When I heard Jared Iversen's Interview on the Lyme Ninja Radio podcast, I knew I had to reach out to him. Our views on health and healing are similar and I admire his positive outlook and desire to share his thoughts with others. I learned a lot from Jared in that interview, so I wanted to share his ideas with my readers. I would also suggest you listen to the podcast interview. Jared educated himself on the autonomic nervous system and its impact on our healing. He encourages techniques like EFT/tapping, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing), and meditation to take us out of 'fight-or-flight' and into 'rest-and-digest' where all healing happens. Jared is wise beyond his years and if you are ready to listen, he has some very important things to say.
Tell us a little about who you are and what you do:
I am a manifestation of consciousness experiencing its current incarnation in the form of a fellow named Jared. I am also a screenwriter living in Brooklyn with my girlfriend (check out her blog/Instagram for yummy allergen and Lyme-friendly recipes--@the_bananadiaries) and two adorable (4-month-old) kitties, all of whom bring a tremendous amount of joy to my life. And, in case you couldn't tell from my super pretentious opening line, I am a spiritual seeker, and love exploring the nature of reality, consciousness, and why it is we're all here.
What is your Lyme story? How do you think you contracted Lyme and how long did it take you to get a diagnosis?
I was bitten by a tick in the summer of 2008 and one month later began my freshman year of college. In October, I was struck with flu-like symptoms that only continued to worsen over the following months. From there, it was a very long road to diagnosis--several years and dozens upon dozens of doctors, specialists, and healers of all kinds. They all told me some combination of the following--all of your tests are normal, you are absolutely fine, it's all in your head--and they simply had no idea how to help me. For a long time, I was very angry and self-righteous about the way the medical system treated me, but, over time, I have come to let go of that animosity because it just felt better to forgive.
Upon receiving an accurate diagnosis, I began a heavy regimen of antibiotics, but, when I failed to improve, the traditional medical world didn't know what else to do for me. I spent several years desperately experimenting with all kinds of healing modalities and supplements, floundering from one supposed "magic bullet" to the next, and just barely functioning, both physically and mentally. After repeatedly failing to find relief, I finally hit a breaking point--I was forced to take time off from college, was essentially bedridden for many months, and felt completely hopeless, depressed, and, at times, suicidal. This was a very dark period, and I think it's important to acknowledge that; this illness has a way of sucking you in to a very dark place where it seems impossible to even imagination a future without pain and suffering and despair. But if you are struggling, just know that there are so many ways to heal. And as hard as it might be to believe that right now, just know that it is possible, and some part of you, deep down in your soul, knows how to get there.
Personally, I found significant improvement in my symptoms when I cleaned up my diet and adopted a regular yoga practice. But things truly began to turn around when I expanded my focus from just the physical aspects of the illness to the emotional and spiritual components as well. The body's healing mechanisms reside in the autonomic nervous system, which is largely modulated by the subconscious mind, and can often be blocked by patterns of thought and emotion below our conscious awareness. For this reason, I found that addressing my limiting subconscious beliefs and emotional traumas was a crucial aspect of the healing process.
As children, our brainwave pattern mostly rests in the range associated with the hypnotic state, which means we're incredibly suggestible to the input we receive, basically absorbing everything we see and hear without judgment or analysis. This information is then lodged in our brain and encoded as beliefs, shaping the way we see and process the world. If and when we become aware that we may have beliefs that are sabotaging our conscious desires (to be healthy, wealthy, etc), it can be very difficult to recognize and reprogram them, because they often exist at a knowing or feeling level, rather than an intellectual, rational, or language level. So you can think 'I am healthy' or 'I am healing' all day long, but if your subconscious mind doesn't actually believe that, then it’s really only drawing attention to your lack of health, and perpetuating that state. This is why affirmations and positive thinking platitudes can often just be like slapping wallpaper on a moldy wall. But through techniques like hypnosis, EFT, EMDR, NLP, kundalini yoga, and meditation*, which tap into the subconscious mind, we can shift these beliefs and install new ones that are more in alignment with our conscious desires.
For me, growing up with a parent with OCD and anxiety, I was programmed to see the world as a dangerous place, to see my body as weak, and to live with a pervasive sense of fear; none of this was ever explicitly said, but it was simply how I came to view the world based on the environment in which I was raised (which happened to be a very happy, supportive, and loving one). The emotional distress we endure as a result of our subconscious beliefs, modern lifestyles, and an extended period of illness, is very traumatic on the autonomic nervous system, and our bodies become stuck in a perpetual state of 'fight-or-flight,' which is antithetical to our 'rest-and-digest' state where healing occurs, so it is extremely helpful to use modalities that shift the nervous system out of distress, and allow the body's natural healing mechanisms to take hold. When I used techniques such as hypnosis, EFT/tapping, and meditation to reprogram my autonomic nervous system from a constant state of fear, anxiety, and stress into one of relaxation, safety, and repair, my health, and overall outlook on life, improved dramatically.
