What is Qigong?

Qigong is a form of energetic exercise that arises from an ancient Chinese tradition of martial arts and meditative movement practices. Qigong is actually a modern term that originated in the mid 20th century to describe the enormous variety of Chinese energetic exercises that had developed over the past several millenia. Taichi (or taiji chuan) is the more popular, more complex cousin of Qigong and is a true martial art. They both arise out of ancient practice of what is called daoyin, which is simply a “way of movement”, but encompasses any movement practice for health purposes, including self-massage and other physical exercises. Qigong is less of a martial art and more of a meditative practice intended to exercise the mind and strengthen and invirogate the qi. Qigong literally means “energy work” or “breath work”. One big difference between Taichi and Qigong is that there are generally more complex movements in Taichi and many of the movements involve the feet. In the majority of Qigong practices, the feet are often stationary and the hands do the movement. Some Qigong practices are simply meditative postures that don’t require movement at all. Sometimes people even make up their own energetic movements as part of their Qigong practice – this is called spontaneous Qigong.

The purpose of Qigong is to increase health and extend life. In Chinese medical theory, some believe that the only way to increase one’s pre-heaven essence is through Qigong – this is a profound statement. For some, sitting meditation can be difficult as it can be challenging to stand still for extended time. The practice of Qigong offers a fantastic alternative to sitting meditation in that it enables one to meditate while moving one’s body. This confers all the benefits of meditation plus the benefits of bodily awareness (mindfulness) and better postural practices. The same can be said for Taichi. Some Qigong exercises can be quite vigorous and either stretch and strengthen the muscles and joints or invigorate blood flow through the active movement of the body.

I have a saying that I often use in trying to explain the what I think is purpose of Qigong:

How strongly you can feel the qi in your hands is directly related to your level of success in your Qigong practice.

What I mean by this is to point out the importance of Qigong being first-and-foremost a mental exercise. It is a moving meditation on the life force energy that penetrates all of matter and encompasses the entire universe. To learn more about the nature of qi, click here.

The experience of qi can occur to different individuals in drastically different ways. This is due to your unique energy field and your relationship and role to play in the greater energy field in which we live. Generally, when one practices Qigong the experience of feeling the qi in one’s hands can be felt as

  • heat
  • cold
  • buzzing
  • tingling
  • numbness
  • heaviness
  • softness
  • magnetic (like your hands are magnets, either attracting or repelling)
  • electrical
  • flowing (like water)
  • spinning
  • pressure

and other sensations.

For some, this sensation comes easily and they might have profound qi sensations the first time they practice. To other, experiences the movement and the feeling of qi through Qigong takes time and work. Regardless of how it manifests for you – don’t give up. Every second you take out of your day to practice Qigong will improve your life.

The following video is one of my favorites to get people into the Qigong mindset:

I find Roger Jahnke’s work to be some of the very best. In my humble opinion, Roger Jahnke has “got it right” in his attitude towards the practice of Qigong. Regardless of one’s level of skill and regardless of what form (the particular set of exercises) one practices, we can always adopt the kind of attitude that Jahnke does – one of reverance,  meditation, and prayer – when we engage in the practice of Qigong. I think this will lead to deeper and longer lasting results.

There is much more to say about the practice of Qigong. If you would like to know more, you can contact me here. Have a blessed journey in your practice of Qigong. I believe it is truly foundational in a deeper experience of life and will open up many doors to you.

What is Qi?

This is one of the most important topics on this website.

Qi (also written chi) is a complex Chinese term that has a number of meanings. It is most often translated as “breath” or “energy“, but can also refer to the weather, the mood of a certain day, things having to do with air, oxygen, or gas, and a persons attitude. This relationship between qi and breath points to the critical role of breathing when getting in touch with qi. The ancient Chinese character for qi is said to pictographically represent the steam that rises and falls from a cooking pot of rice.

In Chinese metaphysics, everything in the universe is a manifestation of qi. The universe even “before creation” itself was still qi. Qi is the universal substance of which all matter and space is composed. It is the substrate of reality itself.

This notion of a universal substance – qi – brings ancient Chinese philosophy in resonance with a formidable idea that permeates much of ancient history and still feeds a powerful undercurrent within both scientific and popular philosophy today – the notion of vitalism. Vitalism is the belief in a universal life force that penetrates all matter and animates all life. In English we might call it a “universal life force energy” or simply a “vital force”, but this very concept has taken so many forms throughout history that it would be quite a challenge to make an exhaustive list. However, here are a few: qi (Chinese), prana (Vedic), reiki or ki (Japanese), ruach (Hebrew), od (Norse), pneuma (Greek), mana (Polynesian), elan vital (French), the Force (Star Wars – just kidding but kinda not really) and many more.

