Tags: Body & Mind, psychology
By Fae Price
Wanting to do something and actually doing it are two very different things. Especially when you have conflicted desires, such as the desire to indulge in fattening foods and the desire to lose weight.
Having to choose one over the other, most people end up choosing the one that is easier to do, in this case the overeating. When people really want to turn things around, they often try to use sheer willpower to push through the difficult circumstance. This often fails, as there is just not enough positive motivation to keep you on track. However, if you want to turn things around, try the following these tips to get you started right now on the path to getting the things you want.
1. Know what you want
To start, do you know what you really want? The best way to get started on the path to achieving your dreams is to fully immerse yourself in them. Indulge in some daydreaming. Imagine your perfect life. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? Try to see it as clearly as possible, and after you do, write it down! Write bullet points, or even write the story. Capture the ideas on paper so that you know what you are really moving toward and you know what it is going to look like when you get there.
2. You need to see it to believe it
After you get the idea of what you want to work toward, create a visual reminder to inspire you along the way. Some ways to do this are to create a vision board or collage of pictures that represent the things you want. Hang it where you will see it often. Make a copy and shrink it to carry around in your wallet and car. You can also do something more simple, such as just hanging a picture of someone you admire greatly that reminds you of what you are working toward, or even just writing an intention statement in a place where you can see it often.
3. Set some goals
After you have your big vision and your motivation, break the goal down into SRM goals. This stands for specific, reachable, and manageable. Having a goal such as “I will lose 30 pounds” is great, but it isn’t something you can actually DO. A goal you can do is more like “eat 4 servings of vegetables a day and only 1 soda.” These goals are going to be the baby steps along the path that lead you to your vision.
4. Get a buddy
This is an often overlooked step that can really enhance your results. Just sharing your goals with someone and being accountable to them can help a lot—helping them reach their own goals too is even better. Just make sure to choose a buddy that is supportive, and not one who feels threatened or doesn’t believe in your desire to change.
5. Get inspired
The Internet is full of free videos on everything. The kinds that are perfect for reaching your goals are videos of other people who did the same thing you wanted to do … and succeeded! There are many heart-warming videos that describe all the struggles they had to overcome, how they did it, and tips that would have helped them along the way. It is hard to NOT be motivated after watching videos like this.
6. Educate yourself
If you got this far and you are still struggling, it may be because you need more information on how to achieve some of your goals. Maybe you want to go to college, but you don’t know how to apply. Maybe you want to design a website, but are clueless about computers. In these cases, you may need to start with getting more information, such as calling some friends and family that have college degrees to ask them how they started, or taking a computer class at a local community college.
7. Change your ‘I can’t’ mentality
The biggest roadblock to success is often just ourselves. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to succeed, to do things right, and to never fail. But that isn’t really how life works. Failure is a part of it. And even if you are clueless or have no skill in what you want to achieve, you just have to start at the bottom and work your way up slowly. This can be frustrating for some people, as it takes a lot more determination when you aren’t naturally talented and successful at something. But that certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t. The only things you can’t do are the things you don’t want badly enough or aren’t willing to try hard enough to get. Even if other people tell you you can’t, they are not right. Success if much more about hard work and determination than about luck and natural skill.
8. Just start
Finally, don’t make all the plans and then just decide it’s too much work or that you will fail anyways so why try. If the goals are still too big or not specific enough, chop them into smaller pieces. If you feel like a loser, watch some inspiring videos. Chances are, someone even less skilled and farther behind than you already achieved what you want to achieve. If you really want something, don’t let anything stop you! Get up, repeat these steps over and over until you’re ready, and then … leap!
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, meditation, psychology, Society, Spirituality, sustainable development
By Rosemary Byfield
How teachers cope with demands in the classroom may be made easier with the use of “mindfulness” techniques, according to new US research.
Learning to pay attention to the present in a focused and non-judgemental or mindful way on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course helped teachers in the study to feel less stressed and to avoid burnout.
Dr Richard Davidson, chair of the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States, is the study co-author. “The research indicated that simple forms of mindfulness training can help promote a certain type of emotional balance, leading to decreased stress,” he said in an interview on the Centre’s website.
“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.
“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.
Stress, burnout, and ill health are increasing burdens experienced by teachers in schools leading to absenteeism and prematurely leaving the profession.
“This is an area where mindfulness may be particularly important and interesting,” he said.
“We wanted to offer training to teachers in a format that would be engaging and address the concerns that were specifically relevant to their role as teachers,” said lead researcher Lisa Flook in a statement.
Researchers trained 18 teachers to use MBSR techniques designed to handle difficult physical sensations, feelings, and moods and develop empathy for pupils in challenging situations.
Randomly assigned teachers practised a guided meditation at home for at least 15 minutes per day and learned specific strategies for preventing and dealing with stressful factors in the classroom. These included “dropping in”, a process of bringing attention to breathing, thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations; and ways of bringing kindness into their experiences, particularly challenging ones.
Mindfulness originates from Buddhist meditation but was developed for secular use in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme at the University of Massachusetts in the United States.
