Dr. David Simon. {Interview} ~ Anthony J.W. Benson

Via on Feb 24, 2012
NeilsPhotography

Along with so many others, I am saddened by the recent passing of Dr. David Simon.

Among his many qualities and accomplishments, both personally and professionally, David was a good man—smart, thoughtful, and kind. After our first meeting, David and I would check in and say hello over the years—always enjoying an enlightening and friendly conversation. We even spoke just a few months ago about a new project that I might help facilitate for him. But it was not to be.

Initially, I became familiar with David’s work through his collaboration with my friend, chef Ginna Bell Bragg, via their popular book A Simple Celebration, and through his esteemed work as the co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellness.

As I came to befriend more and more people associated with the Chopra Center for Wellness, David’s name kept popping up. Friends wanted me to meet him, as did I. When touring the Northwest in support of his then new book Return To Wholeness, he traveled through Portland where I was living at the time. He was to be in town for a book signing and talk about his book, which merges the deep intuition and practices of Eastern natural healing with the advanced technology of Western medicine. Powerful stuff. I wanted to have a discussion about it.

We were introduced by mutual friends and had a good connection. Given, I was doing some freelance writing at the time, I invited him over to my house for a nice long chat, some ginger tea, and an interview in support of his new book. I found David to be accessible and brilliant about all he had to share—and deeply passionate about changes needed regarding health and well-being and dealing with cancer. This interview, a little over a decade old now, is filled with great insights, and is even more illuminating and poignant than ever, in light of his passing.

Yes, the information he shared is important and valuable but, his spirit—which is imbued in his heartfelt sharing of self–even more so.

So in honor of David’s vital life’s work—his numerous healing contributions to the world via books, teachings, and as a medical doctor, as well as his friendship and positive impact on so many individuals—I have been inspired to again share this interview in its entirety. injoi.

David Simon Interview

Anthony J.W. Benson: David welcome to Portland. I have long been an admirer of your work, and I want to offer the readers of The Edge an opportunity to understand your background, your vision with your work, and what your accomplishing with the books that you have authored. Many people might know you’re association with Deepak Chopra and The Wellness Center in La Jolla, California and all the work that you have done there. They may not know how you arrived at this place in life and the depth and breadth of the intriguing work that you do. Please be kind enough to share with us a bit about your background and why and how you got to where you are today.

David Simon: Sure, well I knew that I wanted to be a doctor from a very young age. I think it’s because I heard, at one point, that the rabbis got together and were trying to determine when a fetus becomes a human being, and they decided that a fetus became a human being when it graduated from medical school. (laughs)  I knew at quite a young age that was going to be my dharma and my purpose. But I always had an interest of a broader view of healing and life, and so in undergraduate school at the University of Minnesota, in addition to doing the pre-med courses, I majored in Anthropology—and I specifically focused on the medicine man or the shaman in non-Western cultures. I really spent almost all of my time trying to understand what the role of the doctor was outside of the Western model. Then, both for my own personal evolution as well as stress management, I started meditating when I was a sophomore in college. Between undergraduate and medical school, I went on a  six-month meditation retreat and ended up becoming a meditation teacher of TM at that time.

AB: What followed this retreat and training?

DS: When I started medical school, I thought I had all the right credentials. I knew about witch doctors, I knew about meditation and yoga, and I knew something about biochemistry, but when I started med school at the University of Chicago, I felt like I had just landed on a completely different planet. Not only was nobody having conversations about spirituality and healing, but even health was rarely mentioned. The real focus was on the biochemistry and physiology of disease. So it was difficult for me, and I wondered if I was in the wrong role. But I stuck with it and have spent most of my professional life, as well as my personal life, trying to integrate what I know at a deeper, intuitive level, as well as what I know from my studies. And along the way, I’ve had some fun.

Actually, in the fourth year of medical school more than 25 percent of my classmates were meditating, mostly just to manage stress. I taught and did a lot of research projects on meditation and high blood pressure.  I was always a little bit on the far edge of mainstream. Then, I was probably most attracted to psychiatry, but I chose neurology as a way to try to kind of bridge the mind-body gap. For me, fortunately, I actually did my training at the university of Colorado, and the chairman of the department was well known for his biochemical studies. He actually was a Zen Buddhist and on his sabbaticals would spend most of his time in Zen monasteries in Japan, so he was really open to the field of consciousness and the field of the mind, as well as being a top-notch neurologist.

