Most people in the West believe that parasites are only a problem for people in Biafra, or other places where you can't buy antibacterial soap on bulk special from Costco. But surprise!
Parasites are actually a huge problem for many people in the more 'civilised' bits of the world too, just usually, they are so under the radar for most people, they have no idea what's really causing them their fatigue, stomach issues, hormonal imbalances, and potentially a huge range of other health issues, too.
Like everything I write about on the JEMI blog, a proper grasp of what's really causing the problem is more than half the solution, so first, let's dive into the human gut, and see what' really going on in there.
Deep breath: Parasites are potentially everywhere
The first thing to tell you is that even with all the pesticides and antibacterial products flying around, our food is still covered in microscopic stuff that could theoretically turn into a full-blown parasite, when it grows up.
Pesticides only stop stuff being eaten by insects in the field, it doesn't stop them laying their tiny eggs all over the place at any other point in the harvest-to-table process.
And you could also go all anal and start trying to peel everything that moves, but that's still not going to eliminate the problem of all the parasite eggs you might be picking up from tying your shoes, not checking every single one of your rice grains and flax seeds, and shucking back that handful of peanuts at the shul Kiddush.
(OCD people, calm down: I'm about to tell you the good news.)
Short version of the long story: microscopic parasite eggs are potentially all over the place, and can't really be avoided (although they can definitely be minimised with good hygiene habits mandated by halacha, like washing your hands after going to the toilet and after touching your shoes, and checking your grains for insect infestation.)
So then, why does one person get a full-blown attach of parasites (aka intestinal worms) while another person doesn't?
It all comes down to two things:
1) God decided to make it happen
2) Some people's gut and intestinal flora is in a bad way, and can't kill the critters off, the way God designed it to do.
To get an idea of why God might send someone parasites, let me paraphrase an email someone recently sent me about their own experience with parasites:
"I had a horrible, draining relationship with a friend that was completely depleting my emotional energy. At the same time I decided to close that relationship down, a huge amount of the intestinal parasites I'd been battling for months left my body en masse."
Dramatic as that particular example might be, God is always sending us hints about what we need to change or work on via our environment, experiences and health, and parasites are no exception.
If you're being sucked-dry internally, chances are there's at least a couple of external 'parasites' doing exactly thing to you on the relationship front, and this article can help you work out what's really going on.
So that's some of the spiritual and emotional aspects of 'why parasites' covered, but what about the physical elements?
What makes one person physically prone to parasites, while another person can blaze through life never once hampered or concerned by rope worms, liver flukes or other nasty things?
God-willing, we'll find out in the next post.
One of the things that has perplexed me the most on my holistic health journey of discovery is how on earth believing Jews have got so enmeshed in the view that the body is all there is, when it comes to staying healthy.
The Jewish tradition is so vibrantly spiritual, and the soul plays such a big part in yiddishkeit, that it's hard to believe that so many of even the most devoutly orthodox Jews today believe that their health is dependant on the Western model of doctors, drugs and surgery.
Let me explain what the main problem is. God generally only sends illness for two reasons:
1) As a soul correction, or hint that we need to change something or fix something in our lifestyle, behaviour or beliefs
2) To kill us, God forbid
True, you never know which one you're actually dealing with until you've come through the other side, but most of the time, the illness or physical issue that God is sending us is just a wake up call, to do some serious soul-searching.
Here's the thing: if it's not your time to go, God always sends the wake up call in the smallest, most minute dose possible, initially.
The Gemara itself recognises this principle, and tells us that even if you just experience a small headache, you should treat it very seriously, and do an immediate cheshbon hanefesh, or accounting of your deeds, to check why God is doing that to you.
But if you've got your eyes open, you can pick up the messages before they even manifest as a tangible physical issue, via your emotional state. Every bad mood, bout of sadness and depression, anger, fear and rage fit we experience is a message from God.
If we pick up the problem at the emotional or spiritual levels, in nearly all instances we'll avoid having to develop a physical sickness or serious issue.
