A Skillful Reflection on Lightning

Although substantiated by a logical scientific process, there’s something inexplicable few can deny about the effects of lightning. In fact, many cultures have viewed it in conjunction with a deity, including the Greek god Zeus, the Mayas’ God K, and Norse mythology’s beloved and fabled Thor. Verses in the holy books of Judaism and Islam credit lightning with a mysterious and commanding “supernatural importance,” and in the traditional religion of the African Bantu tribes, lightning is a sign of the fury of the gods, representing a time of rage and indignation.

But in the midst of the fear and mystery around this natural phenomenon, perhaps the most can be learned from the French and Italian’s expression for “Love at first sight,” which is Coup de foudre and Colpo di fulmine, respectively, which literally translated means “lightning strike.”

This parallel is a telling one, depicting the positive aspects that can be taken away from something so potentially frightening and ferocious. Allow yourself to envision the first time that primitive cultures saw fire. Without the conventional wisdom to explain it, it was magic, worthy of the respect and humility of an outright miracle. Conversely, lightning was like fire shooting from the sky; a divine force that brought its spectators as much excitement as concern. And although they couldn’t quite explain what was causing it, they knew it was helping to shape the landscape of the earth they were so attached to. They developed a profound appreciation for the process, and their own theories on what was triggering it. Perhaps some sort of divine being needed appeasement; perhaps it sought to regenerate the forests to keep them healthy; perhaps something was in dire need of being restored…regardless, they were able to parlay any fear in their minds into recognition in their hearts, welcoming the inevitable shift and its sacred messenger.

This time of year, when lightening is most visible, think of it not as a warning, but as a reminder of how yielding to the vigor and unpredictability of one of nature’s strongest forces can set possibilities ablaze.


Leave a comment »

The New Moon in August

As we move into the new moon phase known by earlier civilizations as the Lightning Moon, we are reminded of a fascinating duality of one of the earth’s most awe-inspiring forces.
















Both literally and figuratively, the topic is a charged one, since lightning’s powerful dance is impossible to ignore, even if we do find shelter from the intense surge. And, just as it strikes fear into the hearts and minds of many, it is especially designed to instill a delicate balance of reverence, commanding a respect that can be replicated by nothing else in nature.

While it might be difficult to fathom the time in history when the majority of our landscapes were covered in sheets of frozen glacial rock, powerfully shaping the terrain beneath it, the marvel of lightning remains a modern one, still rearing its electrifying head whenever the skies are primed for it. In this, we recognize not only its matchless force, but its admirable longevity, exposing its oft-neglected value.

Tonight, as we look to the blanket of darkness that the new moon delivers to the August sky, imagine the wonder that the Neo Pagans felt when a single bolt of energy and light suddenly divided it, and revel in your ability to relate to it now, striking you once again with awe.

And, just in case, stay indoors if the skies are ripe.

Leave a comment »

Advice from The Skillful Doctor: Overcoming Courage and Fear


My teenage daughter’s best friend has a learning disability that she’s quite sensitive about. My daughter is incredibly supportive, not only of the hardships her friend faces as a result of it, but in respecting her wish to not discuss it with too many people. Recently, in an effort to defend her friend from a group of classmates who were being insensitive about something that took place in school, she divulged a bit too much information, and it gave the other children ammunition to tease her friend about her disability. Her friend doesn’t know it was my daughter who shared the facts, and my daughter doesn’t want to tell her, but I think she should. The situation was created by accident, and my daughter was only trying to help. The two of them couldn’t be closer, and although I know her friend will eventually understand, my daughter wants to act like it never happened and move on.

I too have a close childhood companion whose friendship I cherish beyond compare. We’ve had tremendous ups and downs, but still remain incredibly close. Our families spend the holidays together and we even started a successful business together. We’ve made plenty of mistakes and had plenty of disagreements along the way, and it was always in the reconciliations that our bond got stronger, in the end committed to truth. I want my daughter to understand this, and I want to help her display the courage that I know she has instead of hiding behind her fear.


