A Spiritual “Map” of the T1D “Territory”

Yoga is a map of everything. Most think yoga is a physical exercise. Asana (The Pose) in yoga is but just one “limb” of the eightfold path and Hatha Yoga (The Poses put together in a typical yoga class) is but a sub group of the four paths of yoga: (Karma Yoga (Action), Jnana Yoga (Knowledge), Raja Yoga(Self Discipline) and Bhakti Yoga (Union with Source through Devotion)).

Yoga is a spiritual map because the destination is ‘union’ with source and the journey is revelation.

T1D is an interesting challenge looked at from a spiritual perspective. Each one of us is different and unique so, therefore, there is, practically, infinite perspective. This is but just one. And to do this I am going to draw from how yoga perceives the “I”; “The Self” in its totality.

According to yogic philosophy, we are composed of five ‘bodies’ called Koshas. The five Koshas are described as “sheaths.”

I should stop here and tell you why I am drawing from yoga as the metaphor. I started practicing yoga 22 years ago. In 2006 I wanted to deepen my practice. I went to a month long (200 hour) Yoga Teacher Training and Certification at The Kripalu Yoga School. I have completed an additional 150 hours towards my 500 hour certification.

When I was at teacher training one of the master teachers had an interesting response when I told her I have been living with Type 1 Diabetes since age 14.

She must have known more about the dis-ease than most.

She said……….

”Now, THAT is a YOGA POSE!”

in front of a class consisting of 65 women and 8 men.

There is another reason yoga is an appropriate and powerful metaphor…

Yoga defined means “Union.” I’ve heard yoga defined as “union of body and mind in pursuit of the soul.” I see it more as “Soul uniting with Source through body and mind.” Yoga is about energy; Prana ; Life Force. Think about T1D….The physical body is not capable of producing a critical component to the system of processing the food we eat (our external fuel source/carbohydrates/energy) into internal fuel/glucose molecules in the blood/energy.

To be a bit more accurate, we are missing the “key” that opens the cell door for the glucose molecule to enter.

This DIS-EASE is about Life Force itself. Without injectable insulin we would not be able to stay on this physical plane. So, the challenge becomes one of learning about the “Key.”

The journey can be very revealing.

The five Koshas are:

1. The Physical Body: The Anamaya Kosha

2. The Mental Body: The Manomaya Kosha

3. The Energetic Body: The Pranamaya Kosha

4. The Wisdom Body: The Vijnanamaya Kosha

5. The Bliss Body: The Anandamaya Kosha

Here is a short 5 minute youtube video introducing the Koshas:

The Koshas describe the “Self” in five aspects.

Confronting, Understanding, Integrating, Mastering and Aligning these 5 aspects of “The Self” is the journey and the destination is union with Source/Bliss so that it may permeate all of the sheaths.

I was diagnosed in November of 1976 at the age of 14. My physical body was “broken”. All I wanted to do was find a way to fix it. I am still searching.

How does one align a broken body to the mental, energetic, wisdom and bliss bodies? I mean this is horrible. Over time, I am understanding how the physical is the last manifestation. Source is Bliss and Bliss is Source. Start there. “But why would Bliss want to create a physical body that doesn’t work; That is broken?

There is Truth and then there is your perspective. A spiritual map like yoga is only that….a map. A map is a representation, a perspective.

Diabetes can be a catalyst for an amazing spiritual journey. The Adversary’s name is imbedded within the name of the condition itself and has many of his characteristics; insidiousness, thirst, deep falls, dangerous heights, victim consciousness, anger, resentments, shame, self-pity…..I could go on.

The Physical Body needs a lot of attention when living with T1D but once a safe “flying” altitude is established we can choose to explore the other aspects of our self.

It is true…..

”Now, that is a yoga pose.”