But this wonderful system only works when people appreciate that they're souls, not just bodies, and that God is in charge of every detail of our life, including our health. When you relate to yourself as just a body, and disconnect your healthcare from God's Divine providence, you won't pick up the messages that are hidden away in even the most serious illnesses, for the simple reason that you're not actually looking for them.
In his book the Garden of Healing, Rav Arush spells it out time and again, that nearly every illness we have is just a message to come back to God, and to work on the stuff every single one of us has to sort out, like a lack of faith, or bad character traits.
But it's amazing to me that Rav Arush is almost a lone voice in the orthodox Jewish wilderness.
Hopefully, things are starting to change a bit now, as more and more people start to experience the limitations of Western medicine's wholly materialistic approach for themselves, and to yearn for a more holistic system of healthcare, that puts God in the picture and accepts that people are far more than just bodies: they're also souls.
In a previous post, I touched on the latest Quantum Physics idea that all solid matter, including the human body, is simply energy, or light, that's been slowed down.
This idea has enormous implications for health care and particularly, preventative and holistic medicine. But before we can start to get to grips with what they are, we first need to have a better understanding of how all the different layers of 'light' or energy that influence, affect and actually are a human being, relate to each other, and to our spiritual, emotional and physical health.
Let's jump away from Quantum Physics for a moment, and jump into the Kabbalah, or Jewish esoteric thought, instead (although the more science is discovering about how the world really works the more the two disciplines are increasingly saying the same things.)
The 5 levels of soul
According to Kabbalah, each human being consists of five level of soul, and I'm defining soul here as the Divine Light that energises and animates every single one of us.
The highest two layers of our soul are effectively off-limits to us; they influence us and affect us, but can't be damaged, depleted or destroyed by our negative actions, behaviours and thoughts.
The remaining three levels of soul are defined as follows, in the Jewish esoteric tradition:
Neshama - is the third of the five levels of soul, and reflects our spiritual essence and mind.
Ruach - is the second of the five levels of soul, and is associated with our emotions and feelings.
Nefesh - is the first, or most basic, level of soul, and is associated with our body and our animal life force, ie, the spiritual energy that keeps us breathing, eating and sleeping, and keeps us alive, physically.
What does all this have to do with Quantum Physics, and your healthcare?
Let's see if I can answer it as simply as possible.
The general purpose of humanity is to work on ourselves, refine our souls (across all levels) and get closer to God and to living the lives God designed us to have.
When we act, think, behave and live in alignment with God's 'plan' for us, whatever that might be, all five levels of soul, or Divine Light, are in perfect harmony with each other, and in turn, with the Creator.
Maximum energy, soul-juice and Divine Light is flowing down the pipes, and everything is working the way it should be. But when we stop acting, thinking, behaving and living in alignment with God's blueprint, it causes spiritual or 'energetic' disruptions across all five levels of soul.
Initially, that could mean a subtle disconnect occurs between you, and your upper two levels of soul. If the disconnect continues, the next 'soul level' to get affected is the neshama, that's directly related to your mind and spiritual abilities.
If it's not fixed then, the disconnect continues to fissure downwards, until it shows up as problems in your ruach, ie your emotions and feelings. Typically, this can show up as things like anxiety, worry, stress, sadness, depression, hatred and angry - ie, a whole slew of negative emotions that can severely affect your quality of life.
If the disconnect isn't turned around at that point, then the last and final level of 'Divine Light' to get affected is the physical body. When that happens, you'll get sick, ill, or exhausted, God-forbid.
This is a ridiculous over-simplification of how all this stuff really works, because there are always a huge number of Divine considerations involved in any individual's suffering or ill-health.
But the basic idea holds true, and the basic idea is this:
If you deal with the 'disconnect' or disrupted energy pattern at the highest level of Divine Light or soul possible, then nine times out of ten, you'll avoid the serious illness or physical problem.
Because our essence, even in the physical world as defined and described by Quantum Physics, is Divine light. That Divine Light is just 'slowed down' to become a body. So if you deal with problems at the higher levels of light, or soul, ie, at the spiritual and emotional levels, they don't need to manifest as illnesses.
