[00:00] Introduction/Kion University
[04:11] Vouri Clothing
[07:05] Dr. Gerald Epstein
[09:15] The Fascinating Story of the Teacher Dr. Epstein Met in Jerusalem
[32:00] How Some People Sleep Less Than an Hour a Night, Eat Barely Anything at All, and Still Function Just Fine
[45:42] How Imagination Heals the Body
[53:00] Why Dr. Epstein Believes Every Physical Malady is Related to a Social or a Spiritual Disturbance
[59:30] How to Detox the Liver Through Visualization
[1:08:26] What Dr. Epstein Means When he Says “We Are Not Meant to Die”
[1:24:12] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, this is Ben Greenfield. If you were at my website this week, bengreenfieldfitness.com, yes, I have a website named after me. I'm that good. I released an article, probably one of more comprehensive articles I've ever written on the woo-woo, the spiritual energy medicine, and ways to, from Reiki, to music, to yoga, and kundalini, and beyond to enhance your spiritual health and also your overall health and your longevity. Took a deep dive, it's a long article, a long article. I highly, highly recommend that you give it a read because it's related to the type of things that my very intriguing guest, Dr. Gerald Epstein, and I talk about on today's show.
Dr. Epstein came highly recommended to me by a friend and a physician in New York City. And this friend got into an e-mail chain with me and Gerald about kind of the idea of the Jewish faith and energy medicine, Christianity and energy medicine, and just the overall effects of energy medicine on your health. When I say energy medicine, I'm talking about things like vibratory frequencies, and spirituality, and belief in a higher power. Very interesting discussion. So, sit back and prepare to learn absolutely nothing about hex bar deadlifts, squats, or obstacle course racing, or the biome, or anything else. We're going to talk about the spirit, about the soul, about that potentially dried up shriveled part inside you that you may or may not have been neglecting. That's what we're going to talk about in today's show.
This podcast is actually brought to you by something else that I'm very proud of, in addition to my extremely long, winded article that I just wrote, and that is for the past two years, I've been amassing every shred of knowledge that I have gained from my two decades of experience in the fitness, and nutrition, and medicine industries, and have put all of that together into one mighty certification. It's called Kion University. Kion U. Now, there's a lot of certification programs out there, I realize. But none, and I've looked at them all, delve with the depth, and the experience, and the thoroughness, along with the practical in-the-trenches aspects that Kion U does. We're talking performance, digestion, recovery, brain, sleep, fat-loss, hormone optimization, alternative medicine and spirituality, happiness, purpose, running your business, making a lot of money as a health professional. We cover it all during the course of this certification.
It's a 12-month program that you go to, and by the end, well, I'm going to shoot straight with you, and again, I'm going to use this word again, I know it might be over using it, but narcissistic is the word I'm going to use. I know it sounds narcissistic, but I am essentially creating a program that trains people how to become almost like a clone of me and what I do. Meaning, I want you to know a lot about performance and biohacking, but also running a business, a podcast, and a blog, nutrition, supplements, nutraceuticals. Pretty much everything is all there. It's a one-stop shop certification program where you learn from me. We'll spend hours and hours together over the next year, and I will share everything with you in weekly workshops, testing involved, they'll be CEUs. It's all inside Kion University. If you want to be part of the very first charter class at the university, you go to getkion.com/coach. That's getkion.com/coach.
This podcast is also brought to you by the type of clothing that you will only see me wearing at this point when I travel, because I toss into my backpack just one brand of clothing. It's called Vuori. Vuori. It is the most comfortable athletic clothing I've ever worn. I like it because I can wear it to parties in the evening, I can wear it to meet-ups during the day, I can wear it to coffee shops, I can wear it to the beach, I can wear it when I'm riding a bike, and I can wear it to the gym. And it's super comfortable. It hangs well? Is that the right word to use? Hangs well, looks good, it fits the body very nicely. I like it. Especially if you're an athlete and you exercise, it seems to really make the body look a lot better. The way the shorts fit, the way the shirts fit, it's perfect, like I mention, for anything hiking, running, training, hanging. Incredibly versatile and incredibly comfortable clothing. Right now, they mostly focus on men. Sorry, ladies. You're going to have to stick to your usuals. I don't know, Lululemon, or Athleta, or any of these other catalogs my wife gets. But for you guys out there, Vouri has a special offer. You go to vuoriclothing.com, that's vuoriclothing.com, vuoriclothing.com, and you enter the code BENG25. You enter the code BENG25 at check out at vuoriclothing.com, that gives you 25% off.
Ben: Hey, folks. It’s Ben Greenfield. And a couple months ago, I published a podcast about yoga, and energy medicine, and religion. And afterwards, one of my Jewish friends reached out to me about Christianity, and yoga, and the Jewish take on that. And he talked about the five levels of the soul, and he talks a little bit about Hatha yoga, and Reiki. And as he went on and on, he eventually got to the point where he discussed the fact that he had this teacher, a guy named Dr. Gerald Epstein. And he said that, “My teacher, Gerald Epstein, reminds me often, health, healing, and holiness come from the same root. If it is all about tangible physical healing, one can usually make the distinction fairly easily. But all these paths can, if you wish, lead to more ethereal and spiritual experiences. It is at these levels one needs to honor the spiritual path you are on, be discerning, and not have another master.” And then he went on to introduce me to Dr. Gerald Epstein, his teacher. And he said that he'd use Dr. Epstein's teachings and techniques in his medical practice, where he'd seen it shrink metastatic tumors that should have killed his patient years ago, and he connected me with this Dr. Epstein, who I happen to have today on this podcast.
And I didn't realize this about Dr. Epstein until I really started doing some research, but he has an enormous amount of work that you could find, for example, on Amazon. Books like, “Healing Visualizations: Creating Health Through Imagery”, “Healing Into Immortality”, “Waking Dream Therapy”, “The Encyclopedia of Mental Imagery”, a whole bunch when it comes to imagery, and visualization, and healing, the type of things we're going to talk about today. He has a fascinating story and we are honored to have him on the show. So, Dr. Epstein, welcome to the show.
Dr. Epstein: Thank you very much, Ben. I'm glad to be here.
Ben: Yeah. And if I'm not mistaken, you used to be, or still are, a doctor of psychiatry. Correct?
Dr. Epstein: Well, that's an interesting question. That's a good starting point for our conversation, because things changed quite a bit for me in 1974. And at that time, I was a psychiatrist, I was an MD, an MD psychoanalyst. I was well trained in these fields, very thoroughly trained. And I had the occasion, without being prepared for it, to meet a woman in Jerusalem who became eventually my teacher. I wasn't there to meet her. I came as an invited guest to her house to accompany my ex-wife who was doing an article on the effects of the 1973 war they called the Yom Kippur War, the Arab-Iraeli war. And she was doing an article for a magazine here in the US on the effects of the war, particularly on women because there are women living in the country from 30 different countries speaking 17 different languages. And in that particular war, many, many men were killed. So, a lot of widows were left, and she wanted to do this article she was commissioned to do on the effects of losing these men and how these women had fared and how they had been able to withstand this loss and what the effects it had on them.
