Native Yoga Toddcast

Dr. Michael Shea - The Visionary Heart

November 01, 2023 Todd Mclaughlin | Dr. Michael Shea Season 1 Episode 139
Native Yoga Toddcast
Dr. Michael Shea - The Visionary Heart
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Dr. Michael Shea is an experienced manual therapist, craniosacral therapist, and Buddhist meditation practitioner. He is the author of several books and has trained with renowned teachers in various fields. Dr. Shea is also a student of the Dalai Lama and has a deep understanding of the connection between the physical and spiritual aspects of the human heart.

Visit Michael on his website: https://www.sheaheart.com/

Key Points discussed:

  • Feeling one's own heartbeat is the starting point for developing empathy and cultivating a compassionate heart.
  • The biodynamic heart refers to the scientific embryology of the human heart and its spiritual growth.
  • Practical mysticism involves integrating visionary experiences and spiritual practices into daily life.
  • Recognizing and reframing polarizing thoughts and emotions can lead to a sense of peace and depolarization.
  • Manual therapy, such as craniosacral therapy, can be a form of ministry through the laying on of hands.

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LinkedIn: Todd McLaughlin

Todd McLaughlin:

Welcome to Native Yoga, Toddcast. So happy you are here. My goal with this channel is to bring inspirational speakers to the mic in the field of yoga, massage bodywork and beyond. Follow us @nativeyoga, and check us out at nativeyogacenter.com. All right, let's begin Well, the time has come, Michael Shea.... Dr. Michael Shea is here with me in Native Yoga Center here in our studio in Juno Beach for an in person interview, which is one of my faves. And, Michael, thank you so much for joining me here again today. How are you feeling?

Michael Shea:

I'm feeling great. It's always a pleasure to be here. And it's a great pleasure being across the street where I live. Being able to get here easily.

Todd McLaughlin:

Yeah, you know, your mango farm that you have is spectacular. You probably wouldn't maybe call it a farm because you live on a fairly small you know, suburban size block of land, but you have a ton of mango trees and all these different varieties. I feel like the luckiest flirt in when it comes to mango season because you always bring in these amazing mangoes and you have little like little inscriptions on each mango that you wrote in Sharpie that's like this is I don't know, give me a couple name of names of the the varieties that you grow on a kiss honey kiss pineapple pleasure. Whoo. Yeah.

Michael Shea:

And we have a Pickering a kit, a coconut cream Secrest oh my gosh, Venus, the Venus this year where as the name implies, a goddess with just an amazing piece of her. And they're all Palm Beach County. They're all Palm Beach County, mangoes.

Todd McLaughlin:

That's what's so amazing. I mean, the in each of them do have a distinct flavor. And I have I've gotten so many mangoes this last summer, they have a freezer full because I couldn't eat them all. So I harvested them and put them in a Ziploc frozen. And lately, I've been making mango salsa with them, which is just like one of my favorite things. Like if I make a thing of black bean soup, and you put mango sauce on top. But we won't go down the path of mango. Too far. Because we have other subjects that I'm so excited to speak with you about. You've been working really solid and serious lately on a new book called the biodynamic heart, igniting compassion with practical mysticism to heal the world. I believe you mentioned to me that you have to have your manuscript in within a few days. Correct. And so I'm just curious, how are you? Where are you at in that process? Are you feeling ready? Or do you have a few more pages to go before you can hand it in?

Michael Shea:

I've got actually I'm at the end of the book. So it's got 31 chapters, and I'm on chapter 29. I did chapter 28. Yesterday and 29 will be finished today. And my wife said, Could we please take the weekend off. So my plan is to get it wrapped up by Friday and proof it on Monday and get it in by the first of November.

Todd McLaughlin:

So proofread within a couple of days. I mean, that sounds next to impossible. Do you have somebody like really like an editor that's really scanning, like proofread? Do you just go back? And I mean, your books are pretty thick. Every book you've given me that you've written, they're they're dense manuals, they're dense. So I mean, that would not take like a couple of weeks to proofread or review. I'm guessing you've already been in the proofreading process.

Michael Shea:

Well, it's a process of proofing as I go along. But I also hired a local editor because I knew I just got back from a family reunion. And I wanted time with my family and not having to deal with a book, you know, during prime time. So I hired a local editor. There's a phase in the process where you have it's called tagging and you have to put in a lot of different tags. So the book design people with the publisher, know what you want and what you want it to look like. And then I wake up at three o'clock in the morning going, Oh, I forgot I should have said this in chapter 17. I mean, it's an interesting process. So I get up I dictated into my phone I send it to myself as an email. And then I've got it all set up so that when I get it to proof next week, I know what to plug in where and what to check. I'm good to go and I get the book back in three months, there'll be a complete edit with my 200 suggestions from the publisher, I have to answer each one of those suggestions. And at the same time, I'm going to have I have the liberty to add anything I want to the book, you know, and change the length. So I know it's not done. Yeah, it's parboiled right now.

Todd McLaughlin:

Interesting. Yeah, it's fascinating to me the process that's cool to actually hear the nitty gritty nuts and bolts of the experience. So I would be happy to do this for you. But maybe you'd be willing to do it, I was just going to ask you that there's a chance that a listener doesn't know who you are. In a nutshell, if I were to ask you, who is Michael Che? Dr. Michael, che, what is your answer? Have you been asked this question in a while? I mean, uh, you know, whenever, whenever somebody asks me, like, who are you? Well, you know, define yourself, it's never as easy as it sounds like it'd be some people can just throw it out there like, This is who I am, this is what I do. It's piece of cake. I'm ready to hear your answer.

Michael Shea:

I'm 75. And when I get a question like that, I just go blank. Actually, no, seriously? Well, it also humorously because one of the life lessons I've learned because of you and I speak about it in the new book, in terms of it's almost autobiographical is that I'm learning to not identify with my past, and not identify with the trauma that I had in the military not identify with two divorces. And that the spiritual work is in we hear it, we know it, we've been told it is to stay in the present moment. But it's really overcoming the process of identification. So this book has allowed me to dis identify with my past. And I feel when you asked me that, it's like, I just go blank. I'm holding a glass of water. Let's sit here and have a good time. And yeah, and really have a good time, the world they're suffering, I get that. A lot of suffering in the world. Yeah. So we get to not identify or over identify with the suffering as well, as we all have our own style of suffering. And we got to deal with our own stuff first.

