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ISSUE 62 | summer 2019 | $7.95

The Transition to





welcome to issue

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The chiropractic adjustment, which expands our potential for greater health and well-being, leads us to ponder the great questions of life. In recognition of the body’s living wisdom, we explore a vital question of our time: Can we place our lives in the context of the wider cycles that govern the planet?

TA KING T HE S T EP Fathers at Birth........................................................12 By Rose St. John

Balancing the Nervous System to Handle Daily Stressors........................................ 16 By Jeanne Ohm, D.C.

Obstetrical Kindness............................................... 20 By Vivian Keeler, D.C.

Baby’s Thoughts..................................................... 22

letter from the editor

By Trudie Jones

THE GREATER POWER IN BIRTH.................................6

Unpacking Ultrasound............................................ 24 By Yolande Clark

on the cover

A Father’s Presence................................................. 26

NATURE’S LIVING WISDOM........................................ 8

By Melody Joy Cary

BALANCING THE NERVOUS SYSTEM......................... 16

The Transition to Fatherhood.................................. 28

SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY.................................................68 THE TRANSITION TO FATHERHOOD.........................28

cover PhotographY © Lesley S. Curtis |


By Jay Warren, D.C.

What does “organic” mean? 56

How chiropractic helped Keri 42

Can we feel others’ feelings? 34



The Empathy Circuit............................................... 34

Going Beyond Organic............................................ 56

By Mark Matousek

By Sam Fisher

Don’t Fix a Tantrum................................................ 36

Stealing Time......................................................... 58

By Natalie Christensen

By Ginny Yurich

Connection Made...................................................40

Fear Is the Sickness................................................. 64

By Peter Kevorkian, D.C.

By Kelly Brogan, m.D.

A Family Discovers Chiropractic: Keri and Sophie’s Story........................................... 42

Spiritual Ecology.................................................... 68 By Nadine Brasunas

By Ian Shtulman, D.C.

Childhood Fevers.................................................... 44 By Jeanne Ohm, D.C.

The Pill Pitch.......................................................... 48 By Sharyl Attkisson

If Science Were Settled........................................... 52 By Kate Tietje

Children’s health begins in pregnancy and birth.

Advertisers For advertising rates and information, please send us an e-mail at or call us at 610-565-2360. Executive Editor and Director of Publishing Jeanne Ohm, D.C.

Managing editor John Marc Copy chief Robert Staeger Art director, Design & Layout Tina Aitala Engblom Pathways Coordinator Tia Ohm Digital Integration Gabe Small Web editor Jamie Dougan Advisory board

Pathways to Family Wellness is an award-winning quarterly publication offering parents thought-provoking articles and resources to make conscious, informed choices for their families’ well-being. The individual articles and links to healthcare information in Pathways to Family Wellness are based on the opinions and perspectives of their respective authors. The information provided is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is presented as a sharing of knowledge and information. Pathways to Family Wellness magazine is published by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, a 501-C3 nonprofit. Sales of Pathways to Family Wellness and the direction of its community outreach program fulfills ICPA’s mission for public education. Images used are for illustrative purposes only. Materials in this publication (printed and digital) may not be reprinted without written permission from the editorial offices in Media, PA. All rights reserved. © 2004–2019 ICPA, Inc. Issue 62, Summer 2019. Printed in the USA.

Subscrip tions Pathways to Family Wellness is published four times per year. Print subscription rate is $24.95/year. Digital subscription rate is $9.95 for one year, $15.95 for two years. All funds U.S. Dollars. Discounts are available for bulk single and recurring orders. All proceeds support our mission of research, training, and public education for family well-being. Order online by visiting our website: Contact Pathways to Family Wellness 327 N. Middletown Rd. Media, PA 19063 Telephone: 610-565-2360 Website: Article submissions Would you like to write for Pathways? We look for articles that challenge and confront, as well as articles that support and nourish. Please e-mail articles and information to: Photographic submissions Do you have amazing photos you would like to share with us? By sending us your photos, you agree that you have the right to distribute the image, and maintain that all people depicted agree to have their image published. Please submit photos and information to: Please visit our website for more details.

Be a part of Pathways!

We love to hear from you. If you have stories and photos to share about pregnancy, birth, family wellness lifestyle choices, or healthy recipes and nutrition ideas, please send an e-mail to our editor at:





W hat if there were an organization that recognized your own unique expression and human potential? What if that same organization represented the most highly trained practitioners who could provide specific, gentle care so that you could function at your greatest capacity? What if this organization of practitioners knew how to care for children by honoring women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood? Imagine if doctors truly supported a woman’s innate right to make informed choices for her own family. Imagine if a safe community of empowered parents existed to support a mother’s inner guidance and desire to grow. These are the principles and promises of the ICPA and its community of 6,000 doctors of chiropractic. These 6,000 ICPA members have come together to serve families. Family is the heart and home of our human potential. The loving and gentle care of chiropractic for each individual strengthens the family, strengthens the community, and opens the possibility for a greater tomorrow.

Welcome to

Pathways to Family Wellness…


our avenue for bringing chiropractic principles into practice for a more purposeful and fulfilling family life.


The Greater Power in Birth


here comes a time when every woman in labor needs to “let go of the shore.” This is the time when we either realize that there is a greater power within us that we can go to for the rest of labor…or that the power within is too much, and is something that could overtake us. In birth, this is usually the time when we ask for the epidural: “I can’t do this anymore, I need help, give me something.” Or, if we’re home and we can’t have an epidural, maybe we ask to go to the hospital. At this point we’re looking for something outside ourselves to save us—some greater authority to come along and be more powerful than our own autonomous being. Today, I believe we’re all going through a birth. A birth in our social, religious, economic, legal, and healthcare systems, from an older paradigm to something new. At this time, it is very similar to labor, when we find ourselves holding on to the shore and won’t let go. A time when we’re insisting and begging for some outside authority to rescue us, to take over, to relieve us of our own autonomy, our own strength, and our own ability to make it through. I see it again and again online: The past few years seem to have been so rough, so difficult, and so oppressive on people, bringing them to the brink of defeat. All I ask is that during this time we remember that every birth has these moments. Every birth has this potential for confrontation. Every birth has this critical time, where we can either ask for an authority to come and take over, or take a deep breath and let go of the shore, and let the power that animates the living world move us through the process. 

Jeanne Ohm, D.C.

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For the raising of the consciousness,

Every birth has this critical time, where we can either ask for an authority to come and take over, or take a deep breath and let go of the shore, and let the power that animates the living world move us through the process.


Nature ’s

Living Wisdom

Can we place our lives in the context of the wider cycles that govern the planet?


easonal, circadian, lunar, and tidal patterns don’t just form the background to our lives—they are our lives. We are composed of rhythms and exist within the rhythms of nature. They are fundamental to our well-being. The quality of our personal experiences, when synced up with universal intelligence versus struggling and forcing through the powerlessness of the limited mind, is like night and day. Patterns in nature emphasize the changing and the changeless cycles of life, and we must align with these waves of energy if we are to evolve and thrive. As a trend forecaster for more than a decade, I’ve learned that all most people consciously (and subconsciously) concern themselves with is the future and how it’s going to affect them. It’s why people devour any media that mentions future business predictions, peruse star signs, and seek influential thought leaders as friends. We want to be at the forefront of life. We don’t want to be left behind, feeling trapped and insignificant. I used to make strategic recommendations to my clients based on consumer trends, but, as with most aspects of life today, the old way no longer works. Innumerable

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commercial models are broken, and unpredictability is the new normal. In the past, most of my clients wanted me to comprehend cycles of business and attitudinal change, but really the most important cycles and frequencies to perceive, understand, and apply are nature’s. Rhythm arises from alternation—ebb and flow, expansion and contraction, waxing and waning, building and dissolving—as one state transitions effortlessly to another. We’re permanently in a climate of change. Life’s not static; it’s transitional. We’re continually adjusting, fluctuating, tinkering, and oscillating. Although the frenetic, hurried pace of modern life isn’t geared to respecting nature’s living wisdom, that’s no excuse to abdicate responsibility and not try. These patterns of energies present us with wisdom on how to be in the world and offer strategies to move forward with ease and grace. Syncing Up With a Greater Power Source One of the greatest pleasures in life is enjoying the transition from night to day and day to night. Unfortunately most adults miss the changeovers: They’re asleep for the


By Kristina Dryža

first one, and are stuck in an office for the second. Cues from outside rhythms influence our internal biorhythms, and, unfortunately, artificial lighting, long working hours, and jet lag lets corporate life dictate our circadian rhythms more than nature. We’re constantly fighting our natural circadian rhythm, a roughly 24-hour cycle taking place in our bodies. Nourishing our internal clock is crucial for our well-being, and many of us are currently not living the way nature intended, in sync with the rhythms of the rising and setting sun. Just as we sync our iPod with our iTunes account, it would benefit us to harmonize with the light-dark cycle, as it’s the inherited blueprint our cells and organs follow. Aligning ourselves with the signals of nature expands our awareness and helps us release our worries. When we dwell in the womb of nature, the artificial falls by the wayside and serenity returns. There’s a natural period of alertness in the morning, and a time of restlessness after sundown, but many of us work on our laptops until the very last second before sleep. Bringing ourselves into line with the light-dark cycle reminds us that life is fleeting, and to ground ourselves in the constancy and grandeur of the rising and setting sun in order to find peace in its recurrence and flawlessness. The sun never struggles to rise or set. It does so effortlessly and with great ease. It’s a reminder for us to go about our day just as fluidly. These 24 hours will never come again, and the sun’s exultant path across the sky is a reminder of each day’s uniqueness. By not witnessing the sun’s movements on a regular basis, we miss the miracle of how each day comes to be and how quickly it vanishes like an apparition into the night sky. It—shamelessly—makes it easier for us to complain and trudge our way through the daylight hours. Acknowledging each day as it opens and closes reminds us to be thankful for all the vast, indescribable beauty that exists in between. Each evening the stars take their rightful place in the sky to form a luminous blanket, but a ceiling confines the conclusion of most of our nights. The stars remind us how beautiful and precious life is when we keep our focus elevated. Appreciating the grand cosmic scenery in the universe and our relationship to it requires discipline, perseverance, and fluidly alternating between the territories of the magical and the ordinary.

The Ephemeral Beauty of Temporariness We must train ourselves to view the ordinary with fresh eyes. Otherwise, we’ll forever be chasing extraordinary future moments, which take us out of the now. Bear witness to the rare in the everyday, not only on holidays and special occasions. Moments are fleeting so other moments can enter into our lives. These points of time are transitory. That’s how nature is: It lives, it dies, and the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth continues. Although at times it’s invisible to our eyes, nature is in a constant state of growth or decay, shapeshifting like a wave that forms, breaks, and disappears back into itself. Moments can’t be relived; they’re one-offs. Relinquishing the need to hold on doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy all of life’s experiences. Rather, we submit ourselves to the impermanence of all things. We don’t try to capture what’s ephemeral, because we’ll only diminish its beauty and imprison its legacy. The sun always falls across offices, gardens, and coffee shops in abundantly scenic ways during the day, but maybe we’ve never noticed the subtleties of light before, or the canvas of a building doesn’t seem to adequately highlight the changing shadow patterns. When we witness the variations nature brings to spaces, we can be with the wonder of the light never falling this way again to cast these particular silhouettes, or that the winter sun won’t ever shine through the poplar trees, forming outlines that dazzle like luminous fireflies in this exact same way again. We have the opportunity to turn the lead of shadows into the gold of illumination. Balance as a Dynamic State We have a deluded idea of balance in modern life. We believe it’s static, and this perception causes us tremendous agony, as nothing in life stands still. Nothing stays the same, and planning otherwise is futile. Life shouldn’t be a constant, uphill struggle, but that’s what we turn it into when we refuse to harmonize with the unfolding laws of nature. Nature, like balance, is dynamic. We shapeshift to the rhythm of the moment as it moves with and through us, but modern society demands uniformity and consistency. Franchised coffee anyone? The balance most people chase is an illusion. They forget balance is ever-elusive due to its constantly changing form. The version of balance women’s magazines sell

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TA K I N G T H E S T E P implies a fixed, one-off ending, but in reality we bring balance to our internal mind as a frequently repeating process. Rebalancing is a moment-to-moment activity, as we adapt to what the current situation requires. Consider balance as balance with the now—not maintaining equilibrium as a permanent state, but constantly orienting ourselves to each new moment. Trying to force a constant state of balance will derail us every time. Silence as a Path to Creativity A frequency to often tune into is silence. Not analytical or reflective quiet, but pure stillness. We don’t routinely practice silence, as it doesn’t yet mean more to us than all the other things in our day. When we experience this stillness, and trust the peace it brings, only then will we commit to regular repetition and not treat it as an expendable resource. When we listen to music, it’s the spaces in between that create what we hum along to. The spaces between sounds are as important as the musical notes themselves. The holes give Swiss cheese its taste and appeal, just as the zeroes in binary code allow the ones to function. Equally, it’s the still gap between our thoughts where true originality, creativity, and the very essence of life exists.

It’s not about completely shutting off our thoughts, but rather letting the space shine through. The vibration of sound is everywhere—the heating system, radio, e-mail notifications—so learn to luxuriate in creative, silent pauses. Lap them up and change what we value. Sound has driven our lives this last century. It’s time to give the same value to silence as we do to noise. Visualize connecting to the silence at the bottom of the ocean. Even though movements occur on the water’s surface, they don’t disrupt the intrinsic stillness underneath. It’s not enough just to think about peace and quiet— we need to live it. Find ways to reconnect with stillness at regular intervals throughout the day, saluting the silence that lies beneath all that you do. Just as the trees momentarily gust in the wind, we should strive to be the enduring tranquility that lies behind the temporary blowing of the leaves as we go about our day. Pacing One’s Life to an Inner Rhythm We infuse our actions with meaning by doing things at their proper pace. This leads innumerably to the pleasure and enjoyment of a situation. Observe how quickly many of us in our stress-filled, 24/7, “always on” lives walk when we’re not even in a hurry. Urgent becomes our default

Aligning ourselves with the signals of nature expands our awareness and helps us release our worries. When we dwell in the womb of nature, the artificial falls by the wayside and serenity returns.

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Get in Rhythm Reason and logic rule in our world today. But we can’t reason our way out of our problems; we need to feel our way through. The heart is considered unreliable. Society has deemed it not fit to rule, regarding it a redundant, useless barometer. When we use our intuition to readjust our internal rhythm to join with the universe’s cycles, we begin to feel how things in their natural order play out—the monarch butterfly migration, for example— and begin living life through this reality. To all creation there is a visible and invisible gestation period. When we’re in reverence of the invisible, there’s no struggle, pain, or discomfort in birthing our new ideas into being. The future unfolds in a state of flow, which involves perceiving ourselves as dynamic entities working with the rhythms of the natural world, not against them. While flow implies natural ease, it comes through mastering active and receptive methods, masculine and feminine principles, and other polarities and universal paradoxes. It’s time for us to stop valuing clock time over the natural movements of the sun and moon. It’s time to connect to time through sensation, and lose the logic of the digital timepiece. Rather than letting a regimented corporate and consumerist life dictate our days, let’s instead allow the cycles and their idiosyncratic energies to guide us. Observe the Mongolian farmers and their nomadic lifestyles: They let the natural world direct them and their animals, and it’s this very fluidity and connection to the earth that’s missing from our urban, technologydriven lives. Find a way to feel at one with the land and the energies of the cycles. Only by unifying with the rhythms of nature can we feel the wonder and majesty of the world and in ourselves. We cannot break the laws of nature. We can only break ourselves by going against them. 

everyday speed, as we let our surroundings and external influences pace us. Struggling and resisting the rhythms of nature by not accepting the inherent perfection within the cycles leads to anxiety and a great deal of inner and outer conflict. Living at a constant sprint is unsustainable. Rather than let the passage and pressures of time assault us, it’s far wiser to sense the various rates of knots in existence and be with the individual pace of a process. Many of us are great at being on time, but don’t know how to exist in time— i.e., in rhythm. We’re so enslaved by time that we’ve lost the art of being timeless and live our lives out on the periphery, instead of at the center. We want to get everywhere fast: be an adult before we complete our teens, have success before we’ve been tested, demand a finished painting before we even draw the first line. It’s not about anticipating the next part of the cycle, but being one with the energetic experience of the phase we’re in now. If we can’t fully accept where we are now, we end up doing great damage to where we’re meant to be. The Italians have a musical notation not found in any other language—tempo giusto, which means “the right tempo,” a steady, normal beat, between 66 and 76 on the metronome. As an objective measure, tempo giusto is the average beat of the human heart; subjectively, the rightness of the tempo at a suitability garnered from the musician’s intuition. The term is now a lifestyle movement advising the modern world to start living at a true tempo—to live in accordance with both one’s own inner rhythm and in congruence with seasonal, circadian, lunar, and tidal rhythms.