“The most important outcome that we observed is the consistent pattern of results, across a range of self-report and objective measures used in this pilot study, that indicate benefits from practising mindfulness,” Flook said.
Study participant and teacher Elizabeth Miller found that mindfulness could be practised anywhere, and at any time.
“Breath awareness was just one part of the training, but it was something that I was able to consistently put into practice,” Miller said.
“Now I spend more time getting students to notice how they’re feeling, physically and emotionally, before reacting to something. I think this act of self-monitoring was the biggest long-term benefit for both students and teachers.”
In Britain, teachers Richard Burnett and Chris Cullen developed the Mindfulness in Schools project, “.b” or “Stop, Breathe and Be!” programme. After experiencing the benefits of mindfulness themselves they wanted to teach it in the classroom. Their course is now taught in 12 countries.
Tags: Body & Mind, psychology
Motivation • Paul Hudson •
We are our own greatest enemy. We doubt ourselves, complicate our lives, cloud our minds with unimportant thoughts and negativity, we punish ourselves, hate ourselves and then feel sorry for ourselves because “outside forces” are making our lives a living hell. Life is beautiful — you’re making yours a living hell all on your own. Each of us does things from time to time that make living happily more difficult than it needs to be.
Surely some of us have it difficult because those are the cards that we’re dealt, but most of us — especially those who are better off financially and don’t live on the streets — make our very own lives more difficult for ourselves. But there are things you can do to stop the miserable cycle that you have found yourself in — a cycle that I know all too well. Here’s 20 of them:
1. Stop Running From Your Problems and Procrastinating.
Problems don’t go away on their own. You can either make them go away or live with them. If you know you can’t live with them, then don’t procrastinate because the weight of them on your mind only increases over time. If you have a problem, then accept that you have a problem and face it — deal with it. Life is a long list of problems that must be overcome. The faster and better you overcome them, the better and happier your life will be.
2. Stop Lying To Yourself.
People will lie to you left and right throughout your life; don’t add to the pile of lies. It is one thing for others to be lying to you and an entirely different issue if you’re lying to yourself. You are the only person that you can trust…but if you have a habit of lying to yourself, then you can’t even trust yourself. You have to be able to rely on yourself and on what you believe.
If you know something to be false, then stop convincing yourself that it is or could possibly be true. Improbable is one thing, but impossible is another. Feeding yourself lies or half-truths will lead to the forming of a reality that doesn’t actually exist past the confines of your psyche.
Tags: Body & Mind, books, health, meditation, psychology, Science, Spirituality
By Leonardo Vintini
According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, every time we learn or experience something new, hundreds of millions of neurons reorganize themselves.
Dr. Dispenza is known throughout the world for his innovative theory concerning the relationship between mind and matter. Perhaps best known as one of the scientists featured in the acclaimed 2004 docudrama What the Bleep Do We Know, his work has helped reveal the extraordinary properties of the mind and its ability to create synaptic connections by carefully focusing our attention.
Just imagine: In every new experience, a synaptic connection is established in our brain. With every sensation, vision, or emotion never explored before, the formation of a new relationship between two of more than 100 thousand million brain cells is inevitable.
But this phenomenon needs focused reinforcement in order to bring about real change. If the experience repeats itself in a relatively short period of time, the connection becomes stronger. If the experience doesn’t happen again for a long period of time, the connection can become weakened or lost.
Science used to believe that our brains were static and hardwired, with little chance for change. However, recent research in neuroscience has discovered that the influence of every corporal experience within our thinking organ (cold, fear, fatigue, happiness) is working to shape our brains.
If a cool breeze is capable of raising all the hairs on one’s forearm, is the human mind capable of creating the same sensation with identical results? Perhaps it is capable of much more.
“What if just by thinking, we cause our internal chemistry to be bumped out of normal range so often that the body’s self-regulation system eventually redefines these abnormal states as regular states?” asks Dispenza in his 2007 book, Evolve Your Brain, The Science of Changing Your Mind. “It’s a subtle process, but maybe we just never gave it that much attention until now.”
Dispenza holds that the brain is actually incapable of differentiating a real physical sensation from an internal experience. In this way, our gray matter could easily be tricked into reverting itself into a state of poor health when our minds are chronically focused on negative thoughts.
Dispenza illustrates his point by referring to an experiment in which subjects were asked to practice moving their ring finger against a spring-loaded device for an hour a day for four weeks. After repeatedly pulling against the spring, the fingers of these subjects became 30 percent stronger. Meanwhile, another group of subjects was asked to imagine themselves pulling against the spring but never physically touched the device. After four weeks of this exclusively mental exercise, this group experienced a 22 percent increase in finger strength.
For years, scientists have been examining the ways in which mind dominates matter. From the placebo effect (in which a person feels better after taking fake medicine) to the practitioners of Tummo (a practice from Tibetan Buddhism where individuals actually sweat while meditating at below zero temperatures), the influence of a “spiritual” portion of a human being over the undeniable physical self challenges traditional conceptions of thought, where matter is ruled by physical laws and the mind is simply a byproduct of the chemical interactions between neutrons.
