Michael J. Shea, PhD received an MA in contemplative psychotherapy at Naropa University in 1986 and he received a doctorate from the Union Institute in Somatic Psychology and Medical Anthropology in 1995. His postdoctoral work is teaching and integrating human embryology into body knowing. As a result of his morbid obesity upon leaving military service in the 1970s, he has spent his life studying metabolic syndrome, the degradation of the human body from eating processed food and sugar resulting in the abdication and responsibility of the body to outside authorities. Dr. Shea is dedicated to all those recovering wisdom through establishing sovereignty and agency over their body.
Q: What inspired you to write The Biodynamics of the Immune System?
A: I wrote this book to save lives. Over 90 percent of Americans are metabolically unhealthy. In all Westernized countries, the majority of people are metabolically unhealthy, and it seems that the United States leads the way. The majority of food that people eat is highly processed and causes systemic inflammatory problems leading to chronic disorders and diseases from cancer to dementia. I say in my book that the kitchen is the new ER.
Q: In the book you write that “all disease is spiritual disease.” Please explain.
A: We live in a very polarized culture. The rates of suicide and depression are rising. Despair, rage and hatred spills over into public discourse daily. Traditionally, spiritual disease means that a person is cut off from the innate healing potency of the natural world, their community of reliable shared social values, their body instinct for self-healing and their wisdom mind. Thus, it is a spiritual disease to be so polarized mentally, emotionally and physically. The spiritual path is about finding the middle way between the extremes of emotions, feelings and beginnings and to take responsibility for one’s body and mind. This means living in the heart without hatred, finding love as remedy and coming into a deeper relationship with one’s fear and sorrow, the main drivers of our polarization.
Q: Please describe metabolic syndrome and how it can affect a person’s overall health.
A: Metabolic syndrome has three components. First, the toxicity from our lifestyle compromises our immune system and blocks the pathways that dissipate stress and the removal of metabolic waste products from the body. Thus, the body has an overload of toxicity at the physical level. Second, the gut microbiome is the co-regulator of homeostasis throughout the body and brain. The gut microbiome is completely disrupted in all people with metabolic ill health and needs to be restored through real food, fermented food and prebiotic food. The gut microbiome is linked to more than 100 psychological disorders and is directly related to the metabolic health of the heart and vascular system. Third, the lining of our intestines is so compromised from processed food and added sugar that its barrier function breaks down, allowing toxic substances and molecules to enter [the] bloodstream, go to the liver and be converted to fat cells. At the same time, glucose metabolism, which every cell in the body needs for energy, becomes dysregulated. And there are substitutes for glucose because we eat too much carbohydrate that breaks down into sugar.
Our cells can be fed through ketones derived from high-quality fat and high-quality protein. The breakdown in the barrier function of the intestines is also known as “leaky gut syndrome” and the epithelial lining of our gut needs to be repaired. Eighty percent of our immune system lives in the lining of our intestines and our immune system is overwhelmed with the constant insult of food trauma. These are the three aspects of metabolic syndrome that must be addressed for proper healing to occur. And remember, the incredible number of people that died from COVID or are still suffering from its effects have an underlying metabolic syndrome. Their immune system was already overwhelmed and could not function to heal the body from a virus.
Q: Please explain the principles of fluid in the body.
A: There are many kinds of fluid systems in the body, especially the blood. And 92 percent of the body is water. It is very simple biological water. Our need for hydration and the restoration of healthy blood requires good water. In addition, it is the fluid systems of the body that carry the building blocks of life to where they need to go and, at the same time, carry the waste products from cells and body systems to be removed from the body. Consequently, the water derived fluid systems of the body, must be kept in good condition especially the blood, to maintain the health of our immune system. There are a lot of waste products from systemic inflammatory metabolic problems and they literally clog the pipes that are trying to flush them out.
Q: How do breathing and meditation impact the body and overall wellness?
A: The brain is essentially a flight simulator similar to what pilots use to practice. Our five senses and our mind produce a vast amount of information that the brain must sort out and make predictions on what behavior is necessary. Meditation is essentially putting the car in neutral. The brain can go into neutral and settle, and thus integrate vast amounts of information either consciously or unconsciously. For example, it is estimated that we all think up to 80,000 thoughts a day, and for many people the majority of their thoughts are negative. Meditation is like self-psychotherapy to recognize and reduce toxic thinking or what is called “stinking thinking,” in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). Breathing is directly associated with the activity and function of the heart. Conscious breathing typically will lower stress levels by lowering heartbeat and blood pressure. Most people do not breathe into their abdomen which is correct breathing anatomically. Consequently, this puts too much pressure on the heart and brain, which contributes to metabolic syndrome. Breathing into the abdomen, which is our natural breath, moves the lymphatic fluid which is part of our immune system. Everything is connected to everything in the body.
Q: What is the Star Trek Protocol?
A: My wife gave that protocol its name when I first practiced it on her. I have training as a multi-faith chaplain. My ministry and that of my wife is laying-on-of-hands. I also have a license as a massage therapist in the state of Florida. So, I’ve been practicing manual therapy, especially biodynamic craniosacral therapy for many years. It’s important to combine a spiritual approach with manual therapy because in Western medicine, the union of mind, body and spirit has been splintered and fractured. Eastern medical practices maintain that the spirit resides in the body, especially the heart. The Star Trek protocol involves sensing one of the five elements in the Tibetan medical tradition, which I’ve studied for over 40 years. The protocol is specifically oriented to the wind element that moves everything and regulates growth and development in the body‘s metabolism from the Tibetan medicine point of view. The Star Trek protocol is synchronizing one’s hands, mind and spirit with five specific locations on the surface of the client’s body that regulate the wind element in Tibetan medicine. So, that is the Star Trek protocol for the contemporary client with metabolic syndrome, to help heal their metabolism through an integrative approach derived from Eastern medical traditions.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: I think it is very important that we claim ownership, responsibility and sovereignty of our own body. Typically, in metabolic syndrome and especially cancer, a client will give over authority for his or her body to outside medical authorities which do not have an integrative approach to health and healing. We must learn to heal our bodies from the inside and be able to listen to our bodies from the inside. This involves a developing a clear mind and an empty heart of strong emotions with reliable contemplative meditative practices. It also requires eating real food, learning how to cook with real food and knowing how to wake up the instinct for healing our mind and body. The instincts for self-healing and self-transcendence are innate. They are our true pre-existing condition.