Originally printed on

Kristina Dryža (pronounced Kriss-tin-ah Dree-zha), is a trend forecaster and the author of the allegorical novel Grace and the Wind. While consumer trends can be one lens to filter and view potential futures, they’re also highly subjective and transient. Nature’s cycles, on the other hand, are a constant. A line from her book, “We cannot break the rhythms of nature, only ourselves against them,” illustrates why it’s crucial to operate within these rhythms. Please join Kristina on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to continue the conversation about living in harmony with nature’s wisdom, and e-mail her at to inquire about future workshops and individual coaching sessions. View article resources and author information here:

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FAT HERS AT BIR T H How to be the Mountain and the Warrior By Rose St. John

The Mountain In a vital partner relationship, masculine energy flows from the male body into the female body. If you think about sexual intercourse, you have a picture of how masculine energy flows into the feminine body. During intercourse, the man’s energy—his seed and potential—flows into the woman’s body. The female body receives, contains, recreates, and redistributes the energy. From this perspective, the two bodies are one body. Your partner draws from the reserve pool of your masculine energy and uses it to stabilize herself. Masculine power lies in the steadfast presence of the mountain as well as in the concentrated, wise potential of the seed. When combined with feminine power, it breaks out and explodes into new life, a new order. Since your masculine energy is available on many levels, your mere attentive presence allows your partner to draw from it. Here is Miranda’s comment about her partner’s concentrated potential: “My husband was pretty quiet during labor, but I could feel all this love coming from him. I remember thinking, ‘I didn’t know he loved me so much.’ It helped me to get into this space where I could deal with labor.” Olga shared: “My husband’s presence as the mountain was very real to me. Very tangible. Incredibly important. Others in the room could be busy doing whatever, but I needed my husband to be my rock and stay physically close

and present. Being able to hear him breathe between contractions calmed me down and helped me rest.” Don’t dismiss the value of what you have to give simply by being there. No one else can birth the baby for the mother. But being alongside her with your stable presence is a powerful component of your partner’s sense of well-being. It provides a firm base for her to rely on as she finds her path through labor—a path she must find for herself. Sean shared: “I was struck by how just being there and staying focused was about 90 percent of it. Just being stable and not wandering away, or vacating, or thinking I wasn’t important. It was amazing, absolutely amazing.” It is not about what you say or do in labor. It is more about who you are. Be the mountain. The Water While masculine energy is like a mountain, feminine energy is like water. Because water is a fluid force, it changes quickly, without warning. It can surge and thrash one moment, and be reflective and calm the next. Your partner may exhibit water-like behavior during labor, but do not be misled. Flowing water carves through rock and surging water breaks through an impasse. Charles expressed how the concept of mountain and water energy helped him respond to his partner during labor: “My wife thrashed and pulled and pushed, and then she would just collapse and rest. I had this image of a woman thrashing and subsiding like water flowing down a mountain. That image was critical because it helped me stay calm and hold the space while she thrashed. It kept me from getting mental about it or stepping in to try to fix it.” When you hold the space like a mountain, your partner’s water energy is free to find its course. Labor and birth use assertive and authoritative power that arises in wave rhythms, like the surf of the ocean. The surging and primal energy of birthing takes many couples by surprise. As Joel explained, it can be quite astonishing: “I was surprised by how forceful and aggressive labor was. A human being gets pushed out, one wave at a time, from inside the person you care about. Birthing is a force to be reckoned with.” The force of birthing is the embodiment of new life, which exposes the core of feminine power. Neither you nor your partner controls this force. Go with it and let it surge and flow. The mountain augments the flow of water. The Warrior Along with being steadfast like a mountain, you also need to be alert and responsive like a warrior. A warrior gathers all his energy into one stream, one focus, so he can perceive and respond to the environment of battle. He must remain attentive and available—in vigil—but he must also be prepared to serve and protect.

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mountain’s presence is its power. It is rock-solid. Silent. Still. Majestic. Upright. Massively and indisputably present—always there. Yet it doesn’t do anything. It simply stands. Masculine energy is like a mountain’s stability. Seeing yourself as the mountain gives you a picture of the most important skills you need to be a partner who makes a concrete difference at labor and birth. A mountain doesn’t need to do anything for its power to be apparent. If you push against a mountain, it does not collapse, get agitated, or try to control the situation. It remains unperturbed and steadfast. By being the mountain, you maintain your vigil and offer your partner the strength of your stable presence. This is the type of power Clair, one of my clients, experienced from her partner: “The thing that helped me most in labor was having my husband there, because I knew I wasn’t alone. Somehow, his presence gave me a sense of safety. It made me feel like it was safe to open and bring this baby into the world.” Do not underestimate the power of your stable presence. It helps your partner feel safe, which in turn helps her open with less resistance as she labors and gives birth.


Seeing yourself as a warrior gives you a picture of the most important skills you need to respond to your partner and protect her. A laboring woman is vulnerable and needs to be protected. As a matter of fact, if the mother does not feel protected, her labor can shut down. My client Holly explained it well: “In labor, I am in a much more vulnerable state, and not just physically. My perceptual net is more expanded. I am more sensitive to how my husband is doing. And I am more sensitive to everything going on around me. I need to tune out distractions and concentrate. I need more protection, and I need my husband to provide a buffer for me.” Your warrior presence provides a buffer of protection that liberates your partner from extraneous concerns. This is a great gift to your partner as it frees her to use her energy exclusively to open and give birth. One way you provide a buffer for your partner is to operate as a warrior does, from a position of power. To do so, you need to unite your energies. Imagine being a charioteer traveling with a team of untrained horses running in random directions. The charioteer must use tremendous energy to manage the horses while he journeys. He risks getting sidetracked, distracted, agitated, exhausted, and lost. Now imagine traveling to a destination as a charioteer who directs trained horses to move in ordered unison. He travels in the direction he chooses to go, and has more focus, ease, and power as he travels. This is how the application of uniting your energies works. When your energies are united, you are focused, responsive, and powerful like a warrior. This makes you vigilant in the heat of labor. Each of us consists of several levels that are present in the here and now. We have a physical body, a breathing body, a mental body, an emotional body, an individual soul, and the pervading absolute that sustains and is beyond all those levels. When these levels are dissipated and fragmented, we disturb others and ourselves. When these levels are integrated and united, we have power and purpose. Our elevated sense of purpose elevates the purpose of those around us, gives them more power, and influences how situations unfold. If you observe the body, you see three clearly defined sources of power protected by bone—head, chest, and pelvis. When these three sources of power are aligned, you draw on the strength of each of them to make you a formidable warrior. You draw from the rational strength of the head to make decisions. You draw from the instinctive strength of the gut to help you respond on the spot. You draw from the intuitive strength of the heart and offer the most inspiring force of all: love, devotion, and commitment. When your sources of strength are integrated, you have access to your power, which makes you a vigilant warrior, offering the mother tremendous protection, support, refuge, and strength.

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Be Centered Being centered is a characteristic the mountain and the warrior share. When you are centered, you are calm and alert; you can observe and respond to the mother’s changing needs. When we tense up, it is often because we realize we are not in control. We do not know what to do, so we armor ourselves to maintain a semblance of order. This sometimes works as a short-term reaction. However, as a long-term approach in the vigil of labor, tension drains you and causes you to miss the mark. Think of the difference between traveling with trained horses as opposed to being sidetracked by untrained horses. If your energies are dissipated and disconnected, the untrained horses sidetrack both you and the mother. If you are centered, you both have the advantage of traveling with trained horses. You must center your whole self, because you cannot be an effective birth companion if: ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪

Your body is out of alignment, tense, and uncomfortable Your breath is haphazard and restricted Your emotions are pulling in different directions Your mind is confused, distracted, anxious, or in turmoil

If you are distracted or disturbed, you distract and disturb your partner. If you are centered, it helps the mother to center, which greatly reduces anxiety and pain. Take refuge in the knowledge that the one element your partner needs is your centered, attentive presence. Your attentive presence is grounded in relaxation. And relaxation is grounded in alignment and fluid breathing. To help you become skilled in the art of centering, on the next page I offer a three-step, one-minute centering practice. I think you’ll find it a very useful tool to help you embody the mountain and the warrior. 

Rose St. John is an author, mentor, speaker, birth attendant, and yoga instructor (E-RYT-500) who trained and practiced for over 20 years under the guidance of Swami Rama, a master of Raja yoga. She is author of Fathers at Birth, as well as the soon-to-be-released books Forgive: The Way to Power, Peace & Freedom and Psalms for the Braveheart. Rose teaches simple, proven, science-based, yogic life-skill practices that have the power to help you focus when you are upset, so you can re-establish composure and effectiveness in challenging situations. Barbara Harper, an internationally renowned water birth expert, said Rose’s “…recommendations for breathing, focusing, and coping are techniques that not only apply to labor and birth but are skills that will impact fathers and mothers for a lifetime.” Check out Rose’s offerings and articles at: View article resources and author information here:

One-Minute Centering


n the spot, in less than a minute, you can coordinate and integrate the many facets of your being into a united force. By using the three-step, one-minute centering practice, you can quickly and effectively: ▪ Align and relax your body ▪ Allow the breath to flow and synchronize ▪ Focus your mind and direct your attention You do this by asking and responding to three important questions: How am I using my body? How am I using my breath? How am I using my mind? HOW AM I USING MY BODY? Observe your body. Turn your attention in toward your body and occupy the space your body occupies. Drop your armor. Release and relax your body to the best of your ability on the spot. Align and balance the three body weights—pelvis, chest, and head. Scan your body and give it whatever additional support it needs to be comfortable. Alignment and relaxation conserve energy and help you remain at ease. Misalignment puts unnecessary pressure on your nerves, organs, and joints, which increases tension and stress. Alignment and relaxation have a subtle yet powerful influence on how you perceive yourself, how you respond to a situation, how people respond to you, and how each situation unfolds. HOW AM I USING MY BREATH? Observe your breath. Feel the flow of breath in your nostrils. Let your forehead be smooth, and soften your eyes. Release restrictions, pauses, and noises in the breath, and let it be fluid and rhythmic. Don’t force or control the breath. Think of the rhythm of ocean surf, and allow your breath to flow in and out. Since breath is the link between body and mind, breath has the power to calm the body and focus the mind. Your nervous system is intimately connected to breath, and how you breathe affects how your entire system operates.


HOW AM I USING MY MIND? Observe your thoughts. Release random thoughts, critical comments, doubts, worries, and mind noise. Then focus the mind on the situation. Focusing the mind is an ongoing process and radically alters how you perceive and respond. It gives you the freedom to respond to a situation instead of reacting out of habit. Mind has the capacity to concentrate, discern, and receive revelations. It is advocate, problem solver, and guide. But mind is a double-edged sword. It can play the role of a wolf that devours you or a trickster that deceives you. Mind is subtle and can travel anywhere, but body remains limited in time and space. Let your mind occupy your body and breath. Then focus it on the situation at hand. Distracting thoughts will continue to flow. Observe and release them. The three-step, one-minute centering practice is the main one you will use to maintain your labor vigil. It lets you observe and respond to your partner’s changing needs. Use it whenever you need assistance or guidance. In less than a minute, you can align and relax the body, let your breath flow, and focus your mind on the situation at hand. Try using it now. You have begun the process of becoming the mountain and the warrior your partner needs you to be. Excerpted from Fathers at Birth by Rose St. John

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n April of this year, birth practitioners and advocates from all over the world gathered online for a weeklong event called the Birth Healing Summit, created and hosted by Lynn Shulte, P.T. Among the notable appearances and presentations was a spotlight interview with Jeanne Ohm, D.C., editor of Pathways to Family Wellness and executive coordinator of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. The conversation was insightful and wide-ranging; we felt it deserved a wider audience, so we’re bringing it to you below.


Lynn: Welcome to the Birth Healing Summit. We’re talking with Jeanne Ohm, D.C., about balancing the nervous system so moms can handle daily stressors in life. So, Jeanne, how do we do that as moms? Jeanne: Well, I’ll begin by saying that I’ve been involved in chiropractic for 40 years, and chiropractic is what led me into natural birthing. I think it’s important for people to understand what chiropractic is, because chiropractic is one way we can balance the nervous system. A lot of people think, “Oh, you have a bad back. Go to the chiropractor for treatment.” Actually, my story with chiropractic began in that way, after I had fractured my spine hang-gliding. I initially went through orthopedic procedures and drugs, and after a year I was still hurting. My orthopedic doctor told me, “Oh, honey, you’re gonna have a bad back for the rest of your life.” Not knowing what to do, I went to a chiropractor who explained to me, “Chiropractic is not about the ‘bad back.’” I remember thinking, “Then what am I doing here?” He said, “We work with the nervous system. As I make adjustments on your spine, that takes pressure off your nervous system and allows you to function better on many levels— physiologically, psychologically, socially, and physically.” It’s unfortunate that people don’t really understand that part of chiropractic. It’s why people might ask, “Why would you bring your baby to a chiropractor; do they have a bad back?” They don’t realize we’re working to enhance the nervous system—the most important system in the body, which runs and controls everything else. When I began to receive chiropractic care as a teenager, my lifelong asthma went away. My allergies and migraine headaches left. Even my menstrual cycle became regular. Then I started to understand what chiropractic was really about. It’s not the treatment of any of those conditions, it’s just the restoration of normal body function, which may manifest in amazing ways and differently for every person. At the same time as we restore normal function, chiropractic also strengthens the autonomic nervous system’s ability to process future stress. That’s huge for pregnancy, birth, and early bonding. It helps us move out of perpetual fight-or-flight activity that has become an unavoidable part of modern living.

Lynn: Absolutely! So you said chiropractic helped you discover natural birthing for yourself. Can you talk about chiropractic as it relates to a more physiological birth? Jeanne: One aspect of birth that’s particularly relevant is the topic of dystocia, or the cause for birth to slow down and stop progressing. Williams Obstetrics defines dystocia as being related to three aspects of birth: power, passage, and passenger. Power is how the uterus is functioning and the ability of the cervix to dilate. It’s an intelligent physiological process that’s coordinated through the activity of the nervous system. If a pregnant mom’s spine is out of alignment, or if she is experiencing undue stress and perceived danger in her environment, her nervous system will shift out of its ideal physiological state for giving birth.