Dr. Dispenza’s investigations stemmed from a critical time in his life. After being hit by a car while riding his bike, doctors insisted that Dispenza needed to have some of his vertebrae fused in order to walk again—a procedure that would likely cause him chronic pain for the rest of his life.
However, Dispenza, a chiropractor, decided to challenge science and actually change the state of his disability through the power of his mind—and it worked. After nine months of a focused therapeutic program, Dispenza was walking again. Encouraged by this success, he decided to dedicate his life to studying the connection between mind and body.
Intent on exploring the power of the mind to heal the body, the “brain doctor” has interviewed dozens of people who had experienced what doctors call “spontaneous remission.” These were individuals with serious illnesses who had decided to ignore conventional treatment, but had nevertheless fully recovered. Dispenza found that these subjects all shared an understanding that their thoughts dictated the state of their health. After they focused their attention on changing their thinking, their diseases miraculously resolved.
Addicted to Emotions
Similarly, Dispenza finds that humans actually possess an unconscious addiction to certain emotions, negative and positive. According to his research, emotions condemn a person to repetitive behavior, developing an “addiction” to the combination of specific chemical substances for each emotion that flood the brain with a certain frequency.
Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.
The body responds to these emotions with certain chemicals that in turn influence the mind to have the same emotion. In other words, it could be said that a fearful person is “addicted” to the feeling of fear. Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.
Nevertheless, many are skeptical of Dispenza’s findings, despite his ability to demonstrate that thoughts can modify a being’s physical conditions. Generally associated as a genre of pseudo-science, the theory of “believe your own reality” doesn’t sound scientific.
Science may not be ready to acknowledge that the physical can be changed through the power of the mind, but Dr. Dispenza assures that the process occurs, nevertheless.
“We need not wait for science to give us permission to do the uncommon or go beyond what we have been told is possible. If we do, we make science another form of religion. We should be mavericks; we should practice doing the extraordinary. When we become consistent in our abilities, we are literally creating a new science,” writes Dispenza.
Tags: Body & Mind, health, psychology
NEW YORK—No doubt you have personally experienced the benefits of a well-designed building—just as you have also been troubled or frustrated by one that is designed poorly, even if you couldn’t put your finger on why. Research shows that the design of a building could affect your health or even be an aid in your healing process.
Age-old design concepts aim to provide better living and work environments. Basic design principles include natural lighting, proper ventilation, and something as simple and obvious as a good view. A lot of these principles have been ignored over the past 50 years, mostly for financial reasons, lack of interest, and simplistic beliefs such as “bigger is better.”
Sustainable design has been of growing interest to architects and clients across the building industry. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines have played a key role in reprioritizing the importance of healthily designed buildings. More evidence is coming forth to prove the effectiveness of a well-designed building.
Anastasia Harrison, director of Sustainability at design firm Gensler Associates, has more than 22 years of professional experience in architectural design and LEED consulting. At a recent seminar, she talked about research in to the benefits of green buildings. For example, 80 percent feel more comfortable and more at home in green buildings; 29 percent have a higher satisfaction rate and are hence more actively engaged; and the number of sick days in green buildings are reduced by 2–5 percent per year.
A Good View Is Good for Your Health
Views are also proving to aid the healing process. A study conducted by scientist Robert Olbrich over 10 years compared patients. One-half had views of brick walls while the other half had a view of nature. The latter were able to heal faster, and their stay time was one day shorter, according to Harrison.
Harrison described the considerations that went into designing a cancer institute in Arizona. They asked themselves, “How can we take people to the outside, or bring the outside into them. … So there are interior gardens and exterior gardens?” Simple design considerations that orient toward views include gardens on site, and those that alter the building form to allow views from deeper within the buildings make a difference.
Other psychological studies by Thomas Joseph Doherty were able to prove that the effect of well-designed buildings could lower blood pressure, relieve anxiety, lower stress, sharpen mental states, and lessen hyperactivity experienced by children while suffering.
These concepts are actually not groundbreaking. These are simple concepts that we have known for centuries. Consider the courtyard castles and monasteries of Europe, or the classic buildings of Rome surrounding open forums. All these enable greater connection to the outdoors, natural light, and good ventilation.
As environmental conditions worsen and health problems abound, there is more of an effort to find the causes. Reintegrating simple environmental considerations in today’s buildings is one solution.
“Improving the health of our planet is intrinsically linked to our own health. … The unprecedented developing drive over the past 50 years is putting unsustainable pressures on our planet and our health,” said Breeze Glazer, who works in architecture and design firm Perkins + Will.
Tags: Body & Mind, meditation, psychology, relationships, Spirituality, today's thoughts
This article is from Chiara Fucarino. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to address those with clinical depression or other mental illnesses.
There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within.
Tags: Body & Mind, health, psychology
By Christine Lin, Epoch Times
NEW YORK—Mind and matter are like the chicken and the egg—and pain, both emotional and physical, is no different. Healers and scientists have long known that mental factors and physical symptoms are inextricably intertwined.
