Welcome

It is my passion to help others find health on all levels. As a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, and on staff as a supplement/health consultant in retail environments, I gained much knowledge about physical health. As an individual who has had to deal with my own health problems, as well as those of my wife, I have gained compassion for the difficulty one may have in finding the right kind of information and help navigating those problems. From a dedicated 40 year meditation practice I have gained wisdom and patience in helping others on their path to full wellness.

Over time, I hope to post enough content to guide and inspire those who are having small difficulties, the easy stuff. For the more “stubborn” obstacles to achieving your goals, please feel free to contact me privately here and let’s see what we can do together!

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Seems I am not fully human! (Humorous fun and true)

See linked article below~
I had terrible allergies from very early childhood, incapacitating really. Got the shots which helped some but took antihistamines pretty much daily; I remember swallowing pills on my own I think in preschool maybe even before (doled out by my parents of course). Must be more towards the 6% end.
Major diet change from “standard American health food” including a goodly ration of “healthy” chips, cookies, etc to Fuhrman/McDougall hybrid and after about 3 years of that my allergies just sort of faded and vanished. And indeed, now eat a lot closer to “true paleo i.e. only real food, mostly plants…(thank you Michael Pollen), eliminating most of the allergenic newer foods i.e. all the manufactured food like substances.
I’ll certainly take that perk!
~Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac., Health Coach
Here’s my college graduation photo to give you more or an idea…
Neanderthal
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The more Neanderthal genes (1 to 6%) you have, the better your immune system.  But the more susceptible you are to allergies (overreacting immune system).

Did prehistoric interbreeding strengthen human immune system?

“Interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals in Europe may have enhanced modern humans’ ability to ward off infection, but it may also have increased susceptibility to allergies, say two reports published in the American Journal of Human Genetics…[continues at link above]

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I think this may be the key to addiction of all sorts including specific foods and overeating. Of course “context” in humans means internal context (ideas about life, deepest motivations, etc as well as outer social). Very popular book The Pleasure Trap” about food/junk food addiction is based on the currently popular model of brain chemistry…
Portugal Cut Addiction Rates in Half by Connecting Drug Users With Communities Instead of Jailing Them
Fifteen years ago, the Portuguese had one of the worst drug problems in Europe. So they decriminalized drugs, took money out of prisons, put it into holistic rehabilitation, and found that human connection is the antidote to addiction.
Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac., Health Coach
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I just watched this film; a man staying where I am told me about it this morning. A very fine documentary. There are some remarkable moments of transformation shown.  In my own life I have found similar from Vipassana meditation-very simple, very difficult, very difficult, and amazingly rewarding.

Dhamma Brothers

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If watching it inspires you, the 10 day training given these prisoners is the exact same training available at centers all over the world at no charge to you (including room and food). Aside from being traditional, the reason for no fees is that this is just too valuable to the world to deny anyone due to their financial situation. There is a lot of information on the Vipassana website. You can follow links on the site to find a course near you.

Watch it and let me know what you think!

Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac., Health Coach

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Addiction redux

I am continually experimenting with ways to communicate my insights and learnings about life. Addiction seems to me to be a fundamental human tendency that really covers most all problematic areas of life.

As part of that experimenting, here is my latest attempt at a general overview at what I have learned about addiction; that means all addiction regardless of whether it is to a substance, an activity, or an internal mental/emotional process or state.  I have been working deliberately and specifically on this for nearly 50 years now and in my experience, people use all sorts of different words and descriptions, but it all boils down to this~

Our lives ultimately consist of information in and information out. Information comes in through our sense organs, impacts our nervous and endocrine systems, which are spread throughout our bodies.  These in turn generate outputs in response and they consist of neurotransmitters, hormones, nerve impulses, etc.

[Sidebara quick definition of “information”: What is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence of things.

We could call information, organized energy. It can be in the form of photons (images), sound waves (speech or thought), physical constructs (chemical molecules) or physical motion (facial expressions, gestures, dance, and of course combinations of any of these and more.]

We perceive that process as subtle physical sensations. Though most often out of conscious awareness, we are none the less on some level aware of them. Some sensations are neutral but the rest we either crave and want more of or fear or hate and want to avoid or at least have less of.  And we will do whatever it takes to accomplish those goals!

