18 October 2021

Six lockdowns, a world record 263 days; who in Melbourne is not ready for our latest and hopefully last lockdown to end this Friday? But I hear of widespread apprehension as people everywhere emerge from their own lockdowns and engage with a post-pandemic society. 

So this week, a different perspective. 

Six tips from a spiritual viewpoint on how to make the most of this brave new world, but first

Thought for the day

To our human meaning and purpose. 

As history unfolded and civilizations and cultures developed 

So did different religions, 

Each one of them giving birth 

To unique insights and perceptions about this silent mystery. 

And common to all these Traditions 

Is the existence of a practice of silence 

That takes us beyond words, 

That takes us from the mind to the heart,

To the way of pure attention and the way of pure being, 

Meditation. 

Laurence Freeman - Benedictine monk

Lockdown seems to have worn many people down. Or is that most? The cost has been great – financial, emotional, mental; it may well have challenged many people’s spiritual views and values. 

Yet emerging into the post-pandemic world carries its own challenges - there is still plenty of virus around. 

Coming to grips with who is vaccinated and who is not and how that affects family, friends, business, sport, leisure and entertainment; not to mention gaining access to a vaccination certificate if your IT skills are limited! 

So much uncertainty about the future – even more than normal and heavily compounded by the over-arching environmental clouds.

So what will be helpful. What do the wisdom traditions have to offer in times like these? 

Spirituality is of course different to religiosity. Spirituality is to do with everyone’s inner journey. That process of turning our attention from the outer, material world of “doing”, to the inner realm of meaning, purpose, values and “being”.

Here then are 6 tips from a fresh perspective; the spiritual perspective – based upon what are called in Buddhism the 6 paramitas. Now again, to be clear, these suggestions do come from a particular tradition, but they come free of dogma and could be well described as the fruit of mind science; form when people study the mind and find whatever anyone from ant tradition could find, verify and use to good effect in their life.

Paramita translates as 'transcendent perfection'. The 6 paramitas are actions we are encouraged to develop and take into daily life in a non-egocentric or self-less manner. While they are key practices Buddhists train in on the path to enlightenment, transcendent also means more simply - transcending the ego-based self. For this reason, these techniques and principles can be used by anyone of any or now particular faith.

Here they are, the 6 paramitas with their Sanskrit translations, 

a simple descriptor and a brief guide…

As the great Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trungpa said 'Transcendental' does not refer to some external reality, but rather to the way in which we conduct our lives and perceive the world—either in an egocentric or a non-egocentric way. The six paramitas are concerned with the effort to step out of the egocentric mentality.”

So how does this translate into a post-pandemic world and the process of emerging and re-engaging?

1. Generosity (dāna) : to cultivate the attitude of generosity

Easy enough in theory, but the challenge? It starts with your self. Be generous with your self, then it is easier with others. Give yourself time and space. Recognise any fears you may have. Deliberate. Consider what you need amidst these challenging times; what will help you? Do it! Who supports you? Seek them out. How to protect yourself without becoming paranoid? How best to practice self care? Make a plan; be clear on where you will go and what you will do.

Then be generous towards others. Remember what we have all been through – tough times… People may not be at the best as they merge. 

Giving your time to others, even more, giving your attention to others is a gift indeed. And sharing a meal works well too!

2. Discipline – sometimes described as morality (śīla) : refraining from harm

A bogey for some. But here is the point; real discipline is not imposed, it comes from personal kindness. Generosity quite naturally leads on to transcendent discipline. With generosity building, you become gentler with yourself, and in the process become more self-less. That is real Self care. 

And with that, it not only becomes easier to do those things that are good for you; you become increasingly averse to harming others. This sort of discipline develops consistency in avoiding harm and in generating good actions.

3. Patience (kṣānti) : the ability not to be perturbed by anything

Out of discipline comes stability; the powerful emotions like anger, greed and jealousy begin to diminish. There is less reactivity, a growing sense of self control that is increasingly effortless. While a sense of gentle personal inner strength begins to manifest, there is also a reduction in aggression and defensiveness; an open-ness that feels comfortable and fulfilling.