A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine in 2004 found that two-thirds of patients being treated for depression also reported physical pain such as frequent headaches, back pain, joint pain, and abdominal pain.
“Physical pain and depression have a deeper biological connection than simple cause and effect; the neurotransmitters that influence both pain and mood are serotonin and norepinephrine,” reads a 2004 National Institutes of Health report. “Dysregulation of these transmitters is linked to both depression and pain.”
While trouble with neurotransmitters play a huge role in both depression and pain, the story doesn’t end there.
Since the 1950s, doctors and drug companies have touted pillular anti-depressants as the go-to method for treating depression and certain cases of pain. In the process, patients were forced to counter side effects associated with these drugs with more drugs while pharmaceutical companies reaped the profits. Now, patients and health care providers alike are turning to other, lasting, and more intuitive ways to address the psychosomatic factors contributing to the twin distresses of pain and depression.
The Integrated Being
For 5,000 years, Chinese medicine has treated human health holistically. Its foundational philosophy says that a human being exists on the spiritual, emotional, and physical levels simultaneously, and that no one facet of human health can be fully understood without examining the others. Furthermore, people do not exist in a vacuum; they are also members of their community and the universe. Thus, when practiced fully, Chinese medicine integrates concepts from many fields that are today specialized and separate.
Chinese medicine believes that physical symptoms have their root causes in mental and emotional states that manifest in blockages of qi, which can be loosely translated as “life energy.” Likewise, since qi is the conduit for all human functioning, mental, emotional, and physical dysfunction can be treated by manipulating qi. On this framework sprang traditional Chinese healing methods such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, and qigong, just to name a few modalities commonly known to the West.
According to Dr. Jingduan Yang, a Chinese medicine doctor and psychiatrist practicing at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, a deficiency in yang qi or an excess in yin qi often manifests as depression. The same qi imbalances will affect other areas of functioning and present itself as pain.
Modern research is coming close to similar understandings of this complex relationship. The Scandinavian Journal of Pain in 2011 attempted to explain the connection this way:
“First, catastrophizing plays a central role in models of both pain and depression and hence might form an important link between them,” researchers wrote. “Second, emotion regulation is important in both depression and pain since they both can be viewed as significant emotional stressors.”
Dual Acting Treatments
Pain and depression often go hand in hand—sometimes the same traumatic experience triggers both, and the two conditions exacerbate each other.
Neuropathic pain, as opposed to common muscular aches and arthritic pain, derives from dysfunctions in the central nervous system or peripheral nervous system. Trauma causes disproportionate electrical activity in the nerves, and sufferers of chronic neuropathic conditions such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) experience normal touch or the slightest heat as pain.
Acupuncture acts on correcting the qi blockages that cause such pain and when used correctly can reduce the hypersensitivity associated with neuropathic pain. Used as a complementary treatment to conventional modalities, it can increase the rate of recovery while reducing stress. Since it works on the person’s qi, and qi regulates emotion, effective acupuncture boosts mood, too.
Another alternative treatment that acts on both the body and the brain is ketamine infusion. Ketamine is an anesthetic drug that, when administered by a qualified physician or anesthesiologist, acts on the nervous system to dampen excessive pain signals.
“It stops the transmission of pain from the body to the spine and to the brain, and gives the system the chance to reboot,” said Dr. Glen Z. Brooks, a New York anesthesiologist who offers ketamine treatments.
In cases of depression, ketamine promotes the growth of the synapses and lets the brain heal itself, reversing the structural causes of depression, according to Brooks.
The ketamine dosage and treatment plan for depression patients and pain patients are different, and must be customized to the person’s body weight, and so should be thought of as separate treatments, but patients with related conditions often see improvements in their symptoms.
You may also like: Doctors Use Brain Scans to ‘See’ and Measure Pain
Tags: Body & Mind, health, psychology
By Rosemary Byfield
A tightness in the chest, a cold creeping rush enveloping the body, sweaty palms, palpitations, a racing heart. A feeling like one is dying. These are the symptoms of a panic attack.
TV presenter Anna Williamson is known as the bright and bubbly face of the ITV children’s show, Toonattik, and entertainment reporter on Daybreak. Yet, five years ago behind the “smiley” façade, Anna was suffering.
“It’s like you’re having a heart attack,” says Anna describing her panic attacks. “I didn’t identify what was happening to me, I just remember feeling so desperately unhappy and I didn’t know why.”
It was the most desolate, lonely time of her life. Anna knew she was fortunate to have a “fantastic” job and was also surrounded by close friends and family. So why did she feel like her life was “imploding”?
Away from the cameras she was troubled in her private life and embarrassed to admit to those close to her she wasn’t coping. Anna put pressure on herself to feel happier. The panic attacks worsened.
“Like a rabbit in the headlights you want to be anywhere else than where you are,” Anna says.
“It was so awful that I feared having a panic attack again. The fear of a panic attack created a panic attack. So I got locked in a cycle, where I thought: ‘I never want to feel like that again.’”
About 1 in 10 people will have severe anxiety or phobias at some point in their lives. However, most people with these problems never ask for treatment, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
‘Life changing’ therapy
Defeated, Anna took time off work, and despite the stigma, sought therapy. She felt the “tight elastic band” of emotions inside her start to unwind.