So at that time, we were, I was invited to be a professor of psychiatry and law at the Hadassah Medical Center, the major medical center in Jerusalem. And the head of the department of psychiatry was, his particular area of interest with psychiatry and law. In 1973, I had founded, with a close friend of mine who was an attorney, I founded the Journal of Psychiatry and Law, which still exists, and I was the editor in chief for 13 years 'til 1986 where I decided that I had other things to do that was taking me away from my duties as the editor. But be that as it may, he invited me to come by and get involved in some kind of seminar work with the residents in psychiatry and law. And so it turned out that she was going there to do this article, and I was there to do this as professor, this invitation as a visiting professor. And during that time, we had been doing ourselves, I know that's been interest from the materials, I read about your work, an interest about yoga and how it fits in with Christian doctrines and so on. And at that time, she and I were doing yoga as a physical modality, and found it felt very beneficial for our physical status.
Ben: What kind of yoga were you guys doing?
Dr. Epstein: Hatha yoga. Simple Hatha yoga. And there was, at the end of it, which I didn't pay much attention to, there was a meditation that was given, and I was not really tuned into that. My focus was on the physical side of this. And so, there we were in Jerusalem, and what were we going to do to continue this practice, this physical practice? And it came about that, it turned out that a zen center opened in Jerusalem. A headman from Tokyo came to be the head of this center, and it was inaugurated at the time we arrived there. So, we thought, “Well, that's not a bad idea to go, and perhaps we'll see what happens if we sit in this meditational practice and what effects it may have,” and so on and so forth. So, we went and we started to go there and sit every day.
Ben: Was that a specific form of meditation?
Dr. Epstein: Zen meditation is a specific form of meditation, which is just emptying, which is a basis for most meditational practices, is your thoughts and empty your mind of the contents of your consciousness. And it was interesting for me because as a psychoanalyst, the interest was in the content of consciousness. Very much so about the stories of your life, what happened yesterday, what happened last week, what happened this year, what happened in your childhood. And so everything revolved around the stories of your life and making sense out of all of that and trying to interpret that and putting that together. And there I was, sitting in a process where I was asked to empty my mind of all kinds of thought process. I found it okay. It was nothing that was scintillating for me to do. But be that as it may, we rented a car and we met a young man there so we used to drive him back to the center of the city from the hill that we were, where the zen center was located.
And in the course of getting to know each other, he asked her what she was doing? She described doing an article. And he said, “Well, would you like to meet a woman from Algeria?” And she said, “Certainly,” because she was interested in meeting these women from all over the world. And she was multilingual, so she could converse in German, and French, and English, at least those three, and so on. So, he said, “Well, come to this house.” This way in May of '74. Come to this place and meet me there at 4 o'clock. And she said, “Fine.” So, the day came and she got to the car to go there, and I said, “I'm not going.” I felt that it was boring for me just to sit there, not knowing these languages and hearing these stories, and there's nothing I could communicate with and get involved with. So there was nothing of interest for me 'cause I had participated just tangentially in all of these interviews. So, then, as I was sitting in the room and she was headed to the car, a voice came to me and said, “Go!” Like that.
Ben: What do you mean a voice came to you?
Dr. Epstein: A voice came to me.
Ben: Like in your head or?
Dr. Epstein: A voice came through from the outside. And a voice came and said, “Go!” And it was such a commanding statement to me that I followed what it said. And said to my wife, yelled out the window, “Hey, wait for me, wait for me,” and so on. So, I went with her. And we came to this house, and it was in a very unprepossessing neighborhood. Just the regular, maybe middle-class neighborhood on the street. Nothing special. There was nothing special there at all. Except it was noted that when we came to her place, there was a blue gate unlike anything else that appeared on the street. People had gates in and entrance ways to their houses, but this was particularly painted in Mediterranean blue. So, we came through the gate and we entered through the door, into this place.
Ben: You've got a good memory. This is was way back in the '70s, yeah?
Dr. Epstein: It's unforgettable.
Ben: Yeah. I mean, not just blue, Mediterranean blue.
Dr. Epstein: Oh, yeah. Because that's a special healing color. It's the healing color of the West.
Dr. Epstein: The healing color that we use in imagery for people to heal various physical maladies, and so on. And it had been, it was definitely the color that was originated in the West. And you would see that in many religious paintings, particularly of the Virgin Mary and someone dressed in blue, and blue is a really seminal color for religious and spiritual understanding over the last thousands of years. And so, we came into this place, and I noticed on the wall there were thousands and thousands of photos, Polaroid photos. And it was very interesting to me, and I said to my wife, just spontaneously without knowing anything of what I was saying, I said, “This is the house of a Kabbalist.” A Kabbalist means an authority in Jewish spirituality. I didn't know it just was what occurred to me. So, we met this young man there, he took us into the main room where she was presiding, and she was lying on a divan, reclining on a divan, and she asked us to come closer.
Ben: Reclining on a what?
Dr. Epstein: On a sort of like a bed-couch.
Ben: Okay. What'd you call it? A divan?
Dr. Epstein: A divan. D-I-V-A-N.
Dr. Epstein: And she was reclining there, and she asked us to come closer, and she asked my wife what she did. And my wife, ex-wife, spoke about what she did. And then she said to me, “And you?” And I said, and what was of interest to me was that this young man had told me when he asked me in the course of our conversations at the zen center, “What you do?” And I said, “I'm a psychoanalyst.” And he said, “Oh! I did that for three years in France, five days a week. And it didn't relieve anything that I came for. Nothing of benefit came to me from that. However, when I was here in Jerusalem, I met a therapist, and I went through four sessions. And in that, it changed my entire life. And everything that I had gone through analysis for was cleared up.” I was kind of benignly skeptical, open-minded, I've always been open minded. And I said, “A-ha!” Okay. It was alright. I just took it in. And I said, “And what did you do? Did you free associate? Did you talk about everything that was on your mind like you do an analysis?” He said, “Oh, no, no. I did a process called mental imagery and waking dream.” I said, “Well, I never heard of that.” He said, “Well, that's what happened. And it just took four sessions, and my life changed.”
So, then when I got there and sitting in front of her, and he was there, it's suddenly struck me, “Oh. She was his therapist.” It suddenly hit me that this was a connection of the two of them. And I said, “I understand that you were Serge's,” his name was Serge, “I understand you were Serge's therapist and that you did a process with him called mental imagery or waking dream.” And spontaneously, I said to her, I didn't give her a chance to respond. And I said to her, “You know, it occurred to me,” because just months before I met her, I had written an article that was subsequently published in The Psychoanalytic Journal on the rule of free association in psychoanalysis. That is say what's ever on your mind, don't add it without any hesitations, without any qualms, without any deliberation. Just let it spew out. Just go and say everything that comes to mind without any qualification.
And I wrote an article on the subject, which was ultimately published after I met my teacher, after this May meeting was ultimately published. And I said, “You know, it occurred to me that he said he didn't do any free association with you and it was just this image work.” I say, “You know, occurred to me that Freud wrote an article in 1912 on beginning the analysis, for young analysts starting in their own practice as to how to begin the analysis.” And in the article, he told the young analyst to tell the patient to imagine, the word imagine, imagine that the two of you are on a train riding through the countryside, and that this patient is to tell you everything that he sees and to report that to you. And I said, “You know, he gave the rule of free association as an image.” I was very flush with my own insight and I was feeling pretty good about myself. And I was kind of sort of dwelling in this great flash of insight about that rule of free association was given as an image, which had never been reported ever in the literature before or since, that this was the start of how you do an analysis through using mental imagery.
