HOMEBIRTH SECURITY ~ CO-PARENTING WORKS
Dads Share Perspectives
The Raw Milk Hype FEVERS: NOTHING TO FEAR issue 34 / summer 2012 / $7.95
please display until 9.21.2012
WHY YOU SHOULD
BREASTFEED IN PUBLIC
executive editor Jeanne Ohm, DC email@example.com associate editor Lisa Reagan copy chief Robert Staeger assistant editor / publication manager Andrea Quarracino content editor Cynthia Overgard creative director Tina Aitala Engblom
on the cover
technical director Gabe Small
HOMEBIRTH SECURITY............................................. 16
web editor Jamie Dougan
technical assistant Crystal Gloistein publishing consultant Robin Hutson advisory board pathwaystofamilywellness.org/advisory Pathways to Family Wellness is a quarterly publication offering parents articles and resources to make informed healthcare choices for their families. Pathways to Family Wellness provides thought-provoking information from the holistic health perspective and invites parents to explore options for family wellness. The individual articles and links to healthcare information in Pathways to Family Wellness are based on the opinions of their respective authors, who retain copyright as marked. The information provided is not intended to replace a one-onone relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. The publisher of Pathways to Family Wellness encourages you to make informed healthcare decisions based on your researched knowledge and in partnership with a qualified healthcare provider.
FATHERLY BLISS..........................................................20 THE RAW MILK HYPE................................................. 54 FEVERS: NOTHING TO FEAR......................................40 WHY YOU SHOULD BREASTFEED IN PUBLIC.........28
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in this issue
Conscious Global Change from the Inside Out To avert a global-level catastrophe, the world requires cooperation on a global scale…and much of the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the upcoming generation. Acclaimed author and philosopher Ervin Laszlo details the challenge at hand, and the change in global consciousness necessary to overcome it. By Ervin Laszlo page 10
4 LET TER FROM THE EDITOR
40 HOLISTIC HEALTHCARE A New Attitude Toward Fevers
6 THE CONSCIOUS PATH Following the Hero’s Call to Adventure
By lisa reagan
16 PREGNANCY Homebirth: A Father’s Perspective
By Jeff Sabo
By Brian Goedde
By justin Ohm, D.C.
By annie urban
By nini worman
By Joe Dispenza, D.C.
64 MIND–BODY–SPIRIT Everything is Energy and Energy is Everything
By Michelle Higgins
36 CHIROPRACTIC FOR LIFE Designed for Hope
By Stephen Scott Cowan, M.D.
54 NUTRITION Fresh From the Source
By Robin Grille
34 FAMILY LIVING The Father Effect
By Lisa Reagan
62 NEW EDGE SCIENCE The Quantum You
30 PARENTING A Parent’s Right to Pleasure
By Laura Grace Weldon
52 WELLNESS LIFEST YLE Digesting the World
28 Societal Barriers to Breastfeeding
By Lisa Nielsen
48 GREENER PERSPECTIVES Beyond Sustainability
27 THE OUTER WOMB What’s in Your Baby’s Formula?
By Patrick M. Houser
22 BIRTH Furnishing the Homebirth
44 INFORMED CHOICE If School Were Causing Your Child’s ADD/ADHD Would You Remove Him? 46 COMMUNIT Y Common Ground
20 MOMENT OF TRUTH The Spirit of Fatherhood
interview with philip INcao, M.D.
By Barb Lundgren
68 TOUCH THE FUTURE Top 10 Things My Children Taught Me
By Nick Spano, D.C.
By Maria WhitWorth
extras for you 58 RECIPES
66 OUR RECOMMENDATIONS
70 THE MARKETPL ACE
~Tender Grassfed Steak ~Choose the Right Tomato
Movies for Your Pathways Connect Gathering Group
Worthy Merchants and Organizations
L E T TER F R OM T H E E DIT OR
One author describes these groups as “the watering hole” where parents and practitioners can meet and drink from the wells of resources and discuss our contributions in this time of conscious shifting. I want to thank each and every one of you who are seeing the vision and supporting the movement with your enthusiasm for Pathways. Each subscription serves to fund the logistics of production and distribution so that more readers can make personal lifestyle changes in accordance with the shift. If you are receiving a complimentary copy from your practitioner and you “pay it forward” to another, you are part of the expansion of this greater movement. When you upgrade from utilizing the complimentary copy you receive at your provider’s office to a paid subscription, you are deepening your commitment to support and expand this movement. By doing so, we give another thirsty person the opportunity to come to the well and glean the resources in Pathways, and consciously participate in this global shift. As each person becomes aware of this shifting paradigm and turns from fearing to embracing the process, the easier it will be for us to cooperatively create the healing and loving growth so needed during this time. As we recognize that everything each of us thinks, says and does has a far-reaching effect on the entire whole, we passionately embrace the expression of our daily lives as a contribution toward fulfilling this momentous, expanding vision. Many, many blessings,
Jeanne Ohm, D.C.
© BERNARD RICH TER / D REA MSTIM E.COM
movement is created out of an increased collective social need. Unmistakably, we are experiencing such a movement, a time of conscious wake-up. In just about every aspect of the orientation of our society— education, parenting, healthcare, politics, economics, science, religion and more—the once-accepted status quo is going through an exciting evolution. We’re waking up and consciously realizing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Support for a movement often comes from the spontaneous formation and enthusiasm of community. What may appear to be serendipitous collaboration between people turns into a collective of cultural creatives born out of its unique ability to fill a need. Such has been the case with Pathways, how it began and how it now supports the greater shift in consciousness that we are all experiencing. During this time of rapid evolution, I am reminded of a saying from B.J. Palmer, the developer of chiropractic: “We never know how far reaching something we may think, say or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.” Pathways magazine was started as a membership benefit for ICPA, a nonprofit whose mission is research, training and public education for the family wellness lifestyle. Its purpose was to offer practitioners a magazine for their reception areas that compiled issues and resources for parents to make informed, conscious choices. Pathways was enthusiastically received; soon after its launch in 2004, patients in those practices were asking to subscribe and providers were asking to buy issues in bulk to share in their communities. You, our readership, realized that Pathways was the start of a community—people of like mind and heart seeking ideals to share and discuss. Since then, our successful Pathways Connect movement launched...Gathering Groups can now be found at more than 250 locations worldwide.
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Take the Path to Family Wellness
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T H E CO NS CIOU S PAT H
Following the Hero’s By Lisa Reagan
hat are we really doing when we decide to live and parent consciously? In longing for a more peaceful and healthy life, what drives us to defy the chanted “You’ll spoil that baby if you pick it up,” or reject the GMO, the overused antibiotic or weapons of mass distraction, and say, “No, I think there’s another way”? Could it be that in these seemingly small but life-affirming gestures the parent is “following the hero’s call”? One of the seminal works of the 20th century, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, presents the revolutionary insights of the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions—and our daily lives. As Campbell discovered, there is really only ONE story at the core of all of our stories. The impact of the Hero’s Journey cannot be underestimated, as its archetypal model influences modern storytelling, and storytelling is how we make sense of our lives and the world around us. George Lucas credits Campbell’s book as the inspiration for Star Wars, our modern mythology of personal and world transformation. As a seventh grader in 1977, I vividly remember sitting slack-jawed in a dark theater watching Luke Skywalker run out of his uncle’s desert home in frustration, stand on a windy dune and stare wistfully at Tatooine’s two setting suns. Luke was hearing the hero’s call to a transformative adventure. It meant rejecting everything that did not support his heart’s wisdom, even though he had no idea what it meant to follow that call, or where it would lead him. I still play that scene on YouTube when I want to remember the enchanted feeling of the hero’s call to adventure. It is magical. And so is our brief, transformative adventure with our children. What calls us as parents to envision a better world for our children and act on our heart’s wisdom? What is the cost of rejecting our culture? Should we think of ourselves as victims of an oppressive world and give up, or follow the call that will lead us through a journey that promises to transform ourselves and the world as we go. And that last part? That is not a fairy tale. That part is true, especially for parents who read Pathways. Pathways readers belong to the segment of the population who are actively seeking to tip the world toward peace and sustainability through their individual and
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conscious living choices. Cultural Creatives were identified for the first time in 2000 by social scientists Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson in their research-based book The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. Ray and Anderson defined Cultural Creatives as people who “care deeply about ecology and saving the planet, about relationships, peace, social justice, and about self actualization, spirituality and self-expression. Surprisingly, they are both inner-directed and socially concerned; they’re activists, volunteers and contributors to good causes more than other Americans.” If there are so many of us—millions—why doesn’t it seem that way? Ray and Anderson answer: “However, because they’ve been so invisible in American life, Cultural Creatives themselves are astonished to find out how many share both their values and their way of life. Once they realize their numbers, their impact on American life promises to be enormous, shaping a new agenda for the twenty-first century. What makes the appearance of the Cultural Creatives especially timely today is that our civilization is in the midst of an epochal change, caught between globalization, accelerating technologies and a deteriorating planetary ecology. A creative minority can have enormous leverage to carry us into a new renaissance instead of a disastrous fall.” So, we are invisible in our culture to one another unless we make an effort to find each other? This effort to find and create community consciously can feel awkward when we labor under the industrial world’s value that “going it alone” is heroic. But looking at Campbell’s model, we can see that for thousands of years, heroes have always been surrounded by beloved companions on their adventures. Tragically, studies show that while our culture is profoundly lacking in social connections of any kind, parents in particular are the least likely group to create social bonds. For example, the oft-cited Better Together Report by the Saguaro Seminar of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government warns that “the national stockpile of ‘social capital’—our reserve of personal bonds and fellowship—is seriously depleted.” And the Building Strong Families Initiative shows that most parents are, just as predicted, “going it alone”—even though the benefits of a social support system include better parent-child relationships and better school performance for children.
© STEPHAN P IETZKO / DRE AMSTI ME .COM
e r u t n e Adv The study also showed that lonely parents were more likely to have lonely children. Isolation and lack of a support system has been identified as a top contributing factor to postpartum depression in new mothers and fathers. Yes, even fathers suffer from lack of community: “Despite media images, as many as 1 in 4 dads experience postpartum depression. Having no visible examples in our culture of men like this, a father with postpartum depression usually suffers in isolation —sure that he’s the only one. And, of course—with no examples to look to—he doesn’t have any idea what to do about it,” says psychotherapist Dr. Will Courtenay of PostPartumMen.com. Echoing science’s recognition of the necessity of community for wellness, Campbell’s Hero’s Journey illustrates the need for the community of beloved companions. What Hollywood epic doesn’t show that really, a hero would never make it through the crisis without their version of Han Solo and Princess Leia for backup? In addition to needing companions on our journey, heroes also need to heed the advice of wise guides. In seeking out a few Yodas to talk with us about the importance of heeding the hero’s call and creating community, I asked some of Pathways’ wise guides to share their insights for this column. Our first Yoda, Thom Hartmann, author of Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture, says the obstacle to creating community is larger than some of us care to imagine or admit. When we say “our culture doesn’t support wellness,” this acknowledgement can sound like an understatement or an impossibility, depending upon your worldview. But Hartmann says parenting today, especially conscious parenting, is like playing cards underwater. “If you were sitting next to a pool and playing a game of cards, you would enjoy the game. If you tried to play that same game in the pool, underwater, it wouldn’t work. I know that is an imperfect metaphor, but really, you could say that our culture is interfering with our ability to play the game of life,” says Hartmann. In his daily radio show, The Big Picture, and through more than two dozen books in 30 years, Hartmann has explored avenues to a healthy renewal of our culture. His observation is that most people, parents included, don’t see this big picture and therefore do not understand the
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell
seriousness of what they are up against. In meeting together as strangers in a group for the first time, Hartmann advocates that we “focus on what we have in common, which is our commons. Our air, water, soil, food and shared experiences unite us, as they are the foundation for our wellness.” Without a big-picture view, without awareness that conscious parenting can be a hero’s journey and the greatest adventure of our lives, many parents will believe themselves to be alone in their frustrations—especially Cultural Creative parents who are going against the grain of mainstream values. It is often these parents whom psychotherapist Robin Grille tends to in his Sydney, Australia, practice. Grille says that since he wrote the book Parenting for a Peaceful World, part of his practice is spent counseling parents who are trying to do attachment parenting and conscious living in a disconnected world without understanding the big-picture truth of what that means. “Parents who meet together in groups need to be honest with each other about how hard parenting in our culture can be,” says Grille, also author of Heart to Heart Parenting. “No pair of adults can match a child’s voracious appetite for almost endless play, attention, protection and nurturance. Sooner or later, the most robust adult is outlasted by the child’s emotional stamina. When exhaustion sours the parenting experience, someone usually gets the blame—the child is ‘too demanding,’ or the parent is ‘not good enough.’ The basic building block of Western culture—the isolated ‘nuclear family’—is a wrong turn in history, and its time for revision has come,” says Grille. “The sooner we all come to terms with this liberating truth, the happier this planet will be: Human parents are simply not designed to care for children without the
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ongoing help and support of a close-knit and intimate community, tribe, or extended family.” Lysa Parker, cofounder of Attachment Parenting International, shares with us how to begin. “I believe that awakening our consciousness begins with questioning culturally based assumptions about ourselves and how the world works,” says Parker. “We grow up steeped in a world of stories, myths and misconceptions about who we are, what we should be doing and when, often never realizing our true potential. When I decided to become a mother I began to question everything from birth to parenting practices. One striking example of a myth that is pervasive in the childrearing world is ‘Don’t pick up the baby because you’ll spoil it.’ My friend and colleague, Barbara Nicholson, and I began to question that statement by asking if that was really true. We wanted to know not only if that was true, but who originated it, a finding that surprised both of us. “John B. Watson, considered ‘the father of behaviorism,’ wrote a parenting book in the late 1920s called The Psychological Care of Infants and Young Children,” Parker explains. “He sternly warned mothers not to become too attached to their children, not to kiss them or hold them unless absolutely necessary. New research in neuroscience and child development informs us that we not only need to pick up a crying baby, but that it is essential for the baby’s optimal growth.” What are the benefits of finding companions for our journey? Cassandra Vieten, author of Mindful Motherhood: Practical Tools for Staying Sane During Pregnancy and Your Child’s First Year, says that supportive community is one of the most important things parents can have to stay balanced and grow a healthy family. “We must create a tribe of others who can help us stay awake and aware, and true to our deepest instincts, values and goals as parents, especially when choosing a new way to parent, or if you have a non-traditional family (divorced, single parent, LGBT or older parents),” says Vieten, a psychologist, mind-body medicine researcher and mom. “Whether in a moms or dads group, through babysitting exchanges with like-minded parents, or increasingly on the Internet, it’s important to have connections that can support us when we feel uncertain or overwhelmed.” While neuroscience now shows the necessity of responding to our children for optimal brain development and social science shows us that the ideal ratio for raising children is four adults to one child, neither of these foundations for wellness are made possible by modern culture. Suzanne Arms, founder of Birthing the Future, replies, “As the size of families has shrunk from extended and multigenerational down to a mere two parents or just one—and exhausted by jobs outside the home—the urgency for parents to have community around them increases. It’s imperative today that we reach out and create that community of support. It’s not
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just for ourselves, but for our children. “When parents raise children in isolation, our kids get not only the best of what we try to offer, but also the worst of our downside: our anxiety, our frustrations, our exhaustion and our bad tempers,” continues Arms. “They deserve so much better. Remember, we are our children’s mirror as well as their window to the world, when they are young. The expressions on our faces, and our body language as we speak to them and to others in their presence, tell them how they should feel about themselves.” What can we find in community? “Community offers parents a common unity in which they can exchange ideas, information and provide support,” says Lauren Feder, M.D., an integrative family physician, certified homeopath, and president of the Holistic Pediatric Alliance. “The guidance and support that I received from other families and practitioners in the holistic community have given me the confidence to have a tremendous and authentic birthing and parenting experience.” How do we find the courage to answer the hero’s call and follow our hearts? “No hero I ever heard of did as he or she was told. In mythic terms this means leaving the cultural nest, walking on the edges of the unknown and there discovering what we are truly made of, which is nothing less than miraculous,” said Michael Mendizza, founder of Touch the Future. Our Yoda-in-residence here at Pathways, mother of six Jeanne Ohm, D.C., says, “I am reminded of the ancient African proverb, ‘It takes a whole village to raise a child.’ The need for ongoing connectivity is vital for the family wellness dynamic, and parents are waking up to this need and creating community for themselves. As I write this, and within the last year, more than 250 Pathways Connect community groups have begun around the world. It is exciting that parents are hearing the hero’s call to adventure and finding one another.” I began this column by asking, “What is conscious living?” An industrial mindset would demand a prescribed list of to-dos and then check the boxes. Done. Go back to sleep. But a holistic heart, one that is listening to a call emanating from just the other side of the mechanical drone of “put the baby down,” dark GMO forests, pompous practitioners, mountains of grimy laundry and wellearned exhaustion, knows. It already knows. There is nothing anyone can tell it. But we can find beloved companions to share the journey, keep each other awake, tell our stories around our internet campfires…and, who knows? Maybe one day find treasure in the arms of our grateful children. Lisa Reagan is the associate editor of Pathways to Family Wellness and cofounder of Families for Conscious Living, a national nonprofit supporting Cultural Creative families since 1996. Visit the website at familiesforconsciousliving.org.
© JAMES JA NE IRA DOE / D RE AMSTI ME .COM
T H E CO NS CIOU S PAT H
Host a Pathways Gathering Group and bring your community together Doctors, Practitioners, Group Leadersâ€Ś As a subscriber to Pathways, you have experienced the wide range of articles pertinent to the family wellness lifestyle. Many subscribers have asked how to reach more people with this valuable message. Pathways Connect is a compilation of resources, guidelines and implementation tools to utilize Pathways magazine as an outstanding community-based education program. By hosting Pathways Gathering Groups in your office, we can bring parents together and expand the family wellness vision.
To sign up, visit our site and simply click on the Pathways bulk subscription link at: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/connect Order 50 ongoing copies of Pathways, and check the Pathways Connect box to receive many outstanding benefits, including everything you need to start your own Pathways Gathering Group.
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FE ATU RE
Conscious Global Change from the
INSIDE By Ervin Laszlo
he unsustainable condition of the human and the humanly impaired natural world constitutes a global emergency, and it calls for global-level cooperation to avert a global-level breakdown. Global-level cooperation is a new requirement in the history of humanity, and itâ€™s not surprising that we are not prepared for it. Our institutions and organizations were designed to protect their own interests in competition with others; the need for them to join together in the shared interest has been limited to territorial aspirations and defense, and to economic gain in selected domains. Preparedness for globally cooperative action that subordinates immediate self-interests to the vital interests of the community is lacking, both in contemporary nation-states and in business enterprises. Globally coordinated emergency action could produce positive results. The world lacks neither the financial nor the human resources for effective emergency action. Abject forms of poverty could be eliminated, energy- and resource-efficient technologies could be made widely available, water could be recycled and
seawater desalinized, and sustainable forms of agriculture could be adopted. We could muster the energies to implement such action, and we have the technologies. Even a modest increment in the effective use of the solar radiation reaching the planet could supply the necessary energies, and the reassignment of but a fraction of the funds currently devoted to destructive purposes could finance the principal projects. The reason for the lack of globally coordinated effective action doesn’t lie in the condition of humanity relative to the condition of the planet, but in the lack of will and preparedness of the people and institutions of the human world to ensure their survival on the planet. A number of persistent beliefs and assumptions prevent the bulk of humanity from perceiving the current condition of global emergency and acting on it. For example: It’s still widely held (although now less and less often voiced) that the planetary environment is practically infinite. It’s an inexhaustible source of resources and an inexhaustible sink of wastes. This tacit belief obstructs the recognition that we are vastly overusing the planet’s resources and overloading nature’s regenerative capacities. Another dominant belief is that matter is passive and inert, and can be engineered to suit our wishes. The belief that with our sophisticated technologies we can manipulate the world around us to respond to our personal, national and economic objectives produces a plethora of unforeseen side effects, such as the destruction of ecological balances and the massive extinction of living species. It’s also widely held that life is a struggle where only the fittest survive. This arbitrary application to human society of Darwin’s theory of natural selection justifies no-holds-barred competition and creates a growing gap between an ever-shrinking group of economic and political power-elites and the marginalized mainstream of the people. The still-dominant economic wisdom is that competition is good, for the free market, governed by what Adam Smith called the “invisible hand,” distributes wealth. When one does do well for oneself, one also does well for one’s fellows in the community. Yet the penury of nearly half of the world’s population offers clear testimony that this tenet doesn’t hold in today’s world, where the skewed distribution of power and wealth distorts the operations of the market. Numerous personal values and
beliefs hamper the will to engage in globally cooperative emergency action. The ethos that characterizes the modern world puts the individual on a pedestal, holding him or her to be unique and above nature. In the words of Francis Bacon, the superior status of modern man justifies “wrenching nature’s secrets from her bosom” for his own benefit. Last but not least, there is a persistent belief that the selfishness and egocentricity that characterizes modern people are unalterable expressions of human nature; they cannot, and therefore will not, change. People have always pursued their own interests and always will, mitigated at the most by the interests of their immediate family, enterprise or ethnic or national community. Given the persistence of such beliefs, the failure of both nation-states and business enterprises to join together in global projects is by no means surprising. The silver lining on these ominous clouds is the growing openness of young and sensitive people toward adopting new and more responsible ways of thinking and acting. The “alternative cultures” are growing rapidly, but they have yet to produce the globally coordinated action needed to cope with the global emergency. Bringing them together to form a critical mass that has sufficient economic and political weight to implement the “worldshift” that would transform the structures and operations of society and re-stabilize the cycles and
The silver lining on these ominous clouds is the growing openness of young and sensitive people toward adopting new and more responsible ways of thinking and acting. The “alternative cultures” are growing rapidly, but they have yet to produce the globally coordinated action needed to cope with the global emergency.
issue 34 pathwaystofamilywellness.org
FE ATU RE
For the first time in history, one generation—your generation— holds the key to the greatest challenge our species has faced since it proudly named itself homo sapiens. This is the challenge of change—of profound, timely and conscious change.
balances of nature is conceivably the most urgent and important project of our time. To contribute to this epochal task we need to mobilize the will and the vision of people everywhere, especially young people. And by “young,” I mean not only those who were born in the last two decades, but those who conserve a fresh and innovative spirit—the spirit of adventure combined with a sense of responsibility. There are many such people today, and I am addressing the following message to them in their and all our best interest. You, the young people of the world, are the movers and shakers, the music makers—the most privileged people who ever walked the Earth. For the first time in history, one generation—your generation—holds the key to the greatest challenge our species has faced since it proudly named itself homo sapiens. This is the challenge of change—of profound, timely and conscious change. Privilege entails responsibility. You have the privilege to meet the challenge of timely and conscious change, but you also have the responsibility that goes with the privilege: the responsibility of taking an active part in promoting this change. To live up to this responsibility you need to understand the nature of the problem and its possible solution. Why do we, the human family, face the challenge of change? And what can you, your generation, do about meeting the challenge? There is a straightforward answer to both these questions. We face the challenge of profound and timely change because the world your fathers and forefathers have created is not sustainable. “Unsustainable” means that if the world doesn’t change, it will break down. It cannot keep going as it is. Take a look around you. Summers are getting hotter, winters milder, storms more violent, the extremes more pronounced, the variations more unpredictable. A little less cold could be a good thing in many climes, except that global warming also means that less rain is falling on productive lands;
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that forests are dying; that water tables are dropping, and that, because ice is constantly melting into the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, sea levels are rising the world over. How long before thousands of millions will be pressed below the level of bare subsistence? Before hundreds of millions will be driven from their homelands by hurricanes and floods? Before whole cities and entire islands will be submerged? Global warming and the resulting climate change are just one of several “unsustainabilities” in today’s world. Urban overcrowding, the breakdown of the health of vast populations, violence born of intolerance, and war waged to secure short-term economic interests are among the many threats to life and well-being on this planet. We of the older generations have impaired the vital balances of nature; balances that are needed to sustain your life, and the life of myriad other species. Now you, the younger generation, must correct our errors and repair the damage. We are now 7 billion humans on the planet. How many of us will survive the next ten years? The next five years, or the next three? And if some of us go under, how will the rest manage, given our interdependence and our proneness to resort to violence to assure our short-term interests? If the world continues its downhill slide, and if the mindset of the rich and powerful doesn’t change while there is time, there will be a holocaust from which no one will emerge unscathed. The answer to the question of why we must have timely and profound change in the world should be clear. We either change, or we go under. But what can you, today’s young generation, do to create the required change?