I hope this brief outline of ‘a’ spiritual map of diabetes has been of value to you. It is but just a small piece of the puzzle, I think.

less is more

“Less is More.”  Have you heard that before?  My first “reaction” to hearing this quote was ….’Sure it is,” ingrained with a sarcastic and dismissing tone.  Then I started to “get it.”  Type 1 diabetes has certainly been a big challenge in my life.  It’s been kinda like a two edged sword, in that, to really get over the hump and take full response-ability for “it” and to “it I had to directly experience the Truth and Lessons of “Less is More.”  The quote personifies a universal Truth of The Reality we find ourselves in this whacky world of ours.  It represents the duality that is weaved in everything and everyone.  The duality of Light and Dark; Positive and Negative; Right and Wrong;  Good and Evil; Up and down;  Hot and Cold;  On and Off.  Yin and Yang.  The Buddha taught that nothing can arise without its polar opposite.  If one is lucky, the wisdom gleaned in inquiring into the nature and law of duality is that, since one cannot exist without the other it is futile to engage in a battle that makes something more good or less evil,  NO!  Perhaps, the objective of the game (an I do believe it is a game) is more about finding balance and equanimity instead of quick and unconscious reactions based on liking, wanting, desiring, not liking, not wanting and not desiring….no matter….what emotion we have attached to our reactions whether it be anger, jealousy, pride, unworthiness or the opponent’s favorite elixir………a sense of entitlement.  

I’ve been “living with” T1D for over 42 years now.  I thought I would have figured out how to cure myself by now or died.  Neither of the two have happened which leaves me in a bit of a pickle because I didn’t plan this far ahead.  However, I have come close and I have not veered from the path to a cure.  About 17 years ago I had an opportunity to put the pedal to the metal, so to speak.  I had some money saved.  I was in between jobs.  My girlfriend and yoga partner was an acupuncturist, cranial sacral therapist, Chinese Herb specialist and Macrobiotic chef.  Talk about hitting the jackpot!  I had been “practicing” Bikram yoga for a few years and running 3.3 miles per day.  I was getting regular “treatments” of acupuncture, massage, cranial therapy.  I had not gone on the pump yet and was getting A1C’s in the 8’s..  For about 3 months we really stepped it up.  I was waking up at 6am,,,going to a 7am Bikram class, coming home and eating a great breakfast, perhaps throw some needles in to balance the yang energy that the Bikram class creates.  Go for the 3.3 mile run.  Sit out by the pool (I was in South Florida),  Get ready for the 4pm Bikram class.  Had to drink lots of water.  Get home at 6pm and make a great dinner with some wine and a beer or two.  Studied some new metaphysical “maps of the territory” that I was being introduced like yoga, meditation, Integral Theory (Ken Wilber), Spiral Dynamics, Kabbalah, and more…..We worked at this pace for about 3 months.  I had reduced my Daily Dose of Insulin by 50% and had many occasions where I could forego an injection that I normally needed.  My A1C dropped to low 6’s.  

I eventually went on the pump and achieved even more flexibility and control.  But life happens and things change and I find myself in upstate NY praying for the sun to shine and the rain to stop and the temperature to get into the 50’s.  I’ve gained a little weight, not working out enough, eating like crap and feeling my agoraphobia kicking into overdrive.  I am ready for another “push.”;; Another “push.”  I am planning an escape from NY back to Florida.  It is complicated because of all the issues that arise in life,…..health insurance, finances, friends, family, obligations, logistics…..

So, you might be asking……Where is the less is more lesson?  Less is more taught me the secret to the path of healing leading to a cure.  The secret in a word is – RESTRICTION.  When I woke up at 6am and was tired and not wanting to go and sweat for 90 minutes in a stinky yoga room I restricted that reaction and the feelings associated with it and got up and went.  When we react blindly without restriction we create what is called in Sanskrit – Sankhara.  When we react we create energy pathways like ruts of least resistance.  Overtime these ruts become deeper and the energy can pass through with more ease and more abundantly.  These ruts create toxicity and dis-ease throughout the physical, mental and emotional bodies.  There is only one way to heal Sankhara.  It is to starve them by restriction of the normal reactions that create and sustain them.  

