knew deep in my heart that the Universe would provide what I needed and that I would be growing the greatest gift possible for my children... a living example of how to foster love.  I also suspected my wife would not be able to appreciate my perspective (in fact I did not expect anyone to).  But I was determined to take complete responsibility for my thoughts, words and actions.  I would always be available for my family, but would not force them to live any particular way.  It is hard for me to describe how I had the resolve to stand my ground on such a radical change.  But when your mind body and soul all agree on something the experience creates such a deep knowing you are unshakable.  It can not be described or rationalized.
So I decided I must tell my wife.  But how and when? By this time is was four am on Christmas Eve morning.  I was lying in my kids' bed hoping to sleep easier there, yet my body and mind were alive with the buzz of love.  It occurred to me that telling my wife now would allow her to cope with the news while the kids slept.  Yet it was too unfair to wake her up in the middle of the night and drop a life changing bomb like that. 
With in seconds of having the desire to tell her... my wife found me!!  She had woken up at that same moment and noticed me missing in bed!  She asked what I was doing awake... and I told her. 
The bomb had been dropped.  I had not contemplated the reaction from all those family and friends close to me.  As my parents and brothers learned of my intent there was a mix of wonder, concern and frank disapproval.  They recognized that something powerful was happening (on Christmas Eve of all days), yet their logical minds couldn't make sense out of it.  There were many genuine concerns, but an argument could not materialize because my resolve was so strong I had nothing to defend.
That next night after I finally fell asleep, I had a vivid dream.  I recall being face to face with another person.  I could not make out his details, but only saw the silhouette of a person whose body shimmered with light.  Even though I couldn't see who it was, deep down I knew him and his presence made me vibrate with happiness.  He asked me what I wished for.  I hesitated and then heard an answer come from deep inside.... FREEDOM.  It was the absolute perfect answer.  I could have never thought of it, yet it seemed to come straight from the core of my being.  The moment it was uttered, I felt myself spun like a top.  Although I was spinning, I was also aware of a part of me that was spacious, grounded and still.  I felt my whole being start to float upwards and it was associated with a near inner climax.  Just before it could reach the peak I was jolted out of this dream by my daughter.  I had been sleeping next to her and she had forcefully kicked me in her sleep.  I felt as if I had a taste of Heaven, but that unfinished business here on earth had called me back.

From that moment I was filled with a natural high.  My chest felt like it glowed and radiated a powerful warmth.  Everything I saw held a magical quality.  Despite the turmoil I was surrounded by... I was enveloped by a strong loving aura.  I felt God's presence!  My pager seemed to be affected by this energy shift.  The LCD readout turned to "Greek" and every time I changed the batteries it would work until I put it on my hip again!  My children, nieces and nephews were magnetized to me.  I had never experienced an attraction of kids like this.  They would just find me in the room and sit on my lap.  Several of them commented on the depth of my eyes.  This "love buzz" lasted continuously for ten straight days. 
I returned to seeing patients in the hospital during that time and had a deep connection with them.  I realized that I could find a way to practice medicine spiritually... I just didn't know exactly how.  Over those ten days I offered to take my spiritual path more gradually so as to allow my family to join me.  We would just simplify our lives, reduce our belongings and get out of debt.  Temporarily their concern waned.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Spiritual Curiosity

