Category Archives: Member Bulletin

Healthy Joints

“For me to be happy I need to walk today,” she says to me every day. “I need to smell the leaves and chase the squirrels and chipmunks. I need to let my paws pound the dirt paths, and let my muscles stretch and flex and twist.”

She’s so smart. I love my dogs.

Aging well

The wisdom of the animal lives in us all. Your body makes a similar proclamation. “Move me or my ability to move will atrophy,” it says. Regular movement ensures that we will be able to remain active and independent as we get older. We used to spend 85% of our lives outdoors. Now we spend 2%. It says quite a bit. We are too sedentary and too isolated in the comfort zones of our modern lives. Every now and then a reminder of that is helpful. 

“Use it or lose it” is an introductory theme of this bulletin discussing the basics of joint health. And to “use it” well you have to arm yourself with some facts.

Healthy Joints

“Wear and tear” as a term to describe osteoarthritis is misleading. It’s important to know that the evidence doesn’t suggest a strong connection between simple, repetitive use of a joint and the development of osteoarthritis. The idea that our joints are like car tires or light bulbs, with a limited number of uses before their lifetime expires, is simply untrue, experts will attest. Major trauma to the joints increases the likelihood of arthritis, that’s true, but not routine and regular movement. As you’ll see below, regular, smart movement helps to prevent arthritis.

Here are a few gems I have compiled for you concerning joint health and smart movement:

1. Muscles: In my assessment, muscle is a huge factor in joint health. Joints wear down because the muscles around them atrophy from inadequate use. Without adequate muscle a joint is subjected to abnormal forces. Walking can help build and maintain muscle mass, which tends to decline with age. Hill walking is a great way to build muscle and is a notable component of blue zone studies in longevity. Walking on hills engages various muscle groups, including the legs, glutes, and core. Contrary to the misconception that hill walking may strain joints, it can actually improve joint health because of the excellent muscular stimulation.  

Muscle mass is a real key to aging well. “Higher lean mass equates to higher nutritional reserve and strength whereas lower muscle mass (sarcopenia) is a major contributor to disability and increased mortality.”

2. Uneven terrain: The controlled impact of walking on uneven terrain can help strengthen joints and reduce the risk of arthritis. The unevenness of the occasional root or rock enforces all the lower senses and spreads the force over the entire joint. Walk on dirt or gravel or grass if possible. The natural surfaces are forgiving. Concrete is a compromise. Be careful with it. Walking in the city is a lot of concrete. Just be aware that it is a compromise. Experts also warn of walking on sand, also not ideal. The treadmill is decent because it absorbs shock. However, there are some things the machines in the gym can’t do. Like this:

3. Step count: The latest thinking is the exact number of recommended steps to take in a day is individual. The main thing is to regularly move. Can you schedule 2 walks per day? If you have a healthy body walk for two 30-40 min walks.

4. Arthritis now?: Exercise prevents but also treats arthritis. Experts will tell you that exercise eases the pain and stiffness of arthritis. “Try to work up to 150 minutes of somewhat hard aerobic exercise every week. You can exercise 10 minutes at a time if that’s easier on your joints. It’s best to do moderate aerobic activity most days of the week. But even a couple of days a week can help.” (Mayo Clinic). And an anti-inflammatory lifestyle is impactful if arthritis pain is quite limiting. Eating single ingredient foods (whole foods) and cutting out sugar, flour, and dairy is a basic introduction to what that means.

Bottom line

Listen to your body. Love it well. There is a lot of wisdom emanating at you all the time. Above (brain function) and below (muscle mass) are connected. Even if your main objective is brain health, you should move that body of yours. 

There is a principle in the longevity and aging fields that comfort is advanced aging. Too much comfort is not our friend. It’s the principle behind a wide variety of approaches including cold plunges, intermittent fasting, mixing up routine, and even writing with your non-dominant hand. It’s also the principle behind incorporating regular movement into you daily routine, even though it may be uncomfortable at first. Once it becomes a habit it brings a lot of joy.

Plus, if you get some good exercise today, I bet you’ll sleep well tonight!


Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

I’m never more proud of the ol’ USA than on the day we shut down business-as-usual all across the land in the name of gratitude.

I know you likely ate more pie last night than any other day this year and are planning to go for a long walk this am, and I am happy to hear that. Before you go I want to offer a few words in celebration of gratitude.


Mostly I want to say “excellent job, everyone!,” for the extraordinary efforts in gratitude yesterday. I think we moved the needle a little!

Every effort was important! It always is. 

A special acknowledgement to those who contributed to the gratitude project in spite of living through challenges. Times can be tough. No one said our path should or would be easy. Life on earth gets kind of complicated sometimes. The effort to be grateful during trying times is huge and goes such a long way. The truth gets revealed that outer circumstances don’t have control over us. These efforts show pretty quickly that our inner life can rise above adversity. It’s meaningful even if the breakthrough moments of clarity and strength are only temporary. The continued striving is what matters!

Writing Your Script 

I like a nice place setting as much as the next guy, but…

I actually see the practice of gratitude, whether on the holiday or otherwise, as an act of Revolution! I see it as an exercise in high level disruption. Outputs of gratitude act against certain tendencies that hold us back and make us ill. With gratitude (and the practice of fellow positive attributes like kindness and fairness) we smile in the face of the temptation to distrust our fellow human being. We resist that and get curious. We use our heart forces. We acknowledge our interconnectedness. We depart the bad script and write in our own part.

The Benefits

There should be no question of gratitude’s benefits (after reading below).

And there’s no question that the benefits increase the more you make gratitude a regular part of your daily routine. Keeping a gratitude journal is an eloquent way of reinforcing gratitude in your life, but the effort can be as simple as expressing gratitude to others more often, such as by being prolific with thank you notes.

Physically, when we are grateful we react better to stress and sleep better. So much flows from that. The immune system works better. Energy is sustained more easily. Generally, the body functions better when we clear our stagnating energy. Gratitude is a force to that end.

Psychologically, our resilience is fed by gratitude.  Depression has a harder time taking root. Those who are grateful more readily connect to seeing meaning in life. “Us vs them” is diminished with gratitude practice.