Then I went into private practice in San Diego and continued to explore a whole range of alternative and complementary approaches. I studied kinesiology with an acupuncturist, kinesiology with chiropractors, homeopathy, and a whole range of things. But I really couldn’t quite figure out how I was going to blend what I was doing as a traditional neurologist with this more alternative world—until I came across Ayurveda. That was some time in the early or mid 80s, and Deepak, at that time, was the president of an organization called the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine whose mission was to introduce concepts of Ayurveda to Western doctors. I really got turned on by the framework that provided, just getting a vocabulary to integrate what was known in the West and known in the East. So, in 1987, I spent some time in India studying with Ayurvedic doctors, and then went back again in 1989 to keep exploring this more and more.

In 1992, I was chief of staff of one of the hospitals in San Diego, and I was invited to a meeting by the CEO of a health care system that had seven hospitals. It was the biggest medical establishment in San Diego. He told us that his wife had been sick and, of all the things that she had done, some of the alternative approaches were most beneficial. He asked us, “Do you think that there is some role for holistic approaches in traditional medicine?” And for me it was a kind of coming out of the closet. I said, “I have been experimenting with this for twenty years and have been using it in my practice, and I feel it is very valuable. A friend of mine, Chopra, is running a program on the East Coast.” Deepak wasn’t widely known then, so we invited him out. He gave a very inspirational talk to a small group of doctors and hospital administrators, and that got people turned on to Deepak.

I organized a training program for about a half dozen physicians, including the chief of oncology and chief of cardiology. Over a course of about six months, we taught them the basic principles of mind-body medicine and Ayurveda, and they got really excited. Then this group of physicians went back to the administrators and said, “We think there is really some value here.” That way it wasn’t just me saying it, it was a group of mainstream doctors. So then we started this whole process of deciding what that was going to look like, and in that process we invited Deepak out to become the executive director of that. That was, I think, in early 1993. And right around the time we were establishing this whole program, Deepak’s Ageless Body, Timeless Mind book came out, and it was like this explosion. He was on Oprah, and the phones just started going crazy, like a thousand calls a day from people around the country saying, “When can I come?!” So this tidal wave suddenly took and within about nine months, I had sold my neurology practice and started this program. We have gone through several variations from there, but basically building on the idea of how you can use these concepts of mind, body, and spirit in a more mainstream environment.

AB: As I believe the Grateful Dead said, “It’s been a long strange trip.” David, what I’m struck by in listening to this story is that you started in Western medicine, and you were even in the belly of the farm belt in Minnesota for part of your studies, and you understood your dharma—your calling of purpose—to be a healer. But what made the shift? What happened to you? What was the personal shift of looking to Transcendental Meditation, Eastern philosophy, and other Eastern forms of healing that are certainly outside the scope of conventional Western medicine? Where was this initial pull and how did you deal with that—in that you weren’t necessarily surrounded by people who were embracing of this or had much knowledge about it?

DS: Well, the late 60s and early 70s, there was certainly a lot of exploration of consciousness at that time. Actually, it’s kind of funny because my partner at that time went away for the summer to Europe, and she met this Indian guru named Guru Maharaji. When she came back, she said, “You would really appreciate mediation because it will take you to places, without of any kind of external substances, that are really much more profound.” So I was walking on the campus of the University of Minnesota, and I saw this poster for Maharishi of TM. I went to a lecture on TM and was really struck that this description of expanded states of awareness, and this understanding of higher states of awareness, was something that not only was very attractive to me personally and experientially but really is what the shaman and medicine men talk about. When they go into their healing state, they go beyond rational, linear, and even individual states of awareness and contact something much more universal. So for me, in learning meditation, I got really excited about the fact that there was a whole vocabulary, in a deep philosophical system, that described the nature of subjective reality. In the West, from the earliest possible education, we really focus entirely on objective reality and what is outside of ourselves. So describing that most of our reality takes place internally, I was really struck by the profound exploration of that Vedic understanding of Eastern philosophy.