I also began using a Rife machine, which I have found to be an incredibly powerful tool. When I discovered the Rife technology, it just resonated with me and felt like the most appropriate and effective tool to address the physical illness--the actual bacteria, viruses, etc.--so I trusted my intuition, and it has proven to be the most impactful modality I've found in shifting my physical symptoms. I would very much recommend researching this tool and, if it resonates with you, integrating it into your healing repertoire.
*A note on meditation: This has become a very trendy topic as of late, but I find that there is a lot of anxiety and stress surrounding the practice, and people often feel as though they don't know how to do it properly. Compound this with the fact that many people working through Lyme disease are in constant pain, sitting still can seem like an impossible task. I know for me, my body was so permanently throttled into 'fight-or-flight' that no matter how statuesque I remained, I never felt completely still. Working with some of the subconscious modalities to help calm the autonomic nervous system alleviated much of this restlessness and unease. But for me, meditation is not about sitting still or quieting your mind. I would define meditation as intentionally cultivating positive emotions through thought alone. I think the 'through thought alone' is the critical part, for we often rely on external stimuli, like a slice of cake or the new season of Stranger Things, to generate positive emotions within us, but this activates our dopamine receptors, which become desensitized over time and come to need more and more stimulation to reach the same level of pleasure (the hedonic treadmill). However, when we generate the feelings internally, through our thoughts, we release a whole slew of yummy chemicals, like oxytocin, which have a direct effect on our immune system.
So, close your eyes. Center your awareness into your heart center, in the middle of your chest. And call to mind something that you love--a person, a place, a pet, a sweet potato--anything that makes you feel radiant, that gives you that sensation of lightness, that plasters a big, goofy smile on your face. Just sit with that feeling and enjoy it for as long as you can. And when thoughts pop up, follow them if you wish. There is no need to fight them off. And when you're ready, come back to that feeling. That joy and gratitude and wholeness. That love. And relish it for as long as you wish. 10 seconds. 10 minutes. 10 hours. It doesn't matter. You are meditating. You are reprogramming your autonomic nervous system. You are healing. To me, that's all meditation is. Cultivating love.
What are your passions?
One of my biggest passions is storytelling, particularly through the medium of film. Stories are one of the most ancient and powerful means of making sense of the human experience and of finding meaning in our world. I love the ways in which stories can empower, inspire, and transform, and I strive to elicit these feelings through my work.
I also love food (both cooking and eating), music, comedy, and, most of all, learning, thinking, and talking about the nature of reality and all things metaphysical.
I think the unifying theme between all of these interests is that they are ways of cultivating connection, compassion, understanding, and love, and that is my greatest passion. Basically, anything that breaks down the artificial barriers we erect as a result of our fear, that brings us closer together, that reminds us we are all inexorably intertwined and connected in a fundamental way is, as they say, my jam.
What do you want people to know about Lyme disease?
I feel that Lyme disease, and all illness for that matter, is a spiritual affliction, and the physical symptoms we experience are a manifestation of emotional and energetic blockages within our subconscious mind, being, and soul. That is not to say that it is "all in your head," which is something that I heard quite often when I was searching for answers, but rather that what's in our head (both consciously and subconsciously) and our hearts (emotionally and energetically) causes biological and chemical changes in the body, which creates disease. Thoughts trigger electrical impulses in the brain, which forms neuro-peptides, which creates a cascade of hormones and chemicals, which signals genes, which creates proteins, which can either build cells and up-regulate the immune system or create inflammation and dysfunction. The field of medicine that studies the biological and chemical chain of causality arising from our thoughts is known as psychoneuroimmunology, which is really just a fancy way of saying that our thoughts have a tangible effect on our brain and body.
This isn’t merely an ontological discussion; it's a very practical one. When you recognize the role that your thoughts and emotions play in disease, and in healing, you can reclaim your power. You begin to understand that you needn't rely on something outside of yourself to heal you because your disease is not the result of something outside of yourself; all disease and all healing comes from within. I don't think that illness is something that we must combat. And I don't think it's something that we can fully overcome with external interventions. As a society, we've been so conditioned to give our power to things outside of ourselves, seeking fulfillment through consumerism or addiction, but fulfillment cannot come from without; it must come from within. And I think the same is true of healing. Healing comes from understanding how to integrate the lessons the illness is there to reveal to you, which only happens through turning inward; then, the body naturally comes into balance and the illness falls away.
That does not mean you can't use medical interventions of all kinds to assist in this healing, but these interventions are only beneficial when they help you tap into your body's own innate healing power. There is a fundamental intelligence within every cell of your body that not only knows how to operate optimally, but that has an innate desire to do just that; the body contains an intelligence, a consciousness, far beyond the intellect of our own minds, and when we can align our own thoughts, feelings and emotions with that benevolent force, we unlock a healing capacity that's far more powerful than any pill or procedure.
I believe the rapidly growing incidence of Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses serve as a 'canary in the coal mine,' both on the micro and on the macro level. They are here to show us that we have become misaligned with the fundamental drive of the body and of the Universe, which is to evolve towards a greater state of wholeness and order, or what we might describe as Love. When we operate from a state of fear, competition, and separation, both as individuals and as a society, our systems begin to break down—whether that be our digestive or immune system, or our political or economic system. On the personal level, the breakdown of these systems causes physical symptoms, which are then diagnosed and labeled as a disease, but the disease is just a symptom of the true affliction, which is being a servant of fear.