Socially, everyone is lifted by positive energy, and a grateful and positive person is always a welcome addition to the community.


Gratitude demands our ability to pay attention. It resists the destructive agendas of separation. It ushers us towards the Law of One. Simply put, the Law of One says “I don’t win unless we all win.” It has to work for the animal kingdom, nature, the earth as a whole, and fellow human beings for it to work for me.

It is the truth taught as the Golden Rule: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 

I’m grateful for your efforts in gratitude. I’m grateful for all your strivings. I sincerely am.

The Art of Medicine

The art of medicine can refer to many things. For me, central to the art of medicine is the incorporation primarily of empathy and compassion in the patient-doctor interaction.

A story comes to mind here about a young soldier.

She was excited about the work she was doing in the military. The camaraderie was unlike anything she had known. She connected to the duty and honor of her role. Her friends in the military were like family.

However, she soon came face to face with the hard fact that a human being is not built for war.

Understandably, the sights, sounds and experiences of war she endured shook her foundation. Eventually she was struggling to perform her duties. She couldn’t sleep and had headaches. She suffered from panic attacks, dizziness and difficulty concentrating. Even though she wanted to support her platoon she could not find her way back to her regular shift touring the war zone.

She sought help. The military doctor worked hard, but the job was taxing. He had only so much he could give. He had a busy schedule, and the patients he encountered had a lot of needs. He made recommendations: medication and therapy. She was taken off duty. The waiting list for a therapist was long. It would take months. “I’m sorry there’s nothing we can do about that.” She was given medication regimens with the typical drugs. A psychoactive cocktail was prescribed. She got new symptoms on the new meds. She was given other medications and then higher doses. The more medicine she got, the more her condition deteriorated.

In hindsight she was struck with very meaningful insight. She felt like the main things she needed were support and love. She needed to be seen and heard. More than anything else she needed empathy and understanding. In her words, she said she needed a hug. She needed to be allowed to grieve. War simply is not who we are. She wanted to find who she was. That’s often what is needed. The medicines, because they were not giving her what she needed, didn’t work and made her worse.

Is the medical field supposed to be the place where the need for compassion and love are met?

Yes it is. And we do so, by degree. It takes love to learn technique and practice it. There is love in the mastery of skills. There is love in acquiring knowledge. The mastery of pharmacology and physiology and anatomy is love. Of course, it’s also there whenever a doctor or nurse or staff member is kind and caring, when they lead with their humanity. The details of time and space disappear for a moment, and it’s one human supporting another.

This is the the art of medicine.

Can the system do it better?

Yes, it can.

The sad truth is the human-to-human magic that happens between a nurse or doctor and patient shines through too often IN SPITE of the elements present that don’t support it.

I have an image of the impactful version of medicine that would snowball positively when as many details of the outer environment are in line with the ideals of compassion and love in the patient-doctor interaction.

Picture it with me:

  • The room of course would be beautiful.  Beauty around us reminds us all of our potential and inspires us to strive towards it.
  • The architectural design and lighting would be calming and inviting. Sharp angles would be swapped with more organic curves.
  • Natural light and how it was designed to be in the treatment space would be a focus.
  • The air and how it circulated and the smells would be intentional.
  • The food in the ideal would be organic and highly nourishing. It would come from agricultural practices that were regenerative for the earth and non exploitative to every kingdom — mineral, plant, animal and human.
  • The time medical personnel spent with a patient would not be pressurized. The schedule would support the process. Love is often spelled t-i-m-e. The point here is not economic, it’s artistic, remember?
  • And last but not least the content of the therapies would favor  the most compassionate and lovely options. A deeper understanding of illness and healing would have space here. Deceit or manipulation to position a “product” on the market would be inconceivable.

The medical team opens to the patient, completely and without judgment. The patient feels seen and heard. The treatment plan is informed by the depth of that meeting. Everything is in line with the true content of an intentional healing interaction: the human-to-human magic that supports self-discovery.

Then medicine would have the power of clarity that comes from consistency across many levels.

What a masterpiece it would be!

And we honor every incremental step towards its creation. We are clearly capable of so much remarkable achievement when we tap into the inner artist.

Circadian Health and the Natural Order

This week the 4:30pm sunset made its rude and abrupt re-entrance. Only the time change experiment could make it so startling. Maybe you agree with the sentiment that the Daylight Savings Time change is cruel and unusual and unhealthy. I certainly do. Despite rumors, nothing on that front is set to change. Yes, the US Senate passed a bill in 2022 attempting to change the DST program which dates back over 100 years. It proposes to make DST permanent which is controversial from a health perspective (as opposed to permanently eliminating it). The House of Representatives did not take action on it, so as of now nothing is changing from a federal viewpoint.

The Massachusetts legislature currently is facing two bills- both to do away with the time change policy, with differing strategies. The economic hawks want to keep Daylight Savings Time in place forever — thought to be better for retail bottom line with more sunlight shopping hours in the afternoon. Doctors, including yours truly, want to stop monkeying with the time and leave it alone in its original configuration — when noon means the sun is at its high point in the sky. This is not arbitrary. There is a perfect symmetry to how the natural light is balanced in the hours before and after noon around 6am and 6pm in relation to location on the earth and time of year.

There is a natural order. It is harmonious, and it does matter. Experts that focus on sleep, health and circadian rhythms agree: changing the time twice per year is a bad idea, and we should be sticking with standard time (which is what we are in again as of this week).

We have an internal system that is in tune with nature. The laws that run our body are closely in sync with those that run the earth’s systems. We need morning light in the summer and evening darkness in the winter.

It’s no surprise: honoring natural law is health giving.

Who will win — the retail economy? your health? Or will we stay with the status quo (and the shock-to-the-system time changes)? In any event, we can enjoy the sunsets.

Societal Health and Divine Natural Law

The philosophy of being in harmony with the natural order is one that can carry us far.

Any thinker can make a study of natural law. It doesn’t hide from us. It is everywhere for us to observe.

