Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

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Healthy Child, Healthy World

Healthy Child, Healthy World is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is:  “igniting a movement that inspires parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals.”   They say:

“Healthy Child, Healthy World exists because more than 125 million Americans, especially children, now face an historically unprecedented rise in chronic disease and illness such as cancer, autism, asthma, birth defects, ADD / ADHD, and learning and developmental disabilities. Credible scientific evidence increasingly points to environmental hazards and household chemicals as causing and contributing to many of these diseases.”

Follow this link at Healthy Child, Healthy World to learn more about each of the following chronic conditions, their potential link to environmental exposures, and ways to reduce your child’s risk.

•    Allergies
•    Asthma
•    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
•    Autism Spectrum Disorders
•    Birth Defects
•    Cancer
•    Developmental Disabilities
•    Diabetes
•    Obesity
•    Reproductive Disorders

Among many other resources at Healthy Child, Healthy World, including information about creating awareness in schools, you can follow this link to a glossary of toxic chemicals, which provides information on each one.

It’s too late to turn back the clock for those already impacted by multiple chemical sensitivity, chronic illness, cancer and other diseases as a result of environmental triggers, but we can join together a take a positive stand for our children and for our future.

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burningwell.org

The significance of my blog title

burningwell.orgThe name of this blog—Always Well Within—was inspired by the Sanskrit word “Samantabhadra,” which means ‘always good’, ‘always well’ or ‘unchanging goodness.’  This signifies that unchanging goodness or fundamental goodness is our ultimate nature.  This is the name given to the Primordial Buddha in the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

This name relates to some of my core believes about health and healing, which I am always trying to strengthen more and more:

Each of us is responsible for our own health.  We are not victims.  Everything comes about for a reason.  There’s no one to blame.

We can use whatever occurs in our life, any type of suffering and happiness as well, on our path of personal evolution.

I believe in the healing power of mind.  In Buddhism, mind is said to be the universal ordering principle.  Speech and body follow the direction of mind.

A famous saying in Chi Gong says, “Where the mind goes, the qi follows.”  Susanne B. Friedman, L.Ac. tells us, “If you focus your attention and intention during an exercise, your body’s energy will respond accordingly.”

It may not always be possible to heal at the physical level, but healing is always possible at the level of emotion, mind, and spirit.  In our modern world, these realms are often sorely in need of attention.

May we all unveil the fundamental goodness living within each and every one of us!

Photo credit: www.burningwell.org

It’s no one’s fault

I’m not immune to anger.  None of us are.  Like all thoughts and emotions, anger arises as a result of our past tendencies, our karma, and current causes and conditions.

The detrimental effect of anger

Having studied the Buddhist teachings, I understand how detrimental anger is both for myself and for those who are the object of this destructive emotion. On a practical level, being suffused with anger is never a pleasant experience.  It makes us disagreeable and, in the long run, even unlikable.  We’re never happy, but always weighed down by this burden of annoyance, resentment, and, sometimes rage.  These untoward emotions eat us up.  They have been associated with the development of heart disease and several other serious disorders.  Anger just isn’t much fun.  Even worse, it can cause us to harm others in both words and deeds.  As a result, we might even end up punched, battered, or incarcerated in response to our impulsiveness.  In the bigger picture, negative emotions and their consequent negative actions are precisely what keep us in a continuous cycle of suffering.  We’ve all heard the adages, “What goes around, comes around” and “What you reap, is what you sow.”  This is the essence of karma.  Karma is not pre-destination, it is the results of our prior actions.

Working with anger

The logistics of karma are complex, not easily understood, nor easily observed.  Personally, based on both logic and faith, I trust that karma is a fundamental operating law of the universe. Therefore, the question becomes, how do I respond when anger rises?  Am I swept along in its powerful flow or am I committed to practicing alternative solutions?  The Buddhist teachings tells us not to suppress anger, nor to indulge in it.  We can simply observe when it rises and let it pass by like any cloud floating in the sky.  Emotions like anger are not our true nature.  They are only a temporary, passing phenomena.  They only seem ’solid’ and ‘real’ if we latch onto them.  Naturally, this is far easier said than done!  It takes a tremendous amount of determination and practice, but what could be more important in this ever so fleeting journey called life?

Inspiring role models

The Dalai Lama of Tibet

There are many injustices in this world.  We might easily believe that a refugee like the Dalai Lama or a political prisoner like Aung San Suu Kyi have a ‘right’ to be angry.   But they’re not because they see anger in an entirely different way than the average person.