AB: With Transcendental Meditation, what has been the most profound gift that it has offered you?

DS: Well, one thing that I have realized is that TM is just one kind of meditation. I think the most important gift that all meditation has is to give us the direct experience that beyond turbulence of the mind everybody is having a continuous, internal conversation with themselves. Someone estimated that we have 60,000 thoughts a day; that is the good news. The bad news is 59,000 of them are the same ones from yesterday.  So that keeps us locked into a certain frequency of perception…that memory, that continuity of individuality. As far as I have experienced, meditation is the only consistent way to let us temporarily go beyond that pattern of conditioning, that mental activity, and touch something that is much more profound and much more subtle. So you go beyond the body, beyond the emotions, even beyond thought, into that field of pure awareness. That field ultimately gives birth to thoughts and emotions and physical reality; to pure potentiality and pure creativity and connectedness with something beyond the duality. So, philosophically it resonates with what I see my life is.

AB: In mediation, do you find the quieting that occurs to garner gifts only within, or does it also help disengage us from that clutter of the 59,000 other pieces that still are manifesting in our brain? Does it allow us to also embrace and connect with what is outside of us, the external world with other people, with other opportunities etc.?

DS: Hopefully, that is the case. Ultimately, as the predicted outcome of the great rishis and yogis who meditated deeply for years, the understanding that dawns is that this inner field of silence, the infinity that I contact within myself, is the same inner field of silence and creativity that is within you and every moving thing and every non-living thing. This universal value begins to predominate more and more in the waking state, as it does in the meditative state. Evolution of consciousness is a real subtle thing, because you never know what your life would be like if you weren’t doing something. My experience, and part of it is just getting older and having more experiences, but it seems to me that people who are meditating have much less fear of change. They’re able to see beyond the superficial differences and connect more with universal qualities.

AB: Have you found that meditation and the aligning practices that compliment
meditation have given you a clear understanding of loving yourself? And then also being able to incorporate love into your work?

DS:  Definitely. I really think that the ultimate experience of love is that recognition of universal nature. So that when we really love somebody it is because we see that they are just another piece of the spark—the same thing that we are made up of.  I think, probably, the best metaphor that I found of value is the idea that underneath all of the waves is this ocean. Each of us is an individual wave, and by identifying ourselves as a wave, then the nature of that is to compare ourselves to other waves. So this one’s bigger, this one’s smaller. And if we look out, we see that regardless of how big or small, they all seem to be crashing against the shore—and that gives us cause for anxiety. But if we realize that the wave is the ocean temporarily disguising itself as “my individuality” or “your individuality,” then we begin to own our true nature. As I recognize that I am really the ocean, then I can also begin to recognize that every other wave—or individual identity—is also the ocean.

AB: Part of the greater whole.

DS: Then that fear, that comparison, that judgment starts to fade away. In that connectedness, there is the recognition that even when the wave crashes, it
is still the ocean.

AB: I like that metaphor. Do you find that it can offer a gift of peace amidst the chaos of life—that when you get to that place of knowing that it allows you to positively disconnect from the pain, the trauma, the confusion that not feeling connected can cause?

DS:  I think it is always a process of remembering and forgetting. As a physician at the Chopra Center, I see people who are facing serious challenges, and the turbulence is sometimes almost overwhelming for people. Even a taste of that quiet place inside is often enough to remind them that this problem, like many other problems in your life, will also pass.  So it is not that I never get caught up, or people who meditate never get caught up in the drama of life. I think that is part of life, and hopefully we keep coming back to the self, which is beyond all the drama and all the turbulence.

AB: I have always noted that for myself history is my best friend. You know, when you get through the darkest nights of the soul and those moments in your life where you feel you will never survive or get through it.  Just being here is representative not only that you got through it, but you survived with flying colors. In those kinds of experiences, knowing that “this too shall pass” is a state of awareness that is beneficial in finding that peace. David, I’m struck by the combination of spiritual elements that you incorporate into your work. I think that understanding mind and body is sometimes too separate in Western medicine. There tends to be a Band Aid kind of thinking: let’s solve the obvious symptoms and not get to the core issue. And I think that what I’m understanding with a lot of your work is that it goes to the real core of whatever ailment. Is that true?