Meditate on what you know about yourself and your community:

  • each one of us have our own dignified blueprint. 
  • happiness and fulfillment are connected to self-expression and authenticity more than any other factor.
  • self-expression and creativity are magic ingredients for both the individual and society.
  • we each have tremendous innate self-worth.

These are powerful facts. I place the right to self-determination at the center of societal and medical philosophy. I argue it’s in line with the divine natural law.

Finding Robust Good

Society’s rules should then be to support the development of the individual which then in turn would be the source of societal good and health, both rising out of the developed individual. 

This is the path of self-mastery: emotional regulation, delayed gratification, surrender, generosity are the result. This is a path of robust societal good (and health).

On the other hand, the opposite might be to fall prey to concerns over toxic distortions of individualism and egotism and to lose sight of the truth of our self-worth and value of our self-expression. “What if the individual runs rogue?” Distrust creeps in. Society might be tempted to employ collectivist-oriented philosophies, emphasizing the group-serving solutions over individual-oriented ones. This tends to see the source of good (and health) as originating outside us. A paternalistic controlling class forms and individual development is weakened. Without honoring the natural law evident in autonomy and self-leadership, society risks an impoverished “good” based on coercion, manipulation, and blind obedience: much like in a prison setting.

Better to go with the natural order, in my view.

Follow your Heart

Listen, this is just an autumn offering to honor the power of your authenticity and self-worth. I also want to point out the health-giving principles inherent in the world that should be our guides. Think about it a little. Follow what is evident and observable. When in doubt, you can always fall back on what’s in your heart. After all, that’s kind of at the center what I’ve been writing about in this bulletin.

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.


Less Medicine

There also is a pharmaceutical medication we could use… but… I think it’s safe to wait. We can track your progress while you implement those brave, creativeand super smart lifestyle changes we’ve been discussing…

If that conversation excerpt resonates with you then you might be part of the LED tribe.

LED here stands for the Least Effective Dose, the lowest dose of medication that is needed to get the desired effect and not a milligram more. These folks don’t take anything they don’t absolutely need to take. Often they take nothing.

Medication contains undesirable effects as well as desirable effects. The LED philosophy places emphasis on brainpowerand willpower to stay healthy and keeps medication to the lowest effective dose, thereby also minimizing risk of undesirable effects.

This is not at all to say that medication is frowned upon by the LED crowd. Rather, it is seen simply as a last resort. There’s sincere gratitude that medication is here to help if needed and further gratitude for the pathway to try to avoid having to take it at all.

Thinking as Medicine

In an attempt to demonstrate the LED approach and how thinking itself can be medicine, I’d like to shine a light on a highly relevant topic that causes widespread disease and tremendous misery.

I’m shining a light today on the victim-victimizer complex.

This entails the abuse, trauma, shock, and devastation we endure and store in our foundation and the subsequent damage it causes. We all carry them with us to some degree or another. Take misogyny, for example. All of us suffer because of this, albeit in different ways. It keeps us all separate from the human ideal that is possible.

If you examine the victim-victimizer complex closely, it doesn’t take long for it to reveal itself as filled with false solutions and terrible traps. The suffering that arises out of this complex can only be helped by deliberate thinking and subsequent informed action. It’s good medicine. Let’s look closely.

False solutions

The victim victimizer complex is full of lies. For example, a common tendency with the victim & abuser cycle is to wish for the victim to rise up, connect to their power, and vanquish the oppressor. The weak becomes the champion and the bully gets a taste of his own modus operandi. This is what I would call false redemption. There is only a role change here, but there is no transformation. This switch does nothing to stop the US vs. THEM trap, which keeps us in bondage.

Shape-Shifting Trap

Beware of trying to overly simplify complex scenarios. Bullies bully for a handful of reasons. Among the most common are that they have been subjected to emotional trauma or they were victimized themselves.

“The victim and offender populations overlap, and the same individual can move successively or even simultaneously from one role to the other.”

— Fattah, Interchangeable Roles of Victim and Victimizer

Decisively aggressive action is not well suited to complex scenarios where roles are not fixed. It’s not our best game to be a judge and jury internally. Something else is needed.

Three Keys to breaking the cycle

There are three tenets I’d like to propose to break the cycle of the victim-victimizer paradigm.

1. Deny identifying with Victimhood. The moment we attach to victim status, becomes the moment we become limited to non-transformative action, whether it be to stagnate in victim identity on one hand or try to switch roles on the other. There is no freedom in identifying as a victim.  I’d like to say there are no victims there are only dignified human beings who are divine in their origin who have areas in their timeline where they were subjected to victimization. This orientation expands the options.

2. Be Compassionate. Enter the star of the show. The True Disrupter and Transformational Element is Compassion. Compassion is right for all of the victims on every level. Compassion fits any system, any complexity level. Compassion is never applied wrongly. It strives to see and understand all players. It leads to true redemption. Through our inner work compassion becomes the medicine.

3. Realize where true safety lies.

Could you be safe without a home, good health, healthy relationships or financial footing? Yes, you could. That’s the radical truth. Let me go so far as to say it’s imperative to understand this and why and how!

Our true foundation for safety, feeling grounded, and security is a spiritual condition. It has nothing to do with our material life. Yes, we tend to all these material needs, and it is very important to do so; but, our foundation does lie with them. True protection comes from our inner connection to our highest self. To have the central intention to be in service to our Source is the key to a healthy and harmonious foundation. Being virtuous builds the connection and is freeing. Denial of this through fear, selfishness, ignorance is to be in the dissonance of the shape-shifting victim-victimizer paradigm.

Aurelius Prudential Clemens (early fifth century) is among the hoards of holy men and women across the ages to study the “heavenly” virtues. His list include fides (faith), pudicitia (chastity), paciencia (endurance), mens humilis (humility), spes (hope), sobrietas (sobriety), ratio (reason), operatio (devotion), pax (peace), concordia (harmony), and sapientia (wisdom).

In Conclusion

So then it’s simple. Use compassion and the virtues as your medicine. With this type of medicine the rules change. There’s no such thing as irresponsible, reckless usage. High doses are welcome. Dependency is encouraged.  US vs. THEM wants to divide and conquer. Compassion leads us to the healing spiritual law of ONENESS: the realization that what happens to one of us happens to all of us.