Todd McLaughlin:

Great point. Do you mind if I pretend to be you and say who I think you are? Oh, oh, that's great. Okay, with that,

Michael Shea:

yeah, we know each other enough,

Todd McLaughlin:

I know you so well, I just figure, there's you, you've done so much in your life that I feel like I just want to let the listener know a little bit about like a brief summary of this, what I viewed. So I got a chance to meet you here at the yoga studio, although we might have met before that. But I first learned of you because you were teaching cranial sacral therapy. And at the time, I just become a massage therapist in 2000. And I was interested in what the Upledger Institute was and cranial sacral therapy. And I remember seeing Michael Che teaching courses in Juneau. And I thought, well, that's so interesting, because Michael, he's not with Upledger Institute, where should I go the Upledger Institute where I go with Michael, because Michael looks really I kind of want to go study with him. But I'd never got chance to meet you at that point. But then in the process of getting a chance to take some of your biodynamic cranial sacral therapy courses that you've offered here for continuing education for massage therapists, that I started to learn as well that you're an avid and or excited Buddhist meditation practitioner. And so then I got a chance to host you to teach some meditation classes here, which really blew my mind with the amount of information and knowledge that you had to share just within your study in Tibetan Buddhism, all different schools of Buddhism that you've been telling me about over the years, so and then like recently, I got to take your got a chance to take your cranial sacral biodynamic cranial sacral therapy course on connecting with the vagus nerve this summer. And that was just phenomenal. So like, what I just can't believe is how much information is inside of you. Like someone could ask a question about the most small little part of the human anatomy experience, and you just have an answer for it and have some deep, you know, have some understanding at least of where to find the answer if you didn't know it, and but yet you keep such a humble, humble approach, which is just so great. So that's that's what we're dealing with here everybody this is this is this is why I'm excited to have you here. And I get to ask you some more questions. So on that note, um, So the tagline the biodynamic heart, can we just start there the title of this new book? What is the biodynamic heart?

Michael Shea:

Well, a couple of things. I'm also in terms of my own history, a student of the Dalai Lama. Now, I get a lot of pushback, because people say, Oh, everybody says they're a student of the Dalai Lama. But I went through formal initiation with him as to become a formal student in Zurich, Switzerland in 2004. And then the final tantric initiation with him in 2011, in Washington DC, through what is called the color chakra ceremony. And as a student of his the first thing was to learn to do scholarly work his lineage in Tibetan Buddhism, Niccolo kappa lineage is a scholarly lineage. And so I did a lot of scholarship, Buddhist scholarship and editing Buddhist texts from different Buddhist scholars. And including bodhisattvas guide to a way of life the the most probably the best book on compassion ever written. But the point is that when you follow the Dalai Lama, and is a student of the Dalai Lama, and following his work, and the sadhana and the mantras and, and the various daily practices that I do, around him, his request is that all of his students set up centers for the study of the human heart. So after that initiation in 2011, I changed my website to che heart.com, a center for the study of the human heart. And so as an academic embryologist, I also have focused a lot on Well, the embryo logical development of the whole human. But in this particular book, we're focusing a lot on the embryology, the heart, which is a favorite topic of mine. It could take months just to unfold it and see how the human heart actually grows upside down in us, and that it has to be turned upside down in order to function properly. And that's, that's pretty much says a lot about our life, emotionally and spiritually. So that's the first dynamic regarding the book the biodynamic herd, is that it's at the wish of, of my teacher, the Dalai Lama to start these. There's my own center for the study of the human heart, and the own way, my own way that I've been unfolding it, which has been great. And I love the embryo, the human embryo, because that's an academic, you know, passion of mine. So the biodynamic word refers specifically to scientific embryology of the human, and specifically was called morphology. How does an embryo grow in relationship to its genetic structure? So there's two dynamics. biodynamic simply means the growth of the hole over time. So how does our heart grow physically? And how does it grow spiritually? So this book, tries to bridge the anatomical structural, physiological vagal connections to the heart, with the spiritual dimension of the heart that's spoken of in every spiritual tradition. Yes.

Todd McLaughlin:

So what is the first cornerstone, then, in you trying to build this bridge? What do you see as like the, one of the building blocks of being able to make this connection between the physical heart and then I guess one of the first things, first two images that pop into my mind when you talk about the spiritual heart is obviously you see pictures in Christianity of Jesus with, you know, an enlarged heart, or like the Sacred Heart. And then in the Ramayana, with Hunter Oman, you know, he there's this visual image of him kind of pulling his chest open. And there's Rama and Sita sitting in the heart, his his gurus or his who he, you know, is who he loves. So, I'm curious how, then, in a world where we're focused so much on the material, like, you know, I go to my doctor to find out like, how's my cholesterol? How's my heart? Doing? What Where do you feel like one of the entry points is to, to seeing a connection between the physical heart and then say, this idea of a spiritual heart?

Michael Shea:

Well, there's a couple of tracks with that the first thing and I would say and then what I teach is the starting point, is the capacity to feel your own heartbeat And I'll say that again, because it's there's a lot of research, and it's called interoceptive. awareness, and cardio ception is the conscious awareness of your own heartbeat. And why is that important? For the past 15 years, it's been very clear that when you can feel your own heartbeat, you develop empathy, you develop a greater sense of emotional connectedness to whoever you're with a greater felt sense somatically with whoever you're with, and also a sense, cognitively, of being more accepting of who you're with in terms of the incredible amount of of, we might call in authentic views that are spewing forth on the planet, right. And so empathy is the key entry point into a compassionate heart, and into the physical heart and into the emotional heart. So there's a there's a focus on feeling the heartbeat, consciously, both during the day, and especially in the night, a lot of people you might be surprised, can't feel their heartbeat sitting here without taking the pulse of the radial artery or their carotid artery.

Todd McLaughlin:

I find it sometimes a little challenging, like I find sometimes it's easier to feel it. And sometimes I'm like, really look searching for it. I'm like, How come? I can't feel it? How come? I can feel it yesterday? But now? Why do you think that is? Do you think that is a direct correlation to how busy our minds are? Or is it something like if I'm, is it have anything to do with like, the size of our frame? You know, is there? You know, I'm curious, is there what do you find some of the distinguishing factors are when someone says I just can't feel my heart, I can't feel my heartbeat is that analogous to my inability to be empathetic?