DS: Yes, and you know, there is a beautiful model actually from a great, great sage named Chankara where he talked about how human beings are really layers of densities, energy information wrapped around souls. So we have this core spirit and then we wrap the core spirit with our individual seeds of memory and desire, and then we wrap that with our ego and our intellect and our mind and our emotions. And we wrap that with the body of energy, then we wrap that with a physical body, and then we wrap that with an environmental body. So if you look at a human from that cosmic perspective, we are not just a frozen anatomical structure or not just the physical machine that has learned how to manufacture thoughts. We really are localized fields of energy and information in this vast cosmic field of energy and information. We really are our environment—we are our physical body, our energy body, our senses, our mind, our emotions, and our spirit.

And so, from the traditional human models, disease was always some interruption or some breakdown in this integration of body, mind, and spirit. And health was the recovery of that integration of complete wholeness. The words health and wholeness and holiness all come from the same root. The problem with Western medicine right now, although it is changing, is that we are locked in a very materialistic model, the worldview from 300 years ago that the world was really physical and solid. But advanced physics which tells us that the solid world is not really solid, it is composed of elemental particles separated by vast empty spaces. And the understanding that the body, even though it looks solid, is really not solid because we are constantly exchanging molecules with the environment—with every breath, with everything we eat, every time we eliminate. The view of the body as being a physical frozen structure that somehow learned how to make thoughts, that’s really outmoded. So if we really are going to affect change, we can’t just give a pharmaceutical agent or cut out the tissue or radiate something. We have to affect change on all these different levels.

AB: I have always seen traditional medicine as viewing any kind of shift in the body or otherwise as a failure, that the thinking behind it is something has failed, something is wrong, and we have to fix it—and we will fix it no matter what cost in order to kind of uphold the standard. It’s almost automatic in a sense. I have always felt that when you don’t connect the heart and spirit to this kind of work there are going to be a lot of problems. Do you find that the benefits of Eastern thought and other ways of healing is permeating traditional medicine in a positive way? Are we changing and opening ourselves up to new ways of doing things? And do you feel confident that those changes will make a difference in the future?

DS: My hope is that we are. We are in a transitional period right now, and again, I think that as a Western trained physician, I would not want to throw out some of the very valuable information that we have gained from a Western perspective, particularly for acute illness. Our ability to really save lives through Western medicine is greater than any other medical system.

AB: Why is that?

DS: Because with acute illness we are often dealing on a very physical level. If you are in a major automobile accident and have a crushed skull or fractured bones, there is nothing like a great neurosurgeon surgeon and an orthopedist to come and put things back together. You suddenly have a rip-roaring pulmonary infection that is overwhelming your immune system, there is nothing like some of these modern antibiotics to re-establish the balance in your system.

The problem is, the same things that are very useful on an acute basis may not be at all useful on a chronic basis. Most people who see a doctor aren’t coming with these acute illnesses; they are coming with chronic fatigue and difficulty sleeping and low levels of depression and mild digestive disturbances.

AB: Not necessarily catastrophic in nature.

DS: Right. And the problem is that the same tools we would use for acute situations tend to be applied to these subtler and more chronic situations— and they just don’t work. There is an expression that says, “If the only tool that you have in your toolbox is a hammer, then everything looks a lot like a nail.” This is true for all the health care systems. We tend to get really isolated so that medical doctors need tools of subscription pads. Certainly in my earlier years as a doctor, I would find a medicine for just about every symptom. Stomach irritation, I will give you an anti-ulcer drug. If you have pain, I will give you an analgesic drug. If you have an infection, I will give you an antibiotic drug. If you have trouble sleeping, I will give you an anti-insomnia drug. And if you have trouble waking up, I will give you an anti-fatigue drug. But the problem is, of course, on the subtler levels the tool is often too powerful or inappropriate for the task.

Now, other health care systems are not necessarily that much better. If you’re a chiropractor, your main tool is an adjustment. So no matter what the problem is, you will figure out the reason to adjust the spine. Or if you are an acupuncturist, your main tool is a needle, and no matter what the problem is, you will tap into a meridian.

