Full Measure

Full Measure

At any given moment within the body, there are millions and millions of reactions-circuits switching on and off.  The system operates on a simple premise:  action/reaction. Consider then, the body's response to something like a car accident; the stimulus (concussive forces passing through the body) requiring an appropriate and complete response.  Neurological studies indicate that areas "switched on" by trauma may stay active for some time after that initial event, and in some cases remain on indefinitely leading to stress-related disorders.  Simply put, there is the ping without the pong on a giant scale.


There are many approaches to treating trauma and its effects, but they all depend on one factor:  appreciating the fact that this need exists.  Chiropractic  and other body-centered therapies address the issue, as do meditation, relaxation techniques and systems that are trauma-specific, such as EMDR and EFT to name only a few.  


In the course of life we all accumulate a little damage, a little rust.  Appreciating that the body is tirelessly working to come to grips with all of this is to help it regain full measure.



Coffee: Friend or Foe?


There's really nothing like a good cuppa joe.  Even better, studies indicate that coffee has many health benefits due to its antioxidant qualities.  The literature suggests that one to six cupsper day may decrease our chances of developing diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and some cancers.  So, let's get to drinking, right?

At the expense of sounding like the proverbial scold, I'd like to suggest we just hold on one minute.  I'm all for scientific inquiry, but if you've been to a Starbucks in the early a.m., you know full well that underneath those pleasant smiles lurks an urgency saying, "Get between me and my venti and I'm taking your down!"  If you don't believe me, try a little experiment:  Lure a half dozen customers to the inside of a coffee joint and lock the door.  Video and interpret the responses from the people who cannot get in.  Look slightly rabid?  "Frustrated" would be an understatement.

So, on the one hand we have these positive studies and on the other, real time.  Road rage?  Forget the alcohol levels, check the caffeine.  Blazing, flu-like headaches experienced when quitting coffee?  We'll just avoid stopping.  How about trouble sleeping?  "I only have one or two cups in the morning."

What to do?  First, some people are actually allergic to coffee and it may be possible to desensitize  oneself.  Second, liver and adrenal function have a lot to do with how the body responds to caffeine.  Speak with me on what will help with these issues.

The truth is, some people are fine with caffeine, but if you are irritable, sleepless, headachy or in a world of hurt should you stop drinking coffee, you can't handle the truth.  All said, a little bit of discomfort may be worth it.  If not, put down that cuppa joe and walk away slowly!


The Innate

Last summer I began to have some painful symptoms that did not go away.  The first thing I did was go to the lab and have a blood panel done which revealed some problem areas.  I checked in with my primary, Dr. Tushla, for a consultation, made appointments with my chiropractor, Dr. Bowerman, and with my acupuncturist, Steven Chen.

Over the period of the last few months, the symptoms have abated and my blood has returned to normal.  For this, and for my health care team, I am grateful.

The real hero, however, is the innate intelligence of the body to heal.  In chiropractic, we have a saying:  "The power that made the body heals the body."  Our ongoing quest as practitioners of the healing arts is to unlock the mysteries of how nature expresses itself and find ways of working with her.  That is also innate.

~Dr. John

At the End of the Day

At the End of the Day

Overwhelmed and perhaps unappreciated, we go about our busy day.  A lot of energy goes out with little time for its return.  You might say we are operating at a deficit; in physiological terms, this is referred to as cortisol dominance, or chronic stress. This hormone (actually, some forty different types) signals the body to be ready for anything at any time.  Such comes with a cost, though, as vital reserves are used up.


What to do?  I find the following practice especially helpful:  Each evening before bed, draw a map of your community - all the people that have been in your world that day.  Start with a small circle about the size of a quarter, and write your initial inside it.  Working clockwise, add more circles representing your community, with their initials inside each.  As you go, gently breathe in and out.  When you have added everyone, draw a symbol of connectedness at the center ( spiral, cross, star, whatever you like).  Then, imagine that you are all actually together in the room, acknowledging each person as the energy from the center fills the larger circle, cleansing and vitalizing all.  Remain for a moment and let the grace of your world fill you, repair you, and bless you.


Enjoy your week ~


Dr. John

Body Speak ~

Body Speak

Our bodies speak in countless ways. From the more obvious use of spoken language, to the subtle feelings and emotions that emerge through gesture, we express ourselves.  One of the least discussed, yet most important languages, is posture.