Michael Shea:

I wouldn't go that far. If this is not a diagnostic, you know, we're all right. Fair, and I want to use it as a diagnosis. But I like to use it as a as a way of, of becoming embodied. So a lot of the book is about embodiment. And in how we become disembodied, by spending too much time with social media, too much time texting too much time, in front of the television, just way too much time, having attention located outside. So that's the main issue. We as a species now have much more attention placed on outside of our existence. And not in the natural world. If it was the natural world, I mean, there'd be a whole lot more healing, but it's with this mechanical, you know, all the stuff that goes on with technology, and television. So there's an imbalance. And there's an imbalance in our senses. Because when we spend too much time outside, the brain gets overloaded with data. And it has to make up a response it can no longer respond clearly or appropriately to, to the situation at hand. And it's a flight simulator. The research is really clear. It calls it a flight simulator. And guess what our flight simulator has to make up a flight path, because it can handle all the data and this is why we see so many challenges.

Todd McLaughlin:

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. In the tagline below the biodynamic heart, igniting compassion with practical mysticism to hear heal the world. Practical mysticism Can you define please?

Michael Shea:

Well, let's just give a context. First, I've had a lot of training in the osteopathic profession. My brother's an osteopath. I am not an osteopath, but I've trained with 10 or 12 osteopath. And I think likewise yourself cranial sacral therapy came from, or one version of it came from Dr. Upledger. He was an osteopath. So, we have to understand that within the osteopathic profession, it started as a mystical tradition. In other words, Andrew Taylor, still the founder was having visionary experiences. Dr. Sutherland, who was considered to be the founder of the cranial concept in the cranial model that that we all are using if we're doing cranial work. He also said that you could consider this to be religious or spiritual in nature. And consequently, many osteopaths use mystical type terminology to describe the perceptual process that they're having while they're palpating a client. So for example, the breath of life is a term used from the book of Genesis calm and everybody in the cranial world most everybody knows that. And it's fun really exploring that is from the book of Genesis. And but when you Look, and but when you look at what Dr. Sutherland meant by the breath of life, he meant it as a bright light. So at the end of his life, he began perceiving, and having visionary experiences and trying to give names to it. Yeah, now visionary experiences, we can call it mystical, I think the publisher is going to want to use the word mystical for a marketing term. But we're talking about visionary experiences, or just having visions per se. So a lot of my book is about how to integrate and generate visionary experiences in your heart, with a basis being feeling your heartbeat, that's the starting point.

Todd McLaughlin:

Interesting. So feel the heartbeat first, and then use visualization techniques to engender a feeling of empathy, or,

Michael Shea:

well, there's there's a, there's a series of steps, there's a progressive stages of guiding a student through the process, feeling your heartbeat first. And then you begin to feel your heartbeat more regularly or at will, you can just sit and feel your heartbeat in or tune into it. It doesn't have to be immediate, but you can tune into it within a minute or so. And then the second step is the potency, there's a strength. And there's a surging, and there's a power. And you go, Oh my God, there's a lot of power here. And so that power is a function of the autonomic nervous system, it's a function of our state of mind, in terms of the emotions we might be experiencing, at any given time, because we're just up and down all day long with our emotions. So heartbeat, and its potency are the starting point. And then we have to begin to tune in to the subtleness of the frequency that the HeartMath Institute talks about, and also that the cranial osteopath talk about in called primary respiration, or the long time now that I'm for the listener right now, I'm talking about terminology that's used by osteopath and cranial sacral therapists. But it's, it's meant to be able to sense a slow movement of the wind element between one heart and another heart. Because we know the frequency of the heart extends out about 15 feet. So right now tell you in our sittin six or seven feet apart, we are in each other's heart field. And if I wanted to tune into primary respiration or the tide, I could begin to feel it, I can feel it actually, right now, I'm rocking a little bit. But that gets me into the sensibility of being pulled towards your heart, and then away from your heart. So that is the third step in the basic entrance into the heart field of empathy and compassion. Yeah, before you can't jump into visionary experiences without that basis. Otherwise, I'm sorry, it's meaningless. Yeah. Or could be meaningless or even dangerous.

Todd McLaughlin:

Good point, dangerous, because you're not grounded enough yet

Michael Shea:

not grounded enough. And when I first got into this business, in the 70s, there was a lot of discussion of Kundalini. And there was a famous book written in San Francisco by a psychiatrist called Kundalini psychosis or transcendence, in what was happening in California is very advanced. yogic techniques and meditation techniques were being taught. And they were causing spiritual emergencies, in other words, psychotic episodes, and people were having go to the hospital. And so they created what was called the spiritual emergency network in California in the 70s, and 80s. In order to get these people teaching these advanced techniques to start amping it down, interested in getting into basic stuff before you create a spiritual emergency, which feels like a psychosis, and I've seen it happen and been around it. And it's so it's very important to be able to say that,

Todd McLaughlin:

that makes sense. Wow. That's, that's interesting. There's to heal the world. So igniting compassion with practical mysticism, mysticism to heal the world. Do you have a vision of a world that's healed?

Michael Shea:

I teach a vision on how to heal the world. Uh huh. Yeah, yeah. Now, let's be practical about that. Yeah. Do we have the same amount of wars going on on the planet Earth now that we've always had? Yes. Has anything changed about war and that level of war and destruction? No, not in recorded history. So what does that tell us about homosapiens? What does that tell us about who we are? As human beings, you know in where we are at in our own cycle of growth and development, and we overcome our own inner war, and we overcome our own inner terror, that we have an inner terrorists that terrorizes ourselves on a regular basis, with fear or with hope, all of these dynamics that go on with our emotional body, that keep us locked in to this external world, and keep us locked out of our heart, where our mind really needs to rest with loving kindness, compassion and empathy, as as subtle emotions that are in aid to our being, and they need to be woken up they need to be watered like seeds.