The human body is a temple

Surely we all have had experiences that give meaning to the philosophy I want to explore today: the human body is a temple.

There are many facets to this principle. Let’s dive in!

Temple Orientation

You might find it revealing to know that I was a proud member of the altar server corps at the Catholic church in my neighborhood when I was a boy.

My friends and I honed the skills needed to support the priests in putting on a mass for the community. We lit candles, we rang bells, we turned pages in the holy books. We were disciplined; we were organized: at least two of us were there for every mass. We showed up on time, and we did what it took to facilitate the sacrament of the hour, whether it be a baptism, a wedding, a funeral or an ordinary mass.

Human Nature

It wasn’t always a walk in the park, however. In a somber atmosphere with a sacred ritual being performed, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that laughter would be inappropriate. 12 year olds have a tendency to laugh, I seem to remember. And being in a setting where you weren’t supposed to laugh was a little bit funny in and of itself. Throw in a little sleep deprivation from a sleep-over the night before and all bets were off.  Something as innocent as a loud sneeze from somewhere in the congregation would suddenly necessitate a heroic effort to withstand the tsunami-like urge to release a belly laugh.

It was during those years we as a young group began, in earnest, a joint exploration of the fine art of self-control. We learned to bite our lip, look away, hold our breath, or even leave the altar for a couple minutes (which happened more than I’d like to admit)  — do whatever it took to keep the mood intact. We were a committed bunch, and I think we help it together fairly often. I have to suspect that the fine parishioners look back at those years as the golden years of that church’s history — I know I do — in no small part due to the courageous efforts of a special group of altar boys and girls that destiny brought together for a few fateful years. (Does anyone know how to write screenplay?)


Maybe you know a temple or a church from your youth. Maybe you have visited some of the famous cathedrals in Europe or around the world. Maybe your local neighborhood has a temple that you visit regularly as part of your religious life. Chances are you have and that you know the feeling of reverence we feel when we enter a temple or church.

I feel fortunate to be oriented into the sacred spaces of my neighborhood church at a young age. The gallery of the church with its uniform rows of strong, smooth oak pews gave an instant calm and quiet to any visitor.

The centrally located altar, a few steps above everything else, with the majestic pulpit off to the side, offered a special focus for everyone’s attention.

In the back of the the altar was the church tabernacle — majestically adorned, locked, and housing the Eucharist: the holiest of the holy places.

This general design of a church is repeated everywhere with individual artistic variation, and they all have an inner part where certain mysteries are honored.

The Cellular Temple

This temple design penetrates the cellular level. If the cell is a temple the nucleus would be the altar and the DNA is the tabernacle. One of the realizations of the pandemic for me was that DNA and RNA could be made quite easily in the lab.

Yes, to make a sequence of mRNA was not difficult, we learned. That’s no big deal.

Oh really?

Right, the use of lipid nanoparticles to act as an effective delivery system was the special step with the mRNA vaccines. Nucleic acid development is relatively old news.

Advancements have led to the development of groundbreaking technologies for the design, assembly, and manipulation of DNA encoded genes, materials, circuits, and metabolic pathways, which are allowing for an ever greater manipulation of biological systems and even entire organisms.

— 2017 Pubmed article

As cellular secrets open up, it’s like the tabernacle is open. The more we learn the more questions we have. Does DNA act as an antenna? Does DNA spin? Does it sound?

I’d just like to put my opinion on record here that just because we know more and more about something and know how to manipulate it, it doesn’t mean it gets stripped of its sacredness. And it doesn’t mean that “ever greater manipulation” represents progress.

We have to ever wonder at what point does manipulation represent going against the natural order of things and approach being detrimental. Cloning back in the 90s didn’t seem to sit well with the collective. What’s happening with that program? They still tell us that there is no evidence that human cloning has happened. Can science stop itself?

Keeping it sacred

I’ve been in the scientists’ labs. It’s not uncommon that there is no awe, there is no wonder as a default mode. The default is cold data collection and execution of tasks. The cell and the body are like machinery to be hacked.

We need to nurture a culture of sacredness concerning the human body. We need “the Body as a Temple” approach. We don’t have to be perfect with it. We can be a little immature at times because after all we have a lot of growing to do, but we have to be striving for the respect and awe that the body demands.

Body as temple.

There are certain behaviors befitting of a special place. There are rules to follow to stay in sync. Deliberation and intentionality are important. 

Treat your body well. Love it. Accept it for all it is. Feed it real food. Water it, rest it, move it regularly. Realize your body is very wise, even in illness. Symptoms are telling us something, teaching us things. If you do that you are part of the “body is a temple” movement and are creating a healthy world in which to live.

Walking the Walk

Today’s bulletin should serve as a reminder that we don’t just talk the talk here at BWH, but we also walk the walk.

Trish was moved by my recent bulletin which established that there is no activity more essential to our health than walking — for it aids heart health, mental health and supports our ability to think.

She read with interest that the philosophical foundations of the modern age rest on the walking human being. She was astonished to remember the ancient philosophers in Greece taught their students while walking the countryside.

I told her that I had much more to say about walking. I told her I wanted to talk about walking and the creative process. I wanted to write about Beethoven’s afternoon walks and how the pilgrimage walk has to be mentioned if we are to accurately depict the whole human experience. She offered to do some field research. I agreed, she cleared her schedule, and we haven’t heard from her… until 2 days ago. She just sent us this picture from the top of the Inca Trail… in Peru:

Way to go, Trish! 

I am considering her for employee of the month, but as usual there is stiff competition. I am grateful for each and every one of our employees! Daily dedication to walking the walk is our mission, to live up to our promise of being in service to you.

Connection and Creativity

Being in proper relation to others requires having an open channel to an inner connection.

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

— John Muir

The inner relationship is an important component of the creative process. What makes us more of an intact human being than engaging in an expressive, creative act? And where do we find the source for our own creativity other than within? Thank God for the poets and the dedicated artists, and thank God for the realization that something as simple as deciding to take a back road less often travelled on your way home is actually a rebellious, creative act. And for that matter, so is creating time in your busy life to walk regularly despite how it clearly is not the necessity it once was. It won’t take long before it becomes ingrained!