There are huge amounts to say about all this, but for now let's end with this: many alternative or holistic therapies are already dealing with issues and 'disconnects' at the higher levels of soul and emotion.
But the key to getting them to work as effectively as possible is to not stop there, in the middle of the party, but to work on re-connecting all five levels of the human soul back to its true Source of healing and Divine Light, ie, God.
One of the biggest obstacles to grasping the fact that human health care depends on body, mind and soul is Newtonian physics.
Sir Isaac Newton, for those who don't know, was a mathematical genius and 'big thinker' who worked out the basic laws of gravity by being bonked on the head by a falling apple.
Newton set out the basic building blocks of physical science, or 'physics', which was good going for 400 years' ago, but in 2015, is causing no end of trouble.
The problem, in a nutshell, is this:
Newtonian Physics is based on the principle that:
The human body (and all other physicality) is made up of solid physical matter.
When you apply this thinking to healthcare, you get an approach based on balancing chemical equations (ie, drugs) and cutting out the bits that don't work anymore (ie, surgery).
So far so good. So what's the problem?
The problem is, that our understanding of how the world really works has moved on, most notably with Einstein's groundbreaking idea that e=mc2. That formula is around a 100 years' old now, but humanity is still seriously struggling to internalise the profound message it's teaching us.
According to Quantum Physics, what e=mc2 is really teaching us is that energy - or God - is really all there is.
Even matter is just packets of Divine energy, or light, that has been 'slowed down', and is vibrating at a much slower rate. That's what gives people and stuff an appearance of being 'solid', physical beings - but what we experience with our physical senses is only part of the story.
People are really Divine energy, or light, slowed down to become 'Moshe' or 'Rachel' or 'Bertha'.
This isn't news for Jews (or at least, it shouldn't be.)
Back in the Garden of Eden, our holy sources taught us that Adam and Eve were beings of light, so translucent and magnificent that anyone who tried to stare at those original human beings would have been blinded by the light.
The Hebrew word for light is 'or', spelt with the letter aleph.
After the sin, we're told that God came and made Adam and Eve different garments of 'or', this time spelt with an ayin, which is usually translated as 'leather'.
To sum up, our Divine light got covered up by our skin, making it much harder for us to access and understand our spiritual side.
Now, what does all that have to do with the real reasons why you've got a cough, or a stomach ache, or a headache? And what are the implications of e=mc2 for a believing Jewish approach to bodies and healthcare?
God-willing, we'll look at these issues in more detail in the next post.
I know that reading stuff on the internet can be such a dragggg, so to help you out, I've recorded audio PODCASTS to go with the first 5 modules of the 'Talk to God and Fix Your Health' FREE online course.
All you have to do to listen to them is sign up for the FREE JEMI membership, which you can do really easily by clicking HERE.
The more you learn about holistic health, ie, that a person's mind, body and soul are all reflected by, and entwined with each other, the more you start to realize that you can tell a great deal about a person's health, and their character, simply by looking at their body language.
For example, people who hold their head high, and who stare unflinching ahead while walking with fast steps, are usually no-nonsense 'doers', who rarely let anything or anyone deflect them from achieving their goals.
If you want something done fast, or organised to perfection, these are you people. The downside, however, can be that if this trait is not properly balanced with enough compassion and consideration for others, it can degenerate into the type of behaviour where missing a deadline, or failing to give them exactly what they want can spark off some very ugly, angry behaviour.
The point is, that just by paying attention to how a person walks, holds themselves or even, lifts their eyebrows, you can learn volumes about their personality, and also, their spiritual standing.
This subject is as vast as the ocean, so I just want to pick out three of the main body language movements that should clue you in that you may need to tread a little more carefully in your social interactions:
BAD BODY LANGUAGE MOVE 1: THE WINK
According to the book In His Image, Body Language Through the Eyes of Torah: 'It doesn't matter how friendly and accepted one feels when a person winks or is winked at, it's a wholly negative action.'
