INTERVIEW
Dmitry Shamenkov:
"Be Healthy, Be Happy!"
Discover your life and find a way for self-actualization. Expand your comfort zone by accepting things as they are. Be happy in the present moment. Many are puzzled by the question: "How can I do this?". Doctor Dmitry Shamenkov answers these questions.
Dmitry Shamenkov is our special guest during webinar on April 16th, 2017
"Practice of Silence by The System of Health Management".
This is a scientifically based system, teaching about the basic principles of life (laws of nature or God's laws) derived from physiology of living systems and complemented with modern studies of neuro-, bio- and socio- sciences as well as physics and information technologies.

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Dmitry Shamenkov, M.D.
• MD, Specialist in Family Medicine, Biotherapy & Aging Prophylactics, New Technologies in Medicine
• Founder of SUZ.community (social network)
• Founder of the School of Health and Self-Actualization
• Co-founder of SUZretreat in Thailand

Born in 1981 in Saratov, at the age of 15 years enrolled in the Saratov State Medical University. In 2002 graduated "with distinction" from the department of scientific and pedagogical staff of Moscow Medical Academy named after I.M. Sechenov. In 1999 won "Young Researchers" Scholarship from the Russian Government. Interested in therapy, pharmacology, pathophysiology, cell biology and genetics. Still a student, in 1999-2003 worked as a researcher at the laboratory of stem cells at Russian Cancer Research Center of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. Upon graduation, in 2003-2006 worked as a leading researcher and then as a manager in the laboratory of new technologies at Central Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of Railways. In 2006-2009 worked as Business Development Manager in large Russian medical corporations (biotechnology, health institutions network, etc.) In 2010-2011 worked at the Moscow State Medical University after I.M. Sechenov as the Director of the Institute of Pharmacy and Assistant to the Department of Pathophysiology.

At present, Dmitry is an expert and advisor in most prominent Russian innovation center in Skolkovo, specializing on biomedical projects, and assistance to small innovative enterprises in the scientific and technical sphere. Dmitry works as a Private Health Consultant and Business Trainer, since 2004 developing his own company of the System of Health Management. In 2014 he opened health retreat in Koh Phangan,Thailand.

How did the System of Health Management start?

— The path leading to the System of Health Management in its present form started with a crisis in all aspects of my life – health, family, work. Going deeper and deeper into my crisis, I reached a point where I realized that I had passed the point-of-no-return and it made no sense to resist what was going on. This realization helped me to give up the illusion – I realized that if I didn't accept reality as it is, this would create more resistance, which in turn, would force me to repeat my previous life experience with all my problems, over and over again. In other words, you may say that it all began with absolute surrender and recognition of the inefficiency of my beliefs about reality.

What led to your crisis?

Postponed life. I didn't notice the present, I lived in the future, I hardly attached any value to family, friends or everything good that I had.

It seems to me that being in a constant search for happiness is a typical trait of any Russian. Often this search is accompanied with stress, and hustle and bustle. Because of this, it is very difficult to recognize that happiness is not a result but a process.

What do we have to know about a goal and happiness (as being part of one mechanism), so not to lose them both?

It is important remember that you cannot avoid the goal, since the goal is a neurobiological mechanism which determines what we perceive, think and do. Without a goal our organism degenerates. We believe that we determine the goal but, in fact, it is the goal that determines us. Every living system has a goal, whether we believe it or not, whether we know about it or not. The problems with a goal arise when instead of adapting to the constantly changing environment and relationships, we set the goal of repeating our past and proving our righteousness.

Could you give some examples?

For example, we decided to go and have a look at a sakura tree in blossom. But when we arrive at our destination, we find that there is no sakura there any more, they have planted an oak-tree in its place. In this situation, we can quickly adapt and change our destination, or we can accept the situation and enjoy the oak-tree – this is a normal reaction. But we could also have an alternative scenario — if we remain attached to our past experience and demand that the sakura must be there, we may feel anger, shame and, finally, poison ourselves with frustration. The example with a tree is very simple, and, as a rule, such situations do not represent serious problems to us. But imagine, if instead of a sakura, it is another person? We constantly change — a moment passes by and we are no longer the same — there is no "sakura" there any more. If our goal is the expectation of certain behaviour from other people, we risk becoming chronically frustrated, depressed and even violent. In relationships, our commitments should be based on common goals and not only on previous experience. We should always clearly see how our goals are formed. If our goals are formed merely from our beliefs of a reality based on the past, there is a high probability of losing the ability to enjoy life. As a result, we may get sick, despite of our focus toward our goals. That's why, to be healthy and happy, it is vitally important to clearly see what goals we share with others and continuously support this information flow to sustain an up-to-date common understanding about these goals and current progress towards them.