The three months I engaged in actions that were proactive in nature instead of reactive in nature.  I not only stopped feeding the old “ruts of reactivity” I created new ones that were both different and healthier for someone with T1D.  I know that the three months that I really pushed it changed my life and is one of the reasons I am still here today.  I figure the minimum requirement would be a 21 day push.  There is some research to back that.  

I am looking for a way to get back to Florida and lead others in what I did 17 years ago. I believe this approach and experience to be of value not only to T1D’s but parents and siblings and medical professionals.  I also see it being of tremendous value to those with Type 2 and those who have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic.  What is needed in those cases is, for sure, a change in lifestyle.  A 21 day immersion of yoga, meditation, body treatments like acupuncture, massage, cranial sacral therapy, bio-feedback, running/walking, great food, sunshine, ocean, beach, party, and some metaphysical map study.  

I’ve beta tested the “training” with others.  They were not diabetic.  One was dealing with addiction.  This kind of training is ideal for addiction.  Here is a link to his review of the training.    Namaste….



I have a dream.

I’m in my 43rd year of living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).  

My new endo told me that I will get some kind of medal from the Joslin Institute when I reach 50.  Really.  Who cares?  They get a chip after 30 days in AA, NA, GA and SA.

17 years ago I made a “push”. I was 39 yrs old, broke, in debt up the wazoo, out of shape, not taking care of myself…..I figured if I did not make a change I wouldn’t make it to 42.  Over a 2 year period I started inquiring into several “things”, like…… writing, reading, yoga, meditation, running, acupuncture, massage, eating well, cranial sacral therapy, and more.  It was slow at first. Then stuff began happening.  I got a job, I was getting in shape, feeling better about myself.  Life changed.  I got out of debt, started making good money, got in shape, blood sugars starting coming down/better control, I was happier.  

During this time I had a three month period of time where I took off from work and really connected with my current “edge” and began to “push” against it.  I reduced insulin requirement up to 50%, at times.  I mean long period of times (week or so).   Since that time the roller coaster reached the top and started its’ descent.  What goes up is going to come down.  It’s a long story and I will spare the details, for now.  It can be summed up as this. I went from A1C’s in the 9’s, broke, in debt, depressed, feeling hopeless and helpless, not working out, addicted to things I need not be addicted to…..I went from this to In top physical shape; I could run 5 miles under 50 minutes.  I could do 2 Bikram yoga classes in one day.  My weight was ideal.  I felt strong.  I made enough money to buy a cool condo in Boca Raton, Fl within walking distance of my Bikram Yoga Studio.  It was a 5 minute drive to the beach.  I had a lot of free time.  Things were good.  

I got on the pump and I changed my attitude about testing my blood sugars.  I wanted to know.  I tested 10-15 times a day and loved the flexibility of the pump.  With the combination of getting in super physical shape and having the pump, I got my A1C’s in the low 6’s. I ate anything I wanted.  I wanted to eat good.  

I have often compared managing blood sugar as a type 1 to flying a plane.  The physical plane itself is the physical body.  I had transformed my physical body into a stealth fighter jet.  It wanted. It needed good fuel in the food I was eating.  I needed to inject insulin but the insulin seemed to be working better.  I needed less.  I was personally experiencing one of the most profound yoga principles;  “LESS IS MORE.”  I was getting this at so many levels.

My dream is to share this experience with others who are challenged by type 1 diabetes.  Whether that be the person with diabetes, a parent, a sibling, a friend, a healthcare worker (that includes you doctors).

This is how I want to share it.  I want to “host” an intensive retreat like program where I demonstrate and guide others into an inquiry of what I did, how to do it and why.  It is an immersive training which will be based on the principles of yoga and Natural Law Principles.  I have a support “team” in place right now.  It includes a CDE, an acupuncturist and cranial sacral therapist, a Bio-feedback specialist, a massage therapist, a life coach and a few yoga teachers including one who is a Bikram Certified Teacher.  