Contrary to what I believed for a long time, I no longer consider Lyme disease as something that is here to punish me or make me miserable; I see it as a blessing, as a wise teacher, as my body's way of telling me that I was not living in alignment with my true self. I would challenge you to shift your mindset out of victimhood, and to find the wisdom and the lessons that you can derive from this experience. What can it teach you? There have been a number of psychological studies demonstrating that people who are able to derive meaning and purpose from traumatic events heal faster and have fewer repercussions over the long term. So if you can recognize your illness as a symptom of something greater and find the personal significance of your suffering, you will have an easier path to recovery. That significance will be different for everyone. It's a uniquely personal journey. And one that does not evolve in a straight line. But follow your intuition and move in the direction of love, and suddenly your Lyme will no longer seem like an 'illness,' but rather a blessing helping you evolve towards your best self.
In summary, I want people to know that Lyme disease can be a wonderful gift, something you wouldn't even dream of going back in time and avoiding, because it gives you the opportunity to uncover the areas in your life where you are choosing fear, and to learn how to choose love instead.
What is the one thing that you have found most helpful in treatment?
Gratitude. Plain and simple. For so long I was focused on everything that had been taken away from me, feeling so much anger and pity and resentment about all the things that I couldn't do or have or be. But ever since I have shifted my focus and attention to the many wonderful things already in my life, and take the time to express gratitude for them, I just enjoy life more, regardless of how I feel physically or what my current circumstances are.
The Rife technology and meditation have been equally transformative as well.
What are you most grateful for in your healing journey?
All the places it has taken me. This journey has sent me far and wide searching for relief, and it's revealed to me an endless stream of mind-blowing information, guided me to a number of life-changing practices, and led me to so many beautiful people. But most of all, it has taken me deeper into myself. It has shown me my own inner power. A power that is derived from my connection to the force that beats our hearts, the intelligence that creates life, and the energy that connects the entire Universe—there are many names for it, and my favorite is Love.
I am also immensely grateful for all of the people whose love and support sustained me in my lowest moments, especially my family, my girlfriend, my friends, and the healers who helped awaken my belief in the possibility of healing. Even though I often ignored their words of hope and encouragement, writing them off as wishful thinking, I don't think I would have been able to pull myself out of the spiral without knowing that there were so many people rooting for me, wanting nothing more than for me to feel better, and showering me with love every step of the way. Whether or not your closest companions show you this level of support (I know many often don't believe their loved ones are sick, or choose to downplay their suffering because it is just too painful to watch), just know that you are not alone. You are surrounded by a community of people that want you to get better. And by a loving energy that is doing everything in its power to restore you to your natural state of health. If you need a reminder of this, or have a desire to discuss any of the topics mentioned here, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
What changes do you still feel you need to make in order to heal?
Finding ways every single day to release fear and cultivate love.
Do you have a role model in the Lyme community? Who and why?
For a long time, I was myopically focused on the health and wellness world, constantly devouring podcasts and articles about the best diet or best supplement or best exercise to combat Lyme disease. I surrounded myself with this information and became obsessed with defeating my illness, which only further solidified my identification with it. The more information I consumed about overcoming illness, the more I continued to pave the pathways in my brain associated with my state of dis-ease, and the more attached I became to my identity as a ‘sick person,’ which and only continued to reinforce that reality.
All of that is a long way of saying that, although I found many wonderful people spreading messages of hope and empowerment within the Lyme community (such as this very blog), I personally found that my whole perspective shifted when I broadened the scope of information that I consumed to include teachings outside the Lyme community and wellness world, from quantum physics to spiritual philosophies, and focused less on defeating illness and more on cultivating health, happiness, and wholeness.
But if I had to recommend one teacher, a role model that I deeply admire, it would be Dr. Joe Dispenza. He so eloquently unites ancient spiritual and mystic teachings with the most modern, cutting-edge scientific theories in a clear, entertaining, and, most importantly, practical way. He gives you the tools to actually implement these ideas into your daily life and to truly bring about change. I already sound like an infomercial, so I would just direct you to his book You Are the Placebo, which is a fantastic place to start.
I also think the work of Dr. Kelly Turner deserves an honorable mention. She studied cases of radical remission from cancer (recovery after terminal diagnosis) and found nine common principles among those that improved. Her book is called Radical Remission.
The 9 Principles:
1. Radically changing your diet.
2. Taking control of your health.
3. Following your intuition.
4. Using herbs and supplements.
5. Releasing suppressed emotions.
6. Increasing positive emotions.
7. Embracing social support.
8. Deepening your spiritual connection.
9. Having strong reasons for living.
Please share a mantra or quote that inspires you:
Well, you can probably tell I have a propensity toward verbosity, and this will be no different…
"A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.
The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were Nature"s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon." - Dr. Kelly Brogan, relaying a story told by Joseph Aldo
And because I also have an aversion to picking just one thing…
"Do not feel lonely; the entire universe is inside you." - Rumi
"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places." - Roald Dahl