“I found counselling absolutely life changing.”
Tears came as the therapist asked questions that allowed Anna to pinpoint what was bothering her.
“It was so liberating. I remember walking out of that office an hour and half later knowing that I was going to be ok, because I had found someone who understands me,” Anna says.
Two sessions a week of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for three weeks helped Anna get back to work. CBT, which is available on the NHS, is a talking therapy that helps people to recognise and change habitual thinking patterns causing anxiety.
Every session was “more about self-discovery, more unburdening and unravelling of things that were going on in my head.”
Anna worked through the jumbled mess in her mind, filing it away with the help of CBT and, combined with anti-anxiety medication, felt better and better about herself. She also found a deep sense of relaxation using self-hypnosis.
Anna became a huge advocate of talking therapies and trained as a counsellor. She regularly volunteers taking calls from children on the free helpline Childline.
Online peer support
Recently, Anna is supporting another cause close to her heart: Elefriends.org.uk, a newly relaunched mental health online peer support platform.
“Anybody, you, me, can go on and just talk. It’s for like-minded people who are, perhaps, having a bad day,” says Anna, who explains that with the option to be anonymous, the forum is a safe place to share feelings and opinions about mental health problems.
“Maybe you can identify with someone,” Anna says.
Started on Facebook, Elefriends outgrew the limit of 5,000 friends. Mind, the mental health charity, secured Social Action Funding allowing Elefriends to expand to an unlimited platform. Thousands more people can now access the popular support network.
More than four out of five people feel that talking about their mental health problems helps, according to Mind.
President of Mind and the voice of the Elephant animations used on Elefriends, Stephen Fry said in a statement: “If you have a mental health problem, talking to someone who’s had a similar experience can be an absolute lifeline.”
Twenty per cent of people have to wait more than a year for talking therapies on the NHS. A Mind survey revealed that almost four out of five people who have accessed on- or offline peer support networks have found at least one kind of peer support effective.
One forum user, Sam, 31, who suffered depression for more than ten years, was signed off work for two months following bereavement, his mother being ill and a difficult time at work. A former colleague recommended he join Elefriends.
“No one will naively tell you to ‘get over it’ or be patronisingly over-concerned. You get empathy rather than sympathy and the support is mutual, which can help give you perspective and explore new ways of managing your mental health,” said Sam in a statement.
Another member, Katie, 31, has battled over the years with depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsions and self-harm. She wanted to use her experiences to help others, but found to her surprise that she got so much more support back from the community itself.
People may be concerned: Will they be employable if they speak out about their mental health problems?
For Anna, through confronting her demons, and going public has only helped her career.
“I’ve had more work since I’ve got to know myself better and corrected any errors in myself and I’m a much better TV presenter as a result of it,”
Anna hopes her story can inspire others.
“If one person identifies with my story, and takes heart and comfort in that, that’s the right reason for me to speak out about it.”
Tags: Body & Mind, health, psychology
By Chani Blue
When talking psychotherapy or emotional counselling most people conjure up images of reclining on a studded leather couch talking with a psychologist. But therapy need not always take this form, which to some can be uncomfortable and confronting. Traditional “talk-based” forms of counselling are effective, but there is another alternative method becoming more widely accepted, which is also an evidence-based approach: Equine Assisted Therapy EAT.
Incorporating animals in the process of self-discovery and emotional healing may seem very left-field compared to conventional approaches, but there has been much evidence that suggests that an animal-led approach is successful in psycho-intervention.
We are all familiar with the concept of using domesticated animals in hospitals and hospices to brighten a patient’s day. It is also well accepted that patting an animal can reduce blood pressure and help to lower a patient’s guard; a dog or cat can help patients feel at ease during treatment and consultation with a doctor.
Therapy involving horses was first used in Europe in the 1800s. Since then horses have played a role in helping people to overcome a wide variety of personal problems like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sleep disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder—common among war veterans. Equine Therapy is also being used to treat children with autism or behavioural problems and children with a history of abuse.
Michelle Rookley, an Equine facilitator therapist and employee of Chiron Programs in Tasmania’s Huon Valley says that the horse-assisted sessions are relaxed and informal.
“From observations, I feel people are drawn to this therapy because it is not clinical. The sessions are in a natural setting, it is not a pressured environment. The focus is not on the person as a ‘patient’,” she said.
Ms Rookley also has experience working as a nutritionist and she incorporates this knowledge into her horse-led therapy sessions to assist people affected by eating disorders.
Ms Rookley says that after spending time with the horses people often comment that they are feeling more positive, more empowered and more confident.
“We believe that horses have a power which is uniquely transformative. They can teach us compassion, respect, humility, patience and gratitude,” she said.
The horses’ place in the arena of healing
EAT is not horse riding. It is a personalised therapy session conducted by a trained horse specialist, a licensed health councillor, and a small herd of horses—specially trained to be calm and docile.
Different countries have set up different models for conducting EAT, and so there are slight differences in the way a session is conducted.