Hopefully what we are going to see evolving over the next generation is this integration, where everybody’s goal is to find the right tool—and that all who consider themselves healers and doctors will work together to rediscover what works, what doesn’t work, and move this into an evolutionary system of health care.

AB: What do you think will be the significant changes that will start coming about for the 21st century, both medically and other wise, that correspond to healing?

DS: Our statistics are pretty phenomenal right now. For example, five thousand Baby Boomer women a day are now going into menopause. Traditionally, in the case of advanced spiritual societies, once you made enough money and raised your family, then you would spend a good part of your later years on spiritual quests—really understanding your significance and starting to prize the wisdom of aging. The problem in this society is once you get a wrinkle or your hair turns gray, we cast people off. In almost every traditional society, the seniors are the custodians of wisdom and are responsible for making certain discussions in society. So my hope is that we start that shift in the transformation of our cultural consciousness, where that the evolution of knowledge and wisdom is the path. The great medical scientist Jonas Salk wrote a fairly obscure book called Madam of Reality, and in it he says that if the human race is going to survive, we have to move beyond the Darwinian concept of survival of the fittest and move into this new understanding, that ultimately earth is dependent on the survival of the wisest. And so we are going to move into that age of evolution of wisdom, and medicine and healing will move along with that.

AB: Are you encouraged? Do you feel that is doable?

DS: Well, you know, that reality is a selective act of perception and interpretation. And certainly in my day-to-day reality I am seeing increasingly positive signs that people are awakening, and even on the most basic level of openness, to more natural approaches. The latest scientific study shows that almost 50% of Americans are using some form of unconventional health care, be it massage or meditation or herbs. So it seems as if there is a collective increase in consciousness and that we are reaching a critical mass where we can make that shift. Now is the time to really embrace that in every aspect of our lives.

AB: With your work as a doctor, and as you have evolved as a person, when did you decide you wanted to write? What was the calling for that expression?

DS: I am not sure I ever made that conscious decision. My first book, The Wisdom of Healing, actually came out of a course that we still give every year, twice a year called “Journey into Healing.” Five or six years ago, when we started that course, there was such a demand to discover—“how do we move from the theoretical to the practical aspects of mind-body healing?” And so that book was really originally intended to be somewhat of a textbook for mind-body medicine. Then on the recommendation of the publishers, it became a more personal book of my journey.  But that book was not that easy to write, because it was not clear. Who the audience was kept changing. But for the last several years as medical director of the Chopra Center, I have seen hundreds of people with cancer and a couple things became clear to me. One is that these mind-body approaches are really essential to helping people move through these very difficult challenges of facing a life-threatening illness. The other is that everybody has a pretty good idea of what they should do. Everybody knows they should manage their stress and eat better and exercise and build relationships, but we tend to all walk around with this sense of immortality. So we keep putting off the things that we want to do, thinking, “Well, first I will finish this, or I will make enough money. First I will get the job I want; then I will start taking better care of myself and live the life that I think is appropriate.” The thing about cancer and other serious illnesses is that it really says to you, “Now or never. Are you going to make those shifts now, or are you going to keep putting things off?” People who are facing serious illness are often more prepared than any group that I have ever seen to really make the changes in their life: to start meditating on a regular basis, start eating healthier, start healing relationships, to get back in touch with their body, and really consciously step onto the spiritual path. So this book wrote itself. I really felt that once it started it just had it’s own voice. It was very easy to imagine, because everyday I was seeing people in my practice at the Chopra Center. They were asking these questions, looking for guidance, trying to weave their way through all the information (and often misinformation) that they were receiving.

My hope is that this turn to wholeness will be of value to people who don’t have cancer, because I think the principles are very universal. Unfortunately, cancer is an amazingly common disease. In 1997, statistics published by the National Cancer institute suggested that at current trends, 38% of women and 48% of men will contract some form of cancer during there lifetime.

AB: That’s an amazing statistic. Do you believe that cancer is the biggest health and wellness challenge to us as a society currently?