If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.” 

― Charles Dickens

Regular walking has been a much cherished aspect of the lives of some of the greatest creative minds in modern history.

Yes, Beethoven was a famous walker. He would take short breaks during his workday to clear his mind, and made it a ritual to take a longer walk each afternoon. He’d bring paper and a pen to be ready for when inspiration struck.

Mary Oliver the famous Pulitzer prize winning New England poet would walk at sunset every day and received so much inspiration doing so she mastered the art of writing while walking.

The creatives often get hooked on walking, just like the thinkers do.

There comes…. a longing never to travel again except on foot.” 

― Wendell Berry

The Pilgrimage

In history pilgrimages have been prescribed as penances by priests as well as handed down as judicial punishment by the courts. When they are self-imposed, pilgrimages often carry the theme of retribution or purification.

The story is similar whether it be believers of Islam trekking to Mecca or believers of Judaism journeying to Jerusalem and whether it be Catholics voyaging to Mercy Sunday here on Eden Hill in Stockbridge or trekkers on El Camino wayfaring to Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition holds that the remains of the apostle James are buried. It’s similar for the through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail in the East and the Pacific Crest Trail in the West. It’s the story of the power of walking to regulate and realign the human being, body, soul and spirit. It’s the story of freedom, adversity, and adventure.

Walking happens at a pace that lets our hearts fully participate in our environment. It lets our destiny find us. We can encounter the world in a way where the scents and sights and sounds can order themselves so as to present to us what we otherwise would miss if we buzz by in a train, a car or even a bike.

Caminar es atesorar: To walk is to gather treasure.”

― Spanish Proverb

As we stand in the time of year where one can walk all day, it’s the right time to commit to deepening our outdoor, non-concretized hill-walking program. Because after all, what is more creative, enlivening and rejuvenating than a regular, brisk walk in the woods?

What about Dancing?

We continue to make a colossal case for walking, but as a conclusion I would like to include a reader’s reaction to the first bulletin on walking where he offers an important public service announcement regarding another activity that serves us well:

In addition to walking, I would encourage dancing.  Dance has been part of our DNA since the dawning of homo erectus. Fertility dances, rain dances, harvest dances, May Pole dances, etc.  I played in a rock band in the 60’s to packed night clubs with people dancing “cheek to cheek” (if you catch my entendre). Even before Covid most people I know stopped dancing.  Dancing and the soul are inexorably connected.  I highly recommend dancing at home, in groups or even in the streets;  often!

Oh, yes! Dancing! Thanks, Bob D. It’s a great point. We should all commit to dancing to the song of our choice in our living rooms tonight. Are you in? Think about it on your morning walk!

You are not your thoughts

We’re all like knights breaking camp every morning, setting out to meet our destiny, wandering the dangerous countryside. And we all have an intensely vulnerable side, gravely in need of assistance, like the damsel in distress. It’s all playing out inside us. The landscape is our headspace. The dragons are in our consciousness, and the damsel is our developing inner self.

It’s best to be trained, armed, and oriented, don’t you think?

First of all, certain ideas can be yourorientation. Here is a hugely important guiding principle as important as a map to the Grail castle itself:

You are not your thoughts

Thoughts come from all sorts of places. Thoughts come from your ancestors. They come from experiences in your youth, like the way your parents used to speak to you; or your siblings or other past relations. Thoughts come from the media you watch, the music you listen to.

Your thoughts are arbitrary and often irrelevant. They actually lie to you all the time. Just because you have a thought it doesn’t mean there’s any truth to them (credit to Dr Daniel Amen, psychiatrist). Getting oriented to your thoughts is like becoming an expert on dragons. You have to know their movements well if you want to slay them.

Second of all, exercises to develop an observer state are like training with your weapon.

The idea here is to practice a relationship with your thoughts where you can become an independent observer of them. You separate from them. Kindness and curiosity are huge keys. In one very useful exercise you imagine you are a person on a hillside watching a train go by. The train cars are the different thoughts. Judgement is not helpful. Any content to the thoughts is workable, just stay calmly detached from them. Stay on the hillside. Let a focussed observation of your breath movement be an anchor to you to keep you in the present and on task. Stay removed from your thoughts and on your breath. Let’s the thoughts drift by like a train car. Your focus inevitably drifts away from your breath to a thought. Realize it, and re-focus on your breath. Start process from the top. Repeat. Focus, drift, realize you’ve drifted, refocus. Repeat again. There’s no other way than to practice. It’s dazzling how the power behind the neutrality of the observer state grows and builds. (Further reading: Gradual Awakening by Stephen Levine)

Furthermore, you’re going to need a shield:

Silence is your shield. You have to be alone with your thoughts if you want to learn to develop the observer state. Being in silence is a necessity. Once you start to practice having silence in your life, cut back the media at other times of the day to give yourself a chance. Its always amazing to me that fearful people are often watching terrifying programs and don’t connect the two. Despondent people are listening to the news and not connecting the two. Until you have skills to fight back and defend yourself, limit engagement with media mind-battery.

And, finally, if you want to cover some ground you have to learn to get comfortable in the saddle:

Life confronts us with crisis after crisis, war after war… election after election. It keep us from feeling settled. What’s the opposite of settling in? It’s when we emotionally hold our breath or when we are waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s like visiting a friends house and keeping your jacket on and not sitting down. We don’t want to wait for the outer world to meet some criteria to allow us sink into the moment. We have to learn to control it ourselves. 

Being in silence, separating from your thoughts and developing the observer state will gain you access to an attainable and reproducible state of mind that is like sitting in the saddle: feeling at home. Many people only get there when a life situation is really accommodating, or when a drug or a desire being met delivers them there. So they end up depending on an external fix or not finding contentment very often because life is not so accommodating. The idea is to learn to be your own fix. Be the medication yourself.