And she said to me, which threw me off balance, paradoxically, she responded to me, “In what direction does the train go?” Remember I mentioned the train, to say everything, you're sitting on a train together, to tell you everything he sees going by the country. She said, “What direction did the train go?” And I'm saying, “What on Earth kind of question is that?” I didn't say that to her. I said it to myself. “What are you talking about?” I'm really full of myself about this insight and nothing's ever been discovered before in psychoanalysis, and you're asking me what direction does the train go. Well, I have to answer her because you need to be courteous, and I'm not going to dismiss, and I have to give her the right answer because you have to be self-conscious here. Being an analyst, you become very self-conscious about the right thing to say, and so on you. Even though you're asking people to say whatever they want, I better give her the right answer and I need to answer. And I'm thinking, “Well, there has to be a correct answer here.” And I didn't want to look like a fool. So, I'm starting to think I'm from Brooklyn, and we have elevated trains, and I've been on all these elevated trains throughout my life, and they go in a horizontal direction, of course.
So, I'm thinking, “Of course, they all go in a horizontal direction. I mean, it's such a ridiculous question to ask me.” So, I'm sort of thrown off. And meanwhile I'm chilled to back in my chair, and my arms are gripping the arms of the chair and I'm sweating. And I know that she's looking for an answer and I'm really delaying it, and I'm tilted all the way back, and my body is tightening up, and I'm breathing rapidly. And then as I'm thinking about giving her that answer, I suddenly understood, “Hey, wait a second. In Machu Picchu, the trains go up the mountain in a vertical direction. It's also the case in Switzerland, that trains go in an upward direction. Now, I'm stuck because there are trains that go horizontally and trains that go vertically. I got to give her an answer.
So, I take a deep breath like that and I say, in the typical medical sense, edging your bets when you don't want to be certain about things, so you can't be held liable in anyway. I say, “Most often, not infrequently, trains go like this,” and I made a movement with my right arm in a straight horizontal line forward, a thrust like that. And it was a [whooshing sound] How far off could I be? Because trains go like that, most trains in the world. And then she said to me as she looked at me, she lifted her arm in a vertical direction. At the same time that she lifted her arm vertically, she said to me, “And if we change the axis?” And at that moment, I became electrocuted. Electrocuted means that I became like there was nothing left of this Jerry, there's nothing left of this Dr. Jerry Epstein, nothing left of this Gerald Epstein, the name I was born with. And of course, I was always called Jerry growing up by my friends, and peers, and all of that. And I disappeared, completely disappeared. And there was and there was nothing of this Jerry left at all. It was just this blinding light. That's all there was. Just this light. When I came to, I don't know how much time elapsed.
Ben: And there were no psychedelics or anything like that involved with this? ‘Cause it sounds very similar to like description that people would use to talk about in an ayahuasca experience, or DMT, or something like that.
Dr. Epstein: Mescaline, peyote, all those kinds, while the substance is in the vines and the mushrooms, like that. So this being disappeared when I came to. The first thoughts I had was this: I'm no longer a psychoanalyst, I'm no longer an MD, I'm no longer a psychiatrist. In other words all these so-called “precious attachments” disappeared and I no longer was attached. And you know that the Buddha's speaking through all the traditions in the world because they all have the same idea, that suffering is the light of human existence and the source of all suffering is attachment. I wasn't aware of that statement until decades, decades later, about that statement from Buddha. But what I realized was I was none of this, none of these things that I held precious that I worked my backside off for years, that I've done this incredible amount of study, that I've written all this and more. And as I subsequently have written all this enormous work, all these six or seven books, CD sets that were all be available, I published over 3,000 imagery exercises. I teach classes, I have a New York State Regents Charter Training Center for all health care professionals.
I've accomplished an enormous amount that I have quite an illustrious career that I've developed and created in this work. But it all amounts to, it doesn't have any real direct resonance in a way because I'm here to serve people. So, I'm here to give my service to people so that they can find their own healing way. So, I become a catalyst or an enzyme for people to find their own healing way by providing these tools that I've delivered to them for them to use as they freely choose to or not, as they see fit. So, some of my work is to preserve your freedom and not to become an authority and so on. So, it all disappeared. And I said to myself at that point, after I realize that I'm none of this, that this is all gone and all I've worked for has no meaning. I said to myself, “This is truth. And I don't care what it takes, it doesn't matter. I'll give everything up. It doesn't matter. I'm going to follow this truth. I'm going to follow this way because this is the way that holds true for me, and I will not desist from it and nothing can sway me in this life.”
And she said to me, “This was very interesting to you, what happened, isn't it?” And I said, “You bet.” And she said, “Would you like to learn more?” I said, “Of course, I want to learn more.” ‘Cause I wanted to follow this path regardless of anything, and I want to follow it no matter what. And she said, “Well, come back tomorrow morning and we'll sort our work together.” And I came back the next day at 8 o'clock, and that translated into a seven-year apprenticeship.
Ben: Seven-year apprenticeship?
Dr. Epstein: Oh, yes. I went back forth for 13 times.
Ben: Now were you still working as a psychiatrist at all during this apprenticeship?
Dr. Epstein: When I came back after I started working with her that May, and I think we've worked for a period of maybe for six weeks, day and night, she fed me, I was like a stuffed goose. She fed me like a Dresden goose preparing me for the slaughter. I was stuffed with all this information and I did my own…
Ben: Oh. So, you're not talking about food. You're talking about information.
Dr. Epstein: Information and spiritual infusion. And I was doing all of this on, I was doing my own waking dream work with her, my own imagery work with her, we spent all this time together for hours, and hours, and hours on end, and so on. Then when it was time for me to leave, I came to her that morning to say goodbye. Like 11 o'clock in the morning, I was going to the airport. And I said, “Listen, Colette,” her name's Colette Aboulker. Muscat was her married name, M-U-S-C-A-T. A-B-O-U-L-K-E-R was her Algerian last name, Colette Aboulker, from an illustrious family of physicians. Her father was the most famous neurosurgeon in Europe and Algeria. There was a deep connection between French and Algeria, and Algeria was kind of a satrapy of France. It was like a nation state that France administered. So, I was going away, and she was sitting in her chair in the garden. And you realize the very simple life this woman, and there was no money, no there were fees, no money. You could never pass money to her ever. And there was no course. Everything was gratuitously freely without anything needed in return. Nothing that was asked to be given back.
And I was leaving, and I was coming back as a new person because I no longer was any of these attachments. But I had a practice of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis. I had colleagues from The New York Psychoanalytic Institute who were my friends, and there was my social group, and my referral source, and all of this kind of stuff. And I said to her, “Well, I'm going back, Colette. I'm here to say goodbye. Tell me, what shall I read when I go back? What else can I do?” And her response was, [snoring sound]. And she was telling me that she was asleep. And I said, “Hey, hey, hey. Wait, wait, wait.” I got a little…
Ben: She made that noise that you just made?
Dr. Epstein: Yes, yes. She snored. And at 11 o'clock in the morning. This is a woman who was up 24 hours or 23 hours a day. She only slept an hour at night. And she was always available. No matter when you contacted her, she was always available.