Please tell more about the practice of goal-recognition.

The key is not to "imagine" the goals, but to be able to recognize goals present in life. We are born with a goal — every person, ultimately, has the main goal to enjoy life here and now, i.e. happiness. If I want to recognize my goal, I have to start by unconditionally listening to my senses, learning to make pauses in life, feeling what is happening right here right now, feeling peace or anxiety, breathing in or breathing out. Thanks to synchronization with our senses and feelings, we learn to perceive the reality as it is, and return the natural ability of sensing and feeling other people, and all life in general. And later, through open dialogue, relay our common perception of reality, we may learn what we truly want and then realize ourselves. To be able to recognize the goal, we need to be in constant synchronization with reality.

What shall we do with distortions of information that take place in society. Let's assume that we agree to cooperate with society, we receive the information that the sakura is definitely there. We believe this information, we go there, and eventually, find the oak-tree? At the same time, if the person didn't receive the information from society and set his goal independently, maybe the person may have had a different goal and would have realized it. How can we, in time, recognise these distortions to make sure they do not take us away from the goal?

At different periods of life, we may move toward our goals differently – including independently. But in any case, the goal originates from the dialogue communication with oneself and/or others. So as to not lose the goal, this communication should be clear and accurate, without any distortions. And this accuracy of communication can be fulfilled only under the condition of honesty with oneself and others.

From a biological perspective, how does the antipode of honesty affect the human body? What are the consequences of lying?

A Lie, for the body, represent stress. When we lie, the brain is constantly mobilized as it needs to develop and sustain a story which does not have any real ground underneath. As a result of constant tension and stress, caused by lying, body self-regulation gives up, breaking the function of many systems and individual organs. To compensate changes in the body, we are forced to believe in our own lies, followed by further mistakes in goal-setting and with the meaning of life, which, in turn, may lead to development of serious somatic health problems. The studies of professor Anita Key from Notre Dame University, showed that reduction of everyday lying by 1/3 reduces occurrence of health problems, physical or psychological by more than double.

Sometimes, what we see as truth, turns out to be a lie. What can signify that we are going in the right direction?

The key sign of the right direction is an inner sense of well-being, its stability. There is no point in letting discomfort in your life justify some ephemeral result in the future — all this leads to postponed life syndrome. Holding one's own here and now, taking care of hated business, we deceive ourselves. While we talk about this, it is important not to confuse pathological discomfort with discomfort resulting from our evolutionary growth. To self-actualize, we need to transform our beliefs about reality and ourselves — and it is always a painful process. However, it is always accompanied by positive emotions, as they anticipate the future beneficial result. Pathological discomfort is always accompanied by disruption of the body's functions, depression and the feeling of pointlessness of our actions. The same circumstances, the same actions may look completely different and lead to various consequences depending on the goal, driving us.

Imagine, I have to solve a problem. Its positive solution is closely related to an unpleasant person. How can I deal with this situation without hypocrisy, at the same time achieve my goal?

— To come to an agreement, you need to accept the person as they are, or the situation as it is.

What I've just said, caused some inner resistance, as my imagination complicated the situation by imagining a very unpleasant person. In my mind I am going back to the beginning of our conversation and understand that I need to accept him, otherwise, I will have to stay within The Samsara Wheel of Life (The wheel of suffering). Could you give me a helping hand and explain how to accept the unacceptable?

This situation is a good example of a false perception. We try to accept the outer reality instead of accepting and experiencing what we have inside. That means, we try to accept another person instead of accepting our feelings about that person. However, the only way to accept another is through accepting oneself. Accepting and expressing ourselves (as we truly are) is scary, but it is the ultimate Truth! This is the foundation for true learning and connection with another as there is no learning of another without learning of oneself!