Thanks for writing in with this question. It’s an important one, involving three good people in a sensitive predicament.

It’s apparent to me that you certainly have your daughter’s well-being at heart. Our relationships provide an immensely important foreground for our overall health, and hers with her friend, if nurtured correctly, could be a channel for a lifetime of growth, joy and immeasurable support, as you yourself have experienced.

But even with your recognition of the factors and emotions that exist in this scenario, I still detect one very prominent variable here which, while you are acknowledging quite correctly, you might be underestimating–the issue of fear.

You say you want to help your daughter display the courage you know she has, but I’m going to ask you to entertain the notion that she isn’t quite there yet. Clearly, this friendship is incredibly meaningful to her, and the thought of it changing–or worse, going away–might be more debilitating than you may assume. Unlike you, she may not have the vision of the future and the ripple effects of concealing the truth. Her fear is what she knows best, and appropriately, she is sparing herself pain, at least for the moment.

Now, let’s look further into your question and the interesting pairing of courage and fear in your final sentence. Indeed, courage and fearlessness are two different things. In fact, without fear, courage does not exist. Fearlessness is a young child walking haphazardly into the middle of the street without looking. Having not been warned of or exposed to the consequences of such an action, there is no fear weighing on his decision. However, if a car is in fact coming, and that child’s older sibling, parent or even a stranger, boldly runs to the middle of the road to protect him from a potentially tragic fate, that’s courage. The difference is that they know better. The adult or older child understands the risks associated with selflessly stepping into harm’s way to keep someone else out of it, but they proceed anyway. In this case, it seems that your daughter’s fear, from her point of view, is justified given her limited range of experience. Here, she’s old enough that she is not “fearless”, but she is not quite ready to run in front of the car either. While it is right for you to point out that it would be a big step for her to proceed to come clean, this part of her development is not yet her paradigm as it is yours.

So, let’s talk about you for a moment. You said you’re a business owner. Surely, in your pursuit of a successful living, you risked being relegated to an unsuccessful one. Have you never been uncertain about how a big decision would affect your revenues or your marketing, or even your relationship with your own partner and friend? I’m willing to bet that you have been, but that you took your chances, and when all was said and done, reaped the appropriate rewards. Your daughter’s current circumstance is no different now. It sounds like a lesson in risk and reward, and you sound well-suited to teach it. But, experience is the best teacher. While you can talk to your daughter about using this particular opportunity, this is something she’ll have to determine on her own. In the interim, while it might hurt to watch, her choice now will put her in the best position in the future to make a better decision the next time.

Indeed, it is often hard for a parent to watch their children make these mistakes. Assuming they are minor, i.e. not life threatening, even broken or lost relationships are the lightning strikes that prune the tree to flourish in the future.

Again, speak to your daughter in this tone. Help her weigh the risk and benefit of the current situation, perhaps she will get it this time. Whatever she decides, perhaps the best role for you as her mother is to help her realize that while it’s nice to live in a state of naiveté and to avoid the confrontation with what scares us, it’s much more skillful to proceed despite it. This is the toughest part of growing up.

So, rather than focusing on helping your daughter display the courage, I suggest you arm her for a lifetime of beneficial decision-making skills by focusing instead on helping her to recognize and confront fear and to develop the ability to stay in her truth.

Leave a comment »

Advice from the Skillful Doctor

Question: I’m having so much trouble losing weight. I’ve tried every diet under the sun and while I can lose weight initially, I feel deprived and unhappy during the process and the weight comes right back. I’m so frustrated. Now, even the word diet makes me quiver.

Answer: You are not alone. Most people I see have at one time or another been on “a diet”. Very few are successful long term, in many ways, much like you have described. What I want you to appreciate is that there are three kinds of hunger: physical, emotional and spiritual. If you think about your “needs” that way, it will open your eyes to a new perspective. Next, you must also realize that the three types of hunger often get confused in our minds and, rather than understanding the distinction between each of them, we just feel hungry. Thus, if you are emotionally or spiritually wanting and cannot “feed” yourself effectively in those areas respectively, your only source of fulfillment for the sensation of hunger will be from the food you consume.  Indeed, overeating is often a response to unfulfilled emotional or spiritual hunger. Instead, imagine if you could address your emotional and spiritual hunger in a more skillful manner. This is the basis for a new approach to weight loss.  Working this way, there would be no reason for a diet at all, you will simply not need to eat so much and what you will desire will be more in line with what is really best for you as well.