Peruse your favorite comic for a moment.  Notice how much of the cartoon's expression is through exaggerated  posture.  From the puffed-up chest of pride to the hangdog slump of depression, a good cartoonist uses the language of posture to get his or her message across.


An interesting element of posture is how it loops with emotions and feelings.  Fatigue and sadness introduce a slumping, shoulders and head forward.  Anger encourages a leaping to the feet, hands clenched.  Joy creates a sense of lightness,  an ebullience.  Every single feeling has a postural component.


The posture then loops back into the feeling.  When one is tired or sad and slumping, that posture neurologically creates more fatigue and sadness.  If one jumps up in anger, the body goes into fight or flight patterns and the anger grows. When one feels joyful, expressing it in expansive gestures or laughter creates more joy.


Physio-synthesis was created as a postural technique of physical correction.  It works with pain and chronicity, inflammation and illness.  After many years teaching and practicing this work, I cannot emphasize enough how effective it is  with balancing emotions as well.


With growing postural strength and awareness comes a sense of evenness.  By practicing balance, one can catch thosethose less-than-desirable emotions, and gently rewire them.  By correcting the accompanying unhealthy postures, we can actually assist in our profound sense of well being.  Amazing, really, that we can be so gracious with ourselves by standing tall from the inside out.


Who knew that balanced posture could make you feel so much better?


Your grandmother was right.



Sniffles Soup


Here are the holidays, once again (what...already?)  We are seeing a lot of colds and sniffles in the practice this month.  Here is a dilly of a soup to help get you through.  It's easy, delicious, and can make a whole lot of difference in how you feel.  Heck, I love it anytime.

Chicken, Dill and Lemon Soup

  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 3 (or more) cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups packed baby spinach
  • 3 tbs. fresh dill, chopped
  • finely grated zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbs. (or more) fresh lemon juice

Heat the oil in a big pot over medium-high heat.  Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and saute gently until onions are soft, 4 to 6 minutes.  Add broth, chicken, bay leaves, and thyme.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer about half an hour, until the chicken is cooked through.

Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs.  Add spinach, dill, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir to wilt the spinach.

I like to add more garlic and lemon to this recipe. I encourage you to play with your food!

Serves 8. (Or 4 really hungry people.)


















This past week has been a busy one at our office.  The holidays are upon us, the carbs abound, and family stress patterns are amplified.  Business as usual.  In the course of the day, we may discuss whether it might be better to eliminate dairy, un-invite a troublesome family member to dinner, or ask a boss for a raise.  We might explore whether the manipulation is working to reduce that stubborn case of sciatica, indigestion or migraines.  The emphasis is always on one question, though:  "How are you?"  This is not meant to be rhetorical as it invites us to identify specific stressors which are directly influencing each person't sense of well being.  These are often physical, such as sitting at a computer too long or eating inflammatory foods.  Sometimes, they may be emotionally based as int he case of an overbearing boss threatening the loss of employment.  This week has been different, though, with many feeling overwhelmed, angry, and helpless in the face of events in San Bernaradino.

As I have shared in past articles, one of the ways we identify a specific concern is the use of the Chinese Five Element Theory.  In that approach, each element tells a story.  For example, the Metal Element is associated with the lung and large intestine, and has an emotional connection to grief and loss.  At this time of year, it is not uncommon for people to feel a sense of sadness over loved ones who will not be here this holiday, or perhaps some regret about living another year without accomplishing what we might have hoped.  That's what I expected to find when testing Monica (not her real name) and finding an active lung point.

It soon became clear, though, that what was profoundly bothering her were the shootings.  She described feelings of deep loss and helplessness and was worried about the world she was raising her daughters in.  To be honest, without sugarcoating the issue, there was little I could offer except the series of acupuncture points used to balance this meridian.  As I finished working on those, I remembered a workshop given at Word and Life in Santa Barbara by Dr. David Richo, a psychologist and former Catholic priest.  During the presentation, he spoke of the Sacred Heart of the Universe and that it is found in world traditions to describe the principles of compassion, wisdom and healing innate in each of us.

When he opened the floor to questions or comments, I shared that, while driving up to the workshop, there had been a program on the radio telling the story of a group of elite Israeli soldiers who were sworn to avenge crimes committed against the Jewish people. They carried out a number of executions over a period of time, starting after WWII.  I asked Dr. Richo if he felt these men were justified in their actions.  He answered that this was the old code, the caveman model.  At the time, that answer was not very satisfying to me; after all, I had grown up with a father who'd been a marine in the Pacific in WWII.  But, while talking with Monica, another perspective arose.