In the spring of 2008 I intended to start cleaning up my life.  At first I was focused on diet and drinking, the physical me.  I became inspired after reading The Complete Master Cleanse to make some major changes. Due to the realization that I was eating mainly out of habit, nervousness and convenience I was determined to change.  That realization alone created a natural high that lasted about a week.  It was beautiful.  I only needed 6 hours of sleep a day.  I was excited to wake up and go to work.  My outlook changed over night.  It was as if my mind body and spirit wanted to say... YES you got it right, nourish yourself.
Shortly after this I was given the book, A New Earth, byEckhart Tolle.  It triggered a deep chord in me.  The main impression I recall from this book was that our mind determines our state of happiness.  Most of us program our minds to "seek" happiness somewhere other than here and now.  Of course here and now is the only place we can find satisfaction.  The implications in my life were obvious.  I had basically accomplished every major worldly desire in my life ( a family, a dream home, a career of my choosing, living in a resort town, travel, sports) yet the joy of these accomplishments was so short lived.  It occurred to me that I had trained my brain to be unhappy in the moment of now.  Eckhart also provided an example that humans can change radically and suddenly for the better which affected me later. 
Armed with this new perspective I decided with all my intent to embrace my situation and learn to quiet my mind.  It seemed so simple, with peace of mind I can tap into the always present Joy of the Universe.  I became very observant of my mind chatter.  I was also introduced to Carlos Castaneda's books about Don Juan.  This is a mystical based set of teachings based in Central America and the tools described in there were supposed to help quiet the mind.  I applied every tool I could.  Shifting awareness to my other senses, long hikes, gazing at one object for long periods, meditation... all to no avail.  In hind sight I realize my mind chatter was fueled my emotional turmoil created by my constricted life. 
I was not about to give up though.  In November of 2008 I was given a copy of the book, The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansha Yoganada.  The teachings and experiences in this book paralleled that of Castaneda's but were based out of ancient India.  The spiritual teachings are more religious based than mystical.  What really captivated me was that the author described a meditation technique called Kriya Yoga which would powerfully quiet the mind and open the practitioner up to their spiritual selves.  Yoganada also described that many individuals who did this were husbands and fathers working in society.  I didn't need to become a monk and live in a cave.  The only catch is that the technique is not freely distributed.  It has only been passed down my Master Yogi's to devoted disciple.
Well I could not get to India, so I thought may be someone has "leaked" the secret meditation on line!  I started searching and immediately found the Cyberspace Ashram.  Despite the kind of cheesy appearance of the website and its message of "God is Love" on every page, something kept drawing me back to it.  As I read more and more, the message resonated deeper and deeper.  The author claims to be God-realized and felt his spiritual duty is to provide the secret Kriya Yoga technique to the world.  He honors the age old tradition of limiting it to only the devoted by hiding the technique in the 5000 page website!  He asks that you read the entire website before practicing the meditation for your own safety.  So I was hooked.  As I read more and more it was clear that the author felt the way we live our lives is more important for spiritual evolution than the meditation.  He advocates learning to love all beings in all situations.  He teaches that God cannot be conceived, but can be experienced.  In fact we've all had little tastes during the times in our lives when we've felt that loving presence and our minds are silent and our hearts are warm.  He provides endless tools for living a life of love in modern day society.  At first I questioned who this author was claiming to have a fail safe path to enlightenment, but as I read on the MESSAGE was so powerful to me that it spoke for itself.  In the context of my personal and professional life I could clearly see how it was the one thing that could solve all problems. 
It was now mid December as I digested these teachings.  The more I read the more I was enthusiastic to start changing my life.  I started small, but as Christmas break approached I felt an overwhelming desire to make bigger changes and open myself up for the Love of the Universe.  This next experience desires a blog page of its own and so I will finish with that thought.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Back in Petoskey and a Baby is Born

June 2005 found my family back in Petoksey.  The move was challenging as a baby girl joined our family 10 days before we left Utah.  Petoskey seemed to be the ideal place to start our family and for my professional development.  This area was in need of a neurologist for years so I was readily accepted.  My father and brother were both practicing medicine in town so my last name was well recognized.  My practice was completely full in about three months and the work brought lots of meaning to my life.
Family life was challenging at first.  Our baby girl was colicky and my wife experienced postpartum depression.  As a father I found those first six months of the life of my girl challenging.  I did not have the tools to bond and interact in a fulfilling way, but did my best.  The family mood did improve with every passing month and we definitely found our niche in this resort town.
My wife and I became consumed with finding a family home.  This search started innocently enough, but as we looked our criteria became more and more elevated.  We ultimately found a dream piece of land three minutes from work with a 45 mile panorama of Lake Michigan in a very private natural setting.  To save money I participated in the design, planning and contracting of the home.  This became a second full time job and the rewards seemed to be high.  Now I realize that despite the fact my wife and I agreed on this project, our marriage started to suffer even more.  To further complicate this period of time we were graced with the birth of a baby boy.  His presence is and was cherished, but you can imagine the added strain of a second child while contracting a home and working full time as a neurologist.
In January of 2008 we had moved in to our dream home.  It was mammoth by my standards... over 5000 square feet large, an acre of land and cost nearly three quarters of a million dollars.  I had anticipated a joyous experience after completely such a huge accomplishment... yet something was missing.  I felt more burdened than happy.  My mind was trained to be running at high speed.  I could not relax.  The mortgage was possessing me and stole away much freedom in life.  I would have to generate quite a bit of income for the next 30 years!  There was very little room to breath.
In March of 2008 I had the opportunity to join some friends on a ski trip in Colorado.  This was just what I needed.  The forced down time allowed me to decompress and I longed for more of that experience.  My wife had also felt the need to improve our lives and suggested eating vegetarian.  I agreed and also looked into doing the Master Cleanse... a lemonade based fast.  This started a period of self exploration to be covered in the next blog.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The University Years

