If You Speak Mandarin, Your Brain Is Different

28 February, 2015 at 07:14 | Posted in Body & Mind, Science | Leave a comment
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By Larry Taylor
Northumbria University, Newcastle

We speak so effortlessly that most of us never think about it. But psychologists and neuroscientists are captivated by the human capacity to communicate with language. By the time a child can tie his or her shoes, enough words and rules have been mastered to allow the expression of an unlimited number of utterances. The uniqueness of this behaviour to the human species indicates its centrality to human psychology.

That this behaviour comes naturally and seemingly effortlessly in the first few years of life merely fascinates us further. Untangling the brain’s mechanisms for language has been a pillar of neuroscience since its inception. New research published in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences about the different connections going on in the brains of Mandarin and English speakers, demonstrates just how flexible our ability to learn language really is.

Read more: If You Speak Mandarin, Your Brain Is Different

7 Essentials of Mindfulness Practice

17 January, 2015 at 11:49 | Posted in Body & Mind, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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By Dr. Frank Lipman, http://www.drfranklipman.com

Nearly twenty years ago, I did a workshop with Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., whose first book “Full Catastrophe Living” and overall teachings have had a lasting influence on me. This book is a classic on the topic of mindfulness and it has played a spiritual role in both bringing this practice into the Integrative Medicine World as well as in developing the method we teach our patients on how to deal with stress.

I would like to share with you the Seven Essentials of Mindfulness Practice, adapted from this great book.

Non-Judging

Be an impartial witness to your experience. Observing without judging helps you see what is on your mind without editing or intellectualizing it, or getting lost in your thoughts.

Non-Striving

No goal other than to be yourself. It is not about achieving bliss, relaxation or anything else.

Acceptance

A willingness to see things the way they are. By fully accepting what each moment offers, you are able to experience life much more completely.

Letting Go

Of thoughts, ideas, things, events, desires, views, hopes and experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant. Allowing things to be as they are, without getting caught up in our attachment to or rejection of them. It means to give up resisting or struggling and allowing things to be as they are. Watching your breath as it goes in and out is an excellent starting place for this practice of letting go.

Beginner’s Mind

Free of expectations from past experience. Remove the attachment of the past and just be.  Watch the moments unfold, with no agenda other than to be fully present.  Use the breath as an anchor to tether your attention to the present moment.

Patience

Remembering that things must unfold in their own time. An alternative to the mind’s restlessness and impatience. Not letting our anxieties and desire for certain results dominate the quality of the moment.

Trust

In yourself and your feelings. A feeling of confidence that things can unfold within a dependable framework that embodies order and integrity.

This article was originally published on www.drfranklipman.com. Read the original here.

via 7 Essentials of Mindfulness Practice

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How to Manage Stress

22 December, 2014 at 19:01 | Posted in Body & Mind, health | Leave a comment
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By Gaye O’Brien
http://www.NaturallySavvy.com

What is Stress?

Stress is an inability to adapt to your ever-changing environment and to react to the stimuli or events around you. Distress is extreme stress, great pain, anxiety, or sorrow, acute suffering, affliction. (“Dis” meaning negative or reverse force.)

Some stress is good because:

  • It gives you the opportunity to see that your perceptions and emotional reactions are unbalanced and expectations are unrealistic.
  • It gets you moving toward what you want and away from what you don’t want.

Read more about emotional eating

Why is it Important to Manage Stress?

“It is not stress that kills us but our reaction to it.” ~Hans Selye

Stress is a part of life and affects every aspect of life and can accelerate the aging process. When you learn to balance your expectations, perceptions and emotions you will live longer. When emotions move erratically up and down, the tendency toward bipolar sets in and physiology, hormones and adrenals, are affected. Your emotions electrically change your body and mind and this can be either for our benefit or not.

Signs of stress include tense muscles, unbalanced thoughts, erratic speech, shallow breathing and tight chest. Prolonged stress can result in constipation, stomach issues and high blood pressure.

How to Manage Stress:

I have found that I learn the most when I am stressed, as it means that I have to choose my priorities, slow down a little, listen to my body and really learn from the situation at hand.