Todd McLaughlin:

Do you sometimes feel like if you and I were able to achieve a level of peace in the moment, and we still know that there's war and the chance that someone could come and inflict war upon us at any moment? Do we just continue to try to build peace even though we have that concern? Of course, right? I mean, because it seems like that level of fear and terror might cause us to think, why should I are how could I find peace if there is that vibration going on? So I guess I, I definitely believe in love to hope for a world where we somehow all of a sudden go, why are we doing this? Like, why are we doing this? Why are we terrorizing each other? Or why do I have an internal antagonist terrorizing? Why am I terrorizing myself? So I definitely think it's worth doing. But I guess sometimes I get a little like, just knowing that that still there creates some sort of level of unease, you know, but I guess that's that's the work.

Michael Shea:

That's the work right there is to really get a sense of the unease and work because the unease is the internal dynamic, it's the internal interpretation of our relationship with the world. It's interesting because that That, to me, also has to be held as a question because in the advanced stages of Buddhist meditation, and in Hatha Yoga, the Zoetry tradition, in the Nigma, lineage, you know, they they talk about, and they constantly say, the basis is the four reminders. You have to appreciate the preciousness of human life, you have to appreciate how precious it is that you and I are sitting in Juno Beach, we get to do this, we get to sit here and talk about our spiritual being. Yeah, and in many other people in the United States and around the world. But when we look at the war torn parts of the world, they don't have that preciousness. Okay, because they're in that second reminder they're being they're being reminded constantly of change impermanence and death. And then the third reminder, the, the constant challenge with the karma that our thoughts and our actions, and we can see the actions that are go on in the world, and we can see the results of those actions in the karmic unfoldment of that. But the question that you're holding, and I hold that as well, isn't that fourth reminder, called The Four reminder or the fourth thoughts that turn the mind in Buddhism? And that is that there's no difference between samsara and nirvana? You know, we make this distinction that, that samsara is heaven samsara Sanskrit word for meaning, you know, an elevated, formless realm or heavenly realm. And that, or is it nirvana?

Todd McLaughlin:

I think nirvana is the heavenly in samsara.

Michael Shea:

That's the point I there's a difference between a

Todd McLaughlin:

great comeback. Nice way to flip that around. Yeah, no kidding. That actually works. Yeah, it

Michael Shea:

actually works that way. Because, you know, in in the reversing of that, that is the challenge is, how do you rest in depolarize, your judgment and opinion of the world? And how do you rest and just let it be? I mean, realistically, is there anything you are, and I could do right now, with what's happening, whether it's the Ukraine or the Middle East? Now, I do. And I'm involved in consultations with a dear friend of mine, who works for an NGO, a non government organization, and she's been in every refugee camp in the Middle East. And I just actually had a conversation with her yesterday about what's happening in terms of how are the non government organizations getting in, in providing relief for the women in Gaza who are pregnant, there's like 5000 women about to give birth and they need medical help. And there are NGOs there there are there is help coming. So at that level, but I don't get up alienated about that I participate in order to feel my heart and let my heart feel the sorrow that goes on in the world. And that's a major theme that I explore in the book is that we have to be able to feel our sorrow. When we see what happens just happened recently in the Middle East, or this ongoing thing in the Ukraine. And in believe me, there's a dozen other wars going on and other countries, I can tell you that right now. So it's not isolated to those dynamics. And what it leaves me with is a sense of sorrow, that the world is like this. But sorrow exists as a flipside to joy. If I want to experience my joy, I need to be able to experience my sorrow. And I'm not talking about grieving and lamenting and in the things that go on in a grieving cycle, we could grieve, but sorrow is our capacity to bear all things. So in that question, how do I hold the fact that wars are always going on? It brings me sorrow, but I have, and I've developed the capacity to bear all things. I can say that because I was in the military, and I was on a killing field. So I know that experience, and it's not easy to bear all things wouldn't involve, or, you know, in trauma, but that is our species, almost sapiens is the trauma species. But back to differentiating samsara and nirvana. That's, that's the key point, how do we hold this, and I find, holding it with sorrow, when I reflect on it, if I reflect on it, not as that's bad, or I have a lot of judgment, or I'm interpreting, or I'm getting misinformation, or however, I just go into that felt sense of my heartbeat. And I let myself expand into sorrow, which is actually very relaxing for the left ventricle of the heart. It's called Broken heart syndrome in the research literature,

Todd McLaughlin:

like when the pain or the feeling of fear or pain comes up to just move right into it,

Michael Shea:

move right into it, Lama soldier, Mel Leone says, and she's got a book by this name, feeding your demons, we have inner demons, we have to reconcile with our inner demons. And that's why meditation practice is so extremely valuable, because our demons come up, and they start as thoughts. And those thoughts cascade into concepts, those concepts cascade into emotions, and those emotions cascade into strong worldviews. And by then you are so polarized with what's going on in the world, that you've got to bring yourself back to a sense of peace, and depolarization.

Todd McLaughlin:

Wow. Well said, you for those listening. If you if you'd like to see, Dr. Mike Lee, you can go over to our YouTube channel, where, you know, there's a video of him and he right now he and you came in, and you have your army hat on says, you know, United States Army camo, and you made a comment, like, should I have this hat on? And that's such a good question. Because I guess maybe, if I will, I think yes, my answer to you is, yeah, I think you should wear your hat. Because that's you, to you are what you do part of your experience. I feel like sometimes in the spiritual massage slash yoga slash meditation world, there's these ideas of, I'm going to I need to, you know, appear to be what the image of spirituality should look like, could look like. And so therefore, maybe if we're talking about peace, and love, is wearing a camo hat that advertises the US Army, something that shouldn't be done. But I don't know, I think you're living the reality that you can do it. Because you you have that experience of being on the battlefield, which I don't, I have not been there. So the fact I think it just speaks even more volumes that you do wear your hat, that you've been able to traverse that world, and that you're putting the time and energy into coaching and dreaming and edging and encouraging us toward let's listen to our hearts and actually take care of each other. So that's a pretty big turnaround. If you ask me. I mean, that's a pretty major turnaround. What thoughts popped up when I mentioned that to anything come to mind?

