Archive for Books

Dharma Punx by Noah Levine

This was my latest book.  The most unique part is I have attended a few of the meditation sessions LA and I bought the book directly from Noah and his organization.  The first time I went, Noah was there, but 2 other people led the meditation and dharma talk.  I hadn’t read his book yet and I was too nervous to speak to him.  Then this week he wasn’t there.  Booo, (learning to accept the way things are and not wanting then to be different).  I’m looking forward to hearing him talk.  I’ve listened to some of his talks online (againstthestream), but it’s different in person.  The few things he said the first week I went resonated with me deeply even though they were just “house keeping” words.  He has a profound quality of beingness and humility.  Now that I’ve read his book (Dharma Punx) I…I…I’m not sure what I’d say to him.  His book was amazing.  The writing itself was relatively immature, but the content more than made up for it.  I bought 2 more copies this week to give to friends and family.  The book is his memoir of growing up in pain, wanting to die since age 5 and then discovering drugs, alcohol and punk rock as ways to kill the pain and let out his aggression.  Amazingly, he was able to turn himself around, starting at 17yo.  His efforts are so sincere and his emotions are so raw, I cried numerous times while reading the book.  Now he’s a psychological, Buddhist counselor and I believe he’s still working with inmates.  It will be an honor to meet him.

I’ll be in the LA area for 2 more weekends.  My sister will be here the last weekend and if I still haven’t spoken to him, she coming with me!!

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Residency, sights and authors, Oh my!!

It is confirmed.  I matched to do my residency in Neuromuscular Medicine (a euphemism for Osteopathic manipulation) in Southampton!!  I think I might take up surfing…

It has been raining for 4 days here in southern California and this afternoon the sun came out and I saw snow on the distant mountains.  As corny as this sounds, it was one of the most spectacular scenes I’ve ever seen!

I saw 2 authors in person this weekend.  One was Noah Levine, the founder of Dharma Punx, an American Buddhist Society that arose out of the punk rock era.  It is also the name of his first book.  I bought the book and hope to have it autographed before I leave LA, preferably after I read it!  Secondly, I saw Eric Pearl, DC who wrote “The Reconnection”.  I read this book about 2 years ago.  He was a good, grounded and funny speaker, even if I’m still a little skeptical…He presents some bizarre concepts.  I’m neither completely turned off by him nor am I jumping on his band wagon with both feet.  I need to do some experimenting.

Conflicted

I’ve listened to “The Art of Happiness” at least 6-7 times now. It’s an audio book written by a western psychiatrist who is trying to relay the Dalai Lama’s wisdom to a western society in order to help people be happier. I could quote numerous stories or pearls of wisdom from the book, but I (myself) can’t seem to live up to these great words of wisdom. It makes me so happy to hear the Dalai Lama speak. I love his expressions, insights and hearing how people react to him (open up, feel inspired, etc), however, listening to him in and of itself is not going to change me. Ironically, I desire to listen to him and when I can’t, I suffer, which is exactly what he is teaching his audience NOT to do. He teaches desire as the root of our suffering. I know my next step is to start meditating and experiencing my higher self and understand universal truth, but I’m resistant, I’m lazy and now I’m grumpy. Hrumph!

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change those I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Yoga and Brits

One of the general surgeons I work for is one of the nicest people I know.  He is so gracious and polite, even to the obnoxious nurse that everyone else ignores.  He recently moved to the States from Britain and that may partially explain his congeniality, but he speaks of some of the surgeons in England who are complete asses, as one would expect from a surgeon.  He makes me feel guilty for being judgmental/critical.  Unfortunately this a is a part of who I am and although I know it is not something to be proud of, it is what has helped me in my pursuit of various scientific degrees.  However, I see the healing effect that this surgeon has on the patients, nurses, students and other doctors and it is humbling.