4. Diligence – sometimes described as vigor (vīrya) : to find joy in what is virtuous, positive or wholesome

Maybe the secret here is a growing sense of gratitude. As the previous 3 paramitas begin to take shape in one’s life, there is now an increasing sense of gratitude which coincides with a genuine joy in this very life. With joy, applying one’s self comes naturally; we find it increasingly attractive – and easy - to do what works and feels good in our lives. What a delight!

5. Meditative concentration (dhyāna) : not to be distracted

As life progresses, meditation becomes more compelling. Meditation is at the heart of the inner journey, the reliable pathway to real self-discovery. And yes meditation is more than just practicing formally. As we progress, it rapidly informs how we live; indeed, it becomes our way of living.

6. Wisdom (prajñā) : the perfect discrimination of all phenomena

As we meditate consistently, inevitably we come to know our selves better, and we come to know the truth of the world and people around about us. We move from the intellect to wisdom and this wisdom, knows what to do and when to do it. As we develop the 6 paramitas and they actually begin to blossom in our lives, this wisdom guides us with clarity and confidence. 


Now, we have spoken here of the 6 paramitas, 

but it is said many rivers flow into the one ocean. 


The ocean here is the ocean of wisdom, 

transcendental wisdom and many traditions lead into it. 



May a simple knowledge of these 6 paramitas be of some use in the ongoing journey as we emerge from lockdown and re-engage with our families, friends, colleagues, and our wider communities…

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04 October 2021

Mobile phones, 5G, radiation damage and cancer risk – an update for this, the 400th post

How often are you using your mobile phone, the time slips by and then you feel the warmth around your ear? “Oh my God! Am I giving myself cancer?” Ever worried? Well, to mark this 400th post, let us go Out on a Limb once more and examine the latest evidence; who that evidence comes from, how credible it is, and what is the most likely truth in this controversial matter, but first


    Thought for the day

       Both the Observer and the Observed 

       Are merging aspects of one whole reality 

       Which is invisible and unanalysable.


                 David Bohm – theoretical physicist


Mobile phones...

Biggest health risk? Almost certainly driving while using one. Biggest health benefit? Almost certainly providing reliable communication in emergencies and therefore saving many lives. 

But what of cancer? 

Do mobile phones increase our risk of developing brain cancers in particular?

Sadly, the answer depends upon who you ask. 

I say sadly because we commonly turn to science for evidence, and yet, that evidence we know is skewed depending upon who pays for the research – particularly when multi-billion industries are involved. 


Drug studies sponsored by Big Pharma have about 4x the odds of a positive conclusion compared to independent researchers. Yet this is a modest bias when compared to studies on the health effects of second-hand smoke; studies funded by the tobacco industry have 88x the odds of reaching a “not harmful” conclusion!

So what about mobile phone research? Most independently funded studies show an effect while most of the industry-funded studies do not. The bias? Not toooo bad – industry-funded studies have about 10x fewer odds of finding an adverse effect from cell phone use. 

How then does this show up in what you might read? Here are some examples 

From the USA FDA 

To date, there is no consistent or credible scientific evidence of health problems caused by the exposure to radio frequency energy emitted by cell phones 

And this from Cancer Council WA – under the heading of Cancer Myth 

Mobile phones are in widespread use and so it is important to continue to investigate and monitor any potential public health impact. Although there remains some uncertainty, current scientific evidence indicates that a link between typical mobile phone use or mobile base stations and cancer is unlikely. There is inconsistent evidence to suggest that very heavy users of mobile phones may have a slightly increased risk of cancer.

What are we dealing with here? 

In a major article published in 2020, concerned scientists had this to say

An important factor may be the influence on politicians by individuals and organizations with inborn conflicts of interests (COIs) and their own agenda in supporting the no-risk paradigm. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has repeatedly ignored scientific evidence on adverse effects of RF radiation to humans and the environment. Their guidelines for exposure are based solely on the thermal (heating) paradigm. The large amount of peer-reviewed science on non-thermal effects has been ignored in all ICNIRP evaluations. Additionally, ICNIRP has successfully maintained their obsolete guidelines worldwide.