In a nutshell, whenever someone is winking at you, they're silently making you their co-conspirator against someone else. If a husband winks at his kids while his wife is telling them they need to do more around the house, he's effectively siding against here, and sending his kids a strong message that they don't need to take their mother, or what she's telling them, seriously.
Similarly, if the bank manager winks at you while approving your mortgage form, it can seem superficially cosy or chummy, but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Why? Because whenever wink shows up, it's an indication of deceitful behaviour, somewhere along the line.
So a wink sends a clear message that all is not what it seems with the individual doing it, and that there may be a lot of deception and deceit hiding underneath the chummy behaviour.
BAD BODY LANGUAGE MOVE 2:
Now, you don't need a PhD in Behaviourial Science to work this one out: when someone talks with their fists, either literally of figuratively, aggression is clearly a big part of their personality.
Fists can show up in a number of ways: someone can bang the table with their fist to make a point, draw all attention in their direction, and to send a clear subliminal message that they won't brook any dissenting opinions or ideas.
At a more subtle lesson, when someone is talking and waving their fists around, it's a clearly threatening, power-hungry gesture, no matter what nice words might be pouring out of their mouth.
Fists intimidate. Full stop.
Small children often walk around with balled fists, because the world is a scary place to a small child, and that can be reflected in tense, balled-up fists.
In case you need any more convincing, one of the most 'fisty' speakers in history was the German dictator and mass-murderer, Adolf Hitler. 'Nuff said.
BAD BODY LANGUAGE MOVE NUMBER 3: HANDS ON HIPS
Or if you're Mussolini, hands on waist… But wherever you're sticking your hands, it sends a clear body language signal that you're trying to dominate someone else, and carve out a clear place for yourself as Numero Uno, Number One, the Head Honcho.
Again, that's rarely a positive thing, so if you're dealing with someone who's doing the hands on hips (or waist…) thing, be prepared to fight your corner - or run away.
As promised, I'm starting to record PODCASTS for all the modules of the FREE 'Talk to God and Fix Your Health' online course, to make it even easier for you to do it.
You don't even have to a be a member (you can sign up for FREE JEMI membership HERE) to hear the first one, and God willing, I'm recording the other modules for your listening delight this week.
Click HERE to download the PODCAST for Module 1 (in two parts).
One of the biggest problems with alternative, or holistic medicine is that it often takes the concept of 'taking responsibility for your health' a step too far.
Now, taking responsibility for your health is generally a great idea.
It's a no-brainer that the less junk food you eat, the less negative emotions you wallow in, the more you try to live the life that God designed you to have, the healthier and happier you'll generally feel.
This general philosophy of health underpins the whole 'New Age' movement, that's been behind much of the revival of holistic health practices, and at a very superficial level, it 'fits' the authentic Jewish idea found in the Gemara that 'there is no suffering without prior sin' very nicely.
BUT there is a huge caveat that changes the whole healthcare picture, namely that God can choose to send illness to any one of us, at any time.
God's still running the show
Nine times out of ten, the illness just comes as a wake-up call, to eat healthier, or to stop bottling-up our repressed negative emotions, or to work on improving ourselves, or our outlook, or our behaviour in some way.
But the tenth time?
The tenth time is pure Divine providence, or to put it another way, just because God said so.
Breslev Rabbi Ofer Erez explains that sometimes, a person has to go through excrutiating tests of faith that are just part of that soul's particular spiritual destiny, and there is nothing a person can do to avoid them.
'New Agers' often like to make out that if you eat all the right foods, exercise regularly and keep a positive mindset, ill-health can't touch you with a barge-pool. And nine times out of ten, I think that's probably right.
But the tenth time? The tenth time is just because God said so.
It doesn't help to start blaming people for getting sick
When you don't have God in the picture, it becomes all too easy to start blaming people for their troubles, which is the infamous 'New Age Guilt'.
"You got sick because you ate McDonalds every day! You got sick because you smoke! You got sick because you've been secretly fuming at your mother for decades!"
And often, that's true. But here's the thing: outsiders never have the full picture of what's really going on with someone else. God gives us permission to work out the messages He's hiding in everything, including our illnesses, FOR OURSELVES, not for other people.