They understand the harm that anger engenders for both oneself and others.  They understand the true nature of reality, it’s insubstantial quality, and the interdependence of all that occurs. There is never ever one single cause for anything that occurs in one’s life.  It’s always a complex mix of causes and conditions coming together that produce a result.  Thus, there’s no single person or company or country that can be blamed.  Even when we feel victimized, we are also a part of the picture.

At the same time, are these eminent beings wimps?  Hardly!  They speak out tirelessly for truth, justice, and non-violence, but they do so with a kind heart that does not harbor anger or hatred.  It’s not easy to come up to this level of wisdom by any means.  The Dalai Lama has often spoken about how persistently he has trained his mind to overcome anger since his early years.  It’s not an easy task, but it is possible.

Training the mind to be free of anger

There are times when I feel mad at the world.  Times when I feel mad at the people in charge who, in their ignorance, allow chemicals to be used.  There are moments of anger toward those who, even worse, actually promote the use of chemicals!   I’m not immune to anger.  If even the Dalai Lama had to train his mind religiously, anger will no doubt pop up in a mind like mine again and again.  The question returns:  what do I do with anger when it pays me a visit?  Am I swept along or do I recognize it?  Do I take a step back and let it pass by?  Do I soften my heart and consider an alternative response?  Am I committed to training my mind to be free of anger?

I’m no saint! Anger still gnaws at me from time to time, but I now have role models, the awareness, and the tools to set it free. I know from my own experience, it takes a long time to befriend anger.  We each need to go through our own process, at our own pace.  Working with negative motions is a lifelong endeavor, but over time they can certainly decrease.

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Research links Gilbert’s Syndrome & Environmental Illness

This 2008 German research from Muller and Schnakenberg makes a link between Gilbert’s Syndrome and other forms of  hyperbilirubinemia and Environmental Illness.

Gilbert’s syndrome is a relatively common condition occurring in approximately 5% of the population, in which there is a consistently mild elevation in unconjugated bilirubin, “the yellow breakdown product of normal heme catabolism.”  Prior to this, the syndrome was considered completely ‘benign,’ although patients often describe fatigue and abdominal problems to their doctors.  Anecdotal reports have also indicated that a subset of people with Gilbert’s appear to develop Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Hypothyroidism.

Having this genetic tendency does not mean you will ever develop Gilbert’s Syndrome in your lifetime.  Having Gilbert’s Syndrome or the other forms of hyperbilirubinemia does not necessarily mean you will develop chemical sensitivity either, but it does indicate an increased susceptibility to chemical sensitivity and environmental illness.

The government of Germany was the first in the world to officially recognized Multiple Chemical Sensitivity as a physiological illness in its National Health Care System and to have the disease classified in the International Classification of Disease, in the World Health Organization (WHO) under ICD -10-GM Code T78.4, in the sections of chapter 19, (injuries, poisoning and certain consequences of toxic causes).  As such, we will probably continue to see interesting research like the work of Muller and Schnakenberg emerging from German universities in the years to come.

Here’s the abstract:

Müller KE, Schnakenberg E (2008) Die Bedeutung der Glukuronidierung bei
umweltmedizinischen Erkrankungen am Beispiel der UDP-Glukuronosyltransferase
1A1.
Umwelt Medizin Gesellschaft 21(4): 295-300

Abstract

Glucuronidation represents an important metabolic pathway enhancing the elimination of many lipophilic xenobiotics and endobiotics to more water-soluble compounds. Several UGT1A enzymes including UGT1A1 are encoded by the UGT1A gene complex on chromosome 2q37. The reduced expression of UGT1A1 is cause of unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia of some types of neonatal jaundice, breastfeeding jaundice, Gilbert syndrome, and Crigler-Najjar syndrome type I and Type II.
In spite of the fact, that UDP-glucuronosyl metabolize a number of lipophilic chemicals and drugs, as phenols, hydrocarbons, coumarin, Anthraquinones and the anticancer drug irinotecan, little attention is paid to their importance for the development of environmental diseases. The prevalence of reduced activity of UDP-glucuronidation was significantly elevated (OR: 8,0; p < 0,0001) among patients of a practices for environmental medicine in southern Germany suffering from environmental diseases.

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10 Favorite Books on Meditation

A list of my favorite books on meditation and on healing body, mind, and spirit.  They apply the universal principles found in Buddhism, and thus are relevant to one and all.