Michael Shea:

Well, a couple of things. I mean, the intention of the book, I was talking to a friend about it, and I said, you know, really the first intention is to save lives. That was the intention with the immune book that came out last year 93% of Americans have metabolically unhealthy hearts. So there's a lot of, you know, there's a lot of work to do anatomically, and physiologically and metabolically and spiritually, you can't separate them out. This is one of the things that we need to realize in Western thought in in Western medical practice, the spiritual component of the body and mind was surgically removed. And we see, you know, that's part of the problem with that. So we need to bring that that piece back in this book that I'm writing now in the heart is about, I have to make it a little bit autobiographical. I can't just write a theoretical book on the heart that those are already out there. But let's hear what my experience has been. And then what I learned. So what I happened to me in the military is I'm calling it a baptism of blood. And because of that baptism of blood, I made a U turn into my future, and became a manual therapist instead of an attorney. I'm really happy about that. I'm really happy about that I got and consequently, is a funny story to add, because I realized, like, because I have this 100%, PTSD disability. And I didn't know that for 20 years, I went around the world, you know, and did became a manual therapist, not realizing what was going on internally. Wow. Until some people turn, you know, pointed it out to me. First Wave, second wave.

Todd McLaughlin:

Oh, man, I know that, that brings up a lot of questions, but I'm gonna let you continue back to the learning lessons you got from your previous wives,

Michael Shea:

I What happened was, you know that, that then in manual therapy, one of the things I realized that I didn't like people, and I didn't know that that was part of the PTS thing, PTSD thing, but but I was making good money, and I had to pay the rent. So I was doing massage, and I was actually pretty good at it. And gradually, I got involved with pediatrics. And I began to work with infants and children, who had moderate to severe developmental disabilities. And I did that for 40 years, infants and children who had been tortured by their parents, and taken away into foster homes, infants born with, you know, cerebral palsy, all sorts of really, really challenging issues, persistent vegetative states. And they taught me compassion. These infants and children actually taught me compassion over a period of time. So I had this baptism in the military and I had this dynamic with the really the the gestation of compassion, which is what I think all of us in our lives do. You know, we, we deal with our family systems and deaths in the family, and we deal with illnesses and we deal with friends in our community, and our businesses. And all of that, you know, is about building a relationship of compassion for ourselves first, because that comes to rules. If you don't have compassion for yourself. You can't have it for another person. But I'm not answering your question about the hat. Well, I am I am in a way. Yeah, I like this hat. And I just will say, you know, the listener needs to know that when the Donald Trump when he was president, he had his estate down in Palm Beach, which is probably eight miles from here. But in Baca where Todd and I are speaking from right now, but a mile and back of his his his golf course. And when he was president, his helicopter when he was going to his golf course would fly right over Native yoga, and right over my home. And so I like to say jokingly, that this hat gives me a free pass and Trump territory in terms of veterans, but I make that you know, kind of as a joke, I don't vote anymore. So I don't get involved in that football level of politics. I don't have to take sides anymore. It's such a relief. I just enjoy that relief. As a result, you know, of getting my 100% disability I now work with other veterans to get their disability status. I work with veterans, primarily combat veterans from Vietnam, that have been on a killing field and been involved with hundreds if not 1000s of deaths. And it fills me I can choose up and down my body right now. I'm giving back I'm giving back to others who went through a similar experience in in sometimes worse experiences than mine, in helping them helping them stabilize and get what what's right for their eyes. proud of that. Yeah. And I know some spiritual teachers say it's it's absolute heresy to teach mindfulness meditation to the military. And I would use the vulgar word right now, but I'm not. But I would say that's BS. You know, yeah, people don't want to kill humans weren't designed to kill, I've read the literature on killing. And to pull that trigger and to do that has dire consequences for the psychological and spiritual well being of every human being that does that the suffering that goes on for for veterans that got involved with that. And a lot of veterans don't even pull the trigger. I'm telling you, we don't want to do that. But when it happens, it's devastating not only for the person pulling the trigger, or detonating the the explosives or whatever. And obviously, on the receiving end,

Todd McLaughlin:

yeah. Well, thank you for answering that. I think that's fine. I'm glad that you are it because it tells the full story. It's the full story out in the open.

Michael Shea:

Well, I also came in with my mouth, and I went, Well, you know, how much Baba should I be here now if this is going to be filmed? So I'm holding the toothpick. But yeah, I don't have it in my mouth. And I'm not working at him. But

Todd McLaughlin:

that's a good balance. That's a good like balance of the polarities. On that note, you mentioned that all manual therapy is in ministry of laying on of hands. Can you take me a little deeper and on that idea?

Michael Shea:

Well, as I mentioned earlier, you know, we were talking about this long, tighter primary respiration, heart to heart. And then in the advanced stages of the work I teach, it's how do you feel it coming down through the palms of your hand, through the pericardium, and heart meridian that are in the palm of your hand. And if we're able to do that, then that actually means that we're using our hands to bless people. So we're using your hands to bless people. And, and let me say that that really is shouldn't be the first priority, people are coming in. So challenge metabolically. But when you really look at their state of mind, they're very polarized, everybody's watching what's going on with the world, and in social media, and all of that. And there's polarization. But if we as therapists can come into the room and drop it polarization and get into our heart, where there's no polarity, and let that come through our hands, and our eyes and our heart and our mind, then that allows for what I call, I don't call it this, but in the literature, it's called the instinct for self transcendence. You know, a lot of people come into our, our field. And actually, they a lot of people come in as clients. And they might not be getting better, because they're pretty sick. But they keep coming back. And that's because we're touching that instinct for self transcendence. They're feeling blessed. I've had people say that before I even brought language to it. I feel the movement of grace going through me, I feel the movement of love, you know, in the room right now. And I'm sitting there going, Well, isn't that nice? But now I know. And I have a greater sensibility with, with a sense of my heart around that very thing. So that's what I mean by the Ministry of the laying out of hands.

Todd McLaughlin:

Yeah. Nice. Did you have any history of being in a religious organization when you're a child or growing up where there was emphasis using that terminology, such as speaking in tongues laying on of hands, that type of practice that happens in some religious traditions?