Monica is a social worker who serves in the public school system.  She works with kids who are often raised in a hopeless environment.  To state that these are "at risk" kids is an understatement and Monica, more than most of us, has a day in, day out, front row seat to a world that threatens to go up in flames if there are not a few strong souls caring enough to do something about it.  That does not mean they can fix it; it does mean they are committed to the possibility of something better.  So, it was out of this shared dialogue with Monica that I could see the greater truth lying within us.  

We must place in our hearts the intent to first be people of peace, we must look in the mirror each morning and ask ourselves, "Can I, will I, be a person of peace today?"  In this way, each person that we meet is offered an invitation to feel included, accepted.  There is no lack of opportunity to practice being a person of peace ~ the checkout line, the freeway, office, at home, even in dealings with ourselves, all offer openings for kindness.

Can we change what happened in San Bernardino?  We all feel helpless and saddened. It is not possible to feel otherwise.  Tomorrow,though, when I look in the mirror as I always do, I will remember Monica and ask myself, "Am I going to be a person of peace today?"

~Dr. John



The Control Panel

The beauty of chiropractic lives in the idea that by restoring the flow of energy moving throughout the body, a normal sense of well being is promoted.  In this state, we are able to express our own unique design.  You can see that this model, what we call "the big picture," includes a person's whole life experience. 

The question arises:  How can we help each other become more fully alive?  I think we can do this in many ways.  In our  office, we borrow from many sources, including the Five Element Theory of Chinese Medicine.  In this design, meridians are used to evaluate areas of imbalance and various practices are recommended to restore integrity.  For example, the liver and gallbladder are associated with the Wood Element.  The emotional component of Wood is anger and resentment, and the practice used to balance this (the Virtue) is forgiveness.  The practice of forgiveness works to reshape deeply seated feelings of helplessness and victimization, thereby reducing chronically elevated levels of cortisol and other inflammatory chemicals that contribute to pain and degeneration.  We can then powerfully influence our way of experiencing ourselves, others, and our world.  This is our built-in control panel.


Sad hearts.  Our gathering on Saturday in the aftermath of the Lebanon and Paris attacks was filled with grief.  A quiet, deep sense of helplessness, hopelessness, and frustration was shared by all.  Here we were at a class on the benefits of practicing gratitude.  Why bother?


In that shared experience, we were able to see that while it is important to be grateful for what we have, it is essential that we appreciate the gift of our own being. This is the one thing that all of creation shares, human and otherwise, and it allows us to stand with those who have lost so much, not against those who have committed injustice, but rather as fellow human beings.


This morning when I went out to the car, I saw a large white bird pecking for bugs across the street.  At first it appeared to be a small gull, but soon it became clear that it was a very large white dove.  She seemed determined to put on a show as she calmly staked out her space and continued to eat.  As a car came down the street, she took off, deftly circling and weaving through the oaks, then alighting to finish her meal.  Soon thereafter, the sky continued to darken and a light rain ensued.


By coming together last night, we ritualized what our ancestors have done since before memory; we gathered to comfort each other in our time of need and to extend our compassion and caring to those who now need it most.  For this I am grateful.

Physio-synthesis: What's In A Name?

Physio-synthesis is a strange name, I know.  Created back in 1937, it was defined as:

"A name chosen to define a method of applying the laws of physics to the human body.

This method is made effective by training and developing the muscular and ligamentous systems in the inherent functions of coordinated movement and synchronized passivity in such a manner as to enable the body, in action or at rest, to maintain a proper relationship to the law of gravitation." ~ Dr. Amy Cochran

Okay.  How would we translate that to our present century and language?  After many years of teaching and developing in this technique, I would offer this:

"Physio-synthesis is a postural technique which, when learned and practiced over time, enables one to be properly aligned whether moving or at rest."

I hope this is a bit easier to understand!

Why Is Posture Important, Anyway?

Most of my clients find me as a result of physical pain.  Not many people seek out a practitioner for better posture,often equating it with old memories of throwing shoulders back and chins out in gym class.  However, posture is everything, especially noticeable when one hurts.

We are an organic system composed of bones, ligaments, connective tissue, and lots of muscles. As long as we draw breath, we are changing.  It is our job to encourage growth and vitality rather than become stunted and exhausted over the years.