I started reading a book dissecting the different types of yogas.  The yoga we are most familiar with is Hatha yoga, where people use exercise to separate soul from mind/matter and connect with the greater Oversoul.  However, all forms of yoga are various ways to attain this goal and they just use different means to get there.  I’ll write more as I learn more.  I’m learning a lot of new vocabulary, so the information is not sticking as well as I would like, hence I will write interesting tidbits as they come up.

“The Audacity of Hope” by Barack Obama

I know that the democratic nomination is getting out of hand with Hillary and Barack jockeying for the upper hand. As far as I’m concerned Barack Obama is the most amazing presidential candidate I can remember. I’ve never liked politics or history. I was inspired to buy his book last summer and read about half of it. I was impressed with his knowledge of history and his admiration for the constitution. He really is a beacon of hope. I often feel so despaired by our country’s lack of integrity that I forget to see what an amazing place it is. Barack is able to kindle hope in people.

I put down his book once I started rotations because I was busy adjusting to my new life on the wards, and I was also a bit discourage by people who didn’t believe he would be a viable candidate due to his color, age and lack of political experience. Now that he is technically in the lead, I picked up his book again. It brings me to tears to see how intelligent he is, seeing the trees as well as the forest, understanding individual struggles and how government policies affect people, corporations and foreign alliances. He has the humility to admit his own faults while striving to do his best. He is an inspiration and I pray he becomes our democratic nominate and wins the general election. He could change this country and how other countries view us.

“Reconnection” by Dr. Eric Pearl, DC

Dr. Pearl is a doctor of Chiropractics whose practice takes a turn for the weird when his patients start channeling strange voices and receiving miraculous healings.  Most of the book deals with Dr. Pearl’s experiences and trying to figure out what was going on.  It is a little strange, especially when they start talking about the Pleiadians and 12 strands of DNA, of which only 2 remain in most of us while some people have 3 strands.  Bizarre!

What I did like about Dr. Pearl is that he is open to new ideas and new concepts (that he might have 2 strands of DNA), but he remains skeptical.  He’s only trying to relate what he’s learned through his experiences, giving people the opportunity to believe or not believe.  The other thing I liked was in his attempt to understand what was going on, he happened across the “new age” groupies who told him about all the protections he needed and rituals in order to not take on someone else’s negative energy.  He realized these rituals and the fear they represented were actually interfering with the healing sessions.  His reasoning was that the healings came from love, so there was no need to protect yourself and by doing so, you projected fear on to the healing process thereby inhibiting it!  Quite astute!  There were many times I could relate what he was saying to the BioDynamics aspect of Osteopathy: observing and being observed, attention vs. intention, fear begets failure.

If you have access to this book for free, I would suggest reading it for fun, but I wouldn’t buy it!

Oh!  And if you’re at (or near) the University of Arizona, you should check out the Human Energy Systems Laboratory with Dr. Gary Schwartz, PhD and Dr. Linda Russek, PhD who are working with Dr. Pearl to help scientifically validate his ability to reconnect with higher frequencies of energy and facilitate healings.

“Wise Blood” by Flannery O’Connor

Other than the fact that I believe the author, Flannery O’Connor, was a well-respected novelist and I’ve heard she’s made significant contributions to literature (of which I am NO authority), I can’t say I enjoyed the book.   I consider myself very blue-collar and only moderately educated in regards to literature and its proper evaluation.

The book itself is about a post-war (WWI, I think) “hero” Hazel Motes who returns after 4 years to his home in Tennessee to find his home in ruins, no family and no faith.  He becomes a preacher in the nearest city, preaching the Church without Christ because he doesn’t believe in Christ.  He is a negative, mean man, presumably hardened by the war.  He has a memory of his childhood that reflects his tortured/soiled soul manifested by him physically torturing himself by walking with rocks in his shoes.  He repeats this physical torture in his adult life along with more stringent self-torturing activities.  Enoch (a side character) is somewhat psychotic and does things because they give him pleasure, are simple routine or they are something his “wise blood” tells him to do.  Enoch is hardly wise by any means.  He is down right crude and unpleasant for anyone he interacts with.

