This week on Small Talk, we sat down with wellness leader and holistic healer Christian Gonzalez, an integrative oncologist, to chat about the two fundamental truths of healing; giving the body what it needs and removing the obstacles that stand in our way to wellness.
Dr. Gonzalez is an expert on Oncology, Environmental Medicine, and Mind-Body holistic healing. Christian is also the host of ‘Heal Thy Self Show,’ an empowering podcast that offers tools to make progressive and proper decisions towards health and wellness.
“I think I’ve always had a leaning in towards how we can optimize our health. It started initially in college with a fascination for fitness, asking myself questions like, ‘what foods can I feed my body that will transform my physicality the quickest?’
With questions being asked, and personal exploration taking place in the realms of nutrition, Christian found his interest evolving and expanding into broader areas of wellness.
“I then realized that it’s not just the foods I eat, but the quality of food, because the quality affects longevity and function within my cells. But it wasn’t really until my mom died of breast cancer when I was starting naturopathic school. I then understood how important every aspect of health was.”
In coping with his mother’s passing, Christian took a deep dive into health’s relation to every aspect of our lives.
“I then understood that it’s not just food and it’s not just exercise, it's everything else! It’s our relationship with ourselves and others. What is our relationship to the air in our home? What stresses are we holding onto? What traumas are we carrying with us from childhood? Every aspect of our lives plays a role in our health, but these are things that are not looked at when we go to the doctor.”
Far too often, upon visiting the doctor, we are assessed and sent on our way within minutes, oftentimes with a prescription in our hands.
“You’re never talking about what your nervous system has been holding onto since childhood; that stuff isn’t addressed. That’s when I started understanding that health is an everyday interaction.”
The sooner we begin to embrace and accept that every aspect of our lives has positive or negative implications, the sooner we will make wiser choices towards what we spend our time and energy on.
Sick Care System
Dr. Gonzalez’s work methods can often be questioned by more dominant forces in the medical world. Yet, the evidence and the reality of healing oneself are right in front of our eyes. Leaving us to wonder, 'why do we follow the leader?'
“I think that we have grown accustomed to not knowing and not understanding that we are responsible every single day for not only our own health but our own happiness. We’ve lost that connection completely. We have submitted to the idea that ‘I’ll just deal with it when I’m in pain.’
Dealing with our health on a mental, emotional, and physical level is an everyday commitment. It’s a consistent responsibility that must become ingrained in who we are.
“I think that it’s a cultural thing, the way we want things fixed ASAP, that’s the society we live in. We want this immediate gratification, immediate remedies, and the model is faulty. It’s a Sick Care model rather than Health Care. We are living in a pharmaceutical system, and the doctors are wearing tool belts filled with antibiotics and narcotics.”
Pharmacies and waiting rooms are filled, and time with patients is limited to a couple of minutes.
This means that doctors cannot work to their full capacity, their skills are left unused, and patients are using medications to cover their pains and problems. At the same time, the underlying root issues are never being addressed.
“It’s unfortunate because, at this capacity, all they can do is quickly go, ‘damn, I keep getting a patient coming in with strep throat, and all I can do is give this antibiotic!’ Instead of really sitting down and allotting the time, which they don’t have the luxury of having, and really going, ‘what are you eating, how stressed are you, what is making your immune system falter?’
Due to the lack of time and the lack of understanding of patients' underlying issues, patients will keep coming back with more severe concerns because the body manifests maladies when not addressed.
“The body has very different ways of speaking to us, and that’s the art of medicine, which has unfortunately been lost in today’s society.”
Definition and Direction
What would Dr. Gonzalez modify about the system that is currently being implemented that he believes would change the direction and definition of health as we know it?
Community and connection.
“One interesting thing that I’ve found throughout my time is that we have lost the importance of community. Before a doctor asks you if you smoke, before they weigh you on a scale, before they take your blood pressure, and before they ask you how often you’re exercising, the question first should be, what’s your sense of community and social connection?”
Community and connection are what make our lives worthwhile. Studies show that lack of social connection, and social isolation, are more detrimental to your health than smoking, drinking, and lack of exercise.
“In other words, it’s healthier to be obese; it’s healthier to smoke, it’s healthier not to exercise and to drink alcohol than it is to lack a sense of community.”
When we look back on how we evolved and what our natural rhythms looked like, we begin to see how we are doing quite the opposite in today's society.
“These are the most important things to understand. Think of how society is structured now; we do the opposite. We’re on our phones until late at night, we’re eating packaged foods, we’re socially isolated, we’re not waking up with the sun, and we’re certainly not seeing sunsets every single day. We hardly see the sun, and the sun itself is one of the most health interventions, period.”
Over the years, we’ve lost touch with our natural connection to the world around us. This means that it is our responsibility to rekindle the relationship our species once had with our environment. It starts with asking ourselves one simple question.