The philosophy of vitalism used to play a fundamental role in the mind of the physician. It wasn’t until the 20th century that vitalism was almost entirely stamped out from the philosophical education of physicians in North America. The medical profession used to be much more based in faith in the body’s natural healing process rather than in the power of drugs and surgery. The ancient Greek notion of “vis medactrix naturae” or the “healing power of nature” drove the idea that, if given enough time and support and proper nourishment, the body has a way of bringing itself back into balance on it’s own. This underlies the idea that there is an intelligent life force that drives the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the individual. The adherence to this philosophy is, I believe, the most fundamental factor that divides the approaches of mechanistic biomedicine and holistic medicine. Western medicine was actually founded on this idea by the ancient Greek physicians such as Hippocrates and Galen, but this theory as well as many of the physiological understandings of the ancient world are considered obsolete in the eyes of conventional materialistic science.

This idea of an all-pervasive life force energy isn’t accepted by the mainstream scientific community. However, contrary to popular opinion, this is not for lack of evidence. Our world is replete both with scientific evidence and with anecdotal evidence. Quantum physics tells us that at the super sub-atomic level, the universe is an incredibly dense sea of literally pure energy (see my article on MakingtheMedicine.com). The phenomenon of psi is actually a well-supported fact with decades of research demonstrating it – telepathy, psychokinesis, and remote viewing all have tremendous support in scientific literature (see Dean Radin’s work or the book The Field by Lynne McTaggart). There are a number of phenomena that point to the existence of bioenergetic fields surrounding the bodies of living organisms, especially around humans (Kirlian photography, biophoton emission, etc.). The beneficial effects of faith healing, prayer, and Reiki are also well-supported. The laying on of hands of Christians and of ancient Greek followers of Asclepius are ancient examples of healing using this knowledge. The sensation of qi is common to many people who practice energywork or do taichi, qigong, or yoga.

What’s so important about this article is that to take the notion of qi seriously is to awaken to an entirely different worldview with entirely different possibilities than the ones we’ve been handed by Western materialism. It gives solid foundation to the idea that we are indeed deeply connected and that the substance from which we are made – pure energy – is the same everywhere.

Now that you’ve read up on qi, consider learning about how to use it through Qigong.

If you are interested in taking this discussion deeper, check out this website..

Three Treasures – Jing, Qi, & Shen

In Oriental Medicine (OM), the body is composed of three major parts – jing, qi, and shen. These are referred to as the Three Treasures (sanbao).

Jing is most often translated as essence or vitality. Jing is your genetic integrity and the ability of your cells to replicate. It is described as the blueprint your body uses to live and to grow, which you were given at birth from your parents – sounds a lot like DNA, right? I think the ancient Chinese were on to something.

Qi (sometimes written chi) is an increasingly common word in the English language. It is often translated into English as breath, but this does not encompass the entire concept implied by the word qi, as qi can also mean weather, mood, air, attitude, and other things. The translation agreed upon by most practitioners of OM is vital force or life force. As recently as the 20th century, the philosophy of vitalism, or the belief that there is an invisible energy that animates all life, was an accepted idea by medical professionals all over the world – an idea which has its roots in ancient natural philosophy. If you are looking for a similar concept, it is believed to be synonymous with the Vedic notion of prana. To learn more about qi, see this article.

Shen is translated as spirit. This entails both a person’s individual spirit and their access to the source spirit of the universe (call it what you will). We assess a person’s shen by the look in ones eyes. We believe that having a healthy shen is one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy state of being and in a good prognosis in the case of illness. If one’s shen is strong, he or she has a much greater likelihood of faster healing and longer life. When the shen wanders, mental illness or depression can develop.

The strategies handed down in OM work to keep these Three Treasure optimized and in balance. We use herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, magnets, and other therapies to supplement and harmonize these fundamental components of the human being.

To learn more about bodily substances and how they be brought back into balance, check out these articles:

“Isn’t acupuncture just for pain?”

Oriental Medicine (OM), sometimes referred to as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) or simply Chinese Medicine, is often equated with the use of acupuncture needles for the relief of stress and for treating pain. While acupuncture excels at mitigated stress levels and alleviating both chronic and acute pain, acupuncturists do so much more.

Oriental Medicine is a complete system of medicine. This means that it encompasses it’s own physiological understanding of the mind and body and the way they work (and sometimes don’t work). One of the foundational principle in OM is in preventing and removing stagnation. We believe that stagnation (like a stagnant pond) is the root cause of most illness and that to prevent illness the active and passive substances in the body have to be brought into balance. To do this, we use herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, magnets, manual therapy, and other modalities.

Chinese medical theory dates back at least 3,000 years (there is good evidence that it is much, much older). Now, something being old doesn’t mean that its effective – but in the case of OM, being around for three millennia has given it generations of experimentation and critical analysis. This leads some people to say that OM is one of the oldest-running longitudinal studies in history. Some of the most brilliant minds in history have worked developing and advancing the complex system of OM that has been handed down to us today – and which continues to evolve.