In 1993 I started undergraduate education at the University of Michigan.  I was elated to be on my own, to have more freedom in life.  Although I was decided on a premedical path, school took a back seat to social development.  I suspect as a result of a rather suppressed social life at home, I was eager to gain more experiences.  That is exactly what I did.  I made quite a few friends in my dorm and also partied quite a bit.  As far as women were concerned, I still lacked the confidence or desire to mature socially.  Those four years flew by and I must admit I just barely received high enough grades to get into medical school.  Life developed a challenging depth as I learned to balance money, recreation, and school work.  I finished my education in 3 1/2 years and took a job as a cook at my fraternity.  This was educational on many levels.  I learned managing, shopping, budgeting and cooking skills all at once.  I also learned that while it can be great to work out of your home... if that job causes grief, its hard to find a space to unwind.
During the summer after graduation I was in limbo.  I got accepted to medical school at Wayne State University in August, just one month before classes started.  The pressure related to taking on a large student loan and the uncertainty of a challenging new career weighed heavily on me.  I recall being very indecisive, confused and frankly depressed during that summer.
Medical School started in 1997.  I was fortunate enough to find a home with my oldest brother who lived in Royal Oak, Michigan.  I quickly felt at home in the school atmosphere and made many friends.  I developed my first romantic relationship at this time.  This of course helped my confidence, but I was rather spineless in the relationship because I was just so happy to be accepted by a woman.  That only lasted about six months (probably no fun to be with a guy who looses his identity so quick).  The years of my life were a mix of social growth, personal growth and professional growth.  I developed a new sense of identity near the end of this training and a renewed self confidence.
During my last year of school I met my now ex-wife.  The circumstances were very serendipitous and are worth mentioning.  I was working at a hospital in downtown Detroit on the summer solstice and this beautiful blond caught my eye... no opportunity to talk though.  That night I was 20 miles away studying in a coffee shop.  I looked up and the same blond was standing by herself.  I introduced myself and we started dating. 
It was at this same time that I committed to a neurology specialty after considering psychiatry as a close second choice. 
That last year of medical school was one of the most free in my life to date.  I traveled to Nepal, Thailand, San Francisco and Tucson all for one month epics.  I felt enriched and revived.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Family Nest Years

I was born in Rochester, Minnesota while my father was finishing medical training at the Mayo Clinic.  By the age of one I had already moved to the town I recognize as my home town;  Petoskey, Michigan.  I was raised through high school in this conservative, Lake Michigan resort town of 6,000 people.  Although the environment was sheltered from diversity, it did provide a strong community atmosphere which fostered a sense of accountability and inclusiveness. 

I was raised with two older brothers ( 5 and 6 years older than I) and a younger sister.  My parents lived a very disciplined life and could "practice what they preached".  Despite having the wealth of a physician my father and mother lived a relatively simple lifestyle.  They did not spend much money on themselves and of course all the kids got the same treatment.  I learned quickly that if I wanted toys or candy, it was up to me to make the money.  By six years old I was fishing returnables out of garbage cans and buying GI Joe figures with the money.  By nine I had a newspaper route.  I recall many mystical childhood summer days catching frogs, snakes and venturing in the swamp and woods near my home.  These are where some of my earliest spiritual roots were formed.

