AE028 – Epilogue into the Unknown

In this episode I sift through the anthology of conversations and reflect on what I’ve learned from the podcast.  A special thank you to all of our guests; I’m filled with gratitude for this experience and I hope this provides a little inspiration for 2017 and beyond.  Well wishes and many blessings.  Daniel Johnson, MD
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AE027 – Chris Wilhelm – Living the Music

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I sat down with Chris way back in February of this year for a conversation about music and the healing pathways into our being that it opens up.  It was special for me in that Chris and I share a lot in common.  We’re both the oldest of three brothers, we have some common musical interests in Bob Dylan and Neil Young, and we both have relocated to Asheville to call home.  We get into all of that in some detail during the conversation.

In case you’re not yet familiar with his music, I highly encourage you to check him out online at Chris Wilhelm music, and also with his recent excellent band, the Wilhelm Brothers.  The Wilhelm Brothers were a unique band consisting of Chris on vocals and guitar, and his friend (not brother) Kristof on cello and vocals.  I discovered them from a local show and fell in love with the songs right away.

As we were planning our podcast recording with the Wilhelm brothers, life threw curveballs at us as the band decided to go on hiatus after exhaustive touring over the past few years.  It was a time of transition and there was definitely some sadness in the air as they had a special thing going.

Fortunately Chris is carrying on with his music and was gracious to sit down with me solo.  In our conversation he shares how music opened up healing channels in his life and has carried him through difficult experiences.   He is frank about how he has found success as a musician through creative ideas around booking gigs, and staying consistent with his efforts.  He even gets into some of his personal process for writing songs.  Real good stuff in there.

But the real gift of this recording are the three songs that Chris played for me at the end of the episode.  He played “Trail of the Lonesome Pine”, “Long Live Your Tomorrows”, and “I’ll See You in St. Augustine”.  These are gorgeous songs; the recording came out great and I’m very happy to be able to share these with you as a special Christmas present.
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AE026 – Angela Hind, MD – Ethical Medicine in a Toxic World

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Thanks for checking out Anecdotal Evidence.

I’m very excieted to share this week’s episode with my conversation with Dr. Angela Hind.  I had the good fortune of meeting Angela earlier this year after reading an article about fluoride in the local Mountain Xpress.  Fluoridating our water supply is a very controversial issue that stirs up charged debate.  It is an interesting issue to explore because there are strong opinions on either side of the argument.  It represents a polarizing issue that makes it difficult to foster intelligent discussion without devolving into fruitlessly angry rhetoric.  For an example of this, check out the 125 comments at the end of the above-referenced article.

And as the level of discourse in our country has taken an ugly turn from this year’s election and from our increasingly isolated lives, it marks a symbolic issue to see if we can explore healthy discussion. Our response to this challenge reflects how we respond to the crises that face us as a society.  In our conversation we explore some of this, as well as some of the controversy regarding genetic modification of our natural world and our food supply.

Moreover, Angela shares her personal journey with illness and having to find her healing path.  She also shares how this changed her medical practice from that of a clinical hospitalist to one of an educator and consultant.  Her unique pathway which she had to carve out herself serves as inspiration to me in finding how to have a meaningful medical practice in a world of an increasingly dehumanizing medical system.
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AE025 – Bhante Ujotika Bhivamsa – Happiness Through Peace of Mind

Thanks for checking out Anecdotal Evidence.  I’m very excited to share this week’s episode with Bhante UJotika Bhivamsa.  Bhante is a Buddhist monk who teaches meditation at Serenity Insight Meditation Center here in Asheville.  He is originally from Burma where he was raised in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.  He has dedicated his life to learning, practicing and teaching meditation.  It was a great privilege to get a chance to sit down with him for a conversation.

Here in the west we are just beginning to understand and value the meditative arts.  But to Buddhists, this has been the foundation of their approach to life for thousands of years.  This experience is passed on through Buddhist monasteries, where Bhante spent much of his formative years.  It requires total devotion and dedication to the practice to complete the training.  It is a great blessing that Bhante has joined our community to share what he has learned.
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AE024 – Indu Arora – Wake Up to Your Self

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The last few episodes of the podcast have been dedicated to my experiences from Insight India 2016.  This trip was founded and led by Indu Arora.  We traveled to several cities in India to learn from great teachers of Ayurveda and Yoga, and to experience these disciplines still alive in modern practice.  As discussed in these last few episodes, the total experience was a challenge to my whole being – humbling, and yet rich with learning and discovery.

For this episode I am honored to have had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with Indu.  My partner Brooke first met Indu in her Ayurveda wellness program here in Asheville.  She was greatly inspired by her teachings and shared some of her lectures with me.  I found her teachings of the yogic philosophy of Samkhya to be very fresh to my ears.  This was interesting, but moreover I was inspired at how much the system resonates with my intuition about the mind/body connection.  And specifically, Indu’s teaching seems to strike notes of deep truth.  This is what led us to join in her trip to India, to learn more .

I am so privileged that Indu granted me an hour to sit down with her for a conversation.  I was able to ask her questions about the nature of the mind and the body, and how we can approach our life with an organizational framework of understanding.  She responded to each of them with great knowledge and wisdom.  Some of the words may be new to the listener, and I encourage deeper investigation into the concepts she discusses.  The include the experience of yoga, the philosophy of Samkhya, the process of opening up to our deeper self.  She answered all of my questions with directness, pointing to the great mysteries of life and yet acknowledging that the discovery of these is an ever-deepening process of growing in awareness.  And she is able to do all of this with a warmth and contagious joy!