Here is a list of complaints that patients have found relief from through Oriental Medicine:

  • Chronic or acute pain or injury
  • The effects of stress and anxiety
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal and digestive imbalance
  • Endocrine and hormonal imbalance
  • Fatigue, exhaustion
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Menstrual irregularities and pain
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Mental/emotional complaints and mood
  • Psychological and physical trauma
  • Cognitive decline, senility

And many, many more…

In fact, there is nothing that the wisdom of OM can’t address within its own framework – meaning that given the tools we have to assess the health of the body, there will always be a next step through the use of OM. Many people come to acupuncture and OM as medical refugees, having searched in conventional Western medicine for an answer or a solution to no avail. OM is best utilized along with a preventative lifestyle, but when the body falls out of balance or there is illness or injury, OM is unmatched in its complex and comprehensive ability to bring back the bodies natural vitality.

This is Your Body on Microwaves

Let’s face it:

We’re microwaving ourselves.

Cell phones, microwave ovens, Wifi routers, bluetooth devices, and other electronics that use microwave and radiowave frequencies have been encroaching on our lives for decades – and they’re hurting our bodies.

It’s the official position of the industry and the NIH that because the radiation coming from electronic devices is non-ionizing (doesn’t contain enough energy to “knock electrons off their orbits”), it means that the radiation is relatively harmless. If they were ionizing, they would very easily cause cancer (as in the case of Gamma radiation and the radiation people think of when they think Chernobyl, Fukushima, etc.). But is this really the only factor determining whether or not these frequencies are safe?

The wavelengths used by our electronic devices range from 0.6MHz (in the case of AM Radio) all the way up to almost 500,000MHz/500GHz (in the case of remote controls and wireless key fobbs). Most cell phones today operate between 1.9-2.2GHz while Wifi Routers, Bluetooth devices, and microwave ovens operate around the 2.4Ghz wavelength. Interestingly, this puts the majority of our electronic devices right on the border between radiowaves and microwaves. With the advent of “5G” wireless communications, there will be a sharp increase in the use of 15GHz wavelengths in our environment – which is well within the microwave range.

These non-ionizing waves are thermal waves – which is why your head heats up when you hold your phone to it.

Now, it would be silly to think that all radiation is bad. Fritz Albert Popp discovered that life emits wavelengths ranging from 750 to 200nm (encompassing visible light and just a smidge into ultraviolet). Yes, you emit light. This light is referred to as biophotonic emission, ultraweak bioluminescence, or simply biophotons. It is believed by many to be fundamental to the electromagnetic nature of cellular communication and part of what keeps you whole.

The light of the Sun, of a flame, and the light emitted by your body are all natural. There’s nothing alien about these wavelengths when it comes to your biology. Keep in mind that light itself is an electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and entails an electromagnetic frequency (EMF). Electromagnetic radiation is what gives you that healthy tan. A more descriptive version of the culprit in question is nnEMF. The “nn” stands for non-native. The EMF coming from our electronic devices is not native to our biology, be it how we evolved or were designed. You can think of these frequencies as being xenobiotic in the same way that plastics and pharmaceuticals are, meaning that they don’t occur as a natural product of life but rather as a product of technological advancement in telecommunications.

…Now for the scary stuff.

  • The thermal radiation from cell phones heats brain tissue and oxidizes glucose in the brain, potentially leading to early onset dementia due to oxidative stress on the brain. [1] Unless you anti-oxidize naturally, this will age you faster.
  • There are multitudes of well-conducted studies demonstrating higher incidence of cancer with greater cellphone use. [2, 3, 4]
  • Because of their body composition, children actually absorb more microwave radiation into their tissues than adults. [4, 5] Children get more brain tumors as well. They really are sponges, in every sense of the word.
  • An NIH study found lower body weights in newborn rats who were exposed to radiofrequency radiation during pregnancy and lactation. [6]
  • Studies show decreases in serum testosterone after exposure to cell phone radiation [7] and even a decrease in the diameter and increase in the number of seminiferus tubules in the testes, along with a subsequent decrease in sperm motility due to abnormal testicular histology. [8] Most men carry their phone in their pockets, next to their reproductive organs. If my phone is in my pocket, it’s on airplane mode.
  • Pineal melatonin synthesis (one of the most anti-cancer chemicals you make) is significantly disrupted by only a single 30-min magnetic field exposure where the fields north and south axis are 50 degrees off from the Earth’s field. [9] In other words, your circadian rhythm is dependent upon your brains orientation to the magnetic field of the Earth, and exogenous magnetic fields disrupt this.

In their attempt to comprehend the electromagnetic nature of life, researchers like Giudice, Frohlich, and Ho come to a resoundingly similar conclusion: that life is fundamentally an electromagnetic phenomenon and that even the weakest electromagnetic fields can profoundly influence biology.

There are things you can do to protect yourself.