Let's take something you cannot accept and formulate a step-by-step strategy towards its acceptance: For example, someone is behaving unpleasantly towards you…

— … And in this moment, unpleasant feelings arise, and first of all, we tend to run away and hide from these feelings — it is this that causes our reaction to people and situations that annoy or displease us — we try to avoid or destroy what causes unpleasant feelings. That's why to solve the problem, we need:

First of all, detect our feelings, acknowledge their existence, identify them and allow them to be and evolve — thus, we learn to be in touch with reality of our life. Sincere recognition of your own feelings brings deep understanding that each person has at a minimum of two aspect. They constantly contradict each other, but both have the right to exist. This realization transforms the monochromatic picture of the world into a spectrum, helping to deeper understand ourselves and others, our multifacetedness, and opens the possibility of a dialogue. Note: we do not mean that you are supposed to please or meet the expectations of another person – why would you do that? We do not mean that you need to fall into self-deceit and deny this person's right for existence and expectations either. The other person exists and his acceptance becomes possible when we claim the right to accept both our own positive and negative feelings. When we accept the right to have both positive and negative emotions, it becomes million times easier to make the next step in the path of acceptance: accept the freedom others, their right to be independent from us. This provides an opportunity to realize our freedom, our independence from others. If we attach our well-being to someone else's behavior, we become the hostages of someone else's state. This person automatically affects our state (even without wanting it) and, thus, we deprive ourselves of freedom. Since our state is attached to the state of another, at the same time, we also become violent, because we try to manipulate another to make one fit into our system of coordinates to ease our state – we try to force another to behave how we want one to behave and we believe we have enough reason to do that. It is important to understand that attaching your mood and health to external objects — others, institutions, things, situations — is always dysfunctional, as external objects will never fully meet our expectations, because we made our expectations dependent on their states.

Accepting the another's right of freedom of choice (free from our expectations), we accept our right to be ourselves and do what we enjoy. Otherwise we get trapped into obligations cycle and deprive ourselves of freedom.


What do you mean by obligations?

— Cognitive psychotherapy defines "obligation" as an excessive focus on a thought: "I must behave or feel in a certain way, with an inability to see alternatives and real consequences of such behavior. This is based on pre-imposed or pre-programmed past behavior and thinking patterns."

I see obligation from the point of view of the action result— if to take an action (or in a broader sense, to live), one requires
- some special conditions, and
- one is constantly expecting these conditions to be fulfilled (this is the worst case), or
- if one works on their creation, trying to subject everything to his idea of reality, struggling with what one already has,

the action result becomes about waiting or struggling with life, which deepens unacceptance and frustration with reality, accompanied by the sense of righteousness. Often, after many attempts to act, the energy of such person is depleted, and no action becomes possible ("one loses heart"). This is the extreme form of how obligations manifest.

Here is an example: in the middle of the summer, there is a sudden frost, the snow and hail kills the crops — this is very unpleasant, of course, — but different people would react differently to this event, and the consequences will depend on their reaction. Some could be too attached to the crops and certain weather, they are unable to accept the loss — trying to act in the old way, comparing the reality with their expectations and what the reality could have been… and of course, reality always loses against their expectations. This causes negative feelings, depriving of energy for action and ability to consider alternative solutions to the problem. Others may be less attached to their expectations from the past — after a short period of going through negative emotions, they concentrate on the goal, and if the frost is still there, they find other means for existence or sources of food.

This can refer to anything: nature, people, personal behavior, God. The belief that life must be different and that it has no right to exist in its current form leads to constant frustration and blocks one's creative self-actualization. As soon as you have a feeling that you must be different or that someone else has an obligation towards you – this is a sign that it is time to work on an inner dis-balance and liberate whatever stands on your way to feel good here and now.

This refers to the very nature of "musts" or obligation — what I described above is natural. Imagining a reality where I must not have any obligations is also incorrect. This may cause an inner conflict — I believe that the world must be a certain way and, at the same time, I am aware of my own "must" in this, and it may seem to me that my "must" mustn't be there. At this very moment, it is important to recognize that I have just produced another "must" or obligation. In fact, neither way it "must be".

I have been already practicing "the practice of silence" for two months. In this practice my mind, second by second, processes terabytes of information. When I meditate, it is different: I deeply focus on my breath and my thoughts become very subtle that I can no longer dwell on them, I simply stop noticing them and in half an hour find myself in a space of nothingness – somewhat a silence or vacuum. But before that moment, I still belonged to some goal, for example, focusing on my breath. And in the practice of silence there is no such silence at all, it is an endless circulation of thoughts. I may be sitting for an hour but there is never silence. What can I do with this endless chain of thoughts? What goal should I belong to during this hour of practice?