When I began to receive chiropractic care, my lifelong asthma went away. My allergies and migraines left. Even my menstrual cycle became regular. Then I started to understand what chiropractic was really about. A subluxation, or misalignment of the spine, can cause the body to signal a fight-or-flight response, just as external stressors in the birth environment can and often do. Going back to the importance of the autonomic nervous system, if the mother is in this state of fight-or-flight during labor, the cervix won’t dilate effectively, and the uterus’s function will begin to shut down. Usually, if the birth is at the hospital, the hospital staff will say early on, “Well, you’re not progressing here and we have do something to get things moving.” In reality, what’s most needed is to calm the environment, wait for the nervous system to catch back up, and allow the mother to regain autonomic balance. It would be great if there was a chiropractor at every birth, to assure that autonomic balance was achieved for every birthing mother. So, that’s the power of chiropractic in birth, relating back to the importance of the power of the uterus and the ability of the cervix to dilate. Passage, the second component related to dystocia, is all about the pelvis. Now, if the pelvis is out of alignment, perhaps from early accidents in life or due to modern habits like prolonged sitting and poor posture—something we are all familiar with—then it’s going to be harder for the mother and baby to successfully birth. Williams Obstetrics

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Chiropractic assures that the spine is aligned so no internal stressors interfere with the body’s power. it helps align the pelvis so that

states: “A misaligned pelvis makes birth difficult.” Chiropractors agree, absolutely. And that’s what we do as chiropractors—we adjust the pelvis and bring it back into balance. This also allows the baby, the passenger, to assume an ideal position with respect to the birth process. Williams Obstetrics says, “The passenger can affect or contribute to dystocia or labor slowing down.” Well, now we know why. When the pelvis is out of alignment, different ligaments and muscles connected to the pelvis start pulling the uterus in a certain way, putting tension on the uterine environment and inhibiting the baby from assuming an ideal position for birth. When we align the pelvis, we actually improve the baby’s ability to get into his or her preferred position for birth, which is almost always headdown, occiput anterior. It’s amazing to me how chiropractic is not yet utilized for every pregnancy, not only to assure a safer, easier birth, but to help show mothers the magnificent intelligence present within the body during birth. In the months before birth, when the baby is trying to find an ideal position, we can see the value of chiropractic care for both mom and baby really shine through. Addressing the power, passage, and passenger of birth with chiropractic means getting the nervous system working again so that ideal physiological function is present, getting the spine aligned so no internal stressors interfere with that function, and aligning the pelvis so that the optimal passage exists for the baby to align with and traverse through during birth. All this amounts to excellent preparation for natural birth. Lynn: You mention a lot about the social vagus in your work. Can you tell us more about that and how it relates to those early moments of life after birth? Jeanne: So most people are familiar with the two branches of the autonomic nervous system: the parasympathetic

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and the sympathetic branches. Well, a researcher named Stephen Porges has hypothesized a third branch, called the vagal branch. It’s dedicated to our social interactions, and is therefore often called the “social vagus.” The idea used to be that the sympathetic nervous system handled life’s stressors while the parasympathetic system handled life’s regenerative functions. However, the key new finding from social vagus research shows that all three systems can and will respond to stress in their own unique way, but that the body prefers to use the newest evolutionary system—the social vagus— to process and adapt to most of life’s stressors. Only if the social vagus fails to satisfy our biological needs will the body resort to the older, less-preferred branches of the nervous system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches, respectively. In other words, the nervous system prefers to work hierarchically, from its newest to its oldest systems, for dealing with stress and satisfying needs. A great example is in healthy infants, who will first attempt using the social vagus branch of their nervous system to get their biological needs met, by using subtle communications and vocalizations—expressions that are controlled by the vagus nerve. If this method fails them, which it often may, infants will resort to crying and screaming, indicative of the sympathetic branch of the nervous system being active. Usually, this sympathetic approach will solve the problem. However, when it doesn’t, and their needs are still not met for a sufficiently long period of time, then the infant will resort to what’s called “parasympathetic shutdown,” which is the body’s oldest stress-management system. It goes back to the reptilian “freeze” response. Often, parents and professionals will interpret this latter systemic response as a positive form of “self-soothing.” In reality, it’s a sub-optimal nervous system state of being, and a last resort for dealing with unresolvable stress. All this relates directly to birth and those early moments of life, because the methods babies adopt for dealing with


the optimal passage exists for the baby to move through.


stress become conditioned as the preferred method moving forward. Looking at the world today, it’s apparent that the social vagus method of stress management, including calm communication and social interaction, is in short supply. John Chitty, Ph.D., has looked extensively at the issue of the hierarchical nervous system and the vagus nerve as it relates to birth. At birth we often cut the cord right away. We sever the connection and even separate the baby from his mother to wash the vernix off, inject him with foreign elements, circumcise him or perform other interventions—all of which are profoundly intense and far beyond the social vagus’s ability to adapt. The result is that the baby’s nervous system gets primed, right from day one, to employ the sympathetic fight-or-flight or the parasympathetic shutdown responses to life and its stressors. The ideal response, and the biologically appropriate one, is provided by the activation of the vagus nerve, opening up the social responses and cues that come naturally whenever we allow the mother and baby to bond and look at each other in the eyes in peace and quiet. It’s what midwives have been encouraging mothers and babies to do for as long as they’ve been around the birth setting. Think about it: All throughout pregnancy, the baby has been hearing the mother’s voice, the rhythm of her heartbeat. He’s tasted and smelled her presence in the womb, has felt her movements, and experienced the world through mom’s experience. Connecting to the mother after birth is so important to offer a smooth, even pleasurable transition into the world, and this allows the baby to open up and activate the social vagus portion of the nervous system, bringing it to its fullest expression. All this can have a tremendous influence for the rest of his or her life. To have that baby right there, physically connected, so that mom can look into that baby’s eyes, and the baby can look back and smell and feel and taste and know that she’s close to home…that’s what opens up this higher level in the nervous system. It allows us to connect with our environment better, with other people, and communicate in an embodied, nonverbal way. This is higher social functioning. With typical birthing in the modern world, we’ve been separating babies from their mothers and

robbing them both of this sacred connection—in effect, shutting down their higher nervous systems and encouraging them to employ the more primitive aspects. Recovering from this and helping families come back into higher social functioning becomes a primary concern. Chiropractors know the importance of this and can offer practical solutions. And so we can see the importance of chiropractic care, not only for pregnancy and birth, but for the early years of life to assure that we establish healthy nervous system function and wake the child up to the higher functioning that’s innate to our species. Having a chiropractor at birth, especially if the birth is traumatic, can do so much for the baby’s nervous system and to wake up the social vagus whenever it gets violated or circumvented by extreme birth conditions. This is so vital for future bonding and things like nursing, and for thriving. It’s amazing to see positive changes happen in practice, it’s really kinda cool to witness it and be a part of it. Lynn: That’s incredible! And just to mention, also, the fact that walking into a hospital to have a birth can lead to trauma because hospitals see birth, intrinsically, as a medical event, through their pathogenic model. Birth is deemed a medical event from which we must be “saved.” Jeanne: Right, pathogenesis is fear-based. It assumes something is wrong. Birth has no place in that pathogenic model. I believe we are in a cultural transition away from pathogenesis, toward a new model called salutogenesis, where we recognize the source, or foundation, of health as something to be worked with in its own right. It’s really about respecting and honoring normal physiological function that’s been around for millions of years. The greatest evidence-based science that exists is normal physiology. This understanding really goes beyond birth and into our life as a whole, and our ability to be effective mothers and guardians of our inherent power as a species. 

This article was adapted from the Birth Healing Summit interview with Jeanne Ohm, D.C., and Lynn Schulte, P.T. Discover more at View article resources and author information here:

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Kindness By Vivian Keeler, D.C.

l u f r e d won

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work in Miami. It is a strange and wonderful place. When it comes to giving birth in the Magic City, the accounts are often less than magical. We have a C-section rate that is the highest in the nation, and I hear repeated stories of traumatic experiences and obstetrical violence. Does it happen? Yes, unfortunately. It is true, real, and so very wrong. Today I am writing about something much different. It is what I call obstetrical kindness. It is something I have witnessed many times, but something that I have never read about. I want you to know about the beautiful things that I see. Recently, I supported a mother at Miami’s Mt. Sinai Medical Center as she gave birth to her baby. It was a beautiful birth. She was calm and peaceful, and her partner was loving and supportive. Labor was progressing quickly, and the mother asked if I could help to get the doctor there. I stepped outside and saw Dr. Bitran in the hall; I told him he was wanted in the room. He came in and greeted the mother with a genuine hug, a kiss, and words of encouragement. It wasn’t quite birthing time, but the mom said to him, “Please don’t leave.” It would have been easy for him to exit anyway, but instead, he held her hand, told her how wonderful she was, and waited patiently. This birth would be one surrounded by love and patience, and kindness. As the baby was nearly ready to be born, there was no interruption of the calm, no aggressive position change or decrease in the feeling of peace. Instead, the mother birthed in the position of her choice, in subtle lighting, with no coached or forced pushing. She breathed her baby down until crowning. Showing how much he understood the spiritual nature of birth, Dr. Bitran placed the mom’s hand on her baby’s head, and did the same with the father’s hand, as the baby made his entrance into the world. How beautiful to be the first ones to touch your baby and together bring forth the life you created. How wonderful it was to be a part of birth that was free of fear and surrounded by love. How wonderful to be supported by a doctor who exudes kindness and truly believes in a woman’s ability to give birth normally without hurry, negativity, or threats. How blessed is this baby whose first moments were gentle, in his parents’ own hands. How grateful was I to witness such raw beauty, love, and power. Thank you, Dr. Mauricio Bitran, for your kindness, for believing in women, and for embracing the transformative power of birth. 

Vivian Keeler, D.C., C.D., HBCE, C.H., has been a chiropractor since 1986 with a special focus on the health of pregnant women. She is a natural birth expert who has attended hundreds of births as a doula and is known for sharing her wisdom with gentle kindness. Dr. Keeler is also a certified consulting hypnotist and has taught the Mongan method of HypnoBirthing for the last 18 years. She is executive vice president and faculty member of HypnoBirthing International and has received the HypnoBirthing Institute’s Diamond Award for her contributions to the advancement of HypnoBirthing. She is responsible for creating several training programs that have inspired many birth professionals to become agents of change in their own communities. Dr. Keeler is the founder of Amazing Births & Beyond, a birth education and wellness center in Miami, and is a co-founder of Amazing Baby Spa and Contemporary Doula International. View article resources and author information here:

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Baby’s Thoughts By Trudie Jones I’m OK, because I know I have got this It’s time to leave my lovely, safe shell, The button was pressed, messages sent To this home I now say farewell. I’m totally ready! Completely prepared For this very special day, I know what to do, I don’t need direction My natural instincts will guide the way. This is our day, it’s finally arrived I sense your excitement and fear, Follow your intuition, your body knows best Directions will all be so clear. It’s a simple process, a natural thing Don’t let fear build up and cloud your vision, We can do this together, peaceful and calm

Trudie Jones is the author of Around the Womb in 280 Days. Born in Scotland, she moved to the United States in 1992, finally settling in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2004, where her love of babies bloomed. Initially trained and certified as a birth doula, Trudie went on to become a certified postpartum doula, HypnoBirthing practitioner, H.U.G. teacher, and infant massage instructor. She has developed numerous workshops including “Welcome Home Baby,” and has written and produced her own instructional infant massage DVD, Trifecta of Infant Massage. Trudie’s goal of creating more awareness and thought for the unborn child was the driving force behind her book, and her most rewarding accomplishment to date. View article resources and author information here:

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Forget the horror stories you saw on television.

Where can families create new connections, satisfy intellectual curiosity, and spark new interests?

It’s all right here!

Discover a wealth of articles about timeless parenting topics. A sharable resource, open to all.









By Yolande Clark

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ltrasound is one of the most ubiquitous aspects of modern prenatal care. But is it safe? And is it really useful? Ultrasound exemplifies so much about obstetric culture and birth culture, and its use reveals so much about how we see birth and the values we express in how we do birth as a society. Over the past 18 years of researching ultrasound, I’ve learned that although ultrasound is billed as an amazing technology that assures us that our infants are safe and healthy, and supposedly prevents many issues, it’s actually far less helpful than we’re led to believe. Ultrasound carries risk—enough risk that I have chosen to never expose my babies to ultrasound technology, including the doppler. Those risks might come as news to you. The potential dangers of ultrasound are almost never discussed by nurses, obstetricians, gynecologists, or family doctors. Let’s try a little thought experiment. Say a young woman shows up for her first pre-natal appointment, and the doctor says, “Congratulations, Cindy, you’re pregnant! I bet you can’t wait to see your baby. So just lie down, and I’ll set up the ultrasound machine and we’ll make sure your baby is healthy. How about it?” Now here’s another scenario: In this case, the doctor says, “Congratulations Cindy, I’m so happy for you. I suggest that you try your best to eat well and spend lots of time in nature, tuning into your body. Do you have support from friends and family? Good nutrition, self-care, and a loving community are the most important things to make sure your pregnancy and birth go well, and that your baby is healthy.” Then the doctor says, “Now, I also have an ultrasound machine. But! Before you decide if you’d like to receive an ultrasound, I have to inform you that it has never been proven safe. Ultrasound has never been put through double-blind control trials. What we do know, definitively, is that ultrasound damages and modifies cells; it changes the way cells develop. In animal studies, ultrasound has been correlated with neurological problems, low birth weight, and miscarriage. While humans are, obviously, not rats or mice, the mammalian reproductive system is remarkably similar across species, and tissues and cells respond pretty much the same way whether you’re a goat, a rodent, or a human being. Ultimately, having an ultrasound will offer you no statistical improvements in terms of whether or not your baby will be born healthy. Even in regard to potential problems like placenta previa, you having an ultrasound will not statistically lower the chances of adverse outcomes. But, it will give you a fuzzy black-and-white photo of a shape that kind of looks like a floating baby blob, although every time I’ve ever performed an ultrasound it’s pretty clear that babies frantically swim away from the high frequency sound waves the machine emits, which, on its own, certainly might give a mother pause. So, what do you think? Would you like to have an ultrasound?” The reality is that this latter scenario almost never takes place. Yet everything described therein about ultrasound is true. Despite the lovely concept of informed consent and the right to refusal, can women really make an informed choice about ultrasound when their doctors are not transparent, honest, or accurate with the information they’re sharing about those possible risks? The answer is: We can’t. I have noticed that the entire medical paradigm is predicated on strong internal biases. The result is that mothers may be making choices in the absence of the full scope of information. And that’s not informed consent. 

Yolande Clark is a birth educator and birth consultant, and the author of the Bauhauswife blog at Her podcast series, “Unpacking Ultrasound,” on the Bauhauswife podcast, is available on iTunes. It delves into the myths and facts about ultrasound, and the reasons why ultrasound is so important to the obstetric industry and so emblematic of obstetric care, and how to optimally approach pregnancy, prenatal care, and birth. View article resources and author information here:


A Father’s Presence By Melody Joy Cary

Studies show that fathers have a bigger impact in their daughters’ lives than society acknowledges

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n today’s society, where there are significantly more single moms than in the past, there is a tendency to believe that a woman can raise a child—especially a daughter—on her own. However, recent studies indicate that this is not an ideal situation. Girls not only benefit from having their dad around, but they also need their father to help them develop emotionally. Why Dads Matter Emotionally According to a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, girls who have good relationships with their fathers are less likely to develop anxiety and depression, and are better at handling everyday stress. They’re also much more comfortable talking about their feelings, and that ability to be open about how they feel can help prepare them to have fulfilling relationships with others in the future. Dads also help shape things like personal values, self-image, relationships, and sexuality for their daughters. When a father forms a deep, healthy relationship with his daughter, he helps her create a positive self-image and allows her to establish a feeling of control over her life that will enable her to have the confidence to succeed.

Why Dads Matter Practically In addition to having a huge impact emotionally, dads also have a profound effect on the financial and even physical health of their daughters. According to a Rutgers study, girls that have a father who’s involved from the beginning are more likely to have enough to eat and are in better physical health than those who have uninvolved or absent fathers. Fathers also help to provide financial stability for their daughters, which, when combined with good physical and emotional health, makes them much more likely to succeed and be able to further themselves financially.

of fathers is something relatively new, especially when you consider that 75 years ago, dads couldn’t even be in the room when their daughters were born. Now, there are more opportunities for men to be involved with their daughters as soon as they’re born. They can change diapers, of course, and they can even be included in feeding by extracting breast milk or using formula. Rocking their little girl to sleep at the end of the day is another way fathers can build a substantial bond right from the start. Influence of Media Unfortunately, even with these greater opportunities for involvement, there are a lot of negative influences in the media that some men may find difficult to overcome. Consider how many television shows portray fathers as bumbling idiots that know nothing about women. It’s important, however, for fathers to recognize that these stereotypes don’t have to be followed, and are simply poor portrayals of what a father should be. Role of Moms It’s important to note that although a father is certainly important in a girl’s life, this is not to diminish a mother’s role. Moms can provide valuable information and advice about what it means to be a woman, and are the ones that will guide their daughters through milestones like puberty, menstruation, and interest in dating. For men reading this who may be concerned about the relationship they have with their daughter—perhaps because they weren’t involved in the early years—there’s still hope, as it’s never too late to form a close, healthy relationship with your daughter. It may take more work, but it’s worth it to give them a better chance to succeed in life. 

Melody Joy Cary is a freelance writer who specializes in animals but has covered nearly every subject. Native to Michigan, she now lives in Nicaragua with her husband, baby, cat, parrot, and rabbit. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and creating coloring books. View article resources and author information here:

Involved from the Beginning The earlier fathers are involved with meeting their daughter’s needs, the stronger the bond between them will be— which leads to all the benefits above. Earlier involvement

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By Jay Warren, D.C.

owadays, dads play an essential role in prenatal care, birth preparation, and labor and delivery. New fathers are also now expected to be active caregivers in the first weeks of their child’s life. Bathing, bottle feeding, diaper changing, clothing, soothing, cuddling, putting down to sleep, and playing—fathers take part in all the things parents do to care for a newborn. As they should. But this wasn’t always the case. Today it is common for us to see images of men massaging lower backs in labor and catching babies in birth tubs. But not too long ago, we were more likely to see men passing out cigars in the hospital waiting room after hearing from the doctor that “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” Generations ago, men were not a part of pregnancy, birth, or early parenting. The father was relegated to the role of the provider/ protector of the family unit. When the child was older, he’d become the disciplinarian, and maybe the teacher/mentor.