  • Minimize the use of electronics and nnEMF exposure.
  • Turn your wifi router off at night. Get into the habit.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode at night.
  • Don’t keep your phone in your pocket unless it’s on airplane mode. If you need it to on, keep it in your hand or set it down somewhere nearby. (Or get a pair of these fancy EMF-blocking undies.)
  • Don’t wear FitBits or performance trackers.
  • Use headphones (especially air-tube headphones) rather than holding your phone to your head.
  • Don’t use microwave ovens. Use a toaster oven.
  • Take iodine.
  • Wear black tourmaline, shungite, or sodalite.
  • Take reishi, chaga, he shou wu, green tea, tulsi, or other radioprotective herbs and mushrooms. Many substances that are strongly anti-oxidative are also radioprotective.
  • Take resveratrol, eat grapes, or drink red wine (in moderation). Resveratrol is highly radioprotective.
  • Do qigong – strengthen the coherence of your own electromagnetic field.
  • Get grounded – the most anti-inflammatory thing a human being can do.

Take care of your biofield and be aware of the power of these devices that are such an integral part of our lives.

Sun And Earth: On Grounding and Getting Tan

One thing that my clients often hear from me is that I want their “bare feet on the ground and bare body in the sun.” This article explains some simple reasons why.

I have come to find that many of us are Sun and Earth deficient. We simply don’t spend enough time in the Sun or on the ground.

Grounding

For the cost of taking your shoes off and standing outside, you have access to the most powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant “drug” on Earth – the Earth itself. Our planet is a repository for a practically infinite number of free electrons. The negative charge of the electron is why it feels so good to breathe the ocean air or the air during a thunderstorm. It is why we put salt lamps in our homes. It is why we enjoy long, hot showers. It plays a part in the healing power of stones like amethyst and tourmaline. The healing properties of these things come from negative ions (in this case, electrons) neutralizing the positive charge of the inflammation in our bodies. Oxidative damage from stress, toxicity, and aging is fundamentally the result of positive charge in our bodies without the negative charge to neutralize the free radicals that cause oxidative damage. The instant your feet touch the ground, the positive charge in your body is neutralized and your bodies electrical imbalance is brought into harmony with the charge of the Earth.

  • While your feet are on the ground, there is virtually no inflammation present in your body. [1]
  • Being grounded activates the parasympathetic nervous system, reduces cortisol, and synchronizes the left and right hemispheres of the brain. [2]
  • When you are grounded it thins the blood (by lowering the zeta potential) and allows the red blood cells to communicate more effectively and find resonance with one another rather than clumping together. This improves circulation tremendously. [1]
  • Your feet are designed to be maximally conductive to the Earth’s negative charge! (Especially given the very special acupuncture point on the bottom of the foot: Kidney 1 Yongquan – one of my favorite points)

The effects of grounding/Earthing on the body and the mind are numerous and profound. Taking time to get grounded is an integral part of my everyday life and it is essential to my longevity and wellbeing. Anyone who chooses to make it a part of their lifestyle will soon feel the same way.

Here’s a video of Dr. Mercola interviewing one of the leaders in Earthing research:


Getting Tan

Many of us avoid the Sun because we have been brought to believe it is bad for our health. Sunscreen use and shoes with plastic soles that insulate us from the Earth are ubiquitous. We have been taught that the Sun causes cancer and wrinkles the skin. This has been shown to be true, but there are confounding factors at play. I believe that the Sun only causes this kind of damage under three conditions: 1) when the body is toxic and overburdened by stress and oxidative damage. 2) when we aren’t used to the Sun and get it only in spurts rather than purposefully maintaining a tan. 3) when we aren’t grounded while in the Sun.

When you get in the Sun it recalibrates your body to its natural circadian rhythm! This normalizes your leptin response and regulates appetite (more strongly than any “appetite suppressant” out there). The light from the Sun is what tells your body what hormones to produce and when. Getting morning and afternoon Sun tells your body to make growth hormone and sex hormones. Midday Sun tells your body to work hard and focus on producing neurotrasmitters to get the job done.

Two of the most powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory chemicals in your body are made in the Sun: melatonin and Vitamin D. Melatonin has shown numerous anti-cancer and anti-aging benefits in studies. It is the “master of sleep” and amazingly it is produced in the eye and in the skin – during the day!

For more information on these topics, check out this article.

Vitamin D controls the expression of over 5% of the human genome and is implicated in cancer and many chronic conditions. Most don’t know that Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin – it’s a hormone and is necessary for life! It is so powerful that it binds directly to DNA to control their expression. It’s not enough to take supplemental Vitamin D –  you must get it from the Sun if you really want enough! Your body even has special built in mechanisms to shut off Vitamin D production when you’ve had just the right amount.

How could the Sun be bad for you when we must have it to produce these important chemicals? I believe it is because the level of oxidative damage from other causes can outweigh our bodies ability to use the potential of the Sun. This is another reason why it’s important to increase your Sun exposure gradually but also to be grounded. You literally become a solar panel when you are in the Sun – you make electricity! The best way to safely balance this extra power (so you don’t fry your mitochondria) is to simply have your body touching the ground while you are in the Sun. I like to have my feet flat on the ground and “plug” my fingertips into the Earth.