The answer to this question is straightforward, as well. You need to take to heart two wise sayings, by two of the wisest people who ever lived on this planet. Albert Einstein said, You can’t solve a problem with the kind of consciousness that gave rise to the problem. And Mahatma Gandhi said, Be the change you want to see in the world. Take Einstein’s insight first. You need to develop a new consciousness, adopt new thinking. This means not just acquiring more data or more information—mere additions to the current kinds of knowledge. It means new knowledge, a new way of thinking. Some call it a new paradigm. The new paradigm is in active development. It is variously called the holistic paradigm, the integral mode of thinking, or the systemic view of the world. Its main and decisive feature is that it doesn’t fragment the world in order to understand it. It doesn’t reduce the diversity we experience to one or two factors for the convenience of analyzing it. The “analytic approach” can provide sound technical knowledge, but not true understanding. It’s the knowledge of the specialist, who knows more and more about less and less. Specialized knowledge, the knowledge of the technician, while good for specific applications, fails when it comes to coping with the whole in which that application occurs. It cures the illness, but loses the patient. The knowledge of mainstream society is fragmented, and it’s not only fundamentally incomplete, it’s fundamentally misleading. Things in the world are not separate, independent of one another. As cutting-edge scientists now realize, all things in nature are connected, and in the final count all things are what they are because of and through their connections. Sound knowledge takes into account the connections. It perceives the forest and not only the trees. Trees are an organic part of the forest, and you cannot truly know a single tree in the absence of having an idea of the forest in which that tree is growing. We live in an organic world, and our knowledge must be organic:
whole and integral. Such knowledge is available. It’s the knowledge you need to live up to the challenge of changing the world—of consciously changing today’s unsustainable, moribund world into a sustainable and viable world. The Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University is committed to gathering such knowledge, to bringing together the people who develop it and who can effectively deliver it. Consider now Gandhi’s advice. Why is it important to “be” the change you want to see in the world? Is changing yourself the way to consciously change the world around you? The answer is that it is indeed. In a critically unstable system even small “fluctuations” can provoke major transformations. You have heard of the “butterfly effect.” The popular story is that when a monarch butterfly flaps its wings in Southern California a storm develops in Outer Mongolia. The tiny air current created by the butterfly grows and grows, until it changes the pattern of weather on the other side of the globe. This is entirely possible, although the actual origin of the term is different. It refers to the shape of the “chaotic attractor” that meteorologist Edward Lorenz discovered in the 1960s when he tried to model the world’s weather. This attractor, a mathematically generated modeling device, has two “wings,” where each wing models one path in the evolution of the world’s weather. Lorenz found that even tiny alterations in the factors that influence the weather can make for a sudden, and initially unpredictable, shift from one of the wings of the “butterfly” to the other—from one global weather pattern to another. The fact is that a chaotic system—and the world’s weather is such a system—is supersensitive and inherently unpredictable. But not only the world’s weather is chaotic: So is the world’s economy, the world’s financial system, and the world’s natural environment. All these systems have now been pushed to the edge of chaos, and as a result they have all become supersensitive. Butterfly effects are coming about in them. You, the young generation of our chaotic times, are precisely positioned to be the butterfly that creates the crucial effect. You were born at exactly the right time: at the time when the world around you is becoming open to change. It’s hardly possible to create real change in a stable society: It has powerful defenses against it. There is a simple reason for this: Those who hold the reins of power fear change—it may divest them of their privileges. Whether they are politicians, business leaders, or ecclesiastical, educational or social authorities, the powerful, unless they are exceptionally open and wise, do everything in their power to maintain the status quo. They try to “excommunicate” those who want change— not literally, as the Church did in the Middle Ages, but by
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FE ATU RE
TO T H E YO U N G P EO P L E O F T H E WORL D
We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone seabreakers, And sitting by desolate streams; World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world forever, it seems… We, in the ages lying In the buried past of the earth, Built Ninevah with our sighing, And Babel itself in our mirth; And o’erthrew them with prophesying
modern means: by ignoring the agents of change, and if ignoring them is not feasible, then by discrediting, ridiculing and isolating them. This is not an insurmountable problem for you, today’s young generation. The dominant forces in the world still resist change, but they no longer have the power to resist it effectively. Contemporary societies are no longer stable; they suffer from multiple crises— economic, financial and ecological, even social and cultural crises. They are approaching a condition of chaos, and in a condition of chaos new thinking can spawn new behavior and lead to effective innovation. Even small groups and seemingly minor initiatives can catalyze major change. There was chaos in the human world in the past as well, but it was local, and the opportunity to change was likewise local. Today’s chaos is global, and the opportunity it brings is also global. Failing to seize it would be not just the height of stupidity: It would be a crime against humanity. The bottom line is this. The world needs timely and effective change: a global shift. Your generation is uniquely positioned to bring about that shift. The Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University is committed to make available to you the new-paradigm thinking you need to evolve your consciousness, develop new thinking, and change yourself so you can change the world.
To the old of the new world’s worth; For each age is a dream that is dying, Or one that is coming to birth. —Arthur O’Shaughnessy
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Dr. Ervin Laszlo is a systems philosopher, integral theorist and classical pianist. Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, he has authored more than 70 books, which have been translated into 19 languages, and has published in excess of 400 articles and research papers, including six volumes of piano recordings. Dr. Laszlo is generally recognized as the founder of systems philosophy and general evolution theory, and serves as the founder-director of the General Evolution Research Group and as past president of the International Society for the Systems Sciences. He is the chancellor of the Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University, a humanistic online global institution committed to creating informed and ethical agents of change who will bring a new consciousness, a fresh voice and up-to-date thinking to the international community, transforming obsolete paradigms and empowering the cocreation of an equitable, responsible and sustainable world. He is an advisor to the UNESCO Director General, ambassador of the International Delphic Council, and a member of the International Academy of Science, World Academy of Arts and Science, and the International Academy of Philosophy. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
THE GIORDANO BRUNO GLOBALSHIFT UNIVERSITY is the first online university to make high-quality fully accredited university education accessible to young people in all parts of the world. It held its Founding Congress at the Budapest Historical Museum in the Royal Castle of Hungary on September 9, 2011, and is open for enrollment on five continents. The open letter to the young people and the Covenant adopted by the University indicate the University’s commitment to young people, and its resolution to offer a program of education that empowers them to be self-reliant and productive members of society, as well as effective architects of a world that is sustainable and peaceful, and free of the barriers and subordination that often constrain the lives and the opportunities of young people today.
Whereas The world we and our fathers and forefathers before us have created is no longer sustainable; it either breaks down in chaos and anarchy or breaks through to a more sustainable, equitable and peaceful world; Whereas The choice between breakdown and breakthrough is yet to be decided, and it is likely to be decided ultimately by the young people who are now reaching maturity and will soon be entering positions of responsibility in society; Whereas It is the task of higher education to bring relevant information and knowledge to young people, and relevant information and knowledge embraces today the information and the knowledge on the basis of which young people—and people who are young in spirit, whether young or old—can evolve the wisdom and the determination to become conscious and responsible architects of a new world; and Whereas The Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University, being a global online university aspiring to reach young people and people young in spirit the world over, is in a unique position to provide the information and the knowledge on the basis of which people can develop the wisdom and the determination to become conscious architects of a more sustainable, equitable, and peaceful world.
The Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University’s COVENANT WITH THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE WORLD
T he Giordano Bruno GlobalShift Universit y now resolves to enter into this covenant with the young people of the world To do its utmost to provide the scientific and humanistic concepts and insights that can empower young people and people young in spirit to evolve the new thinking and the new consciousness Einstein said is needed to solve the significant problems of our time, so that they may become conscious and dedicated architects of a sustainable, equitable and peaceful world, as well as responsible and productive members of their family, their community, and the community of all life on Earth. In the f ulf illment of this Covenant, T he Giordano Bruno Globalshift Universit y resolves to challenge and put on trial the doctrines, the structures and the institutions that create artificial barriers between peoples, nations and cultures, and subordinate the great majority of the people to the economic, political and doctrinaire interests of a political, economic, or cultural minority, just as the ecclesiastical authorities and institutions of the late 16th Century had put on trial Giordano Bruno for refusing to subordinate his insights and his convictions to their authority. issue 34 pathwaystofamilywellness.org
P RE G NA NCY
PERSPECTIVE By Jeff Sabo
inding out that you’re going to be a father is a very crystallizing and defining moment in a man’s life. Some men run from it, others embrace it, and still more are, frankly, puzzled by it—and some fears and uncertainties, once believed to have been overcome, can come flooding out again: Will I be a good father? Will my children love me? Can I escape my own upbringing, and do better? Can I parent with my heart, more than with my head? Will my partner still love me if I’m not a good father? Would she even tell me if I were doing poorly? Will I ever learn enough, know enough and contribute enough to our parenting relationship? How will I respond if the kids get sick? How will I respond if one of them dies? How can I keep them safe, provide for them, provide for my partner and stay happy at the same time? It can be completely overwhelming under the best of circumstances. We experience a sudden sense of being responsible for someone else, of having to provide for them and our partner. And we may still be grappling with the other uncertainties and inadequacies that we have carried around with us for years. There is an immediacy to being a new parent which requires us to handle stressful situations in a calm, thoughtful manner. But if we have not been willing or able to reconcile our fears and uncertainties, “calm” and “thoughtfulness” are states of being that are difficult to
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attain, and even more difficult to maintain. I think that, under stress, we are prone to default to our most basic personalities, to use whatever familiar coping mechanisms we’ve used in the past. Sometimes, the only way to really work through this effectively is to latch on to something familiar that helps ground us a bit, so we can deal effectively with the swirling emotions and seismic shifts in…well, just about everything, that come with being a new parent. In order to grasp my new life, I had to rely on my old paradigms of what a parent “should” be for guidance. In my head, I had mapped out exactly what it takes to raise a child, be a husband, have a productive household and be an accepted member of society. For me, it was pretty simple, really. Dad works, mom works; breakfast as a family with a healthy meal; lunches and book bags all packed the night before; kids on the bus and doing well at school; work being hard but rewarding; home by 6:00, kids all there; dinner together, then chores; some time to play, then homework; then time to brush your teeth and put on your PJs, and off to bed by 9:30 or so. Of course, the kids would play sports, I’d be a member of the Jaycees, mom would be on the Chamber of Commerce, etc., etc., etc. We might even go to church on Sundays and sing in the choir. It’s important to note that these “expectations” of what my life would be like were not some mere abstract, or some societal norm that I simply bought into. These were things I wanted. They were what mattered; they were the way it was done. If we
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did it this way, everyone would be happy, no one would get hurt, and we would raise our kids to be responsible members of society. And as a dad, my role was critical—I had to be the driver to ensure all of this happened on schedule. But as a soon-to-be father, all of that was overwhelming. I had to focus on finding ways to control things as early as possible, to make the wonder of pregnancy easier for me to process and deal with, despite the flurry of changes. I had to establish some sort of comforting paradigm for how my children would spend their time in utero, and how they would come into the world. So for our first child, I approached the birth process in ways that were familiar and made sense to me. In fairness, I should mention that both my wife and I were raised in traditional ways, and although we knew that we wanted to be more connected to our children that our parents were to us, we still agreed that the birth would be in a hospital, and that the pregnancy and delivery would be with the help of an OB-GYN. Our first son, Kai, was born in the hospital, in a fairly traditional way. Overall, it was…okay. In retrospect, the word that comes to mind is “satisfactory.” We did attend a birthing class for several weeks that was sponsored by the hospital, which provided us with fantastic insight and guidance into several paradigm shifts—no circumcision, vaccination choices, cloth versus disposable diapers, etc. We prepared by reading books like The Hip Mama’s Guide to Pregnancy, and spent hours trying to learn
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all we could to have as authentic and non-invasive a pregnancy as possible. I loved the time when Ginger was pregnant. The way she glowed, the laughter and joy we felt, all of the changes, even the newness of the uncertainty—it was all part of a joyous process as we got ready for our first son. On the morning her water broke, we called the hospital to let them know we were on our way (why do people do that?), and then sat down and watched an old episode of Colombo and ate granola before we went in. There was no fear, no concern—just uncertainty, and a bit of tingling nervousness as we readied ourselves to meet this little dude that we had been talking to all these months. When we got to the hospital, the experience became…clinical. The nurses were nice enough, I suppose, and they did their best to accommodate our wishes. They did induce with Pitocin a bit earlier than I would have liked, and the labor was very long. I felt so helpless. The woman I loved—my soul mate, my best friend, and the person who changed my outlook on life—was in obvious pain and there was nothing I could do. As the
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minutes passed to hours with little progress (as though birth could be measured in milestones of good or bad), I felt like I was getting smaller. The swirl of machines and nurses and doctors somehow made me feel less visible— and less needed. But toward the end, when we knew we were getting close, all of that gave way to a laser focus. Ginger and I looked at each other through each contraction, as though we could see into each other’s bodies, with a love and understanding that made me feel in perfect sync with her. And when we got to hold that little boy, some nine months and 17 hours after we started that journey, I was simply stunned. I was stunned at Ginger and how amazing she had been on that difficult day; I was stunned by the little precious body I was holding in my arms; and I was stunned by the overwhelming sense of love and protection I felt, so much stronger than I expected. It was a different kind of love than I had felt before—deeper, more thorough, away from my heart and my mind and into my bones, my cells, every part of me. It was a love for life, for all things, always and in all ways. And it took over my life in ways beautiful and unexpected, like it has each day since. As the years went by and we learned more about raising a child—which was much easier now that we actually had one—we began to think of things we might do differently if we were ever blessed enough to have another. For example, Kai received some vaccinations, but we knew that we would not vaccinate our other children. We also knew that we would carry our next child in the sling more, and cuddle more. So when Ginger came to work one afternoon and blew me away with her “positive” pee stick, I just knew that it would all be okay the second time around. And then she told me that she wanted midwives instead of doctors. And wanted to give birth at home. In water. And I freaked.
And as a Dad, my role was critical—I had to be the driver to ensure all of this happened on schedule.
Beyond the Comfort Zone I don’t think I freaked out in an obvious way, but on the inside I just did not know what to think. My paradigms of how a child should be born had already been twisted once; couldn’t I at least hold on to something, like an OB-GYN and a hospital? I was almost consumed by worry, on several levels: Would our insurance cover a homebirth with midwives? Did midwives have enough training to do this? What if something went wrong? Wouldn’t we want to be at a hospital? I had such a good rapport with our male OB-GYN; would that change with a female midwife? In time, my hesitancy about the first three concerns melted away. There was no way in hell that our insurance would pay for it, but we had the money to pay a midwife out of pocket; the difference in costs between a OB-GYN/hospital and midwife were simply staggering, with midwives costing about a tenth as much. I remembered the negative aspects of our hospital experience— the machines, the induction of labor, the overwhelming sense that this most human and natural of experiences was being molded to fit a pre-defined process—and suddenly realized that having more control over the environment and choices would be a great gift. And as I learned more about our midwives, and about midwifery in general, I came to understand and respect the amazing ability and knowledge they had—so my concerns about their ability to solve problems, large or small, was also erased. But the last problem was huge for me. With our first child, I felt truly connected with our OB-GYN. He knew so much, and, more critically for me, he understood a father’s perspective—what we worry about, what we hope for, and how we express it or choose not to. In all of our visits, he responded to my nervous questions with humor and candor, and I felt like we had a “guy thing” going on that made this traditionally “feminine experience” accessible to me. In short, he helped me see that it was okay to be a man and yet be fully engaged in every aspect of the pregnancy and birth, concerned and emotional along the way. For me, the joys and overall positive experience of Ginger’s first pregnancy and Kai’s birth were enabled by his understanding and demeanor. And now I had to deal with women. I have no problem at all with women; in fact, I like women a heck of a lot more than I like men. But I now had to take this intensely personal experience, one in which my wife and I connected on a level beyond what I had known to be possible, and share it with someone who had already been there and done that. I was sad. I was nervous. And more than anything, I was jealous. I’m not talking “I just saw my girlfriend with another man” jealous. I’m talking about a jealousy that was all-consuming and actually depressing in its depth. The jealousy sprang, in the main, from my concern
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that injecting a woman into the process, a woman with so much knowledge of the emotions, physical changes, and subtleties that women go through during pregnancy and birth, would serve to do only one thing—replace me. With our first birth, I felt like a translator of sorts; I could listen to what the doctor said and then reframe it later in ways that made sense so Ginger and I could discuss it and learn together. I was the one who asked the questions when things seemed strange, the one who could take our OB-GYN’s sometimes clinical attitude and add the emotional undercurrents that made it more palatable for my beautiful mom-to-be. This role helped me feel important and needed—a critical part of the birthing process. But with that role gone, I felt just the opposite—peripheral, unneeded, an appendage to my wife’s birth experience. Our midwives and Ginger seemed speak the same language and share similar spiritual and emotional beliefs. I saw this amazing connection between the three of them and Ginger’s body, and I simply wondered how I could ever fit in and be an important part of the birth. If you know me at all, you know that hurt like hell. I am compelled to say that our midwives, Tosi and Claudia, did nothing to make me feel this way; it was all me and my own insecurities and uncertainties. It was clear, eventually, that they loved Ginger deeply and connected with her. I just never felt the blessing of the same connection with them. Ginger, of course, was wonderful. She went out of her way to make me feel loved and valued, despite the fact that our second pregnancy was far more challenging than the first. With her help, and with continued effort on my part, I was able to work through all of this shortly before the birth, thank God. To my surprise—and joy—it all clicked perfectly the day of Kade’s birth. During the birth itself, the midwives were extremely respectful of the fact that Ginger and I needed to be absolutely connected partners throughout. They were extraordinarily non-intrusive, and fostered a feeling that they were there to assist, not control. Personally and professionally, we could not have asked for two people better suited and more loving and capable. They were amazing. Home Field Advantage Any reservations I had about having a homebirth were erased almost from the first contraction. Having our own vibe—the sounds, smells, sights, and feelings of our own things and our own home—made a huge difference in our level of connection and relaxation. There were no machines, no beeping noises, no nurses bustling in and out, no charts or rules. There was just relaxation, comfort, connectivity, listening, laughter, tears and love— with all four (soon to be five) of us, working together in perfect harmony to bring a new child into the world. Poor Kade did have some difficulties getting his
Instead of the presence of the midwives damaging my connection with Ginger, it did exactly the opposite; their calm, soothing presence allowed us to connect deeply in our own Space and time. shoulders in the right place to come out, so we all got in the pool together to help. Because of the challenging delivery, he wasn’t too sure that he was ready to breathe and join our family. As Ginger and I knelt in the pool of afterbirth after hours of intensity, we held him, and talked to him, and rubbed him gently, until he finally took his first breath and let out the most glorious sound in the world—a baby’s first cry. From that point, I knew that if we were ever lucky enough to have another child, we would definitely have it at home. Instead of the presence of the midwives damaging my connection with Ginger, it did exactly the opposite; their calm, soothing presence allowed us to connect deeply in our own space and in our own time. Their ability, their presence, their understanding, and their love for Ginger—their love for all of us—shone through in all they did, for the pre-natal, birth and post-natal visits. A similar birth experience in a hospital would have seen Ginger rushed into surgery, with forceps and needles and tubes and tens of doctors. But at home, it was all us; we were responsible for bringing this kid into the world and bringing him to life. Without that experience, and without the privilege of experiencing it with people I knew and trusted, my life would be less complete. Homebirths, or any non-traditional birth, can be challenging for men because it violates our status quo, pushes us out of our comfort zones, and leaves us feeling out of control. But if we can trust and be open to the fact that billions of women have given healthy, wonderful births in ways we view as “non-traditional”—even though such ways are actually traditional and natural— then we can benefit from one of the most rewarding experiences of all. We can experience a pregnancy and birth the way it was intended to be—connected, beautiful, peaceful and in perfect harmony with nature. Jeff Sabo is a dad and partner who lives with his family and friends in Corvallis, Oregon. When he’s not following his various passions or hanging out with his kids, he writes a blog about parenting, partnering and unschooling at justabaldman.blogspot.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
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THE spirit OF
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Excerpt from Fathers-To-Be Handbook, by Patrick M. Houser
pirituality is another element of becoming a father. The child you are caring for is more than just a body. There is also an invisible yet vital element that is the soul or spirit. This lies at the very core of your child’s being. It contains his creative potential and highest ideals. Like all aspects of a child, it needs to be nurtured. Be aware of the soul within, and hold it as you hold your child’s body: gently, kindly and with the greatest respect. Embrace their spirit and know they embrace yours. When you hold your newborn baby in your arms you can feel the deepest spiritual connection you share. The miracle of pregnancy, birth and early infancy has the possibility to soften and transform the strongest and most formidable of men. Embrace your spiritual potential as a father. You can provide the framework in which your children’s spirit can unfold. Providing the security of a safe home and a structure for them to expand into are key. Going to work each day and looking after your children may seem mundane, but it is spirituality in action, and central to their well-being. Virtues such as compassion, unconditional love and forgiveness are spiritual lessons you can also provide. The unique blend of mind, body and spirit that is your child needs direction that only you, his father, can provide. Whatever guidance you seek to give your child, be the teaching. Children learn about respect by being respected. They learn about trust by being trusted. Children learn best through example. Rather than trying to mold them into your likeness, what if you listened very carefully and let them tell you who they want to become? In this way, you are not so much teaching them, but supporting the awakening of their souls. This happens by finding more and more ways to say yes to who they are. If we recognize the spiritual nature of each of us, then we only need to love our children beyond all measure, trust the process and watch them unfold. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism. From a very young age he was raised as someone special. He was told that he had an extraordinary purpose in this life and that he would accomplish great things. He was treated with tremendous respect by everyone. It was also clear that this was his destiny and
What if you listened very carefully and let your children tell you who they want to become? In this way, you are not so much teaching them, but supporting the awakening of their souls. he should study and learn as much as possible, so as to do his best in his life’s work. Look at who he has become. He teaches peace through everything he says and does—even peace with his people’s oppressors. In my opinion, this is no coincidence. Putting aside religious beliefs or practices, imagine the outcome if every child were raised similarly. What if all children were told that they are someone special, they have unique gifts and an extraordinary life purpose to fulfill, one that only they can? What if all children were treated with that level of care and respect, by everyone? Imagine. Also consider the possibility that your children are destined to be your greatest teachers. A wise old soul may be found in the youngest of bodies. This concept may be just the opposite of what you might have thought. What if you became his student and allowed yourself to learn from him? Listen carefully. Be open to the Spirit of Fatherhood, and all it has to offer. The rewards will be great. It is all a spiritual experience. Thank you, God!