Ben: Was she healthy? Sleeping that much?
Dr. Epstein: Of course! She died just a few months before a 95th birthday.
Ben: And she slept an hour a night?
Dr. Epstein: That's all. Just an hour between 5:30 and 6:30.
Ben: She must have had one of those genetic predispositions as one of those people who can give out on sleeping? No?
Dr. Epstein: No. It's part of a spiritual practice all over the world. As part of your apprenticeship, as part of your being an aspirant, a devotee, a number of these disciplines, they ask you to stop a physiological process. So, there are people who fast for 40 days like that, without ever reading anything, drinking anything. Don't drink, don't eat, don't defecate, don't sleep. You have to take charge and kind of conquer these biological…
Ben: I've never heard of this before.
Dr. Epstein: Oh, sure.
Ben: Where can I learn more about this type of approach to life? Not sleeping and not having biological functions at the frequency that most do?
Dr. Epstein: I don't know where to put you directly. My ex-wife, who became a zen devotee, went to India with a friend to meet Indian gurus, and she met a man there who hadn't slept in five years. And she asked him, “How are able to do this? How can you go and not sleep?” And he said, “I'm a chain smoker and I never stopped smoking. So, I smoke incessantly for 24 hours a day. So, she came across somebody who was like that. There was a very famous German mystic named Therese Neumann who only ate the communion wafer every day, nothing else. She ate no other food at all. And when she died, toward the end of her life, they had seen that she had gained a hundred pounds.
Ben: That just doesn't seem like physiologically, that it's even possible. Like it kind of defies science.
Dr. Epstein: There are yogis who are known to go through suspended animation, where they take only one breath and don't breathe for 40 days. Just live on one breath, and so on. And Therese Neumann who only ate the communion wafer had put on this weight, and she was not unhealthy. When she died, she died a natural death. And they asked her, “How did you do that? If you only ate one communion wafer a day, how did you subsist?” She said, “I lived on the words of God.” So, I had such an experience of that sort and I've known what that's like. So, she lived on faith. So, these physiological changes are very much connected with spiritual practice because you do take charge of many of your states of being, mentally, emotionally, physically, and so on. So she said, well, I said, “No, really. Tell me, who can I contact? What can I look into? Who can I meet?” And at that moment, when I met her in '74, she had no telephone. So, she said we'll write to each other. And I said, “That's fine. I absolutely intend to do that.” It took 17 days for a letter to go each way. So, when I wrote her to Jerusalem, it took 17 days for it to get there. And when she responded, it took 17 days to get back to me. Well, you can realize that's talking about two communications within a period of a month, 34 days. And yet she said, “Just go back and teach.” I said, “Who am I going to teach? What do you mean, teach?” And she went, [snoring sounds] and she fell asleep again. And then she refused to answer me and said…
Ben: So, she wasn't just making that noise? She was actually falling asleep?
Dr. Epstein: She was snoring to let me know that she was asleep, “That's enough. I've had enough of you! Go home. Go home. Get out of here!” So, I left. And I went back, and I said, “Teach. How's this possibly going to happen? I could teach. It's impossible and I don't know anything.” I mean I know what my work was with her, but I had none of the bibliography, none of the resources behind it that I could turn to kind of enhance my understanding and knowing, my knowledge. So, when I came back, I came back to work in July, and a young woman who was in analysis with me gave me a night dream. And I said, “I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to approach the night dream in a different way. Rather than asking you to associate to the contents of the dream, I'd like to explore the dream with you. That you go back into the dream and take an exploratory journey with me through this dream. That's called waking dream.” She said, “I'd certainly be glad to do that.” She had enough trust in me, and our work had gone okay, and she was glad to try this out, and we did it.
And in the dream, in her exploration in the waking life, she was travelling through a forest and she met a man who had a lion by his side. So, that's okay. And she met this fellow, and he was a guide for her, and gave her an answer to questions and things like that. And she went through this whole waking dream exploratory experience with me. In a month, her analysis completed. Just like that. It zipped through, and she was done. Just like that it happened with a second patient who came that week, and who's still my friend, and she went through the waking dream. And within a month, her analysis completed. And just like Serge, who's therapy completed a few sessions, their work was done within 30 days. They both said goodbye. They had completed what they came for, and they were gone.
So, a few months go by, and in October, this young lady called me. And she said, “I want you to know that I met the man that I met in my waking dream. I met him in my everyday life. We got together very quickly, and now I'm living with him.” And it turned out the man that she met was one of the main principles in a major teaching center, therapeutic teaching center in New York called the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, and he was a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner. And when he heard what she had done with me, he said, “That sounds very interesting to me because it touches on some Tibetan Buddhist practice that use imagery.” Because Tibetan Buddhism's originally are shamanistic. So, it had a lot of this, as you alluded to before, a lot of this imaginal experience. Meeting your totem animal, and going through journeys to forests and stuff, and going out into other regions of reality, et cetera. And he said, “I'd like to invite him to come in teach in my center at the National Institute.” And they invited me to come, and I started giving an elective to fourth year students over a few year period.
So the thing she said, Colette, to me, go and teach. How's it going to happen? It happened. And meanwhile, during the course of taking on this work, most of my patients fled from my practice because they said, “We didn't come here to do this. We came here to talk. What is this stuff you're giving us with imagery and so on. “This is ridiculous! I came here to speak to you about my troubles.” And they fled the practice. And I ended up with hardly any income and without any patients anymore. True to the work, I was doing the work regardless of whatever. And when the colleagues found out what I was doing, they shunned me and they thought I was a quack and I was a fraud. And they never heard of this, what kind of stuff is this that you're doing, and so on. And I became a persona non grata at the institute and amongst my colleagues.
So, I had lost my practice space, lost my income, and all kinds of things happened to me. I became destitute financially for a while. So, I lost friends, referral base, income. My family thought I had gone off the deep end, and my wife, my ex-wife bore up under it, but she was really very anxious about it because we were financially just scraping along from a kind of somewhat secure income. She herself was a college professor, so it helped to stave off complete destitution altogether. But I ended up, with all that I mentioned to you, starting an institute of my own, being a New York State chartered, publishing all this work, being a teacher, being a researcher, I've done research that's been published on treating asthma with mental imagery under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health.
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Ben: That's actually the type of stuff I wanted to ask you about, how this actually looks from a practical standpoint. When you say you could use the power of imagination for healing, how does that work? I mean how would you actually heal, could you give me an example of a medical condition and then how one would use the power of imagination to heal that? And I'm also just curious, what's actually going on physiologically or physically when you use the imagination to heal the body?
Dr. Epstein: I've written enormous about this with many, many case illustrations of various sorts in my book, “Healing Visualizations”, which was published in 1979, is still in print. It's been published now, I think, in 20 languages in 23 countries in the world. So, this has been established as the benchmark book in this way for practitioners and for the general public. Published by Bantam.
Ben: So, fill me in on a few examples from that book? Like of healing using imagination.