It’s being able to find a home in any circumstance. Surrender is a key. It comes as a result of your own inner activity, your own enthusiasm. It’s as satisfying as rescuing the fair maiden who had been locked in a tower.

Being the hero of your own life contains universal truth. Everything else flows from there. Controlling the inner landscape leads to a healthy habit life which leads to good physical health. And that’s always the point of the bulletin: to do the most with what we’ve got, in the place where we are.

I’ll conclude with a favorite prayer (from the Buddhist tradition) which acknowledges the eternity in every moment and offers a nice cap to today’s discussion. You might have heard this one before.

I have arrived 
I am home
In the here
In the now
I am solid
I am free
In the Ultimate, I do dwell

(Further reading: The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Naht Hanh)

The art of walking

In many ways, modern life makes us sick. In this bulletin, I’m going to make the point that half our problem with modern life (if not more) is that we have lost the art of walking. Not only is it a health bringer, both mentally and physically, but it also helps us to think, just ask the Greek philosophers.

I Walk Therefore I Am?

The year is 327 BC and you are at the Lyceum in Ancient Greece, a famous cultural center where activities range from military exercises to lectures on rhetoric and philosophy to ceremonies offering praise to the gods.  You are a student at Aristotle’s famous school which was established here 7 years prior.

You spend your days walking with your teacher and other students through the tree-filled groves adjacent to the school at the edge of the Lyceum, carrying books and taking notes. Lively discussions follow nightly as you and the other students painstakingly work through the daily lessons covering ethics, the four causes of an object, the five elements, and the soul life of a plant vs. that of the animal and human.

Today you are walking with your teacher and many other “peripatetics” under the covered walkways of the Lyceum. You pass by a large sculpture of Apollo, the patron of the Lyceum, a statue you know well.

You reflect for a moment on how Apollo’s forearm is drawn across his head, a posture of repose that indicates to you a recovery gesture from a previous exertion. All this thinking work you do is a great exertion as well, you say to yourself.

As you walk on, your attention returns to the lesson: Aristotle’s views on how the soul and the body are inextricably linked, which differ profoundly from the Platonic and Pythagorean dualistic view. You don’t know it, but you are participating step-by-step in the birthing of natural sciences out of ancient mystery wisdom. And you are doing it as you walk.

The school at the Lyceum is also known as Aristotle’s Peripatetic School. The term “peripatetic” comes from the Greek word “peripatein,” which means “to walk up and down.”

Aristotle’s students were called the peripatetics reflecting Aristotle’s specific method of teaching; he taught while walking.

The early Greek philosophers almost indistinguishably linked thinking with walking. Socrates also used walking as a pedagogy to process, teach, and learn.

Walking and the Heart

Culture today knows well that walking supports the heart and cardiovascular system. It helps to improve circulation, reduce blood pressure, and strengthen the heart muscle. Walking, and specifically walking on hills where the circulation gets a significant challenge and the leg muscles are most engaged, reduces the risk of heart disease — a leading cause of death worldwide.

Blue zone studies consistently highlight the importance of adopting natural, sustainable, and enjoyable forms of physical activity like walking. Interestingly the blue zone communities are all in hilly communities. Hill-walking is the norm. Rather than hitting the gym, these communities incorporate healthy movement into the social fabric of their daily lives. 

Furthermore, with walking, step by step a rhythm is established. When we walk we enter with our limbs a realm embodied at all times by the heart and lungs. The left arm goes forward and the left leg goes back. Above and below are in an opposite rhythm as are the left and right. There is symmetry, harmony, and balance.

Walking and Mental Health

The Greek philosophers give the insight that when walking is examined more closely the effects go beyond longevity and heart health.  At a certain point, walking becomes like a vibratory hum. Just imagine the legs of a group of sheep hustling down a path. Their legs demonstrate a fast repetitive motion that becomes vibratory. “Higher vibration” has at times been used to represent higher states of the mind. Moving into higher states of understanding there is a connection to frequency. Thoughts have presence and frequency. Walking, in a way, trains an important part of the activity that is needed to think.

Screen time has changed thinking, it seems. Screens are surely passively thinking for us. They implant thoughts and pictures in our heads directly without our work. Life with screens has made us less active as well. We should be passionate about walking’s ability to counteract the ailments of our time.

Bottom Line

People who walk are inspired by their practice, have less anxiety and less depression, and enjoy better muscle tone and heart health. People who walk are also aiding their ability to be active in their thinking. They have the satisfaction of controlling these outcomes. We need walking to process our experience just like we need our cardiovascular system to prepare toxins for excretion. Modern life, decidedly tipped away from the outdoors and towards using technology to provide comfort, offers to take away the activity that historically has been essential and inherent to our functioning as humans. Let’s be in remembrance of the power of intentionally placing these activities into our lives at our own initiative. It just may be the difference-maker we need.

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.

― Søren Kierkegaard

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” 

― Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols 

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.

― Henry David Thoreau

(Anyone who uses “Me thinks” is worthy of your consideration, me thinks.)

Walking was a creative, mental, and spiritual practice for Thoreau and can be for you too.

Thanks for tuning in!

The triple threat of the Cold, the Flu, and Covid

It’s that time of year.

What about this triple threat: Covid, RSV, Flu? “Hey, doctor, what should I do about the next shot?”

These are the questions of the fall, intensified by the pandemic and new products. I’m hearing them a lot. I’ve got a lot to say. Let’s cover some ground.

Holistic view on the common cold

As a young doctor it occurred to me that if there ever was a cure for the common cold, I would be wary. That thought came with the realization that even though a cold is a nuisance and sometimes worse, it’s a part of a system. Its presence needs to be understood. Is there a purpose? Think of its main gesture: it forces us to slow down, stop going, stop thinking. It demands a pause: some rest, quiet, and to be covered with a warm blanket — a reset of sorts.

Furthermore, look at the signature features of the common cold — there are lots of excretions, the body’s way of removing excess waste. We all have cell turnover and benefit from an occasional acute inflammation to help us detox.

A common cold is medicine in and of itself.