Freelance writer Patrick M. Houser is author of the Fathers-To-Be Handbook and leader of childbirth professional and parent workshops. He presents at conferences and is an activist for new families worldwide. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html. Watch his video interview on our YouTube channel: youtube.com/pathwaysconnect.
issue 34 pathwaystofamilywellness.org
THE HOMEBIRTH By Brian Goedde
fter a long hug and a series of giddy pictures holding the pregnancy test stick (later deleted because we agreed the association with pee was “kinda gross”), Emily gave me pause by saying that she wanted to give birth at home. She had mentioned this before, but I had only smiled and nodded in response, as if she had said something in a different language. Which, in a way, she had. Homebirth? Doula? “But we don’t own our home,” I said, avoiding the point. “It’d be a rented-house-birth.” “What’s with ‘owning a home’ these days?” Emily said. It’s true that it had been on my mind. We had just gotten married, and especially now with a child on the way, wasn’t a man supposed to provide? “It’s like some male version of the biological clock,” she said. Touché. But a homebirth sounded like it would have a significant role for me, and no man was supposed to deliver no baby. Or—some of them were, but they’re called doctors. In hospitals. Where babies are born. Plus, what would we tell our landlady?
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I didn’t really have an objection in principle —just in ignorance—and much of my resistance came from the fact that, for those like me who consider themselves to be open-minded and forward-thinking, it’s always disconcerting to discover your limit. The idea that births should happen in hospitals, however, was elemental even to my progressivism. My childhood bookshelf included Peter Mayle’s Where Did I Come From?, the illustrated, “no-nonsense” explanation of sex, pregnancy and birth, published in 1977, a year after I was born. The section titled “The Birth Day” says, “nature starts things moving in the right direction”—and this direction, when you turn the page, is to the hospital. Emily and I found a compromise: the university hospital had a midwifery clinic. Emily had volunteered at a birth center much like it years ago, which is where she learned about all of the options, from stirrups to birth tubs. The midwifery clinic’s philosophy was that “[a] natural birth in a comfortable environment is best for both mama and baby,” which suited Emily—but across the hall was the universe of modern medicine, which suited me. I didn’t know anything about birth, but I feared all that I had heard could go wrong, and I didn’t want anywhere near that kind of responsibility.
oon we sat in a white exam room flipping through pamphlets when in marched a midwife wearing a T-shirt that said, “U.S. Navy: We Specialize in World Service!” We stood up. She walked right past me, introduced herself to Emily, and sat at the table in front of us. “Have a seat,” she said. “Hi, I’m Brian,” I said, still standing, holding out my hand. “Hi, Brian,” she said, shaking it limply. I deflated into my chair. This is “mid-wifery,” I tried to tell myself, meaning “with woman.” It’s not about me. Yet I couldn’t help flashing forward to the delivery day, when I’d want to be alongside Emily as something more than an out-of-place piece of furniture. And why the Navy T-shirt, Admiral? Hup-two-push? I don’t mean to be catty. I just didn’t want a bad first impression of the person who might be delivering my baby. That’s right: my baby. As she yammered on (to Emily) about all the tests she should get, I thought to myself, Wait a minute. I’m no bystander here. I’m the father. I want a role.
Emily and she both looked at me. I unloaded my fears. What if she got in a car accident on the way here? (The doula would call one of the other midwives in the area, she said.) What if Emily goes into labor and she’s delivering a baby somewhere else? (It has never happened, because she plans for only two due dates per month, but if it were to happen, again, there is a network of midwives that can be called on.) What if— God forbid—something was going wrong with the birth? (This has happened, Kathy said candidly, though only a couple times in more than ten years of practice. We’d all get in the ambulance and go to the hospital, twenty minutes away.) Oh—is this legal? (Yes. Certified Nurse Midwives like her are permitted to deliver at home.) What if Emily is screaming and a neighbor calls the cops? (Kathy answers the doorbell, and the police don’t have a reason to get further involved.) “You also wondered what you’d wear in the birth tub,” Emily chimed in from the couch, barely suppressing her smirk. “Up to you,” Kathy said flatly. I told Kathy I wanted an active role in the birth, but— I had to say it—I didn’t want to deliver no baby. Kathy nodded her head and spelled it out: As the midwife, she is completely responsible for the baby and the mother. As Emily’s partner, my job is to support Emily, to do everything she says. The doula, whom Emily and I also choose, is there to support us all—including me. Someone to help me? It was all I needed to hear. I was in. The only time Kathy caught me off guard was when she said that childbirth was “beautiful.” I had never thought of it that way, and it made me think of how I had been imagining this moment, this genesis of my own family. Yes, there was beauty in the idea of Emily and I having a child, but I had only been terrified of the event
eeks later, Kathy, a homebirth midwife, sat on the other side of a steeping teapot in our living room. She wore a finely patterned cardigan, leather boots, and a nose piercing, which, as I poured us tea, I got close enough to see was a tiny silver flower. Kathy opened the discussion. “So, what questions do you have about homebirth?”
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It was one of those thoughts that changed the way I passed people on the sidewalk, at least for a day or so. For every person you see, a woman labored. that would bring it. Kathy offered a different perspective, one that was instantly transformational. She was the first person to make Emily feel confident and excited about her labor, and, though some of my fears and reservations still lingered (who exactly are all these “other midwives”?), I started to look forward to the beautiful birth myself. Before long I got a gift in the mail from Emily’s friend Ellen: grey swim shorts to wear in the birth tub with a multi-colored, sparkly-sequined “GO TEAM GOEDDE” embroidered on the butt. Other friends and family members were less amused. One of my oldest friends called to tell me about a birth he had recently heard about, in which, as he put it, “If they hadn’t been in the hospital, both the mom and the baby could have died.” He knew nothing else about the birth—breech, ruptured placenta, umbilical cord prolapse?—beyond this comment, which was “I think from the doctor.” How could I possibly respond? I couldn’t say it wouldn’t happen to us—whatever “it” was. Being on the defensive is awful when you’re not even sure what you’re defending yourself against. The only position I could take was to say we’re proceeding as planned in the face of this clear and obvious danger. My mother was diplomatic in her objection: “They make birth rooms [in hospitals] really nice now, you know.” I described for her our visit to the midwifery clinic, but she was unmoved. She then described for me the birth of my younger sister, where there was “poop in the birth canal,” and once they discovered this, a c-section “got her right out.” Again, we were facing clear and obvious danger, and I didn’t know how to respond. “I just don’t want to worry,” my mom said, always her bottom line. A coworker of mine, herself a mother of two, was less diplomatic: “Emily’s crazy if she wants to do it without drugs.” Again, I had no response. On this note, my dad asked, “What’s the greatest amount of pain she’s ever had?” “Well, she broke her arm when she was a kid,” I said, “but that’s a different kind of pain.” I was ready for this one. Emily and I had been going to a birth class that supported homebirth; the instructor, Monica, an unflaggingly calm and cheerful Ph.D. student in women’s studies, had become our doula. I described for my dad the pain management exercise we did in class: gripping ice cubes at the rate and length of time of contractions. The purpose was to prepare for the
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experience, I told him, to strategize how to trust yourself to cope with the intensity when it comes. Childbirth may not be like breaking your arm, but I also felt silly comparing it to making my hand really, really cold. “Look, this is something Emily wants to do,” I said, hoping to establish our bottom line. It could be hard to hold our ground, especially because sometimes I didn’t know where our ground even was. One night we went to the public library for a screening of The Business of Being Born, a documentary that excoriates standard hospital practices and applauds the “homebirth movement.” In rows of stackable plastic chairs, over the din of kids crawling on their parents, we watched one startling fact, figure and testimony after another, both of successful homebirths and of hospital births that began well but quickly went down the slippery slope of drugs and other interventions, ending in caesarian-section deliveries. It was gratifying to feel our homebirth plan so supported, but I also found myself beginning to resist my allies. In the discussion that followed the movie, one mother said she gave birth in a mountain lake and an admiring “oooh” rose from the crowd. I thought, Hold on. Was this some kind of competition? Who among us has had the most natural birth? Why don’t we ask who among us has the most natural, most pure baby? And do we really have to vilify c-sections as some kind of failure or injustice? On this last point, however, I could have just been feeling touchy. After all, they were talking about my mom.
s part of our birth class, Monica assigned us to ask our parents for a complete and unabridged story of our own births. Some of us had a few details—I had known I was born by c-section—but no one knew much. Now that we were about to give birth, Monica asked, wouldn’t we be interested to know how we came into the world? For every person who ever lived, there is a unique birth story. Imagine it, and wonder why we don’t know more of them, Monica said, a feminist critique clearly implied. It was one of those thoughts that changed the way I passed people on the sidewalk, at least for a day or so. For every person you see, a woman labored. My parents lived in Flagstaff, Arizona, but wanted me to be born 2½ hours south at the Edgar Cayce Clinic, a medical practice based on the teachings of the psychic by the same name. My doctor was Dr. Gladys McGarey, an M.D. who thought of herself as more of a “healer”
than a doctor, and who practiced nontraditional, nonwestern, homeopathic healthcare. As Mom wrote me, McGarey had told my parents that she’d like to “wrap [my] mind, body and soul together with her hands and a prayer” after I was born. Mom’s prenatal care involved herbal teas, and she labored in the clinic with acupuncture needles across her belly. Despite their plans, as Mom’s e-mail said, “a cesarean was decided.” By whom? She doesn’t say. My dad’s e-mail elaborated. (They’ve long been divorced, so wrote the accounts separately.) The acupuncture as pain relief wasn’t working enough, Dad wrote, so Mom had requested an epidural block. Then: [Dr. McGary] spoke with me in the hall and said that you were just too big to get through the birth canal, and Karen was then just too tired to push anymore, and of course nobody had slept in a while. So the doctor advised that the stress of pushing on you and Karen was getting risky for everyone’s health and she needed the okay for her decision to proceed with a cesarean delivery. My dad had to stay out in the hall, he said, and my mom said she was “out cold” for the procedure. Did I get my prayer? I had known that I was born by c-section, but until recently c-sections to me had a neutral meaning. It was just one way that people came into the world. (When I was younger I thought it meant I had some bragging rights because I was born the same way Caesar was.) Now that a cesarean has become something Emily vehemently does not want to have, my birth story read to me as a cautionary tale: You can write the birth plan, it said, but don’t think you’re writing the birth story.
“Leave it all here,” she said upon leaving. “I’ll come back Wednesday to paint the trim.” On Wednesday at noon I got a call at work. “My water broke?” Emily said. “I called Kathy….” Her throat was tightening. “I’m scared,” she could barely say. I dashed home to a puffy- and wide-eyed Emily sitting on a towel in front of the computer, canceling the classes she was scheduled to teach that day and the appointments she was scheduled to have. She turned to me. “I think we might have to go to the hospital.” “What did Kathy say?” “It’s up to me.” At 36 weeks the baby is probably just early, Kathy said, but if Emily felt like something could be wrong, she would meet us at the hospital. “Do you think something’s wrong?” Emily stared past me, looking inward, her hands on her belly. “No.” “Then why not here?” I was surprised to hear myself say it. We both looked into the room. All the furniture was still crammed in the middle of our one-bedroom house. My active role in Emily’s labor had begun. While she called Kathy back I threw the drop cloths and paint buckets into the basement, swung the 7-foot ladder through
n Emily’s eighth month of pregnancy she realized something wasn’t right. The walls in our bedroom and the office-turned-nursery were scratched and smudged from the former renters. The following weekend, one month before the due date, our landlady and I were pushing our furniture out of the rooms and mixing the squash-yellow paint. “So,” she said, rolling paint on the wall behind me, “are you having the baby at the U. hospital?” Uh-oh. “Actually, we’re having it here.” I couldn’t bear to turn around. “With a midwife and a doula.” I hoped to sound like I knew what I was talking about—which, by this point, I did. More or less. “Oh really,” she said, whooshing her paint roller up the wall. “It’s legal,” I was ready to say, but the moment passed. Whew.
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the house (and over Emily) and back into the garage, and shoved all the furniture roughly back into place. I called our landlady, got her voicemail, and hoped to heaven she’d get my message before showing up in her paintsplattered sweatpants. “I need you to go to the hardware store,” Emily said. “The hardware store?” “For the birth tub.” She gave me a quick kiss and a list: hose, faucet adapter, tarp, pump. “Drive carefully.” I’m not the handiest guy around the house—my toolbox doubles as the kitchen junk drawer—but I have never before felt like such an idiot at Ace Hardware. While my wife was in labor I was in the hoses aisle wondering, “Do I need the 12- or 25-footer? Better too long than too short, I guess.” I then grabbed the biggest tarp they had and all the faucet adapters they had to offer, thinking one of them must work, but I came to a halt in front of the pumps. A baby-faced employee in an Ace Is the Place! vest ambled down the aisle. “Can I help you find something?”
“Um, a pump.” “What’s it for?” Well, see, my wife’s giving birth in the living room…. No. “I’m not really sure,” I said, truthfully. He looked puzzled. “Just something for around the house?” “Yes! For around the house.” He handed me the most versatile (most expensive) pump and off I went. The pump never left the bag. When I got back Emily had already gone, as Monica affectionately called it, “to labor land.” She swayed, squatted, crawled and moaned with me close behind, trying to give confident encouragement but getting increasingly anxious for Monica or Kathy to arrive. It was now 3 p.m. Emily’s labor was progressing far faster than anyone expected it would. “I need to poop,” Emily suddenly said. I let her have her privacy. “No—I need to push! I can’t—Where’s Kathy?!” “She’ll get here,” I said to the bathroom door, desperate to believe so myself, “and if not, I’ll deliver the baby!” Emily didn’t respond, thankfully, and this bluff was never called. Moments later Monica rushed in—I have never been so relieved to see a person in all my life— soon followed by Kathy. We moved to the bed, me at Emily’s side and Monica sitting behind her for support. For about a half-hour Emily alternated between deep meditation and wide-mouth screams—monk, rock star, monk, rock star. It was awesome. Then Kathy asked me if I wanted to catch the baby, and I didn’t think twice: Two pushes later Theo arrived, glossy and quivering, startled but not disturbed, cradled in my outstretched hands. “Bring the baby to Mom,” Kathy said, her hands still under mine. Emily reached out to us, and all in the house gave way to the peaceful, blissful rapture of tending to the newborn. We wiped Theo off, weighed him in (6 lbs. 11 oz.), wrapped him up, and put on his white stocking cap that was improbably teeny until that moment. We took a series of giddy pictures (all of these ones saved), made sure he could “latch on” to nurse, and I took the inaugural load of laundry down to the basement. Kathy and Monica told us to call them at any hour, for any reason, and after making plans to return the next morning, they left. I then called my parents to tell them the news—and the story. Brian Goedde’s personal essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and The Seattle Review, among other places. He has an MFA from the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html. Reprinted by permission of CEDARS. Copyright 2011.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org issue 34
T H E OU TE R WOM B
What’s in Your Baby’s Formula? By Justin Ohm, D.C.
© GU IDO VRO LA / D REA MSTIM E.COM
reastfeeding has long been considered the best option for mother and child. Now, compared to most major formula brands available, breastfeeding is really the only option. Most infant formulas have added DHA and ARA, two important essential fatty acids that are normally found in breastmilk. Unfortunately, the added fatty acids are produced from fermented algae and fungus in a laboratory and extracted using hexane. The end products are called “single-cell oils” (SCO), and are molecularly different from the fatty acids found in breastmilk. To make matters worse, these manufactured oils have not yet been approved by the FDA as safe for consumption. Amazingly, even if you’re buying organic formula, you are not protected, since all major brands are including DHASCO and ARASCO (DHA/ARA in single-cell oil form) in their organic lines. Why is this happening? The company responsible for the production of these single-cell oils is Martek Biosciences Corporation. In the mid 1990s, Martek positioned itself to produce DHASCO and ARASCO with the hope that it would be adopted as a standard ingredient in infant formulas. A 1996 letter to Martek investors included this alarming statement: “Even if [the DHA/ARA blend] has no benefit, we think it would be widely incorporated into formulas, as a marketing tool and to allow companies to promote their formula as ‘closest to human milk’.” Side effects that have been associated with DHASCO and ARASCO include digestion disturbances, such as diarrhea, vomiting and increased gassiness. Despite this letter being public record, and the FDA questioning the safety of these manufactured oils, there exists no authority to stop their inclusion in infant formulas. There seems to be one brand, Nature’s One, that uses added DHA and ARA extracted naturally from egg yolks. Like most organic formulas, a major ingredient is organic brown rice syrup, which has recently been shown to be at significant risk of containing arsenic at higher than acceptable levels. To the credit of Nature’s One, however, the company uses only U.S.-grown organic brown rice, and employs independent laboratory testing to ensure “undetectable” levels of arsenic. If you truly cannot breastfeed or are unable to pump and store, and don’t have access to a breastmilk bank (find one at hmbana.org), your best option might be to make your own formula with trusted ingredients. The Weston A. Price Foundation has an excellent raw milk–based recipe on its website, westonaprice.org.
ALTERNATIVE BRAND CHOICE Nature’s One uses added DHA and ARA extracted naturally from egg yolks.
MAKE YOUR OWN If you cannot breastfeed or are unable to pump and store, and don’t have access to a breastmilk bank, your best option might be to make your own formula with trusted ingredients. The Weston A. Price Foundation has an excellent raw milk–based recipe on its website, westonaprice.org.
FIND A MILK BANK Breastmilk banks aren’t everywhere, but there may be one in your area. You can find out locations of banks nationwide by consulting the map at hmbana.org.
Justin Ohm, D.C., DACCP, focuses his attention on the care of children and pregnant women. A 2006 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, Justin graduated magna cum laude and received the Virgil Strang Philosophy Award. With practices in southern Philadelphia and Media, Pennsylvania, Justin is part of a strong natural birth community in the Philadelphia area. He and his wife, Melissa, have three healthy, robust daughters, each of them born at home. View article resources and author information here: pathways tofamilywellness.org/references.html.
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T H E OU T ER WOM B
SOCIETAL BARRIERS TO
By Annie Urban
hen people think of breastfeeding difficulties, the things that probably come to mind are supply issues, bad latch, cracked nipples, constant feedings and the like. Certainly, there are women who are afflicted by those difficulties and who cannot overcome them. But I believe the societal barriers to breastfeeding have a much more significant impact on breastfeeding rates than the medical or technical issues.
What are the societal barriers to breastfeeding? Formula advertising: Everywhere you look, formula is being pushed on new moms. Buying maternity clothes? You can enter a drawing to win a year’s worth of formula. Buying a parenting magazine? Expect a few two-page spreads telling you about the latest hype on formula being closer than ever to breastmilk. Giving birth at a hospital? Expect to go home with a sponsored bag full of formula samples and coupons, unless you are lucky enough to give birth in a baby-friendly hospital. Surfing the Web looking for breastfeeding advice? The formula companies will try to deceive you into clicking on their ads by pretending they are about breastfeeding. We need to push to make compliance with the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing Breast-Milk Substitutes into a standard or a law, or find some other way to ensure that formula and bottle companies are not acting unethically and unnecessarily sabotaging breastfeeding in pursuit of corporate profits. Insufficient education of medical professionals: Women having trouble with breastfeeding often turn to their pediatrician or to a general practitioner. Unfortunately, the amount of education that these doctors have
WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK
AUGUST 1–7, 2012 worldbreastfeedingweek.org 28
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in breastfeeding is insufficient. It will obviously differ from school to school and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but I have heard of some doctors having merely a few hours of training on breastfeeding. In addition, pediatricians’ attitudes about breastfeeding are declining, doctors whose skills are most lacking are least likely to seek training to upgrade it, and there are plenty of medical professionals who are just downright not supportive of breastfeeding, either on purpose or out of ignorance. So when I hear people say, “the pediatrician said ‘X’ and I trust him, so we followed his advice,” forgive me for being a bit skeptical. If you are having breastfeeding difficulties and your doctor does not refer you to a lactation consultant, you should be concerned. Be proactive and build your A-Team before your baby arrives.
Poor access to lactation consultants and breast pumps: People who are struggling with breastfeeding need access to qualified lactation professionals—i.e. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants— and may often need access to a quality double electric breast pump to help maintain or increase supply while working on breastfeeding issues. However, a lot of people who do have access to healthcare still do not have access to these essential breastfeeding supports.
Lack of maternity leave: In the United States, women do not have access to decent maternity leave. Some have no access to maternity leave at all. In Canada, most women have access to maternity leave, but there are pressures that prevent many women from being able to take leave or that force them to go back early. It can take months to get breastfeeding well established, and many women must return to work before it has happened. The insufficient maternity leave provisions in many countries pose a significant barrier to breastfeeding. No workplace support for breastfeeding: Whether they are forced back to work due to inadequate maternity leave provisions
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or choose to go back to work, women do not have sufficient support for breastfeeding in the workplace. Some states have laws that protect women’s rights in this regard, but many do not. Even within those states that do have laws, employers are known to put pressure on breastfeeding women or make them feel bad for needing facilities or time to pump. There is also not enough support for babies-at-work programs, which allow women to bring small babies to work with them if they choose. Without the right support, women often find themselves trying to pump enough milk sitting on a toilet without frequent enough breaks to maintain milk supply.