Australia, a typical session may be conducted as follows: the patient will be guided to undertaking groundwork with the horses such as leading them along an obstacle course or brushing them.
When the session with the horses finishes the participant is invited to verbalise arising thoughts and feelings. The Equine Assisted Therapy Facilitator brings attention to the themes being raised. Through discussion and self-reflection the patient may become aware of negative notions or thought-patterns, which may lead to a holistic change.
“Why horses?” you may be asking. Horses are highly responsive animals, which naturally “group” together, and are therefore sensitive to the feelings and body language of their herd. When around humans they are expert body language readers and can pick up on intentions and attitudes in a non-judgmental way. Through observing interactions between the participants and the horses, the therapist can gain insight into behaviour patterns and mental obstacles that the participant may not be aware of.
Ms Rookley has witnessed this curious experience firsthand. “Quite often the horses are reflecting a person’s inner issues and mental-emotional health, though sometimes not in obvious ways. In a group scenario people often connect to horses which reflect their personality—providing insight,” she said.
Everyone can benefit
EAT is not just for people in need of psychotherapy. This approach is also being used by people in the corporate sector to build on life skills such as leadership, self-confidence, motivation and being more open and sensitive to their peers.
Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is another approach within the same field of philosophy. In this approach, through close contact with horses, children and adolescence learn about themselves and the importance of positive, socially acceptable behaviour. This therapy has proven to be useful with children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), aggression and anti-social behaviour.
Ms Rookley has assisted a large variety of people in her community through EAT. She has helped children who are not coping with peer situations, people who are experiencing grief and others who are suffering from eating disorders, to name a few.
During an EAT session a participant is placed in the role of being a leader and clear communicator to guide the horse—without being domineering or spooking it. Through this learning, Ms Rookley believes that EAT can play a positive role in resetting healthy personal boundaries when re-building family relationships.
“EAT can be beneficial for families who are seeking to re-story their patterns of interaction. This therapy is a part of rediscovering self and others and the world that we live, in a healthy way,” she said.
Anyone can try Equine Assisted Therapy or Learning as no previous experience or horse-handling skills are required. People of all ages and fitness levels are welcome to take part; all you need is a willingness to connect with horses and an open mind.
Tags: Body & Mind, health, psychology, Science, Society
For the first time, there is now evidence in the form of an American Psychological Association APA report to support the belief that it feels better to give to others than it does to buy for oneself.
“Our findings suggest that the reward experienced from helping others may be deeply ingrained in human nature, emerging in diverse cultural and economic contexts,” wrote the researchers in the report’s introduction.
The report is titled “Prosocial Spending and Well-Being: Cross-Cultural Evidence for a Psychological Universal,” published by the APA in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Throughout several experiments, findings were the same—people around the world like to give, and it makes them happy. Researchers called the resulting feeling a “warm glow.”
They specifically looked at people’s giving in terms of money, and there was not a difference between rich and poor countries, either.
They looked at survey data from 136 countries gathered in a Gallup World Poll from 2006–2008. The data was collected from 234,917 individuals, one-half of whom were male. The average age was 38.
Although not scientifically proven, many wealthy individuals have claimed to find happiness in giving, and researchers took notice.
Warren Buffett, the famed American billionaire, made a pledge in 2010 that more than 99 percent of his wealth would go to philanthropy during his lifetime.
Meanwhile, he said that he and his family’s lifestyles would not change at all based on his donations, and that spending all his money on himself would not bring him happiness.
He said that he only wants to keep what he needs, and give the rest to society.
Researchers examined what Buffett said and wondered, “Does spending money on others promote happiness even in relatively impoverished areas of the world?”
In one analysis, they compared responses from 820 people from universities in Canada and Uganda. The participants wrote about an instance when they had either spent money on themselves or on others.
They were then asked how happy they felt.
The report concluded, “Participants in Canada and Uganda reported higher levels of happiness when they thought about spending money on others rather than themselves.”
Next, they were asked if they spent money on someone else to build or strengthen a relationship. Researchers found that people still felt pretty happy about spending on others even when little personal gain was expected in return—like praise or the shopping experience.
In another example, researchers looked at participants in Canada and South Africa. Participants bought one gift for themselves, and they bought the exact same gift anonymously for someone else. No one outside of the experiment was made aware of the generous act.
It turns out, according to the study, that doing something for someone else rather than for oneself gives people higher levels of positive emotions.
Tags: Body & Mind, health, psychology
We all hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but what you should be thinking is this: the beginning of your day sets the tempo for the next 24 hours. With that in mind, we identify five ways to get up and get your day going on the right note.
Yes, it is hard. But don’t hit that snooze button. Your body will never really return to that deep, restful state unless you have another hour to spare. The good news? It gets easier with time. The first three days are the hardest, and then you will start to find that you really do enjoy having a few minutes to spare.
Drinking a glass of water should be the first thing you do. Not only do our bodies become dehydrated over night, but a glass of water will help your metabolism get going.