Dr. Epstein: An example that I'd like to share with you, amongst others, since explicated in a DVD that's come out called “The Healing Field”, which is on PBS. It's been licensed to PBS through January of 2019. But in that, there were a number of healers who were interviewed by this producer named Penny Price, who was originally a producer for the Geraldo Show, and came on Geraldo with a number of people who were healed, and so I'll allude back to it. So, this fellow, I have a student who was an art therapist whose husband was and is, the main medical diagnostician for heart transplant surgery at a major hospital in the New York area. And she would go there and do art therapy with the prospective patients who were going to get heart transplants. And by having them draw, she knew who would benefit from the surgery and who would not, where there was trouble and where there seemed to be a beneficial outcome, it seems to be, making here.
Be that as it may, she called me on an Easter Sunday a number of years ago, it may have been about six, seven years ago maybe, and she called me on Easter Sunday and she said, “I'm going up to the hospital to see a man who had a heart transplant surgery,” and he was a young man, he was in his 40's, maybe his late 40's, and he had developed atrophy of his leg because the surgeons had taken a graft, a skin graft from his leg to use for his heart to shore up the heart muscle.
Ben: Is that pretty typical? Use a skin graft from the leg to shore up the heart?
Dr. Epstein: Yes. It's very common. You take grafts from other parts of the body, that healthy tissue can be transplanted to help foster greatest strength in the area of the heart. And they snipped the nerve in the leg. And so, they did electromyographical studies and electrophysiological studies, and they found that the nerve was dead and that the muscles were atrophied in that area. And they told him that he was, that he had to have an amputation of his leg and there's nothing they could do for him, and they had to take off this leg. And she called me and she said, “Jerry, do you have an exercise for him?” And I said, “Yes. Here's one I think you might give to him.” And I gave her an exercise for restoration of the nerve.
Ben: You mean you gave her a mental exercise for restoration of the nerve?
Dr. Epstein: [0:49:26] ______ because the basis of the process draws from the ancient tradition of health care of the West, which says that the mental and the physical are intimately interrelated. There's no separation. It's all one piece. So, it's one unitary system.
Ben: It's the kind of stuff Bruce Lipton talks about in his book “Biology of Belief”.
Dr. Epstein: I go in a different direction from him, 'cause he starts from biological point of view and I start from a spiritual point of view. But the point is that we are whole beings, and every moment, we operate in the world through five ways of experience, physical, emotional, mental, social, and moral. And the reason we use moral is because the ancient medicine understood that there's a holy piece of this that needs to be included in any kind of healing that's to be done in this time-space world in terms of repairing human suffering. And we got a glimmer of that, which was very important to me, in my pursuit of this work over the last 43 years that the Greek root K-A-I-L-O, kailo, gives rise in the English language to six words. And the understanding is that the root, the etymological route, is the parent. And all the words that come out of that root are all connected to each other, they're all siblings of each other and they're all children of the parent root. I hope that's clear.
So, out the root kailo comes the words “wholesome” and “hale”, H-A-L-E. That's good. Then there are four that are really seminal here. Health, heal, hole, they all come from the same root, and the fourth one is holy. So, then the point of view is you can't have a medicine system that doesn't include the holy. And of course, the current system of medicine, which has been around for about 400 plus years, developed in the sort of the middle of the Renaissance period, submerged the holy, got rid of the holy, said the holy had no business here. It has no place in this medical practice. It only deals with the physical, and there's no room for the mind. And nothing that's invisible, there's no invisible reality that can be understood as having a place here, and we're only going to focus on the physical. And that's what this physical medical system is, only focused on the physical. But when you look at the root of health, and heal, and hole, you have holy. You can't have a medicine system without the holy. It needs to incorporate a spiritual base that has to be included in the healing process.
Ben: So when you say the holy, you mean specifically something spiritual?
Dr. Epstein: Absolutely. And the spiritual ways here are the gift that been given to us in the ancient Hebraic tradition, which is actually, its focus is really on all of the Western tradition, which is the 10 laws, or the Ten Commandments. Commandment means “a call to action”, and these commandments were given about 3500 years ago as a basis for healing.
Ben: Are you talking about the 10 Commandments in the Bible?
Dr. Epstein: That's an exactly what I'm talking about. ‘Cause the Bible is read as a healing text, and it's given the ways to bring healing to people by including it in their understanding to realize that whenever there's a physical malady, for example, it's also a social malady, there's also a social disturbance. And then, of course, along with that, there's also a spiritual disturbance. So, there are social errors of living and there are spiritual errors of living that give birth to these social errors, which in turn give birth to the problems that people come with. The medical model only focuses on the problems and solutions to the problems. We do too, but we're not using physical methods to cure physical conditions, we're using mental methods to cure physical conditions because it's all of a piece.
So, it's a unitary system, physical, emotional, mental, social, moral is all one piece. And every action you're taking in the world displays how you're experiencing life physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, morally in every single instant. The medical model doesn't understand this or has no capacity in its model to address this. So, when people come with a heart condition, for example, they're not asked, “What are you eating your heart out about? Is there a heartbreak that you've been suffering? Has there been a relationship that has created a feel of devastation that you are feeling heartbroken?”
Ben: Right. Something we might associate with the heart. What would be another example than the heart?
Dr. Epstein: Well, we can do with many, the organ. A woman came to me who, and I'll get back to the guy with the nerve thing. A woman came to me who was suffering from Hep C, hepatic C of the infection of the liver and autoimmune disease of the liver, and she was told that she was going to die, that there's not a known cure for this. They had all the tests, they showed all the liver tests, the liver functions were skewed. They had biopsies that show that the liver was in disrepair and all of that. And she came to see me knowing that, and being told that she was incurable. This is a crime committed by the medical profession to ever pronounce something as incurable or nothing we can do about it, and so on and so forth.
Ben: Right. ‘Cause then you accept in your mind that you're not going to heal.
Dr. Epstein: Like that. So, we call that a nocebo. A nocebo is a belief system that creates pain and suffering, that creates disturbance. The word “nocebo” means “to do harm”. So, these are words that are given to do harm and they violate the Second Law, which is don't make graven images mentally, don't make fixed images. Like this is it. There's nothing else to be done. You're incurable means that this is the end of it, there's nothing further that can possibly be done. So, she was told she was incurable and nothing could be done. When she came to see me, we then broadened our picture of together of her life and saw that there was a disturbance in her relationship with her husband, a major disturbance in her relationship to her husband's mother, who was speaking against her to her husband. The mother was speaking to her son against this woman, and how he should leave her, and blah, blah, blah, and was creating a great deal of divisiveness amongst them at home. Almost invariably, it's always there. Whenever there's a physical malady, there's a social disturbance. There's an emotional malady, there's a social disturbance.
The ancient Hebraic model said that the fabric of our life existence is a social moral matrix. And when there's a rip in the fabric, when the mantle is torn apart, what comes out of it are physical, emotional, and mental disturbances as signs of a problem in the social moral matrix of your life, and the way you're functioning in your social relatedness, and your relationship to the invisible reality. There's an invisible reality that's not considered in the medical model because we're born of two natures, physical and invisible. That's called the soul nature. So, we're of two sorts. The focus has been squarely, in the last 400 years, just on the physical to the denouncing of the invisible, the mind has no value here, God has no place, and there's no invisible reality. But we understand that our visible and invisible reality are one piece.