Leave a comment »

Consider This…Skillful Reflection:

While we are thinking about the moon cycles, what are some other cycles that we should honor? Cycles exist everywhere in nature, but our society has gradually drifted from a way of living that is supported by its rhythms. We eat when should be digesting; we are awake when we should be sleeping; we speed up when should be slowing down; and we spend when should be saving. We crave and cultivate wealth, power and privilege, which creates a cycle of working to make more money to buy more material things that we hope will make us happy, but rarely ever really do.

This vicious, man made cycle is at odds with natural rhythms both in our world and within ourselves. For in the process of doing all of this we strip the earth of its resources and we pollute our air and water. Falling out of balance with nature’s cycles leads us to poor health and dis-ease.  Those who feel or are disconnected from a vital source such as nature, family or community may overindulge in some manner to fill the void. Whether it is with food, drugs, sex or material extravagance, oSabverindulging inevitably leads to a never-ending cycle of fear and emptiness.

Here are some tips on paying attention to nature’s rhythms so that you can live a more balanced, skillful life:

  • Observe your own Sabbath: Adopt a “Sabbath” ritual that includes rest, activity and community. This does not need to be a “religious observance.” Our body, mind and spirit benefit from one day every seven to slow down.
  • Switch up your meals: Consume more at the onset of a meal, then see if you can slow down a little to digest and absorb your food. Eat less overall; many times we simply overwhelm our capacities.
  • Hold off on the guilt: In order to keep your metabolism stable, make it a rule not to guilt your friends and family, and ask them to do the same!  Emotional or physical stress induces a hormone releases which have significant effects on how our bodies function.
  • Find Sunlight…Anywhere: Our body cannot produce Vitamin D without adequate intensity and quantity of sunlight. Besides artificial light options, a supplement of Vitamin D3 might be useful here as well.

Leave a comment »


pres·by·o·pi·a def: farsightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye, typically occurring in middle age.

I was walking through a familiar forest the other day, looking down at the ground beneath my feet as I tried to avoid the salamanders scurrying around after the recent storm, when I noticed that I couldn’t focus so easily. Indeed, I have reached that age where my vision is changing. I made a mental note to make an appointment with my friend, The Ophthalmologist.

But, I started to think about that, and specifically to ask the question, why does our vision change? Resisting the temptation to answer that medically, I went beyond the conventional medical paradigm to examine that question from a different perspective, with a different lens, pun intended.

So, why does our vision change as we age? Is it simply a matter of degeneration, requiring us to be more dependent on others, or the assistance of technology, in this case glasses? Or, could it provide a necessary advantage and not be a sign of impending fragility and death as many fear?

My answer came from the next observation I made in that forest. While the spots on the back of the salamander appeared blurry, I did notice his movement better than I remember ever doing before. The fact is, my near vision was impaired but my ability to see something moving was improving.

My thought is this: as we age, nature has less use for us to see the near stuff… leave that for the kids and young adults. But, someone needs to be able to take their focus away from the minutia and see beyond, see the big picture. That’s where middle aged and older adults fit in. It makes a whole lot of sense to me now. I’m cancelling my appointment!

Leave a comment »

Skillful Split Second

Life has a way of throwing  us curve balls, but the more skillful we are, the more adept we become at handling them.  A baseball player up at bat can make a split second decision that can direct that curve ball to where it needs to be.

It’s no different for someone who lives skillfully.  Do you?


Take a Skillful Split Second to visit me on twitter at @SkillfulDoctor and share the Skillful Way you handled something at a moment’s notice using the hashtag #SkillfulSplitSecond.

Leave a comment »