Milk banks not a priority: An entire industry and infrastructure is set up to collect, screen and distribute blood to those that need it, but milk banks are not a priority. There are too few of them, and the ones that exist appear to be in it more for the profits than for ensuring that every baby has access to breastmilk. Making milk banks a bigger priority would allow women with excess milk to provide it to those that need it, thereby reducing the dependency on formula. Attitudes and imagery: People will breastfeed if they see others breastfeeding. Peer pressure, feeling normal, having role models—call it what you like, it is what it
is. If the predominant image in public, in magazines, in movies and on television is bottle feeding, then people will see that as normal. If it is not, then fewer people will breastfeed, and those who do will be ostracized and discriminated against by the anti-nursing-in-public brigade. This is one of the reasons I think it is so important to breastfeed in public. This is why I think we need at least as many breastfeeding dolls as bottle-feeding dolls. We need to keep providing medical, technical and moral support to women who are struggling with breastfeeding. That will always be a requirement. But to truly facilitate breastfeeding, we need to break down these barriers so that all families and all babies can enjoy both the health benefits and the economic benefits of breastfeeding.
Annie Urban has been blogging about the art and science of parenting on the PhD in Parenting blog since May 2008. She is a social, political and consumer advocate on issues of importance to parents, women and children. She regularly uses her blog as a platform to create awareness and to advocate for change, calling out the government, corporations, media and sometimes other bloggers for positions, policies and actions that threaten the rights and well-being of parents and their children. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
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PAREN T ING
A Parent’s Right to Pleasure Emotional Wellness for Moms and Dads By Robin Grille
hen a new baby arrives, most mothers and fathers notice themselves undergoing some profound emotional changes. One pair of parents told me they could not bear to watch the news on television for a long time after their first baby was born. All of a sudden, images of tragedy had become a lot more upsetting. Both of them were surprised at how much more sensitive they had become. It might seem bewildering to find all your emotions amplified once your child is born. This pronounced sensitivity probably won’t last longer than the first few months of your baby’s life, but it is a natural and healthy part of parents’ development. Forget Logic: Give In to Irrational Love When a new child arrives, both Mom and Dad undergo intense hormonal changes. You might find yourselves feeling more vulnerable, teary, elated and more tender and affectionate than you have ever known yourself to be. You might also find yourself feeling more protective, tense, watchful and reactive. At the core, this is a wonderful transformation that is taking place, and you should welcome it, surrender to it. It is precisely this emotional aliveness that helps you to be protective and to tune in and connect to your baby. Many mothers and fathers have cried together and laughed together during the birth of their child, and for days afterwards. This is not a time for being logical and composed. It is a time to give in to the power of irrational and senseless love. We do a great injustice to parents—and worse, to their baby—if we interfere with or judge this beautiful and natural process. One father told me how he spontaneously burst into tears the moment his daughter was born. The nurses clumsily told him, “Get over it, your wife and baby are healthy.” What a pathetic misreading of the ineffable joy and wonder behind his tears. Another man I know was so ecstatic he ran into every single shop in our local community shouting about the birth of his son to everyone who happened to be there, friend or stranger. Startled bystanders clapped and cheered him; his boundless joy became everyone’s joy and he lit up our community like a sun. When my daughter was a few days old I tried to sing a love song to her, but broke down and wept. So many fathers and mothers become mistyeyed when they recall the birth of their child.
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Although the emotional changes are not so immediately visible for everyone, most parents will experience some kind of softening around their hearts—and the effects are stronger if we welcome them. These changes are more than just a natural mechanism to help us to be more nurturing and sensitive as parents. We should all give thanks to our children for bringing us back to our hearts so irresistibly, for helping us to be more human. Shifting to a Heart-Centered Life Living in this task-oriented culture, we seem to be achieving material wonders while we starve for connection and a heart-centered life. Families are disintegrating and depression is at epidemic levels. Our unbalanced focus on productivity has made us successful, yet empty and alone. If we are to bring spirit, passion and a sense of belonging into our lives, we need to wholeheartedly embrace this return to our feeling natures, to make room in our lives for the swell of emotion brought to us by our children. Our emotional inner world is what connects us to each other, and connection brings harmony to our families, our communities and our world. Beginning with the tender early months with our new baby, Nature has prepared for us parents a range of ineffable experiences, surprising in their depth, unlike anything we may have known before. Moments of calm togetherness will stimulate flows of oxytocin, the hormone of love and connectedness. This natural gift is meant for your surrender, and it will feed your heart just as you nurture your child. The psychology of bliss merely requires that you pay quiet attention to any sensations in the center of your chest, and to the baby in your arms. Here is what I’d like you to look for, if you haven’t already found it: Sitting with your baby when all is well, you might find yourself being lulled into a deep tranquility, a sense of peace and satisfaction that envelops you. It can be like a spontaneous meditation, a trancelike state in which your mental chatter dies down and you simply enjoy being there. Let yourself sink into this experience, let your baby take you there. Hang out idly together, looking at each other sometimes, humming a tune or just sitting quietly with your eyes closed. Allow there to be a space free of plans and lists, let there be sweet nothing, and just observe the many changing emotions and expressions that pass between you. Mothers and fathers can both do
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this, whether you are feeding your baby or just sitting together enjoying each other’s presence. You might find this particularly relaxing if you are in a rocking chair. Just enjoy the feel of your baby’s little body against yours, and take the time to do…absolutely nothing. If you give in to these quiet moments with your baby, you might find that a deliciously peaceful feeling sweeps over you. If you make a special time to enter into this meditative space together, this can be one of the most nourishing acts for you and for your baby. For mothers, breastfeeding generates a cocktail of bliss-inducing hormones like oxytocin. But Nature also includes fathers in this delicious hormonal trance—just sitting quietly together, especially if you have direct skinto-skin contact with your baby, will generate this hormonal infusion for both parents. Early childhood seems to provide repeated opportunities for you and your baby to feel more than just contented. It is as if Nature is doing its best to take you and your baby into states of bliss. Reclaiming Our Capacity for True Bliss If that is the case, then what has happened to this human capacity for bliss? Has it been lost to us? Is it something reserved for mystics, monks and those who practice yoga and meditate for hours every day? A natural birth, breastfeeding and healthy attachment— those most generous purveyors of ecstatic hormonal flows—have been quite badly interfered with on a global scale and have all but been eliminated from childhood. Is it any wonder that we have lost touch with so much of the pleasure and the joy that comes from bodily life? Our brain’s pleasure centers have not been given the chance to grow enough neural connections, which leaves us feeling empty and needy. In their millions, people around the world spend their lives searching for this missing link to inner fulfillment. We look desperately for the lost bliss in artificial substitutes such as drugs, alcohol, food, fame, money or compulsive sexuality. All the mechanisms to produce these feelings exist in our nervous systems, but it is as if the bliss centers remain unplugged or the wiring has been cut. The common problem of substance addiction would be dramatically reduced if we, as a society, did more to support the parent-baby connection at its fullest. This is not just speculation. Scandinavian researchers have linked substance abuse to the use of painkilling drugs during labor. The evidence showing that insecure attachment can lead to substance abuse is even clearer. Psychotherapists have known for a long time that obsession with power, fame or fortune is also a desperate compensation for the empty space inside where parental love and blissful connection should have been. These kinds of research and clinical findings have convinced many psychologists to redefine addiction to drugs or alcohol as an attachment disorder.
The bliss connection can be relearned in adulthood; we don’t need to see ourselves as irreparably damaged if early childhood did not furnish us with this fundamental biological experience. Psychological healing involves experiences that stimulate the growth of new neural pathways in the brain, much like forging new tracks through a forest to a clearing that is bright and sunny. Healing is about connection: stronger connection to our selves (our feelings, our emotional needs, our dreams and yearnings), and enriched connections with others. But thinking about our children: Doesn’t it make more sense to take advantage of the opportunities offered so generously by Nature during their earliest childhood? The human brain grows fastest during the first three years, and it can be quite a bit harder for a mature nervous system to relearn its connection to wellness.
Our progress towards more natural styles of parenting is a key to reclaiming humanity’s emotional health.
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PAREN T ING
Our emotional inner world is what connects us to each other, and connection brings harmony to our families, our community and our world.
The human body is designed for sublime pleasure. I don’t just mean transient, genital pleasure, and I’m not just talking about shallow hedonism here, but the physically perceptible pleasure that appears in our hearts when we love, or when we stand before something of great beauty. I am talking about the all-over pleasure that is the pleasure of the soul. Life provides all of us with ample opportunities for following our bliss as adults. If we choose a line of work that has a lot of meaning for us, it can bring us profound satisfaction. Immersing ourselves in Nature can restore our emotional wellbeing, if we let it. We can be enraptured by listening to a piece of music, looking at an exquisite work of art, reading poetry or literature—or creating any of these ourselves. Dancing, intense exercise or a thrilling sport can also be avenues to peak, ecstatic experiences. Meditation is a well-accepted doorway to blissful depths. When you add these things together, it looks like bodily life teems with abundant fonts of joy—and the best are free of charge. Of all life’s pleasures, it seems like relationships may be the most rewarding. When we connect with people we care about, oxytocin levels go up—and when we are making love, it rains oxytocin! Our nervous systems are innately capable of peak moments of bliss and profound states of peace. If enough children are given the fulfilling connection that is evolution’s design, we could create the most loving and peaceful societies that ever graced the earth. I am not suggesting that human suffering and human conflict can be entirely eliminated, but I do mean that our potential for human love, enjoyable living and social harmony has so far only been superficially tapped. Our progress towards more natural styles of parenting is a key to reclaiming humanity’s emotional health. Your Baby Needs a Blissful Parent! Here is something of great value that many parenting manuals don’t seem to emphasize enough. Clearly, there are many things your child needs from you at every developmental stage—but your baby and child deeply need you to be enjoying yourself. Your presence is far more nourishing to them when it is pleasurable for you to interact with them. So, let’s turn now to ourselves, and look at what it takes to maintain our own state of heart-wellness. Parenting can be an emotional jungle sometimes. We become sad for our children when they have a bad day; we feel lost, helpless or inadequate when we cannot console or guide them. We feel abandoned when they trade us in for the company of their peers. Through these innumerable ups and downs, what is most important to know is that we shouldn’t bear these feelings alone. We should share these emotional journeys with our partners, closest friends, family or someone in our parent support group. The essential sustenance of emotional connectedness is one of the main advantages of cooperative parenting.
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If we are to bring spirit, passion and a sense of belonging into our lives, we need to wholeheartedly embrace this return to our feeling natures, to make room in our lives for the swell of emotion brought to us by our children.
If you are not used to disclosing your emotions, doing so might feel uncomfortable at first, but it is worth taking the risk and extending your comfort zone a little. When you express your feelings and receive emotional support, you will notice how much more space you have for your child afterward, and how much more loving you feel. Emotional maintenance is essential for parents if we want to keep renewing the joy of being a parent. There are many of us, across a range of cultures, tending toward shyness about all kinds of feelings; in the modern world, especially, we don’t seem to value emotions. Even joy is sometimes understated; we seem to hold it back as much as the other emotions. Often, life’s pleasures pass us by simply because we don’t take a moment to focus on them, much like walking past a beautiful view without turning our heads to see…without saying, “Wow!” So why not make a point of noticing every day something about your child that gives you pleasure, that uplifts your spirit or tickles your heart. It could be something new your child learns to do, one of her smiles, something funny he says, or a small act of kindness. Stop to breathe in the joy of this moment, and then tell someone about it. Share your joy and revel in it. When your joy is savored, and then shared, it is magnified—it is as if your body becomes better at producing it. You deserve for parenting to be more than a job: It could be your most exciting adventure. What are a Parent’s Fundamental Needs? Caring for a baby or child might be the greatest feat of love in action that you have ever done and will ever do again. You owe it to yourself—and to your child—to remember that you also have needs. If you are to nourish a child emotionally, then you also need emotional nourishment. I am going to propose a list of fundamental emotional needs that I believe all parents have. And unless these emotional needs are met, our “emotional wells” run dry—and then parenting suffers. Of course, you might see this list of emotional needs a little differently and may like to alter it—add a few, subtract a few—to fit how you feel. The main thing is that you pay attention to your emotional needs and make a place for them in your life as a parent. Consider the following as what you as a parent require, and deserve: ▪ Emotional support from a partner (and if no partner is available, a double dose of the next point). ▪ Emotional support from family or friends. ▪ Some space to yourself, some time to be alone, even if only a few minutes each day. ▪ Some regular, quality time with other adults (for conversation, and so on). ▪ Having fun—in whatever way you can fit it into your life. ▪ Some physically pleasurable activities, such as
sunbaking, having a massage, listening to music, playing music, dancing, cycling, playing your sport, walking in nature and so forth, as often as you can Doing some (or at least a little!) activity that is creative or personally meaningful. For example: paid or volunteer work, some study, a craft, cooking, gardening, reading or yoga.
I am aware that at this point many readers will be thinking: Get real. I’m up to my earlobes in diapers, the house is a mess, the garden is a junkyard and we don’t even know how we’ll make the rent (or the mortgage) payment this month. You think I’ve got time for fun? If at first glance my “Parents’ Bill of Rights” above seems unrealistic, it is only because of our bizarre modern ideas of isolated parenting. It is a far more unrealistic proposition to think that, if we hope to find the joy that is our birthright, we can go on parenting alone in our modern nuclear family units. Parenting is meant to be done in a supportive group, and when it is—when parents, families and communities help each other, it is far more likely that we will have all our emotional needs met. It is when we ourselves feel seen and heard, when we feel held in a web of community, that we pass on to our children the best that we have inside us. In the adventure of parenting, pleasure is not a luxury—it is a necessity. May you and your family find ever more of the sublime treasures that the heart connection can bring. This article was adapted from passages in Heart to Heart Parenting, by Australian psychologist Robin Grille. The U.S. edition of this book was published in Spring 2012.
Robin Grille is a father, psychologist in private practice, and a parenting educator. His articles on parenting and child development have been widely published and translated around the world. Robin’s first book, 2005’s Parenting for a Peaceful World, has received international acclaim, and his 2008 followup, Heart to Heart Parenting, has recently been published in the U.S. Robin’s work is animated by his belief that humanity’s future is largely dependent on the way we collectively relate to our children. Drawing from more than 20 years’ clinical experience and from leading-edge neuropsychological research, Robin’s seminars and courses focus on healthy emotional development for children as well as parents, while building supportive, cooperative parenting communities. To find out more about Robin’s work, visit our-emotional-health.com and hearttoheartparenting.org. Check out Pathways’ Facebook page for upcoming teleconferences with Robin! View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
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FAMI LY L IVI N G
Father Effect POSITIVE EFFECTS OF INVOLVED DADS By Michelle Higgins
orty years ago it was a novelty for a father to be present at the birth of his own child. Today we would be shocked if, instead of talking his partner through each painful contraction, Dad was downing a beer at the pub or nervously pacing up and down the hospital corridor. Fatherhood in Transition Feminist academic, author and father, Hugo Schwyzer, sees a real change in the way that the current generation of fathers are approaching their parenting role: “Many of them see fathering as a genuine vocation. They don’t just pay lip service to putting family first. They do it.” While the shift towards shared parenting is real, a recent study found “seventy-five percent of men worry that their jobs prevent them from having the time to be the kind of dads they want to be.” And when asked what single change would make the greatest difference in their ability to juggle work and family life, fathers named workplace flexibility as their top demand. What is the Father Effect? The research shows that fathers are right to want to spend more time with their children. Involved fathers have a significant and positive impact on their children’s development. And while the greater economic security that results from having more than one parent is a factor, that alone does not fully explain the father effect. Intelligence Numerous studies have found that children who grow up in a household with a father show superior outcomes in intelligence tests. This is particularly marked in the area of non-verbal (or spatial) reasoning—ways of thinking that are important in fields such as mathematics, science and engineering. The IQ advantage is most commonly attributed to the way that fathers interact with their children, with an emphasis on the physical (especially roughhousing
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and outdoor activities) and play involving the manipulation of objects like blocks and Lego, rather than language based activities. However, a study of Chinese parents found that it was a father’s warmth toward his child that was the most important factor in predicting a child’s future academic success. Emotional IQ While much attention has been paid to the positive effect of fathers on their children’s intellectual development, a recent Canadian study provides new insight into the impact fathers have on their children’s emotional development. Led by Erin Pougnet, the study found that children benefited most when fathers: ▪ responded in a consistent manner to positive and negative behaviors. ▪ set limits that were appropriate and logical. ▪ explained the reasons behind those limits.
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According to Pougnet, this approach “helps children to understand what is expected of them and feel secure that their parents will both keep them safe and encourage them to act independently when appropriate.” Previous research has shown that children experience an increase in negative emotions and behaviors when their father is absent, including: ▪ greater sadness, withdrawal and anxiety. ▪ increased aggression, impulsivity and hyperactivity. In Peugnot’s research, girls’ emotional response to a father’s absence was more marked than boys’: “Girls whose fathers lived with them when they were in middle childhood (ages 6–10 years) demonstrated less sadness, worry, and shyness as pre-teens (ages 9–13 years) compared with girls whose fathers did not live with them. The same was not true for boys.” Reflecting on these findings, Pougnet says, “One hypothesis is that girls experience stress and negative emotions differently than boys when their parents’ relationship breaks down and when they are faced with things such as discord between their parents, mothers’ difficulties upon family disruption, and negative parentchild relationships.” At the same time, Pougnet cautions that a home environment marred by high levels of parental conflict, particularly aggression, can be highly damaging to a child’s development. In her view, “This research does not indicate that children whose fathers do not live with them are necessarily put at a disadvantage. Because couple conflict, in particular, was a risk factor for increased intellectual and
emotional difficulties in children—it is preferable for children to grow up in a single-person household than in a conflict-ridden environment.”
What the Research Means Parents can take heart from the growing body of research into the father effect, knowing that greater involvement by fathers is highly beneficial to children. All parents, whether male or female, can learn from the positive findings on the father effect by providing children with: ▪ consistent responses to behaviour, along with clear limits and explaining the reasons behind them. ▪ play opportunities that stimulate the child’s non-verbal reasoning abilities, such as blocks, Lego, ball games, roughhousing, outdoor activities. ▪ a warm and loving home environment that is free from persistent conflict, and seeking help when these problems cannot be resolved. Access to parental leave and flexible workplace conditions should no longer be seen as a women’s issue— these demands are a matter of importance to men, women and children, who all benefit when fathers are more involved in childcare. Dr. Schwyzer agrees that there is much room for optimism when it comes to the current generation of dads: “Our fathers loved us, but often lacked the vocabulary to express it and the skills to put that love into tender actions. This younger generation has those tools.”
Michelle Higgins, B.A., L.L.B., is a parenting writer, a mother and citizen of Australia and the United States. With a varied career that has included working in a domestic violence agency and as a union organizer, Michelle now lives in California with her four children and husband. She writes regularly about children’s social and emotional well-being. This article has been reproduced with the permission of happychild.com.au. View author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
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CHIRO P RACT IC F OR L IF E
How chiropractic honors the health already within your child
s chiropractors, we are confident that your child can live a healthy and abundant life. Chiropractic itself is based on hope…hope that you and your children are designed for health. It’s interesting that most people never think to ask a chiropractor’s opinion when it comes to their kids. If you were to ask your M.D. why your children are constantly getting sick, he would probably admit that he doesn’t know. And to be perfectly honest, that’s not your doctor’s fault, because diagnosing sickness and disease is extremely complicated. In fact, Dr. David Newman,
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associate professor of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, once stated, “Somewhere in the range of 85 percent of what we do, we don’t have adequate science to speak with certainty.” The practice of medicine is focused almost entirely on the prevention and treatment of sickness and disease, with little concern for what it really means to be healthy. At first that might be difficult to understand because of everything that you’ve ever heard about health. But in order to help your children to be healthy, you need to think less about sickness (what is wrong with their bodies) and more
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By Nick Spano, D.C.