So much has changed for the better. My own father was part of a pilot program in the early 1970s, where they experimented with allowing fathers into the delivery room. My birth fell within a three-month trial period at St. John’s Hospital in Los Angeles. But my father almost wasn’t there. On the night of my birth, my mom’s regular OB wasn’t available and the OB on call didn’t support this new program. As the family story goes, my dad and this OB were yelling at each other in the hallway about whether or not Dad would be permitted into the delivery room when my mom shouted at them, “Would you two figure this out later? I’m going to have a baby!” My dad was allowed in, and I was born with him there beside my mom. Fast forward to my becoming a dad: I went to every prenatal visit (except for one when I was too sick to attend) and I was actively involved in the birth planning and decision making. I was present at my son’s birth, at home. It was just me, mama, the midwife, and the doula. I got to catch him. I got to cut the cord. I got to be the first one he “meconium pooed” on. Only a few weeks into parenting life, I spent my first day caring for my son alone. Was I nervous? You bet!

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TA K I N G T H E S T E P But we did great together, and I texted plenty of “proof of life” pictures throughout that day to keep mama calm at work. I remember feeling so relieved when mama got home that night, though, to relieve me from baby duty. And while I enjoyed sitting back and watching her doting on our son, I also enjoyed basking in the glow of a dad’s job well done. As our parenting lifestyle unfolded, our work schedules were such that I could spend half the week with my newborn son. Full days together, just us two. And it didn’t feel unusual or abnormally stressful to me doing this because I was “just the dad.” It just...was. I enjoyed doing it, and felt grateful that I could. But I hear so many stories in my practice that the level of a father’s involvement with the baby in the first few months is very different. Many fathers-to-be we see in our prenatal wellness center are going to the birth-education classes, attending prenatal visits, and are there at the birth. But I hear from the new moms afterward that their spouses are not engaged in newborn care, despite their efforts to get them involved. I hear comments like, “He won’t help with anything since he says I’m the one breastfeeding and I know how to do everything” or even, “My husband? Oh, he’s useless. He

has no idea what to do.” The new dads are described to me as detached, uninvolved, uninterested, oblivious, incapable, inconvenienced, frustrated, and annoyed. Now in some cases, I’m sure that’s true. But the majority of the new dads I’ve worked with do not feel this way. Are they frustrated? Yes. But not detached or uninterested. Annoyed? Maybe. But not for the reasons their spouses think. The frustration we feel comes from the pressure of the unclear expectations placed upon us as new dads, and not really knowing how to fulfill them. We don’t have any generational experience to draw upon because our grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and beyond were not involved. And we have little cultural reference because this current version of what an active father looks and feels like is so new. So we lack the resources and support we need to help us navigate this major life transition into dadhood. And as frustrating as that is, what is worse is that we feel like we are letting our families down. But that, too, can change for the better. The first thing that we can do to help new dads is to make sure to have an open dialog between Mom and Dad about what new parenthood will look like, and what expectations each brings to it. I’ve found that the birth-education classes we teach start a similar type of dialog for couples. However, it usually only focuses on the last trimester of pregnancy and the onset of labor, and then stops at birth.


f moms and dads continued this exploration of new parenthood once the baby has arrived, discussing their expectations for the first days, weeks, and months together, so much strife could be avoided. Parents-to-be should have discussions about dividing the tasks of nighttime diaper changes, laundry, meal prep, and washing dishes. Who is going to which appointments with the baby? Who’s going to manage the grandparents? Who’s making sure the bills are paid on time? Who’s going back to work, and when? And what’s supposed to happen when the other person walks through the door from work at the end of the day? What does that (and so much more with early parenting) all look like? Getting Mom and Dad on the same page is essential for their family unit to be strong and functional during this significant transition. A united mom and dad can care for their baby so much better together. New dads also need support from other men during this transition, a kind of support that can only come from other men. In my experience, men in a group class setting with their spouses share only a superficial layer of what’s really going on inside them. For generations, men have been taught that when it comes to their family, they need to provide, protect, and lead. None of these roles are bad ones to assume, and being strong within each one of them will indeed serve our families. But being a protector, a provider,

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The frustration we feel comes from the pressure of the unclear expectations placed upon us as new dads, and not really knowing


how to fulfill them.

and a leader in today’s family is much different than what it meant to previous generations of fathers. The roles that were passed on to us need an upgrade, and new dads need ways to explore this and figure it out together. By being part of a few men’s groups myself, I’ve seen how the group-sharing dynamic shifts when it is men-only. If a safe space is set up, if ground rules are established and boundaries are consistently maintained, I’ve seen men open up in powerful ways that do not happen in mixed groups. Men share their frustration about not relating well with their kids and their sadness about the level of disconnect they feel with their wives. They admit their despair in feeling that they are losing their marriage and screwing up their children despite trying everything they can to keep it all together. Sometimes not only is this the first time a man has said these things out loud, but also the first time they have been honest with themselves about these feelings. New dads need this kind of space to be able to open up and show the chinks in our armor without worrying that our families will think less of us. When trust is built, vulnerability can be shared. When safety is felt, worries and fears can be shared. If someone says, “I never seem to be able to calm the baby down quickly enough, so then she swoops in, and is frustrated with me that she has to do it again,” they’ll be met with some tips that might do the trick next time. Confessions that “I just don’t feel that connected to my baby yet, not like her mom does...and I’m worried I’m not going to love her enough,” are answered by, “I went through the same thing. It’s normal. Don’t worry, it’ll kick in soon enough.” When you’re in overwhelm and deep inside your own bubble, reassurance that what you’re going through is normal, and that other people have been there too, can make a huge difference. Ironically, it’s when we finally admit these fears, being open and vulnerable about our challenges, that brings our families closer together. But most men have never been taught how to share deep feelings openly, and we are afraid that we will disappoint our closest loved ones. So when the

overwhelm of new parenthood hits us, we try to compartmentalize it and control it. If that doesn’t work, then we isolate ourselves, so no one sees our failure. But when we pretend the problem doesn’t exist, it doesn’t stop us from feeling the pain it causes. And we dig ourselves into a deeper and deeper hole with many unhealthy consequences, for ourselves and our family. But we’re not alone. Having a safe place to talk about whatever’s on our chest can create powerful changes in not only a man’s life, but in our families, as well. Of course, a new dads group is not the only place this can happen. I’ve just seen that sometimes it is easier for men to open up with a group of relative strangers with whom they share a common bond: fatherhood. Then, with practice and repetition, this new ability to express vulnerability and honesty can be brought back home and shared within the family. Even if the monthly meeting is a place to “blow off steam” and not feel so alone, it will help the family be just a little bit healthier. The transition into fatherhood can be an overwhelming experience for men, just as the transition into motherhood can be for women. But we don’t have to figure it out alone. Communicating and managing expectations is the key to both Mom and Dad feeling supported, cared for, and loved as they navigate their way in becoming a happy family together.  

Jay Warren, D.C., has been a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor for 16 years. He is also the wellness care coordinator at the CAP Wellness Center in San Diego, where 90 percent of his practice is pregnant or postpartum women and babies under 1 year old. Dr. Jay is a proud member of the ICPA and APPPAH (the Association for Preand Perinatal Psychology and Health), and the host of the podcast Healthy Births, Happy Babies, available via iTunes. His online program, “Connecting with Baby,” guides pregnant women through processes to strengthen maternal bonding for a happier pregnancy, gentler birth, and easier postpartum experience. View article resources and author information here:

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P urpose of Chiropractic Care in P regnancy

Clarity on the Webster Technique in Pregnancy With the intent of supporting natural childbirth in the mid 1980s, Larry Webster, D.C., developed a chiropractic adjustment now called the Webster technique. The first and most significant observation of this adjustment was for women who were presenting breech during pregnancy. After they received the Webster adjustment, their babies turned head down. As a result, they were more likely to experience a natural childbirth that was safer and easier. Often people will ask, “How can a chiropractic adjustment affect baby positioning?” The answer is by improving pelvic balance. When the mother’s pelvis is out of alignment, the ligaments that connect from the pelvis to the uterus increase their tension (tone) resulting in a distortion to the uterine space. Don MacDonald, D.C., offers a great analogy: “Increased tone is like sleeping in a bed with someone sitting on the sheets beside you. Can you turn over freely? No.” For the baby, the surrounding walls of the uterus tighten with pelvic imbalance, becoming more and more like tight bedsheets that restrict her motion. The chiropractic adjustment to the pelvis releases tension to the ligaments and uterus so that the baby can move freely and assume the best possible position for birth.

on the path of motherhood. It is important to realize that many pregnant women are seeking ICPA doctors throughout their pregnancies to

your chiropractic visit?

utilize the many additional benefits of the Webster technique. For every stage of pregnancy, this adjustment reduces interference to the nervous system—a vital benefit to improve physiology for both Mom and her baby. When Mom’s physiological function is at its best, the baby’s development is optimized. Balancing the pelvic bones, muscles, and ligaments, and improving normal physiology sets the stage for a natural birth. Chiropractic care and the Webster technique allow for safer, easier births!

Do you want to optimize your pregnancy and birth? FIND YOUR WEBSTER-CERTIFIED DOCTOR HERE


More and more women are discovering the many benefits associated with chiropractic care in pregnancy. Chiropractors respect the body’s natural design


and function and support your desire for a safer, easier birth.

Williams Obstetrics tells us there are three components for a smoother birth for both mother and baby.







The nervous system (Power) operates in all body processes, including childbirth. For birth to proceed as it was naturally designed to, the nervous system must facilitate the transmission of information through the body. By removing interferences and imbalances to the nervous system, chiropractic care helps lead to a normal, physiological birth.

For the baby to descend through the birth canal (Passage), the balance of the mother’s pelvis is vitally important. With chiropractic care, the muscles and ligaments of the pelvis and uterus are free to move and function for the benefit to the mother and the baby. The result is greater ease and comfort in pregnancy and birth.

The baby (Passenger) wants to get into the best possible position to descend through the birth canal. The movements inherent to the birthing baby will be positively facilitated when the mother’s nervous system is optimally functioning and her pelvis balanced. Birth is a cooperative endeavor, where the mom and the baby play vitally connected roles.


The Empathy


How mirror neurons enable us to step beyond our own senses By Mark Matousek


hy do we feel each other’s pain? The ability to suffer not only our own pain— which can be done by anything with a rudimentary nervous system—but also the pain of others, has long been considered the distilled essence of our humanity. Altruism, which comes from the Latin root alter, or “other,” could not exist without this distinction, but it is only since the mid 1990s that we’ve actually come to understand how empathy is sparked in the human brain, and why our species alone, in all of creation, has the hardwired ability to step far enough outside ourselves to walk in another person’s shoes. One summer day in Parma, Italy, neurologist Giacomo Rizzolatti was conducting an experiment on monkeys when something extraordinary took place. Rizzolatti and his team were studying the region of the monkey’s brain involved in planning and carrying out movements. Each time the monkey took hold of an object, cells corresponding with that region in the brain would activate and cause the monitor to beep. Then came the eureka moment. A student of Rizzolatti’s entered the lab holding an ice cream cone. When he lifted the ice cream to his mouth, the monitor started to beep, even though the monkey hadn’t moved at all, but was merely watching the student enjoy his afternoon gelato. “It took us several years to believe what we were seeing,” Dr. Rizzolatti later told The New York Times. In fact, the neurologist and his team had accidentally discovered a special class of cells called mirror neurons that had fired in the monkey’s brain simply because he had observed an action. The human brain has mirror neurons that are far smarter, more flexible, and more highly evolved than those

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in monkeys, Rizzolatti later deduced, and with this revelation we entered a brave new world of moral understanding. Brain guru extraordinaire V.S. Ramachandran has suggested that the discovery of mirror neurons will provide a “unifying framework” for explaining everything from how empathy, language, and culture work to why some people are autistic. This could turn out to herald “the fifth revolution in human history,” Ramachandran claims, “the ‘neuroscience revolution’”—following the paradigmshifting breakthroughs of Copernicus (the Earth’s not the center of the universe), Darwin (natural selection), Freud (the existence of the subconscious), and Crick (the discovery of DNA). Mirror neurons are the brain’s hardware for harmonizing individuals to their environment. The sole purpose of these neurons is to reflect inside ourselves actions we observe in others. “Mirror neurons allow us to grasp the minds of others not through conceptual reasoning but through direct simulation,” Rizzolatti explains. “By feeling, not by thinking.” It is because of mirror neurons that you blush when you see someone else humiliated, flinch when someone else is struck, and can’t resist the urge to laugh when seeing a group struck with the giggles. (Indeed, people who test for “contagious yawning” tend to be more empathic.) Mirror neurons are the reason why emotions— both negative and positive—are so inexplicably contagious. They enable us to experience others as if from inside their own skin. In order to understand other people, we actually become them—a little bit—and bring the outside world inside by way of our own nervous systems. Mirror neurons are the reason for the chameleon effect (the brain-to-brain imitation that causes babies to stick out




their tongues when you do), as well as the Michelangelo effect, in which couples who’ve been married a long time begin to resemble one another by mirroring each other’s expressions. As science journalist Daniel Goleman has pointed out, by mimicking what another person does or feels, mirror neurons create a shared sensibility, imprinting our neural pathways with imitated emotions. Seeing another’s pain or disgust is almost exactly like being disgusted or in pain oneself. This maps the identical information from what we are seeing onto our own motor neurons, allowing us to participate in the other person’s actions as if we ourselves were executing that action. Moreover, when we witness another being rejected, says Goleman, our brains “actually register the pain of social rejection,” which is “mapped in the brain by the same mechanism that encodes physical real pain.” Social emotions like guilt, shame, pride, embarrassment, disgust, and lust are learned in precisely the same way, from observing the responses of others, beginning with our parents. As babies gaze out at the world, reading the faces and gestures of their caretakers, they are literally etching in their own brains a repertoire for emotion, behavior, and how the world works. A newborn baby, barely able to see, can imitate the facial expressions of adults within one hour of delivery. This motor imitation feeds the emotional system. Merely seeing a picture of a happy face elicits fleeting activity in the muscles that pull a child’s mouth up into a smile. When a child unconsciously mimics the delight or sadness of a caretaker, this automatically creates a coupling between the baby’s expressions and its emotions. (This is also why physical behaviors like smiling actually make us feel better, whether we’re having a good day or not.)

From the beginning, we respond to each other’s feelings. When infants hear other babies crying, they howl, too— almost from birth—to show they are sympathetically upset. Mirror neurons appear to be linked to autism; some scientists believe that people with autism have “broken” mirror neurons that deprive them of bonding skills and empathy. (While many people with autism can identify an emotional expression, like sadness, or imitate sad looks with their own faces, they do not feel the emotional significance of the imitated emotion.) So, the next time you start tearing up when you witness someone else in pain, or feel the queasy sensation of grief when you see a tragedy on TV, don’t turn away or change the channel. Be grateful that your mirror neurons are doing their job, maintaining the hard-wired connection between your heart and the rest of the world. 

Mark Matousek is an award-winning author of five books, including Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story; The Boy He Left Behind; When You’re Falling, Dive; Ethical Wisdom: The Search for a Moral Life; and Ethical Wisdom for Friends. He writes regularly for Psychology Today, Purple Clover, The Huffington Post, and Contemplative Journal, and has contributed to numerous national magazines and literary anthologies. View article resources and author information here:

issue 62  35


Why “being emotional” is actually good for us, our children, and our species By Natalie Christensen

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n our culture, emotions are often seen as a nuisance, something to get over or around. Even worse, having emotions—other than a select few with positive associations—has been seen as a weakness, something that we should be ashamed of and must work to conceal. It may, therefore, come as a surprise to learn that emotions are the key to a fully developed brain and a fully realized life. The emotional brain, the part that governs emotional experience, decides whether we live individual moments from our reptilian brains, thrashing about to achieve basic security, or from our upper brains, skillfully navigating the world with logic and compassion. In other words, awareness and support of emotional processing can make the difference between surviving and thriving. Perhaps more important, our emotional brain also connects us with others. Deep, meaningful relationships are only possible with a robust and healthy knowledge of emotions and how to work through them, not around them. We want our children to live the fullest lives possible. We don’t want them barely scraping by, clawing their way through a base and limited experience. We like to imagine them with robust brains, capable of soaring to the highest heights. In this light, we need to teach emotional literacy with as much devotion as we teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. How do we teach emotional literacy? There are three important aspects to teaching emotional literacy. It’s important to model it for our children, and not try to “fix” their emotions, but instead connect to them. I’ll take these steps one by one. Model. Emotional literacy is not learned via pen and paper, or by lengthy lectures from Mom and Dad. Thanks to mirror neurons, if we model healthy emotional expression, our children pick it up. This means we need to be in touch with our emotions, and express them. We should identify frustration when the garbage cans block the driveway, express our nervousness and insecurity when it bubbles up before a holiday party, and no longer say “I’m fine,” when we’re actually worried or mad. Don’t wait to be alone before you shed tears. We want to protect our children. Tax bills, divorce, world wars, and scary politics do not belong in the realm of the innocent, it’s true—but living our emotional life out loud does not mean always revealing the adult material behind our woes. We can express sadness, anxiety, anger, disappointment, or fear without sharing age-inappropriate details. Here’s an sample exchange: “What’s wrong, Mama?” “I’m feeling anxious about a few things.” “Oh. You’re crying?” “Yep. I feel sad and nervous right now.” “Are you okay?”