We have the innate ability to correct even lifelong patterns of imbalance in posture.  We suffer when our structure is out of balance.  Sadly, the misalignment usually worsens with time, as does the pain, unless correction is introduced.


Why This Technique?

There is a plethora of exercise and disciplines designed to create sexy, defined outer musculature.  But, what about those muscles lying underneath?

These are small, quiet, easily ignored muscles.  They are responsible for one's sense of balance, energy, and deep alignment.  We've all seen what happens over time when the deepermusculature is ignored:  Slumping, shuffling, pain, leaning, stiffness, oh, you name it.  We can, in fact, live much healthier lives and physio-synthesis is in that mix.

We now know that our mental/emotional state is intimately connected to our physical state, with the one influencing the other in a continual loop.  When we feel tired and worn out, slumping and grumpy, our posture reflects this.  When we feel angry and inflamed, our posture reflects this.  By training ourselves in deep strengthening and alignment, we can positively influence these feelings.  Just as it's more difficult to be sad when smiling, it is much harder to be miserable when posture is creating a sense of well-being.

Come on In!

So, let's recap:  Strength and balance regained.  Pain addressed.  Emotional and mental status more positive.

I invite you to give me a call!


Put Your Fears to Rest

I thought I'd revisit a subject that comes up in chiropractic offices now and then.  Let's clear the air about osseous adjusting:

A scary conversation revolves around the potential for strokes as a result of cervical, or neck, adjusting. A remote possibility of creating an arterial tear that could cause blood clotting and stroke is at the root of the concern.

Interestingly, I did dig up some numbers to illustrate the actual statistical danger of cervical adjusting.  For your consideration, there is the potential for a stroke-related death resulting from cervical adjusting of 1 in 1 million people.  What about other approaches to neck pain?

Stroke-related deaths from NSAIDS (nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen) = 153 per 1 million people.

Stroke-related deaths from narcotic drugs = 53 per 1 million people.

Stroke-related deaths from cervical spinal surgery = 500 deaths per 1 million people.

Kind of amazing numbers, aren't they?  I won't belabor the point, but I will say this:  It is very clear that chiropractic is nothing to be scared of.

The Spirituality of Healing

The essential tenet of chiropractic is Innate Intelligence.  What this means is that the urge to heal resides in all sentient beings. As chiropractors, our primary focus is on the removal of blockages along the spine that impede the flow of this intelligence throughout the body. In turn, the universal energy field (the world outside the body) flows freely through the body's intelligence like breath through a flute. This ensures that the evolutionary process encoded into each person can be fully realized.  Such is the spiritual dimension of healing.

We can look at life as a series of cycles.  One model connects birth/spring, childhood/summer, adulthood/fall and old age/winter. Looking at this, we can easily appreciate that nature sustains us for a period of time, and then we return "from whence we came." During our lives, we lobby for good health and a long lifetime, sometimes having to rely on the good graces of genes to carry us through and sometimes needing the skilled services of modern medical personnel. It's all the same thing, though ~ the desire that this life be preserved in good stead for a long as possible.

Since we are an expression of the universe (a wave) within the greater universe as a whole (the ocean), it is important to consider our place in it all. What kind of wave am I? Again, this is the spiritual direction of healing in that it is a mystery, with unknown origins. Within this is the intelligence that created life and is working through it. Human consciousness is imbued with the potential to interact with our deeper design and work with that to heal ourselves and others. The recognition that we are not separate from the source o all things and are, at the deepest part of ourselves the same as this vast mystery, speaks to the spiritual aspect of healing: we are a part of a whole that wants us to  join in its wholeness and express the gifts  that are unique to our place in it.

Why the World Needs Chiropractic

   The world needs chiropractic today because it needs men and women who offer an alternative to drugs and surgery.  In the past, the world needed practitioners who were willing to fight and even go to jail for the right to practice conservative approaches to health care.  Today's revolution in health care has been carried on the shoulders of those people.

   The world needs chiropractic  because bodies need to be touched, bones repositioned, and muscles relaxed. The world needs chiropractic because it needs doctors who witness and chart the day to day miracles that simple non-invasive approaches to health problems can yield.  Without this, who would remember such healing is possible?  The world needs chiropractic because it needs practitioners who can remind us that lifestyle changes can come first, with conservative interventions second, and drugs or surgery third.  Without those practitioners to remind us of that, where would we be?