And during the course of life, it's been torn apart by the problems, and conflicts, and suffering we've gone through, and we look to the visible reality as the source of relief of our troubles that will do the job for us, which it can't, because you can't have one without the other. There has to be a reunification of the two. And the trouble is this tearing apart of the soul and the body into a separate part out of this oneness that we're born with into the separate functions and paying no attention to the invisible part, which is where all of life is. It's ceaseless. It's endless. It's full of life force without end. It's full of love without end. It can never be tarnished. It can never disappear from you. It can never leave you, and so on and so forth. We didn't neglect the liver. We did exercises for her to clean her liver out.
Ben: And so what would an exercise to clean the liver out actually look like?
Dr. Epstein: Well, she would see her liver, look at the surface, imagine the surface of her liver as a mirror. There's an upper lobe and a lower lobe, one in front, one behind, so to speak. She would see the surface of the mirror, of the liver as a mirror and see where all the spots were, and bring with her whatever she could need to clean it, to thoroughly clean it. So, she would take a very soft golden brush and clean that area, clean away the dark spots. Then she'd go to the underside of the liver, and see the spots there, clean that, and do that three times a day for 21 days.
Ben: And in a situation like that, are you actually testing liver enzymes or seeing if it actually has an effect?
Dr. Epstein: Hold on. So, then, remember she's being seen by physicians who were monitoring her case, who told there's no hope. Meanwhile, she also takes up her relationship to her husband in a way in which she had been acting as a slave to this relationship, because most relationships suffer from this enslavement in the relationship process of the dyad of the two, and she was holding back on delivering to him a message that this relationship can't continue if he's going to continue this relationship with his mother, that she's no longer welcome in the house, she can't visit. When she would leave the house, the two children, her two children would be distressed. They couldn't stand her presence there, they were feeling they would cry because she was speaking ill to the children. She demanded that his mother could no longer call or come. And if you want this relationship to continue, it's going to have to be on these terms. And she took charge of the relationship. And with that, she took charge of her distressing emotional states, being anxious and fearful, and so on, spoke up, and then she was followed by these physicians. And they did liver tests again after a period of about six months, she was supposed to be dead by that time. She wasn't. They did liver tests and they did a biopsy, and the tests showed that her liver had returned to normal, and that the biopsy showed no disrepair of the cells.
Ben: Wow. And all she was doing was this mental imagery stuff? She wasn't taking much of glutathione, or n-acetylcysteine, or liver cleanses, or anything like that?
Dr. Epstein: Oh, no. No. No. She had gone through all that stuff. And if you go through just that stuff without doing this stuff, it's not enough. So, the glutathione, homocysteine may be supportive for you, but you got to take charge of this life situation. It's a call to life, to bring life to your life. And your life just doesn't consist of the physical, you have to take into account, as Shakespeare said, the great mystic of England, he said, “All the world's a stage, and we're merely the players.”
Ben: What'd you call him? The great mystic of England?
Dr. Epstein: Shakespeare was the great playwright, right? He was a super mystic. He was a super mystic.
Ben: What do you mean?
Dr. Epstein: He was a mystical, he had a very strong mystical background.
Ben: Oh, interesting.
Dr. Epstein: He said, “All the world's a stage, and we're merely the players.” And he developed a point of view called “the theatre of life”, which I call the GEMS system, G-E-M-S, named after myself and my three other brothers of blessed memory. I'm Gerald, and then there's Ezra, Myron, and Sandy. And together, they're called GEMS, which was what my father said in my bar mitzvah speech in 1948. At the end of his speech about money bar mitzvah, he said, “I'd like to tell everybody that my four sons are GEMS, Gerald, Ezra, Myron, and Sandy. And I kept that in mind for this time to develop this system I called Gerald Epstein's Medicine System, or Gerald's Educational Medicine System. Not medical, medicine. This is a different type of medicine. It's a social spiritually-based medicine, which includes the totality of your being. Not just the physical.
We covered for her the totality, her mental state, the use of her mental life as a tool for healing, her emotional life to be put in order, so that she wasn't ruled by these distressing emotions that were wearing out her physiology, because there's always a connection between your emotional states, your mental states, and your physiology. In my system, it's all of a piece, not separated. So, when you are suffering in your social life and so on, your physiology's taking it and you're wearing yourself out. Your telomeres are becoming smaller and smaller and you're wearing out your organ systems to having to keep up with trying to bring you back into homeostasis, to sent to being healed, to come back into balance, into order through all the crap that you are letting yourself be taken over by.
Ben: This kind of reminds me of some of the stuff of like the, I don't know if you're familiar with this guy named the Iceman, Wim Hof. Have you heard of him before?
Dr. Epstein: Not familiar, no.
Ben: Well, he's got this deal where he does special breathwork, and mental visualization practices, and like some different forms of yoga, and he's had himself injected with E.coli before and literally shutdown the inflammatory cytokine response to E.coli, and they studied in a lab, and was able to do this just with mental imagery and breathwork, without taking any medications, or fancy supplements, or anything like that.
Dr. Epstein: Just like I did in the imagery research in asthma, where the group that was doing the imagery work, nearly 50% of the patients got off their medications altogether. 48% of the medications altogether.
Ben: Interesting. But there's got to be some situations where this doesn't work, like if you break your arm or something like that. You obviously can't use the power of imagination to fix your arm. I mean, there's got to be some situations where you wouldn't necessarily, where you'd need some allopathic medicine procedures, right?
Dr. Epstein: It depends what kind of allopathic medicine you're talking about. Because surgery in of itself can be a very fortunate intervention. If there's a comminuted fracture in which is the bones are piercing through the skin, you may want to, at that point, proceed to do an operation to put it back in place, yes? Why would we have to go through the process of the person has to be in the state of calm to some degree, some degree of mental quietude to allow himself or herself to discover the imagery process, to make connection with this in a subjective reality. You have to be in some state, just a moment of calm. Generally, if your bones are sticking out through your skin, you're not necessarily in a state of calm.
Ben: And what you're saying is that even in the hospital, they're really not using any type of mental imagery to calm you down? They're just like taking you in and doing the surgery?
Dr. Epstein: My book “Healing Visualizations” was the top bestseller in Brazil for months, and months, and months without my knowing, and there was a whole school of treaters called “The Psychooncology Movement”. And they became so powerful in Brazil, there are about 800 of them that, what I was introduced was that when a patient came in for cancer treatment, as part of the treatment, they were given a program of mental imagery based on my book. And consequently, they showed by their data collection that these patients would recover quickly, not have relapses, stayed out of the hospital. And all of that, over a long period of time.
Ben: Wow. They really love you down in South America. I'm really curious about this concept, I believe you either have an upcoming book, or it might have been recently published, this idea of “we are not meant to die”. I know one of your main focuses is now on immortality. Obviously, there is a big movement right now in the anti-aging and longevity sector, people injecting stem cells and doing all sorts of fringe procedures to decrease the rate at which telomeres shorten to enhance life span, but what do you mean when you say we are not meant to die? Like why are you focusing on immortality and how are you doing that?
Dr. Epstein: Exactly that. Because from the spiritual point of view, the idea of death is considered to be a perversion of life, so that if we live in a spiritually based relationship to our source and to live in connection with our relationship to this invisible reality, it's never ending, it's ceaseless, we're open to the endless forces of the universe entering into us, the endless life forces that are available to pervade our time-space existence here on Earth, and it's all a matter, you see, it says, what was a very important spark to all of this in terms of my own training, apprenticeship, and all of that was that in the book of Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy 30-34, it says, essentially paraphrased a bit, “I set before you at every moment, life and death. Choose.” Wow. That really got to me, because what did this mean for me? It meant, “Hey, I got an option.” That's what I meant to me. It said, “I set before you at every moment, life and death. Choose. I recommend that you choose life, so that you and your descendants may live.”