Although I do not have conscious recall of my attitude, apparently at the age of two when my sister was born I exhibited many jealous behaviors.  My sister has Down's Syndrome and Autistic features necessitating much of my mother's attention.  I apparently acted like a baby at times to get attention.  At a rather young age I learned to prepare my own food and become quite independent in this family. 

Our family was raised strict Catholic.  I recall many good experiences in Catholic School.  At this age though I did start to exhibit a sense of urgency.  It became a belief of mine that the faster I did something the more I would be rewarded.  I am not exactly sure what set of experiences fostered that, probably too many to recall.  For example I recall racing home after school... always trying to go a little faster.  In piano class I decided Yankee Doodle was better only if I could play it faster.  I was doing my homework for the next day during class.  Needless to say this tendency to rush has been a trait that has been hard to shake as an adult.  Church itself lacked meaning for me at that age.  I do recall some days wanting to be somewhere else and the feeling that going to church was a punishment to be endured.  I am sure the impact of the church on my belief system is more powerful than I realize even now.

My mother is and was very loving, warm, kind and attentive.  She was quite sensitive when I was a child which was great when I needed empathy, but she had a tough time with criticism or rejection by others.  We enjoyed many similar hobbies that have been the foundation of a very close relationship (gardening, cooking, hunting for Petoskey stones, hiking). 

My father is and was very strong, confident, persistent and trustworthy.  He was devoted to his doctoring and the community and grew the support of many people.  He was a powerful role model but like many fathers of that time and culture was often emotionally distant to his children.  Approval was not easy to come by.  He had and has integrity and held a high bar for comparison when it came to self discipline.  A clean and ordered yard and home as well as meticulously cared for cars are just several values he holds strongly. 

My two brothers were like gods to me.  I was awed by there lives and friends and often envied them.  Most of my social grace, of which there was very little, was learned from them.  They also were the first to bring to my attention that my parent's rules were not necessarily the rules of the whole world :)  I appreciated their input in opening my mind and giving me hope for the freedom I would realize when I finally would move out.

My younger sister and I shared many joyful younger days playing in the sprinklers in the yard and bouncing on the bed.  As I got older I do recall feeling ashamed because of her Down's Syndrome and many embarrassing traits.  She would groan out load in church.  More than one time she removed all of her clothes in the middle of a public atmosphere.  Sometimes she would walk right into a home during a stroll down the street even though we didn't know the family.  Lets just say she had a lot more social confidence then I and a lot less inhibitions.

The middle and high school years for me were a mix of emotional experiences.  I felt like I belonged in sports such as soccer, skiing and tennis.  Math and science came easy.  Socially I was a clumsy.  I was not confident and was kind of clingy with my friends that were popular.  I suffered many an uncomfortable day in the lunch room when I got left setting at the end of the table.  Lack of conversational wit was another trait.  I would chime in with a come back three minutes after the conversation had moved on!  And lets just say my lack of confidence really shined with the ladies :)

The high school years were also punctuated often with a feeling that I was "missing out" on the fun.  In an attempt to discourage under age drinking, my father required that I wake him up and blow my breath on him when ever I came home at night.  Needless to say that atmosphere created a powerful yearning in me to want to experiment with partying! 

At the end of high school my confidence got a huge boost when I unexpectedly found out I was Valedictorian.  When it was time to move on to college I had felt a strong need for freedom and discovery and did not once feel sad leaving the household at that point.

Introduction to Spirituality Health Mind Body

The purpose of this blog, as with all my work, is to bring people closer to God in a palpable way.  I do this because what I do for others, is what I receive in return.  My life purpose is to achieve God Union through learning to love all beings in all situations. 

Another major platform for my sharing is:  Healthy Mind Body
This website is devoted to my spiritually based medical clinic, currently located in Metamora, Michigan.

The first set of posts to be published in this blog are some of the first articles I wrote about my spiritual path.  They were initially hosted in a myspace blog, which was discontinued by the parent website.  I republish them here without revision, even though my perspective has changed, in hopes that this example of my changing mindset is helpful to others.