   The world needs chiropractic because it is sane.  If a patient has been prescribed a course of treatment including pharmaceuticals (with their side effects) or surgery, and the chiropractor recommends a more conservative approach with a positive outcome, that patient has been brought into a whole new level of self-empowerment.  He now recognizes he can maintain a level of wellness through his own lifestyle choices.

   The world needs chiropractic because it needs doctors networking with other health care practitioners who believe that less is more, that "First, do no harm" is still...first.

   Finally, the world needs chiropractic because, as long as there are nerves, bones, joints and muscles, there will be a need for people skilled in helping them function optimally.  As one of the oldest forms of healing, there has always been the need for such an approach, and there always will be.

Dig This, Grasshopper


In an article in the L.A. Times, a group of researchers at Yale University were reported to have uncovered some unique characteristics exhibited in stress responses in grasshoppers.  It turns out that when these little hoppers are stressed, they turn to their own form of junk food much like we humans.

In an experiment worthy of any bug-obsessed kid, the scientists glued the mouth of the predator spiders shut and placed them in the neighborhood of the grasshoppers.  Over time, the stressed hoppers turned away from eating grass (high protein) and toward goldenrods (carbs).  In the end, the grasshoppers' remains were ground up and allowed to break down in soil.  Normally, the chemical components of bugs and other microorganisms contribute significantly to the breakdown of grasses and other vegetable matter.  The stressed bugs' bodies were markedly ineffective in supporting this process.

For Us Humans

Sugar, sugar, sugar.  Salt, salt, salt.  Fat, fat, fat.  These are a few of my faaaavorite things.  We can see by this study that the craving for stimulating food is fairly typical behavior, even for bugs!  A simple directive to lean toward protein, and away from carbs, helps to stabilize the roller-coaster ride that is the stress cycle.

So, remember:  When you are stressed out, think of those poor grasshoppers and have a little protein instead of that cookie.

Your Soda or Your Life


A research study was published in 2012 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine which looked at a very important health concern:  The possible association between  soft drinks and combined vascular events, including heart attacks and strokes.

This was an important study as it was the first done examining the possible association between diet sodas and vascular events.  The negative effects of sugared soft drinks are well-documented, and this new study was very enlightening.

Over several years, the researchers followed participants, controlling for their ages, genders, race/ethnicity, education, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, BMI, daily caloric intake, specific foods....basically, everything they could think of potentially affecting the study's outcome.

By the study's conclusion, several key points became clear:

  • While previous research had pointed to an association between sugared sodas and Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, it is interesting to note that no connection to vascular events with regular sodas became evident (unless, of course, one considers the trajectory of insulin resistance and its connection to heart disease).
  • While artificially sweetened sodas are marketed as healthier choices because of few calories, studies suggest they may also be associated with diabetes, metabolic syndrome and, now, heart attacks and stroke.
  • Those participants drinking diet sodas daily were at an increased risk of 43% for a vascular event, compared to those not drinking sodas.
  • Daily consumption of diet sodas was found to increase risk for heart attack to 66% compared to those not drinking diet beverages. (The greatest health risk  from drinking diet beverages was heart attack.)
  • After excluding all participants who were obese or had a history of diabetes or metabolic syndrome, there was a57% increased risk of a vascular event drinking regular sodas daily and a 59% increased risk drinking diet sodas daily. ( Even if healthier, people face serious risks ingesting these beverages.)
  • Diet sodas are significantly associated with elevated blood glucose, increased waist circumference, and metabolic syndrome. (Ironic,  since many people drink diet beverages to avoid these problems.)
  • The caramel coloring in any type of soda is associated with inflammation. 

Probably no one of common sense believes that sugar-sweetened sodas are a healthy choice.  This study supports previous research and adds the important distinction that diet sodas, drunk regularly, greatly increase the risks for heart attacks and strokes to a long list of unfortunate effects.   


No kidding, your soda or your life. Choose your summer beverages wisely and reap the happy results.  

Life Is Good ~ Post-Surgery

It has been a while since any new writing, I admit.  In May, I had to undergo ten hours of surgery to revise (for the 6th and 7th times) my left hip.  I had a great surgical team, a great hospital and a great physical therapy experience.  Then, happily, I went home.