about health (how to help them express their personal inner health potential). Health is not the absence of disease. That is a simple statement that has very important implications for the sake of your kids. If your M.D. doesn’t know that true health comes from within—that you were designed to be healthy—then he doesn’t know where to find health, and is only concerned with treating sickness. Maybe you’ve already resigned yourself to accept a lifetime of doctor visits and drugs for yourself, but I’m certain that you want something better for your children. They are not destined for sickness and disease. A culture of cynicism and distrust in the body seems to pervade the practice of medicine. Please don’t allow it to affect the way you view their precious birthright to be healthy. Ask a chiropractor why we are certain that your child has a natural ability to be healthy, and you might be pleasantly surprised by hope! When it comes to hope, perhaps the cruelest cut comes from our culture’s misguided understanding of the field of genetics. Parents have been force-fed the belief that their children are not only limited by their flawed DNA (feeling guilty yet?), but are chained to a life of suffering because of it! How can we trust that our children will be OK when we can’t be certain what’s behind Door Number 1, Door Number 2 or Door Number 3 of their genetic code? The frontier of DNA was supposed to herald a new day that held out the promise of eradicating disease and infirmity. And yet it has brought many families and parents a sense that there is an ax hanging over their future. Somehow the takeaway message has been that our genes could turn on us at any time—so that when a chiropractor states that your children were designed to be healthy, it often falls on deaf ears. Parents have come to think that their child’s DNA is a walking time bomb that will one day explode in the form of one disease or another. And yet on the very forefront of genetic research is a truly hopeful message that you can control your family’s DNA! Read that again. You control the way that your children’s genes will unfold. “It is not the genes themselves that dispose us to disease, but rather those things within our diet and environment that act upon our genes,” writes Nora T. Gedgaudas, C.N.S., C.N.T., in her book Primal Body, Primal Mind. “To a very great extent we have control over this. Even by the most conservative standards in genetics, we actually control anywhere from a ‘low’ of 80 percent to upward of 97 percent or more of our own genetic expression with respect to potential disease processes and even longevity.” She also stresses that “a gene will not express itself at all unless the environment surrounding it becomes favorable to that expression.” Not understanding that there is a chasm between disease care and true healthcare, most families rely heavily
“The current environment in health care has left us with a sickness model that relies on drugs, which do nothing to truly bolster the health of the patient....The faster you learn that, the quicker you can get in shape, be stronger, and live a happy more vital life without drugs.” —Doctors Jade and Keoni Teta,
from “Is Your Doctor the Worst Person for Fitness Advice?” on their medical doctor for all things related to the body. It might appear that the majority of people prefer that someone else make decisions for them and their kids. But chiropractors believe that this is not the case. If you assume that people sincerely want what is best for their kids, why do many of them give so much medication to their children? Perhaps the answer is that it’s easier than sorting out all of the information about health and disease for themselves. Or maybe because worried parents can’t bear to watch their children suffer and just want to do something, even when they’re not certain if it’s the right thing. Chiropractors prefer to teach people how to take better care of themselves using the basic principles of nutrition, exercise, stress management, proper sleep, social connections and spinal health…and leave it up to each person how to live out those principles. We like to say, “Healthy living is not living according to someone else’s prescription, but according to innate principles.” To use principles to guide our decisions and behaviors means that we must take responsibility for ourselves and our children, taking “the road less traveled.” And yet if you were to follow the more common path of “prescription living,” you would find yourself walking on a well-worn trail behind the majority of people in our culture. It’s the path of least resistance. Chiropractors are convinced that the drugging of America’s children is the result of the undue influence of the pharmaceutical industry, an industry that has indoctrinated people into dependency. With unlimited resources for advertising and a very powerful lobbying machine in Washington, the drug industry has vast
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CHIRO P RACT IC F OR L IF E
“Your brain changes, too. As it gets these consistent physical signals from your body, it develops a chemistry of optimism.… Lab animals in similar exercise environments show actual physical and chemical brain changes, leading to an increased curiosity and energy, an increased willingness to explore, increased interactions with group members, increased alertness and what looks for all the world like increased optimism.” —Henry Lodge, M.D.,
from Younger Next Year tentacles that reach into every aspect of our society, and unsuspected into every home. Individual medical doctors are often well-intentioned, offering what they believe is the best approach to a given illness. So the real problem is not necessarily the doctor as much as it is the culture of dependence created by a multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry. Your doctor may not be at fault, but he or she doesn’t have the answers for your family’s health. The truth is that we are on a journey of discovery together. Research continues to confirm many of the principles that chiropractors have been advocating since the profession began in 1895, but as we continually reevaluate what it means to “live naturally” or “live by design,” careful analysis has helped us to refine those principles. With today’s rapid exchange of communication, the different schools of thought regarding natural living are now converging, as we discover that there is broad agreement with one another and with modern science. It is an exciting time for the chiropractic profession, as research confirms our fundamental trust in nature. What about specific recommendations? Don’t chiropractors give people something more than a guideline for taking care of their children? Yes, we try to help our patients understand how a general principle would
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apply in a given situation. But our recommendations are more likely to fall into the category of “teaching someone to fish” rather than “giving them a fish.” A different kind of doctor said it this way, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go...” That doctor was Ted Geisel— Dr. Seuss—from his book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! We don’t want to replace the mantra, “Listen to your doctor” with “Listen to your chiropractor.” We would rather teach our patients the principles that will guide them in making their own decisions, and then say, “Now, listen to your heart!” I don’t think that it’s a surprise to anyone to hear that the one of the most important keys to healthy kids is exercise. Yes, exercise will burn calories and help them maintain or lose weight, but just as important, it will properly mold the connections to their brains. When children jump, run or play, they are creating new connections in their brains that will not only determine whether they will be healthy, but can help forecast their whole outlook on life! Interestingly, many studies have already been done concerning the aging process as it affects adult wellbeing. Baby boomers represent a large segment of our population who are attempting to find a way to turn back the clock, or at least slow it down. Much of that research strongly suggests that the brain and body are malleable; they grow and change according to the stimulus that we provide. That is good news for adults and seniors, but it is even better news for those who are just starting out in life, who are just beginning to form those connections between body and brain. In fact, there is an entire field of science dedicated to longevity. Most of us are aware of some of the benefits that have been discovered in recent years through those efforts. But only a few are aware of research into the changing brain, and of something called “neuroplasticity” that intersects with our interest in the aging process and yet applies to a child’s brain. Chiropractor Gary Easter, D.C., explains it as follows: We are living in the golden age of neurological research. Since the early ’90s, our understanding of brain function has grown by leaps and bounds. For instance, we used to think that the brain you are born with is the brain you are stuck with, and no new neurons were ever added. Now we know that we add new neurons our entire lives and new connections between them as well. This process, called neuroplasticity, is driven by input, mainly sensory input. Of all sensory input, the one thing we can sense 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is gravity and its effects on muscle and joint
receptors. This input is called proprioception. The largest source of proprioceptive input is the spinal column and related structures. As the brain develops, this proprioceptive input is matched with input from the eyes and vestibular canals in the ears to develop a spatial map of our body in its environment. This forms the basis of motor development skills: rolling over, sitting up, crawling and walking. Once we have reached the level of walking upright, we have laid the foundation for cognitive development and speech starts. The brain further develops hemispheric specialization for certain skills, such as speech in the left hemisphere and interoception on the right. Understanding the process of brain evolution, growth and development allows us to help people with neurological problems that don’t respond well to traditional medical interventions. In the case of kids with ASD it means finding the parts of the brain that are not functioning well, and stimulating neuroplasticity in those areas with specific input, including chiropractic adjustments. These stimulate the proprioceptive system, and by process of developmental wiring, the whole brain to some extent. This stimulation, combined with nutrition to enhance brain fuel delivery and remove inflammation, helps to increase the rate of neuroplasticity to increase the function of the under-functioning brain areas. Many of the same mechanisms that help restore function in an aging brain or in someone who has suffered a stroke are similar to the things that shape the developing brain of a growing child. When it comes to the study of the central nervous system, the concept of neuroplasticity suggests exactly what the word implies—brain development is more like plastic than it is like concrete. The brain can be formed and molded by a stimulating and nurturing environment, even more so during the growth and development of a child. So what does that have to do with health and chiropractic? Apparently everything! When the motion between two vertebrae is restricted due to a misalignment, movement signals are reduced to the brain. Those signals are essential for normal brain function and development. Some believe that movement signals coming from the spine may be the most important information required by the brain. The subluxation (misalignment) is a bottleneck for the constant sensory traffic that normally provides these signals. The “language” of exercise and movement is translated by the brain as your desire to live and thrive. Ignore a vertebral subluxation and you are telling the automatic part of your brain that controls the rest of your body that its
services are no longer needed. Chiropractic helps restore the sensory traffic to and from the brain by correcting vertebral subluxations. The truth is that most people have settled for a life by default rather than life by design. For adults, getting the body back in touch with the brain is actually the second step to living life more fully. The first step is knowing that it’s possible. It is the way that life begins, and it is the way life is designed to be lived. Chiropractic works with a respect for your child’s innate potential, helping to restore the spinal pathways to and from the brain and guiding your family toward what it means to live according to nature’s design. The medical profession may not even “believe” in design. Your chiropractor wants to stand alongside of you and encourage your children to live up to their personal potential. We don’t ask ourselves how we are going to fix your kids—because, frankly, we don’t think that they’re broken. We ask ourselves what has gotten in the way of your child’s natural ability to express his or her birthright for health. And we are certain that each child has more potential than even you, as their proud parent, has ever fully known. Our goal as chiropractors is to help parents transfer their trust in doctors, drugs and other therapies, that all come from the outside-in, and place that trust in nature’s potential that comes from the inside-out! “Developing an attitude of unlimited potential starts with the parent. One of the greatest attributes a child can possess is the belief that they have potential,” says family counselor Elaine Olson. “But a child will only believe about himself what his parent believes about him.” A pediatric chiropractor is trained to help you look for those things that have interfered with your child’s optimal function. Chiropractors don’t just believe that your child has unlimited potential—our job is to unlock it. And that’s why, when you ask a chiropractor about your child, you will be pleasantly surprised by hope!
Dr. Nick Spano, D.C., is a 1982 graduate of ADIO Institute of Straight Chiropractic. He is in private practice in Canton, Pennsylvania, where he and his wife, Sue, have raised three beautiful children to live up to their personal potential. Dr. Spano has taught a unique method of spinal examination called “advanced muscle palpation” at chiropractic colleges and international organizations, including the ICPA, for almost 30 years. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
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HOL IST IC H E A L T H CA R E
A New Attitude Toward
FEVERS AN INTERVIEW WITH PHILIP INCAO, M.D. INTERVIEW ORIGINALLY CONDUCTED FOR THE JOHN R. LEE, M.D., MEDICAL LETTER
No one is happy when their children are not feeling well. But there’s one symptom that has long had a bad reputation…which is finally starting to change. In this conversation, noted physician Dr. Philip Incao walks us through how fevers can help restore a child’s wellness, and why suppressing them can be a bad idea. Dr. Incao, can you give us a thumbnail sketch of what anthroposophic medicine is? Certainly. Anthroposophic medicine is an extension of Western medicine based on the teachings of the visionary Austrian scientist Rudolf Steiner. It takes into account not just the physical body, but also the spirit, the soul and the life force, or chi, of the human being. All of these aspects of the human being work together in human physiology and pathology, and we need to consider all of them in healing. Through working with these principles in my practice since 1971, I’ve gradually come to learn the deeper levels of human illness and healing.
One of the hallmarks of your treatment approach is that fevers are beneficial, and that by suppressing a fever with Tylenol or antibiotics, we’re often doing a child more harm than good. That’s very true. We have a tyranny of fear in the U.S. about fevers and infections, which is understandable, but which is a terrible obstacle to healing what ails us as individuals and as a society. At the turn of the 19th to the
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20th century many children died of pneumonia, scarlet fever or diphtheria. Today U.S. children very rarely die from any of the acute infectious/inflammatory feverish illnesses that often claimed their lives before 1900. That has more to do with modern progress in plumbing, sanitation, hygiene and even literacy, than with medical interventions such as vaccinations and antibiotics. In any case, it’s very important to understand that it’s our own immune system that creates our fevers, and that fevers are our main defense against our body’s toxicity and the germs which feed on that toxicity. Parents are overanxious to lower a fever, and assume that when it goes down the child is healthy, which is often not the case. We have a mindset that says it’s bad to have an illness, and that health is the absence of illness. This isn’t always true. Fever is the healing flame, the great cleanser of the body, and a critical part of developing a child’s immune system. An immune system that is vigorously exercised through fevers in childhood is a much stronger and more able adult immune system than one that has been suppressed since birth with vaccinations, antibiotics and
fever-reducing medications. The “use it or lose it” adage applies well here.
Why do you think it is that children have more fevers, and higher fevers, than adults? Children often get fevers when they are stressed. Also, childhood is the time of most rapid growth and dramatic change, and a child will remodel and renew his body many times as he grows. Every remodeling job requires some demolition, a breaking down of old cells and tissues that results in toxic waste and debris, which the body normally cleans up as it rebuilds new cells and tissues. This demolition, cleansing and rebuilding is silently going on in us all the time through our immune system, but moreso in growing children. Every so often this ongoing remodeling of the immune system shifts into high gear, either because we are unknowingly taking a bigger developmental step than usual, or because we’ve become toxic from too much stress. This inward shifting into high gear of our immune system has an unwelcome outer result—it makes us sick with inflammation, fever and discharge of mucus. Thus, we come down with a cold, flu, vomiting, diarrhea, strep throat, etc. In this way the immune system expels from the body mucus, pus, germs and other toxic waste and debris that have been nourishing the germs. The crucial fact is that the symptoms of the illness are also the healing of the illness. That is because the symptoms are caused by inflammation, and inflammation is what our immune system does in order to detoxify and heal us. There is tremendous confusion in modern thinking, by both doctors and consumers, on the healing function of acute inflammation, as opposed to chronic inflammation. When we diminish symptoms with Tylenol, ibuprofen, decongestants or antibiotics, at the same time we diminish the healing, cleansing, expulsive power of our innate immune systems. It follows that repeated use of such drugs cools down the acute, hot inflammatory response of our innate immune system, thus increasing our tendency to allergies, asthma and other cool, chronic inflammations.
So do germs cause us to become ill? Well, we all live in balance with trillions of germs in our bodies from soon after birth throughout life, including some nasty bugs, and we only get ill when other factors and stressors disturb this balance. Germs usually act more like scavengers than predators. At a deeper level germs don’t really cause illnesses, but they certainly feed on them, and they intensify them by triggering our immune system to create inflammation—e.g., fever, pain, redness and swelling. Every inflammation, in children or adults, every cold, sore throat, earache, fever and rash,
is a “healing crisis.” A healing crisis is an intense action of the immune system to cleanse and detoxify the body. It is a strong effort by the human spirit to remodel the body so it can be a more suitable dwelling.
Wow, that’s a different and beautiful way to look at a process that every parent goes through many times during their child’s youth. Yes, and this process continues throughout our adult lives. It’s a process of development and growth on all levels of our humanness. It’s amazing what a different parental attitude toward a fever can do for a child’s healing process. Children seem to intuitively know this is something they need. Children usually don’t have severe aches and pains with their fevers that adults suffer, because children’s bodies are less dense and hardened than adult bodies, and offer less resistance to the fever surge of warmth flowing through them. A 5-year old boy I knew said to his worried mom during his fever, “Don’t worry, Mom, I’m just growing.”
But that doesn’t mean they should be running around outside, right? Oh no, definitely not. This is a time when children should rest, and it’s extremely important for them to stay warm. My general rule of thumb is to dress them warmly enough so that their cheeks are rosy, and their hands and feet are warm, but there is no sweat or perspiration. The body needs to be hot to burn out the illness. If the body is harboring toxicity, then a discharging fever with a runny nose, vomiting or diarrhea, for example, could be just the housecleaning that the body needs. The discharge is a sign that the fever and inflammation produced by the immune system are “digesting” toxic waste and debris and releasing them from the body. Most people are actually healthier after they’ve had a fever.
So much for the germ theory! In its time, the germ theory was a great revelation. The discovery that bacteria could influence the course of illness helped us create a whole new level of public and private hygiene, which has given our immune systems much less work to do in some respects. But the germ theory is very limited. There was an article in Scientific American way back in 1955, titled, “Second Thoughts on the Germ Theory,” about the observation that everyone harbors disease germs, but not everyone is sick. The conclusion was that whether or not we get sick depends on the condition of the host—your body—more than it does on the germs. So we’ve known for a long time that while germs feed on disease and weakness, they seldom directly cause it. That’s why I prefer the word “inflammation” to the misunderstood and misleading word “infection,” which
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HOL IST IC H E A L T H CA R E
When we diminish symptoms with Tylenol, ibuprofen, decongestants or antibiotics, we diminish the healing, cleansing, expulsive power of our innate immune system. strikes so much fear into people’s hearts. In the case of inflammations involving germs, the germs are doing us a favor by helping to cleanse the body. Germs feed on the dying and decaying matter in our body which we are all continually producing—it’s the normal life cycle of our cells. Because most of our cells are continually dying and being replaced, every normal, healthy child and adult harbors trillions of germs.
We’ve been so conditioned to think of fevers as dangerous, how does a parent know when it’s serious? When a mother observes her sick child objectively, unclouded by emotions, her assessment is usually accurate. It’s normal for a feverish child to be lethargic, flushed, hot to the touch and uninterested in eating or drinking. But if the feverish child is becoming weaker and weaker, losing eye contact or growing cool or pale, then the doctor or emergency room should be called. When my children had their fevers, I seldom took their temperature. A thermometer cannot tell whether a fever is benign or serious; you tell that by observing the child. A typical parent will give a child a fever-reducing medicine if the temperature is one degree above normal. What that does is to cause whatever toxic matter was trying to come out of the body to settle back into the body more deeply. Nothing has really gone away, and when the Tylenol or ibuprofen wears off the child will be sicker than before. Children will get repeated earaches or strep throats when the first earache or strep throat is not really healed, but is only suppressed by an antibiotic. Although they can be lifesaving when really needed, when given unnecessarily, antibiotics weaken the immune system. As for anti-inflammatory drugs like Tylenol and ibuprofen, it is false advertising to say that they “relieve” symptoms. A true symptom-relieving medicine would actually facilitate or share in the work that the symptoms are doing in cleansing the body, thus allowing the symptoms to work less intensely. This is what a healing herbal or homeopathic medicine can do, and what detoxification does, but drugs are unable to do. Drugs suppress symptoms by suppressing the work of the immune system that produces the symptoms. Antibiotics, though suppressive, are sometimes necessary, but anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen are unhelpful for fever, do not prevent convulsions at all, and are best avoided except for severe pain that is not relieved by detoxification, homeopathic medicines or other healing measures.
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What about febrile seizures? The great fear of every parent is that their child will run a high fever and have a seizure. This is another example where parents have been unnecessarily scared out of their wits. The first misconception is that a febrile (fever-caused) seizure, also called a fever convulsion, is directly caused by a high fever. This isn’t totally accurate, because 95 percent of kids have a high fever and don’t get a seizure, and kids who do get a febrile seizure often don’t have that high a temperature. A seizure is caused when the fever rises very rapidly, often before the parent even knows it’s there. Some children will get a febrile seizure because the body doesn’t go with the flow of the fever warmth surging through it. This often happens when the body, arms, hands, legs and feet are too cold and the warmth surge has difficulty penetrating the whole body. When a fever is rising, the patient feels chilled and shivers and should be warmly covered. The other misconception is that febrile seizures cause permanent brain damage—they don’t. Generally, if a convulsion has not occurred in the first 24 hours of the fever, then it is less likely to occur at all. The best way to avoid a fever convulsion is to keep the child warm and give plenty of fluids, so that the warmth of the fever can circulate throughout the body. If the child is throwing off the blankets, at least keep the belly, legs and feet warm. In many healing traditions around the world, children are wrapped in blankets when they have a fever.
How can our readers learn more? They can go to philipincao.com and print out articles I’ve written on children’s health, the immune system and vaccinations. Also on the site are my home remedy kit directions, which go into the details of caring at home for fevers, infections and inflammations in children and adults. Following these guidelines enabled me to bring up my three children, who are now healthy, non-allergic, non-asthmatic adults, without ever having to give them Tylenol, ibuprofen or an antibiotic. Philip Incao received his M.D. in 1966 from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and then studied anthroposophic medicine in England and Switzerland. He practiced family medicine in Harlemville, New York, for 23 years, and then in Denver for 10 years. He is now semi-retired in Crestone, Colorado. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
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I NFORMED C H OIC E
If School Were Causing Your Child’s ADD/ADHD,
uring a recent conversation with friends and family, the topic of ADHD/ADD came up. I shared my belief that it is not a disease that should result in people being drugged, but instead a personality type (like mine!) that should be honored. My friends and family looked at me, stunned. They wondered how an educator like me didn’t know better, as this epidemic was clearly documented as a disease. I then found out that a few of those among us had been drugged or had been responsible for drugging their children. They were offended by my words! Fortunately, I’m used to this. For victims of the immoral pharmaceutical marketing campaigns, the school- and doctor-approved drugs were the treatment of choice. Since my partner is a pharma rep, I know the “doctor-approved” scam. These docs get paid a bundle by the pharmaceutical companies to promote their drugs to schools. I also know the schools’ view. When kids are drugged, their job is easier. Of course they want that. I asked my family if they had tried any of the 20 things I shared in my 2011 Fix the Schools, Not the Child guide (published through the Innovative Educator blog) before resorting to drugs. Nope! Why bother? Drugging the kid was working.
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By Lisa Nielsen
When I dug a little deeper into my family member’s story, I learned some interesting things. For instance, he didn’t like how the drugs made him feel at all. He said that if he hadn’t been forced to sit and listen all day, he likely wouldn’t have needed drugs. Once he graduated and had ownership of his days, and could think and create as he pleased, he was able to master his attention. The drugs were important in the unnatural world of school, he explained, because he had to fill out worksheets and read boring things for hours to prepare for tests—all purportedly to prepare him for a world that, ironically, never actually requires you to sit and cram for tests. I asked my family, “What if you knew that removing yourself or your child from the traditional school setting would eliminate their need to be on drugs? Would you consider that?” They shook their heads, looking at me as though I had lost my mind and was proposing something ridiculous. I shared that I had actually written a guide for teens to opt out of school and find success, which could have been a better alternative for my drugged family members. This didn’t seem to be something they could get their heads around, so I let the conversation drop; their opinion of me as the black sheep who always promoted alternative life options remained. Some might
ADAP TED FROM OR IGI NAL © BENIS ARA POVIC / DR EAMSTIME.C OM
Would You Remove Him?
as a culture we are so used to thinking of school as the normative environment for children that we rarely even think about the possibility of children learning
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and developing well outside of that environment. have agreed with me and wanted to know more, but they didn’t have the thick skin necessary to endure the attacks that result from my ideas. If you are like those members of my family who won’t consider, or are afraid to consider, alternatives to drugging your ADHD-diagnosed child, then the rest of this article is not for you. But if you are interested in learning what parents found when they sought out alternatives to school and drugs for their children, read on. Dr. Peter Gray explains that what I witnessed with my family was to be expected. As a culture, he says, we are so used to thinking of school as the normative environment for children that we rarely even think about the possibility of children learning and developing well outside of that environment. Dr. Gray has conducted the first known study concerning ADHD-diagnosed children’s abilities to learn, and to cope without drugs, outside of the conventional school environment. His findings should be shared with any parent who is considering the option of drugging their child. Conclusion 1: Most children who had been medicated for ADHD while in conventional schooling were taken off of the drugs when removed from that environment. Those who were never in conventional schooling were never medicated. Conclusion 2: The children’s behavior, moods and learning generally improved when they stopped conventional schooling—not because their ADHD characteristics vanished, but because they were now in a situation where they could learn to deal with those characteristics. Conclusion 3: Many of these children seem to have a very high need for self-direction in education, and many “hyper-focus” on tasks that interest them. If parents and educators knew that a change in environment could greatly reduce a child’s need to be medicated, would they choose this option, even though it’s less convenient? I’ve written and talked about this issue extensively, and have found that in most cases drugs are the first resort. Rather than discuss a change in environment, most adults will defend their choice to drug their children. They insist that they’re right, because what they are doing works. Doctors and teachers have told them they’re doing what is right, and so they have found their excuse to do what is most convenient. But what are they really doing? Rather than adapting to the child’s needs, they are drugging him so he can endure a difficult environment that does not honor who he is. In order to make things easier for everyone, they are stunting his potential.
That said, there are some who have let down their defenses and listened to alternative options. I applaud these parents who at least try to consider alternatives. I have heard few adults today speak out against the drugs they were forced to take. They were embarrassed, and they don’t want to put down parents who were trying to do their best. However, parents, if you don’t consider options, you might have your child grow up with thoughts like the ones below. A member of my Personal Learning Network shared these sentiments with me; I’m paraphrasing, but I think many parents can learn from them. I wish my parents had been wise about dangers of ADHD meds. Maybe if they had, I wouldn’t have had all the problems that followed! Maybe if I had been lucky enough to be cared for by someone who understood me for who I was, I would not have been put on Ritalin (and eventually a dozen other drugs) and gone through all the problems including numerous suicide attempts and self-mutilation (cutting) episodes, and losing most of high school as a result. My life today might have been radically different, and better! If alternatives had been considered for me, maybe I wouldn’t have had so many problems, and become an adult living on disability income. Parents and teachers, please think twice about taking the easy way out and drugging children. If you consider the alternatives, you may be the one that saves the children of our future from a life’s worth of pain and suffering from the things the pharma companies only mention in tiny print.