Hardell L, Carlberg M. Health risks from radiofrequency radiation, including 5G, should be assessed by experts with no conflicts of interest. Oncol Lett. 2020;20(4):15. doi:10.3892/ol.2020.11876

What about 5G?
 The same authors continue…

The fifth generation, 5G, of radiofrequency (RF) radiation is about to be implemented globally without investigating the risks to human health and the environment. This has created debate among concerned individuals in numerous countries. 

In an appeal to the European Union (EU) in September 2017, currently endorsed by >390 scientists and medical doctors, a moratorium on 5G deployment was requested until proper scientific evaluation of potential negative consequences has been conducted. This request has not been acknowledged by the EU. 

The evaluation of RF radiation health risks from 5G technology is ignored in a report by a government expert group in Switzerland and a recent publication from The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. 

Conflicts of interest and ties to the industry seem to have contributed to the biased reports. The lack of proper unbiased risk evaluation of the 5G technology places populations at risk. Furthermore, there seems to be a cartel of individuals monopolizing evaluation committees, thus reinforcing the no-risk paradigm. 

We believe that this activity should qualify as scientific misconduct.

So in whom may we trust?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization. It is recognised as the authority when deciding what is and is not carcinogenic. The IARC identifies 5 categories: Group 1 carcinogens are agents that we know with the highest level of certainty do cause cancer in human beings, Group 2A probably cause cancer, Group 2B possibly cause cancer, Group 3 : not sure, and Group 4 probably do not cause cancer.

In 2011 the IARC evaluated cancer risks from radiofrequency (RF) radiation. Human epidemiological studies gave evidence of increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma. 

RF radiation was classified as Group 2B, a possible human carcinogen. 

Further epidemiological, animal and mechanistic studies have strengthened the association. 

Why no action – or at least cautions?

In spite of the findings, in most countries little or nothing has been done to reduce exposure and educate people on health hazards from RF radiation. On the contrary, ambient levels have increased. In 2014 the WHO launched a draft of a Monograph on RF fields and health for public comments. 

It turned out that five of the six members of the Core Group in charge of the draft are affiliated with International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), an industry loyal NGO, and thus have a serious conflict of interest. Just as by ICNIRP, evaluation of non-thermal biological effects from RF radiation are dismissed as scientific evidence of adverse health effects in the Monograph. 

This has provoked many comments sent to the WHO. However, at a meeting in 2017 it was stated that the WHO has no intention to change the Core Group.

Hardell L. World Health Organization, radiofrequency radiation and health - a hard nut to crack (Review). Int J Oncol. 2017;51(2):405-413. doi:10.3892/ijo.2017.4046

Recent research – there have been many papers published!

As examples, this 2017 systematic review reported a 33% increase in brain tumours with long-term use.

Prasad M et al. Mobile phone use and risk of brain tumours: a systematic review of association between study quality, source of funding, and research outcomes. Neurol Sci. 2017 May;38(5):797-810. 

This study, also from 2017 demonstrated 46% higher odds for tumours on the phone side of the head. Significantly, both these reviews included the industry-funded studies that have been accused of bias and underestimating the risk, however, in fairness they do note the available data they used to reach their conclusions is still rather flimsy. 

Yang M et al, Mobile phone use and glioma risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017 May 4;12(5):e0175136. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175136. 

Despite – or because of this, some scientists are pushing hard to have the IARC reclassify cell phones as probable carcinogens or even elevate them all the way up into Group 1, at least for brain cancer and acoustic neuroma. 

As individuals, what to do?

There is no doubt mobiles have many obvious benefits and risks. Their effect on our relationships and way of doing business is enormous, and again, some effects we could call good, some bad.

In context, my clear sense is the cancer risks are real but quite small. Take the risk of developing brain cancer… Current statistics suggest there is a 1 in 161 (or 0.62%) risk of being diagnosed with brain cancer by the age of 85. Even if mobile phones were to double your risk to 1 in 80, that is still quite small. Way less than the risk associated with using a mobile while driving. Researchers at Monash University’s Accident Research Centre say driver distraction causes about 16% of fatal crashes, with only 7% of those distractions being mobiles (a statistic I find surprisingly low).