Having been through this a total of nine times now (yes, the right hip is iffy, too), I knew the Gray Days would hit.  These are the days or weeks of feeling tired, spaced out, generally toasted and just plain done.  The hospital days, and the first few days home, call up one's inner fortitude and sense of humor, and the happy drugs don't hurt, either.  Eventually, though, the boring and painful part hits and one needs tools.

Mindfulness.  I am thrilled to see so much written and talked about these days around this tool, this lifestyle.  I tend to get hooked into the negative when in pain, and mindfulness practices are just the ticket for this.  There are countless excellent practices.  The one I found most helpful this time around was simply allowing whatever feeling was distracting me.  If it was a sense of anxiety about the end result, I would breathe and allow that feeling.  If it was a nagging pain, I would ice the area and breathe with the feeling.  

These ideas can sound, well, trite.  They are, in fact, powerful tools.  Thich Nhat Hanh instructs us to honor feelings, to be generous and tender with ourselves.  I don't think most of us are too familiar with that idea!  Get over it, be a grownup, quit whining are more to the point for many as a result of our training and resultant inner voice.  We can change that.

By simply allowing feelings to arise, to be gentle and watch them, I could feel the discomfort and angst melt away.  Slowly but surely, melt away. Energy returns, a sense of focus and of peace.  Growth is back in the room.

Happily, I am back at LifeWorks!, still working on my healing, my ability to walk properly again. I am enjoying work, sharing the physio-synthesis technique which has saved my life over and over again.  Great stuff, that.

Life is good.  Be mindful of it.



A few years ago now, I had the opportunity to help facilitate a workshop at the Providence Regional Cancer Partnership in Everett, Washington.  My daughter-in-law, Jessica, was an intern in the art therapy program at Antioch College in Seattle and was assigned to a group at the center.  Jess was familiar with the various gatherings that we have created in our clinic in Sierra Madre and wondered if it would be possible to put together a life mask workshop for the cancer group.  I soon found myself standing in the center's conference room with twenty attentive faces turned toward me.

The Role of Art in Healing

Numerous clinical trials support the idea that creativity is a powerful factor in the maintenance of health.  In the treatment of cancer, it has been used in a number of ways to lift spirits by bringing people together.  The overall effect of community has physical as well as mental/emotional healing value.  In the process of creating something, the patient is transported to a state of awareness which is less focused on the difficult realities of his or her condition.  Survival rates and the quality of life both improve.

The Human Factor

Initially, I was prepared for a room full of depressed people with very little to show up for.  Instead, it was quite the opposite.  If anything, it was hard to get them to stop wisecracking and listen to the intro.  As they went around the room and updated each other on the latest news, there was a common thread of support, connection, and empathy.

The life mask process can be a little messy, both physically and emotionally.  A little vaseline along the hairline, eyebrows and eyelashes is most important, avoiding impromptu and inadvertent waxings.  Covering the face and eyes, nose and mouth causes some people to become anxious (yes, we do leave nostril openings!)  It calls for cooperation, a gentle hand, and a lot of trust.

At the workshop's conclusion, there was a table full of masks all depicting the unique features of their owners.  Come the next gathering, they would be painted, beaded, spangled, decoupaged, sprinkled, emblazoned, engraved and who-knows-what by a bunch of folks that knew well what we all must come to know in time.  As I witnessed these people, Stephen Levine's book, "A Year to Live," came to mind.  The following is from this wonderful book:

"May all beings live with death over their left shoulder and kindness in the center of their heart."

"May all beings be free of suffering.  May all beings know the great good fortune of their great nature."

"May all beings be at peace."

~Dr. John


Love Your Vegetables

I doubt there is any matter more important to human health than the food we eat.  We can eat mindfully and enliven our emotional and physical health, or we can simply eat what we catch on the fly and hope we don't feel terrible at day's end.  We can choose to feed our bodies well, or  leave it to fate.

And vegetables?   Even in these more enlightened days, many people just ignore them.  There are fewer foods more important, more enjoyable than fresh vegetables, and I think it's time we gave them their due.

But, what do you DO with them?  Oh, I do understand.  It can become one big boring chore to eat another mound of too-steamed broccoli with lemon.  Phooey. I am 'way too busy to worry about this right now.

John and I travel 150 miles each day we go to work.  This was becoming a problem as we got more tired and less organized.  Before we knew it, we were either eating out or slapping together something at home that wasn't particularly tantalizing and often too heavy to eat that late in the evening.