Michael Shea:

Well, I don't mind talking about how I was raised. I mean, and there's a joke there as it's interesting, because somebody just shared this joke with me a couple of weeks ago. How do you become an atheist? And the punch line is get raised Catholic. I was raised Catholic. And that's it. And it's interesting that that person shared that joke with me because I had just written the chapter of how I overcome my atheism. So I think that's really one of the first things we have to do is we have to look at how we were raised. And so I was raised Catholic and in the reason I be, I name it atheism, but I could see early on at the age of six or seven, something was not quite right. From what I was getting in Catholic grammar school. And what I saw my father reading on the front page of newspapers, war in terror. I mean, it's always been there. And it never made sense to me, so I got depressed. I was fairly depressed during adolescence, I couldn't wait to get out because that meant I could get away from the Catholic Church. So that's the first dynamic associated with that is just reconciling with that. And I really think that that is therapist now I had some training in the chaplaincy program before I got kicked out. And I think that was in the last podcast, I talked about how you remember that? Yeah. But I learned how to be a multifaith chaplain, you can't go through this world, over identified with your dynamic, as a spiritual person and the religion you grew up with, if you want to be effective, on helping people who are dying, you can't have an opinion. If you get called into a room, to a Jewish person, a Muslim person, an atheist, you can't launch into salvation at that point, you have to follow their lead. And again, you have to come back to your heart and have that ability to be in the middle way as it's called what Nagarjuna called the middle way, without polarization, because all spiritual traditions have you resting in your heart anyway. So why not be free of religious identification? And rest your awareness in your heart and see what comes up? Because that's actually the next piece on the visionary unfoldment that I teach?

Todd McLaughlin:

And it's a good answer, I guess, someone to ask that. Because I also had a similar experience of being in a religious organization where there was this laying on of hands and the attempt to heal through the community coming together and putting hands on you, right. And I think there's like such a powerful thing actually, like, that's pretty amazing. If we get together as a group, and someone's in the middle of the room, and everyone in the group comes over and just offers that sort of just really kind of sweet, tender, like appreciation and just being open to whatever comes up for that person. Like it's a powerful experience. But then I also have come across my own, like, wonderment about so many other aspects that come with that whole scene, that when you use that terminology as a ministry of being of laying on of hands, I guess it just kind of reminded me of my initial upbringing. And I guess I just wanted to ask you about that to see what you thought see if that was like, a conscious terminology used to maybe bring some of those memories back for us or

Michael Shea:

Well, Lincoln of hands ministry is a formal Chaplain ministry Canada than in the Christian tradition. Okay, gotcha. And so you see that in some Christian congregations, the the research literature calls it spiritist passe and you can go online and you can see the research articles from NIH on spiritual paths, say which is spiritual laying on of hands. So you can call laying on of hands or you can call it spirit is passe. Healing Touch is another training I've had and that's done in hospitals by nurses, which is also laying on of hands from a spiritual point of view. Yeah, and I just say, in terms of, you know, my upbringing, my Catholic atheist upbringing. One of the things that happened in terms of the noticing of hypocrisy is at that level, but also the confusion as a child, is it when my parents got the first black and white television sets in the in the 1950s. One of the things I found on television was the Oral Roberts crusade out of Tulsa. And I would sit there as a child transfixed, I mean, one foot away from the television screen, watching these people on crutches come up to the stage in watching him put his hands on people in the crutches flying away. And I think that in some way imprinted me Yeah. Or within the the nature of hypocrisy, but also my future.

Todd McLaughlin:

Yeah. Interesting. Now, here we go. That's what I wanted to dig in.

Michael Shea:

Yeah. Wait a minute, I tied just to say, if you're out there listening to this or watching this, it's, oh, I want to book an appointment with Michael Che and get that laying out of hands and throw away my crutches. That's not the way it works. But that's not the way it works with me. Yeah. So I do visualization practices. And I would say one out of 500 people get to throw away their crutches in my career. I mean, I've seen you know, 10s of 1000s of clients, but and that's not the point either. The point is, how can we help People have a deeper now, experience of their own spiritual heart and the spirit that lives in the heart and Shin it's called Shan and Taoism. So there's a lot of that in the book. And I'm also calling it the indwelling. Taoism. It's called the heart inside the heart, the formless part of our heart that houses the spiritual essence. Now, who do you want that spiritual essence to be? Do you want it to be Krishna? Do you want it to be Hahnemann? Do you want it to be Jesus? Do you want it to be Mary. So even in my book, I write about the seven sorrows of Mary. And if you're listening or watching this right now, go online and google images for the seven sorrows of Mary. And you're going to be really amazed at what comes up in terms of how Mary's Heart, the feminine heart can bear all suffering as she did. So that's the next part of the teaching I do is then how do you visualize a spiritual essence in that space? That's pre existing that's pre designed to be there for this very thing, no matter what religion? Because we know in the neuroscience, no matter what prayer you're saying, and no matter what religion, it all, is lighting up the same area of the brain. Isn't that interesting? And so God doesn't have or a Divine Being or the sacred wood, however you want to choose to speak about that doesn't have its own particular place in the brain. It's all in the same place.

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice. Well said, Michael, I mean, you did touch upon this a little bit. But you had made mentioned the practices that you're teaching are around how to resolve polarity. I feel like you already really touched upon this. But Can you expound a little bit further, what you mean by that?

Michael Shea:

Well, there's, I mean, two things with that and not to yoga. If you meditate, you know, one of the reasons you meditate, there's a lot of reasons to meditate. If it's in Zen, there's no reason to meditate. There's a lot of reasons to meditate. You need to be able to recognize your state of mind as quickly as possible, you need to be able to recognize thoughts that are going to derail you, you need to be able to recognize concepts that you build up really quickly about what's happening in the world. And as soon as you recognize them, you move your attention into awareness, just into open space, the element of space, and just let the thoughts dissipate on their own, you don't fight them. So you have to recognize that's the key point. And meditation practices help you do that. Once you recognize then you can reframe. If you're meditating, and you're an experienced meditator, you just move into awareness, you just shift back into awareness. And they let go by themselves, they dissipate by themselves. But if you're in life, you've got to reframe. You've got to go, oh, wait a minute, you got to talk yourself down. Oh, let's not go down that direction. Let's go in this direction. Let me say, let me make a correction right here. Maybe it's a relational or repair that needs to be done with your partner or something like that. So a reframe on the spot needs to be done. In as soon as that happens. You have to relax, you can't pursue it. You can't keep going, Oh, I did this, Oh, I did that, Oh, I thought this, oh, I had this emotion, oh, I hated this person, for a minute, and so forth. You got to let go of that. Recognize, reframe, relax. So that's the key point, the first key point in meditation practice for how you manage finding the heart, mind, this, the spirit that lives in your heart, the space that the Spirit lives in.