The common cold is… well… quite common, and 200 different viruses are thought of as potential causes. There is no “cure” nor a passive preventative measure that we have been able to employ, so the focus falls on measures that aid detoxification and excretion and aid the immune system against the pathogen.

Preventative strategies include detox standbys: exercise, sweating (sauna), good diet, healthy sleep habits, and hygenic measures.

FLCCC has a protocol for pre-exposure prevention: Vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, quercetin, elderberry, mouthwashes top the list.

Treatment with homeopathics (Ferrum phosphoricum, Echinacea Thuja from Uriel), herbs, teas, diet changes (low protein, honey, broth) are great.

Ideally we get over the cold having rested and detoxed or are active with the preventative measures of working at good habits and balance.

That’s the holistic viewpoint.

I come from the school of your body is your temple. You have to guard the door and be active to be the master of your domain.

Standard approach

The standard thought in medicine doesn’t so much have the same orientation. Colds and Flu are costly nuisances, to be eradicated if possible; there is a not a thought of the need to detoxify. Avoidance would be welcome. Think of all the work-hours they cost us, the economic model of existence says.

Scientists explore the impulse that more viruses could be avoided using vaccines. It turns out there’s a problem with common cold viruses. Systemic respiratory viruses like measles, mumps, rubella, small pox and chicken pox have characteristics that are well suited to passive immunization efforts. Without a vaccine, people get the disease only once and the body is immune. Vaccine programs connected to these pathogens have a high level of predictability. You get vaccinated, and you don’t get the illness.

This is not the case for the common cold which is caused by non-systemic respiratory viruses (mucosal respiratory viruses). RSV, COVID, and Flu are all in this category as well. Stimulating an effective immunity poses a challenge. These viruses act very differently.

“The non-systemic respiratory viruses such as influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2, and RSV tend to have significantly shorter incubation periods and rapid courses of viral replication. They replicate predominantly in local mucosal tissue, without causing viremia, and do not significantly encounter the systemic immune system or the full force of adaptive immune responses, which take at least 5–7 days to mature, usually well after the peak of viral replication and onward transmission to others.”

— Fauci paper in 1/2023

Just after he retired, in a scientific paper Dr. Fauci with a couple of colleagues laid out a need for alternative approaches for the non-systemic respiratory viruses, calling out the current ineffectiveness.

The paper notes infection from RSV, Flu or COVID does “not elicit complete and long-term protective immunity against reinfection,” and asks, “how can we expect vaccines, especially systemically administered non-replicating vaccines, to do so?”

Agreed, Tony (Holy Cross grad).


And the paper further notes, “The rates of effectiveness of our best approved influenza vaccines would be inadequate for licensure for most other vaccine-preventable diseases.” The notoriously underwhelming effectiveness of the flu vaccine has been using the same technique since the 1950s and struggling to be relevant with low levels of effectiveness and the need to get an annual shot. It’s considered unsatisfactory on many fronts.

“So what about the flu vaccine this year, doc? Give me the science.”

From the Cochrane review (top evidence-based guidance):

“Older adults receiving the influenza vaccine may have a lower risk of influenza (from 6% to 2.4%), and probably have a lower risk of Influenza like illness (ILI) compared with those who do not receive a vaccination over the course of a single influenza season (from 6% to 3.5%). We are uncertain how big a difference these vaccines will make across different seasons. Very few deaths occurred, and no data on hospitalization were reported. No cases of pneumonia occurred in one study that reported this outcome. We do not have enough information to assess harms relating to fever and nausea in this population.

The evidence for a lower risk of influenza and ILI with vaccination is limited by biases in the design or conduct of the studies. Lack of detail regarding the methods used to confirm the diagnosis of influenza limits the applicability of this result. The available evidence relating to complications is of poor quality, insufficient, or old and provides no clear guidance for public health regarding the safety, efficacy, or effectiveness of influenza vaccines for people aged 65 years or older. Society should invest in research on a new generation of influenza vaccines for the elderly.”

When you dive in, you are confronted everywhere with the aforementioned fact that Corona viruses, RSV, and influenza are fundamentally different from systemic respiratory viruses make it difficult to prevent with immunization. 

No one can fault you to focus on prevention and adequate rest and other treatment measures above as your number one priorities no matter what you decide on the vaccine.


COVID vaccines can also be considered in the category that is all too common for these non-systemic respiratory vaccines: not satisfactorily effective.

Trials show the chance of getting COVID and therefore the chance of being hospitalized is decreased but most trials had a short follow up. We now know protection only lasts 3 to 4 months. After protection wanes, there is evidence for increased likelihood of contracting COVID compared to pre-vaccinated state. Furthermore, with the current evidence we can only have confidence in the described safety for the short term.

Additionally, most trials were conducted before the emergence of variants of concern. Omicron variant, which started in 2022 and has persisted, has been a game-changer. With Omicron, COVID no longer has a strong affinity for the lungs. Besides, now that natural immunity is so wide spread, do the benefits stand? It’s a question without adequate study results.

Moreover, we learned vaccination does not prevent transmission. With a short window of action and with the current Omicron era, it becomes a pressing question if receiving the frequent vaccines required to see a immune benefit or continuing to spend our tax dollars on these (expensive) interventions has merit.

The general population knows of the uncertainty. The industry predicts only a 25% uptake of the new booster. As much as anything else this is all a function of how difficult it is to vaccinate against mucosal respiratory viruses.

Why keep trying and why so much emphasis on these efforts?

You have to know by now that these are by far the top grossing drugs in the history of the world. It is scientifically sound to understand this as a possible bias. For comparison, before the pandemic the top selling drugs were Humira, a immune modulator for inflammatory arthritis, amongst other things ($20 Billion in annual sales) and Keytruda a chemotherapy drug (making $17 Billion annually). Pfizer made $38 Billion in 2021 on its COVID vaccine and $55 Billion in 2022.

Richly rewarding limited effectiveness is what we’ve done. Do we want to continue?, is the question our governments face.

Grain of liability salt

The recommendations that everyone over 6 months get the new Covid shot is as much of an important liability exchange as it is a deep statement of what is best for everyone born out of understanding.

