In a very real sense, each of us is a mandala. Some of us have intricate patterns and colors reflecting the complex experiences of our lives. Some of us are simple arcs of existence with minimalist designs and subtle colors and every possible combination in between. Each of us is as unique as our individual DNA, which strangely, in cross-section on electron microscopy, looks like a mandala!
But unlike our DNA, our mandalas are constantly shifting shapes and colors as we make our choices as to the best way to live our lives. All designs of the mandala have a border—the interface we have with one another and the material world. And each mandala has a center, the singularity, where the trinity of mind, body, and spirit integrates and unites with the divine self.
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Read an Excerpt
A Daily Workbook of Holistic Healing
By M. P. Khan
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Dr. Mehernosh P. Khan, MD/NMD
All rights reserved.
1-Jan WHY A DAY BOOK? Rationale behind a gradual daily approach to holistic healing.
2-Jan WHY A DAY BOOK? Three goals to record and display.
3-Jan SPIRITUALITY IS A NO-NO! Exploring the need for spirituality in modern medicine.
4-Jan SPIRITUALITY IS A NO-NO! Define your spiritual beliefs.
5-Jan A SECOND OPINION! Role of the healer: Conventional vs. The Integrated model.
6-Jan A SECOND OPINION! Creating a healing partnership.
7-Jan TO D-3 OR NOT D-3? There is really no question about Vitamin D after all!
8-Jan TO D-3 OR NOT D-3? Measuring Levels and Supplementation.
9-Jan JUST CAN'T LOSE THOSE 10 POUNDS, DOC! 4 Golden Rules of changing any behavior.
10-Jan JUST CAN'T LOSE THOSE 10 POUNDS, DOC! Making small changes & feeling good.
11-Jan MANGA LIKE A CRO-MAGNON. First of TEN eating suggestions for optimal health!
12-Jan MANGA LIKE A CRO-MAGNON. Making a Neanderthal grocery list.
13-Jan I AM NOT A VITAMIN (D), REALLY! More on Vitamin D supplementation.
14-Jan I AM NOT A VITAMIN (D), REALLY! Your mood and Vitamin D supplementation.
15-Jan THIS IS A LONG WINTER. Celebrating the Winter Equinox!
16-Jan THIS IS A LONG WINTER. Describing a memory of that season.
17-Jan DON'T BE SO S.A.D. Exploring the winter blaahs! Seasonal Affective Disorder.
18-Jan DON'T BE SO S.A.D. Some tips for treating the sadness.
19-Jan HERBAL TEA TIME (PART-1) Introducing Herbal Medicine and Mrs. Olga Fields.
20-Jan HERBAL TEA TIME (PART-1). Some resources on herbal medicine.
21-Jan HERBAL TEA TIME (PART-2). The FDA and opening Pandora's Box.
22-Jan HERBAL TEA TIME (PART-2). Common herbs and their medicinal uses.
23-Jan HERBAL TEA TIME (PART-3). The Do's and Don'ts of Herbal Medicine.
24-Jan HERBAL TEA TIME (PART-3). Benchmarks for safety and efficacy.
25-Jan HERBAL TEA TIME (PART-4). Caveat Emptor and too much of a good thing.
26-Jan HERBAL TEA TIME (PART-4). Making sense of supplements.
27-Jan THOSE PESKY POUNDS. Introducing Mr. Adiposa and his bag of remedies.
28-Jan THOSE PESKY POUNDS. Homework for Mr. Adiposa.
29-Jan THOSE PESKY POUNDS. Some supplements to help with weight loss.
30-Jan EAT REAL FOOD. The second of TEN eating suggestions for optimal health.
31-Jan EAT REAL FOOD. Introducing the Dirty Dozen.
WHY A DAY BOOK?
"The longest journey begins with a single step"
It is the first day of a New Year. I just finished reading a book of spiritual teachings by Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening. Having the Life you Want by Being Present to the Life You Have). Written in a daybook form, it has a certain synchronicity. Initially I had planned to have a text book approach to various topics in the area of a holistic and integrated approach to health care. Several issues made me reconsider:
One: There already existed several worthy tomes on the subject. And the end result would be a dry and hefty volume of facts which would sit quietly on some shelf. I wanted this book to be a friend and companion. Something you could read on your smart phone or tablet on the bus or at home and share with your friends and fellow passengers!
Two: The subject matter was very fluid with research data touted as scientific gospel only to be later overturned as false heresy. Someone once wisely quipped "Ten years after you graduate from medical school, you will realize that one-third of what you learnt is now found to be untrue. Only then, you didn't know what that one-third was!"
Three: I would be presenting myself as an authority in an area of medicine that is in its infancy and promises to grow into a valid and meaningful system of not only health care in a physical sense, but also in broader terms, a way to live a life, fully integrating our spiritual and emotional beings. We are all muddling through the difficult work of merging our inner and outer lives. Besides there are enough New Age Gurus out there filling the airwaves and print media with the idea du jour Resveratrol anyone? We are each on a journey in finding our own unique inner healer. I wanted this book to be a gentle guide, a map with several paths, and with the full understanding of what the term "holistic" means if that was to be our final destination.