Lisa Nielsen has worked for more than a decade as an educator and advocate for children’s right to learn in authentic, innovative and meaningful ways that will prepare them for real-world success. Nielsen is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on sharing strategies to fix schools rather than fixing (or drugging) children and providing a voice to young people. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen writes for Huffington Post, Getting Smart, Tech & Learning, MindShift, Leading & Learning and The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book, Teaching Generation Text. You can follow her on Twitter @InnovativeEdu or facebook.com/InnovativeEdu. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
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COMMU NI T Y
Ground Reintegrating kids into our communities By Laura Grace Weldon
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urely my baby was as good as a dog. I’d read that nursing home residents benefitted enormously from contact with therapy dogs. During and after dog visits, these elders were more alert and in better moods. So I figured, why not bring my baby to a nursing home? I contacted the nursing home around the corner. The administrator was enthusiastic. Then I talked my Le Leche League friends into forming a nursing homebased playgroup for our infants and toddlers. They were somewhat wary, but agreed to give it a try. Finally I got a local store to donate a carpet remnant for our little ones to crawl and play on. Between visits, the nursing home could roll it up for storage. We were ready. We met regularly at that nursing home for several years. Our babies grew into toddlers, and the elders became our friends. Residents’ families and staff members often told us that our visits stimulated memories, generated activity, and even inspired people who were mostly mute to say a few words. We were awed. Something as simple as our presence there, sitting on the carpet playing with our children, made a difference to people whose once full lives were now constricted. We benefitted, too. We learned the value of advice given by people older than our grandparents. And we noticed how completely our toddlers accepted the physical and mental differences around them with natural grace. I’m still not sure why the very old and young are kept apart from life on the commons. Vital and engaged communities are made up of all ages. Chances are, children have fewer opportunities to take an active part than almost any adult. This shortchanges everyone. Throughout history, the young of our species have learned by getting involved. Children long to take on real responsibilities and make useful contributions. This is how they advance in skill and maturity. Unless, that is, we restrict them to child-centered activities. Young people are also drawn to seek mentors. They want to see how all sorts of people handle crises, start businesses, make repairs, settle disputes, and stay in love. But today’s young people are largely kept from meaningful engagement with the wider community. They’re segregated by age not only in day care and school, but also in most spheres of recreation, religion and enrichment. When we keep kids from purposeful and interesting involvement with people of all ages, they are pushed to find satisfaction in other (often less beneficial) ways. Meanwhile, our communities are deprived of their youthful energy and innovative outlook. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways to reconnect children with our communities. Involve children by giving them real input and responsibility in civic groups, churches, co-ops, CSAs, arts associations, clubs and neighborhood organizations. Perhaps a child is a dedicated rock enthusiast, but the
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“All real living is meeting.” —Martin Buber
local lapidary club only accepts adult members. Propose a joint adult/child membership, giving that child the same (age factored) opportunities to build social capital in the club. A similar approach can be taken with organizations that refuse to take youthful volunteers. Offer to give your time in partnership with the child, a two-forone volunteer bargain. Adult advocates are often necessary to pave the way for genuine youth involvement in many groups. Give children contact with the workaday world. They need to know people with a range of hobbies and careers. Seek out those who are passionate about chemistry, bird watching, farming, the Civil War, engineering, astronomy, bagpipes, geology, blacksmithing, wood carving, drumming…well, you get the idea. Something vital is transmitted when one person’s enthusiasm sets off a spark of interest in a child. We’re rarely turned down when we ask to learn from others. People who love what they do can’t help but inspire kids and, they often tell me, the kids reignite their hope for the future of their work. Help local businesses tune in to children’s interests. For example, a bakery might hang children’s art on the walls, make meeting space available for a kids’ chess club, host Invent-A-Cookie contests, open the kitchen for tours, offer apprenticeships to aspiring young pastry chefs, teach parent-child baking classes, invite speakers
RECONNEC T ING CHILDREN Involve children by giving them real input and responsibility in civic groups, churches, co-ops, CSAs, arts organizations, clubs, and neighborhood organizations. Give children contact with the workaday world. They need to know people with a range of hobbies and careers. Help local businesses tune in to children’s interests. Businesses that are truly engaged in this way inspire loyal customers, and also enliven the community. Create age-bridging partnerships, such as between babies and nursing home residents. Include young people in civic affairs, giving them genuine input into programs and policies. “Community involvement is a path to wholeness.”
Children long to take on real responsibilities and make useful contributions. This is how they advance in skill and maturity. to explain the science of yeast and flour, give cupcakes as prizes for youth community volunteer hours, etc. Businesses that are truly engaged in this way inspire loyal customers, and also enliven the community. Create age-bridging partnerships, as we did with babies and nursing home residents. Nonprofit organizations are great places to start. One successful program, called Girlfriend Circle, started due to complaints. A group of women at a senior center often told a volunteer that they had no hope for the future because children “nowadays” are rude. The volunteer offered to set up a tea party for the ladies that included her daughters and their friends. At that first event the girls were seated between their older hostesses. Everyone enjoyed a lesson in napkin origami. Then they took part in a Q&A to learn about one another. After sharing refreshments, both age groups were eager to meet again. The Girlfriend Circle met bimonthly for several years, finding their friendships instructive and rewarding. Include young people in civic affairs, giving them genuine input into programs and policies. This works in Hampton, Virginia. Young people take leadership roles by holding conferences and open forums, advising mu-
nicipal divisions, and helping to run the Hampton Youth Teen Center. City administration also includes a Youth Commission, with 24 youth commissioners, three youth planners and one youth secretary—all high school age. This comes full circle for me, right back to dogs and volunteering. A boy who had been a member of the play group we held at the nursing home talked his family into raising puppies to be trained as service dogs. By the time he was 12 years old, this boy gave promotional talks about this program to clubs and schools. I went to see him. He started off with some anecdotes about exasperating puppies. Then he went on to describe the generosity and hope his family felt each time they attended graduation ceremonies for fully trained dogs, ready to serve. I tend to think community involvement is a path to wholeness. I’m convinced it has a lot to do with his smile. Laura Grace Weldon is a farmer and writer in Ohio. She’s the author of Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything. Connect with her at lauragraceweldon.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamily wellness.org/references.html.
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GRE E NER P E R S P EC T IVE S
BEYOND SUSTAINABILITY The Regenerative Promise of Biodynamics By Lisa Reagan
tanding under the news-making conjunction of Venus and Jupiter in the night sky this past February, I realize, once again, the frogs are early. So were the tiny, native blossoms covering the hillside under my feet. These traditional heralds of spring are childhood friends who usually lift my spirits out of winter’s chill, but another balmy winter in Southeastern Virginia blurs the frost and planting dates, as well as my emotions on welcoming my old friends. The next day I hike through the woods with my son to his new fort, built in a hundred-year-old oak blown down by one of last fall’s hurricanes—more evidence of climate change, as warming ocean temperatures are brewing increasingly powerful storms. On my walk through the woods, I am observant and open. This forest, I know, is the real model of life I wish to emulate in my garden during this early-arriving spring: a perfectly balanced, self-regulating ecosystem that effortlessly grows food and provides shelter for its inhabitants. As my son and I step through the forest’s edge and back onto the cleared pastureland of our small farm, we also step into an uncomfortable truth: farming isn’t natural. It is meaningful that the word humility’s root is humus, the Latin for soil. Anyone who has worked with the soil of this Earth for very long will find herself humbled by its profound ability to rebirth life from the seemingly dead matter of a compost pile into living plants, season after season. It is those few steps from inside the forest to an intensely, mechanically cleared, tilled, planted and harvested piece of Earth that reveals the truth about farming…and more important, our own consciousness. “The mind is more comfortable in a landscaped park because it has been planned through thought; it has not grown organically. There is an order here that the mind can understand,” writes Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth. “In the forest, there is an incomprehensible order that to the mind looks like chaos.... As soon as you sense that hidden harmony, that sacredness, you realize you are not separate from it, and when you realize that, you become a conscious participant in it. In this way, nature can help you become realigned with the wholeness of life.” In New Roots for Agriculture, Wes Jackson points out that “A profound truth has escaped us. Soil is a placenta
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or matrix, a living organism which is larger than the life it supports, a tough elastic membrane which has given rise to many life forms…. But it is itself now dying. It is a death that is utterly senseless, and portends our own.” The impact of the industrial approach and its nutrientempty produce makes daily headlines and inspires a growing wave of home gardeners, locavores and food activists. While this shift towards a more sustainable food system is great, is it enough? Or do efforts need to be made to restore and heal the Earth? How will we heal the Earth without healing our own consciousness and the disconnect that destroyed the living soil and created superweeds and chemically toxic rivers in the first place? Is there an approach to working in partnership with living forces of the Earth that humbly concedes the act of growing food on a large scale isn’t “natural” at all, but can be done in a way that elevates our own consciousness while increasing the health and vitality of the Earth? I believe the answer is yes. Romancing the Farm When we moved to this little farm, I admit that my husband and I had some romantic notions about homesteading, inspired by the cute little red barn and tree swing by the frog pond. But ten years later, we wholeheartedly agree with relationship guru Harville Hendrix, who says “romance” is the anesthesia that gets you into position to do your personal work…and onto your soul’s path. After burning through our romantic ideations on many levels in 24 years of marriage, we are here to tell anyone who listens that farming and marriage are both doorways to a rewarding place of deep relationship and soul adventures…if you hang in there through the waking-up process! As we discovered, we weren’t the only ones romancing the farm. In the years that we ran a community supported agriculture program, CSA, you would have thought we were dealing in something other than squash the way perfect strangers pulled up to our home, banged on the front door, looked around hungrily at the rolling hills and gardens, and demanded to buy organic produce on the spot. There was no sign pointing to our house from the road or long dirt driveway, so I was never
The nine Biodynamic preparations can be made on-farm with naturally occurring plant and animal materials combined in specific recipes in certain seasons of the year. sure how they found us in the first place. (As a CSA, our clients signed up at the beginning of the season and we picked and dropped off produce twice a week in town.) This shared experience with other Virginia growers was not uncommon. In fact, it was acknowledged among a few of us that the unnerving and escalating consumer demand couldn’t really be about that perfect slicing heirloom tomato. Could it? Something is being overlooked in the burgeoning number of farmer’s markets, natural grocers and big box stores, whose increasing demand for organic produce has so outstripped the number of local organic farmers that we now import “organic” produce from China. Nowhere in this current scenario does the word “sustainable” apply. Nowhere. Even the local, sustainable farms that do exist in the United States are up against a billion-dollar, fast-food industrial agriculture system funded by government subsidies and propped up by immigrant worker wages and slave labor (read the book The Nobodies by John Bowe for more on slavery in the United States). However, in late 2011, an interesting silver lining appeared on the dark cloud surrounding the future of farming in the United States, when the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act was introduced in congress. The act, cosponsored by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, NSAC, is a “sign of awareness of the need for farmers,” but acknowledges that the high barriers to entry “make farming and ranching one of the hardest careers to pursue.” “Limited access to land and markets, hyperinflation in land prices, high input costs, farm and tax policy disadvantages, and lack of training discourage many would-be producers from entering agriculture,” states the NSAC’s website. “As a result, the average American farmer is now 57 years old, and the fastest growing group of farm operators are those 65 years and older.” What an exceptional opportunity this could be in the coming years, if substantial and ongoing federal funding is committed to creating a new generation of farmers. Just as my family was lured into a relationship with the Earth through romantic notions, I am sure many others will be, as well.
While it took years of exploring a variety of sustainable farming practices before we finally hit upon one that included our own consciousness as a part of the health and healing of ourselves and the Earth, we are impressed with the high quality of food and relationship with the Earth that Biodynamics produces. With a truly sustainable and holistic approach, Biodynamics seeks to reconcile the split in the human as well as the few discernible inches between the self-sustaining forest and farmland. “As the farmer grows, so grows the community and the culture. Those people who grow the food and tend the animals, and cultivate the fibers, are among the most important people in our society,” writes Parker Forsell, the Biodynamic program coordinator at Angelic Organics (managed by “Farmer John” Peterson of the documentary, The Dirt on Farmer John). “It is not the sports stars or the Hollywood movie stars that are the hub of culture. The farmers with their hands in the soil, or on the bodies of baby animals, or on the wheels of the grain combine enable us all to think good thoughts, to feel warmth in our hearts, and to run, and jump and grow in our bodies.” The Origin of Biodynamics Biodynamics began when German farmers—at the height of the agricultural crisis brought about by new chemical fertilizers in the early 20th century—became concerned about the decreasing fertility in their soil and increasingly diseased cattle. The farmers turned to Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner for help. Steiner, initially an editor of the scientific works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, integrated his disciplined scientific mind with his spiritually gifted clairvoyance to found Anthroposophy—the philosophy of spiritual science that led to Waldorf education, the movement art form of eurythmy, and valuable contributions to medicine, architecture, drama and poetry. Only after being intensely persuaded for many years, the story goes, Steiner finally answered the German farmers’ requests for help. In his series of eight lectures, entitled The Agriculture Course, presented less than a year before his death in 1925, Steiner provided a new science of cosmic influences that would reorient the
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GRE E NER P E R S P EC T IVE S
farmers and enable them to grasp his recommendations for creating the nine preparations and a cosmically influenced planting and harvesting calendar. In his sixth lecture, Steiner pointed out that when we look at something through a microscope, our focus blocks out the rest of the universe. The more we concentrate on the microscope, the more we block the macrocosm. “They didn’t get it,” says Hugh Courtney, founder of the Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Biodynamics, JPI, in a phone interview. “They didn’t understand a word of what he said. They took the information into hiding. It took years for people to understand how to make the preparations and work with the Biodynamic calendar.” A retired naval commander, Courtney founded JPI in 1985 on a 100-acre cattle farm in Woolwine, Virginia, to carry on the lifelong work of Josephine Porter, who created Biodynamic preparations for three decades in the U.S. The institute hosts international groups throughout the year and teaches hands-on the creation of the Biodynamic preparations, which Courtney says has made him a “heretic” in some circles. “The Biodynamic movement is growing, but we are still young, probably in our kindergarten phase,” shared Courtney.
A workshop class at the Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Biodynamics in Woolwine, Virginia. Students are digging up a preparation that has been buried in the earth for a few years. ▪ ▪
Conventional agricultural practices deplete the soil 18 to 80 times more rapidly than nature can build it. Even organic farming depletes the soil 17 to 70 times faster than nature builds it by importing organic matter and minerals from other soils, which thereby become increasingly depleted. 57 million tons of topsoil is lost every day. In the past 100 years, one-third of the topsoil of American farms has been lost. (Data from Ecology Action.)
Biodynamics Predates the Organic Movement Unlike chemical and some organic fertilizers that are often grown, mined and shipped long distances, killing the sustainability of the system, the nine Biodynamic preparations can be made on-farm with naturally occurring plant and animal materials combined in specific recipes in certain seasons of the year. The concentrated forces within the preparations are used to organize the chaotic elements within the compost piles, and sprayed directly onto the soil and plants. When the process is complete, the resulting preparations are medicines for the Earth that draw new life forces from the cosmos. Effects of the preparations have been verified scientifically. “When Newsweek and Time magazine call, trying to explain it to them is fascinating,” said Jim Fullmer, the director of Demeter USA, in a phone interview. “The media leave behind the description of the preps. You can’t put it into sound bites and get a point across. It is more about an inner feeling than an intellectual thought. How do you express that to someone who hasn’t even given it a thought?” But scientists and farmers alike are now forced to give the future fertility of the living Earth’s soil deep consideration since: ▪ Only about 42 to 84 years’ worth of topsoil remains worldwide. ▪ Current agricultural practices destroy approximately 6 pounds of soil for each pound of food produced.
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According to Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird in their book Secrets of the Soil: New Solutions for Restoring Our Planet, the fairy-tale promises of chemical agribusiness were spawned in the middle of the last century when the father of chemical agriculture, Justus von Liebig, “mistakenly deduced from the ashes of a plant he had burnt that what nourished plants was nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium—the NPK of today’s chemical agriculture…. That the secret to fertilizing soil lay in organic excreta, not chemical, Liebig only concluded ten years later. Too late. By that time, the chemical companies were off to such a profitable start there was no stopping them in their headlong race to destroy the soil and all that it supports.” With the current international attention on climatechange issues, including the extensive planetary damage of agribusiness and the industrialization of organic agriculture, Fullmer says, “It is now that Biodynamics is starting to come into reality, and we have to get ready. Humanity is only evolving, and I think we are evolving to the point where we can grasp this stuff: that we are not the center of the universe and that the planets and stars, that all of it is interconnected. “We’re seeing a lot of interest because people are starting to wake up,” he continues. “If you have a kinship with agriculture, Biodynamics is a natural progression. A lot of cultures in ancient times did this—followed the
Biodynamics is an ongoing path of knowledge rather than an assemblage of methods and techniques. stars and planets and using homeopathic remedies. This is not a new thing; it is an ancient thing. When Rudolf Steiner created Biodynamics he was pulling on the peasant wisdom from his part of the world. Biodynamics is a modern incarnation with the ancient.” Biodynamics predates the “organic” movement— named and popularized in the 1940s by publisher J.I. Rodale in the United States. Today, “‘organic’ is now dead as a meaningful synonym for the highest quality food,” states Eliot Coleman, author of The New Organic Grower, who blames the industrialization of the organic movement on its inability to stay true to its origins. “The transition of ‘organic’ from small farm to bigtime is now upon us,” says Coleman. “Although getting toxic chemicals out of agriculture is an improvement we can all applaud, it only removes the negatives. The positive focus, enhancing the biological quality of the food produced, is nowhere to be seen. The new standards are based on what not to do rather than what to do.” The Regenerative Promise of Biodynamics According to the Demeter Association, in day-to-day practice, Biodynamic farming involves managing a farm as an individual and living organism. A concise model of a living organism ideal would be a wilderness forest. In such a system, there is a high degree of self-sufficiency in all of the realms of biological survival. Fertility and food arise out of the recycling of the organic material the system generates. Avoidance of pests is based on biological vigor and its intrinsic biological and genetic diversity. Water is efficiently cycled through the system. “While agriculture immediately takes nature to a state that is one step removed from wilderness, the wisdom of humanity that steers its course can, to a large degree, mimic these ancient principles of sustainability, based on a careful observation of nature as a whole,” states the Demeter website. With a philosophy broad enough to provide a context of the Earth as a living entity, with plants being influenced by forces deep within the Earth, as well as the movements of planets in the heavens, broader and truer questions can emerge, such as: “Can the Earth heal itself, or has the waning of the Earth’s vitality gone too far for this?” Sherry Wildfeuer, editor of the Stella Natura Biodynamic Agriculture Planting Guide and Calendar, poses this question and answers, “Organic agriculture rightly
wants to halt the devastation caused by humans; however, organic agriculture has no cure for the ailing Earth. From this the following question arises: What was the original source of vitality, and is it available now? “Biodynamics is a science of life forces, a recognition of the basic principles at work in nature, and an approach to agriculture that takes these principles into account to bring about balance and healing,” Wildfuer continues. “In a very real way, then, Biodynamics is an ongoing path of knowledge rather than an assemblage of methods and techniques.” Patrick Holden, former president of the U.K. Soil Association, advocates an integration of the macrocosmic context that Biodynamic practices can bring to farmer, farm and the humanity they feed. “If we do not bring in this deeper dimension of inner work and of the harmonious development of human beings who are recognized to be more than mere material organisms, if the organic movement does not embrace the ideas and impulses of the Biodynamic movement and remain open to them, I think there is a very serious risk that all the energy and all the ideas…will be lost and the opposite will take hold,” writes Holden. “The industrialization of farming, including the industrialization of organic farming, compromises public and cultural health. This problem is with us now, and we have to do something about it.” Fullmer and Courtney both agree that if “those who have ears to hear” will do so in the coming years of planetwide shifting, Biodynamics could provide the missing, integrating context that would allow humanity to tote the industrial agriculture model, and the disconnected human consciousness that spawned it, to the cosmic compost pile. It is there, beyond our microcosmic view of the Earth and romantic ideas of farming, that we will find new seeds of sustainability.
Lisa Reagan is the associate editor of Pathways to Family Wellness and cofounder of Families for Conscious Living, a national nonprofit supporting Cultural Creative families since 1996. Visit the website at familiesforconsciousliving.org. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamily wellness.org/references.html.
issue 34 pathwaystofamilywellness.org
WE L L NESS L I F E ST Y L E
Digesting the World By Stephen Scott Cowan, M.D.