Still, it does make sense to minimise cancer risk wherever possible and there are things we can do

 1. Provide distance

Radiation intensity drops off exponentially with distance, so the further the phone is from your head the better. 

This is considered particularly important for children. 

Use a speaker phone (this is what I do whenever possible) or a hands free set (including Bluetooth). It is said this reduces any risks by around 100 fold.

2. Be patient

Fun fact – the few moments when your phone first connects to a new call, is when the emissions are high. So wait for a moment when taking a call before placing the phone near your head.

What about texting?

There is no evidence of finger cancer, so no obvious problem.

What about “protection devices”?


Most have been shown not only to be useless but to partially block the signals and so cause the phone to boost its emission. Better avoided.

What about Public Health messaging and business risks for employers?

Will requiring employees to use mobile phones ever have the same legal issues as requiring employees to work amidst passive tobacco smoke? Good question! 

This is discussed in the risk analysis literature. “From a public health perspective, it might be reasonable to provide cell phone users with voluntary precautionary recommendations for their mobile phone handling in order to enable them to make informed decisions”. But they say there is still “scientific uncertainty” and we need caution not to “foster inappropriate fears.” 

In the current situation, whether health authorities chose to inform the public about precautionary possibilities seems like more of a political decision than one based upon science. 

And personally, if I was an employer requiring staff to use mobile phones frequently, I would be concerned.

Summary


Use your mobile when necessary. 

Question yourself regularly – is it necessary? 

Keep the phone as far from your head as practical. 

Do not use the mobile while driving. Or eating. Or while talking face to face with anyone you value.

Enjoy…


20 September 2021

In praise of mentors – and a tribute to a footballing legend

There are many things to adapt to as one becomes older. Speaking personally, one surprise has been the size of the hole left by outliving significant elders. However, with the losses has come an even greater appreciation for the genuine mentors who have blessed, informed and enriched my life in so many ways. 

With my AFL football team - Melbourne - a real prospect to win its first Grand Final in 57 years, it feels appropriate to share something of the remarkable life of a Club legend who was a mentor, and to enthuse about seeking out and maintaining relationships with mentors if you do not have them already, but first

     Thought for the Day


The Buddha is not going to project you to Buddhahood, 

As if throwing a stone. 

He is not going to purify you, 

As if washing a dirty cloth, 

Nor is he going to cure you of ignorance, 

Like a doctor administering medicine to a passive patient. 

Having attained full enlightenment himself, 

He is showing you the path, 

And it is up to you to follow it or not. 

It is up to you now 

To practice these teachings 

And experience their results.

                Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche


Close friend of my father, Godfather to my elder sister, father of 2 sons I attended school with and one daughter, local doctor in outer Melbourne at the one family practice for life, footballer, incredibly decent human being and powerful influence in my own life for good – Dr Donald Cordner. 

Our families grew up together and we visited regularly. But imagine this – it speaks to the modesty of the man – not until around the age of 30 did I come to know Donald had won a Brownlow Medal in 1946 (best and fairest in the competition) and that he served on the Melbourne Football Club’s Board and as President of the Melbourne Cricket Club. He never spoke of his considerable accomplishments.

Also, for those who watched the pageant and tasteful ceremony of this year's Brownlow presentation as a major event on television, consider this. In 1946, Donald was advised by mail he had won the Brownlow. He was summoned to a Board meeting at VFL House (it was V for Victoria in those days not Australian FL) where he waited half an hour on his own in an ante room. The Chair then said "Player Cordner, you have been awarded this year's Brownlow Medal", handed over the medal, shook his hand and sent him on his way. No media, no fuss; that was it!

As a teenager whose mother had died at 12, Donald was a point of reference. Whenever we visited, whenever we met, he greeted me with warm-hearted affection and importantly, with interest. He always took time to enquire what was happening in my life and was full of encouragement for whatever interested me. He was always asking challenging, sometimes provocative questions; stimulating analysis and reflection. One of his habits was to throw puzzles at his children and their visitors; he was fun as well as comforting. 

Along with his equally remarkable wife, Moyle (from whose presence I also derived great benefit) Donald provided a real model of what a long-term successful marriage could look like.

