“Some people might say that the heart sees with the eyes of God.” Will Meecham, MD MA
My new inner fitness guest this week is with a former eye surgeon who teaches people how to see with the heart. As a former pharmaceutical rep, I have had many lunch discussions with doctors, but never have I ever had a “lunch n learn” like this one, with Dr Will. My conversation with this eye doctor left me with such clear vision. No eye surgery, no contacts, and no glasses needed, just a pure heart and open mind that allows one to see with the heart and not the eyes.
Will Meecham, MD, MA, is a former surgeon with graduate education in neuroscience. After devoting young adulthood to over-achievement, in midlife he was forced into new paradigms by neck disease that ended his medical career and by psychiatric problems that followed. He has worked to rediscover himself through meditation, yoga, spirituality and writing, He is an author, teacher and director of MindfulBiologyy.org. San Francisco, Ca.
I first met Will at a holistic retreat in Tulum, Mexico. We both shared a former career in healthcare and traditional western medicine, while embracing a more holistic and multi- dimensional approach to wellness, one that involves the whole body, mind and spirit. After retiring from medicine, Will created a new style of meditation connection called Mindful Biology, which uses biological facts to help people find intimacy in their own somatic experience.
The method helps people improve their inner fitness and he offers it to yoga students, young working adults and baby boomers. One aspect of his work is aimed at helping us understand how our body, mind and emotional happiness are all connected through our heart. His classes bring practical and realistic solutions for stress management, relational issues, sexuality, dealing with aging and our changing bodies. You can learn more at his website https://www.mindfulbiology.org .
I am always on the look out for new inner fitness trainers and those who are bringing fresh insights and innovation to help us get fit from the inside out. When I met Will I thought it was very cool that an eye doctor is teaching seeing and living from the heart, so, I decided it might be interesting to interview him. We met over lunch in Marin, California where he openly and graciously shared about his own life experiences and how this heart centered way of seeing and viewing the world can be life changing. Here is what the good eye doctor shared with me:
Angie: I began with the question …”What inspired you to teach this idea of mindful biology?”
Will: “ I’m glad you phrased the question as “what inspired me to… teach, since it would be hard for me to say what inspired mindful Biology itself, which feels like it has always been part of me. In essence, biology has been my spiritual path. In Childhood I used to distract myself from a harsh household, and since adolescent I’ve used it to find meaning in life. I’ve felt awed by living things for as long as I can remember, and studying them has always felt spiritual to me. But only during the past five years have I felt of sharing my spiritual awe with others. The program Mindful Biology is a spiritual approach to life science. “
“The turning point came in 2012 when I began teaching human biology at a yoga institute. The students there seemed most engaged when I connected biology with mindfulness, self-compassion, and spirituality. After a few years of teaching, a friend pointed out that this mindful biology concept could benefit people in everyday life in many ways”
Angie: I asked what ways have you noticed others growing out of outdated mindsets?
Will: He said that he usually does not focus on helping people grow out of outdated mindsets, Instead, he invites them to pay attention to what they are growing toward. “ We don’t say we grow away from being children, we say we are growing into adults, Why? Because childhood is appropriate during our early years. We leave it behind not because it is a problem, but because something larger beckons.”
“In today’s world people feel a lot of inadequacy about their circumstances and personalities? I try to avoid reinforcing the pressure they feel about how they must get away from where they are in life or to make things happen the way they believe things should. Instead, the invitation is to grow toward their future with spontaneity, paying attention to what they value, but without feeling so much pressure to succeed or achieve. There may be aspects of their situation or behavior that are causing harm, and their may be areas where they need to develop, but with emphasis on “growing toward their future , there is less self-blaming and self-shaming.”
Angie: How do you believe our thoughts affect our health?
Will: “ Thought isn’t the best guide to wellness because it’s not very connected to what matters on an emotional level. Neuroscientists have discovered that after localized damage to certain emotional regions of the brain, people have trouble making decisions. It’s not that they can not spell out the pros and cons; their reasoning skills remain intact. It’s just that they no longer feel like one choice has any more value than another.”
“In other words, thought doesn’t have direct access to what really matters to us. If we allow thoughts too much control over our lives, we end up drifting away from our core values. And when we lead lives that feel valueless, we feel pressured and discouraged. Stress hormones rise and immune function declines. Although it can be helpful to change thinking, the more deep seated work involves shifting from over emphasis on thought toward a more balanced approach that begins with heart –focused attention on what we value.”
Angie: I could see clearly that it is living from the heart that we find the things that brings us the joy that creates great health and wellbeing. After listening to Will, it became clearer and clearer in my mind just how much he was seeing with his heart and viewing life as a living, loving connection to a bigger and stronger heart, the one we all share together on this amazing planet in the form of consciousness and divine oneness.
Angie: I now knew what my last question would be…so I asked him…what does it mean to you to see with the heart vs. with the eyes?
Will: He chuckled and answered, “ That’s a good way of putting it. As a former ophthalmologist, I have a lot of respect, even awe, for the human eye and visual system. But when we look only with the eyes, we tend to live in our heads. We see things that look attractive and assume we want them because they look nice”
Of course there is nothing wrong with visual attractive things, but if we view the world in a more heart-centered way, we begin to notice other layers of beauty, including in human failures, brokeness and wounds. We begin to notice that folk wisdom is right: Beauty is more than skin deep”. We can still appreciate surface beauty as seen by the eyes, but if we also look with the heart; we find beauty all the way down. In Mindful Biology terms, beauty is vibrant in hair and skin, but its also active in organs, blood and bone, all the way down to the DNA, proteins and even subatomic particles.
“The organism is radiating beauty from every cell.”
Will: ” In interpersonal terms, as we learn to see more deeply, people begin to seem beautiful despite ( sometimes because of) their blemishes, blind spots and inadequacies. The heart can appreciate all this subtle beauty in a way that eyes can’t. Some people might say that the heart sees with the eyes of God.”
Angie: And with that profound statement, I could only simply smile and say Thank you! I certainly can see more clearly and my heart is full. I am grateful!
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