Why We Eat While choosing what we eat is certainly critical to our cognitive health, a truly holistic understanding of eating goes much further, considering how we eat, where we eat, when we eat and why we eat. So: Why do we eat? I pose this question to children all the time, and they giggle and stumble around for answers like “we eat so we can grow.” But we are not just machines requiring the right set of nutrients as basic fuel to keep going. We are living organisms, not automobiles! In a recent workshop, I asked participants to describe the taste of a blueberry. No one could get far past the fact that they’re sweet and blue. While scientists might accurately analyze all the phyto-nutrients in a blueberry, this tells us very little about the actual experience of eating one. Eating is a deeply personal encounter. It conveys something about ourselves at a particular moment in time. It feeds our memory and points directly to who we are, to our mood and temperament. Eating reflects our
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basic sanity because it is how we make contact with the world—how we exchange with the world. Our hunger to grow and know the world is not just physical, but intellectual and spiritual. Eating is how we become the world. In Chinese medicine, the “spleen/stomach network” is considered central to our being. It corresponds to the ground we live on, the good earth, which supplies all that we need to grow. But the spleen is home to our thoughts, as well. We gather information from the world in all different forms. As we take it in, it gets sorted. Some is integrated into our being, and some is eliminated. This gathering, sorting, integrating and eliminating is a cognitive process. It represents how we learn. Our immune system (with which we learn to identify the world), digestive system (which tastes the world), and neurologic system (which perceives the world) are interconnected aspects of information processing. The body does not know these are separate systems. They only seem separate to us because there are immunologists, gastroenterologists and neurologists. As a field of medicine, the study of this cognitive network might be more accurately described as neuro-immuno-gastroenterology. Industrially Fed, Spiritually Starved If we take a minute to look at how we eat in America, we begin to see how it directly relates to the modern epidemics of childhood: obesity, allergies and ADHD. We eat as if we are in a race. This is the real purpose of “fast food.” It’s cheap and convenient, just like a roadside gas station is for your car. But, again, we are living organisms, not automobiles. The same kind of assembly-line mentality informs the way our children are force-fed information in school. We’ve been led to believe that education is a race, and that the fastest child is the smartest. But in my 22 years as a developmental pediatrician watching children grow, I’ve found that this simply isn’t true. Sometimes the smartest kid turns out to be the one who took her time digesting the world. The current trends in standardized education have left us with a system that treats children as if they are USDA Grade A
ADAP TED FROM OR IGI NAL © K IBOK A / D REA MSTIME. COM
ating right is certainly in the news these days. From fads like the South Beach Diet to the front-page image of the First Lady planting an organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn, Americans are beginning to pay closer attention to their eating habits. Staggering reports of the epidemic of obesity are flooding the scientific community and serve as fodder for TV shows like The Biggest Loser. One in five children in the U.S. are obese today. Some steps are being taken to correct this. 2010’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act includes federally mandated guidelines to improve nutritional standards in schools in order to promote better food choices among students. Many states like New York have recently earmarked millions of dollars in state funds to boost school meal reimbursements. It is now well recognized that poor nutrition affects cardiovascular health and is linked to the rising rates of type 2 diabetes and cancer. But poor nutrition also directly affects the way our children learn.
meat. The education of our children must be more than simply passing inspection! What’s more, when we are not given the time to digest the material, whether it is food or academics, it stagnates. Chinese medicine considers stagnation to be of grave significance. A healthy life is defined by the free flow of qi, that which animates our life. Stagnation represents the accumulation of “stuff” that drags health down. It’s as if the body recognizes the need to slow down in order to work on unfinished business, even if it results in a pathological condition. This feeling of stagnation is not satisfying, because things are simply not moving properly. The lack of movement is boring, and boredom leads to the need for distractions—so we try to spice up our lives. We try not to look at all that unfinished business
Taking Time Correcting this vicious cycle begins at birth. I work with many mothers on that first day, counseling them about breastfeeding or bottle feeding. In that moment, there is a real opportunity to learn how to learn, how to digest the world calmly, attentively and with ease. Feeding a baby when she is crying is a common mistake. Moments of hunger are not a crime. Hunger is a way of waking up. We may naturally feel the urge to feed our child when she cries; feeding is a basic way we show our love. But it is vital to pause and consider the true reasons for eating. Babies feed much better when they are fully awake. They are less
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Eating reflects our basic sanity because it is how we make contact with the world.... Our hunger to grow and know the world is not just physical, but intellectual and spiritual. Eating is how we become the world. accumulating within…which makes us agitated. We try to get things moving and shake up all that stagnation. This hyperactive state drives us to look for happiness somewhere else. TV ads capitalize on this, promising happiness with a Whopper or a Happy Meal. This leads to infatuations, bizarre cravings, impulsive eating and binge-buying. We feel like we deserve to be happy—we deserve that tub of ice cream, for having had to work under these conditions. And when we can’t have what we think we deserve, we become hostile: Don’t take a piece of my pie! This state of agitation, distractibility and impulsivity defines Attention Deficit Disorder. The Chinese medicine classics say that accumulation causes an inflamed state, and this phlegm can “mist the mind.” We become confused, unable to think straight, and find it difficult to concentrate on one thing for very long. And so we take stimulants to try to wake ourselves up. Likewise, the same vicious cycle leads to the accumulation of phlegm in our bodies; our neuro-immunodigestive system becomes confused, hostile and inflamed. In my practice, I see a host of chronic health problems in children that can be traced back to the phlegm of stagnation: ear infections, asthma, obesity, colitis and autoimmune disorders. These manifestations of chronic inflammation did not exist to such a degree a century ago, or even 50 years ago. The inflamed state of autoimmunity is a spiritual crisis. When the mind-body remains in such a confused state, we no longer have time to recognize who we are. We are left with a Spiritual Deficit Disorder.
gassy and more likely to gain weight properly. They are actually learning to pay attention with their whole bodymind. This is a simple yet profound lesson for us all to live by. When you select information, whether food or academic, as a conscious process, you are determining which aspects of the external environment you will allow inside your body to operate on an unconscious level. This is the meaning of “mindful eating.” We should take the lead from our babies. Whether we are stimulating our immune system, going to school, or sitting down at the dinner table as a family, taking time to digest is how we become truly sane in this world. Ultimately, time is the greatest alternative medicine. And taking time to digest the world is the ultimate spiritual practice.
Stephen Cowan, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician with 25 years of clinical experience working with children. He has a subspecialty in developmental pediatrics and has developed a unique holistic approach to evaluating and treating children struggling with chronic physical, emotional and cognitive disorders. His book, Fire Child, Water Child, was just released, and he’s also writing the “Occupy Medicine” series at drfranklipman.com. Learn more at stephencowanmd.com. View article resources and author information here: pathways tofamilywellness.org/references.html.
issue 34 pathwaystofamilywellness.org
NU TR I T IO N
The benefits of ilk m l a r u t na
n my aunt’s farm, you can squeeze the stomach of a cow and milk comes out. I watched it. The milk comes out right into a glass and you can drink it.” The 4-year old reporting to her friend might have also said that the cow she watched acted calm and content. What did the cow have to complain about? She enjoyed a diet of grass (no grain—even organic grains cause harmful effects on an animal’s health), and she was normally milked with a small, comfortable machine that hung from a strap around her stomach. The teats of this cow fit into soft rubber attachments, and she was not required to produce an excessive amount of milk, as a commercial cow is. And the milk went directly into not a glass, but an enclosed pail, so it wouldn’t pick up much foreign matter. Clean, healthy cows, such as the one just described, produce nourishing, delicious milk that needs no further processing. As long as cows live in clean barns, spend summers grazing, and are well cared for, they give milk that is perfectly safe for drinking. “We let our cows dry off in the winter,” says Doug Flack, a dairy farmer and raw milk producer from Fairfield, Vermont. “Lower-producing cows can live a long, healthy life. And good soil fertility ranks among the most important aspects of bovine health.”
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D REAMSTIME .COM I MAG ES :: C OW © BRYAN WILLMETTS :: CHI LD © HAL LGER D
By Nini Worman
Microorganisms our systems need have disappeared; commercial milk lacks much of the ability to help us digest protein, lactose and fat and to absorb vitamins and minerals.
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If raw milk is safe to drink, then why do we insist on pasteurizing milk? For thousands of years people drank raw milk. In fact, natural milk was once used at the Mayo and other major clinics as a medicine for patients with serious illnesses. But around the middle of the 19th century, large dairy farms, located inside cities, began producing “swill milk.” They fed the refuse of nearby distilleries—hot and acidic byproducts of grain—to the cows for their regular feed. The animals themselves were confined in dirty stalls, and often milked by sick people. It’s no wonder that, in these circumstances, milk would carry disease, much illness and death. But instead of assuring cow health by cleaning up the barns and workers and stopping the poor nutrition practices, pasteurization presented itself as the best solution. The process cost relatively little, and the cheap, inferior milk that resulted replaced “real” milk in many markets. Although certified raw milk remained widely available until after World War II, natural milk came to be seen as dangerous and pasteurized milk as truly safe. What’s wrong with the processed milk we are so accustomed to? For one thing, pasteurization—exposing milk to high heat in order to destroy potentially harmful bacteria— manages to reduce enzymes, as well as many minerals and vitamins. Beneficial bacteria and other substances which strongly support our immune systems are absent in pasteurized milk. Then, homogenization, the breaking up of fat globules, causes milk to lack the appearance of containing fat. Consumers have no idea how much fat they imbibe, but proceed to drink a substance lacking the minimal amount of nutritious fat. What about 1 %, 2% or 3% milk? For these varieties, the processor separates cream and skim, then recombines them in a way that meets legal
standards, inserting additives for taste and consistency. The final product differs as much from raw milk as night differs from day. Microorganisms our systems need have disappeared; commercial milk lacks much of the ability to help us digest protein, lactose and fat and to absorb vitamins and minerals. Processed milk advertisers have persuaded us that we need low-fat and skim milk products. This picture leaves out the truth about butterfat, which we desperately require for its fat-soluble vitamins. This diminishes our ability to absorb calcium and protein. Milk from grass-fed Guernsey, Jersey or Devon cows, raised by organic methods in clean barns, produce the richest, most butterfat-laden milk. Over the long haul, what health benefits could you or I expect to see from drinking raw milk? Flack, who has sold natural milk for many years, points out how greatly natural milk strengthens our immune system and, as mentioned before, helps us use the proteins and calcium we consume. “If people drank raw milk regularly in this county, and never ate processed foods, the dentists would soon go out of business,” says Flack. “It’s a known fact that many societies depending solely on raw milk never knew a tooth cavity. Their mouths had well-developed dental arches with ample room for all the teeth. Gum disease simply didn’t exist.” I checked out this claim with a woman whose children have always consumed natural milk. “I’m not dead-sure about the teeth,” she replied to my query. “But when my son broke his wrist in three places last summer, the doctor who treated him could not believe the speed at which the bones healed.” Convinced of the benefits of raw milk, most seekers of good health will want to know where and how to obtain it. In 26 states you can buy it directly from the farm. Retail sales occur in 10 states, most widely in Connecticut, California, Maine, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. You can log into realmilk.com for information about obtaining natural milk wherever you live. To observe hand-milking, as our young friend did, you probably need to visit a goat farm.
Nini Worman, retired special education teacher and administrator, has lived in Franklin County, the center of Vermont’s dairy industry, for 50 years, and has been consuming raw milk from a neighboring farm for some time. She coauthored The Complete Book of Insulating (with Larry Gay) and The All-Around Pumpkin Book (with Margery Cuyler), and over the years has written articles on a variety of subjects. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/ references.html.
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NU TR I T IO N
News and Information from RealMilk.com
The Safety of Raw Milk PROTECTIVE COMPONENTS: Raw milk contains numerous components that assist in: Killing pathogens in the milk (lactoperoxidase, lactoferrin, leukocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, antibodies, medium chain fatty acids, lysozyme, B12 binding protein, bifidus factor, beneficial bacteria); Preventing pathogen absorption across the intestinal wall (polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, mucins, fibronectin, glycomacropeptides, bifidus factor, beneficial bacteria); Strengthening the Immune System (lymphocytes, immunoglobulins, antibodies, hormones and growth factors).
more illnesses from L-mono due to deli meats and 29 times more illness from L-mono due to pasteurized milk. On a per-serving basis, deli meats were 10 times more likely than raw milk to cause illness.
PASTEURIZATION HARMFUL: Many of these antimicrobial and immune-enhancing components are greatly reduced in effectiveness by pasteurization, and completely destroyed by ultra-pasteurization.
ANCIENT HISTORY: Claims that raw milk is unsafe are based on 40-year-old science and century-old experiences from distillery dairy “factory farms” in rapidly urbanizing 19th-century America.
DANGERS EXAGGERATED: Although raw milk, like any food, can become contaminated and cause illness, the dangers of raw milk are greatly exaggerated. In an analysis of reports on 70 outbreaks attributed to raw milk, we found many examples of reporting bias, errors and poor analysis resulting in most outbreaks having either no valid positive milk sample or no valid statistical association.
MODERN ADVANTAGES: Compared to 30–50 years ago, dairy farmers today can take advantage of many advancements that contribute to a dramatically safer product including pasture grazing, herd testing, effective cleaning systems, refrigeration and easier, significantly less expensive, more accessible and more sophisticated milk and herd disease-testing techniques. UNIQUE FOOD: Raw milk is the only food that has extensive built-in safety mechanisms and numerous components to create a healthy immune system.
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USDA/FDA STATISTICS: Based on data in a 2003 USDA/ FDA report: Compared to raw milk there are 515 times
OUTBREAKS DUE TO PASTEURIZED MILK: Due to highvolume distribution and its comparative lack of anti-microbial components, pasteurized milk when contaminated has caused numerous widespread and serious outbreaks of illness, including a 1984-5 outbreak afflicting almost 200,000 people. In 2007, three people died in Massachusetts from illness caused by contaminated pasteurized milk.
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>>> TA K E A C T I O N
The Oppression The FDA has threatened enforcement and taken action against both farmers and buyer’s co-ops across the country for allegedly violating 1240.61 and 131.110(a). Below are a few recent examples. There was no allegation that the raw milk had caused any illnesses in any of these cases. The FDA spent a year in an undercover sting operation on an Amish farmer, Dan Allgyer of Rainbow Acres in Pennsylvania. Agency employees lied about their identity and joined local buying clubs. They picked up raw milk from private residences—again, concealing their identities—and sent the milk to be tested. Despite nearly a dozen tests, not one sample showed any contamination. Despite the fact that this clean milk had not made anyone sick, the agency ultimately raided Allgyer’s farm in May 2011. In February 2012, the FDA obtained an injunction in federal court to prevent Allgyer from distributing raw milk across state lines in the future. FDA officials, together with officials from five other local, state, and federal agencies raided the Rawesome Food Club, a private buying club in Venice, California, on June 30, 2010. Police accompanying the various agency officials entered the store with guns drawn. The officials confiscated 17 coolers of food, including raw milk and raw milk products, even though the warrant stated that they could only take samples. In
2011, the government raided Rawesome a second time on August 3, with FDA officials again participating in the raid. Government agents seized almost the entire food inventory at the store, dumping out all the raw milk on the premises without any court order to do so. The store manager, a farmer supplying the store, and an administrator for the farmer who did nothing more than take orders and disseminate information, were each charged with multiple felonies alleging violations of state food and dairy laws. An FDA agent participated in the dumping of more than 100 gallons of impounded raw milk belonging to members of a Georgia food buying club, which had been legally purchased from a licensed South Carolina dairy in October 2009. The primary agency in that action was the Georgia Department of Agriculture, but the FDA official present at that time told the buying club’s agent that even an individual consumer cannot legally cross state lines to buy raw milk and bring it home under 1240.61 and 131.110. In all of these cases, there was no allegation that the raw milk had caused any illnesses or was contaminated in any way. It’s time to tell FDA to focus on real threats to public safety—the consolidated, industrialized food system—and to stop interfering with direct farmer-toconsumer transactions.
THE MOVEMENT TO PROTECT RAW MILK IN CONGRESS IS BEGINNING TO GAIN STEAM! Three Representatives have cosponsored the raw milk bill originally filed by Ron Paul (R-TX): Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Tim Walberg (R-MI), and Tom McClintock (R-CA). If passed, HR 1830 would legalize the interstate shipment of raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption, reversing the FDA’s current regulations that prohibit the interstate transport of raw milk for human consumption. The FDA has harassed raw milk farmers and buying clubs across the country under its current regulations—for example, through its one-year undercover sting operation of an Amish farmer. We need HR 1830 to stop FDA harassment! We need more cosponsors to help create pressure for a hearing on the bill and move it forward.
> > > UPDATES < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < In February 2012, the Centers for Disease Control released a study claiming that the rate of outbreaks caused by unpasteurized milk and products made from it was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk. The authors based this conclusion on an analysis of reports submitted to the CDC from 1993 to 2006. The Weston A. Price Foundation has challenged these results, saying that the CDC has manipulated and cherry-picked this data to make raw milk look dangerous and to dismiss the same dangers associated with pasteurized milk. With the extremely low incidence of foodborne illnesses from dairy products (pasteurized or not), a spike or drop in
numbers will greatly influence trends. In 2007, the year after the final year of the reports studied, there were significant outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to pasteurized dairy products: 135 people became ill from pasteurized cheese contaminated with e. coli, and three people died from pasteurized milk contaminated with listeria. The study, arbitrarily ending in 2006, fails to account for these numbers. Similarly, there were more incidences of foodborne illnesses from pasteurized dairy products in the 1980s, prior to the time period studied. The Weston A. Price Foundation also questions the CDC’s sources of data, which include preliminary reports, and focus on outbreaks rather than the number of individual illnesses. issue 34 pathwaystofamilywellness.org
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Tender Grassfed Steak
SEASONING (The amount of seasoning you will use will vary based on the size of your steak. If it is close to 1 pound, use less. If it is closer to 2 pounds, use more.) 1–2 tbs.coarse salt 1–2 tsp.ground black pepper 1–2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tbs. butter, tallow or rendered lamb fat (for the skillet) STEAK Either 1 sirloin, sirloin tip, tri-tip, top round or London Broil, rib eye, porterhouse, T-bone, top loin (New York strip) or tenderloin (filet mignon) steak. Steaks should be at least 1¼ – 1½ inches thick. TECHNIQUE 1. Combine the salt, pepper and garlic in a small bowl. Rub the mixture into both sides of the steak, then allow the meat to come to room temperature.
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2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, then heat a large cast-iron skillet or other oven-proof skillet over a high flame. Once the skillet is so hot that you can see a little smoke rising off of it, add the butter or fat. Sear the steak for two minutes on each side. Turn off the flame, and insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the boneless edge of the steak—do not insert it into the top, as there is not enough thickness for the thermometer to take an accurate reading. 3. Leaving the steak in the skillet, place it in the oven and allow it to finish cooking, about 10-20 minutes per pound, until the internal temperature reads 120-135 degrees. Allow the meat to rest five minutes before carving and serving. Recipe taken from Long Way on a Little: An Earth Lovers’ Companion for Enjoying Meat, Pinching Pennies and Living Deliciously by Shannon Hayes, due out from Left to Write Press in 2012. To be notified of the book’s release, e-mail feedback@shannonhayes. info with “Long Way on a Little” in the subject heading.
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ast month brought two splendid, nearly 30-month-old steers through the cutting room for the fall harvest. Our freezers were filled with glorious, full-flavored, prime beef. And I mean prime. Incredibly, there are still folks who assume beef cannot marble without the aid of grain fattening. Balderdash, I say! The steaks coming out of the cutting room throughout the late fall have been deeply marbled and rich in flavor. Typically, early December in the Northeast has many customers leaving steaks off their shopping lists in favor of stew meat and roasts. But those who pause over our beef display just long enough to notice the marbling seize upon the rib eyes and porterhouses…for beef that approaches 30 months in age results in grassfed steak that is truly magnificent. The trick is to know how to handle it properly, whether you are cooking it indoors or outside. The simplest, most commonly heard distinction made between grassfed and factory-farmed meat is that grassfed is leaner. As we’ve just seen, that is not always the case. The real difference lies in the fact that, by virtue of a beef animal’s active and healthy life, there is true muscle integrity in the meat. This is wildly different from feedlot animals, which get little or no exercise, resulting in more flaccid (and hence less flavorful) cuts. This does not mean that grassfed steaks are less tender—on the contrary. Cooked more gently, grassfed meat is wonderfully tender. The healthy muscle texture does, however, mean that grassfed steaks will be more variable than grainfed meats. Taste and texture of steaks will vary based on breed, farming practices, pastures and individual animal characteristics. Thus, the trick to cooking a delicious steak is to work with the variability and take advantage of that beautiful muscle quality. We should be treating this meat as “tenderly” in the kitchen or on the grill as the farmers treated the animals in the fields. When cooking a grassfed steak, we want to achieve a delicious sear that creates a pleasant, light crust on the exterior of the meat, then allow it to finish cooking at a much lower temperature;
© MAR ILYN B AR BONE / D REAMS TIM E.C OM STEAK © S HANNO N HAY ES
THE BEST STEAK
By Shannon Hayes
this allows the naturally occurring sugars to caramelize on the surface, while protecting those muscle fibers from contracting too quickly. Tough grassfed steaks result from over-exposure to high heat, which causes the muscle fibers to contract tightly and become chewy and overly dry. Keeping these principles in mind, I’ve included two techniques for cooking a fantastic steak, using the same seasonings. On the right, taken from The Farmer and the Grill, is a technique for working outdoors with open flames—my preferred method, year-round. (And now for a shameless plug: The Farmer and the Grill thoroughly covers how to cook all the different cuts of grassfed and pastured meats out on the grill; plus, it thoroughly explores ecologically responsible grilling practices…which actually result in better-tasting and healthier meats. And hey! It’s even printed on recycled paper. Anyone in need of an ecologically-sound, socially responsible and inexpensive holiday gift?) The technique on the left is taken from my forthcoming cookbook, Long Way on a Little: An Earth Lovers’ Companion for Enjoying Meat, Pinching Pennies and Living Deliciously. Much to my surprise, not every family on the North American continent has access to an outdoor grill—hard to believe! Thus, in an effort to include you in the thrill that comes from eating the besttasting steak available, I’ve included an indoor steak recipe that guarantees your grassfed meat will remain tender and juicy. Enjoy!
Shannon Hayes is the host of grassfedcooking.com and radicalhomemakers.com. She is the author of Radical Homemakers, The Farmer and the Grill, and The Grassfed Gourmet. Hayes works with her family producing grassfed and pastured meats on Sap Bush Hollow Farm in Upstate New York. View article resources and author information here: pathways tofamilywellness.org/references.html.
THE BEST STEAK
SEASONING (The amount of seasoning you will use will vary based on the size of your steak. If it is close to 1 pound, use less. If it is closer to 2 pounds, use more.) 1–2 tbs. coarse salt 1–2 tsp. ground black pepper 1–2 cloves garlic, minced STEAK Either 1 sirloin, sirloin tip, tri-tip, top round or London Broil, rib eye, porterhouse, T-bone, top loin (New York strip) or tenderloin (filet mignon) steak. Steaks should be at least 1¼ – 1½ inches thick. TECHNIQUE 1. Combine the salt, pepper and garlic in a small bowl. Rub the mixture into both sides of the steak, then allow the meat to come to room temperature while you prepare the grill. 2. Start the grill and warm it until it is hot. If you are using a gas grill, turn off all but one of the burners once it has come up to temperature. If you are using charcoal, be sure all the coals have been raked to one side. Use the hand test: The grate is hot enough when you can hold your palm 4 inches above the metal for no more than three seconds. 3. Sear the steaks for 2–3 minutes on each side directly over the flame, with the lid down. Then, move the steaks to the part of grill that is not lit. Set the lid in place and allow the steaks to cook, without flipping them, until they reach 120-135 degrees, about 5–7 minutes per pound. Remove the steaks to a platter and allow them to rest a few minutes before serving. Recipe adapted from The Farmer and the Grill: A Guide to Grilling, Barbecuing and Spit-Roasting Grassfed Meat by Shannon Hayes, Left To Write Press, 2007.
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RE CIP ES
Choose the Right Tomato By Sam Mogannam
ith the recent resurgence of farmers’ markets and renewed interest in seasonal eating, it’s easy to take good tomatoes for granted. But a recent experience made me really appreciate good tomatoes. I ordered a BLT at a restaurant, and for some reason the chef made it with raw green tomatoes. It was awful! If the chef had only fried or grilled the green tomatoes, the sandwich would have been awesome.