When my cancer appeared in 1975, my father was living overseas. It was Donald who came to the Hospital and helped arrange the best care and steer me through the difficult choices that led to my leg being amputated. Again, his inner strength and calm was steadying.

As the years went on and my work shifted from the veterinary world towards that of medicine, Donald was happy to discuss issues and provide insight. From time to time we would meet at the MCG, discuss the footy, usually lament the parlous state of Melbourne’s performances, touch on the news of the day, the progress in my life and work. Those meetings were always like a tonic.


Sadly, Donald died in 2009 aged 87.

With Melbourne playing in the 2021 Grand Final, 

Donald would be thrilled. 

I think of him and feel so fortunate to have had this man in my life.


The message? 


Mentors play a key role in life. Elders are important and warrant close relationships, but mentors go to the next level. Some mentors drop into your lap, some you need to seek out. Either way, whether young or older, make the effort; actively build a relationship with one or preferably more mentors. And as you advance in age, experience and wisdom, consider who you might be able to mentor. Pay it forward…


       And of course 


            - Melbourne for premiers!!!





06 September 2021

COVID, antivaxxers and tolerance – breaking the silence

This is a blog about tolerance and what sort of society we all want to live in. No doubt we all want peace and harmony, but is that because we want everyone to agree with us and be like us? Or because we encourage diversity and make an effort to understand, tolerate and even welcome it?

Currently, medical and media opinions are vehemently pro-vaccination. In my opinion they have good grounds for this stance, yet I am disturbed by how many seem intent on ridiculing and shaming those opposed – the antivaxxers, even those slow on the uptake. This tends to polarise people, create entrenched defensive/aggressive positions, take people to extremes and create what is now close to a taboo around even discussing the topic. 

The last blog on vaccinations stirred a good deal of response, including an old friend who shared their own diary-like writings aimed at helping clarify their decision not to be vaccinated at this point in time.

Choosing not to be vaccinated for COVID seems somewhat perilous. No doubt there are many reasons people chose not to be vaccinated, yet currently it seems very difficult to have a measured conversation about why. Tolerance may be in short supply.

Clearly the conclusions this friend has come to are not the same as mine, however, they are well thought out, clearly expressed, may surprise you, and warrant consideration and understanding. 

So how do you respond to someone who has a strongly opposed view to your own? Who is different to you? Is there any curiosity to attempt to understand them? Their point of view? Or is there a rapid and emotion move towards derision? Do you consider yourself to be tolerant, but then feel free to be hard on anti-vaxxers and those who support Trump – as examples of exceptions we all might hold to…

In the interest of being open and of breaking any potential silence or taboo; in the interest of challenging tolerance and commitments to understanding, here are my friend’s reflections, but first



   Thought for the day

 Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between 

 The discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions 

 And the discomfort of being ruled by them.

                             Mingyur Rinpoche





Reflections from a friend   who asked to remain anonymous - a further indication of the difficulty expressing these views publicly…

In January this year I reviewed my position re COVID vaccinations and came to the position that I would not get vaccinated but that I would leave the door open and see how the situation unfolds. Time has moved on and a new situation presents itself. I feel it time to review my position.

What is new? We now have ready availability of vaccines and subsequent pressure from the government and media for people to get vaccinated.

Also, potentially severe restrictions are emerging for non-vaccinated people. 

This includes likely expected pressure and victimisation of non-vaccinated people from the wider public. 

My expectation is that life will become very difficult and restricted for non-vaccinated people.

How does this influence my position re COVID vaccination? 

On the one hand it would be so easy to just give in, make an appointment and have this vaccination over and done with and life could continue as usual – fairly straightforward. In addition to that I could do a bit more specific healing meditation around the actual vaccination event and the impact on the body, as a friend of mine suggests and ‘end-of-story’. Let life go on without avoidable government pressure/punishment and potentially ugly peer pressure and the fear surrounding all of that. 

So what is holding me back from this fairly straightforward process?

There is a strong inner voice active in me telling me to not accept this vaccination for myself. 

The inner voice is based on the following points:

1. I have reservations about the lack of a spiritual awareness in mainstream science and in medicine particularly. The human body is commonly regarded as a ‘complicated machine’ devoid of a spiritual dimension. In my worldview there are 2 vital dimensions - spirit and matter. For me, very clearly spirit is primary and matter secondary. 

