Dr. Jamieson Jones, a neonatologist at Desert Regional Medical Center and JFK Memorial Hospital, has been merging science and spiritual practices for the past 30 years, saving babies’ lives, and also providing counseling across cultural and religious barriers for people mourning a loss. He has nurtured 12 foster children, lectured with Deepak Chopra, studied with the Dalai Lama, and co-authored a book, First Heal Thyself, about revitalizing the caregiver.
How do you define vitality?
For me, vitality is a dynamic, evolving quality of presence. There are physical, mental, spiritual, and multiple other levels of vitality, but when all or most are honored, it seems personal expansion, growth, and creativity follow, moving a life from surviving to thriving.
What was the most valuable thing you took away from your time with the Dalai Lama?
His Holiness has an unusual clarity of thought, an alert mind that seems focused on integration instead of the standard reductionism of the West. His humbleness is palpable, no saint striving for heavenly perfection, more an earthly spirituality. I had always — I’d guess everybody had — thought he was an exception. Although he is exceptional, he actually is an example of something very evident in many of the Tibetans I met — an example of the results of a life of deep meditation.
Which memory has stuck with you the most?
Someone in our group brought up Tibet’s political situation and His Holiness said, via a translator, “In America, bumper stickers read, ‘Free Tibet,’ and though I appreciate their concern, the sticker should read ‘Free China.’ The only way to free Tibet is to free China.” As we know, hurt people hurt people, and hurt countries seem to do the same.
What are some of Deepak Chopra’s lessons?
He has a wonderful way of taking a material-based perspective on something and imbuing it with a more consciousness-based perspective. As an example from my book, vitality arises when we stop focusing solely on our financial paycheck, but also honor our bonus paychecks of connection, personal development, spiritual growth, etc.
What should we take away from your book?
The garden Buddha on the cover is a good metaphor, an image that seems content — but we forget the rain, mud, intense sun, dog urine, and bird droppings that are part of garden life. My book is about using the material of your day as a meditative focus. When you become a big fan of reality, you can become an architect of your evolutionary journey instead of wallowing in the stagnation of victimhood. You may not always like the situation you are in, but you should always be able to like the person you are in any situation.
How have the Dalai Lama and Deepak Chopra influenced your practice?
Though we’ll probably never know if it is true, I find the mystic’s perspective that “things happen for a reason” to be something both teachers feel is a useful perspective. It can be a great aid in focusing self-inquiry, helping one look deeper, and evolving along the spiritual path from healing to accessing creativity to an enlightened vitality.