These three objections prompted me to write this book in the form of a daily work book composed of good advice based on the best science available (for now anyway) towards our physical well-being; parables that help us make sense of the chaos of the human condition; and finally of the power of poetry and great literature to nourish our spirit. After all, we are fellow travelers on this path and who knows what strange wonders and great beauty awaits us!
And finally the healing journey requires some work on your part, hence the sub-title. A process that will have its own rewards as the days and months go by. Moving towards the final goal of finding your inner healer, each day of information is mostly followed by an exercise that is to be completed. And this part will not always be easy as it will require accessing some deep (and sometimes dark) corners of your soul.
WHY A DAY BOOK?
Record three goals that you would like to achieve at the end of the year. Make them reasonable and modest. Even the ascent of Mount Everest needed several base camps.
In my goals towards physical well-being I would like to:
Towards evolving in my emotional growth I would like to:
For the growth of my spiritual life I would like to:
MAKE COPIES/PRINTOUTS OF THIS PAGE AND POST IT ON YOUR REFRIGERATOR AND ON A PROMINENT LOCATION AT WORK.
SPIRITUALITY IS A NO-NO
"We are spiritual beings having a human experience
I am convinced that a lot of emotional dysfunction that I see walking through my office doors is a result of a kind of spiritual bankruptcy. I do not sit in judgment. I have seen this in my personal life and with disastrous consequences; to myself and to those who were close to me. When we lose our moral compass, who knows onto what shore our boat will end up on! As healers, realizing its importance, we should feel comfortable asking about our patient's spiritual beliefs and accept them regardless of our personal biases. And as a patient, no matter what your religious disposition is, be able to share them with your healers as part of the healing process.
This poem (or prayer) came to me one afternoon. Since then I have shared it with many of my colleagues and patients. It is an aspiration, not an absolute.
A HEALER'S PRAYER:
As this day begins,
Guide my heart, hands and mind.
Let my heart be full of compassion;
Let my hands be sure and steady;
Let my mind be calm and clear.
If the privilege of knowledge makes me arrogant;
If the wealth of experience makes me callous;
Help me remember that I am the emissary of the Ultimate Physician,
Blessed with the gift of healing,
Shared with all that seek it.
And as this day ends,
If all my science and will cannot conquer death,
Help me understand the inevitability of living.
Let me then transcend my role as healer,
And share the pain and glory of our common humanity.
* Spirituality as defined by our personal relationship to a higher power as a result of our life experiences vs. religious teachings and dogma.
SPIRITUALITY IS A NO-NO
As a healer or an individual seeking healing, at this time of your life what are your spiritual beliefs? How have they changed over time? How do they fit with your religious upbringing?
Do your spiritual/religious beliefs help or hinder the healing process? How?
A SECOND OPINION!
"The patient should be the center of the medical universe
I have a cartoon placed in a small corner of where patients check in. It shows a young man perched on the exam table holding a sheaf of printouts from a dubious website confronting a visibly alarmed doctor. The caption reads:
"I already know what my problem is Doc! I just want a second opinion!"
Hidden between the chuckles that this little vignette elicits there is a dilemma. Do we challenge the patient with our hard earned facts and debunk all, but what the current state of knowledge and medical research advises us is the standard of care? Or do we validate or at least acknowledge that the patient may have their own set of beliefs? That buried in all those printouts and half-truths, there may be gleanings of information that may help in understanding the unique dysfunction of that unique individual before us.
All medical interactions are basically a dialogue between a person who needs healing and a person who is perceived to have the knowledge to provide that healing. This basic tenet is true from the shaman with his ancient chants and magical herbs and potions to the super-sub-specialist adorned with the full power of the high tech tools of modern medicine. The key word is PERSON and the only real separation between the patient and the physician/shaman is knowledge.
This is not to denigrate the years of training and self-discipline needed to achieve this knowledge. It is when this knowledge is attached to ego that it becomes a form of hubris. Instead of a free flowing spring that nourishes healing, it is frozen into dogma. There is no more dialogue, only a pedantic monologue. But this paradigm has already shifted! Gone are the days of the authoritarian parent figure with sage advice about losing weight and to quit smoking as he/she subtly flicks the ashes of a Camel cigarette and adjusts his/her ample behind on the exam stool. No longer a passive bystander; today's patient is fully armed with information garnered from the media, the internet and medical advice from five other friends as to what his/her medical condition is.
And they expect us to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
In other words: Are we as physicians/ shamans/healers prepared to accept patients as our partners in the healing process and to use our mutual knowledge base as a scaffold, integrating the hard science of medicine with the common and yet different healing journey of the individual? And are we prepared to accept our own crucial, and sometimes difficult, journey of healing?
A SECOND OPINION!
As a physician/shaman how would you answer the above question?
As a patient, what is your experience when you have expressed interest in a healing partnership?
As a patient or a physician, how would you overcome the barriers that block a healing partnership?
TO 'D-3' OR NOT TO 'D-3'?
"Let the sunshine in, let the sunshine in"
— "Hair," the musical.