Since 1986 there is a liability shield for the drug companies if they produce a vaccine that becomes recommended by the main advisory boards. Companies can’t be sued for damages OR discovery for injuries that occur as a result of being injured by a vaccine. This gives a huge advantage for any product covered in this way. There is a government based system that handles people seeking damages.

For what it is worth, the government program has the reputation of being conservative with its rewards, and frustrating for people claiming injuries. Here are some recent stats I found.

CICP (one of the two gov’t department processing claims) data for COVID-19 claims (as of September 1, 2023)

CICP (one of the two gov’t department processing claims) data for COVID-19 claims (as of September 1, 2023)

Total COVID-19 CICP claims filed: 12,110

  • Pending Review or In Review: 10,949
  • Decisions: 1,161
    • Claims found eligible for compensation: 32
      • Claims compensated: 4

“Why are you so conservative with your medication advice, doctor?”

To answer this, I think it is important to note new concerns about DNA contamination with COVID vaccines.

Earlier this year, genomics expert Kevin McKernan first discovered DNA contamination in vials of Pfizer and Moderna’s bivalent booster shots.  He published his findings in a pre-print, but the research received little attention from the mainstream media.

Observing from afar was Phillip Buckhaults, a cancer genomics expert, and professor at the University of South Carolina. Initially, he dismissed McKernan’s findings as “conspiracy” and decided to debunk the work by carrying out his own testing on the mRNA vials.

But what Buckhaults discovered shocked him –> McKernan was right! Buckhaults found billions of tiny DNA fragments in Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, and recently testified about it before a South Carolina Senate hearing.”

— 9.22.23 from Demasi (journalist, work is often in BMJ — British Medical Journal)

DEMASI: What does it mean for vaccinated people that the vials are contaminated with DNA?

BUCKHAULTS: People will disagree on the magnitude of the risk. We do not yet know if it means anything or not.  There’s a chance that this DNA does nothing, but because I have a background in cancer genetics and cancer biology, somatic mutations are my expertise. And I think that there is a reasonable chance that if you inject pieces of DNA that are wrapped up in this transfection particle — the lipid nanoparticles — there is a reasonable chance that some of this is going to get into cells, and then integrate into the genome of cells. I think we should check and find out.

DEMASI: If it does get into the genome, what does it mean?

BUCKHAULTS: IF genome modification is happening, It’s just a matter of time before one of these fragments hits a tumour suppressor gene and initiates the beginning of cancer in a single stem cell. Also, there have been reports of myocarditis. I’m wondering if it’s possible that these little bits of DNA actually encode pieces of the spike protein…There’s a lot of open reading frames in these pieces of DNA that code for peptides that don’t belong in humans and are neo-antigens. And my concern is that some of these pieces of DNA could transform long lived stem cells in, maybe the myocardium, or pericardium, or maybe the liver, or lymph nodes… and now that tissue makes a long-lived expression of some neo-antigen that could be causing a long-term autoimmunity type response like myocarditis. So, they are the two things that immediately come to mind — the small possibility of cancers in people in the next five years down the road, or the possibility of autoimmunity from the production of these peptides.

DEMASI: Got it. Just so I’m clear, there haven’t actually been studies or evidence of integration into a person’s DNA? Am I correct?

BUCKHAULTS: No there is no evidence of genome modification, because, as far as I know, no one has looked.”

I’m conservative because nobody is going to EVER withdraw vitamin C, zinc, and herbs from the market. They are not without risk, but they are known entities. Prevention with an anti-inflammatory diet and exercise will NEVER be “re-thought”. You can’t say the same about medications, which is why I move cautiously with them. I have seen several cases of autoimmune illness flares after the COVID shots, for example. Cardiovascular inflammation has been described in several studies. I have seen cardiovascular events in proximity to vaccination. It’s impossible to say anything without adequate longer term studies. I think it’s safe to say that the safety profile has yet to be fully established.


New vaccines against RSV have been recently approved for people over 60. (Other products being introduced for newborns and for pregnant mothers have been approved as well but are not discussed here).

RSV is not an emerging Illness nor is it surging. It has been here.

“RSV is a common cause of respiratory illness in infants and young children, as well as older adults.”

“For most healthy adults, an RSV infection is nothing more than mild cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and cough.”

— Webmd

It mainly spreads in the United States from the late fall to the early spring. Any infectious disease has a spectrum of how it manifests from unnoticeable to severe. Like with most respiratory infections, often it is mild, even unnoticeable. A major determining factor depends on the state of the infected host at the time of the infection.

“Each season, RSV causes substantial morbidity and mortality in older adults, including lower respiratory tract disease, hospitalization, and death.” (CDC)
There are an estimated to be a minimum 60,000 hospitalizations and 6,000 deaths annually with RSV as a contributor among adults ages 65 years and older. (CDC data). These hospitalizations and deaths are generally known to be in people with other significant illness. This population is the expected target for the vaccine. The actual numbers aren’t well established because we haven’t traditionally tested for or tracked RSV.

Due to the earliness of the campaign it is currently not recommended, just approved as an option.

Side effects

“Serious neurologic events, including Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and other inflammatory neurologic events, were reported after RSV vaccination in clinical trials. Whether these events occurred due to chance or whether RSV vaccination increases the risk for inflammatory neurologic events is currently unknown. Until additional evidence is available to clarify the risk of inflammatory neurologic events after vaccination, RSV vaccination in older adults should be directed to those who are at highest risk for severe RSV disease and therefore most likely to benefit from vaccination.”

The pharmacology department at my medical school taught me to be slow to adopt anything new. No one is expecting broad uptake of this vaccine. We have established that mucosal respiratory viruses are difficult targets. Attempts at RSV vaccines before this have had a suboptimal track record.

We are all in search of thorough solutions and want to be wary of going all-in relying on technology that doesn’t have the track record or address the full spectrum of what it is replacing. Shame on us if we don’t realize the vaccines are only a part of the autumn plan menu. We should not forget that the body needs to detox to prevent other illnesses, and to be in support of those efforts should be our primary effort, aided by passive immunization when the data supports it.

Here’s to your temple and your ongoing efforts to treat it with loving care!