I was introduced to Michael through Liz from Open Source Wellness (See our interview here.) “He’s into nutrition as medicine” was pretty much all she said, and it was also pretty much all I needed to hear to pique my interest. Later after speaking with Michael on the phone, I discovered he is also a writer and Spiritual Life Coach. He tells me briefly how he was able to gather his profound insights in his field of Spiritual Nutrition and distill it in a way that is easier to understand, the fictional parable. A beautiful book called Sweet Healing.
The keywords “Healing” and “Nutrition” and “Spiritual” are like ringing bells, themes of my own personal journey as I progress further into the thrilling realm of expansive and sustainable personal growth. How can we connect the dots to health, longevity, and happiness in our own lives? What does it take to understand that within us all lies infinite potential?
Finding communities and programs that offer education and facilitation for spiritual healing is one thing. But to have a real conversation with an expert in the field, to get a glimpse into their perception of reality and the tools (values/beliefs/attitudes) they use to navigate their own life, to have another living proof example of someone who is living their purpose…YES. YES. And then some more YES!
Let’s just say that I am extremely grateful for those who have done their work and found a way to guide others out from dark and into light. Before even meeting Michael, I had a deep intuitive feeling that he is definitely one of those people. And as I was exchanging this deep warm “it is so nice to meet you” hug, I felt instantly grounded by his presence and attention.
Before we start the interview, Michael hands me his book. Within flipping through the first few pages of Sweet Healing, I read off the Dedicated page:
"To every person who has love enough to heal him- or herself. It is you who root this book in reality and inspire this writing.”
Big loud sigh. I know this is going to be good.
September 15 @ Starbucks in SoMa, SF
T: So let’s get started. What are your 5 values? What are the 5 words you feel at peace with, where you feel whole and complete and natural. What are the 5 qualities you feel is your Truth as you see it in your Life? What are the 5 words you embody in this world and within the reality you live in?
M: Okay. Some of my 5 words would be…
Grounded – Experiencing that I am “in” and supported by every inch of my body and the earth is central to me, at the point in life I am at right now
Feeling - To really feel where I am energetically and emotionally
Space - To have the space where everything I yearn for and want, I can receive in a space that is ready to be receptive to the whole of what I want.
Truth - Coming out of feeling is knowing truth and making from that a commitment to integrity in my life.
Serving - Offering the reality of “me” as a regular practice. Being present is a service in itself, on top which other differentiated forms of service can be built. We know when someone is truly present with us. When I started the project eight years ago, that became expressed in my book and in other ways today, I declared its purpose to be: offer a narrative from a place of presence that is inspiring, enriching, and supportive of other people’s (as well as my own in the process) authentic fulfillment and healing.
And when I say healing, I mean very practically, from chronic preventable conditions that hundreds of millions of people face, as well as healing psychospiritually. This is an example of those “differentiated forms of service” that can be built on top of being present.
I’ve seen the imperative of this for 14 years of my career. I wrote a narrative that helps people who are lost in their dark to move in the dark and find the Truth they bring into their world. A narrative to me means a story with an entertainment component, and the passion for me is the potential of authoring a narrative that, if you were the reader, you would see yourself in the narrative so much that you would open the “script” that is your own life, with your own pencil and eraser ready to write the life that you desire. I wrote Sweet Healing to be that attractive, and that engaging. Who are the characters? A reflection of who you are and I am. 13 characters centered around a love relationship of Gene and Hope.
T: Wow. I noticed that there’s a common theme to all of the values you’ve given me. And also what I’ve realized from doing this more and more, a special reason as to why and how people come up with the order of the values they name. I’m interested in exploring this further.
How did you establish these 5? And at what point did you do this within your career? Is this what you had instilled within you prior to writing your book, or during the research, or even after?
M: Well…they came spontaneously in the instant. Right now. (hahah)
In response to your question, which is a great leading question…
I do feel that in reverse order, I came to Service first. Out of a certain amount of what I realized later was an attachment to please other people. So, I put service 5th now as you asked me because I realized it was draining and inauthentic until I got Grounded and Felt myself.