A tan is a sign of good health. The more tan you are, the less likely you are to be damaged by the Sun and the more likely you are to utilize the Sun’s health-giving rays. When you have a tan (also known as a solar callous), you actually absorb more of the sunlight and use it for energy and for photochemical reactions (making Vitamin D, melatonin, etc.). A tan comes from the increased melanin your body puts out in order to make use of the sunlight. We now know that melanin is a superconductor and is being used in high-level electronics development. It is worth 400$ per gram. A gram of gold is only worth around 50$!

Being in the Sun also burns fat and benefits circulation. Your mitochondria thrive while operating off of sunlight. Being in the Sun is the equivalent of being in an infrared sauna (42% of the Sun’s rays are infrared), which promotes the detoxification of plastics along with many other benefits.

In my practice I encourage people to get back in touch with the Sun and the Earth. I am sure you will reap the benefits if you take this information to heart and proceed carefully. Go get your feet on the ground! Get some sunlight! Your body will thank you.

This is Your Body on Plastic

“When Conner lead me through the process of coming off artificial fragrances, the following month I had the easiest period I could remember. I had no noticeable symptoms or mood changes. I now have fewer migraines and I’m sleeping through the night. I’m blown away by how these chemicals were effecting me and how quickly my body changed.”
– Rebecca, Asheville

We are becoming plastic at the cellular level.

Plastics are ubiquitous. Using plastic utensils, food and drinking containers, and (most importantly) cosmetic products that contain plasticisers has become a normal part of everyday life.

I believe it is imperative, if you want to achieve better health (especially hormonal health), to take seriously the following.

Your body has a hard time telling the difference between certain plastic compounds and it’s own natural hormones. This means that the more of these chemicals you are exposed to, the more plastic you actually become. The two most notable of these compounds are phthalates and bisphenols, which are plasticisers – meaning they are added to plastic to make it both more durable and more flexible. The bisphenol with the most attention is bisphenol A or BPA. However, buying something that is “BPA Free” often means it has higher amounts of other bisphenols, like BPB, and may not be safer after all.

Compounds like phthalates and bisphenols are referred to as EDC’s in the literature (endocrine disrupting compounds). Their affects on fertility, reproduction, development, and oxidative stress have been studied and are undeniable [1, 2, 3, 4]. These compounds disrupt thyroid function [1, 2, 4], mitochondrial function [2], cholesterol metabolism [2], growth hormone production [1], sperm quality [3], and increase oxidation of fatty acids and therefore increases oxidative stress that leads to inflammation and aging. [2]

Many people are concerned about the xenoestrogenic effects of soy products (meaning they contain compounds that are recognized as estrogen but don’t naturally occur in the body). However, phthalates, bisphenols, and other plastics bind to hormone receptors with such great affinity that they are being implicated in the prevalence of estrogen dominance, thyroid disorders, and other hormonal dysfunction around the world.

One way to make an impact on a man is to tell him: “You are shrinking your testicles by wearing that cologne.” …or to a woman: “Your perfume is making your periods worse.

So how do we get away from all these plastics? Where are they found? Unfortunately, they are everywhere.

Air fresheners
Plastic mesh teabags
Perfumes, colognes, bodysprays
Soaps, shampoos, conditioners
Lotions, hairgels, etc.
Makeup
Fake essential oils (esp. lavender)
Plastic water bottles
Receipts (don’t crinkle them up!)
Sea salt (contains plastic microparticles – use Redmond’s or Himalayan)
Plastic bags
Lining of cans
Plastic containers (don’t heat your food in these!)
PVC pipes, water tubing
Breast implants [5, 6]
Other cosmetics and packaging

The things on this list are ubiquitous. Once you eliminate artificial fragrances and other EDC exposure from your life you are bound to notice a difference. When you do, you will become increasingly sensitive to the disruptive power of these compounds and hopefully feel inspired to tell those you know (or those you don’t know). Unfortunately, we can’t keep others from spraying whatever they want on themselves.

This is bound to be an unpopular opinion: the prevalence and strength of the perfumes and colognes that individuals wear is a public health hazard. By simply smelling another person’s artificial fragrance, your natural hormonal processing is being disrupted and your body is forced to deal with the oxidative stress. What is it doing when we spray it on our skin?

One of the simplest and most powerful steps you can take in cleansing plastics from your body is to drink (organic) green or white tea daily. When tea from the leaves of camelia sinensis are consumed regularly, your urine contains more plastics (as well as more heavy metals). This means they are being excreted.

One of the other best ways to detoxify plastics from the body is to sweat. Hmm, I’m thinking of the giant infrared sauna in the sky.

My objective is not to encourage my readers to wear tin foils hats (although really, by all means, I won’t stop you). However I think the more we extricate ourselves from the toxicity of the world we live in, the more our bodies and our families and our future selves will be happy and healthy.