Looking out on my dreary snow covered backyard and another 6 inches predicted, Vitamin D, also known as the 'sunshine' vitamin, is an appropriate reminder that the brightness of summer and the overhead equatorial sun are where our ancestors started their great migrations to the northern climes. A stark contrast to the weak winter sun, low in the January sky, most of its ultra violet light absorbed by the ozone layer. It is the magic of special organelles in the skin and UV light that manufactures Vitamin D, which is not a vitamin at all. It is really a hormone (like Insulin) and under the right conditions the body makes almost 10,000 units in about 10 minutes of exposure to direct summer sun or about the time you take for a leisurely walk to the mailbox and back. The other sources of this vitamin are foods such as fatty fish, (especially wild salmon) dairy and eggs.
The limiting factors to production by the skin are pigmentation and UV light. The darker your skin, the less the production of Vitamin D as the melanin in the skin blocks UV light. Also the higher the latitude you live in, the less UV light gets through, also decreasing its production. The use of sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protective Factor) has the same effect. With the bogey man of skin cancer, it is no longer advisable to get prolonged and direct exposure to sunlight. As a result there is an almost endemic deficiency of Vitamin D.
As physicians we should be offering our patients a blood test to check these levels and most labs charge around $20-$30 for a basic 25-OH Vitamin D level ordered as a total Vitamin D level. Most insurance plans cover this test with the right diagnostic codes. It is not necessary to get the complete panel.
Over the last year I did a study which can be easily replicated if you practice in the northern latitudes. I started checking Vitamin D levels on most of my adult patients in my practice. There was almost a universal insufficiency with most levels in the low 20's range (a deficiency is a level below 20: normal range 30-100) independent of the time of year. The lowest level I have seen recently is '4' in an African American working the night shift!
As a result, at least in this geographical area, I recommend supplementation with 5000 units/day of D3 in the winter months (Nov-March) and 3000/units/day the rest of the year with measurements every 6 months to a year apart till the level reaches into the 50's. I recommend the D3 form also known as cholecalciferol. It is very inexpensive and averages about 1-2 cents per 1000 unit dose and a lot cheaper than a winter getaway to the sunny Bahamas. And even if you are one of the docs who believe that vitamins are a lot of hokum, this one is a keeper. Try the dose of 3000-5000 units of D3 for yourself on a daily basis. One of its benefits is its mood elevating effect (the winter blahs!) and it also boosts the immune system.
TO 'D' OR NOT TO 'D'
Ask your physician about ordering a baseline test to be included as part of your routine chemistry tests before cranking up your intake of Vitamin D3 in the form of supplements. There are certain medical conditions (kidney stones, sarcoidosis, some diseases of the kidney) that may require careful monitoring of Vitamin D levels or even complete avoidance.
What is your baseline Total Vitamin D level?
What is your level after Vitamin D supplementationfor a 3-6 month period?
How do you feel physically and emotionally after a 3-6 month period of Vitamin D supplementation?
What is your average daily Vitamin D intake from your food sources?
JUST CAN'T LOSE THOSE 10 POUNDS, DOC!
"Make Food your Medicine and Medicine your Food."
A Zen master gave a willow branch to two of his students. Their job was to bend the branch into a perfect circle.
One of the students was overly zealous to please the master and started bending the willow branch impatiently. To his dismay, the branch snapped and he vehemently declared to the Zen master that this was impossible and was very angry that he was assigned this task.
The other student was more patient. Every day he bent the willow branch just a little. As the months went by, he never mentioned the task to anyone. And one day as they were gathered around the Zen master, he presented with a flourish, the willow branch bent into a perfect circle.
Every day in my practice I see patients who want to make positive changes in their lifestyles and especially with weight loss. True to the above parable, there is a tendency to bend the willow branch too quickly. There is this great effort to exercise frequently, dramatically cut down on calories and read up on and follow whatever diet craze that is currently popular. And human nature, being what it is, those efforts fizzles out after a few weeks. After all how much grapefruit or watermelon can you possibly eat? And all you dream about is apple pie and French fries if you get my drift. The branch is broken and this is followed by the inevitable guilt followed by the feeling; why even bother. Before we get to the specifics of what foods etc. we need to really look at the behavior of eating if we are to succeed with weight loss.
So let me give you the 4 Golden Rules about changing behavior, ANY behavior.
First: Believe you can do it! Remember the time you were in great shape!
Second: Make a very small change. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Drink one less can of pop. You get the picture!
Third: Be consistent with that change. Studies show that it takes between 3-6 months to make that behavior a part of your lifestyle. So be 'patient.'
Fourth: If you slip up it's not the end of the world. Learn from it and get back on the saddle. Before you could ride a bike, there were the inevitable falls and scrapes!
Over the next few days I plan to lay out some suggestions for healthy eating patterns that are entirely focused on lifestyle changes. So put those miserable bathroom scales away and get ready to have some fun with your food.
Excerpted from Mandala-365 by M. P. Khan. Copyright © 2016 Dr. Mehernosh P. Khan, MD/NMD. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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