BUY ORGANIC TOMATOES WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
Most commercial tomatoes are heavily sprayed with pesticides and then treated with fungicides after harvest to prolong shelf life. Organic and unsprayed tomatoes are becoming more readily available, especially at farmers’ markets, so look for and purchase those if you can. TOMATOES THAT STILL HAVE A BIT OF GREEN STEM ATTACHED ARE OPTIMAL. The stems themselves have a short shelf life, as they dry and brown fairly quickly. Not only are stem-on tomatoes more work as far as picking goes, but also a bright green stem is a good sign that the tomato was recently picked. AVOID TOMATOES WITH SPLIT SKINS; it indicates a
AT THE VERY LEAST, LOOK FOR TOMATOES THAT ARE: In season and flavorful (ask for a taste) Have some green stem attached Show no splitting in the skin
IDEALLY, LOOK FOR: Organic or unsprayed Naturally ripened (not gassed) Unique and heirloom varietals Dry-farmed 60
late rain or general overwatering, and that exposed flesh is vulnerable to mold. It seems obvious to recommend buying tomatoes in season, but its importance cannot be overstated. Many folks associate tomatoes with summer, so guests start asking for them as soon as the weather warms up. However, because tomatoes are a late-planted crop (they can’t go into
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the ground until after the final frost), and they require an extended period of heat and sun to reach maturity, tomatoes aren’t ready for harvest until mid-July or later, depending on the weather and where you are. Farmers’ markets are almost always the best places to find good tomatoes—but you can often find pretty good tomatoes at the supermarket if you know what to look for: CHERRY AND GRAPE tomatoes tend to be a little more
flavorful than other varieties of supermarket tomatoes. Their small size makes it easy to sneak a little taste and evaluate the goods. Sungolds and Sweet 100s are a couple of varieties that tend to have good flavor. HEIRLOOM tomatoes are mind-boggling in their variety
and proliferation. Some are utterly incredible; others are just so-so. When you’re shopping, it’s important to realize that “heirloom” refers only to the varietal category and doesn’t have anything to do with the way the tomato is grown. Some commercial growers have hopped onto the heirloom bandwagon and grow heirlooms just as they grow their other tomatoes: for size and appearance, not for flavor. So you might buy a huge, gorgeous heirloom, only to find that it’s bloated and flavorless from overwatering. They can be pricey, too—all the more reason to ask for a taste! ROMA AND OTHER “PASTE” tomatoes are the ideal
choice for cooking if you have to buy fresh tomatoes out of season. San Marzano is my favorite variety in this category; they’re perfect for canning. SLICER tomatoes, like Beefsteak, New Jersey and Early
Girl, are so named because of their hefty size and round shape. “Vine ripe” tomatoes also fall into this category; they are generally hothouse-grown in Holland. Their flavor is decent, but not great. DON’T FORGET CANNED TOMATOES as a reasonable al-
ternative to fresh tomatoes in the off-season. In the dead of winter, tomatoes from a can will have worlds more flavor than crunchy, underripe ones. They work perfectly if you’re going to cook the tomatoes anyway, and even make great salsas. How to Store Do not refrigerate tomatoes (and don’t buy refrigerated ones, either); the chill adversely affects the texture and diminishes the flavor. If you buy slightly underripe
© G JAMES A LE VERHAGU JA NE IRAE DOE / DR/EAMSTIM D RE AMSTI E.COM ME .COM
How to Buy As beautiful as tomatoes can be, the true test is in tasting them. That’s easy enough to do at the farmers’ market, but you have to be a little proactive in the supermarket. Don’t hesitate to ask a staffer to sample a tomato or two. But you can—to a degree—judge a tomato by its cover. Tomatoes with full, saturated color all over are ideal. However, many commercial tomatoes are mechanically harvested while still green (when they are sturdier and better able to withstand travel) and later artificially ripened with ethylene gas. This treatment makes the tomato look red on the outside, but the core will still be pink; for this reason it’s useful to check out the cross-section of a cut tomato if you can. Ideally, the color will be consistent from the skin to the very center.
Sergio’s Gazpacho MAKES ABOUT 7 CUPS
tomatoes, put them in a paper bag and let them sit on the counter for a few days; they will soften and become a bit sweeter. How to Use When you have really excellent tomatoes, especially organic heirlooms, all you need is a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Basil is a natural accompaniment to tomatoes; tarragon, thyme, oregano and cilantro are good partners. CHERRY tomatoes are excellent in salsas, tossed with
tender green beans, or briefly sautéed and mixed with pasta. (For a quick meal, toss good spaghetti or linguine with sautéed tomatoes and garlic, basil, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper. Five minutes is all it takes to make the sauce, start to finish.) ROMA tomatoes are well suited to making tomato paste and sauce. HEIRLOOMS are at their best when you leave them raw; their subtleties and distinct personalities diminish when cooked. If you can get your hands on a few different heirloom varieties, try conducting a side-by-side tasting of your own. Pay attention to what’s happening in your mouth. You’ll find a surprising spectrum of textures, flavors, and seed structures. Some will seem incredibly sweet, and others will be almost salty.
If you find yourself with a surplus of tomatoes of any type, the gazpacho recipe on the right is a terrific way to use them up. Sam Mogannam is the second-generation owner of Bi-Rite Market and founder of the Bi-Rite family of businesses, which includes Bi-Rite Creamery, 18 Reasons, and Bi-Rite Farms. He serves on the board of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Sam has been featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Sunset and the San Francisco Chronicle, and programs such as Foodcrafters. Sam stepped into the family grocery business in 1997, after working as a chef at his own restaurant, and transformed the market into a culinary landmark. His book, Eat Good Food, is available at biritemarket.com/ book. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
Ingredients 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling (see note) 1
/4 cup sherry vinegar, more as needed
1 tsp. Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce 1 /2 medium red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks 1 /2 medium cucumber, trimmed and cut into large chunks
Leaves from 6 large sprigs flat-leaf parsley 10 to 12 large fresh basil leaves 1 large clove garlic Kosher salt 4 medium Roma tomatoes, cored and cut into large chunks 3 medium heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into large chunks Instructions 1. Put the oil, vinegar and Tabasco in the bowl of a blender and blend briefly. Add the onion, cucumber, parsley, basil, garlic and 1 tablespoon salt and blend until smooth. Add the tomatoes a few at a time, blending as you go. When the blender is about three-fourths full, pour out half of the liquid into a medium bowl. Continue to puree and add the tomatoes a few at a time until all the tomatoes are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Pour the blender contents into the bowl and stir to blend. 2. If you want a super-smooth texture, pass the soup through a fine-mesh strainer. 3. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Whisk to blend, then taste and add more salt or vinegar as needed. Garnish each serving with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Note: You can also substitute up to half of the extravirgin olive oil with a mild or neutral oil, if you like.
For this recipe and special extras, scan this QR code or visit pathwaystofamilywellness.org/item/recipes.html Download a free QR reader here: reader.kaywa.com
issue 34 pathwaystofamilywellness.org Reprinted with permission from Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food by Sam Mogannam & Dabney Gough, Copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
NEW E D GE S C I E N C E
QUANTUM YOU The greatest habit you can ever
break is the habit of being yourself
hen I think about all the books on creating the life we desire, I realize that many of us are still looking for approaches that are grounded in sound scientific evidence—methods that truly work. But already new research into the brain and body, the mind, and consciousness—and a quantum leap in our understanding of physics—is suggesting expanded possibilities on how to move toward what we innately know is our real potential. As a practicing chiropractor who runs a busy integrated health clinic, and as an educator in the fields of neuroscience, brain function, biology and brain chemistry, I have been privileged to be at the forefront of some of this research—not just by studying the fields mentioned above, but also by observing the effects of this new science, once applied by common people like you and me. That’s the moment when the possibilities of this new science become reality. As a consequence, I have witnessed some remarkable changes in individuals’ health and quality of life when they truly change their minds. Over the last several years, I have had the opportunity to interview a host of people who overcame significant health conditions that
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were considered either terminal or permanent. Per the contemporary model of medicine, these recoveries were labeled “spontaneous remissions.” However, upon my extensive examination of their inner journeys, it became apparent to me that there was a strong element of mind involved…and their physical changes weren’t so spontaneous after all. This discovery furthered my postgraduate studies in brain imaging, neuroplasticity, epigenetics and psychoneuroimmunology. I simply figured that something had to be happening in the brain and body that could be zeroed in on and then replicated. I want to share some of what I learned along the way and show you, by exploring how mind and matter are interrelated, how you can apply these principles not only to your body, but to any aspect of your life. Early physicists divided the world into matter and thought—and later, matter and energy. Each member of those pairs was considered to be entirely separate from the other…but they’re not! Nevertheless, this mind/ matter duality shaped our early worldview—that reality was essentially predetermined, and that people could do little to change things through their own actions, let alone their thoughts.
ADAP TE D FROM O RIG INA L © JUL IA161 / D REA MSTIME. COM
By Joe Dispenza, D.C.
Fast-forward to our current understanding—that we are part of a vast, invisible field of energy, which contains all possible realities and responds to our thoughts and our feelings. Just as today’s scientists are exploring the relationship between thought and matter, we are eager to do the same in our own lives. And so we ask ourselves, Can I use my mind to create my reality? If so, is that a skill that we can learn and use to become who we want to be, and create the life we want to experience? Let’s face it—none of us is perfect. Whether we’d like to make some change to our physical self, emotional self or spiritual self, we all have the same desire: We want to live life as an idealized version of who we think and believe we can be. When we stand in front of the mirror and look at our love handles, we don’t just see that slightly too-pudgy vision reflected in the glass. We also see, depending on our mood that day, a slimmer, fitter version of ourselves, or a heavier, chunkier version. Which of our images is real? When we lie in bed at night reviewing our day and our efforts to be a more tolerant, less reactive person, we don’t just see the parent who lashed out at our child for failing to quietly and quickly submit to a simple request. We envision either an angelic self whose patience was stretched like an innocent victim on the rack, or a hideous ogre laying waste to a child’s self-esteem. Which of those images is real? The answer is, all of them are real—and not just those extremes, but an infinite spectrum of images ranging from positive to negative. How can that be? For you to better understand why none of those versions of self is more or less real than the others, I’m going to have to shatter the outmoded version of our fundamental understanding about the nature of reality and replace it with a new one. That sounds like a major undertaking, and in some ways it is, but I also know this: The most likely reason why you are reading this is that your past efforts to make any lasting change in your life—physical, emotional or spiritual—have fallen short of the ideal of yourself that you imagined. And why those efforts failed has more to do with your beliefs about why your life is the way it
is than with anything else, including a perceived lack of will, time, courage or imagination. Always, in order to change, we have to come to a new understanding of self and the world so that we can embrace new knowledge and have new experiences. Your past shortfalls can be traced, at their root, to one major oversight: You haven’t committed yourself to living by the truth that your thoughts have consequences so great that they create your reality. The fact is that we are all blessed; we all can reap the benefits of our constructive efforts. We don’t have to settle for our present reality; we can create a new one, whenever we choose to. We all have that ability, because for better or worse, our thoughts do influence our lives. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but I wonder whether most people really believe this statement on a gut level. If we truly embraced the notion that our thoughts produce tangible effects in our lives, wouldn’t we strive to never let one thought slip by us that we didn’t want to experience? And wouldn’t we focus our attention on what we want, instead of continually obsessing about our problems? Think about it: If you really knew that this principle were true, would you ever miss a day in intentionally creating your desired destiny? This excerpt is taken from the book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza. It is published by Hay House and available at all bookstores or online at hayhouse.com. One of the scientists, researchers and teachers featured in the award-winning film What the BLEEP Do We Know!?, Joe Dispenza, D.C., has lectured on six continents, educating people about the functions of the human brain. The author of Evolve Your Brain, he has taught thousands how to reprogram their thinking through scientifically proven neurophysiological principles. Visit him online, read articles and watch videos at drjoedispenza.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness .org/references.html.
issue 34 pathwaystofamilywellness.org
MI ND — B O DY — SP IRI T
Everything is ENERGY and E
verything—every single thing—we do or think takes energy. Easy to see…right? But everything we do or think also releases energy. When you are in a good mood, for example, people around you can tell. They can feel it. Likewise, when you are crabby or angry, people know it, and you don’t even have to say anything. The energy of yes and no also carries energy. When you ask for help and someone responds with yes, it feels good. When they say no, it feels not-so-good. Likewise, when someone asks you for help, it feels good to say yes, partly because you can tell that it makes them happy, but also because it feels good to help. If you respond with no, you know the recipient feels less than good, and you probably also feel less good than if you’d said yes. Mostly,
the shared energy that comes from the recipient of the yes is enough for everyone to feel good.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org issue 34
though, the shared energy that comes from the recipient of the yes is enough for everyone to feel good. I am always puzzling over why parents say no to their children. I hear and read from them that “parents make the rules” and “no one should always get what they want”; that “kids will get spoiled” and “kids need to learn discipline by learning the word ‘no’.” There are plenty more justifications and rationalizations out there, but that’s a sampling. Given the energy associated with the words “no” and “yes,” I wonder if parents realize that every time they say no to their child they are sending a little electric shock of sorts to him, that hurts…and leaves him wondering on an emotional, psychological and even physical level why his parent just hurt him. Isn’t he supposed to feel love and support and nurturing from his parent? Hurt? Why did my parent just hurt me? (This is true not just for children, of course, but for and between adults, too.) From birth onward, I trust that whenever my child asks for a thing, it is a genuine and valid request, one that is necessary for her development. It’s not my job to figure out why she asked for it, or what purpose it will serve. It’s my job as a mom to get to yes. I really want yes to be my goal, because I know how good yes feels, and I want my child to immerse herself in a daily shower of feeling good…about life, about herself, about her developing abilities, about the predictions she forms about how the world works, and about others. For the confused, let’s dissect a few examples of how to get to yes. Because there have to be exceptions, right? No, there really don’t.
© GR EGORY JOHNSTON / DRE AMSTI ME.COM
By Barb Lundgren
Energy is EVERY THING 1
When my child says he wants to be Superman and fly off the roof, I connect easily with the feeling he wants to achieve: flying! We would all love to fly, right? Most of us, anyway. Now I know— or think I know—that he can’t actually fly off the roof...so I am not going to say something totally disrespectful and hideous, like, “You can’t fly off the roof, you’d kill yourself.” My goal is getting to yes so he can revel in the power of creating a world of allowance. I want him to experience flying, so I am going to act as his partner to get there. I might offer to make him a cape so he can run through the house, pretending to fly. I might suggest that he prepare for jumping off the roof by holding on to my hand and jumping off a chair and then a table. Then he can try it alone. Chances are, by that time he will have learned pretty solidly what gravity feels like as his feet hit the ground. (Depending upon the age and readiness of the child, we might also have had a discussion of gravity and done some other experiments, too.) In my experience I’ve never had a child want to jump off a roof after getting this far, because they will have already figured out that splat wouldn’t feel so good. For the sake of this discussion, however, let’s pretend that the child still wants to jump off the roof and fly, even after experimenting with jumping off of tables and such. You still have options. How about a zip line? How about a low roof and an air mattress to fall onto? How about a trampoline? How about a ride in a helicopter, a hot air balloon or an airplane? Just imagine how exciting, how powerful, and how good he’ll feel when you help make his fantasy come true!
When my teenage son was in public school (his choice), he was required to take a speech class. He didn’t like it, and was quite shy and very uncomfortable getting up in front of the class to say anything. His teacher called me to tell me she was going to have to fail him if he could not give a speech, and asked me, please, couldn’t I coerce or bribe or threaten him to do it, so she could give him a good grade? No, I told her, under no circumstances would I dream of asking my teen to do something he did not want to do. She was stunned. She failed him. My son is now not only a very confident public speaker, but a clear and impassioned orator, confident in front of an audience of any size.
My 6-month-old granddaughter was visiting recently, and she loves to put everything in her mouth. This is the main way babies connect with their world at her age, so I get it, even though it sort of grosses me out. I had her at the kitchen sink and she was playing with the water coming out of the faucet. She saw the kitchen sponge and grabbed it. It was headed to her mouth. “Eek!” I wanted to shout. “No, not that! You can’t put that nasty thing in your mouth!” I knew she was super eager; it had a fabulous texture and was all juicy with water for sucking. I didn’t open my mouth, however. I just removed the sponge from her hand before it hit her mouth and headed to the cupboard for a brand new sponge. Easy. She was happy.
have learned from my children that when they learn that they control their own worlds—not Mom or Dad or someone else—they never reach this much-feared “spoiled’” stage. When they are nurtured in a world that teaches them that they always get what they want, their needs will always be genuine and not arbitrary or manipulative, and never ploys for attention or love. I have also learned that when they achieve confidence at a very young age that they can partner with Mom or Dad all the time to get their needs, wishes and desires met, that they want the same for me. They’re helpful, respectful, loving children that understand that I have needs, too. What a miracle! And it’s all so easy, really it is.
Disclaimer: I was not always this good of a parent. My learning curve was pretty steep most of the time, but I screwed up, too. I am still learning!
Barb Lundgren is the founder and producer of the international Rethinking Everything conference, held in Dallas, Texas, each September. She also writes a blog in support of rethinking everything. Her deepest wisdom on the meanings of life, education, wellness and thriving have come from watching and living with her three free children, all now grown. Life is good! Visit Barb online at rethinkingeverythingtheblog.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamily wellness.org/references.html.
issue 34 pathwaystofamilywellness.org
OUR R ECOMMENDAT IONS
Night at the Movies Consider these outstanding films for your next Pathways Connect gathering The Other Side of the Glass
American Dream: The Movie
This birth film for and about men has grown into a four-part series, with the first part scheduled for release in 2012 (at press time, it was set for May). It covers a broad spectrum of topics, including the soul and consciousness, primal brain development, fathers’ stories of their birth experiences, and how the medical system is a machine where a man cannot be educated enough to assure that he can protect his partner and baby. Directed by Janel Mirendah, The Other Side of the Glass looks at how men are programmed by their own primal experiences (conception through infancy), and how they are disempowered at their own birth and circumcision. This film series asks: Could these foundational experiences form the basis of men’s inability to stop the violation of their partners and babies during medical birth? theothersideoftheglass.com
As Americans across the country ask, “What happened to the American Dream?” the conversation about the dream and what it means is heating up. Made in 2008, this in-depth look into America and its dream is every bit as relevant today. Corporate, government and institutional pressures are brought to bear on the individual to keep the status quo. And along the way, traditional values of freedom, social justice and a right to an equal opportunity for everyone seem to have been replaced by less time, less justice and much less equality. So did the dream really ever come true? And do we need to adapt the dream to the circumstances we now find ourselves in? With the country struggling with a weak economic recovery and mired in polarized politics, American Dream: The Movie tries to find out what exactly has happened to the American Dream, while also envisioning what a new dream would look like for the next generation. Filmmakers Joel Christian McEwen and Kurt Engfehr (Bowling for Columbine; Bigger, Stronger, Faster) examine the dream, interviewing such outspoken figures as Danny Glover, Ed Begley Jr. and historian Howard Zinn. americandreamthemovie.com
Baby Keeper Productions, 2012
Wolf & Moon Productions, 2008
check out this site! The Global Oneness Project produces films, media and educational materials that explore how the simple notion of interconnectedness can be lived in today’s complex world. Since 2006, project members have been traveling the world, gathering stories that not only question the current paradigm but also reveal our greater human potential. Its living library of films is available online, on DVD and through select broadcast outlets. globalonenessproject.org
pathwaystofamilywellness.org issue 34
These four films are excellent choices for home viewing, or screening at a meeting of your Pathways Connect Gathering Group. We hope you find these perspectives insightful and illuminating. Please send your feedback (and your favorite conscious-choice book, movie and media suggestions!) to editor@pathwaystofamily wellness.org. Find these films and more at the Pathways Amazon store, at tinyurl.com/pathwaysbooks.
The Living Matrix
Mind, intention, belief...can these factors influence healing? How do placebos work? Can science explain “miracle” cures? The Living Matrix— The New Science of Healing, addresses these questions and explores how quantum physics, energy fields and consciousness directly affect our health and well-being. In this groundbreaking film, leading scientists, researchers and holistic practitioners share the latest science and alternative concepts that are revolutionizing healthcare as we know it. The film premiered to sold-out audiences in London and Los Angeles, and is now available on DVD. The Living Matrix is a provocative, full-length feature documentary on healing and the nature of human health. Directed by Greg Becker, the film uncovers innovative breakthroughs and discoveries that will transform your understanding of how we heal. The most significant revelation is how energy and information fields are as influential as genetics in determining human health, physiology and biochemistry. Through in-person interviews and dramatized vignettes that document the stories of people who recovered from chronic illness—including a 5-year-old boy born with cerebral palsy, an osteopathic doctor with a brain tumor, and a housewife bedridden with chronic fatigue syndrome—the film illustrates the undeniable benefits of integrating alternative healing modalities into conventional healthcare, and advocates shifting from a disease-centered system to a healing-centered model. livingmatrixmovie.com
I Am is an utterly engaging and entertaining nonfiction film that poses two practical and provocative questions: What’s wrong with our world, and what can we do to make it better? The filmmaker behind the inquiry is Tom Shadyac, one of Hollywood’s leading comedy practitioners and the creative force behind such blockbusters as Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor and Bruce Almighty. But after a cycling accident left him incapacitated, Shadyac emerged with a new sense of purpose, determined to share his own awakening to his prior life of excess and greed, and to investigate how he as an individual, and we as a species, could improve the way we live and walk in the world. Armed with his innate curiosity, Shadyac set out on a 21st-century quest for enlightenment. Meeting with a variety of thinkers and doers—remarkable men and women from the worlds of science, philosophy, academia and faith, including such luminaries as David Suzuki, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and Archbishop Desmond Tutu—Shadyac appears onscreen as character, commentator, guide and guinea pig. Asking tough questions but offering no easy answers, he presents even familiar phenomena in completely new and different ways. The result is a fresh, energetic and life-affirming film that challenges our preconceptions about human behavior while simultaneously celebrating the indomitable human spirit. iamthedoc.com
Becker Massey, LLC, 2009
Shady Acres, 2011
issue 34 pathwaystofamilywellness.org
FE ATU RE TOUCH T HE FU T URE
Top 10 Things My Children Taught Me …about how to ensure a long and strong relationship with your kids By Maria Whitworth Drop your assumptions that you know what’s best for them. Facilitate, but don’t meddle. Hold off on giving your opinion while you’re feeling a negative response. Only use time-outs on yourself. Allow them room to fix their own situations. You can suggest what you might do for yourself if it was you in their shoes. But don’t fix it for them. Don’t get too enamored with or emotionally invested in what you see as your child’s talents and gifts. Listen and learn. Get to know your kids, and marvel when they show you new ways to see things. Wean yourself from any self-imposed schedule addiction. Experience the guilt-free pleasure of living with flexibility, inspiration and openness. Respect your child’s ideas, judgment and inherent wisdom. You can only do that when you respect your own ideas, judgment and inherent wisdom. In any situation, ask yourself: How would I respond if this were my best (adult) friend?
Maria Whitworth is writer, speaker, marketing innovator, graphic designer and unjobbing coach who ignites the self-reliant, can-do spirit in everyone she connects with. Her motto is, “Question everything and discover your own way.” Her e-book, Your Practical, Unjobbing Handbook – The Unconventional Guide to Making Money Doing What You Love, is the standard primer for the growing unjobbing movement. Maria’s radical insights on empowered parenting and “Say yes!” approach to life are dominant themes in her workshops. A home-birthing, unschooling mom of three, she is currently writing a how-to parenting manual for raising joyful, self-determined, free-thinking kids. Contact Maria at email@example.com or facebook.com/mariawhitworth. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
pathwaystofamilywellness.org issue 34
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It’s a movement!
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THE MA R K E T P L AC E
the greater good If you think you know everything about vaccines…Think Again.
A must see award winning documentary film. Visit our site to host a screening & join the conversation. www.greatergoodmovie.org
’t h a n o d u o ...y
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Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
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