Eating a solid breakfast is just about the best way to set the tempo for the rest of your day. Healthy foods are proven to help your brain operate more efficiently and lessen the chance of eating unhealthy foods throughout the remainder of the day.
The beginning of your day sets the tempo for the next 24 hours.
What does this have to do with health and the body, you may ask. Everything, I say! Because when we look good, we feel better about ourselves. Dressing well also constitutes grooming well, don’t forget.
Taking five minutes (90 seconds will even do the trick) to think about the day that lies ahead will help you to accomplish what is demanded of you. Conjure the following:
– What you aim to accomplish today
– What you are thankful for
– One good deed you can carry out today
That’s it. If you begin your morning this way, you are destined for a great day!
Eco18 is a collective of creative-writing individuals from different backgrounds with a common goal—to live a healthier, more natural lifestyle. Their combined expertise, humor, and opinions explore green and sustainable in a practical, fun way. www.eco18.com
Tags: animals, Body & Mind, health, psychology
Loyal dog prevents suicide: There have been numerous instances of dogs saving people, including a recent example in France this week where a German Shepherd prevented its owner from killing herself.
The recent example of a French woman being saved by her dog as she pointed a rifle towards her heart to kill herself may seem a bit out of the ordinary, but dogs have saved people from certain death on many occasions—even within the past year.
Here are five examples:
Just several days ago, a 3-year-old girl went missing in a Polish village during frigid temperatures. But a stray dog followed her and kept her warm through the night before she was found by rescuers.
“For the whole night the animal was with the girl, it never left her. Remember, it was 5 degrees below zero and the child was wet,” a firefighter said of the incident.
The child was found clinging to the dog about two miles from her home in the village of Pierzwin. The dog apparently slept with the child through the night to keep her warm.
Last November, a family dog in Indianapolis stopped armed kidnappers from leaving a family home. In the incident, a man and a woman broke in and abducted the 3-month-old daughter of Nayeli Garzon-Jimenez while her husband was working.
But the family’s pit bull mix prevented the two assailants from taking off with the child.
“She started screaming and crying,” Adolfo Angeles-Morales, the husband, told local station WISH-TV, referring to his daughter. He added, “The guy said, ‘Give me the money or we take the baby.’”
The woman assailant then grabbed the child and bolted for the door, he said.
Angeles-Morales said, however, that “one of the doggies didn’t let her go through the back door” and the woman threw the baby back.
A dog rescued an 11-year-old boy from a mountain lion attack in 2010 in the small Canadian town of Bar Boston, located some 150 miles north of Vancouver.
The dog, named Angel, threw herself between the boy and the puma and almost died in the scuffle.
“She was my best friend, but now she’s even greater to me,” the boy, Austin Forman, told NBC News, referring to his dog. “She’s more than a best friend now”
Before the attack, he said, “The dog knew something was up, because she ran toward me just at the right time, and the cougar ended up getting her instead.”
“I was just lucky my dog was there, because it happened so fast I wouldn’t have known what hit me,” he added.
Last month, an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s got lost and fell down in the snow in Piscataway, N.J., but a pit bull came to the rescue.
“She looked back at me and then barked, and there I saw a figure laying,” Cara Jones, the owner of the pit bull—named Creature—told ABC News. “She was trying to get up and the sticks kept breaking on her, so she would fall back down.”
Jones recalled not being able to figure out the reason why the dog kept trying to lead her into the brush, where the elderly woman, 89-year-old Carmen Mitchell, fell down. Mitchell had wandered into the woods around a mile from her caretaker.
Even after a full search, police with K-9 units couldn’t find her until Creature arrived on the scene.
“I had a lot of people looking down on me for having a pit bull, and I’m glad that I have her,” Jones said.
In 2009, a man who fell down a 30-foot slope and broke his neck was kept alive when both his dogs kept him warm in frigid temperatures in Brixham, England.
The man, 66-year-old Michael Dyer, was walking his dogs when the incident took place. After he fell, Dyer lay unconscious in the snow.
However, as Dyer slipped in and out of consciousness through the night, his dogs stayed with him and kept his core temperature high enough to survive the cold.
“He loves those dogs and the fact they wouldn’t leave him is amazing,” his friend, Barry Robinson, told the Daily Mail.
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, Nature, psychology, Society
Ontario’s Healthy Kids Panel recently proposed a strategy to help kids get onto a path to health.
The problem is that the path doesn’t lead them into nature. Though the report quotes parents’ comments and research showing kids spend dramatically less time outside than ever, it doesn’t encourage time in nature.
That said, many of the report’s recommendations should be implemented and supported locally, provincially and nationally to reduce the risks of obesity.
Encouraging parents and children to be more critical about dietary choices and requiring more information and labelling from restaurants and food producers is long overdue.
Ontario isn’t the only province working to reduce obesity rates and support parents raising healthy children, particularly in the early years. Alberta released relevant reports in 2011 and Quebec has had a ban on advertising junk food to children since 1980.
No one can argue against public awareness and education around the benefits of healthy eating and active living. But a provincial, patchwork approach to addressing these issues isn’t enough. We need a national strategy to get our kids eating healthy foods and being active in nature.
