Co-Founder & CEO
Casey Health Institute
David co-founded the Casey Health Institute a non-profit Integrative healthcare center that is pioneering a 21st century Conscious business and medical model with his wife Ilana Bar-Levav, M.D. with whom he has been collaborating since they met as cadaver partners in medical school.
He is board certified in Internal Medicine and a serious Iyengar yoga practitioner developing the use of yoga therapy as a therapeutic specialty integrated into the primary healthcare setting.
My personal practice is…
A morning sequence starting at 4 am. I begin with 20 minutes of chanting meditation/prayer based on a Jewish mystical practice developed by Rabbi Joseph Ginkatilla in the 13th century. Following this I do five minutes of pranayama and 20 to 30 minutes of Iyengar yoga. This is followed by 40 to 50 minutes of a walking contemplative meditation/prayer based on a Jewish Chasidic practice known as “hitbodedut” developed by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. My morning practice ends with the traditional Jewish morning practice of wrapping tefillin.
How did you discover your practice?
My practice grew from a ten minute mantra practice which I started doing after reading a book on Jewish meditation by Aryeh Kaplan in 1993. I have continued to add to my practice organically through different teachers and readings I have done over the last twenty years.
Why do you practice?
I practice as a way feeling connected to God, something greater than myself, as a way to set the tone for my day, as a way of grounding myself, for my physical health, and because when I don’t I feel a great visceral and emotional void.
How frequently and for how long do you practice?
I practice every day for 90 to 120 minutes.
What’s something that gets in the way of your practice and how to you move through it?
Traveling is always a challenge as is anything that breaks up the morning routine. I will systematically remove different parts of my practice from least important to most important if time or circumstances interfere. When I travel and think ahead if possible, I also will do some practices later in the day as time permits. It is extremely rare that I miss a day with at least some component of the practice. At least 90% of the time I am able to do the full practice.
What supports you in staying committed to your practice?
The experience is extremely reinforcing. I also have a teacher that I have regular monthly phone calls with to discuss my practice.
What role does your practice play in your work?
My practice plays several important roles in my work. First, it sets the tone for my day significantly influencing work. Secondly, I will often have fleeting thoughts, impressions, and solutions to problems spontaneously occur during my practice. These can be work related or personal. Third, I am in the healthcare field and meditation, prayer, and other personal practices are part of what we teach as an integral part of being healthy. Personal and professional integrate for me.
Describe someone you know whose practice inspires you.
The question is hard to answer. Personal practices are so….personal. It is rare for me to know others’ practices since they are often not talked about openly and I don’t usually inquire. I haven’t really thought about it in terms of whose practice inspires me. Usually I think about what might deepen my practice that others have to offer.
A practice I’d like to explore is….
A practice I’d like to explore is expanding my work with breathing.
Go here for more on David and the good work they are doing at the Casey Health Institute