Wow. There's an option here. You mean I can choose a death path or I can choose a life path? I have that choice at every moment? Yes. Because the tradition says that we're born with free will and choice. So, now you have in front of you, at each moment, a choice to choose the path of death or choose the path of life. We've been conditioned and miseducated, and faultily conditioned to choose the path of death all the time. And my work is to teach you had to choose the path of life. I give classes and courses in all of this. It's on my website, drjerryepstein.org, and my catalog is up there and people can come in at anytime, and I give a course on how to choose the life path and what it means to choose a life path. And consequently, I show the physiological, biological connections to this. So, it has a grounding and a root in your biological, physiological basis here in time-space reality.
And one of the things I use as a way of explicating that is that we are really born with a trace memory that we can live forever. How does that work? When we're born on Earth, the idea has been that we have a finite time span. And then as we're born, cells do regenerate in the system, but cells also die. So, there's a going and a coming of cells, right? And this breakdown of cells, which eventually leads to a breakdown of the organ systems in the body which are created by entering into what we call “false emergency states”, states in which you are making up stories about your existence, entering into an emergency, a fight or flight constantly by the threats that you perceive are coming towards you. And if you create false emergencies, you will take a hit in your physiology because you made up stories about things that don't exist. Namely, the future, which doesn't exist, and the past, which is over, ended, buried, dead, gone, finished, and has no meaning anymore. It's only the present moment where everything is. The future is an illusion.
So, you're making up stories all the time about the future. And as you do that, the physiology response to that. And so, you're building up all kinds of reservoir of chemicals and substances in the body to gear up for this emergency which doesn't exist. You're sitting in the middle of your living room, and you're in a fight or flight because the check didn’t come. And then, “Oh my God! I won't be able to pay the rent. I'll be evicted.” You hear my stories now, I'm talking about the future. And I treat that future as though it was a fact. But it's not. It's a made up story about something that doesn't exist yet. But the physiology is taking a hit because as these substances have nowhere to go in this fight or flight, there's nowhere for them to get expended and they're sitting in you, and there's really no fight, there's truly no fight or flight, they begin to break down and they become poisons in the system. And then the body has to call all of the organ systems to take care of cleaning that all out.
And if I keep doing that all the time and I keep calling on the system to bring me back into balance and clear it all out, I keep going through that day, by day, by day, by day, by day, the organ systems become tired, and aged, and worn out. They lose their resiliency. And that's really some sketch between the physiology of death. Well, we have options to not choose to go that way. We can choose to stay rooted to the moment and not make up stories about the pasturizing, or futurizing, which is creating false emergency states which are having their physiological reflection.
Ben: So, you don't really think that we can live forever, right? In terms of living to be hundreds and hundreds of years old as humans on planet Earth?
Dr. Epstein: When you're born, of course, the breakdown starts because you're born into a dual world. So, we're born into a world of conflict. Buddha said, “The light of human existence is born into a world that we have to bear up under of conflict, mayhem, destructiveness.” It's the way it works here in the man-made world, we call it. When you were born, Ben, before you were in the womb and you were gestating there for nine to 10 months in that womb. What happened? Your parents chose to have you, so there was a joining of the egg, the ovum, with the sperm. And they met together in the uterus, and there was a flash of light, and there was a fertilization. There were two cells that joined to become one cell. Yes? And that one cell went and landed itself in the wall of the uterus, and began to flower there, began to grow a vascular system, and is implanted there, and is starting to grow. Yes? And Ben has now gone from one cell, to 60 trillion. Ben didn't enter into a breakdown system of entropy. Ben entered into a build-up system of complexity, a rate of complexity not called entropy, but by a term that was coined by a friend of mine, philologist named Ori Soltes at Georgetown who created this term ectropy, the opposite of entropy. Not a breakdown, but a build-up.
So now, Ben went from this one cell to 60 trillion. That wasn't an entropy, that was a greater complexity and greater self-organization. Not a disorganization. And in the course of lying there in the warm waters of the amniotic fluid, you grew from one to 60 trillion. There wasn't a breakdown, there was a build-up of self organization. That's where the invisible reality is having its role. It’s a self-organizing system. It never breaks down. Never breaks down. Only the material system breaks down. Only the material system is subject entropy. But the other side of the situation, the invisible reality, never breaks down. It only builds up. Well, you came into this life when you were born, in that setting where you were born, you were born with a trace memory of what happened to you in the womb. You're born knowing that there is an ectropy, that there's a possibility for endless life, of endless self-organization. That's what's meant in the Deuteronomy statement, “I sat before that every moment, life and death.” It doesn't say, “Set before you the possibility of life and death.” “I set before you, life and death.” So I set before you ectropy or entropy. Choose. So, that means that I can continuously choose the life path? Yes. And all that, so, what I teach is educate you will continuously choose the life path.
Ben: Did you publish this book yet, “We're Not Meant to Die”?
Dr. Epstein: I published the preamble book called “Healing Into Immortality”.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. I've seen that one on Amazon. I haven't read it yet. I need to grab this and give it a read. And by the way, for people listening in, we've really only scratched the surface so far on the stuff Dr. Epstein has written about. What I will do is I will put all of the links to his books as well as some of the things we talked about on today's show if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/Epstein.That's E-P-S-T-I-E-I-N.
Dr. Epstein: No, no. E-P-S-T-E-I-N.
Ben: Yeah. That's what I said, wasn't it? E-P-S-T-E-I-N, I believe. You guys, I think you'll figure it out. E-P-S-T-E-I-N. Epstein. Just like it sounds. So, I'm going to put a link to all of his books in the show note over there because we really only had a chance to scratch the surface. I feel like there are a billion other questions I could ask as were chatting here, Dr. Epstein. But this stuff is fascinating.
Dr. Epstein: I want to finish with the guy who had the atrophy of his nerve.
Ben: Yeah. Finish up with that one. I've only got a few more minutes here, but yeah, go ahead and finish up with that one.
Dr. Epstein: Resurrection Sunday, Easter Sunday is the time, as you know in Christianity, of the return of the dead to life. And it's not seen as a metaphor in spiritual life, it's seen as a concrete reality. And the formation of Christianity turns on the Resurrection. All the traditions of the West turn on Resurrection. The Jewish tradition had stayed in the synagogues around the world, in the morning prayer service, you cannot call yourself a Jew if you don't believe in the resurrection. Christianity turns on that Easter Sunday event of the return of the master to life from the dead. Same thing holds true in Islam, by the way. So, I gave her the exercise, and she goes to the hospital and she gives it to him to do with her. Subsequently, during the week, his mother comes and is giving the exercise for him to do as well to restore the nerves. They have him set, from Easter Sunday, they had indicated that he would be up for the amputation the following Monday, a little over a week. And they had collected data to show the nerve was dead, the muscles were dead. During the week, he did this work.