Brainwave Entrainment & Bilateral Stimulation

Brainwave entrainment and bilateral stimulation can help reduce the symptoms of:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue, bodily or mental
  • Mental overwork, overthinking
  • Stuck emotions or thought-patterns needing to be processed
  • Bodily or mental-emotional trauma

“Brainwave entrainment” is the use an external stimulus to synchronize brainwave oscillations in ways that are measurable in QEEG. Auditory entrainment is the use of specific sound frequencies and combinations of auditory stimuli to alter brainwave activity. If you’ve ever heard of “binaural beats”, these are a subset of the fascinating technology known as brainwave entrainment or BWE. The form of BWE that will discussed here and which is employed at Source is auditory entrainment.

Just to toot my own horn a little, in 2012 I wrote my Bachelors thesis (in Psychology) on “Brainwave Entrainment: An Impetus for the Future of Medicine”, a lofty and lengthy meta-analysis of all of the scientific literature on BWE to date. At that time, there were only a total of 30 published research articles on the phenomenon of BWE. Now, a quick Google Scholar search of the term “brainwave entrainment” pulls up over 800 results.

I have been experimenting with binaural beats, isochronic tones, and other forms of BWE for ten years. Soon after beginning using alpha and beta brainwaves while reading, I realized that this was a technology that would have change the course of my childhood had I known about it sooner. Focused attention while reading was always something I struggled with growing up. BWE gave me the ability to read with focus and clarity like I’d never experienced in my life. I knew then that this was something I should take seriously, so I went on to study it academically while in my undergraduate program and continue to study it to this day.

How does it work?

 If I were to clap my hands while standing next to you, a certain portion of the temporal lobe of your brain would “light up” in response to the neural input coming in through your auditory sense. If I were to clap my hands at a specific rate, say six times per second (6Hz), then your brain would be “lighting up” at the rate at which I’m clapping my hands (on top of the “light show” that is all the rest of your neural activity).

Neurons fire. They fire at a range of different rates based on what they’re processing. These neural firings are collectively and colloquially known as “brainwaves”. When you look at the range of frequencies produced by the firing of the neurons in the brain, certain patterns begin to emerge. We now know that certain states of consciousness are associated with brainwave patterns that fall into certain frequency ranges. For instance, if you are reading this it means you are awake and that the dominant range of brainwaves in your noggin are in what’s called the Beta range, which ranges from 16-31Hz (depending on who you ask). It’s important to note that none of these delineations are hard-fast and that it’s more helpful to think of these things as existing on a spectrum. If you want to know more about brainwave frequencies, check this out or just ask me.

In the entrainment literature there is something called a “frequency following response” where the entrained frequency is induced in nearby neurons and spreads to other areas of the brain – like synchronous fireflies. If more of your neurons are firing within a given frequency range, then you are more likely to experience the states of consciousness that are associated with that brainwave frequency range. It is really that simple.

There is an old axiom from the early days of neuropsychology that goes: “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Think about the implications of this regarding what your mind is processing while a majority of your neurons are all dancing to the beat of the same drum.

Bilateral Stimulation

I have been experimenting with home-made BWE for ten years, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the magic of bilateral stimulation. “Bilateral stimulation” simply a means of facilitating harmony between the left and right hemispheres of the brain by stimulating one side of the body (and thereby the brain) and then the other, alternating back and forth. This could be as simple as tapping your feet from left to right.

This technique is employed in therapies like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprogramming) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, “Tapping”) to facilitate communication between the hemispheres. Elevated states of consciousness during prayer or meditation are often associated with a balanced synchrony between the left and right. When the left and right hemispheres are talking appropriately, there is a sense of balance and of peace.

The sounds I use for BWE with bilateral stimulation phase from left to right to encourage this cross-talk. They also employ Pythagorean intervals in an A Major chord (A=216Hz) (more on my fascination with Pythagorean intervals on my sound healing page, or go straight to the Geesink & Meijer meta-analysis here). This particular set of intervals entrains the brain to a set of Gamma frequencies. Gamma brainwaves are used in high-level cognitive processing and frontal-lobe activity in general. It has been demonstrated in EEG studies that frequent meditators have higher base-level Gamma power in their brains.

In effect, what the BWE sounds I use do is encourage the left and right hemispheres to process information at a deep level. In sessions with me there is often a sense of peace and relaxation – some experience deep states of meditation or spontaneous visualizations. Many clients fall asleep. This is encouraged! They often wake up feeling refreshed and alert.

Ready to try it for yourself?

Chronobiology & the Circadian Circus

I’ve discussed elsewhere on my site the importance of reducing our exposure to xenobiotic agents (plastics, microwaves, etc.). I’ve also discussed the notion that we emit light, known as ultra-weak bioluminesence or the emission of biophotons. It is now believed in the field of biophysics that our cells use this light to communicate at a fundamental level.

If the body uses light to communicate with itself, what might external sources of light be communicating with our bodies – like the Sun, for instance? Also, to what extent might artificial lighting be another xenobiotic health hazard, similar to plastics and microwaves?

The study of the body’s relationship with time is referred to as chronobiology. The body’s circadian rhythm is how well it keeps in sync with the cycles of night and day.