DS: Well, statistically probably heart disease is even bigger, but it is an interesting model actually for how we live our lives. A physiologist back in the 30s named Walter Cannon described the response to stress. He called it the fight-flight response. It is activated by the experiences that we perceive as being threatening or very challenging to our well-being. In one case, we fight aggressively, and in another case, we run away, depending on whether or not we think we are going to win or lose. In an acute situation this response is lifesaving, so if you were walking in the jungle and suddenly a saber-toothed cat jumps out, that would immediately activate your fight-flight response, hopefully allowing you to survive. The problem in modern life is that we activate this fight or flight response probably a dozen times every day, and the most of the time it is not very adaptive because we generate all the physiological reactions and usually we don’t act on it, at least physically. Cardiovascular disease, heart disease from an Ayurvedic model is most associated with the fight response. So one of the risk factors for heart disease is people who have this hostile energy, that they perceive the world as a threatening place and they tend to respond in an angry way, in an irritable way. They have high blood pressure, they end with more cholesterol, and they end up creating platelets that stick together, more readily causing blood clots. On the other hand, people with cancer have a tendency to have more of a flight response. Although these are gross generalizations and do not apply to everybody, there are a number of studies to suggest that one of the psychological profiles of people with cancer is that they are less comfortable expressing there feelings or there emotions. They tend to stuff those feelings and that also has an impairing effect on the immune system. So I think the bottom line in both situations is balance. Balance is the key. That’s one of the things that I talk about in the book, for people with cancer to look at this issue willingly, openly, and honestly. Express your feelings and your emotions, and start practicing that with your loved ones. People who have the opposite problem and seem to be extremely expressive and often blaming, they can possibly learn something from patients who have a tendency to get cancer.

AB: You mentioned Ayurveda quite a bit. I am assuming that is the base, the model that you work from in the majority of your work. Is that correct?

DS: First of all, the word Ayurveda it is a Sanskrit word: Ayur means life and Veda means science or wisdom. The wonderful thing about Ayurveda is it’s all-embracing philosophy. Literally, within the tree of Ayurveda you can find everything from neurosurgery to psychic surgery, because there is a common vocabulary that allows people to understand why one person responds to herbs and another person to surgery; why one person does well with this type of massage and the other person does better with another type; and why this diet works for him but not for her.  There is this recognition that ultimately the human body is the end product of our experiences of life. Sound, sight, sensations, smell, taste, and emotions get translated into molecules that structure our physiology. If we want to change the body, we need to change the input and also make sure the body is eliminating properly. From diet, herbs, and aromatherapy, to massage, meditation, yoga, and exercise, what Ayurveda offers is a common language that really can serve to allow healthy conversations between all the different models of medicine.

AB: In your new book Return to Wholeness, which does focus on cancer, what is the core message that you want people to walk away with after reading this book?

DS: I think the core message is to look for what the message that cancer is bringing to a person’s life. Particularly from a societal standpoint, why is it that so many people are dealing with cancer? One of the things that I think is important is the recognition that our tolerance for toxicity has a lot to do with the prevalence of cancer in our society. Studies have estimated that up to 80 percent of cancer has some environment involvement. From smoking cigarettes, to the high-fat, low-fiber diet that Americans eat, to air pollution, to pesticides, to food supply, to problems with our water supply, even to toxic emotions and toxic jobs and toxic relationships, all of these things have some collective impact on our risk of getting cancer.

AB: Is it true that cancer is most prevalent in our society compared to others throughout the world? And if so, do you think that is born out of an ignorance or arrogance of how we view ourselves and the choices that we make?

DS: What is actually true is that certain cancers are more prevalent in this society and others are much more prevalent in other societies. And again, that has a lot to do with environmental factors. So for example, in certain section of Africa, liver cancer is the number one cancer, and it is because of the fact that there is a very high incident of hepatitis from unsanitary food and water supply. Whereas, liver cancer here in the U.S. is relatively rare and primarily with people who have cirrhosis of the liver. But the most prevalent cancers in this society are lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. If we eliminated smoking from this society, we would basically eliminate lung cancer. Colon, breast, and prostate cancer seem to have a substantial correlation with our diet, our high fat diet. For example, the risk of prostate cancer that is clinically apparent in Americans has a substantial correlation with our diet, our high fat diet. So for example, the risk of prostate cancer clinically apparent in Afro-American men is over 100 times greater than men living outside Shanghai, China. The risk of breast cancer in American women is seven to eight times higher than in women who live in certain sections of Japan. And that has a lot to do with how we live our lives, so some things we can make a difference about and some things we can’t. We can certainly make choices to improve the quality of what we are putting into are bodies, what we are eating, how we are dealing with stress, the powerful mind body connection regarding the immune system, and how we manage stress. Also, how we deal with loss could have a powerful influence on how healthy our immune system is functioning, in terms of identifying and recognizing the kind of cancer and eliminating it. So, there are a lot of things that can reduce our risk of cancer.