Todd McLaughlin:

So you recommend, say when I get a chance to sit on a cushion and either eyes open or closed, you start. Okay, I'm going to take some time for myself here to practice meditation. Go straight in on the heart. Is that what you're currently is that which is that one of your favorite techniques? Like another's, like, say on a piano technique of like, bring your attention to the respiration and just kind of get a feeling for the breath? Are you teaching go straight to where your heart is in your ribcage and just just focus on feeling it? Is that or do you have a several step process to kind of build you up to get you to like one of the things I like we did record a course we did record a meditation course which is available on our native yoga online platform last summer together and one of the things you did during that is speak about the different diaphragms like the pelvic diaphragm, the throughout the respiratory diaphragm and this process of just building an understanding of how your stalking your body when you come into the seated position. So I'm just curious if there's like something that you typically do when you go to sit down for meditation that's like your go to initial entry technique.

Michael Shea:

Well, yes, we did record that meditation series last summer. And thank you for that. It's it's always a great opportunity. I actually I want to also say to you publicly, and, and thank you because when I was doing the chaplaincy program, I do pi Institute, we were required to do a 100 hour. What is it called a 100 hour internship. And I was given permission to just teach Zen. And we did the first 50 hours here, and I learned so much, and it's by your generosity, and allowing the space to be used to teach that style of Zen. But in answer your question, where do I go, you know, when I sit, so I first learned to meditate back and I think 80 or 81. And when I'm talking about meditate, I'm talking about shamatha Vipassana shamatha. Practice. So Buddhist meditation, calm abiding meditation. And so So 1980, and now we're in 23, so 43 years. So I've practiced on and off and I pretty much have a regular meditation practice now daily for the past 10 years, just so the listener knows. And you have to in basic meditation, you've got to have a starting point that your body's posture is an Asana. And it's a well documented Asana has seven points to it. And it takes a while to work that Asana in Euro yogi, and you know how long you have to work on just one Asana if you want to perfect one Asana. So sitting meditation involves an Asana. And it's got seven aspects to it. So once you get the posture than we know, in basic Buddhist meditation, and I assume it's the same in many other like Hindu meditations, but you have to have a placement of the object of your attention. And that's going to be on your breath. Next. And, and the heartbeat, you can include, you can have the heartbeat be the exclusive object if you want. And then from there, you just watch the tennis match with your state of mind. And you watch yourself getting pulled into these concepts. And yeah, it's it's absolutely the best show on earth. Yeah, it's the best show on earth, until you finally have gaps. So there's techniques that are offered, for example, one of the first techniques is to be able to feel your exhalation and be able to feel that there's a gap of time between your exhale and your inhale. And in Buddhism, that's equated with a moment of death, exhale, die, inhale live. So there's all these nuances that you you, you get trained in, in the initial stages of meditation. And they lead up to an abiding experience and awareness. And awareness is just open space where you can actually feel emotion, it's called rigpa. And you actually feel no thought it's the space of non thinking. Now, that doesn't mean thoughts aren't occurring, but they're way, way, way in the background, that you are, you are in a level of awareness that's non referential, you have no reference point, and feels really good, because it's really open. And it also has a knowing quality to it, because you know, something is happening, but you can't put words to it, because it's wordless. So we could go on and on talking about awareness, but when that happens, you then have a shift in how you sit down initially. So what I do now when I sit, is I immediately go to eye gazing technique, which is RT yoga. So the eyes above the plane of the horizon, and I let my eye vision go out into space. And so there's a reason for that. In the Xhosa tradition in the hatha yoga tradition, and I know as a yogi, you're familiar with the central channel. So and then the side channels so the central channel going up, likely somewhere in front of the spine to the aorta in and out through, I think it's do 22 Or do 20, the acupuncture point at the top of your He had is that pretty?

Todd McLaughlin:

Yeah, that's a very specific explanation. Good, good, thank you. Well,

Michael Shea:

Inoty yoga is shifted. There's a bifurcation of the central channel and the third ventricle of the brain and bifurcates, and it goes out your eyes. And so with your eyes, then, and your mind, being able to acquire awareness, relatively immediately, you then are looking up above the level of the horizon. And that puts you directly into the element of space you're looking into, directly into the element of space. And then at that level, you get to see how cosmology unfolds. Because gradually, you'll have visions of different elements and in how things form how universe is formed, right in front of your very eyes. Now, I'm not making this esoteric yesterday, I was doing this on the beach, and the clouds are there. So the clouds kept changing, I'm watching the element of water and the element of air in the element of space change constantly. So I'm watching the elements. So let's keep it simple at that level. Yeah. So that's the initial dynamic. So when I sit, I immediately go into eyes above the horizon, I immediately go into space, I let my central channel come out my eyes and connect with the elements. Then, when my mind becomes active, I go back to the basics, posture, breath, heartbeat, and re stabilize, and then back out to the eyes. Nice. So it's just it just reversing the equation.

Todd McLaughlin:

Very cool. I love hearing about all that. Why is that so fascinating? So interesting. It's

Michael Shea:

who we are. Yeah, I wrote about this in the book. And I wrote a brought it in the last book. And I said it earlier in this interview, in biomedicine, in western medicine, bourgeois medicine, they extracted spirit, it's part of the deal with Catholic Church cut in the Renaissance in Paris, with the religious leaders of the time, the religious leaders of the time with the medical community, look, you take the body, we're taking spirit. And I just want the listener to know that the reason for that was that in the medical community, they were doing dissections, well, that was for Bolton in terms of the Catholic Church because it was a desecration of the human body. So the deal was, give us the body, you take the spirit. And so consequently, that lends itself to a lot of anger and upset that you see in the medical system these days. And what we do in our work is to try to re instill spirit into the health care that we provide our clients. But that also means that we have to be beholden to Eastern traditions that never surgically removed it. And how have they kept it in? They've kept it into the teachings of the subtle body, and the very subtle body as a Trinity. But as a unified Trinity, they're not separate, but they're one they're three aspects of one thing. So the subtle body is where you get into this discussion of central channel, chakras, and so forth. The side channels in like that,

Todd McLaughlin:

yeah. Yes, Michael. It's amazing. It's pre existing. You know, we set this appointment a couple of months ago, because you're like, I'm going to be busy. I'm gonna be writing my book. Maybe in October, I'll have a little bit of time. I've been patiently waiting. And I'm just so thankful for for you to come, you know Nichelle a little bit more time. I know, you're in such a busy little zone right now. So this is just such a treat for me. I love listening to you speak. And I feel like there's, you know, it's you have such a wealth of knowledge and understanding and, and humility, which I really appreciate. I don't know that there's much more you could touch upon beyond when is your book going to be available? It sounds like there's still a few more processes involved before. We have it in our hands. So what's the projected date?