When it's myself, I have to assume that 'there is no suffering without prior sin', and try to work out which bad habit, negative emotion, or unhelpful (and often subconscious) belief God wants me to work on, in order to get well again.
When it's someone else, I have to assume that the only reason they're sick is just because God said so, and to make every effort to not get all arrogant about all the green juices I'm drinking, and all the sprouted spelt I'm eating, and all the big mitzvahs I'm keeping.
Getting the balance right
It's a very difficult balance, like everything else in 2015. On the one hand, we have the Western Medical approach that likes to pretend that ill-health is purely biological or chemical - ie, germs, genes and environment - which takes God completely out of the picture and gives people carte blanche to act however they want, without thinking of the consequences.
On the other hand, the holistic health scene rightly makes a lot of the connections between illness and emotional issues and bad, self-damaging behaviour - which as we've mentioned, is much closer to the Gemara's idea of 'there is no suffering without prior sin' - but neglects to connect all that good stuff back to God.
The result: New Age Guilt, aka blaming people for being, well, less than 100% perfect people.
There's always so much more to say about this subject, and God willing, I'll come back to it again.
But for now, let's sum it up like this: if the reason you're sick is because you're eating bad food, or doing stuff to yourself or others that isn't good for you, or you're pretending to be someone you aren't - then as soon as you recognise the underlying problem and start to work on it, the illness will probably ameliorate all by itself.
If the reason you're sick is that rare instance of 'just because God said so' - then you can take all the drugs in the world, undergo all the surgery, eat all the organic vegetables you want, and religiously act by the book - and the sickness or illness will remain, until God decides otherwise.
Recently, I read some new research that made a direct correlation between the amount of sugar you eat, and some really nasty diseases.
Now, I'm not saying that stuff is wrong, exactly, because on one level, what you eat for sure affects your health and Jews are big proponents of the idea that you are what you eat.
But important as food is, it's not the whole picture when it comes to health, or even scary diseases. Your emotional health and spiritual connection probably count for far more, as even studies in the secular world are starting to show.
Emotions and spiritual connection are even more important than diet
For example, a few decades' ago Dr Caroline Thomas did a whole big study following 1300 undergraduates at the John Hopkins Medical School over the course of many years, to see if their personalities, family relationships and emotional dispositions could somehow predict their health, in later years.
To quote Vibrational Medicine, by Dr Richard Gerber: "There were, indeed, common psychological factors among those students who had succumbed to cancer. Interestingly, the traits of the group that later developed cancer were similar to those who eventually committed suicide. They typically described themselves as emotionally detached from their parents.
"More students who eventually developed cancer had described negative early family relations than any other group in her study."
God is running the world, so don't panic
This shouldn't scare anybody, because remember, God is in the world, and everything is Divinely orchestrated for every single one of us, including our health challenges.
The point of quoting this passage is simply to underline a couple of hugely important ideas, that often get buried under the issue of diet and food, even in the holistic health world:
1) Your physical health is hugely dependent on, and entertwined with, your emotional state. In other work by psychologist Lawrence LeShan, links were also made between people regularly bottling up their negative emotions instead of dealing with them, and catastrophic disease like cancer.
2) You need a strong relationship with God to enable you to deal with your negative emotions (and related sugar cravings…) in an appropriate, healthy way.
This last point is crucial, because as soon as you forget about God, or leave Him out of the health equation, you're leaving the door wide open for a whole bunch of problems.
We all know people who religiously followed healthy eating regimens of every stripe and variety, who still got really ill. What's more, many people who got obsessed with food, and who devoted themselves to battling against all the many thousands of toxins currently found in our world and our food chain, got very stressed, miserable, negative and judgemental of themselves and others, as a result.
I've met more miserable 'healthy eaters' than I care to mention, who religiously avoid chocolate and sugar like the plague, while filling themselves up with far more dangerous substances like guilt, arrogance, anxiety and worry.
FACT: The world we live in is a very poisonous place, by all measures.