And as they were going to operate on him, they were going to then do a final survey of his electrophysiology of the muscles, electromyography of the muscles, I may say, electrophysiology of the nerve. What they discovered that the nerve regenerated and the muscles came back to life. So, that next week, instead of being amputated, he walked out of school on his own with a cane. And he then went back to bike riding and to doing his life work, which was as a musician, and a bandleader, and a singer. And over these years, I've had cases of contact with him, 'cause he lived in my neighborhood. I would see him riding on the bike, and we would stop and chat, and he was doing just fine and didn't even require a cane any longer. So, they said it was impossible, he had to be operated on. And the interesting thing is that no doctor ever called to find out from me what happened, how does this work, what can be done about this, again, somewhere else. And in all the work I've done 43 years, no one doctor's ever called me to ask me, how does this will work?
Ben: It's crazy. It's still considered to be pretty woo. That's nuts. Well, hopefully this helps to get the word out a little bit. And again, for those of you listening, bengreenfieldfitness.com/Epstein is where you can go for the show notes and to dig more into Dr. Epstein's work if you also find this stuff fascinating.
Dr. Epstein: My website too, drjerryepstein.org.
Ben: drjerryepstein.org. Alright. I'll put that in the show notes for you guys as well. So, Dr. Epstein, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing all this stuff with us. This is super fascinating, and I've got several of your books now set aside that I got to take a deep dive into.
Dr. Epstein: And you also have Jonathan's noodles.
Ben: Yes, yes. Jonathan is my Jewish physician friend who also creates the wonderful, fantastic Miracle Noodles that I eat each day over my salad.
Dr. Epstein: We're creating Miracle Noodles from a different direction.
Ben: Yeah. You're creating spiritual Miracle Noodles. I see what you did there. That's great.
Dr. Epstein: Thanks a lot, Ben. Nice to talk with you.
Ben: Awesome. Well, cool. Folks, again, bengreenfieldfitness.com/Epstein is where you can grab the show notes. And until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Dr. Gerald Epstein signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have an amazing week.
After I published the podcast Should Christians Do Yoga? How To Combine Energy Medicine & Religion, Flat Earth Christianity, Transcendental Meditation, Anti-Aging & More With Pastor Toby Sumpter, one of my Jewish friends reached out to me and said:
“The Christians and Yoga podcast was interesting, if you are interested in the Jewish take on that – I have summarized it below as succinctly as possible:
- Jews believe in 5 levels of the soul. Nefesh is the lowest level and is as the Bible says resides in the blood – which while meridians don't travel exactly along with the blood, this is clearly described as an energy in the body and is consistent with chi. The second level is Ruach and means wind – there are different aspects of chi that are consistent with both of these descriptions. Above this level is when you talk about breath of life stuff in the interview, be aware that the 3rd level is called Neshama which means breath and is higher in the cause and effect ladder extending to the Divine. We believe the highest level actually resides in God.
- Many Jews including myself believe that many of the traditions of the east originated with Abraham, it says in Genesis that he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them to the east. Most mystics believe those became the teachings of the east. Those teachings were occult in nature and some of course have degenerated into idolatry.
- The prophets were adept meditators with remarkable meditative techniques. What many don't know is that there were schools of the prophets, most didn't just wake up and start prophesying, they studied in academy's where complex techniques using music, chanting, and certain postures were employed.
- Hatha yoga as is commonly known is so far removed from its origins that it has essentially become sanitized in its reference to religion and so for Jews it would be ok. Chanting one needs to be careful of and the words meaning should be investigated carefully. “Om” is problematic if it is chanted in its traditional form in Hinduism which would violate the 2nd commandment. IMHO, kundalini separated from its own spiritual teachings without a qualified teacher of the tradition is dangerous and with them while deep and holding many truths are not consistent with the Bible.
- There is debate in Jewish circles about Reiki since symbols are used but most who know the origin of those symbols say there is nothing that would contradict the Bible.
- Masters of qi, for example, can help heal people of various things, this isn't spiritual though, most see it as a valid branch of medicine and so it's not uncommon for TCM doctors to have nice practices in orthodox Jewish communities.
- All the above being said – each treatment, technique, workout, and meal should be linked to God if we are to be biblical minded people. It is why Jew's say a blessing before everything – to make sure we do so with the proper intention.
- One needs to be conscious of Matthew's saying about not serving 2 masters. Most don't realize that it echoes the 7th commandment as we believe that along with the common belief of what adultery is, it also means dilution, weakening, or mixing of any pure relationship. As my teacher Gerald Epstein, MD reminds me often health, healing, and holiness come from the same root. If it is all about tangible physical healing one can usually make the distinction fairly easily but all of these paths can, if you wish, lead to more ethereal and spiritual experiences, it is at these levels, one needs to honor the spiritual path you are on, be discerning, and not to have another Master.”
He then went on to introduce me to Dr. Gerald Epstein, his teacher and said that he had used Dr. Epstein's teachings and techniques in his medical practice, where he has seen it shrink metastatic tumors that should have killed his patients years ago. He then proceeded to connect me with Dr. Epstein, who is the guest on today's podcast.
Gerald Epstein, M.D., has been a pioneer in the use of mental imagery for treating physical and emotional problems. With more than 40 years of training in the mind, he is a leading proponent of the Western spiritual tradition and its application to healing and therapeutics. Dr. Epstein maintains a private practice in New York City and is a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York's Mt. Sinai Medical Center. He has lectured and taught worldwide. He founded and directs the American Institute for Mental Imagery (AIMI). As an NYS Regents Chartered School, AIMI offers courses to the general public in healing and the western spiritual path as well as certificate programs for licensed mental health professionals.
He is a recipient of a National Institutes of Health Grant in Alternative Medicine to research the effects of mental imagery in the treatment of bronchial asthma. He has authored several mental imagery classic books and CDs including: Healing Visualizations: Creating Health Through Imagery, Healing Into Immortality, The Phoenix Process, Kabbalah For Inner Peace and The Natural Laws of Self-Healing. In 2012, he was awarded “Imagery Person of the Year” by Imagery International. Most recently, he completed the “Encyclopedia of Mental Imagery: Colette Aboulker-Muscat's 2100 Visualization Exercises for Personal Development, Healing and Self-Knowledge”
Dr. Gerald Epstein's focus is using the power of imagination for healing and he has studied this in Christian and Jewish and even Sufi perspectives. His main teacher was a remarkable woman who lived in Jerusalem – she had people come from all over the world to see her and she would lead them through mental imagery exercises that would heal them (there are some amazing stories there we delve into in today's podcast). He left traditional psychiatry to study with this woman and learn her path, and he also has written some interesting things about how Freudian psychoanalysis is an anti-biblical approach. In Judaism, death is a perversion. One of his main focuses is on immortality – and his upcoming book is entitled We Are Not Meant to Die.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-The fascinating story of the teacher Dr. Epstein met in Jerusalem and the fringe mental imagery exercises he learned from her…9:15
-How some people sleep less than an hour a night, eat barely anything at all, and still function just fine…32:00
-How Dr. Epstein practically uses the power of imagination for healing…45:15
-Why Dr. Epstein believes every physical malady is related to a social or a spiritual disturbance…53:00
-How to detox the liver through visualization…59:30
-What Dr. Epstein means when he says “We Are Not Meant To Die” and his current studies on immortality…1:08:00
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
–Miracle Noodles by Dr. Jonathan Carp
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