“I am okay. I’m taking good care of myself and good care of you, and I’m sad and nervous at the same time.” A parent that hides or runs away from emotion, blames it on others, or explodes suddenly with pent-up emotion, is damaging. A parent that cries when they are sad, names their emotion, and continues to care for themselves and others is an emotional leader. This kind of modeling teaches children to effectively use their emotional brain, the most efficient and powerful way to manage the ups and downs of life. Don’t Fix. When our children are upset, we find ourselves willing to do almost anything to make the crying or screaming stop. Even when it’s only a mild upset, we immediately look for how we can remove it instead of moving through it. “MOM! I dropped my cookie and the dog ate it! Dumb dog! Waaaaaah!” “Oh, honey! It’s okay! Honey, stop crying! We have more cookies. Look! Here’s a new cookie! Really, it’s okay. It’s not a big deal.” Sometimes the crying stops with a new cookie, but often it doesn’t. We scratch our heads, roll our eyes, and chalk it up to exhaustion or the “terrible twos.” Maybe we even get mad and rescind our offer of a replacement cookie. There are other reasons for upset; perhaps your child doesn’t have anyone to sit with at school, or wants to use the water bottle her sister is currently using. The details aren’t important. But when the upset doesn’t stop, even though we’ve come up with a perfectly logical solution to the problem (why don’t you share that water bottle?), it’s confusing…until you understand how emotions work. Feelings don’t get fixed. A feeling arises, the upper brain notes it, and because the upper brain doesn’t do emotion, it shuts down and sends processing to the emotional brain. The emotional brain checks to see if the environment is safe—is there a trusted person willing to hold space for the emotion?—and if it is, the emotion surfaces, is processed, and then drifts away. When we approach emotional situations with logical solutions, the emotional brain gets very agitated. It’s like shouting Chinese to someone who speaks French: It’s simply the wrong language. It comes across as antagonistic, not soothing and safe. When emotional safety is lacking, the emotional brain shuts down and lets the lower brain duke it out. We want our kids to become emotionally literate. So we need to get comfortable with our discomfort when they are upset. Remember that emotion is a friend, not a foe; we should prove that to our kids by not pushing them to avoid emotion with logical fixes. Connect. So if we aren’t troubleshooting the issues that cause our children so much pain, what are we doing? As I mentioned above, we’re providing emotional safety. All we have to do is notice an emotion, name that emotion, and

issue 62  37

S TAY I N G T H E C O U R S E express understanding for that emotion. In practical terms it looks like this: Notice: “Dog ate your cookie?” Name: “Shoot! Do you feel mad?” Understand: “Darn it! That’s not what you wanted!” Notice: “You don’t feel like there is anyone to hang out with at school?” Name: “Do you feel lonely?” Understand: “That’s a bummer. It feels good to be with people you enjoy.” Notice: “Your sister has the water bottle you want to use?” Name: “I see. That can feel frustrating, huh? You both want the same one.” Understand: “Shucks. You really wanted to use that.” Leave space around the emotion. Ask open-ended curiosity questions like, How long have you felt this way? Have you ever felt this way before? Where do you notice it in your body? Let them describe the emotion to you and empathize some more. Augment the sense of emotional safety with additional connection, such as eye contact, proximity, and touch. The last ingredient is time. Even with a connective response, it can still take anywhere from 30 seconds to an hour—or more, depending on the intensity—for an emotion to express and for neurochemistry to shift. When emotional regulation is re-attained, the emotional brain opens that golden gate and allows processing to move into the upper brain. Until the child has regained access to their upper brain, it doesn’t make sense to troubleshoot the issue at hand—they won’t have access to logic and problemsolving faculties. Children’s brains aren’t developed enough to process these emotions on their own. They need us to walk with them through their emotions again and again. With practice, their brains will hard-wire for this activity and they will no longer need us as guides. When should we teach it? Emotions happen all the time, because life happens all the time. Sometimes we forget to send an important e-mail, or we step in dog poop, or accidentally lock the keys in the car. These are perfect opportunities to model healthy emotional expression. Simply notice the arrival of the emotion, and name it. Modeling this sequence is powerful enough to set up a strong foundation for emotional literacy. Sometimes our children lose their teddy bear, hate what’s for dinner, get shampoo in their eyes, aren’t invited to a birthday party, or rip the seat of their jeans in algebra class. These are perfect opportunities to stop yourself before you

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suggest brilliant solutions to their problems, or try to reassure them the issues aren’t anything to be upset about. These moments are ideal for helping them instead to name those emotions, to nod understandingly and rub their backs, to connect with them until the emotions lose their grip. Once everyone is back in their upper brains you can still discuss where to look for the teddy, how to avoid shampoo in the eyes, different friend-making strategies, jean patching, and other solutions—not before. Emotional interactions are not something to be saved up or scheduled on the calendar. If our children are to grow dynamic and powerful emotional brains, these conversations should happen at least daily.

Thanks to mirror neurons, if we model healthy emotional expression, our children pick it up. Why does something so simple seem so hard? Most of us did not receive this kind of emotional training as children. By watching our parents, we learned strategies like stoicism, avoidance, achievement, and blame as ways to work around having feelings. We learned this subtly via body language and adult conversations, and also explicitly when we were punished for crying or lauded for being brave. We became neurally wired to hide emotions, overpower emotions, and avoid emotions, not to tenderly walk through them. Later, we began noticing that most of our inherited childhood strategies simply don’t work. We were still feeling uncomfortable emotions, and figured something was wrong with us. Many of us sought therapy and wrestled with our shame, convinced we were different from others, or broken. Many of us were diagnosed with conditions and medicated. Our awareness of our emotions became dulled. We lived flatter lives, but at least we weren’t experiencing as much pain. Now, embracing emotion feels challenging because we simply have no practice with it. It’s like suddenly realizing we have another limb. We’re awkward and unskilled with it. The good news is that our brains are plastic—they can change—and brains are affected by one another. Each time we help our children to notice and name their feelings, each time we help them feel understood, our brains also receive that benefit. As we help our children to become emotionally literate, we rewire our own brains for the same. What if we don’t have children? Many of us come up against this sort of thing because we have children and they have emotions all the time, so we have no


choice but to get involved at some level. In many ways this is the greatest gift children bring us—an engagement with our own emotional terrain that we otherwise do our best to avoid. But that emotional terrain exists whether we have kids or not. The good news is, everything we offer them in the name of emotional support we can offer ourselves. Don’t fix. When you notice anxiety, or frustration, or anger, stop yourself before you make a to-do list, start an Internet search, or schedule an appointment. Remember, feelings don’t get fixed. Whatever solution you think you may find is only an illusion, the feelings will simply wait for the next trigger, getting more potent all the while. Instead take some time, notice the feeling, and name it. Connect. We tend to think that we need other people in order to experience connection, but self-connection is also very powerful. Offer yourself empathy for your emotional experience. Nurture yourself like you would a newborn— with a warm blanket, a gentle hand on the back of your neck—not as a way out of the emotion, but to give yourself the stamina and courage it takes to be with an emotion. At first it will feel effortful, like moving that new limb would be, to identify what feelings we are feeling. Initially we may only be able to name a few basics, like “mad” or “frustrated.” But the more we look, the more varied shades

of emotion will emerge. The process of getting to know oneself and love oneself at this level is new and unfamiliar, but with practice we’ll get better at it. We can do this. We can raise our children to use emotions to their advantage, to walk through them gracefully, and spring back easily and quickly from setbacks. We can nurture their emotional brains so well that meaningful relationships based on true connection form the fabric of their lives. We can offer ourselves the same level of emotional support, embracing emotions that we have long tried to avoid, thereby re-raising ourselves. We can grow big, powerful, emotional brains capable of moving us through even our darkest hours, and find the kind of true connection we’ve only dreamed of.  Natalie Christensen is co-founder of the Center for Emotional Education. She works with powerful people all over the world, who, despite their power, wisdom, and skills, are struggling with a personal relationship dear to their hearts—perhaps with a child, partner, or parent. Through the lens of neuroemotional empowerment, and via courses and personal coaching, Natalie helps them find their way through. View article resources and author information here: pathways

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CONNECTION MADE How the chiropractic adjustment improves body function By Peter Kevorkian, D.C.


verything that takes place in the body is regulated by information contained in the brain and the nerve system. The brain is the control center of all bodily functions. The spinal cord and branching nerves send signals from the brain to control and coordinate the function of all the organs, tissues and systems. Nerves also send signals from the body back to the brain. This relaying of electrical and chemical signals to and from the brain allows the body to function and adapt to everything that we do and experience. All organ systems and processes in the body connect to the brain, including the: • Heart and blood vessels • Digestive system • Production of hormones • Skin and sensory perception • Immune system • Muscular and skeletal systems • Detoxification and elimination of waste • Reproductive system • Respiratory system • Regulation of body chemistry The brain controls all that we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and feel. It is also the center for our thoughts, emotions, and behavioral responses, both conscious and subconscious.

The delicate brain and spinal cord are protected by bone. Pound for pound, bone is harder than cast iron or steel. In order for the body to be healthy, it must be able to adapt to internal and external forces. The body can be subjected to experiences that may overwhelm its ability to fully adapt. These stressors impact the body and may create vertebral subluxations. Vertebral subluxations are disruptions in the motion and/or alignment of spinal bones with related irritation or obstruction of proper nerve function. Vertebral subluxations alter the ability of the brain and nerve system to properly control and coordinate the body, which results in decreased body function, adaptability, and vitality. Vertebral subluxations are like static in a communication system. They prevent the brain from accurately perceiving what is happening in the body and from properly regulating bodily functions. Often subluxations are present without pain or symptoms. Left uncorrected, subluxations reduce the function of the body and may manifest in an increased aptitude for disorders, illnesses, disability, and disease. An unobstructed nerve system is essential for the body to be healthy and vital. Correcting vertebral subluxations with a specific spinal adjustment allows the body to function better. Free of subluxations, the brain and body function more harmoniously and adapt to stressors more successfully. 

Peter J. Kevorkian, D.C., is an international speaker in chiropractic and the instructor of the ICPA seminar “Mastery of Chiropractic Principles and Practice.” Dr. Kevorkian is a 1982 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic and practices with his wife, Patricia A. Giuliano, D.C., in Westwood, Massachusetts. They have two grown children, Katie and Christopher; both were born underwater at home. Dr. Peter and Dr. Patti embody the heart and soul of family practice. Their practice is considered the “standard” in family chiropractic care. View article resources and author information here:

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an unobstructed nerve system is essential for the body to be healthy and vital.

issue 62  41


A Family Discovers Chiropractic



Despite an aggressive schedule of physical therapy sessions involving forceful stretching of Sophie’s neck, as well as the work Keri tried to continue at home, the progress was limited. Keri noticed how Sophie started missing physical milestones, too. With delays in rolling over and lifting her head, Keri’s worry turned to fear that the torticollis would prevent her daughter from crawling, walking, playing with friends, or participating in sports. Instead of seeing her perfect little girl, all Keri could see was the head tilt and changes in Sophie’s appearance—asymmetry in her eyes and ears, and the flattening on the left side of her head caused by the inordinate amount of pressure from her laying on one side. Her fears of needing to put her baby girl in a helmet to restore symmetry became reality. Sophie completed a couple months of therapy, and was sporting a newly fitted helmet, but only saw mild improvements. Keri was getting nervous, and wanted to do more to find an answer. She and her husband had a common initial reaction when they first thought about chiropractic: “Nobody is touching our baby!” But a consultation with a local pediatric chiropractor offered some clarity as to why Sophie’s improvement had been delayed. Torticollis, the chiropractor explained, is not exclusively a muscle problem, which is why stretching alone often does not fully resolve the condition. Rather, subtle misalignments in the upper bones of the neck can irritate the nervous system,


eri had been a mom for six months and she didn’t know what to do. Her daughter, Sophie, came into the world early, at 36 weeks, following a grueling pregnancy ending with 12 weeks of bed rest. Sophie was everything to her mother, but when she was just 4 weeks old, Keri noticed something. While Sophie was sitting in her car seat, her head looked like it was “on wrong,” stuck in an awkward position that made her seem uncomfortable. After a brief evaluation from her pediatrician, Sophie was referred to a pediatric physical therapist, who diagnosed her with a severe case of torticollis. Torticollis, sometimes referred to as “wry neck,” is a painful condition wherein the muscles of the neck are in spasm, forcing the head into a tilted and rotated position. The physical therapist warned Keri that Sophie would need rigorous therapy to stretch the tight muscles, but Sophie was still likely to be delayed in her development.

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disrupting the nerves that control the muscles in the neck, thereby causing them to spasm and restrict head position. By correcting this “subluxation,” chiropractors allow the nervous system to coordinate bodily functions without interference. In Sophie’s case, it could allow the muscles in her neck to relax and return to normal. Keri and her husband were still unsure about chiropractic, but wanted to find an answer for Sophie, so they agreed to start. They watched the chiropractor feel Sophie’s neck, delicately moving her head to feel for asymmetry and restrictions. After holding a gentle pressure just behind her ear, the chiropractor smiled at them and confirmed the adjustment was made. “That’s it?” Sophie’s dad asked, surprised. It didn’t seem like much, but the changes that soon came certainly were a big deal. After her second adjustment, Sophie started rolling over and reaching for her toes. In just a handful of visits, considerable improvement was already obvious— Sophie had more mobility and better strength in her head and neck, improved symmetry in her head shape, and she was back on track with her developmental milestones! Seeing how her daughter responded to chiropractic, Keri decided to give it a try for herself. She had never recovered from the back pain of pregnancy, the three months of bed rest before birth, or the neck pain from breastfeeding. “I was a mess!” she recalls. Within the first two weeks of receiving adjustments, Keri was feeling better—she was less tense, and sleeping better. Chiropractic had given her the physical ability to handle motherhood, and the emotional peace regarding Sophie’s health to really enjoy it. It’s easy, though, to forget about taking care of our bodies when there’s not an obvious problem reminding us to do so. Gradually, the frequency of Keri and Sophie’s chiropractic visits waned. Before Keri knew it, it had been months since the last time she and Sophie were adjusted, and their prior movement patterns and muscle memories started returning, diminishing their quality of life. Sophie, now a toddler, was getting sick constantly, with colds that lasted longer and got worse with each subsequent infection. The once amazing sleeper was now struggling to get through the night, leading Keri to both lose sleep and feel the return of her neck and back pain. When Keri discovered she was pregnant with her second baby, she knew it was time for a change. She recognized how much she and Sophie had regressed since discontinuing their regular care. Hoping to avoid the agony she experienced in her first pregnancy, and get Sophie back to her normal self, Keri returned to chiropractic. They picked up right where they left off. With just a few weeks of adjustments, Sophie’s immune system grew stronger and more capable. While ear infections and respiratory infections once overwhelmed her little body, now she just had sniffles. The antibiotics she learned to expect were relegated to distant memory. Pregnancy was different for Keri, too. With the help of regular chiropractic, she was able to enjoy being pregnant.

