When I first awoke from the unconscious dream of American lifestyle, I had just witnessed the tragedy of September 11, 2001, in New York City. The terrorist attacks forced me to look at my life in a way that I had yet to reflect up until that point.
Everything had been easy, I was well taken care of financially by my parents, and I had the security of a dependant relationship, in what I thought was a good partnership. These elements held a comfortable reality together for me. And when I stood in the streets of the city, watching the buildings collapse, I felt something inside of me that was new. Maybe it was the first time that I consciously felt anything in my whole life. First, the questions of how and why arose. Then, it became clearer how this was impacting and affecting my life. I began allowing ordinary things to fall apart, and a deeper truth to move forward.
Some soul searching revealed that I had been letting my life pass me by. I had a regular tai chi practice that felt good, and ultimately became a solid backbone for me during the transitions to come. I wanted something greater than what I was aspiring for in my twenties. There was unrest in me that longed for the experiences of worldly adventure. The focus was from the soul looking out, I remembered lost dreams of places to go, and people to meet. I had gotten to know my Spiritual self again.
I moved to Montana where I followed a USDA Forest Service lead to work as a Soil Scientist. Our partnership of romance grew increasingly farther and farther apart. I was sick with ravenous hungers that lead me into separation from things I really loved. I felt righteous in getting to know this separation, even if it hurt others around me. My feelings had gotten the best of me.
It was the assistance of farming hands from loving friends nearby that put unraveling pieces of the past into the compost of a newly inspired dream of meaningful life. I was becoming friends with herbalists, and folks who had a real connection with the Earth. It was at this moment that I became a voice for mother Earth, and I realized a path for myself as an acupuncturist and healer. My mission was to heal the hearts and minds of people to effect health for the environment.
An introduction to Native traditional ceremony, and four years of Oriental Medical School, opened me up to a truer, more indigenous perspective of life. I did not realize it at the time, but I was being conditioned to work with natural medicine, and returning to the roots of human origin. Our physical bodies are more temporary than the Great mother. I had come to know my body as an impermanent extension of Earth.
The mental aspect of our experience is the trickiest of all. Here are some agreeable truths in the world:
“Tao” is translated from Chinese as “the unnamable ‘way’ of all life,” or “great Mother.” Yin and yang are the expression of opposites in all manifestations of the Tao. Samsara is a wheel of our emotional desires that posses us to do and act unconsciously within the material aspect of Tao. And today, we all have a choice to unwind karma by our relationship of harmony with Tao.
Notice what the mind does as it reads over these lines. Are you unified with what has been written or is there separation? If you have to convince yourself that these are true, or if you are convinced that they are false, there is some component of the mind that is getting in the way. A healthy mind knows unity, and is open to all possibilities of life, even magic.
Interconnectedness of mind, body, feelings, and spirit are all One in complex reality. Alignment with Spirit is central to our knowing health and wellness. All of these must be in balance in order to maintain health and longevity.
I have gained all that I know from extraordinary mentors like C.K. Chu in New York, Dr. Yvonne Farrell DOM LAc in Los Angeles, David Pomeranz, and from the grace of Red Bird inviting me to my first sweat lodge on the Blackfoot river in Fort Missoula, Montana.
Leaving the Rockies behind to study indigenous methods for transforming disease and aspiring toward health, I always knew that I would return home to share this wisdom with my people of the mountains. As I find my way as a medicine-carrier in the San Juans of the Rocky Mountains, I am being called, more and more, to step forward and champion natural ways of life.
The imbalance caused by unprecedented chemical use (pesticides, fertilizers, drugs, fragrances and detergents) and human-caused toxic materials (radioactive nuclear waste) in the environment has altered our ordinary experience of life. In fact, we are being asked to adapt and change. Evolution is change that occurs on every level of our existence, in every cell of our bodies. We either get tuned into the adaptation that is required to continue living, or we get out of the way and let go to dying. I’m not saying that dying is bad; it is evolution that stretches us to the core of our being. Some will be unable to withstand these stressful pressures, and others will make the choice to carry on in the face of adversity.
I am here as a guardian of sacred transformation. With the natural tools of indigenous medicine, and the wisdom from our most respected ancestors. Alchemy is possible, as we transmute and sublimate our bodies into higher form. We acknowledge all relationships as equal and integral to the whole.
If you are one who hears the call for truth, life, and consciousness…
It is time to…Evolve.
Tyler VanGemert L.Ac. MTOM
Master of Traditional Oriental Medicine
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