The urge to be of Service is powerful. Sometimes people can be of inauthentic service. We can also mistake service for an attachment to pleasing. So when I started with Grounding, Feeling, Space and Truth, it is me being clear to what authentic service looks like. And that’s where presence comes in.
So in my process of being in creation of this book, it has opened me up to evolve a lot of these qualities. In terms of the timeline, my whole research and preparation for this book was to understand what qualities of people are most conducive to their healing from our chronic epidemic of heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, diabetes, dementia, and the mental attitude qualities that tend to either bring fulfilling health closer or push one further out of balance and homeostasis.
I don’t have diabetes, but nearly 80 million Americans have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. From 2007, I was interested in understanding the qualities most conducive to a person regaining balance and health. My Master’s thesis was on the qualities within people that lead to the most fulfilling health outcomes, and those consistently were people who had a sense of agency and who had emotional vulnerability. Those 2 went together.
T: And does that apply for you as well?
M: Yes, they are both coming from a place that acknowledges the dead and the numb part of ourselves, for acknowledging the numbness and deadness serves as the fulcrum for appreciating, loving, and giving attention to our life.
Emotional vulnerability goes into where we feel numb, stuck, helpless, scared, despairing. Even numbness is a sensation, neurologically, When we start realizing that, we can go from numbness to more sensations of what’s actually there. Whether that’s shame, disappointment, frustration, you can say “I feel that now” and then there is an opening and a becoming. It’s in the feeling. We don’t have to leave the sensation – after all, we are sentient – and we can use Agency now to own our power to heal and our power to love.
T: That’s very powerful what you discovered. For me, I find that emotional vulnerability, self awareness, and human connection are these themes I see occurring in my journey where I have full agency to own my power to heal and love. This applies wherever I am in the world. I feel that now.
To put these insights into a fictional story is super interesting. Can you tell us a bit more about your book?
M: It’s a narrative fiction based entirely on 200 individuals and families, some clients I’ve worked with and some I’d never met, who offered their self-insight, and the qualities I saw in them when they reach their goal.
T: What is your own personal experience with facilitating healing?
M: I’m now the co-director of the East Bay Healing Collective, and have been holding facilitated health coaching groups in about 60 cities on tour with my book, Sweet Healing. My degree is called Masters in Spiritual Nutrition, which means not only the nutrition we take into our bodies, but who we are when we come to our nutrition, our food, our air, our light, our water, our relationships. Those are all forms of nutrition. Plus an essence of who we are, Love, is a nutrient.
Nutrition is what we take in, and Spiritual Nutrition is who we are when we meet our food, life, breath—who we are when we nourish ourselves, when we integrate and assimilate all this nourishment?
T: When did you get into this?
M: I’ve been into it since 2002, when I realized, through my disconnection pattern which had grown large, a bit of conscious causality in the narrative I was believing was me. I started the master’s program in 2007, and graduated in 2012. It involved academic study as well as experiential coaching practicum and a unique thesis. The thesis I did was on a survey of 200 people, what qualities of their personality and attitude and beliefs were most conducive to the fulfillment of their health and desires, and of course for control the survey also included people who were not fulfilled in their health and desires.
And that’s where agency and emotional vulnerability came up as the top 2.
T: So you took these two pivotal personality attributes and attitude factors and you relay them into this book.
How long did it take for you to write it?
M: So after 4 years of thesis, I took another 3-4 years to finish the book as a fiction book.
I wasn’t even going to do fiction. I just had my thesis. My colleague Mike Chait advised me “You have a documentary. You coached so many people. Write a parable and your message can reach so many more people.”
He was good friends with the guy who wrote the One Minute Manager that is a short parable about leadership.
Many more people read stories and narratives, parables. The Bible is parable. All these great teachings--The Odyssey and Iliad, the Bhagavad Gita, the Alchemist, Don Juan novels, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, The Celestine Prophecy, Ecotopia, The Ringing Cedars, Illusions, Balance Point, and more. All of these are presented as parables.
