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Whole Human Care

From the category archives: Rhythms in Life

Insights into the physiologic, seasonal, and biographical rhythms can be experienced in our lives.

The Therapeutic Value of "Maintenance" as a Life Process

We all need to devote energy to “maintenance.” No, this does not refer to some kind of human 30,000-mile check, like what you might do for your car (although healthcare would be much simpler if it only required a new water pump or brake pads at certain intervals). No, we are referring to a different kind of maintenance. What is being recommended is more along the lines oftaking the time to really work through what has been taken in, so that it can fully become one’s own. In anthroposophic medicine we work with the recognition of seven archetypal “life processes,” which are part of every process of true change or transformation. The words used to originally identify these stages refer quite closely to the way they work in our physiology: ...

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Wild Gardening Manifesto

When the sun shines these days it feels glorious. With a lot rain in Colorado in the last month—including torrential downpours, lighting, hail the last nights—the contrast of rain and shine feels particularly strong. The ones who seem to appreciate the dry, bright days the most are the bees. I have a hive in my backyard and went to visit them this morning. There is a very particular smell to a beehive, a little like honey, a little musky, a bit like warmth, hard to describe but very distinctive. The bees are very happy, entering and leaving the hive so quickly that to follow the trail of one single bee is almost impossible. It is almost like trying to watch the drops of water in a waterfall—not easy, and not really the essence of a waterfall. The bees, like the waterfall, seem to live in a process of continual movement; the shifti ...

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Biographical Rhythm and Crisis: Getting Unstuck part 4

Change catches us off guard all the time, but it doesn't always sneak up on us from the outside. Some of the biggest impulses for change surprise us by coming from the inside. That can be hard to make sense of because we are so used to constantly needing to respond to the events, expectations and relationships of our lives--but it is true! External events, outer changes make sense in a certain way because they adhere to the laws of cause and effect. If we suffer a loss or are experiencing a lot of anxiety related to an upcoming event we could place our feelings into that context and gain some consolation. In other words we learn to say: I feel this way because that happened. We know that significant loss brings grief and disorientation. We also know that the anxiety of anticipation can easily exhaust us as we try to make sure that everything has been properly considered and prepared. Those are painful experiences but they can be rationally understood. What happens when a life change starts inside of us and th ...

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Why Warmth is so Important

It is really important to nurture and protect your warmth. Warmth deserves more attention than it usually gets. Warmth holds a very special place in the life of both the developing child and the adult, because it works throughout the entire spectrum of human experience. There is physical warmth, emotional warmth—the warmth of love, of generosity, of true morality—and all of these “warmths” pour over and merge with each other. Perhaps most importantly, warmth is the essential ingredient in transformative work. Without warmth we cannot change, and our life is full of processes of growth and adaptation. Warmth helps us be healthy human beings on many different levels. We actually already know warmth very well, but too often we think of it in mundane ways. Consider for a moment your kitchen and how you cook. Warmth allows different objects and ingredients to be blended, to develop whole new flavors, and to become well integrated. While this may seem like a simplistic example, the human ...

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Finding Gratitude

It is a normal part of the passing of the year to look forward to the coming year and what it will bring. That is probably best done, however, by building on the gratitude of what has come before. In looking back we need to realize that we are all gifted, all blessed. Though perhaps this past year helped you experience that our "blessings" are not always the good, easy, and pleasurable experiences. Of course, we all wish for as large a helping of those as we can get, but sometimes the most potent growth comes from wisdom born out of challenge. In the practice of medicine, that truth presents itself over and over again. In fact it is not an uncommon experience (when the moment is right and there is space for thoughtful sharing) that someone will express how he or she has come to a new place of being, a new place of insight, that was really only made possible through an illness, a loss, an unforeseen or unexpected change of events. Times of change are also potent periods of growth. This is more than a Polyanna- ...

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The Menstrual Cycle as a Breathing Process

Sometimes the most beautiful and important part of our physiology is flexibility.  Can we shift and change ourselves?  We do, of course, carry this out all the time--for when we take in a breath we open ourselves to the world around us (Rudolf Steiner actually pointed out that we are much more intimately related to our environment through respiration than through digestion or touch).  Then when we breathe out, we cut ourselves off from outside world, and release what we do not need any more (carbon dioxide, nitrogen, etc.)  This is a very regular, and familiar cycle, one which we generally carry out 16-24 times a minute.  But there are other ways that we breathe too.  The menstrual cycle can be understood as one such kind of respiration, one that brings aspects not just of inside and outside, but also life and death, generosity and loss.   Now, clearly, not everyone is connected to this breathing rhythm.  A male body is too solid, too connected to the earth to maintai ...

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Sigh, From Expansion to Duty--The End of Summer Journey into Fall

At the end of summer we may feel caught between wanting to still do everything and also feeling the pressure to get practical and organized, which together can make us feel overwhelmed.

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Falling Asleep is Hard to Do-Some Useful Tips

March 2013 Three Paragraph Newsletter   Falling asleep should be easy, right? Because we don't have to do anything special, we just stop our daytime activities and we should be able to go right to sleep. This may make sense logically, but it is a fallacy, mostly because in many areas of life we have lost our appreciation of the importance of transitions. That is partly because we are all trying to fit so many things into our day, and partly because we have become more and more accustomed to quick convenience. For a perfect example of where we have become accustomed to quicke convenience, just think of food. When we are hungry, or when it's dinner time--we are ready to eat. And so if we too often think that if we can just grab food, which is ideally ready instantly (or second best only takes as long as it takes to stand in line at the fast food restaurant, or to work the microwave), then we are ready to eat! But this, actually, also is a misperception, because we digest a meal so much better when we are ...

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Can we consciously influence our health?

January 2013 Three Paragraph Newsletter   When you ask this question of a large group of people, you are certain to get a variety of answers. Some will say "yes, absolutely!" and will give you examples of how mindfulness exercises (like meditation), exercise, a healthy diet and good social connections all improve your health. And there are indeed many clinical studies which have shown this to be true. How we think, and what we decide to do can have a definite influence on who we are and how we live. But there will also be a group of people who will say "no, not if you are really sick," and can tell you that when you are having a gallbladder attack you can meditate are hard as you want, but what you really need is a surgeon. In a similar way, anyone who has experienced a major depression (which seems like it should be more accessible to our thinking than an inflamed gallbladder) can tell you that feeling better is not a matter of merely sitting down and deciding to feel "happier." It doesn't work like t ...

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