In this context, I wouldn't define any differences between practice of silence and meditation. One way or another, during meditation we are silent. A chain of thoughts is a sign that the mind is active. If you have negative sensation at this stage, it means that the mind is cluttered. But there is no point in running away from thoughts and feelings, and equally there is no point in dwelling on them. Practice time is the time for observation of what really takes place in your life's here and now. Deep concentration may become the major obstacle to practice. Buddhist teachers think that high degree of concentration is only an instrument. This is what Buddhadasa Bhikkhu said about practice: "The body feels normal, but the mind is especially calm and suitable for use in thinking and introspection. It is perfectly clear, perfectly cool, perfectly still and restrained. In other words, it is fit for work, ready to know. This is the degree of concentration to be aimed for, not the very deep concentration where one sits rigidly like a stone image, quite devoid of awareness. Sitting in deep concentration like that, one is in no position to investigate anything. A deeply concentrated mind cannot practice introspection at all. It is in a state of unawareness and is of no use for insight. <…> To practice introspection one must first find shallower levels of concentration; then one can make use of the power the mind has acquired. Highly developed concentration is just a tool. In developing insight by this natural method, we don't have to attain deep concentration and sit with a rigid body. Rather, we aim for a calm, steady mind, one so fit for work that when it is applied in insight practice, it gains a correct understanding with regard to the entire world…".

What defines a cluttered mind?

It is defined by the collection of ideas related to obligation ("musts").

What is the goal of the practice of silence?

The goals of the practice of silence is to restore health. In silence, we allow the higher systems to reload and update our thinking. You simply need to observe thought flow, without interfering, otherwise, you will be drawn into a cycle of obligation. And before the practice, it is very important to acknowledge one postulate— health is always in the present!

How can I see it if it is not there?

Our organism is represented by hundreds of billions of cells, cooperating with each other every single moment, in the present moment of real time! Its integrity, that we feel as health, is always the result of dynamic equilibrium. That's why in practice of silence we have only one goal— to be with what is. Only under condition of deep acceptance of the present, the health from the future may become our present. The goal matrix, which (let me remind you) eventually leads us to being happy and enjoying life here and now, is reflected in the results of the moment here and now. During the practice, we have no expectations, we do not aspire actively, we simply allow things to unfold. During the practice our local information matrix synchronizes with the universal information space — we start seeing all interconnections we are part of, we become aware of anything that prevents us from connecting with reality, easily letting go of the old thinking patterns. Thanks to the practice, we become more realistic in perceiving this world: we do not expect anything or think that someone is obliged to us. In this state our actions meet reality and our needs.

Could you recommend any books that inspired, contributed to your transformations and life in general?

Pyotr K. Anokhin "Philosophical Aspects of the Theory of Functional Systems"
Konstantin V. Sudakov "Functional Systems"
Seth Lloyd "Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos"
Sam Harris "Lying"
Chris Frith "Making Up the Mind: How the Brain Creates Our Mental World"
— I also recommend to watch a great video about Jacque Fresco

What is intuition?

A rational mind is unable to process all incoming information in real time, that is why its processing is done automatically and its result is reflected as an emotional impression of reality, which then we use for decision-making. Academician Pyotr K. Anokhin (Soviet physiologist, Pavlov's disciple, founder the theory of functional systems) called this impression "emotional bearing" (as in a radar) that we constantly use to explore the reality — this is intuition. Intuition is developed in a person, if the person relies on this "emotional bearing" to make decisions; and intuition is not developed in a person if the person is making decisions with the rational mind.

The rational mind, in turn, is made of previous experiences containing distortions…

That's correct! The best rational choice is to use our emotional compass for decision-making and through their recognition let go of "musts". Learning from past mistakes as well as the practice of silence we mentioned before, helps one to develop intuition and the ability to listen to your heart, the hearts of others, and, after all, help to embrace life deeply, embodying it.
This interview was conducted by Aliya Osmanova and published in Dmitry Shamenkov 's Blog.
Translated into English by Oxana Bondarchuk.
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