There’s never been a parable about holistic healing before, grounded love based healing, of preventable chronic conditions that are literally “composting” gargantuan numbers of people in our civilization, to quote a mentor, Dr. Cousens. So I wrote it within the next 3-3.5 years while at the same time seeing clients for their nutrition and spiritual nutrition.
T: I find it fascinating that you are able to represent your values and insights through so many different mediums and channels. Facilitating clients one on one, documentary, and through a book. That’s very inspiring! I have a lot of respect for that.
So I have one burning question. What were the challenges you faced when you were on this journey of transmitting your message?
M: The feeling that I was a false façade came up. “Who am I to do this” came up a lot.
And so that’s a sense of impending collapse and that’s where Space and Grounding came for me. To feel myself and get a bit more and more real. To notice posturing versus actual feeling my lower body and feet. I “Googled” myself, as the members of a panel I was on recently said, I searched and queried myself. Presence and inquiry. What do I feel from my sex centers, from deep in my abdominal core, my heart, my ego, my identity?
I have a desire for reclaiming all of these things. I connect and enter into the world with a film, a book, a coaching practice. And there were times, I entered a world without solidly knowing, “With the exposure I am getting, do I have a robust and integrated space to receive, digest, and recycle this attention and stay authentic?” At first exposure made me want to collapse, for a substantial phase of time. Then I started to own exactly that experience of life. Feeling, owning, grounding, and I began to have space. This is very practical.
So there’s less collapse and more “hereness” and more “wow” of experiencing being human.
And the reason I put Space in the middle of my values is because I have all that stuff. I have all the fear and the doubt, but I learn and remember to be a Space to experience it. I don’t know if I got a solution to anything, but I grew a space to feel it more humanly.
T: A space to feel it. To recognize it.
M: And to value it. The fear of collapsing is, well, an experience. There’s nowhere to go from it. I love the idea I learned from a Buddhist teacher, Erwan Davon, in San Francisco, “one awakens in a ring of fire.”
T: I love that you can acknowledge that. Just simply by being present to it. It doesn’t have to define you. It’s fleeting and its human. That’s a beautiful lesson.
Okay, so let’s talk about Sweet Healing.
M: I always held Sweet Healing as being an intergenerational parable narrative that has four generations, from eldest to youngest, each with an experience of the stage of life they are in. One individual—one link within those interlocking generations—experiences a breakdown into type 2 diabetes, and affects ripple across all his connections and bring him meaning.
Developing type 2 diabetes takes people’s lives and quality of life, yet it’s important to me not to judge the individual whose life it takes, shortens, or reduces the capabilities of through resulting in their being dependent on pharmaceutical drugs in their life. (For context, there are 400 million people with type 2 diabetes. 80 million US people have pre diabetes or type 2 diabetes.) No judgment. That’s a path that some people are valid in choosing or accepting.
What I have seen in my retreat center experience, my coaching experience, my facilitating and documentary making experience was that there is another way of being that I learned to own. I nourish the power of loving enough to heal, as Dr. Gabriel Cousens said. I’ve seen, and I’m not a doctor, but I’ve seen as a facilitator, hundreds of people become whole, at home, and in integrity with their body, returning to a healthy physiology off drugs, extend their lives back through the 11 years which is what diabetics lose on average, and restore most importantly their access to their power in life, their quality of life, their purpose in life, and their relationships in life. That’s what comes back. Not just the 11 years that comes back, but the quality, purpose, and relationships. Epic is the word for that journey.
And Sweet Healing gives that journey an engaging, enjoyable story—if you can stand the suspense of the adventure in the book!—of using natural modalities. I have adopted seven sacred and proven natural self-love and self-care practices into the story, and placed a diagram of their well-rounded use in restoring life and vigor on the last page of the novel. The story navigates quality, purpose, and relationships as the characters face healing crisis, challenge, rediscovery, and revolutionary change through living the seven practices. The element of mystery abounds as Gene, Hope, and the interrelated characters come upon an unexplained box with indentations, and as they evolve they unearth seven stones from the ground which enable them to have revelations as to what they mean and powerfully use them as practices.