AE024 – Indu Arora – Wake Up to Your Self

With all of that being said, if you are new to the Ayurvedic tradition, I think Indu’s approach is a great place to start.  And it is a model that I highly encourage further investigation.  Her website is a great place to start.  She has recently published a beautiful book about Mudra that I would highly recommend for those interested in investigating the mind-body connection.

We had a lovely conversation that I’ve reflected on a great deal over the past few months.  I am honored to share this with you and I hope you enjoy our conversation.
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AE023 – New Delhi, Early Reflections

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Insight India 2016 pushed me out out my comfort zone and challenged me to open my mind.  It was an immersion in a distant country with different culture and customs.  I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to see this part of the world and to feel the impact of how an experience of a different culture changed me.  Part of how I felt that was the desire to share it through the podcast format.  Anecdotal Evidence has developed into an ongoing discussion about the phenomenon of our health as we experience it.

At the end of the trip I was exhausted and my mind was blown.  Brooke and I had 36 hours in New Delhi to recover before embarking on the 38-hour journey back home.  Unfortunately New Delhi has the worst air pollution in the world.  By the end of the trip the exposure had taken a toll as I was coughing and my clothes were permeated with the smell of burning coal and air toxins.  So we decided to bunker down at the Holiday Inn to ride out our time there.  It’s actually an exceptional hotel, so we quickly found that we’d lucked into a Shangri-la.

Dr. Indu Arora was the leader of our trip and a great yoga teacher who will be the guest of next week’s podcast.  She is a remarkably dynamic scholar and teacher and I look forward to sharing that conversation next week.  But while we were saying our goodbye in New Delhi, she encouraged me that our accidental 36-hour layover in New Delhi had its own purpose.  And it felt like that well wish came true.

The Holiday Inn was a welcome place to wind down from a hyper-stimulating journey.  And in the bookstore I lucked into finding a complementary book to the trip.  The Laws of Medicine is Siddhartha Mukherjee’s reflection of his discovery of 3 Laws of Medicine from his experience as an observant physician practicing in Boston.  He outlines his 3 Laws as follows:

Law One: A strong intuition is much more powerful than a weak test.
Law Two: “Normals” teach us rules; “outliers” teach us laws.
Law Three: For every perfect medical experiment, there is a perfect human bias.

I took the opportunity to reflect on these laws in the context of my experience as a psychiatrist abroad in India.  I recorded these early reflections while watching the sun set over India for the last time, a few hours before our early morning departure back home.  The hope was that it would serve as a structure to organize my developing memories of India.  I hoped to integrate what I learned on the trip with any eye in mind as to how it would serve my work and my growth back home.

I hope you enjoy these early reflections and that they serve you in your deeper understanding of your own experience.
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AE022 – 9 Emotions in Vrindavan

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The science of yoga provides a system for categorizing our emotions.  Those categories are defined by the emotional quality, or rasa.  Those 9 rasas are:

Love
Humor
Courage
Wonder
Peace
Fear
Anger
Sadness
Disgust

For the next installment from the series on my recent trip to India, I’d like to share my personal experience with these emotions in Vrindavan.

Vrindavan is the ancient Indian city where it’s said that the Hindu Lord Krishna spent his childhood days.  There are many temples dedicated to Krishna in Vrindavan and we had the opportunity to experience these temples as a place of living sacrament.  Devotees crowded into the temple to chant, read sacred texts and leave offerings to the male form Krishna, and the female form Radha.

In our Insight India 2016 trip we had the fortune to experience this city firsthand.  Our homework assignment during the trip was to reflect on our experience up to that point through the lens of examining our emotions according to the rasa classification system.  I found it to be a useful exercise for exploration and recorded a mini-episode that I’m sharing with you here.  The YouTube video for this episode includes the video segment of the recording., showing the numerous monkeys that co-inhabited the ashram where we stayed.  This includes one brief clip of a monkey walking right past me as I was recording – fear and wonder captured live!

Looking back on the experience now it’s been interesting for me to note how my emotions associated with the experience there have changed in character in various capacities.  I think this is a useful metaphor for observing how our emotions change in character with time.  Taking the time to tune into the emotional disturbances of the mind gives us an opportunity to use our intelligence to determine what caused these disturbances.  It also teaches us pathways for resolving these emotional disturbances based on our previous experiences.  These are referred to often in the psychological world as coping skills.

Does the system of rasa yoga provide a framework for understanding better your emotions?  Feel free to explore this with an open mind and see when these emotions occur in your life.  Which ones happen more often and why?  What physical sensations occur as these particular emotions arise?  How do we feel as they resolve?  Which ones drive us further from our state of balanced emotion or equanimity?  Enjoy the practice of rasa yoga for all the teaching it offers!

Namaste

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AE019 – Insight India 2016 – Dispatch from Rishikesh

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Recording on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh, India March
22, 2016.  In this episode I shared what the first portion of
our trip was like, and serves as an introduction to the whole
experience of Insight India.  Specifically I share how our
group was introduced to the intricate symbolism and meaning of
Indian culture, and how learning of the Hindu mythology provides a
framework for a deeper understanding of the science of yoga.
This was my jumping off point of the trip and I hope you
enjoy it.

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