AB: So you do believe that we individually and collectively have the capacity to minimize and to alleviate cancer, if not eradicate it on occasion? In other words, is it curable?

DS: Right, I think on some levels the answer to that question is yes. And on other levels, we live on a planet with oxygen, and although we all know we need oxygen, every time we use oxygen it causes a reaction. We generate these molecules called free radicals. I just read an estimate that each cell in our body generates a trillion free radical molecules every day. And, although 98 percent of those molecules are neutralized by antioxidants in our body, about 2% leak out and do some damage. So it is actually estimated that every day in our body, we probably take 10,000 hits to our DNA. And of course our bodies repair that, but if you can, imagine 10,000 times every day having to figure out the error with the spell check on your word processor and correct it before it replicates. So it is not surprising that cancer is in every animal and will probably always be there. The goal, of course, is to minimize the effects that our lifestyle will contribute to that.

AB: The image that came to mind as you were sharing that was almost that of a corrosive effect, as rust to metal against the body, depending on how much you are exposed to air and water and all of that. So it sounds as though no matter what we do, it is there, and it really is about how to manage it.

DS: Well, one of the things that Western medicine is good at is looking at averages, but what it doesn’t look at is the exceptional.  So in this case, you don’t have to go too far. If 38 percent of women who get cancer during there lifetime, then I think an important question is, what are the 62 percent doing right that we can then teach the 38 percent?  I think we can substantially reduce cancer in our lives, right now.

AB: We don’t have to give away all the power and be victimized to the extent that we are. What do you feel then is the biggest challenge for us, individually and collectively, with cancer? And what can we best do to make some shifts and changes that are calming and healing?

DS: I think the biggest challenge to life for all of us is that all this stuff out there is much noisier, and therefore calling for our attention much more, than the quiet places in ourselves. And so the real challenge, I think for all of us, is to take time to go back into our self on a regular basis. It is very easy to get caught up in the dynamic excitement of the world and get so caught up in life that we don’t take time for ourselves. We don’t take time to exercise. We don’t take time to be with the people that we love and nurture those relationships. And certainly, particularly in our society, there are plenty of people who would love for us to pay attention to them and not to our own selves. I think that is the real challenge for all of us, particularly in this very active, lively environment where you can watch television 24 hours a day, go to a movie anytime you like, go out to eat anytime you want, and go anywhere. The trick is to honor the balance of nature which always has in it periods of rest and activity—that’s the balance, that’s the evolution.

© 2012 – Anthony J.W. Benson – All Rights Reserved.

edited by Greg Eckard

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Anthony J.W. Benson is a transformational teacher, writer, speaker, and creative business strategist who has worked closely with leaders in the human potential field, including Cyndi Dale, Neale Donald Walsch, Gregg Braden, and Margaret Paul, Ph.D. among many other luminaries. He is also co-founder of Deeper Well Publishing and Principal of injoi Creative and injoi Music. A popular guest on many radio and television shows throughout the United States, Anthony has appeared on The Wisdom Channel, Blog Talk Radio, Co-Creator Network and FOX TV. He has also been featured as an authority in his field in Evolving Wellness, Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, The Minneapolis Star and Tribune, Edge Life, Evolving Beings, Miracle Journeys, Inspire Me Today, and The St. Paul Pioneer Press. For more information please visit: www.anthonyjwbenson.comwww.facebook.com/injoiwww.twitter.com/injoiwww.injoimusic.comwww.deeperwellpublishing.com

 

 

About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of elephantjournal.com. Questions? info elephantjournal com

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