When the Dalai Lama was asked what surprised him most about humanity, he replied: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”-Dalai Lama XIV
One evening I was working late at my law office when the phone rang. A former client, a woman physician, was on the line. She explained that her friend and female colleague, Dr. J, was in the middle of a divorce and wanted to change lawyers. She hooked her into the call, we talked briefly and scheduled an appointment.
When I met with Dr. J we discussed her case and also her medical practice. I was impressed with her professional accomplishments, and her innovative approach to medicine and health. Dr. J and I discovered many commonalities. Even our divorce stories had common threads. She transitioned her case to my office.
About six weeks before trial on the case, I took a long trip to Northern California to vacation and spend time with my good friend Prof. I had taken Dr. J’s file with me to California.
One day during my visit Prof was extremely busy with work, so I had the day to myself. After taking a great yoga class in Napa, I chose to work on Dr. J’s case. Shortly after I started working, a horrible frightening heaviness come over me. I felt like I was suffocating in the dark hotel room so I went out into the fresh California air to breathe. When I went back inside it began to happen all over again. I brushed it off and didn’t mention it to Prof that evening when he picked me up for dinner. I forgot about it when I flew home.
As Dr. J’s trial date approached my paralegal and I began to put the large volumes of documents together, and agreed to work on a Saturday. That day at home in my favorite chair, needing to go to the office, I felt physically paralyzed. I was stuck to the chair like glue. I burst into tears and ultimately got up.
The trial went well. A few weeks later, I called Dr. J to share the judge’s ruling with her. After our discussion, I asked her for an appointment to come to see her professionally.
Dr. J’s intake physical with every patient is two hours long. She sat right across from me as we talked, taking brief notes. I loved her approach. I felt calm, like she had all the time in the world for me. She asked about things in addition to my physical history: nutrition, sleep, stress and spirituality.
I gave myself an A plus in the spirituality department. But I was hardly sleeping. I’d skipped meals and over-exercised my whole life to try to stay trim. I had also been immersed in stress, both personally and professionally, for years until I started my path to healing post-divorce.
In the intake interview, I confided to her the strange experiences I’d had while working on her case. She sat back in her chair and had a worried look on her face.
“What you are describing is not surprising. Lawyers are some of the unhealthiest people I treat,” she said. “They have so much stress and bad health habits that their bodies are shot. I want to do some blood work, but based on what you have told me if you don’t change your life soon it is only a matter of time before you end up sick, or worse. What you described during the trial preparation was your body trying to get your attention while you were in stress.”
I’d never imagined my physical body was part of the healing equation. The blood work showed some minor reversible irregularities. I began to work with Dr. J in learning to care for myself physically.
“When a pilot charts a plane’s course, if they made only a 1% change in the instrument calibration, the plane would end up way off the mark. You have to start with a 1% change to your health habits. That alone could save your life by preventing disease and further damage to your immune system which is where you are currently headed.”
Dr. J had me take Epsom salts baths before bed to relax and also suggested magnesium tablets for sleep. I removed the television from my bedroom. I began to sleep soundly ultimately not being satisfied with less than eight hours because it made me feel so wonderfully rested to have such quality sleep.
She invited me to lunch at her farm to breathe country air. As we ate our healthy foods she reminded me to go outdoors connecting mindfully with nature more regularly.
We examined my diet and I was embarrassed to admit to skipping meals and having cereal or popcorn for dinner most nights. She took me shopping at a healthy grocery store going up and down each aisle while she showed me how to read labels, and educated me on nutrition, “clean eating,” and organic cooking.
My refrigerator became a habitat for green leafy things that I had never previously met. I started packing my lunch every day and having a constant supply of nuts, protein powder and fruits at the office. Convincing me that soda pop was poison, I stopped even serving it to clients. I ate throughout the day every few hours and drank lots of water. I began to feel full of energy and clear headed.
Most importantly Dr. J reminded me that my body was God’s temple, and I needed to keep it strong in order to serve Him and to fulfill His mission for my life. She told me something that has fundamentally changed my life’s view. She reminded me that doctors and lawyers are the same: we are healers.
In the book Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul, author Gary Thomas reminds us “We are not angels, pursuing God without physical covering, and if we try to pretend that we are—living as though the state of our bodies has no effect on the condition of our souls—all the proper doctrine in the world can’t save us from eating away our sensitivity to God’s presence or throwing away years of potential ministry if we wreck our heart’s physical home.”
God had taken people out of my life and he’d moved this amazing doctor in. I had assisted her in her legal journey and she was my guide to honoring my physical body and health. She has since become one of my closest friends.
Isn’t it just like God to know we could help each other and to have us cross paths?