Each day will consist of:

*2  yoga classes/day



*1-2 hours classroom meeting discussing many topics including yoga principles and applying to diabetes management, spiritual     metaphysical “map” inquiries.

*Great     Food.   Will, of course, accommodate for vegetarian.

*Some     form of body/mind work.  Could be acupuncture, light therapy,     massage, cranial sacral therapy, bio-feedback, life coaching….and     a few more.      

*There will also be a few opportunities to do a few other things like go to the beach or an excursion to Captiva or Sanibel Island.

I visualize the retreat being in South Florida around the Fort Myers area.  I want it to happen in November of 2019.  I want to keep this initial one small (8-12 participants).  And my dream doesn’t end there……..

In a way, this is my new five year plan.  I’m turning 57 in 2 weeks. Still here.  No complications (knock on wood).  I think that what I did 17 years ago is a huge factor in why I am still here.  I’ve come to realize that it is best done in “spurts.”  Interval like. And an intensive retreat where we are focusing on where our edge is and working on expanding can be a profound “spurt.”  It’s kinda of like intuitively knowing to do a combo bolus.  The body wants to receive it in spurts some short and some a bit longer. At least, this is my experience.

I want the initial retreat participants to be those who want to not only personally experience pushing their edge but also have a desire to help others with our condition.  T1D is like a yoga pose.  It is like walking on a high wire.  And it is like flying a plane.  So, my dream is that from this initial retreat we plan a second one and then some will qualify to lead their own retreat.  

I have so much more I want to say and if you are interested in it let me know or visit the link to my blog site where I have been writing about all of this for the last 10 years.  

I will write a future post called My Dream 2.  Where I can expand on some of this.  It’s awesome for me as well because I am creating something which provides me an opportunity to do this work more and more.  I have done it with others but not people with diabetes.   I have worked with a few people who were depressed and addicted.  There is a close parallel to these conditions and diabetes.  A few of these people wrote client reviews and I posted them in my blog section as well under Client Reviews.

Bikram Yoga class today

Went to the 4pm Bikram Yoga Class yesterday.  Needed a hard workout.  It’s been a long winter.  I hadn’t been in awhile.  Decided to go at 2:45pm.  Checked bg….106. Ate a lunch about an hour ago and still had quite a bit of insulin on board -5.32units.  Took my pump off.  Drank a bottle of water.  Need to hydrate.  Put a bottle of gatorade and 2 more bottles of water in the freezer.  I was not in an ideal situation to go to class.  I know I had over bolused a bit for lunch with that last bg reading.  Decided to hop in the shower.  I find it good to take a long hot shower before a Bikram class.  Got out of the shower.  Packed my 2 towels, gatorade, water, yoga mat, extra shirt and sweat pants to change in to after.  Ok it was 3:30pm and I had been disconnected for 45 minutes.  Tested again – 96.  Still had 3.1 units on board.  I was going low and it would be risky to go into a 90 minute Bikram class like this.  Decided to drink about 5 oz of Simply Lemonade.  I would drive down to the studio (10min drive) and I would test again before getting out of the car.  At that point I would decide whether to proceed or to bail and come back home.  I really needed the workout.  But there is a part in my brain that always says DO NOT GO INTO THAT HOT BOX OF A ROOM.  I got to the studio around 3:50pm.  Checked bg – 132.  2.4 units on board.  I had been disconnected for an hour.  I decided I would be ok because I had a gatorade if I happened to go low.  Before I go on a few stats and a little history:

My basal rate: .950 units per hour.  My I:C ratio: 11  MY IFC:  40  Medtronic 670 pump.

Age: 57.  Date of diagnosis November 1976.  Been practicing yoga for 20+ years.

Went to a month long 200hr yoga teacher training program to deepen my practice in 2006.  

A lot of my work utilizes yoga principles.  They seem to be universal.