FACT: A whole bunch of the stuff that you eat, like sugar, and ingest by other means, like chemicals and environmental pollution, could for sure kill you in a heartbeat, if there weren't other considerations going on.
FACT: Repressed negative emotions do far more harm to your health and wellbeing in every single way, than sugar.
FACT: If God's not in the picture, all these other FACTS are enough to give you a heartattack.
Luckily, God is in the picture. The more you try to connect back to Him, the more energy you'll have to deal with your negative emotions in a healthy way; the more optimism you'll have about resolving all the issues facing you and the planet; and the less likely it'll be that you'll be tempted to munch away on the Ben and Jerry's, to try to ease the pain.
A few months ago, I wrote this post sharing a few unusual energy medicine tips for how to take care of haemorrhoids. For those who don't know, haemorrhoids occur when the veins around your bottom become strained and swollen, and they can be very painful and uncomfortable.
You'd think I'd said all there is to say about the subject, but you'd be wrong. I got a note last week asking me: '"What's the spiritual causes of haemorrhoids?'
So I went to research it, and here's what I found:
The link between haemorrhoids and anger
According to Rav Shalom Arush, writing in the Garden of Healing haemorrhoids are caused by anger. I'll venture a step further, and say that specifically, they're caused by repressed anger.
For whatever reason, many people swallow down their anger instead of acknowledging it, and dealing with it in a healthy way by talking through the situations and people who are making them angry with God.
When you talk your anger through with God on a regular basis, sometimes you'll realize that actually, it's completely unjustified. Other times, you'll realize the opposite: nearly any other reasonable, normal person would also feel very angry in the same circumstances.
Still other times, you'll see that it's normal and even healthy to feel angry at least initially, but that staying angry is not at all what God wants. And then, there are those times when you don't want to accept or admit that you're feeling angry under any possible circumstances, which in my humble opinion is when it can really start stuffing you up, physically.
But when you talk to God about all this stuff, sooner or later you start to understand what it is you need to do next to start getting all that anger to start dissolving out of your system instead of showing up as haemorrhoids.
The Large Intestine Connection
So far so good, but the Chinese Medicine system adds something else to the picture. Instead of associating haemorrhoids with the Gallbladder meridian, which is the meridian traditionally linked to anger and rage, it links piles with the Large Intestine Meridian.
This Table which sets out what emotions are related to what meridians, says the following about Large Intestine:
Large Intestine Meridian - Emotional energy when unbalanced: Control-freak; a need to be in control, even when it's damaging the self and others; feelings of emptiness. Emotional energy when balanced: Surrenders control; can let go out outmoded, unneeded, or toxic things; inspired; strong relationship with G-d.
Questions to ask the self: Why am I trying to keep control? What am I trying to control? Can I accept G-d's running the world? Can I accept the joy and the pain?
So is it anger, or control issues?
So who's right?
The answer, if you ponder it a little, is 'both of them'. How? Well, it's like this: control freaks are generally very angry people, for the simple reason that it's very hard to keep control over every facet of your life.
Usually, the way extreme control freaks try to keep other people in line is by adopting some sort of angry persona with them. The more aggressive control freaks yell, shout and bully you into submission to doing what they want. The less confrontational control freaks often use manipulation, disappointment and guilt tactics to get you to do what they want.
But whatever the modus operandi, the bottom line is the same: when a control freak doesn't get their way, they can get very angry, disappointed and upset.
Here's the thing: most of us have some control freak issues lurking deep down, even if we'd never suspect it. For some people, they can't let go of trying to micromanage their health issues; for others, it's their careers; for still others, it's their kids, or their spouses, or their real estate portfolio.
It takes a huge spiritual level and a lot of spiritual work to get to the place where you can accept God's will 100%, in every area of your life, and most people (including me) are very far away from it.
So what does God do? He sends us a clue that maybe, we need to work on letting go of the outcome more, and upping our emuna.
I know you won't hear this most other places, but it seems to me the more we can let go of out tendency to try and control every little thing in our lives, the fewer problems you'll have with piles.
What do you think?