She slept well, stayed comfortable, and was able to chase her very active toddler until she gave birth at 38 weeks— full term! A natural progression and just four pushes were all she needed to bring her second daughter, Emmy, into her arms. “It was a perfect experience—night and day,” says Keri. “I know my pelvis being perfectly aligned allowed Emmy to be in the best position, and her head to engage and neck stay in alignment.” After all they had been through with Sophie—the worry of her first few months, the delays in her development, the progress with chiropractic and the regression without it— it was obvious Emmy would be checked by their chiropractor right away. Emmy had a better latch and appeared more comfortable after her first adjustment, but for Keri the real value was in knowing her baby daughter would be welladjusted, and healthier, from the start. Looking back on their journey and initial skepticism of chiropractic, Keri has a message for other parents: “It can be scary to think of other forms of healthcare besides medicine, but I can honestly say if I hadn’t found chiropractic, my daughter would still be suffering from the residual effects of her torticollis, and I wouldn’t be in the physical shape to have enjoyed my second pregnancy. Take control of your family’s health and consider other approaches, too. Once you try chiropractic, you’ll wonder what took you so long!”  Ian Shtulman, D.C., is a second-generation chiropractor in private practice in Palm Beach County, Florida. After graduating from Life University with the Philosophy Distinction award, he earned his diplomate in chiropractic pediatrics through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and is now an ICPA instructor. His passion for perinatal chiropractic led him to being the in-house chiropractor in a free-standing birth center and a CE speaker for chiropractors, midwives, and childbirth educators. He has fostered relationships with OB/GYNs and pediatricians, and is particularly interested in establishing subluxation correction as a routine component of prenatal and pediatric healthcare. View article resources and author information here:

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44  issue 62

By Jeanne Ohm, D.C.



s a child, I received three major surgeries before I was six. Two were completely unnecessary. My father was an insurance salesperson and always “did the right thing.” If I sneezed, we went to the doctor. I believed this to be the norm…until I met my husband’s family. They were a more typical family of the day. They treated most illnesses and even injuries at home. When Tom’s dad had a fever, he bundled himself in long johns, went under the covers, and sweated it out. The rest of his family knew to do the same. The idea that during the time of illnesses the body was exhibiting normal, even healthy function, was new to me. It was not something to be feared. Rather, it was something to observe and care for—at home. Without drugs. Under contemplation, and with a mother’s love and attention. Fast-forward to our discovery of chiropractic, the philosophy, science, and art that says that the intelligence of life is organized and expresses itself through the body’s ability to adapt and self-regulate. For Tom, this was not a foreign idea. It reinforced the values of healing he learned as a child. For me, it was more challenging. It made sense, but my childhood experiences did not reinforce the idea of trust in the processes of healing. In my family, trust was

more about following the direction of a glorified system of drugs and procedures. Tom and I got married, and I was able to embody these new chiropractic, life-affirming principles for myself. We chose to have a homebirth. We left the cord intact. We rubbed in the vernix. We cherished Ina May Gaskin’s book Spiritual Midwifery enough to where I felt strong. We breastfed and co-slept exclusively with our newborn. We chose not to circumcise. We removed fluoride from our water. We even chose to use arrowroot powder on our baby’s bum instead of talcum. And then came the big test. One of our sons got a fever. A high fever. I defaulted to my upbringing and felt the need to know and even regulate the temperature. So I stuck in the thermometer and gasped at the results. My heart raced and I dropped right into fear mode. I had to do something! Recently, I watched an interview with Lawrence Palevsky, M.D., a New York–based holistic pediatrician, on The HighWire with Del Bigtree. In this interview, Dr. Palevsky succinctly recounts the shift in the medical profession and in family practices that has altered people’s approaches to disease, including fever. He explains how, prior to this shift, most doctors had what he called “feel.” He observed this

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Over decades of clinical practice, I noticed more and more fear in the newer generations of parents. Today, it seems to have reached a peak.

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the supportive framework of understanding the person within the context of their disease? As Palevsky recounts: I was teaching medical students in the mid 90s, and they would come to me and say, “Okay, I have a kid with a headache and the MRI showed this…” Before even addressing the MRI, I would ask them basic things like, “Well, did you take a history? Did you take a physical? What’s the child eating? Did the child fall? What did the child take as a supplement? Is there strife at home? Is the child sleeping?” All these psychosocial and environmental questions were no longer being asked. Students were being trained to avoid the clinical picture and jump straight to a “fix.” In our family chiropractic practice, my husband and I got to care for many kids. We witnessed parents coming to


during his residency, where most of his instructors came out of the 1940s era. They had old traditions handed down to them by the mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers of their time. With these traditions came confidence and trust in their approach to disease, whether it was for fever, teething, rash, mucus in the nose, sore throat, shaking chills, or something else. Even in a time when diseases were statistically more dangerous than they are today, there was generally a lot less fear about them. “The experience of fever has changed” says Dr. Palevsky. “Now fever becomes, ‘Oh my God, my kid’s gonna die!’ Now it’s about using over-the-counter medicines, which are dangerous to the child, and antibiotics, as soon as possible.” Clinical medicine used to be about calming people’s fears and subduing rushed decisions through self-composure and caring observation. It has been replaced by machine tests and expedient protocols. What ever happened to

the brink of panic numerous times over childhood illnesses. But over our decades of clinical practice, I noticed more and more fear in the newer generations of parents. Today, it seems to have reached a peak. Any symptom is followed by panic and a search for some prescriptive treatment. There is no calming wisdom present to guide us to observe our child and see that what he needs is already there. To go back to my son’s first fever, that’s when the real step for me took place. There I was, in borderline freak-out mode: “Let’s DO something!” Like so many of the parents I’d come to care for in my practice, I experienced the fear. “He’s hot! Really hot,” I said, holding my firstborn. “We have to do something.” Tom looked at me, and drew on the trust and wisdom of his own childhood experiences. He said, “This is fine. It’s normal. His body is working and we shouldn’t be afraid of that—he looks okay.” He even broke the thermometer and threw it in the garbage after my third and fourth panicked temperature read. “If it’s going to make you continuously afraid, then we don’t need it. It’s not helpful.” In 1991, Dr. Palevsky started working in an emergency room in the Bronx. Sometime afterward he wanted to see if a private practice would be right for him. So he approached some clinical practices in Manhattan and saw an old-time pediatric disease specialist. He asked this man what he did for the kids who had high fevers, because in the emergency room you’re required to do test after test. And the practitioner said, “Larry, if I did all those tests on these kids, I would lose half my practice. There’s a simple solution that doesn’t require tests: If you have a kid with a 105-degree fever, who’s still looking at you, talking, babbling, drinking, peeing, sleeping, is arousable, alert, interactive, and consolable, and then you have another kid who comes in with a one 100.8-degree fever but who can hardly wake up, which fever would you be more concerned about?” The answer: the child with the 100.8-degree fever. From this experience, Palevsky learned the wisdom of old-time medicine—to treat the patient, not the condition. To help parents manage the self-care of their children, Dr. Palevsky gives them what they need most: support and guidance in observing their children, not fearing the disease. Most of the families in my practice learn to go through the trial. I’ll be with them and I’ll hold their hands, but I need them to go through the experience of their child having a fever, and to watch to see what happens. After the parent has this experience, then it becomes wisdom and real inner knowledge. Right now, there’s very little but fear and angst coming from media, other parents, and doctors who mostly carry the same fears. I try to teach parents not to treat the number on the thermometer, but to treat the child, just like that pediatrician taught me many years ago.

Is the child alert, awake, arousable? Is the child interactive, drinking, and urinating? Is the child in respiratory distress? What’s the child’s color? These are some of the questions Dr. Palevsky reminds parents to ask—questions that don’t require a thermometer to answer. Like my husband, who knew to observe our child before making any rash decisions, Dr. Palevsky learned to observe and trust the process from an old-time pediatrician. “More and more, by going straight to the medicine chest, you’re actually ignoring the child,” says Palevsky. Tom and I couldn’t have put it any better ourselves. The bottom line is, once the fear subsides, the solution comes naturally. Your child, that beautiful human being, is strong and healthy, and the body is intelligent. What he or she needs more than anything else is your loving attention. As a young, new parent it was harder for me to “trust the process” and tune in to my children despite all my initial fears. But I learned the great benefit that comes once we do. “When kids have their febrile illnesses, regardless of what the cause was—if it didn’t need antibiotics, and it took its course without intervention, they would almost always see a developmental growth spurt afterward.” This was Dr. Palevsky’s pediatric experience, as well as my own personal one as a parent. The onset of an illness is like the peak of a stressful period in the child’s body that requires rest, fluids, and toning it down. After it passes, the child will appear to be more advanced. The immune system and the nervous system will be more mature. The child will have grown. “There’s a list of observations for parents to make posted on my website” says Dr. Palevsky, “so parents can follow a checklist. And I get e-mails from parents who say, if it weren’t for your checklist, I wouldn’t have made it through. My purpose is really about letting parents gain experience and learn along the way why it’s essential to treat the child who has a fever—not the fever. Otherwise, we’re going to miss connecting to the child.” Through the years of raising my own kids, I watched them advance past each childhood fever and illness. I learned to let go of the fear.  

Jeanne Ohm, D.C., is an instructor, author, and innovator. Her passions include training chiropractors for wellness care in pregnancy, birth, and infancy; forming alliances for chiropractors with life-spirited practitioners; empowering mothers to make informed, conscious choices; and developing pertinent educational materials. View article resources and author information here:

Issue 62  47



Pill Pitch By Sharyl Attkisson

The FDA is planning a new study

These ads benefit pharmaceutical companies, the advertising industry, and the television networks paid to run them. Supporters say patients benefit, too. But this kind of advertising is prohibited almost everywhere but the United States.

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on TV ads for prescription drugs.



ichael Carome, M.D., leads the Health Research Group at the watchdog organization Public Citizen. He’s against prescription drug advertising on TV. It was forbidden in the United States until a fierce lobbying campaign by the pharmaceutical industry in the 1990s. “In 1997, the FDA opened the floodgates to broadcast media—television and radio—ads for prescription drugs, and we now have companies spending billions of dollars every year on this advertising,” says Dr. Carome. “The average person in the U.S. sees nine drug ads a day, or 30 hours of drug ads per year. It’s just an extraordinary amount of exposure to prescription drug advertising.” The ads upset the longstanding convention that doctors alone should decide the best pills for patients. To get an idea of how much the ads boost profits, you need only look at how much is spent on them. In 2018, the pharmaceutical industry shelled out $6.4 billion on direct-to-consumer ads: the ads you see on TV or in magazines, as opposed to marketing to doctors themselves. Representatives have said in the past that advertising saves lives and improves public health. (No one from the drug industry would agree to an interview for this story.) Dr. Carome says there are serious downsides. “They’re the newest drugs, so we often know the least about their safety because they haven’t been on the market for a while,” he says. “And often there are older alternatives that may be equally effective, and safer. And because those drugs aren’t advertised, because the generic drug industry doesn’t do this type of advertising, it can worsen the public health overall.” Experts say taking prescription drugs as prescribed is a leading cause of death in the U.S.—a factor in as many as 200,000 deaths a year. Safety is a big reason why the FDA requires the ads to clearly disclose risks. But Dr. Carome says that’s not

To get an idea of how much the ads boost profits, you need only look at how much is spent on them. In 2018, the pharmaceutical industry shelled out $6.4 billion on direct-to-consumer ads: the ads you see on TV or in magazines.

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adequate. “They’re going to make sure that the viewers leave the commercial with an understanding of the benefits of perhaps some miracle cure, and not hopefully remember too much about the potential harms and risks,” he says. One infamous case involves clever marketing of Bayer’s birthcontrol pill Yaz. The FDA has hit Yaz ads with multiple complaints for minimizing risks and overstating benefits. Bayer ran a $20 million corrective ad campaign. Even after that, the FDA flagged Yaz ads again for failing to disclose any risks—including heart attack, stroke, gall bladder disease, blood clots, and death. Then there’s the cholesterol drug Lipitor. At one time Lipitor was the best-selling drug in the world, generating $12 billion a year for Pfizer. Dr. Robert Jarvik, who invented an artificial heart, got a $1.3 million contract to pitch Lipitor on television. But the FDA called his ad misleading because Jarvik isn’t a cardiologist, and he never treated patients or prescribed drugs. Pfizer eventually pulled the ads. Another problem, says Dr. Carome, is when risks are told in a way people won’t likely remember. “There are certainly advertisements where they’re reading the risk information but what’s being portrayed are smiling people, or interesting cartoon characters,” he says. “Those are classic examples of distracting information.” A case in point: ads for the diabetes medicine Toujeo. The FDA warned Toujeo’s maker, Sanofi, about showing distracting, upbeat images while Toujeo’s risks are presented. The FDA also dinged ads for Pfizer’s menopause drug, Estring, for failing to present “any” risk information— including the risk of uterine cancer. “Sometimes they may find an ad that violates the regulations, and they’ll write a warning letter to the company, and the company will pull the ad,” says Dr. Carome. “But at that point the ad may have been out for many weeks or months, and patients may have already been misled by it.” The FDA wouldn’t agree to an interview. But after we began investigating this story, the agency told us it’s launching a new study into prescription drug TV commercials, particularly a category called “disease awareness” ads. As long as they don’t mention a brand, these ads are considered educational and don’t have to mention any risks. Critics say it’s a legal loophole that drug companies use to promote their products in a one-sided fashion. In a GlaxoSmithKline adult whooping cough ad, for


example, viewers won’t hear that the whooping cough vaccine is linked to paralysis and possible heart problems, and 4 percent of patients report serious adverse events within six months. Merck’s disease awareness ads for HPV cervical cancer vaccine prey on parental guilt. There’s no mention of the vaccine’s risk of blood clots, seizure, appendicitis, and paralysis. The FDA has stated that it’s focusing on “disease awareness” communications to find out if they “may result in consumers misinterpreting and being confused” by the information and claims. Michael Sinkinson, an assistant economics professor at Yale, has researched drug advertising. “Just to be clear, the U.S. and New Zealand are the only two developed countries that allow this, right?” he says. “So, most countries have weighed the costs and benefits and said, ‘No. We don’t want to allow pharma companies to advertise on TV to patients.’” Sinkinson doesn’t speak for the drug industry, and is skeptical of some of their claims. But he says pharmaceutical ads can benefit Americans’ health by selling more product. “If the government comes along and says, ‘Actually, you can’t advertise on TV,’ well, you need to revise those forecasts. You’re not going to sell as many year after year after approval, and maybe the math no longer makes sense, and you don’t develop the drug,” he says. “I think it’s more likely that advertising is a net positive for society, for novel drugs, for new treatments, and for drugs that are just very cost-effective, very effective at keeping you out of the hospital, and out of other parts of the healthcare system that are very costly.”

With the FDA taking a new look at all of this, Dr. Carome says drug risks should be clearer in audio and matching bold words on the screen—with no distractions. “If I could wave a magic wand, we would no longer allow this type of direct consumer advertising at all,” he says. But he doesn’t expect television drug ads to go away in our lifetime. The FDA has proposed allowing drug companies to reduce the amount of risk information in ads. And the pharmaceutical industry is seeking approval to advertise so-called off-label drug uses not approved by the FDA. The industry’s lobbying group spent more than $128 million lobbying politicians and federal agencies in 2017.  Adapted from a video produced by, a valued resource for informing the public on healthcare-related topics and issues.

Sharyl Attkisson is an investigative journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Stonewalled. Attkisson will be hosting a new, national Sunday program this fall focusing on investigative and accountability reporting. She is the recipient of five Emmy Awards and the Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting, including for such topics as the Bush administration’s involvement in the TARP bank bailout and the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious ATF scandal. She recently testified separately to the House and Senate about government secrecy and intrusion. View article resources and author information here: references.html.

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SET TLED 52  issue 62

By Kate Tietje



he phrase “the science is settled” is incredibly dangerous. Once upon a time, “the science was settled” and lack of hand-washing had nothing to do with the spread of disease. A Hungarian physician who dared go against the science of the day, Ignaz Semmelweis, suggested that “pieces of disease” from corpses during autopsy might have been transferring to laboring women and killing them. He had just discovered germ theory! He was scoffed at and ridiculed by the other doctors. Semmelweis wasn’t one to give up, and begged them to try it. They begrudgingly agreed, and subsequently watched death rates plummet! Somehow, other doctors still weren’t convinced, and went back to their old ways. Women began to die in high numbers again. What about Semmelweis himself? For his discovery and insistence that he’d found something important, he was considered “crazy,” and institutionalized until he died. This is hardly the only story like this in medical history. Scientists have been extremely resistant to truly new and radical ideas that overturned what they had been taught and believed. Many scientists were branded as “crazy” and were ousted from the scientific community for daring to share— and keep talking about—their new ideas. Yet, after decades, many were eventually proven right. Over and over, “the science was settled”…until it wasn’t. Science was never meant to be a belief system, or a passing on of established ideas. Science is a method of inquiry, of asking questions to learn new things, of rethinking everything we think we know about the world. If it’s “settled,” it’s not science. 