Each and every addiction boils down to some form of action to modulate or control those internal sensations, to either increase them or decrease them, prevent them or cause them.  The reason it is an addiction is because it is unconsciously motivated, reactive, driven, compulsive, not a freely chosen action.  We can become free of an addiction in only one way and that is becoming conscious of, and non-reactively tolerant to, the presence of those internal sensations.  Any action we take to accomplish that is progress towards freedom.  The very good news is that becoming even a little more free in regards to one addiction usually generalizes to increased freedom in the rest of our lives.

The very first step is slowing down enough to become increasingly conscious of the inner sensations that drive us, or maybe just becoming willing to do that and starting to pay attention, trying to feel those sensations.  Then we can practice not reacting to them while staying aware of them.  Over time this will build tolerance and provide the freedom to choose alternate courses of action. Anything, any practice that aids us in doing this “slowing down and becoming more aware of” is potentially tremendously beneficial and life enhancing. [See note at end]

Anything that does not do this, increase awareness and tolerance of those sensations, but claims to be treating addiction, is at best not helpful and may well be counterproductive.  A great many so-called treatments just substitute another addiction for the original one.  In some cases this can be life saving and buy the person time, but even then it is avoiding the real issue and may lead to problems later on.

The physical dependence that can develop to some substances (including those substances generated internally by our behaviors!) can certainly cause unpleasant symptoms from withdrawal. With some substances like barbiturates this can even be fatal.   But his is NOT the addiction or addictive process. I have personally known two heroin addicts who would periodically quit when their habit became too expensive. They both told me it was no big deal to quit for awhile, that it just felt like a bad case of the flu for a week or two and then done. After some time would pass, they would be much more sensitive to the drug and require a much smaller dose of it to get what they wanted so the price in dollars would again be doable and back they would go.  So the physical dependence was clearly not the thing that kept them addicted rather it was the emotional/sensation level change they could experience from using that was the issue.

I know this is a bit of an unusual way of looking at addiction and life in general. Please ask if any questions or if I was not clear in writing this!

*In my experience, after many years of experimentation, I believe Vipassana meditation to be one of it not the very best of tools available for this project. For more information go to this link or ask me.

Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac., Health Coach

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Spontaneous healing, remissions, and placebo effect

This is excellent. Very well done and inspiring.

Spontaneous healing, remissions, and placebo effect

Is there scientific proof we can heal ourselves? Lissa Rankin, MD at TEDxAmericanRiviera

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Epigenetics – the best possible research study-identical twins/20 years/different diets

This is totally amazingly cool. Identical twins doing different diets over 20 years and prospectively taking blood levels of various biomarkers. The very best kind of experiment you can do.  Give it a listen, only 7 1/2 minutes…

~G

“It Doesn’t Matter What Genes You Have–You Have the Power to Overwrite Them, & It Always Starts with Diet.” 

Rosane Oliveira, DVM, PhD

Don’t miss Dr. Rosane Oliviera’s compelling 7:35 mins. talk at a recent McDougall weekend. Oliviera is the Assistant Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the University of California Davis Health System & she’s currently studying how gene expression can change (& fairly quickly) when one switches to a whole foods plant-based diet. Oliviera has a personal interest in epigenetics & nutrigenomics. She’s an identical twin–and over the past 20 years her diet & her sister’s have taken different directions. With 20 years of blood tests & medical records in hand, she was able to retrospectively analyze the differences in biomarkers between herself & her sister–& track them to diet changes & the differences in their diets. Weight Watchers, low-carb/low-fat, Atkins, a chicken, fish, & dairy diet, & finally to a low-fat whole foods plant-based diet. Only when her sister’s diet mirrored hers did their biomarkers (e.g. lipids) become identical–because they share the same genes. As Oliviera says, “You CAN change your gene expression. Most of us have genetics that lean toward HIGH CHOLESTEROL & gaining weight. All the women in my family, except me, are overweight with high cholesterol.”

 

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What does “low risk” really mean?

Excellent short video for background to use when you see or hear about the “latest” nutritional research.   Dr. Greger rides again!

When Low Risk Means High Risk

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This is really a “must see” short movie

Processed People

This is such a great movie! Only about 40 minutes long and very inspiring.

Watch it!!!

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Great article on keeping it simple

Very well written simple article about keeping it simple!

Thanks to Jeff Novick, MS, RD for posting it to FB

KEEPING IT SIMPLE

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This is great fun…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvBr-qPAGwI

Freaks of the Garden Sale Mountain Style Hailey, Idaho

Stay With This Plant Sale Commercial Past 30 Seconds. It’s TOTALLY Worth It

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