‘Make good things more accessible’
Although it seems logical that much of the time spent being active will take place outside, the Ontario report acknowledges that “many communities are not designed to encourage kids to move or be physically active…and have few safe green spaces.”
One parent in a focus group explains that the parks in his community are either gated or locked up once school is closed. So, even when there is green space, it’s not always accessible.
Last year, the David Suzuki Foundation conducted a survey with young Canadians and found that 70 percent spend an hour or less a day outdoors. The 2012 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card says they spend almost eight hours a day in front of screens.
So it’s not that kids don’t have time to be outside. It’s just not part of their lifestyle.
Much has been reported about a recommendation by the Ontario panel to ban junk food advertising that targets children under 12. This has worked in Quebec and is being discussed in Alberta.
But the approach has invited criticism from those who argue that people should have the right to choose.
We need a national strategy to get our kids eating healthy foods and being active in nature.
It’s always tempting to focus on making bad things less accessible, but perhaps policymakers should be more creative and focus on ways to make good things more accessible.
Being in nature is good for all of us. People who get outside regularly are less stressed, have more resilient immune systems and are generally happier.
And it’s good for our kids. Studies show spending time in nature or green spaces helps reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
Even in built playgrounds, kids spend twice as much time playing, use their imaginations more, and engage in more aerobic and strengthening activities when the space incorporates natural elements like logs, flowers, and small streams, according to research from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Bring Nature Back Into Our Lives
Despite all the obvious health benefits of spending time outside, provincial and federal governments are failing to integrate a daily dose of nature into their policies.
It’s also something we as a society are failing to make a priority in the lives of our children. This inexpensive and effective way to make our lives healthier and happier should be an obvious solution.
We need to make sure our neighbourhoods have green spaces where people can explore their connections with nature.
We need to make sure our neighbourhoods have green spaces where people can explore their connections with nature.
We need to ask teachers and school board representatives to take students outside so that nature becomes a classroom.
And we need to stop making the outdoors seem like a scary place for children by helping parents understand that the benefits of playing outside outweigh the risks.
It will take public education and awareness-building as well as changes to the way we build cities and live in our communities to bring nature back into our lives.
Connecting kids to nature every day needs to be a priority policy objective in any strategy for healthy children and could easily have been integrated into the recommendations from the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel.
Taking our kids by the hand and spending time outside with them will have the added benefit of making us healthier and happier adults.
By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Communications Specialist Leanne Clare
Tags: Body & Mind, meditation, psychology, Spirituality
When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in strange positions.)
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, IT and Media, psychology, Society
The noise the first student is referring to is the background noise of television, radio and music, plus a multitude of social media and online curiosities. And the silence the second student refers to is a world devoid of such background noise.
Drawing on six years (2007-12) of observations from 580 undergraduate students, it can be reasonably argued that their need for noise and their struggle with silence is a learned behavior.
The desire for media-generated background noise is acquired more from parents and grandparents than from my students’ new-found relationship with social media.
To that extent, Larry D. Rosen’s excellent advice on how teachers can address student social media anxiety – such as by introducing one-minute technology breaks–shouldn’t be confused with issues surrounding the same students’ need for background noise.
With obvious exceptions, mum and dad also inherited this need for background noise: “My grandparents have the television on practically all the time in the background”, observes one student.
It is not surprising then when another writes, “the television was switched on by my parents earlier in the morning for the news and left on … even when no-one was watching”.
For all but one of the 580 students, television and radio was in the home prior to their birth. For most students, the family home also had at least one computer before they were born. Indeed, this year we had our first student that can’t remember her family’s first mobile phone.
Beginning at infancy, the constant media soundscape has provided the background noise either side of bassinet, kindergarten, school and university. It is little wonder many of my students feel agitated and ill-at-ease when there is not at least one portal providing background noise.
Such background noise speaks to Bill McKibben’s observations of the Third Parent.
More often than not, a student’s third parent (whether that be analogue or digital media) speaks to them more often than their biological parents. As one participant noted, “the noise of the TV and the communication on Facebook helps me feel more in touch with people”.
By and large my students report they can’t function in silence. As one explained, “I actually began doing this assignment in the library and had to return to my room minutes later to get my iPod as I found the library was so quiet that I couldn’t concentrate properly!”
It’s not just the silence of a library that students report as disturbing. Having gone home to the farm, one student observed how she found it hard to walk down to the dam without an iPod.
When the students were provided with the tools to reflect on their media consumption they began to recognize the nature of background noise. Having filled in their spreadsheets, they were asked to spend one hour walking, sitting and/or reading in a quiet place. This is the moment in the assignment when students tend to discover their relationship with silence:
“The lack of noise made me uncomfortable, it actually seemed foreboding”, observed one student. Another said “perhaps, because media consistently surrounds us today, we have a fear of peace and quiet”.
Could it be that it’s the background noise and not the discrete content of each media portal that creates the perception of well-being my students write about?
Either way, it’s clear that students (and doubtless many others) have become accustomed to the background noise that’s become such a feature of modern life.
So what about you: are you scared of silence?
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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