Kate Tietje is the author of 13 books, including Natural Remedies for Kids. She is a natural health and medical freedom advocate, and founder of the influential blog Modern Alternative Mama. She and her husband, Ben, own the natural health product company Earthley, as well as the natural-minded social media network Colleqtiv. When not spending time with her husband and six children on their 10-acre farm, Kate dedicates her time to educating and empowering people to raise naturally healthy families. View article resources and author information here:

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Chiropractic and Children

Why Chiropractic Care for Children? Birth is tough work for both mothers and babies. There are a lot of pressures and forces being exerted onto your baby during her journey into the world. A recent study by Viola Frymann demonstrated that 90 percent of newborns suffered the effects of birth trauma: associated strain through the neck and cranial areas following birth. Frymann, an American osteopathic doctor, studied more than 1,500 babies periodically across an eight-year period. She examined all babies within the first five days of birth; in fact, many were checked within the first 24 hours. This study revealed that approximately: • 10 percent of the newborn babies had perfect, freely mobile skulls or cranial mechanisms. • 10 percent had severe trauma to the head, evident even to untrained observers. • The remaining 80 percent all had some strain patterns in the cranial mechanism. Birth in its many different forms can be quite traumatic. While each birth is unique, there is always a chance that the baby suffers some sort of strain due to a variety of reasons. Even the most natural births can result in trauma that goes undetected. As researcher G. Gutmann has written, “The trauma from the birth process remains an under-publicized and therefore significantly under-treated problem.”

Safe, Gentle, Effective

More parents are discovering the many benefits associated with chiropractic care throughout childhood. Our doctors provide special care for infants, children, and pregnant mothers. FIND A DOCTOR OF CHIROPRACTIC

Chiropractors who care for infants

What can cause birth trauma in infants?

use very specific, gentle adjustments, and most ICPA doctors

1. Very short labor

have taken advanced classes

2. Very long labor

on specific techniques for infants.

3. The use of Pitocin to strengthen/induce uterine contractions 4. Pain medications 5. Restricted maternal birthing positions 6. Pulling or twisting on the head to deliver the infant’s body 7. The use of forceps or vacuum extraction 8. Cesarean delivery Left uncorrected, this trauma continues to impact a baby’s spinal growth and development,


reducing the healthy function of her nerve system. This can cause many health challenges later in life that could easily have been prevented. Nursing difficulties, sleep disturbances, and an inability to be soothed and settled are all potential

Children’s health begins in pregnancy and birth.

signs of spinal nerve stress in infants.


Although all infants should be checked right after birth, here are just three clear indicators to find a chiropractor who cares for infants.


His head tilts to one side, even after you straighten it.


She seems to have difficulty turning her neck to one side.

He has difficulty settling down or sleeping soundly.



hat does “organic” mean? The dictionary on my computer defines it as “of living things; relating to, derived from, or characteristic of living things.” Or as: “developing naturally; occurring or developing gradually and naturally, without being forced or contrived.” At the beginning of the organic food movement in the 1960s—yes, it began as a fringe movement—these definitions were an accurate description of a movement to counter conventionally produced food. All good and admirable. However, organic food is no longer a budding movement. It comprises 5 percent of the food industry—a $47 billion industry—and is its fastest-growing segment. That too, is good, and indicates a growing number of people who are concerned about what they’re eating. My concern, however, is that the organic food industry overall has changed into an entity that no longer aligns with the definition of organic as given above, and that many consumers—who

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think they’re buying food raised on small farms that uphold the highest organic integrity—are being duped. I know saying this puts me at risk of offending people who consider organic to be an unalloyed good. But the undeniable fact is that since the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990—which included an affidavit requiring the USDA to establish national standards for organic food production— much has changed in what is acceptable under an organic label. Of course, with the growing trendiness of eating organic, more consumers are flocking toward the certified organic label as compared to doing all the research that was necessary prior to the establishment of the National Organic Program (NOP). And “certified organic” may now be the most misleading label out there, given the illicit relationships between the USDA and certain organic certifiers that have recently come to light. Some of the early pioneers in the organic movement suggested that organic food producers couldn’t expand into


By Sam Fisher


There’s a rising tide of farms and food producers who are serving “beyond organic” vegetables, meat, and dairy products.


It’s a revolution of sorts that includes local farms and clusters of concerned, educated consumers.

America’s supermarket and fast-food outlets without sacrificing their ideals, and it appears as if they were right. The progression of industrial organics has sparked a steady and dramatic shift from small, local farms to larger, globally oriented businesses. Undoubtedly, the pounds of food sold under the certified organic label are shifting dramatically toward centralized outfits owned by mega-empires with dubious loyalty to integrity food. As a result, many smallscale organic farmers are feeling the pinch and are forced to either get out of organics altogether or scale up to fit the mold of industrial organics. On the subject of organics, I often feel like the one person yelling, “The emperor has no clothes,” because so many people laud certified organic as the answer to all food perversions. I admit that at this point many direct-to-consumer food businesses—including us—feel threatened by cheap, mainstream, big-box, store-brand organics. That said, we do not feel threatened on the basis of quality, because industrial organics cannot compete with us on that front. We also do not feel very threatened on price, because we’re relatively competitive there, as well. The foremost threat we feel lies in consumer perception, which entails the erosion of organic food going from small, value-driven farms to the nowincumbent big-box-store industrial organics. The good news is, there’s a rising tide of farms and food producers who are serving the “brightest and best” in the consuming populace with “beyond organic” vegetables, meat, and dairy products. It’s a revolution of sorts that

includes local farms and clusters of concerned, educated consumers. Bypassing the need for organic certification with direct consumer relationships, this growing knowyour-farmer/know-your-food movement is the future to a real-life connection to your food source. Never in history has a culture been as disconnected from its food supply as modern America is. While our side places little emphasis on organic certification, it’s safe to say that we surpass all the requirements of the NOP. What’s more, we believe truly organic food production is more about the producer’s emotions, thoughts, and worldview than it is about a pass/fail certification process that can be fudged, or a set of rules that can be bent. Which is to say you can learn more about me by seeing my reading material (which indicates my interests and worldview) than having me fill out a bunch of forms. In my opinion, status-quo industrial organics is in the position the Catholic Church was in just prior to the Protestant Reformation. It has become too expensive (for what it is), it is self-serving, and it no longer delivers on its promises. And that’s the View from the Country. 

Sam Fisher is a farmer with his wife at Freedom Acres Farm in Honey Brook, Pennsylvania. E-mail him at View article resources and author information here: references.html.

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Time Children need to have time on their own to play, explore, and grow. Don’t let schools and structured activities steal that time away By Ginny Yurich


saw it happen right before my eyes. During the last year of my pre-mom life I spent one last year in an administrative role in a public school system dealing with the math curriculum for the entire district. Prior to that I was a high school math teacher for some years. Our district, like every other one around it, ushered in full-day kindergarten like a sweeping torrent of rain. And so I sat, plump with baby number one, surrounded by teachers and administrators in several meetings to determine how this extra school time for the 5-year-olds would be spent. Mind you, there weren’t any children in the meeting. Now, the kindergarten teachers, they were unanimous and unwavering. Play time and rest. Play time and rest.

They echoed each other and they never strayed from this message. With both physical and anecdotal reasoning, the teachers held fast to what they believed the extra time should be used for because that is what children that age need. They need station time and recess… and they need a little rest. But if you had to hedge your bets as to what the extra time eventually was allotted to, what would be your guess? It was neither play time nor rest, but academics. After spending years in the public schools, I quickly learned that although there are many great things that happen within the schools’ walls, the people who are ultimately the decision makers aren’t the ones who are actually with the children. It sometimes seemed as though decisions got passed down from the heavens. No one really knew where they come from. So many of the high schoolers had the



“Life holds one great but quite commonplace mystery. Though shared by each of us and known to all, it seldom rates a second thought. That mystery, which most of us take for granted and never think twice about, is time.” —Michael Ende, Momo

same questions: “Why do we have to learn this?” I didn’t really have a good reason, so I just got to saying, “Because the President says you can’t be left behind.” For high schoolers, that was a sufficient answer, because they already deeply understood that much of childhood was about jumping through hoops. The thing is, compulsory education is relatively new. Just over a hundred years ago the only compulsory education law was that all children had to complete elementary school. Things have changed dramatically in just 10 decades. We’ve gone from five years of compulsory education to 13, and we now mandate such subjects as Algebra 2 and Trigonometry in order to graduate. Do we really know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these are the things all children need to succeed in life—especially given the incredible trade-off in time? The things we call “best practices” are, at best, a guess. I know that for certain, because best practices, as they pertain to childhood development, change all the time. The curriculums and sequences change often with the winds of political change.

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Surprisingly, sometimes people buck the system and they still turn out well—which tests the premise that 13 years in a classroom is necessary for lifelong success. Kids have not always needed to pass trigonometry to successfully transition into adulthood…but they have always needed time. Time to learn who they are. Time to explore their surroundings. Time to figure out how to enjoy their own company and how to structure their free time. Time to think, to dream, to dawdle, and to wonder. Kids needs time. And as the school day, homework, and adult-directed activities take over much of childhood, we are left with lost children. John Taylor Gatto was a public-school teacher in New York for nearly 30 years, and a world-renowned speaker for the 20 years afterward, giving more than 1,500 speeches in nine countries. He was named the New York State Teacher of the Year twice, and was a prolific writer. Gatto was a huge advocate that at the right age and stage, and in the right environment, children could learn phenomenal amounts in short periods of time. After spending thousands of hours with children over the course of three decades, and after



Kids have not always needed to pass trigonometry to successfully transition into adulthood‌ but they have always needed time.


1. Schedule fewer extracurricular activities. When kids go straight from the classroom to extracurriculars—even extracurriculars they enjoy—they miss out on the expanses of time they need to learn who they are. Ensure that your children have time to play and direct their own learning in the afternoon and evening, several days of the week. 2. Advocate for more recess and less homework. Be a voice at your school. Bring in the research. Talk to the administrators. Take a group of parents with you. Movement

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is the precursor to all learning, and it is vital children get a chance to move and play throughout the day. 3. Skip all homework, at least through elementary school. Or forge it. Or give the answers. Seven hours a day is enough. Remember that at the right developmental stage, 50 hours will get a child to enough functional literacy to become a self-teacher. Thirty-five hours a week in a classroom is more than enough time for seat-work. Leave afternoons, evenings, and weekends for play time and family time. 4. Wait on formal education, or choose from play-based options like Forest schools, Waldorf, or Montessori. See what is in your area. You might consider skipping preschool altogether. In some states formal education isn’t required until age 6. Read books like Better Late than Early by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, and make sure your decisions about school are well-informed and well-researched. 5. Buck the system in whatever ways you deem necessary. Trust that your children will learn anyway. Find ways where your child can learn through play. Be confident that kids are innately driven to learn. If we allow them the time and space to explore their world, they will learn the most extraordinary things.


untold amounts of research, Gatto concluded that “It only takes about 50 contact hours to transmit basic literacy and math skills well enough that kids can be self-teachers from then on.” Fifty hours. Let that sink in. That’s just over one week of school. Today, children spend between 12 and 15 thousand hours within the walls of a classroom. There are many other brilliant men and women who advocate for less formal learning and more hands-on experience. There are also those who advise that later is better when it comes to the type of academic work that has crept its way into the kindergarten classrooms. Children need time to develop their sense of self, and their own self-knowledge. How can we stop stealing time from children? Here are five ways:


Do you want to know what kids want to do? They want to dawdle. They want to explore. They want to sniff the dandelions and squish mud between their toes. They want to laugh, and they want to run. They want to read exciting books in your lap and then move on to reading exciting books in the space between two strong branches of a tree. They want expanses of time to satisfy their curiosities and to learn how to relate to themselves and to others. And do you know why they want to do these things? Because each of these things will contribute to their development in deep and untold ways. Children desperately need their childhood hours. Let’s give them some back.  Originally published on

Ginny Yurich is a Michigan-based mother of five and the founder of 1000 Hours Outside, a challenge for families to match nature time with screen time over the course of a year. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in education, both from the University of Michigan, and is a thoughtleader in the benefits of nature-based play for children. One of her top priorities is to inspire parents to spend time in nature with their children. Her 1000 Hours Outside Challenge spans the globe, and many people from all walks of life look to her for inspiration as well as practical tips on how to put down the screens and get outside. Ginny is also a children’s book author and illustrator. Her book, The Little Farmhouse in West Virginia, was published in 2019. View article resources and author information here:

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FEAR IS THE SICKNESS When we can move beyond fear into curiosity, we find that illness is the body’s wisdom playing out in its own highly designed and incredibly personal way. By Kelly Brogan, M.D.



he labels: Depression. Pertussis. Breast cancer. Hashimoto’s. These are more than words— these are modern-day hexes. They have this power because culturally supported beliefs give meaning to our perception of these observed signs and symptoms. We create that meaning as a collective, and then we pass it on and around. We decide, together, what we will be afraid of. The list is curated and maintained by the media, and we are continuously learning and relearning when—and around what— to activate this fear response. What is an anxiety disorder? Why is worrying a problem? Does worry really make us sick? Enter the nocebo effect. Perhaps you’ve heard of the placebo effect, which is when we’re “tricked” into feeling better by a sugar pill. Nocebo is the opposite, and it loosely translates to being “harmed by expectations.” But there is typically no sugar pill involved— just the power of belief. This phenomenon is called “expectancy” in the medical literature; for example, when subjects are told that they might be randomized to a sugar pill in a trial of a popular medication like Prozac, this belief can cause a complete loss of reported benefits, even for those patients not on the sugar pill. Interestingly, it seems that males’ responses depend more strongly on information given about placebo (a.k.a. intellect-driven responses), whereas women are more sensitive to conditioned responses (a.k.a. felt responses) in the context of nocebo. That is, female study subjects who merely witnessed another female reporting side effects from a medication were twice as likely to experience these side effects from a sugar pill/sham medication. This is referred to as “social modeling.” So if our culturally conditioned beliefs about harm and vulnerability can influence our physiology, then how do we understand this bodily response? Is the body just easily tricked, or is it responding intelligently to what we perceive as a conflict, distress, or danger? Could an experience of fear actually be what seeds the symptoms ultimately diagnosed as disease? Ignoring the Root Cause If we perceive fear-inducing distress in life, it likely stems from our pre-existing wounds. Psychotherapist Francis Weller has categorized these wounds as isolation, loss, shame, separation from nature, and even the inheritance of family baggage. When we carry this grief, it colors our experiences and informs our personal alarm systems. And, perhaps, this grief tells our bodies when and how to respond with symptoms. Once that response is underway, then we are invited to respond again to the symptoms themselves. Do we freak out and run to the ER? Or do we embrace the symptoms? My teacher, Swaranpal, saw a shaman recently and had a transformative experience. The next day, she developed a fever and left me a message, from her bed, about how

awesome it was that her body was processing the psychospiritual shift. A fever can, in fact, be awesome, through the lens of appreciation for bodily wisdom. Translating Emotions to the Body This isn’t really news. The scientific discipline of psychoneuroimmunology has been around since the 1990s, telling us of a connection between the immune system, the psyche, and the brain. NIH researcher Candace Pert, Ph.D., discoverer of the opiate receptor, was one of the first to legitimize that emotions encode in the body, a notion that could so easily be dismissed by the “body as machine” model of medicine that has dominated the past 300 years. This is one of the theories around how and why emotional releases and inexplicable healing can occur through yogic technology, such as kundalini yoga, that involves repetitive self-stimulation of certain body regions. And this is why my greatest advocacy is to orient you around the story that speaks your truth. If you believe that challenges—and even adversity—hold a meaning, that the body has an innate wisdom, and that the cosmos operates under the principles of an elegant design, then you bend and flow with what comes. You bring curiosity to bear. And you live a life that is emergency-free. To get there, you have to stop fighting the war, you have to relinquish your role as victim dependent on a system that holds all the answers that you yourself don’t have within. When we look, we see wartime narratives embedded throughout our consciousness. Like “fighting” depression, cancer, and germs. Depression We are led to believe that depression—and mental illness on the whole—is an inborn disease that results from imbalanced brain chemistry. Depression is a broken brain that you can’t do anything about—besides taking medications for life. This prognostic hexing has led people to literally commit doctor–assisted suicide because of their experiences of hopelessness induced by these psychiatric memes. But what if we ask why depression is happening? What if we personalize it in a different way? Not by blaming a given individual’s broken brain and faulty genes, but by empowering them to explore its roots. And to reunite with their symptoms as messenger, not enemy. The smoke alarm, not the fire. I believe that the outcomes I have in my practice are largely attributable to the container of fearlessness that I create. A safe haven for every ugly emotion to surface and transmute. Where the words “worry” and “concern” are eliminated from our shared vocabulary, and where every aspect of the experience of symptoms becomes a meaningful missive to interpret in the context of the patient’s lifescape. Without this fear, we are able to receive any and all of what comes without resistance, and with open arms, allowing for dramatic reversals to unfold.