From that perspective I evaluate very carefully what allopathic/mainstream medicine offerings are acceptable to me or not. In case of COVID vaccination; that is not acceptable to me at this point in time.

2. I am very particular about what I accept going into my body or being done to my body in the form of drugs, vaccines, medical treatments and foods. There is a particular emphasis for me to avoid genetically engineered/manipulated DNA substances wherever possible.

3. I maintain a healthy immune system through a very healthy lifestyle and I trust my immune system to be able to handle viruses.

4. I am not afraid of death. I accept my destiny. If I get COVID or other viruses I will do my best to recover from it. However, if it is my destiny to die from a viral infection, so be it.

5. In the mainstream narrative of the so-called COVID pandemic, the COVID virus is seen as the primary enemy and warlike measures have unfolded worldwide to ‘beat the enemy’. 

Following explanations of credible virology experts in the field there are millions of different viruses around and we could not exist without the viral dimension. 

The challenge is to find a way to co-exist with the viruses and on one level strengthen the immune system to cope with the health effects of some viruses like COVID. 

On another level there needs to be a clearer recognition how the treatment and exploitation of the earth, animals and plants as spirit-less commodities has contributed to conditions whereby viruses jump from animals to humans for instance and interfere with human health. I suggest the root causes should be addressed as a matter of urgency to work towards a sustainable future for all living beings.

6. I spent a lot of time reading/listening/watching the ‘experts’ in the field arguing for and against the current COVID vaccinations and the severity of the so-called COVID pandemic over the last 18 months. I cannot claim to know the truth; as a matter of fact I realised that no amount of research will lead me to the point of ‘knowing the truth’. However, all the information I could take in from the experts in the fields from different camps, leaves me with serious question marks over the validity, accuracy, robustness of the ‘main narrative’ promoted relentlessly by the so-called mainstream leading medical organisations, the mainstream media and the governments at all levels. 

For me the ‘mainstream narrative’ leaves me with too much doubt, too many question marks. And for me this puts serious reservations over the real motives for the relentless, unprecedented push for people to get vaccinated. Too much doubt remains for me which prevents me from trusting the ‘main narrative’. Based on all that I cannot just take the simple way out and get vaccinated. 

The opposition of my ‘inner voice’ to the COVID vaccinations for myself is also strongly linked to my
spiritual beliefs. 

It feels that I am at a major inner crossroad with the vaccination question with potentially serious long term consequences one way or the other. 

Of greatest importance for me at this crossroad is to make my decision based on a state of spiritual ‘Presence’. 

To avoid making decisions based on fear or hatred or anger or ‘becoming a martyr’ which would be related to my ‘pain body’ and driven by my ‘lower ego’. Instead I want to make my crucial decision out of freedom, guided by my ‘I am’, the ‘Deep I’.

The best I can do at this very moment is to listen to my ‘inner voice’ to the best of my capability. This voice is clear for me at the moment and that is to not take the vaccinations at this point in time. 

My firm intention is to do my best to be able to look into the future without fear and anxiety and to strive to have complete peace of soul and tranquillity of mind. And in the given moment to hopefully be able to make decisions out of full ‘Presence’.

I strongly believe in basic ‘human rights’ and one of the most fundamental human right for me is that of ‘informed consent’. At this stage I clearly do not consent to the COVID vaccination.

I fully respect the rights of other people including friends, partner, family members, colleagues to arrive at
their own decision re the COVID vaccination and I respect their choices. 

I also accept my responsibility towards the health of fellow human beings and I will apply appropriate self-isolation measures if I ever do show any relevant symptoms.


RELATED BLOG

How to have a COVID vaccine that is effective and side-effect free






23 August 2021

How to have a COVID vaccination that is side-effect free and effective

Don’t you just love a good coincidence. Recently had my first COVID vaccine - Pfizer variety – and no side effects. This “coincided” with doing a series of simple mind exercises that all you meditators would relate to easily – and may find helpful.