Michael Shea:

Oh, probably a year from now, at a year, still a year? Yeah, it's gonna go through three or four editorial processes. I've got almost 300 figures in it, which is what is is doing right now is getting those called out in the text. And those very last chapters are this visionary part that we're talking about. Now that you've got a physical body, you've got a subtle body and then you've got a very subtle body. And consequently, how do you then develop meditations for the heart based on that reality? How do you create the cosmos out of your heart because that's really what we're talking about. If spirit is living In the heart, I was reading the Gospel of Luke, my nieces are evangelical. And they had me reading the Gospel of Luke. And I kept saying, Well, what would Jesus say? What would he do? You know, how would he feel. And I realized that in that spirit, that space of spirit in the heart, Jesus lives in the heart, or Krishna, and you can call forth those images in your heart. And then you can allow that radiance, because that's, that's what the very subtle body is, the very subtle body is a radiance of light. It's the breath of life in the Bible, it was it was light, it's a very clear light, and it refracts into a series of colors, five colors. And those colors then then manifest in the appearance of all things that we see because of their association with the elements. And, and that appearance then has color, it has elemental construction, and it has its appearance. And all of that is radiating from our heart. So the point of the book is, if you want to quit the polarization, and see that in your heart, you're actually creating the universe, we are creating the universe, no matter what spiritual tradition, you can visualize that person, or go right to the source, go right to clear light, and just allow that clear light to radiate the entire universe. In my classes, for example, we do that practice with the client on the table, because we are actually radiating the client, and it's his or her appearance, the clients coming out of us at that level of very subtle and subtle, yes, at the level of ordinary, there's all the things are everything else. But we are united in that way. And if we're united in that way, we can live in the Spirit in our heart, and we can allow it to manifest His light, or any being we want to when we're when we're treating and when we're in the world, and have that be irradiance. And so that's, those are the last sections of the book right now, those visionary experiences that we can have, when we can take responsibility for how the world is right now.

Todd McLaughlin:

Perfect timing. Could it could it be anymore? I don't think so. Oh, that

Michael Shea:

was fun. Yeah. Because in this tight actually helps me finish the book, because now I've got, you know, more potency, and I can do for the next 10 days. And really feel the potency that I just spoke of

Todd McLaughlin:

amazing, you don't have to put me in the acknowledgments. I won't be offended if you leave me out. I really got to acknowledge the podcast with Todd on October 3,

Michael Shea:

well, thank you for that, because I just wrote the acknowledgments yesterday. So you will be in the yard and I want to put you

Todd McLaughlin:

oh, gosh, I'm kidding. Well, thank you, Michael, what a tree. I'm sure we're going to do it again. I mean, if we're lucky. You said that like human experiences, we just first have to acknowledge that how precious life really is, as part of that. We can't really get into actually experiencing peace until we actually appreciate life. Yeah. So thank you for you know, thank you for so much. I remember on one of our podcasts, I think I was going a little bit through and more my atheistic phases. So it's a little more gruff with you about some of the ideas and now I'm like, No, I think I'm turning a little more toward my spiritual side again. And so I'm really enjoying this. So I really appreciate you taking the time. And thank you, Michael, my best to you, your wife, and I can't wait to hold this book. And I did want to ask all the refrain, but I'll put it out there that I'm like, how many other book ideas does he have in the back of his head right now? When they're editing the book? Is he going to start writing another book? Like, can he even stop writing books? Maybe he's probably going to say if I asked him, Are you going to do you have an idea for another book? He's like, I can't think about another book right now. Because this is all my on my plate. But I bet you there's another idea in there. I bet you there another idea came out. And you don't have to say anything. You don't have to answer that. Well,

Michael Shea:

this is my eighth book. And it's been gestating for about 10 years, and it's the hardest book I've ever written.

Todd McLaughlin:

I believe it it's a big subject. Plus, like getting personal about your life. You know, maybe it's easier to write theoretical books because you don't have to include your own experience because I mean, when anytime I start thinking about what should I talk about my own life, then I go does anybody really want to hear that they've already gone through it I'm sure themselves but it's got to be such a therapeutic process to to actually just own some of the things we've we've been involved in and done and judged maybe at one point and now see is like a really great thing that happened and we To be where we were if we didn't go through all that, but I can't wait to read it.

Michael Shea:

Well, even if I did have an idea for another book, I better not talk about it because my wife really given up a lot of our time. I believe that for this Yeah, I have promised her some time off. And that means I can't even talk about my next book. Yeah, and I don't really have an idea for it because I have vision. At this point. I'm subject to whatever Divine Principle the universe wants to have me. Work Nice.

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice. Awesome, Michael, thanks so much. Pleasure. Native yoga podcast is produced by myself. The theme music is dreamed up by Bryce Allen. If you liked this show, let me know if there's room for improvement. I want to hear that too. We are curious to know what you think and what you want more of what I can improve. And if you have ideas for future guests or topics, please send us your thoughts to info at Native yoga center. You can find us at Native yoga center.com And hey, if you did like this episode, share it with your friends, rate it and review and join us next time. Well, yeah,

Michael Shea's introduction and discussion about his mango farm.
Explanation of the title "The Biodynamic Heart" and its connection to the Dalai Lama.
Practical mysticism as a way to describe perceptual processes.
Teaching mindfulness meditation to the military veterans.
The power of visualization and the indwelling of the heart
Closing remarks and gratitude