“I could live in New York City on the 36th floor; it doesn’t matter. Still, the question is going to be, every single day, ‘what can I do to get closest to how I evolved?’ That’s it; it’s that simple. If we can get closer to it, I promise you that if someone has depression, if someone has gut issues, if someone has anxiety, after 30 days of being closest to nature, watching the sunrise and set, eating in nature, and being around like-minded people, it’s hard for me to believe that anyone would still be sick, especially with mental and emotional concerns.”
Rituals and Routines
Although nature is just outside the door, and friends are a call away, finding a sense of environmental and social connection can seem out of reach in times such as these.
But there are practices that we can begin to incorporate into our weekly schedules to grow in both spiritual connection and physical well-being.
“Rituals, rituals are life-changing. If you don’t have rituals in your day, it is one of the biggest blocks towards health and wellness. You have to find slivers of time throughout the day or a block of time at night to wind down and give back to yourself. My Monday morning starts on my Sunday night ritual.”
The body, the mind, and the brain all love routine, and rituals themselves are a beautiful opportunity to connect to ourselves emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally.
“Routines and rituals bring more awareness to your body, but also bring more awareness to yourself. So, things like meditation, yoga, tai chi, breath-work journaling, a mindful walk with no music; these are all things that bring us back to us.”
As mentioned in our interview with Kevin Love, during game season, he and his teammates would find a patch of grass before a game, take off their shoes, and spend a few quiet moments grounding and connecting to the earth.
Even a few intentional moments during a shower are enough to bring us back down to earth and back into our bodies.
Strength in Stumbling
In times such as these, with chaos and turmoil happening globally, many of us may feel as if we’re stumbling through these next steps in our lives. But we are not alone. Within the stumbles and set back, we can stand up stronger than before and set ourselves up for success.
“I think that the death of my mom was probably the best teacher for me. I’m a firm believer that the universe presents us with people, places, and circumstances that show us where we need to be, where we need to heal, or where we need to grow. Essentially, where we can realize our highest self. So, I think that death was important to me because it showed me what parts of myself I wasn’t fully engaging with, bringing to the surface, or proud of. And it brought me more authenticity.”
There is always a lesson to be learned when we face painful circumstances. Pain and heartbreak are still felt, and it takes time to heal, but by accepting what isand reflecting on what has happened, we give ourselves the space to grow from any and every experience.
“We experience all of these things in our lives, all of these hardships, whether its COVID, a breakup, a death, a divorce, or losing something dear to us. But it’s such an opportunity for us to remember who we are. It’s not learning; it's remembering. We’ve always been greatness embodied in human form, and we often forget.”
As mentioned by our friend Jason Silva, ‘we are gods, and we just forgot.’ Even though the difficult times call forth painful feelings and emotions, they also call us forth to grow and evolve into truer and stronger versions of ourselves.
“We have to be thankful for those hardships because we finally listen. We finally listen and pay attention to whatever we’ve been pushing away. True health is remembering who you are. There is a state of radiance that comes in remembering, and that’s our natural state.”
“All things in life, every person, place, thing, situation, and circumstance, are either rooted in love or fear. That’s it. So many of us operate in fear, but if we ask ourselves one question, ‘are my actions rooted in love or fear,’ you’ll realize that the majority is rooted in fear, but you’ll also realize that there is always an opportunity to choose the opposite.”
So much of what we do daily is rooted in fear, from our actions to our words and intentions.
In asking ourselves each day, ‘Is what I’m doing rooted in love or fear?’ we allow ourselves to make our way back to love.
“At the end of the day, there is always the opportunity to choose love. We can see love, we can do love, we can act love, and we can be love. Love is the most transcendent, powerful, healing, and beautiful force, and it starts with asking that question.”
No Longer Pursue
“Recognition. I would say I have the make-up of someone who loves the spotlight. Everyone wants to be seen, everyone wants to be heard and loved, and the way I grew up, I was very much rewarded when I was seen. So, I think that the pursuit of wanting to be seen was an amazing driver for me to develop skills, but I also think it’s easy to get lost in the egoic gratification.”
Gratification, without a doubt, can bring us feelings of elevation. Yet, chasing the highs of praise and applause oftentimes leads us astray. When we live to be accepted by others, we take the time and energy away from living for ourselves.
“You don’t need to perform; you don’t need to live for others; you need to live for yourself. And once I truly saw myself, it unfolded beautifully and authentically.”
We asked Dr. Christian Gonzalez what he believes one hundred percent to be true, his answer….
“That we are love. That, I know one hundred percent. Even the people you look at and think, ‘that person is pure evil,’ in there is love; it’s just so removed from who they are. I truly, truly believe that everything is rooted in love. We are just waves of an ocean of pure love that forgot we are the ocean.”
At TrooMe, we believe that we have the power and the possibility to heal ourselves, and it starts with love, loving ourselves, and loving others. We can step outside and choose love.
May we follow in Dr. Gonzalez’s footsteps, dropping the separatism and walking united down the pathway to health and wholeness.