Maybe I had to be steeped more thoroughly in southern Christian traditions to fully comprehend this book.  It would be interesting to talk to my friend who recommended it to me and perhaps gain some clarity of meaning.

The Irony

I’m now reading “Healthy at 100” by John Robbins.  It is kind of interesting to be reading about cultures that live well into their 90’s and beyond without any signs of sickness until their last days, weeks or months of life.  They enjoy vitality, energy, friendships and even courtships far into ages that we consider over the hill.  These folks often eat primarily vegetarian foods and garden/farm daily, walking for transportation AND they honor their elderly, providing them with special honors and celebrations for their age, health and wisdom.  Although these cultures are not “perfect”, I’m going to continue to look in to them.  It seems ridiculous that medical school only teaches us about disease, but discussing health and prevention habits is brushed off as a side note, assuming we all know what needs to be done.  Epidemiology would have been far more interesting if it included studies of healthy cultures as well as diseased ones.

As doctors, our goals should include societal reform, not just health care reform.  Help our patients make healthy decisions: how to eat more vegetables, dont’ restrict sugar outright, but ask patients to become aware of how they feel once they’ve eaten it, encourage gardening, even if it is in containers.  If we do our jobs right, maybe someday we’ll work ourselves out of a job!

An Unreasonable Woman

Diane Wilson in the 1990’s is a woman shimper down on the coast of Texas, which in and of itself is a tough job.  Then she decides to take on Formosa, a huge chemical company that continually violates environmental pollution laws, but the government (local and federal) turns a blind eye.  They say Formosa is important for economic development and everyone in town seems to believes them.  Money talks and when the shimp are no longer around for the harvest, the town has no choice, but to use Formosa as their source of income.  Well, if the companies would stop polluting the bay, the shrimp might come back, but who really understands that connection?

This autobiography was bittersweet in that it told the courageous story of one “unreasonable” woman’s fight against a polluting giant, but it was depressing because of all the red tape, lies and corruption.  When I see everything that Diane and the issues she ran in to, it makes me hate money more than anything.  It all came down to money: money for the chemical plant to make and save by not complying to standards, firing any employees that became sick or hurt from working there, claiming the employee was drunk and paying off senators and local government people to play on their team rather than for the general welfare of the community.  It really was disgusting.

I do have some, minimal respect for our government.  At least we do not live in a time of complete anarchy with civil war, senseless shootings and rape, well, not significantly in this country, in my back yard.  Who knows what’s going on anywhere else? All I know is I’m safe in my bubble and that’s what companies want; satisfied, senseless consumers.  I feel guilty when I use a product “made in China” or “made in Taiwan”, but I still do it.  The same companies we ban from the US because of their pollution violations, set up shop in these other countries, so we can have cheap stuff at the expense of ruining another country’s landscape.  Sigh.  I really should think about more pleasant things.

“A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah

Yes, I have time to read other books  We have a book club.  We’ve read about 5 books over the past 2 years and it is a fun diversion from Osteopathic medical studies.

“A Long Way Gone” is a memoir of a boy soldier in Sierre Leone Africa during the early 1990’s.  The war affected Ishmael when he was 12yo, separating him from his family.  He ran from the rebels with the goal of just surviving from day to day until he himself was recruited to fight for the army.  I don’t know the politics of this war.  Ishmael tells the from his perspective only and his own knowledge of the politics was none.  All he knew was how to survive.  I assume the war had something to do with greed and oppression, the rise of rebels who end up killing, torturing and burning normal, harmless people.

I just don’t understand the senseless violence (that sounds so cliche!).  I respect people who are happy to love their family, find food and prepare it.  Simple.  Why does life have to be complicated and tainted by money/greed, war/violence?  If life was perfect, I guess it would be boring and no reason for living (i.e. to make the world better).  Instead, we are blessed with the strifes of life, challenging our creativity to figure out ways to solve our dilemmas.

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