So, at first they find the Space (box) and they inquire, “what is this Space.” As they live with more desire for wellbeing, one at a time the seven stones “jump” up from the Earth (Grounding), each carrying a message of a sacred, time-honored, and readily useful healing practice. Each stone gives a basic healing practice, 1-5 words on each stone: food for your life force, service to others, exercise in mind and body, radiant joy, natural holistic hygiene, energetics, and a quiet mind. These are proven in my practice and my retreat experience to give us balance and health again and sustain that for a long time. Many know these intellectually, but don’t “hack their narrative” to make it so in life—that is where the narrative Sweet Healing comes in. The character’s deal with belief, presence, and emotions to start to open up their narrative, and where it’s leading them. At first the despair, fear and loss that is commonly felt at the beginning of a diagnosis; then they find ways to pull out the expertise that they already possess, and apply it to loving themselves and healing themselves.
Take Hope and Gene, two of the central characters that are in partnership with each other. Hope understands the system of ecology. Hope is a wild life biologist and she understands ecology. Gene is an electrician; he understands the circuits of electrical energy. We are all masterful in something.
There’s the art I love to unfold in authoring narrative, the art of people finding their own talent—you finding your own talent—and how to apply that to love yourself and heal yourself. Gene evolved and saw himself now as the circuitry worthy of inquiry, and Hope began to see herself as the biological ecosystem deserving of her observation. Patrick in the book is a security professional who creates safe spaces and safe events. He realizes that holding a safe space for his own wellness and happiness, a safe space for his children to thrive, is his passion that he can apply with his own security expertise. We’re all expert in something which gives us power, and revealing that is a passion in my narrative art.
So whatever we are expert in, there is an art to make it nourishing for the life force and the human.
T: Sounds like quite a transformation.
M: And that’s called Sweet Healing.
Sometimes we get into addictions to things that don’t serve us, but when we find the sweetness within, we can actually evolve from that to the next stage of our desire.
Because diabetes mellitus, the official name from the Latin word mellitus, has the meaning “sweet” in it. Something within our zest for sweetness, we get from artificial sources and we can devolve into chronic disease and preventable type 2 diabetes because of that. But with the sweetness of the being, Grounded and Feeling, that’s why I call it Sweet Healing.
I used to cry myself into sleep, because I thought of people I had worked with getting their longevity back, getting to live long enough to see their grandchildren grow up, I wept at the sweetness of it all. So I named my book, Sweet Healing.
There will be sequels. Book 2 I think might be Sweet Love, or Sweet Longevity, and Book 3 Sweet Life, Sweet Liberty, or the Secret of the 7 Sacred Stones. I am involved in fundraising to bring Sweet Healing to the screen, too.
T: How long has Book 1 been published?
M: It came out last Christmas, well last November. I mentioned there were four generations. The sequel is going to be more about a young generation witnessing and growing up from realizations they saw in their parents, and how communication plays an absolutely crucial role with the children and grandchildren of Gene and Hope. We transmit healing ways. I am exploring what life looks like when you learn from a young age that can create your life narrative with a thread of health woven into it. What impression is communicated to children and youth when they see the powerful example of others healing before them, and what other form of communication is still very necessary?
By the way, you might notice the names Gene and Hope. If you read meaning into it, that’s perfect. Look into epigenetics, the way our genes respond to our being, our feelings, our choices, our nourishment.
T: Did you have prior writing experience before this?
M: Film scripts and essays. I wrote for some magazines and I did some screenwriting. I had several writing jobs at my university, and also held a Communications Supervisor position at the institute, so I did a lot of Communications writing.
T: Thank you! The reason why I ask that question is also for the people who are doubtful they are on the right track (ha, me included) to tune in. I find it awesome through hearing your story that there’s a reason why we do the things we do. Whatever you do, whatever you’re passionate about, there’s a reason why we are here- to claim agency and fully explore our unique talents.
