I had the virus last week – and lack of tobacco almost killed me.

My macrobiotic friends back in Syracuse, 40 years ago, taught me that the reason most of them smoked cigarettes – at least occasionally – was that tobacco is very yang. When their intensive spiritual pursuits got them out of balance – got them too “yin” or expanded or spacey – tobacco was a great tool to get them back in their bodies, solid again.

My expanded, positive, high energy has – for my whole life – been very hard to keep grounded.

30 years ago the psychiatrists erroneously diagnosed me as having bipolar disorder because my energy swings tend to be so intense. I certainly am way outside of the typical bell curve in this regard.

Because medical psychiatrists have refined the process of judging/labeling people into a pseudoscience, they were incapable of seeing this difference as simply different.

If the only real tool that you have in your toolbox is the hammer of diagnosis, then every struggling person you encounter looks like a nail – a disease.

Even my last wonderful psychotherapist, who I saw weekly for seven years and genuinely loved – and knew that she loved me – was still so imprisoned in the psychiatric mindset that, when I struggled to convey to her the good places that my “up” energy would take me, she dismissed all that with one sentence: “You’re not sleeping enough – you are disregulated.”

I liked and loved and trusted her so much that I allowed this dismissive judgment to crush that particular wave of my insurrection against the psychiatric power structure. It took another couple of years – and a super-powerful spiritual experience – for me to finally wriggle free from that death grip.

Here is my most complete statement to date about my relationship with tobacco.


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These days all of my identities are converging: whether I am offering a blessing in the grocery store checkout line, offering a prayer in a poem or experiencing the kinship with all life while walking my or a client's dog - it's all the same. It's all Life.

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