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Cancer My mentor, the late Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D., was one specific influence in my life that reinforced this fearless approach to illness. He helped to blast away any residual carve-outs—any circumstances in which I might say, “Well, that does require conventional medicine.” As I studied and learned of his natural healing protocol that enabled decades-long outcomes with terminal cancer patients, I knew that there was, indeed, nothing to be afraid of. Ever. And when patients who had otherwise been hexed by the medical establishment met with him, they too shed their fear in favor of faith in the body’s capacity to self-regulate and heal, even if part of the healing looked like sickness. And they did heal, by the hundreds. While Nick had a protocol based on personalized nutrition, detox, and supplementation (one that has greatly informed my own), is it possible that this protocol only fortified the body’s self-healing response, but that it wasn’t actually what healed the patient? Proponents of Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer’s German New Medicine would argue that the body develops cancer as a part of a highly meaningful biological program that limits itself once the original psychic conflict is resolved. In other words, the disease is actually adaptive, and evidence of a

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healing process already underway. Dr. Hamer believed that psychic conflict, and particularly shocking conflict that is perceived as distressing, gives rise to a corresponding physiologic process that includes changes in cellular proliferation of organs. This process spontaneously resolves (with the help of the inner microbiome) when the conflict is addressed. This notion helps explain data on repressed anger as a top cancer risk and reaffirms that perception and cultural context is at the core of disease. The most compelling aspect of German New Medicine is that it recontextualizes cancer as “nothing to be afraid of”; as Sayer Ji reports on, what we think of as cancer is simply the body’s secondary process of resolving the psychic injury of the cancer diagnosis itself. Even conventional medicine agrees that certain early stage cancers, like DCIS breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and prostate cancer, should be left alone, as the “treatments” do nothing to prolong life and instead are likely detrimental. In fact, treatment with chemotherapy and radiation not only disrupts a complex process that needs to actually be supported, but also it induces secondary harm, both psychically and physiologically. When we interfere and war with the body, we keep the fight alive. You can’t win the battle against yourself.


when patients who had otherwise been hexed by the medical establishment met with him, they too shed their fear in favor of faith in the body’s capacity to self-regulate and heal, even if part of the healing looked like sickness. And they did heal, by the hundreds.

Infection Preschool-level depictions of the immune system as a troop of soldiers fighting off the enemy germ invader have always inspired an internal eyeroll, but it wasn’t until my deep dive into the complexity of immunology that I came to understand that we know nothing of it. In fact, the vast majority of immunology is thoroughly and completely devoted to vaccinology. For all intents and purposes, medicine doesn’t care to learn about the immune system outside of how it’s poking and prodding can support the illusion that vaccines have beneficial effects. Wait, vaccines must have beneficial effects if they produce antibodies, right? Antibodies have been deemed synonymous with disease protection, and even used as surrogate markers for claims that vaccines “work” in the laboratory setting, but is there actually any science for this? And do the antibodies produced upon vaccination actually bind to and inactivate disease-causing agents? What if antibodies are simply response elements that support the body’s reaction to the many toxic chemicals in vaccines, ranging from detergents like polysorbate 80 to formaldehyde? And what about contagion? Has it ever actually been proven that germs travel from one person to another and infect them? Does a yawn spread that way? What about women’s menstrual cycles syncing up when they live together? What about fear-induced illness, which is strikingly demonstrated in a study in which women who were convinced that they were inhaling “contaminated air” got sick when they saw others get sick from it—despite the fact that there was nothing wrong with the air. Then there’s people who only get symptoms of the cold when they believe themselves to be unwell at baseline; perhaps they sense not their immunological vulnerability, but the need for their body to take an opportunity to rebalance. I have come to believe that infectious signs are evidence that the body knows how to, and needs to, eliminate. Vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, coughing, sneezing, and runny noses all have exudative elimination in common. I choose to believe that these are healing processes, the same way that pediatricians of old who saw children through experiences of so-called infectious illness witnessed them enjoy milestones of growth in the wake of these processes. As we sit in even more curious territory, what other assumptions have we made that have been disproven or remain unproven to date? Science can be a beautiful tool for discovery, but only if it is allowed to dispassionately acknowledge when a more complete picture is emerging. Germs as pathogens is a complex question that science has contributed rich literature to in the past two decades. With the dawn of the microbiome—our inner ecology that reveals our harmonious relationship with and our dependence on the very microbes we have demonized— everything about orthodox medicine should have changed. Including the discovery of so-called viruses embedded in

our own genomic material, calling into question whether or not viruses actually exist in the way we have assumed. Has a discrete virus, deemed unable to exist independently, ever been visualized under electron microscopy…or are we still inferring? What about exosomes—the packets of genetic material that travel between the environment and our physiology and influence gene expression? Science is revealing that these exosomes look a little too much like viruses for our comfort, leaving us once again seeing the enemy as a critical part of ourselves. What Does Healing Look Like? So, if fear is the sickness, then what is the cure? It’s possible that it is as simple as a shift in mindset and a reframing of the felt experience of the body. In fact, that may be all that Dr. Gonzalez, Dr. Hamer, and I are here to do—engender an experience of trust in the body, in the journey, and in the exquisite design of it all through our beliefs, our lived experiences, and our outcomes. To introduce a new story, where no one is a victim of bad genes, bad luck, and an unwanted lifelong relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. You have a choice to bring curiosity to this challenge, to support your body through it rather than interfere with it, and to uplift a sense of your truest self, which lies underneath the experience of physical healing. In this way, you put a soundtrack to your life that says, “Isn’t this interesting” and “There’s nothing to worry about” and “You’ve got this” instead of one that says, “But what if I don’t…?” and “Oh my God, I couldn’t live with myself if…” and “What would everyone think if…?” and “Why is this happening to me? It’s so unfair.” It’s happening to you because it is a part of you. The experience of illness is so deeply meaningful and purposeful that it is, quite literally, showing you yourself. Embrace it. Because, as it goes, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” 

Kelly Brogan, M.D., is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the international and New York Times bestseller A Mind of Your Own, and co-editor of Integrative Therapies for Depression. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in systems neuroscience. She is board-certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. She is on the board of GreenMedInfo, Functional Medicine University, Pathways to Family Wellness, NYS Perinatal Association, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Mindd Foundation, the peerreviewed, indexed journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, and the Nicholas Gonzalez Foundation. She is medical director for Fearless Parent and a founding member of Health Freedom Action. She is a mother of two. View article resources and author information here: pathwaysto

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68  issue 62

SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY the Birth of a New Generation Article and Photography by Nadine Brasunas


ur world has become overly complex, complicated, analyzed, and debated about. Pregnancy, childbirth, and child rearing has become a platform for a battle in society over values and philosophies in which parents and children get bombarded with overwhelming amounts of information about “what and how to become.” There is a sensory overload, an ongoing stimulation through the media channels to keep humans on a treadmill, chasing after dreams, fantasies, pleasures, and satisfaction—yet the treadmill never leads to the true goal. In the spiral of becoming, there will never be an end to desiring more and more. The answer lies in the muchneeded guidance and wisdom in how to be, the simple recognition of the living being inside, which is natural, and so incredibly simple. Every human on this planet is an eternal being, a vibration of energy, and, most important, a conglomerate of consciousness. The body is the conduit through which this being can navigate and operate. This simple observation forms the fundamental basis of all life, the quintessential wisdom from which all else arises. The ancient “art of being” is lost; humans have become estranged from the unblocked expression of their essence. This is the challenge, and also an implicit opportunity for humankind to take part again in its integration to the entire existence. The lack of context with the greater life causes deep sufferings and disturbances—especially in relationships with one’s children, parents, partners, and, ultimately, oneself. This fundamental malfunctioning and the web of entanglements it creates slowly decays the living being inside, as the individual is filled with anxieties and fears about his own standing in the world. Families and relationships fracture when the striving for individuality is greater than the communal expression of unity, and the common goal to sustain life and master the experience of what is being reflected by our family members in every moment.

Families are meant to support one another in the fulfillment of a certain purpose in life. They’re meant to go through the ups and downs together—the losses, the gains, the triumphs and struggles. Yet this world prepares children right at birth to leave the house, which fragments the cohesive energy of the family unit. We hand down the raising of the next generation to the school system, the media, and the social contexts that teach and condition children to live in the domination of the “I,” to find their own way and build a personality. Without a solid standing in their own inner nature, they won’t have the ability to meet challenges (which inevitably will come) from a place of power, and to withstand the storms of life, and be able to trust themselves. The saddest aspect of this one-dimensional reality is that in order to “become,” children have to leave behind what they are already: beings that hold a function, and who bring a fresh energy to this world. Man, as being, as essence, doesn’t need to become or develop a character, as he already holds value in the simple act of being. Humans are caught in their own net, forgetting their contact and alliance with Nature, and even deny being rooted and held by Nature’s laws. Man sets himself in opposition to what sustains him in all ways. What Nourishes Us? All religions and faiths carry innately a bond to God, a higher intelligence, although not all of them share the understanding that the intimate experience of simply being may be the real contact with the living quintessence of all life, the consciousness that envelopes and permeates everything. Some call God the “Divine Mother,” a common expression in indigenous cultures that sets the tone for a close acquaintance in and from the heart. In the universe nothing would exist, from the small to the mighty, without the loving hand of the Divine Mother. Every atom, every tiny grain is nurtured, fortified, and replenished by this power of sustenance and almighty sovereignty.

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L I V ING T H E JOU R NEY Consequently, the source of every human life is this Greater Power, who gave birth to every creature. Physically, pregnancy and birth illustrate and replicate this process. A mother that is giving birth to a child creates from within her flesh a new being, infused with the intent to bring forth more life. Mothers bear life, and therefore co-create with the source of existence. Spiritual Ecology in Daily Life Spiritual ecology implies that Man, the living being, engages the fundamental principle of reciprocal maintenance with the source of life to sustain the integrity of the entire creation of which each creature is an integral part. Reciprocity is the participation in giving back to the creative intelligent force. It is an act of loving recognition, gratitude, and responsibility for what has been received. Simply speaking, giving and receiving are inseparable, and create a loving relationship with all living things. Therefore, a child who learns early on to care for the earth with love, and truly understands their inherent vital role as a custodian of this earth by offering gratitude, will naturally develop a relationship to the earth. A child who perceives that his or her heart is so precious to the vital sustenance of this planet will never feel lost as a teenager in the overwhelming array of choices to “become.” It is this responsibility to care for something so majestic and important that fills them with meaning and purpose.

The Art of Being The Art of Being begins in ourselves—by listening, by observing our own words and actions, and by modeling to the next generation how to function in harmony and balance with others. What else can parents pass to their children, fundamentally and spiritually, in order for them to perceive themselves as natural beings? Children’s lives are filled with material things, and with knowledge they mostly won’t need in mastering their lives with heart, will, determination, and self-value. Yet we expect those same children to somehow miraculously hold the torch for humanity and the next generations and provide solutions or cures to the very problems that have arisen due to the weakened standing of Man as a living being. Every new generation is wiser than the one before, yet the sprouting of their innate potential depends on the guidance of conscious, mature, and stable parents to prepare children, humbly and patiently, to anchor themselves in the weaving of all life. What if most things children learn, whether through schooling, social networks, or media consumption, lead them farther away from who they truly are? According to the ancestral wisdom of my mentor, an Andean master named Koginka Kamaru Xue, the first trauma that impacts a child from early on is a lack of confirmation as a spiritual living being. All else builds upon this foundational deception, and misleads children to live outside of their original purpose.

Simply speaking, giving and receiving are inseparable, and create a loving relationship with all living things. A New Perspective on Humanity’s Future We need a new generation to begin, one that descends from the throne of selfishness and lives from the heart, in the inner work of humility, to stop resisting what is and instead serve humanity by simply being. What is needed is the birth of beings who strive to become one again with the divine, to give and receive from the rich banquet that life offers. This is the fundamental basis for spiritual ecology. A human being is destined to achieve his own potential, the inner perfection of mastering his own experience. A child learns what their parents are applying in their lives through observation. Every moment gives an opportunity to be conscious in navigating the challenges that come forth. This reflection to one’s offspring to learn from mistakes, to humble oneself, and be willing to achieve inner harmony and balance, is the hope for the emergence of a new generation of responsible and natural human beings. Ask yourself: What is my relationship to this world, to Nature, and to my inner self? Do I act and operate in accordance with the laws of nature? Am I a natural being, free from any burdens, stains on

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A mother’s request

my sleeve, and residual effects from experiences in my life? Or is there the possibility that I hold tendencies, conditionings, and convictions based on culturally imposed principles and social norms? As Koginka Kamaru Xue teaches, the real freedom in life lies in freedom from issues—freedom from what inhibits the living being to truly come forth. The engagement of the heart, the capacity to love— to love one another, and oneself—and the inward uniting of one’s self with one’s own being and with the source of all life is the real hope and future for humanity, the real prospect of change, and the real legacy that parents can pass on to their children. It is so simple and natural, yet it requires the willingness to step out of our comforts and hold dearly the intent to stand humble and willing, in order to overcome the domination of the “I” and let the being come forth. This earth longs again for the right relationship of humans with Nature. The transformation of Man’s whole being will lead him again into his full comprehension of what he is meant to be— the true guardian and caretaker of the earth. 

My dearest child, care for the Earth as she is a part of you, a responsibility that lies in your hands. She needs your loving gratitude for all she offers. She needs your tender hands to touch her, to serene her in her pain from our neglect and misuse. Melt her heart with your dearest love! This earth is for you to live upon and take care of. She is a living being; she is consciousness, the Mother herself. This Mother gave birth to your spirit, my child, and as thus you need to love her, as part of yourself. She is not only the air you breathe, the soil from which you are nourished, but also what dwells within your own heart. You are here, my precious child with a purpose to live, to be. Never forget you came here to care for what truly sustains you with your gratitude in every moment. Greet life with your precious heart; give back to your divine Mother, as she provides for you. May your heart, my child, be filled every day with the wonder of life to see that you are a precious spirit, here to do your part of maintaining harmony and balance for all living beings. You are a divine being with a chance to correct yourself in this school of consciousness, here on earth, to hold with full integrity, dignity and solidity of a spirit what you came here to accomplish, the very reason to be. This earth, my blessed child, is for us humans to take care of and you are an integral part to bring life back into balance the way this earth was originally intended for us to live upon. Every day sing from your heart your love to the divine Mother. For all she offers, our Mother in return asks for your humble love, your humble gratitude. Make offerings at a tree, to a body of water by infusing a sacred crystal, a piece of sage, corn with your love and return it to your divine Mother. This is how it is done since time immemorial. Do your part, my child!

Nadine Brasunas lives with her family in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina, where she home-schools her children, writes, and practices holistic life coaching and spiritual mentoring. As dedicated apprentices of Andean Master Koginka Kamaru Xue, she and her family focus on strengthening their relationships with Mother Nature, the Divine, and one another. In recent years she has made annual sacred pilgrimages to her homeland of Germany to assist in the recovery of naturalness and the wisdom of the ancestral and forgotten sacred ways. View article resources and author information here:

issue 62  71

A Communit y for Parents

“The more we connect with others and embrace the reality of our interconnected nature, the more we’ll live with meaning, compassion, equanimity and purPose.”


—Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Pathways 47

“Someday, women will be told that we already hold all of our own answers. We will approach childbirth and motherhood from a place of fullness and abundance, rather than from a place of need and want. We will gather in circles of women to bathe in our own innate wisdom while celebrating the gifts that our children will bring. Our transitions into motherhood will be supported, honored, and held with great consciousness.” —Laurel Bay Connell

How important is community for moms? “The research is clear: Since the beginning of womankind, mothering has been a communal effort…. So many mothers feel like something is out of joint, something is missing, and maybe the truth is that we are all just missing each other.” —C.J. Schneider

“There was one word that kept repeating itself, an echo of wisdom from deep in my womb, over and over and over again as the months of depression carried on. One word that captured what a solution would feel like. One word that spoke of the medicine a mother like me so painfully needed. Village.” —Jessica Rios

“I love the idea that it doesn’t take one person only to achieve your potential. It takes a village, it takes a community, a street, a teacher, a mother.” —Mira Nair


Find support in your local Pathways Connect groups. Share your experiences and wisdom, and make your parenting journey an empowered one!



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Pathways to Family Wellness - Issue #62  

Pathways Magazine provides vital resources for family wellness. Our articles give parents the necessary information to actively participate...

Pathways to Family Wellness - Issue #62  

Pathways Magazine provides vital resources for family wellness. Our articles give parents the necessary information to actively participate...

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