Ok.  Enough of that.  The studio is on the third floor of a 3 story building in downtown Ithaca, NY.  The weather was cool but sunny.  One way to enter the studio is via the emergency stairs on the side of the building.  Very steep.  I took that route and upon entering I was breathing hard.  Boy am I out of shape.  Got set up in the room.  Bikram is in a heated room.  Ideal temp is 110 degrees and humid.  The class was packed. Must have been 33 people lined up in 3 lines staggering to ensure a view in the mirror. When it is crowded like this it usually gets pretty hot.  

If you have never done Bikram Yoga let me describe it a bit.  As I said, room is hot. There are 26 postures most done in 2 sets with a very brief rest in between.  You need a mat, 2 towels, a water and a gatorade if you are diabetic.  I bring my fanny pack in with all my stuff because I am obsessive compulsive about leaving my pump, keys, wallet in the car or in a locker room.  I know.  The heat can be an issue for the insulin. Something to be aware of.  I disconnect from the pump most of the time.  It was easier before I got on the pump, of course.  I had a Dexcom when they first came out about 10 years ago or so.  I hated it at that time for 3 reasons.  1.  It was another infusion site in my body and after so many years of injections and pump ports I really didn’t need another one.  2.  The receiver came off during Bikram classes.  The adhesive melted.  3.)  I had more lows on the Dexcom because of my Obsessive compulsiveness.  It drove me crazy.

So, the class starts and I really wanted to pee before it started but there was so many people in a line that I decided to forego.  It got hot fast.  I weighed myself before driving down.  185.5.  I knew I was going to lose some water weight.  I need to lose about 10 lbs to get to ideal weight.  What better way?  

I have probably been through over 2500 Bikram classes in the last 20 years.  This class was in the top 10 of being the hottest.  It was brutal.  One goal of doing a Bikram class is to face the situation whether it be the pose or the heat and stay with it.  You don’t want to leave the room unless absolutely necessary.  I have probably only had to walk out of Bikram class maybe 5 times total. At least 7 people left this class for different periods of time.  There were a few poses that I went into child’s pose as a break.  

Made it through.  Felt like I was going to boot a few times but I worked it out.  It was 6:10pm and I was ready to drive home.  Checked bg -124.  Insulin on board .32.  I re-connected and I intuitively knew I should probably bolus a unit or two but decided to wait until I got home.  Basal was running normal now.  Got home.  It was now 6:30 pm. I was approaching 48 hours with my infusion site.  Good time to change out.  Love when I can take it off and take a shower and then put a new one in.  Checked bg again before doing this.  157.  Bolused 1.25 units and peeled her off.  Got in the shower.  Put a new site in, primed it and bolused another unit because I was going to eat soon anyways.  Weighed myself.  181.5.  Lost 4 lbs.  Cooked up some left over Ribeye from dinner the other night with some toast and salad with chunky blue cheese dressing.  Put a beer in the freezer.  Nothing like a cold beer after that 90 minute torture chamber experience.  Got to be careful though.  Got to make sure I drink enough water and no more than a beer or 2.  Bolused for dinner.  It’s always a guess.  There was some left over bernaise sauce that has a lot of sugar in it.  And I had been disconnected for over 3 hours earlier.  And you know how that works.  Checked two hours after eating – 227.  Oops.  2.3 units on board.  The math says I should be ok but I know different.  Oh, I forgot to mention the mayo I put on the steak too.  I had a lot of fat grams working.  Bolused 2 units.  Increased basal to +20% for 2 hours.  Checked at 11pm, s hours later and 168 with 1.87 units on board.  I should be good to go.  Slept all night without waking up.  Woke up at 6:30am  BG -101.  My favorite number.  The number for the Arch Angel Michael!

cognitive dissonance

Do you have COGNITIVE DISSONANCE?  We all have cognitive dissonance. It’s the nature of the reality we live in.  Anything arises does so with a polar opposite as well as all ‘points’ between the two. If you don’t have cognitive dissonance then you are immersed in the delusion of Maya.  What the hell does this have to do with Diabetes???