  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche
  • The Joy of Living:  Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
  • Joyful Wisdom:  Embracing Change and Finding Freedom, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
  • Carefree Dignity: Discourses on Training in the Nature of Mind, Tsoknyi Rinpoche
  • It’s Up to You: The Practice of Self-Reflection on the Buddhist Path, Dzigar Kongtrul
  • The Healing Power of Mind, Tulku Thondup
  • Boundless Healing, Meditation Exercises to Enlighten the Mind and Heal the Body, Tulku Thondup
  • Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki
  • The Places That Scare You:  A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, Pema Chodron
  • Full Catastrophe Living:   Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, Jon Kabat-Zinn by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Unified theory: FMS, CFS/ME, MCS, PTSD, GWS

Martin L. Pall, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences at Washington State University has developed a unified theory to explain the common etiology and mechanism underlying  chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Pall tells us that these four multi-system illnesses often occur together in the same individual and share many of the same symptoms.  He says that Gulf War Syndrome is a fifth illness that is a combination of the four.

Pall outlines 17 physiological stressors that are known to initiate one or more of these illnesses, all of which have in common the fact that they can elevate nitric oxide levels or stimulate a process that does so.

He goes on to explain how elevated levels of nitric oxide can cause chronic illness by saying,

“…nitric oxide, acting primarily through its oxidant product peroxynitrite, initiates a biochemical vicious cycle that is responsible, in turn, for the chronic illness.  We have, then, an initial cause of illness (short-term stressor or stressors) acting to start this vicious cycle, with the cycle responsible for causing the chronic phase of illness.  We are now calling the cycle the NO/ONOO- cycle after the structures of nitric oxide (NO) and peroxynitrite (ONOO-) but pronounced no, oh no!”

Five principles underlying the NO/ONOO- cycle as an explanatory model
Pall has identified five principles underlying the NO/ONOO- cycle as an explanatory model,

1.  Short-term stressors that initiate cases of multisystem illnesses act by raising nitric oxide synthesis and consequent levels of nitric oxide and/or other cycle elements.

2.  Initiation is converted into a chronic illness through the action of vicious cycle mechanisms, through which chronic elevation of nitric oxide and peroxynitrite and other cycle elements is produced and maintained.  This principle predicts that the various elements of the NO/ONOO- cycle will be elevated in the chronic phase of illness.

3.    Symptoms and signs of these illnesses are generated by elevated levels of nitric oxide and/or other important consequences of the proposed mechanism, i.e. elevated levels of peroxynitrite or inflammatory cytokines, oxidative stress and elevated NMDA and vanilloid receptor activity.

4.    Because the compounds involved, nitric oxide, superoxide and peroxynitrite have quite limited diffusion distances in biological tissues and because the mechanisms involved in the cycle act at the level of individual cells, the fundamental mechanisms are local. The consequences of this primarily local mechanism show up in the multisystem illnesses through the stunning variations one sees in symptoms and signs from one patient to another.  Different tissue impact of the NO/ONOO- cycle mechanism is predicted to lead to exactly such variations in symptoms and signs.  One also sees evidence for this fourth principle in published brain scan studies where one can directly visualize the variable tissue distribution in the brains of patients suffering from one of these illnesses.

5.    Therapy should focus on down-regulating the NO/ONOO- cycle biochemistry.  In other words, we should be treating the cause, not just the symptoms.

Therapeutic protocol

Fourteen other illnesses may also fall under this new disease paradigm.  Various therapeutic protocols designed to down-regulate NO/ONOO- cycle biochemistry are also presented at The Tenth Paradigm, in addition to a full web page on the NO/ONOO- cycle mechanism relation to FMS, CFS/ME, and MCS.  Although the recommended therapeutic protocols are not a cure, anecdotal evidence indicates improvement for those who are able to tolerate the recommended substances.

While this might all sound like scientific mumbo jumbo, especially when we are struck by brain fog, in my opinion and my observations related to my own illness and its multiple interconnections, Pall’s unified theory is a very promising explanation.

We are extremely fortunate to have a scientist like Pall so dedicated to understanding the causes and treatment options for these disorders.  I find it exciting to look ahead and see that in ten years’ time there will likely be a full understanding of these disorders.

The whole notion that these illnesses are psychogenic in origin is passé, but it can take 10 years time for research to be validated and integrated into clinical medicine.  Our doctors may not be aware of the current research for many years. We can help educate them by offering the link to The Tenth Paradigm’s scientific explanation.  Pall is also author of the book Explaining Unexplained Illnesses.

This and other proposed scientific theories on the etiology of multiple chemical sensitivity in particular are synopsized at the James Madison University MCS website.

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