It turns out that your brains central circadian oscillator (the suprachiasmatic nucleus, i.e. the clock) is timed by the subtle color spectrum that the Sun puts out based on where it is in the sky, given the time of day and your latitude on the planet. There is literally a clock in your brain that keeps time with the Sun – a bio-Sun-dial. More on this in a bit.

Light – It’s Important

Our bodies are so sensitive to light that there are structures inside of us that are specially designed to absorb and release light – melanin, -opsins, chromophores, flourophores, aromatic amino acids, and the respiratory proteins in every one of your mitochondria. As the field of quantum biology continues to evolve, we are beginning to understand the body as increasingly sensitive to the seemingly subtle effects of light in our environment.

Your skin even sees the light. There are photoreceptors (called melanopsin) on your skin that help tell the body when it’s night and when it’s day. Ever wondered why it’s sometimes so hard to fall asleep for that nap you desperately need, if it’s in the middle of the day in a well-lit room?

Not only that but we now know that your gene expression changes throughout the day based on what time your body thinks it is! Every single cell in your body has it’s own mini-clock that’s controlled by the big brain clock behind your eyes, down to the genetic level.

So what effect does this have on health?

The second you take a look at that brightly-lit, LED cell phone screen, you tell your brain that it’s high noon and it’s time for a picnic – no matter what time it really is. The color temperature of your cell phone screen matches the color temperature of the sun at high noon – and your brain can’t tell the difference.

Telling your brain that it’s time for a picnic inhibits the release of melatonin, the super-powerful hormone of sleep (and one of the most anti-oxidant compounds in the body, next to glutathione) and thereby inhibits your ability to have deep, restorative sleep.

Leading the Anti-LED Revolution

If your house is lit with LEDs, CFLs, or other artificial lights, your sleep will suffer. The color temperature of artificial lighting most often resembles that of the mid-day Sun and thereby inhibits the release of melatonin. This is technically true for incandescent bulbs as well, but these are the preferred lights if you want to begin repairing your circadian biology – especially amber incandescent. As for me, my house is entirely lit by salt lamps. I turn on my amber incandescent bulbs when I need to see something after dark with greater detail.

If you want to go full paleo, you’d go with candle light! Oh, the glorious sleep you would have!

Some companies are now manufacturing “amber LEDs” with a low Kelvin (Kelvin is the measurement for color temperature, represented as “K”). While this is certainly preferable to high Kelvin LEDs (which are standard), there are problems with LED lights beyond the color temperature. Firelight and the light of the Sun has a broad range of frequencies that are emitted. In other words, there are many colors of light that you can’t necessarily see. LED lights are more similar to a laser than to a natural light source. When you plot the frequencies emitted by an LED light on a graph, it looks like a spike rather than a bell curve. The “spike” is literally poking your retina. Not good.

Next time you have an incandescent or fire light source and an LED light source both handy, look at an object with the broader spectrum light sources (incandescent, fire) and then compare it to when the object is lit by LED. You will notice that LED light makes things look two-dimensional. Because there isn’t a broad spectrum of frequencies for your eye to receive the information bouncing off the object, the object looks dull and – quite literally – 2D. Try it.

What to do?

Fixing the light pollution in your environment is actually quite simple, but it takes commitment. If you really want to improve your sleep, take seriously the following and you will reap the results. Time and time again my clients are astounded at the difference that this subtle lifestyle change can make. I’ve even seen teenagers begin to go to bed on time! When I changed the quality of light I expose myself to on a daily basis, it completely changed my life.

  1. Change all your lightbulbs to amber incandescent. If this is to tall of an order, start by changing the bedroom and bathroom lights to amber incandescent.
  2. Change the color of all screens you have control over.
    iPhone users (“Night mode” is not enough): Go to General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filter > Color Tint > Hue 100%, Intensity — as red as you can stand it.
    Android users: Download the app “Twilight”. Make it as red as you can stand it.
    PC users: If you have a PC you can also download the app “f.lux” (here is the link) and change your screen settings with that. Again, make it as red as you can stand it.
  3. For the quickest circadian reset, wake up with the rising Sun, go outside, kick your shoes off, and watch the Sun come over the horizon with your bare feet touching the ground. Morning sunlight on the retina drastically increases the production of melatonin for it’s secretion later in the day – it starts the timer. If you want to take this even a step further, synchronize your circadian oscillator with crucial times throughout the day. Use an app (or Google) to determine when the Sun is at it’s zenith and when it sets that day. Briefly expose your retina to sunlight at high noon and sunset along with sunrise. Timing your eyes to the Sun only takes about 5 mins of exposure at first. The more you do it, the more your circadian rhythm becomes synchronized with the Sun, and the less time it takes to cue the clock! (And no, I’m not asking you to stare into the Sun. Sun-gaze at your own risk folks!)
  4. For the second quickest circadian reset, try wearing blue blocking glasses 2-3 hours before you intend to fall asleep. Do not expose your retinas to any artificial light after you put them on or you will reset your clock.
  5. For extra help, try supplementing lithium orotate and a high quality fish oil with DHA – especially the night before you intend to wake up with the sun and expose your eyes to morning sunlight. Lithium helps transport DHA through the blood-brain barrier and into the suprachiasmatic nucleus. DHA is largely responsible for the sensitivity of your circadian clock (because of the way DHA interacts with light!), and the highest concentration of DHA in the human body happens to be in the suprachiasmatic nucleus.