When I was 27 (In my 13th year since diagnosis), I was asked by a local hospital to be on an exploratory committee to explore the need for a “treatment/support program” that focused on the psycho-social issues surrounding the dis-ease of diabetes in children between the ages of 8-16.  A diagnosis of diabetes quickly creates an environment of chaos and emergence-y.  It’s similar to something going seriously wrong on a plane and the oxygen masks are deployed.  A “Correction” to the system must be instituted.  That correction, of course, is injectable insulin.  Hopefully, the plane is brought under “control” somehow by the pilots and a semblance of balance is restored.  But the plane will never be the same.  

As we were exploring, we came to believe, that, while the children were certainly dealing with a lot of emotional, mental and social issues, it was, in fact, the parents, who were most impacted.  We decided to turn our focus to a parents’ group.  We did a “pilot” program and a father who was obviously distressed because his eleven year old daughter was newly diagnosed, asked me……”How do you ever accept this?”

I felt his sense of hopelessness and helplessness.  He understood that the situation was serious and, I he was scared.  

I told him that the biggest desire I had was to cure the diabetes in myself.  I told him that I believed I could and that, therefore, I could never fully accept it.  I told him that I had been living and surviving with it for 13 years and, while challenging, it was doable. I will never forget this father asking me the question and the look on his face.  My father was a doctor.  He was always able to “fix” anything that went wrong with us.  He could not fix this.  

In my opinion, what must be accepted in order to get “the plane” back under enough control to keep flying is a continuous expansion of response-ability to the situation we face.  We are tasked with employing, understanding, managing and constantly monitoring a perpetual motion of the physical body that has been destroyed.  I have utilized a 5 step process …..

1. Confront head on, with integrity the reality of the situation. It’s a tough one but it is doable.  When I was diagnosed, I took one shot of long acting insulin in the morning and peed on a strip to see how much sugar I was spilling in my urine.  I was “flying blind.”  Today, we have pumps and CGM’s and much more knowledge of what is needed to stay in at a safe blood glucose “altitude” and stem off future complications.

2. Explore, Inquire and increase understanding of what needs to be accounted for and the feedback needed to continually improve results.

3. Integrate the quality of our confrontation and understanding to employ a system to manage both our blood glucose levels and our life.

4. Become a Master of this challenge and inspiration to others.  Doing this reduces self suffering and the suffering of others.  This was the Buddha’s objective; Find the cause of suffering and how to eradicate it. Diabetes has a way of creating an environment for immense suffering because it is something not wanted and appears as though it won’t go away.

5. Validate our results and share with others.  I sometimes call this 5th and final step “Celebration.”

This is a cyclical process and therefore we are constantly moving on to the “next step.”  A great Zen Master said, “The practice of Zen is like traveling along a circle.  Does not matter much where you are.  What is important is to keep moving.”

The metaphor of the plane is, obviously, to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual body of the afflicted.  However, it is also comparable to the family unit.  In my experience, I am very aware how it has affected my siblings, my parents, my friends, my coworkers, my coaches, my team mates…etc….

When a child “gets it” the parent or parents are our co-pilots in assisting us to fly our own plane. I cannot tell you how much gratitude I have for the people around me who have supported me through this journey, which I am now into my 43rd year of.  There are times when I was not response-able and there were times when I was all over it.  There were times when I had a hard time confronting it head on and there were times when I said “bring it on.”  

Over the years I have written about my experience with diabetes.  I wrote a blog series called “Transforming Diabetes.”  My most recent blog is called “The Yellow Brick Road.” where I explore the 5 step process a bit deeper.  

I know that there is a “CURE.”  I know it because I desire it.  As long as I am here I will continue to work the process that I have discovered that has enabled me to stay here.  I will never accept that this will not change.  I believe that a deep Kabbalistic concept to be true.  That concept is that – Fulfillment is the seed of Desire.”  That implies that any desire we have, has, as its’ seed, its fulfillment.  Talk about cognitive dissonance!