So having resisted writing about vaccines to date, this week, what are the side-effects, how often do they occur and how might you minimise them; and a special point - are symptoms necessary to achieve good levels of immunity? 

Maybe if you or someone you care for is still to be vaccinated you can experience it symptom free and effective, but first 

     Thought for the day

Our problems, both personal and global, seem so complicated, 

And at an intellectual level, they are. 

But the real root of our problems lies at a different level, 

Simpler but more intractable 

– in our anger, self-interest, fear, greed 

– and only at that deeper level can real transformation occur. 

We can think up clever policies and make grand pronouncements, 

But if in our hearts we are really not moved by the suffering of others, 

Then nothing will really change.




Simply put, real change happens in the heart, 

And there the future of our world will be decided. 

                   HH The Dalai Lama


Please be clear, what follows is not a PhD, rather my own summarised investigations. Reference articles have direct links to the original papers.

Everyone is encouraged to make further investigations themselves and consult your doctors when making medical decisions.


WHAT ARE THE COVID VACCINE SIDE-EFFECTS and HOW OFTEN DO THEY OCCUR?

1. Pfizer has less side-effects than AstraZeneca according to The Lancet.

Vaccine side-effects and SARS-CoV-2 infection after vaccination in users of the COVID Symptom Study app in the UK: a prospective observational study. 

Menni C et al. The Lancet, 2021: Vol 21, issue 7, P939-949.

2. What are Pfizer’s side effects?

In this study of Healthcare Workers - who were regarded as highly likely to provide accurate feedback - injection site pain was recorded by 89.8%, fatigue 62.2%, headache 45.6%, muscle pain 37.1%, and chills 33.9%. 

Thirteen percent reported at least one oral side effect; the most common of which was blisters (36%), followed by halitosis (25.4%), ulcers (14%), bleeding gingiva (11.4%), and white/red plaque (10.5%).

All the general side effects were more prevalent among those under 43 years old.


3. How long do Pfizer side-effects last?

The study found 45.1% of the above symptoms lasted for 1 day, while 35.8% lasted for 3 days, 9.4% lasted for 5 days, 5.3% lasted for one week, 3% lasted for over a week, and 1.4% for over a month. 

Riad A et al. Prevalence of COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects among Healthcare Workers in the Czech Republic. J Clin Med. 2021;10(7):1428. Published 2021 Apr 1. doi:10.3390/jcm10071428


4.What about severe side effects?

Side effects that required medical intervention were reported by only 1.3% of this study group (not sure if this number may have been somewhat reduced as this was a group of health workers and they may have self-treated; but anyway, severe side-effects can be taken to be small). 

Elsewhere, The European Medicines Agency has estimated that the risk of cerebral venous thrombosis after the AstraZeneca vaccine is 5.0 (4.3 to 5.8) per million people. Evaluating the risk of thrombosis in Pfizer is not easy, but seems less than AstraZeneca, while the risk of myocarditis or other major heart issues is real but rare and still being clarified.

DO YOU NEED TO GET SIDE-EFFECTS FOR THE VACCINE TO WORK?

There seems to be a popular myth that greater side-effects indicate a greater immune response from your body and hence, point to better protection.

Happily, the evidence does not support this. In fact, the evidence indicates the level of immunity is relatively independent of the level of side-effects according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine. “Overall, the findings suggest that regardless of vaccine reactions or prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, either spike mRNA vaccine will provide a robust spike antibody response.”

Debes AK, Xiao S, Colantuoni E, et al. Association of Vaccine Type and Prior SARS-CoV-2 Infection With Symptoms and Antibody Measurements Following Vaccination Among Health Care Workers. JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 16, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.4580

So it seems OK to do what you can to minimise or avoid side-effects altogether.

SO WHY GET VACCINATED NOW?

Put simply, the vaccines work, the side-effects are now shown to be minimal and my guess is it will not be long before the unvaccinated will be restricted in what they can access.

While thorough research is yet to be published, a Public Health England analysis (in a preprint that has not yet been peer-reviewed) showed at least two vaccines to be effective against Delta. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic disease and 96% effective against Delta, while Oxford-AstraZeneca was 60% effective against symptomatic disease and 93% effective against hospitalization. 