Vegetables to the rescue!  These are not simply something to overcook and plunk down next to the good stuff. They are the delicious salads that can be taken to work, the light evening meal, the wonderful pot luck dishes we can feel good about.  They are easy and they love us.  I'm out to invite people to enjoy these denigrated citizens of the food world.

This week:  What do I put ON Vegetables???

One of my favorite ways to eat veggies is to steam them up, or roast them when I have time, and drizzle a wonderful sauce or dressing on them.  Let's start with two:

Sunflower Pesto ~

1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped 

1/3 cup good extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch of freshly ground pepper

2 pack cups of fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In your food processor, pulse the sunflower seeds and garlic until they are nice and crumbly.  Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, basil and Parmesan, if you are using it (it is quite delicious without the cheese as well).  Whirl until smooth.  You  can  cover and refrigerate or even freeze the leftover pesto.

Yield:  About 1 cup

Don't just save this one for pasta.  It is absolutely delicious on hot vegetable soup, dolloped on a roasted sweet potato or a pile of string beans or most any other green vegetable.  

Lemon Tahini Dressing ~

1/2 cup tahini

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar (red wine is very mellow in flavor)

1 or 2 minced garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

ground black pepper 

1 teaspoon ground cumin, if you like cumin

In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients until smooth.  Let the dressing sit at least fifteen or twenty minutes to marry the flavors.  Refrigerate, tightly covered.

Yield:  1 1/4 cups

Oh, this is good.  It can be used as a salad dressing, of course, but also shines drizzled over any green vegetables.

These recipes come from my collection of Moosewood cookbooks.  Look online for more, especially the vegetariantimes.com site.

I hope you will try these, and many other vegetable sauces on.  It's spring, and the farmers markets are stacked high with produce begging to be relished!  Enjoy!

At Thirty-six.


This is the thirty-sixth year of practice for me and I thought a few sharings would be in order.  First  of all,  I have had the support of my wife, Cathlyne, for forty-four years.  She worked to put me through school, lent a hand in the office, and ultimately provided serious backup as a physio-synthesis practitioner to help those in need of deep postural training.  It is her great sense of humor and gently feminine spirit that has helped keep my heart and practice on an even keel.

Secondly, what comes to mind is that I know less now than when I started practice.  This may come from a simple observation:  Do just what is needed and more will be accomplished.  I remember very clearly an experience from when I'd been in practice for about ten years.  I had a number of helpful modalities used for pain control and, on this particular visit, was using them all on my patient.  There were hot and cold packs, a muscle stim, the ultrasound, and the acupuncture point finder.  When I asked him how he was feeling, he said, "It still hurts!"  What to do?  I gradually began to reduce his dependency on the equipment and returned to simple manipulation; in time, he improved.  I sold all my equipment in the next year and began to rely on the patient's own healing wisdom to provide the resolution.  I began to ask myself the simple question, "What is keeping this person from being well?"

Thirdly, I'm pretty sure that who we are contributes significantly to how well we are.  I have met a number of extremely healthy people who are not well.  Sounds strange, I know.  Thing is, some of our models of wellness are not conducive to real health because they do not suit the individual.  I would say that a good ninety percent of the time, I am talking people out of doing something they think is good for them, even if it only amounts to fine tuning their gym workout.  By tweaking some things here and there, the blessed experience of self-awareness is allowed to surface.

Fourth.  I'm a big fan of the perfection of things.  Even the most "unhealthy" individual is doing the best he can with what he's got.  As many of you may remember, I was a huge fan of heroic makeovers with two-week juice fasts and vegan regimes for life.  Such things are fine, of course, yet for many people it is just one more thing to live up to.  Additionally, a "one size fits all" program may be unhealthy for some.  There is a tremendous power in self acceptance, in being whole and complete right now.  Imagine all the energy wasted in "someday."

Fifth. I have it on good authority that you are going to die sooner or later.  I may not, but one thing is for sure, I have seen other people do it!  In that light, perhaps a good part of the day should be spent in living.  There is a line on the office intake form that asks, "When was the last time you really felt good?"  Almost everyone puts down some kind of wisecrack, and I'm thinking that it should be changed to, "When was the last time you felt?"

And, last.  Self awareness promotes healing; okay, it is the essence of healing.  Making the connection between sensations in the body and what we are thinking, doing, feeling, and being changes the picture and our lives.


That's where I am at "thirty-six."