Speech as Spiritual Practice

β€œMen and women range themselves into three classes or orders of intelligence; you can tell the lowest class by their habit of always talking about persons; the next by the fact that their habit is always to converse about things; the highest by their preference for the discussion of ideas.” — Henry Thomas Buckle

Over the last 2 weeks, I have spent some time on Twitter to see what that platform is about. After following quite a number of people, I then unfollowed for the negativity that I was exposed to. In the Hebraic tradition, there is something called lashon hora, evil speech. It is said that when one talks negatively about someone even if it is truthful, 3 people are harmed, the one doing the speaking, the one listening, and the one that is being spoken about.

It goes even further, shaming one in public is akin to murder, murdering their name and causing shame. Since a great deal of twitter is about this unfortunately and it is quite clear that people don’t really see the potential negativity, it is a platform with considerable risk to your health, as it opens you up to negativity which has an absolute direct effect on your immune system. Additionally, it normalizes negative pathological association with others which is degrading to your self-identity, as it associates you with people who are not good for you.

So, now, when I am on twitter, I unfollow as negativity comes.

What about the negative things that are happening in the world? What if I want to engage in discussion about that? To this question I would respond by reminding you of the quote at the top of the post.

I was very naive in thinking that following noted health authorities would keep me from such evil speech. On Friday I came across a few posts about a new book coming out by a noted author. Remarkably, noted physicians spoke disparagingly about the man, questioned his motives, and degraded the book without even reading it. This was evil speech, intended to harm the reputation of the man and cause financial distress by making sure that others didn’t buy his book.

It’s irrelevant whether it is true or not, in this case, I know it to be untrue as I had the opportunity at a conference in Montreal last year to discuss his modalities with his head nurse and was impressed and know that he does good work. Similar posts showed another well known physician heard on many podcasts literally throwing another authors book in the trash and mocking the author of the book on personal terms. I happen to know the author of the book that was in the trash and know every personal claim made about him to also be untrue, but again, it doesn’t matter if it is true or not.

So, now I find myself unfollowing even noted health authorities. What is one to do with the anger against some individual for espousing ideas that one finds harmful or detestable. It’s simple, engage the ideas and not the person, even if the person’s personality is somehow intimately linked to his ideas.

This is a spiritual practice, it takes work, it takes considerable thoughtfullness, it takes commitment especially in this age. The end result is a sense of inner calm and a palpable increase in self-awareness of your speech, which is the most sacred aspect of your interaction with the world.

In the Bible in Deuteronomy, it says that one should appoint Judges and Police at the gates of the cities. The Hebrew mystics said that the body should be seen as a small city. The gates are of course, the eyes, ears, and mouth. The problem we all face is that we don’t realize that who or what we let in can cause damage to the our body, the little city. Use platforms like twitter carefully and when you need to allow some ideas or people with bad intentions into your city, please make sure that your inner police are watching that they don’t infect the city.

Honoring Genetic Variation

Use of the word honor in this case should be read as having a high degree of respect. The path that your ancestors travelled is built into you in mysterious ways molded from the challenges they received from the environment. These crafted you in perfectly unique ways, such that you are unique and beautiful.

Epigenetic influences from the environment can turn genes on and off like a switch. There are however, certain genes that code for enzymes that are your unique fingerprint and don’t change. The funny thing is that while CURRENT influences (food availability and choice, stress, hormonal levels etc) won’t significantly change some of these in your life, over many generations they can change. Let me explain with an example.

There are enzymes, FADS1 and FADS2 that convert plant based fatty acids to become long chain fatty acids found naturally in seafood, what you might know as omega 3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA found in an omega 3 supplement. It is hypothesized that as populations started eating more plants genetic pressure led to individuals who could convert better, the plant based fatty acids into the long chain fatty acids. Certain Inuits in Greenland who were eating nothing but seafood and land animals had the opposite pressure. They didn’t need any more of these long chain fatty acids as they were already getting the final product without having to convert plant based fatty acids to long chain fatty acids already found in the seafood and organ meats they ate.

Ancestral cultures even had some knowledge of supplemental importance of these for pregnancy and brain development. Reference needed but I was told by a mentor of mine that there were certain tribes that would send the young men hundreds of miles to the sea to gather fish eggs for the women of the tribe who were pregnant. The basic science of brain development demonstrates the critical need for DHA and is the reason why DHA is incorporated into baby formula.

Similar adaptations, of course, can be found in the genes responsible for processing dairy, which arose due to the need by some communities to rely on dairy as a critical source of calories in certain historical periods. Unfortunately, due to the diet wars, I have to state the obvious, that even if you have the gene to encode for digestion of dairy, doesn’t mean it is healthy for you, it just means that you can digest it better than someone who doesn’t. If you lived a thousand years ago and didn’t have access to Whole Foods and you had to rely on dairy and didn’t possess lactase, it is likely you would have been quite ill. The main difference is of course, that DHA and EPA are what are called conditionally essential nutrients meaning you do need to have them in your body whereas there is nothing in dairy uniquely needed for the body.

As I have discussed at length on my youtube channel and briefly here, there is a very specific difference in physicians like myself who love personalized medicine catered to the beautiful uniqueness that is you and those physicians who advocate for a specific diet for the the masses. As an example, there are doctors who feel that since there is no common absolute disease state from avoiding seafood or omega 3 supplements, that there is no need for even the discussion of supplementation. (Of course, an Greenland Inuit on a vegan diet would absolutely need an omega 3 supplement) One flaw with that logic among many is that as we have learned thus far in other posts, while an overt disease state with a specific ICD-10 code and a chapter in an internal medicine textbook to describe it might not exist for the common individual with even poor conversion rates and a low omega 3 index, failing to thrive, depressive symptomatology, and not functioning at your optimal capacity is also a disease / dis-ease state that can be seen as a result, even if it is not in the majority.

It is why I love personalized medicine and love the evolving field of genomics and advanced diagnostic blood testing. You need to become your own authority in health and for the advanced thriver getting a genomic analysis done (or in this example, an micronutrient analysis also that includes essential fatty acids) and having a sincere conversation with someone who has guided others in understanding the results can be so wonderful. Incidentally, I do these for free, maybe when I hit 300 or 400 of these genomic analyses and feel myself an expert I might charge for the time πŸ™‚ This knowledge can turn for example, non thriving vegans into thriving vegans due to this analysis and yes, one of the many interventions could just be a DHA supplement based on genetics and symptomatology. There are other genes that impact beta-carotone and vitamin a as well as genes that would influence the choice of which specific type of b12 supplement to take and many others. The field is growing by the day and data shows that changes made as a result of this analysis “stick” more than kind hearted suggestions from a well meaning doctor πŸ™‚

And yet, those with a population wide mindset will look at these suggestions and say, you are working with such a small population as to be insignificant!! And that even I state that the suggestion for supplemental omega 3’s is very narrow! And to that I would say, each individual needs to be honored, and one person who goes from merely feeling good to great and now thrives can change the world! When you can take a person who is feeling fine and is now feeling great, most never realized that they could feel the way they feel now. There are levels of wellness that most people have no clue about. This, of course also pertains to people who are omnivores like myself. A vegan poster on twitter influenced this post and so I am using this very narrow example to illustrate a point. Population wide suggestions are very important but they intend to move people over the finish line but they often fall short even if major societal health statistics improve. To bring a person over the finish line, though, they need to be empowered to work with their own uniqueness and it is my job to empower them. This is where the magic of medicine starts in my opinion. Once they pass that finish line, new horizons of wellness and achievement open up and quite frankly they start empowering others. Being a part of this process is my path in life.