The studies tracked participants who were fully vaccinated with both recommended doses.

It seems for the maximum protection from a two-dose vaccine like Pfizer, you must get both shots and then wait the recommended two-week period for those shots to take full effect.

MAYBE SOME PERSONAL CONTEXT IS USEFUL 

When the COVID vaccines first appeared, they did come as a triumph of modern medicine and science. However, they did come with new technology; they inject mRNA and DNA that tricks our immune system into thinking it is being invaded by the actual virus; and causes it to mount an immunological reaction to it.

Given Australia had low rates of infection when the vaccines first appeared, I felt happy to wait and see if this new vaccination method had any unforeseen side-effects. 

Normally, most vaccine side-effects surface within a few months of introduction – to date there has not been an exception to this that I know of; particularly when millions are receiving the vaccines. 

So the risk of significant side-effects years down the track feels pretty remote to me. The evidence for this is pretty solid.

But then came the Delta variant, infections broke out again and it is becoming clear the chance of returning to zero cases is slim; not impossible, but slim. 

Also, even with 80% vaccination rates there will still be significant Delta outbreaks, and the likelihood of needing vaccination to travel and go to major events is highly probable. 

Not to mention the civic duty of contributing to increased herd immunity.

So, putting that all together, next thing was to research the vaccines available – Pfizer and Astra-Zeneca and decide which is preferable. This is a personal preference, however, I did troll through published research in journals like the Lancet and JAMA rather than the internet. In short, and based upon some of what is summarised above, I opted for Pfizer. 

Then, being over 60, I needed to find someone willing to give it to me. This was helped by having a dodgy medical history, and a local GP clinic obliged.

SO WHAT MIGHT HELP AVOID VACCINE SIDE-EFFECTS? What did I do?

In essence, it was all about using the 3 Principles of Positive Thinking and the art and science of Mind-Body Medicine

1. First Principle – Have a clear goal

Having done the research and contemplated the facts, I became clear… now was the time to be vaccinated and Pfizer was my vaccine of choice. 

But more than this, my strong intention was to gain excellent immunity – have the vaccine do its job well – and avoid side effects (I had researched and found good immunity is possible without side-effects).


2. Second principle – Do whatever it takes

i) Get organised – I found a local clinic that could administer Pfizer (well actually Ruth did that for me!)

ii) I made sure the day of the vaccination and the day after could be light on for activity.

iii) In preparation, during meditation and in my mind, I welcomed the vaccine as something that would do me good, strengthen my immune system and protect me from COVID. This was like talking to my body, explaining what was about to happen and reinforcing the benefit. I told the body emphatically there was no need for side-effects; what it was about to receive was all for our good. I had a very strong intention…

3. Third Principle – enjoy doing it

i) While sitting in the waiting room – for 1.25 hours!! – I had plenty of time to reinforce the welcome, relax and be primed for the injection.

ii) The injection was painless, I smiled, thanked the nurse and went home to lie down, relax and meditate. This involved a combination of deep relaxation, the letting go of meditation, and the active process of affirming the benefits and lack of side-effects with some imagery to that effect. 

iii) The last step was repeated over several days.

AND THE RESULT?

To be complete, on first returning home, I did have a strong sensation around my kidneys. I told myself this was just a sensation probably not related to the vaccination, and it passed within a couple of minutes. Apart from that I had no side-effects whatsoever. No injection site pain, no headache, no fatigue, no muscle pain, no sweats, nausea or mouth issues. Nothing.

SO WAS I JUST LUCKY?


Could be, but then it is nice to attempt something and have it work. Every time something like this happens it builds confidence in the Mind-Body connection, and who knows when we might really need that? 

Anyway, if there is something here you find helpful, good luck. 

May you and all you care for stay healthy and well.


RESOURCES

1. To read more about Mind-Body Medicine and how to apply it, You Can Conquer Cancer

2. For more on healing, try the downloads from our webstore

3. If you are not already connected, check out the meditation app I have helped develop : Allevi8

4. Finally, there are these 2 blogs that elaborate 5 principles you can learn and apply to accelerate the healing of any condition.

Accelerated healing – Part 1

Accelerated healing - Part 2