So…
Glasses, bulbs, fish oil, and lithium?
Sound like a lot of stuff to go out and get?
Want to skip the hassle of researching the best bulbs and the best glasses and supplements?

I offer a special circadian reset package for optimal sleep and optimal neurological and hormonal health.

It includes amber incandescent bulbs, the best blue blocking glasses, lithium orotate, and the highest quality fish oil to help get you started repairing your circadian rhythm and returning to neurological and hormonal health.

Ask me about ordering one!

Cholesterol: One of Your Body’s Most Important Molecules

Cholesterol gets a bad rap.

Many people don’t realize how incredibly important cholesterol actually is.

In order to get a handle on how important it is, let us reverse engineer our understanding of cholesterol by first looking at the side effects of suppressing cholesterol synthesis with a statin drug:

  • Increased risk of developing cancer [1]
  • Increased risk of developing diabetes [2]
  • Increased risk of developing cataracts [3]
  • Increased risk of erectile dysfunction [2]
  • Increased risk of kidney failure [3]
  • Increased risk of liver dysfunction [3]
  • Increased risk of cognitive impairment [4]
  • Increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease [5]
  • Increased risk of developing mood disorders, depression, and anxiety [6]
  • Increased risk of developing myopathy/neuropathy [3] (including a nasty-sounding condition called statin-induced nectrotizing autoimmune myopathy [3a])
  • Increased risk of contracting herpes zoster [7] and increased risk of infection after stroke [7a]
  • Increased risk of developing CoQ10 and Vitamin K2 deficiency [8]
  • Increased risk of developing coronary artery disease and aortic calcification (very ironic) [2, 8]

If decreasing the concentration of a single molecule in the body could cause all of these problems, then it must be vital. Indeed, cholesterol is one of the most important molecules in animal biology.

Let us look at some of its functions:

  • Cholesterol is the precursor to all sex hormones. If you want testosterone, estrogen, or progesterone – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is the precursor to Vitamin D. If you want to make Vitamin D from the Sun – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is necessary to make bile salts. If you want to be able to digest fat (or burn fat) and have a healthy gallbladder – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for a healthy immune system. You need it to fight infection.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for a healthy nervous system. It forms part of the myelin sheath. 25% of the cholesterol in your body is found in your brain.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for wound healing and for the body to repair itself.
  • Cholesterol is embedded in every cell membrane in your body and is required for proper cellular function.
  • Cholesterol is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial (it can kill MRSA).

There is a reason why women’s cholesterol can double or sometimes even triple while they are pregnant – cholesterol is a necessary building block of life.

The more cholesterol you eat, the less your body has to work hard to produce it.” – Dr. Natasha McBride

Your liver makes 2,000 mg of cholesterol per day. Being a compound only found in animal products, when you eat cholesterol (like from an egg or from butter) the cholesterol is absorbed directly and goes exactly where the body needs it. Eating more cholesterol does not cause elevated cholesterol, it simply allows the liver to occupy itself doing all the other things your liver does.

Well then what does cause elevated cholesterol? This is the 40 billion dollar question.

We now know that what causes abnormally high cholesterol is chronic inflammation, chronic infection, and chronic stress. From an Oriental Medicine perspective, the liver is producing extra cholesterol to bring more yin to the blood in order to cool the blood or to supplement yin. Cholesterol is actually trying to save your life.

When there are glycation end-products (little bits of oxidation) floating around the blood stream, it damages the vessel walls. These bits of oxidation are caused by inflammatory lifestyle and high-carbohydrate diets. Cholesterol, being necessary to repair tissue and for cell-wall integrity, comes to save the day. This is how increased inflammation leads to increased cholesterol.

It is important that we treat elevated cholesterol as a symptom of chronic inflammation rather than a disease in-itself. Once you bring inflammation down, the body’s natural intelligence can regulate cholesterol levels on it’s own.

Elevated cholesterol may also be a sign that you need to get in the Sun! Cholesterol is required for Vitamin D synthesis – one of the (other) most anti-inflammatory substances in your body. Cranking out more cholesterol may the body’s way of reaching for the Sun.

If you have high cholesterol, one of the first lifestyle changes you should make (as we all should) is to reduce oxidative stress on the body. This means, for most people, stopping the consumption of high-carbohydrate and processed foods (especially trans fats). Certain foods, like nightshades, can also contribute to chronic inflammation. It also means stopping inflammatory habits and lifestyle choices (see my articles on plastics and microwaves). Exercise and movement have been shown to normalize cholesterol levels as well (see Qigong).

Here is a great video that can help carry your understanding further:

I hope this article has been informative and even eye-opening for you. If this information is relevant to you or to someone you know, please share it.