Think about it. All of your experiences have led you to this point. Where you have the skill, confidence, message, platform to distill, break down, involve, digest everything you learned into your fulfilling legacy. Into your creation. Into this book. This is awesome. (High five!) Sweet stuff. Thanks for inspiring me man.
M: Thank you! It’s interesting that you say that. Some of my mentors in the health field as they got older into their 70s, having started emphasizing science, they realize that healing evolves the whole human being. They realize that what they were doing was a healing art, and I took that in my own way, the art of healing story craft. I’ve learned that throughout the Renaissance, poets and dramatists were considered healers.
T: That’s powerful. Have you realized that writing this book was also a healing process for you?
M: Yes, definitely. Absolutely. So many times. My emotional purges, when I read back into my writing, I saw myself in my characters. My family origin. I saw my relationships. Past and present in my character. And it’s a catharsis.
I’ve journaled since 2001. Ever since 9/11. I got to dig into my innate knowing as well as the age of widespread information, what was happening in humanity? I went through my phases of my own despair, my own blaming, my own victimology, my own angriness and bitterness. My own dividing-against.
As I journaled and as I worked in the healing field and a spiritual space of being, I knew the force of heal lives within and between us. I hope I created a semi permeable layer between my own journaling and what I give as a legacy into the world.
T: I’m very grateful for all of the truth you’ve shared with me today. Is there anything you’d like to share in terms of your experience as a human being, author, spiritual practitioner? What else you’d like to impart in your realm of understanding the world and how you live it?
M: Every pursuit that turns you on will probably involve a confront. Remember that you belong. Even if its just to yourself. You have a birthright. You self-evidently exist to be you and to be a conscious cause in your narrative.
We leave and say our goodbyes with another longer lasting hug and warm embrace. While the first one felt super grounding, this goodbye felt charged with excitement and replenished energy. Fully felt. Simply said, I was inspired.
Thank you Michael. For helping bring forth the calling to heal from within, inspiring us all on how to create and structure an enduring vibrant life. Thank you for inspiring the Creator within us all. Through your voice. Your beautiful living example. Through your stories. Through your book.
That’s what we’re here for right? To cultivate our own radiant joy and bring out the best in ourselves and each other.
You can find Michael’s book on Amazon .
Michael Bedar, MA is an AADP member and certified spiritual nutrition counselor and has been co-director of the East Bay Healing Collective since 2002. He investigates natural healing, provides wellness support through groups, consulting, teaching, and film, and speaks at universities, schools, hospitals, wellness centers, and conferences.
It’s interesting as I now reflect on some parallels between our journey and our approach to discovery. By doing the thing we are passionate about exploring, we are healing in the process.
reMINDme Values started as a self healing project for me to step away from my Ego and to anchor who I presently am while reminding myself who I aspire to be. It’s evolved into so much more once I got it clear in my head that emotional vulnerability and a sense of agency was everything I needed to get my own Purpose flowing. Allowing others to participate in sharing their own beautiful stories is not only healing me in this process, but is also intended to further expand our collective consciousness.
Wherever you are in your own personal journey, know that you aren't alone.
Thank you for reading with me and participating in this journey.
Nourishing Food for Thought:
What skills, unique talent, message, medium, value, personality attribute do YOU have to manifest your Purpose?
What are the qualities in a human that lead to the most fulfilling health outcomes?
What does it mean to be emotionally vulnerable and have a sense of agency? What does that look like for you?
Show Off Your Organization's Values
I regularly do Q&A sessions with organizations that are committed to mindful values. You can be a brand, a company, a non profit, or even a passionate individual doing cool things. The most important thing is that you're committed to your values. Sharing how your values align with your mission and expressing your intention in such an open and raw way has the ability to inspire others to do the same.
“If a value-driven organization or person can successfully drive impact and influence hundreds of people within their community, what is preventing you from coming up with your own 5 and being the change you want to see in the world?” — Tiff Lin, Founder
If you'd like to be featured on the blog, please get in touch and email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Q&A