Here are more tips for dealing with stress:

  • Set balanced expectations and goals whilst allowing for flexibility.
  • Prioritize your actions and what is important for you.
  • Delegate low level priorities to others.
  • Chunk down large projects, doing something everyday to keep up momentum, reduce procrastination, lack of clarity and frustration.
  • Plan the night before for the following day and write goals down to unclutter your head.
  • Congratulate yourself on what you have achieved and reflect on what you have learned.

Read more about self-love

  • Take time daily to relax with meditation, inspiring texts, peaceful music or walks in nature.
  • Work on reducing limiting beliefs as they affect our thoughts and actions that then creates negative emotions.
  • Be passionate about what you do and establish a purpose that is larger than your immediate life.
  • Take some gentle time line therapy with me, to reduce limiting beliefs and negative emotions.
  • Switch from a negative emotion to a positive one by remembering a time when you felt that positive emotion. Change from fear to faith for example.
What if You Learn to Manage Stress?

When you practice mastering stress your hormonal cortisol levels will go down and your endorphin levels with go up. You will feel fulfilled, poised and centered. This will add years to your life by slowing down the aging process.

You will then have the opportunity to develop your gifts and passions and share them with others to create a better world for all!

This article was originally published on www.NaturallySavvy.com.

via How to Get Rid of Stress

Treating Body and Mind Through the Spleen

2 December, 2014 at 13:41 | Posted in Body & Mind, Chinese culture, health | Leave a comment
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Obesity, insomnia, and depression can all result from trouble with the spleen

By Christopher Trahan

While Western medicine views disease as being biochemical or mechanical, in Chinese medicine, all disorders can involve both physical and psychological processes.

Therefore, when we talk about an organ in traditional Chinese medicine, it has a different scope than the Western organ with the same name (and for this reason, is capitalized in this article).

So, while Western spleen diseases all affect the “Spleen” of traditional Chinese medicine, the Spleen of Chinese medicine also includes other physiological functions.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the Spleen provides perhaps the most far-ranging array of physiological functions and is the most complex when compared to its Western equivalent organ.

The Spleen of Chinese medicine maintains our daily energy and metabolism. It includes our digestive system, our immune and lymphatic systems, our blood nutrients, and various aspects of our endocrine system.

The Spleen’s mental-emotional states are worry, over-thinking, pensiveness, and rumination. In modern Western psychological terms, the Spleen relates to anxiety and nervousness and some forms of depression and insomnia.

In Chinese medicine terms, the Spleen “Governs Transportation and Transformation” of food and fluids. In Western terms, this includes digestion, assimilation, the distribution of nutrients, and the utilization of lipids, hormones, and electrolytes.

Imbalances in these functions of the Spleen produce most digestive disorders, including diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, excess or lack of appetite, obesity or emaciation, eating disorders, water retention, and skin disorders such as acne and weeping eczema.

Dampness

In traditional Chinese medicine, wind, heat, cold, dryness, and dampness can unbalance the body and cause illness.

Spleen disorders are particularly affected when a person is exposed to damp environments. Damp weather aggravates conditions like diarrhea, edema, and excess mucous.

On both physical and mental levels, dampness is associated with dullness, slowness, and lack of energy. Dampness can weaken the Spleen energy, causing fatigue and lassitude, and can lead to hypothyroidism. When the Spleen is weak as a result of dampness, a person can develop environmental, seasonal, and food allergies, as well as yeast infections.

Taste

The taste associated with the Spleen is sweet. Craving sweets can indicate an imbalance in the Spleen, and over-consumption of sweets, including carbohydrates, can cause the Spleen to lose energy. Taken to the extreme, sweetness and excess dampness can lead to obesity. Deficient Spleen energy can also result in hypoglycemia and diabetes.

Insomnia

Spleen imbalance often occurs in combination with imbalances of other organs. Insomnia of all types relates to the heart, which is said to “house the mind” in Chinese medicine.

When people have trouble falling asleep, this relates to the blood of the Spleen failing to nourish the heart and is often due to over-thinking, anxiety, or worry.

Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes that the Spleen’s digestive function, which produces blood, relates to onset-insomnia. Chinese doctors understood the sleep-stomach connection, thousands of years before modern Western medicine discovered that some 70 percent of serotonin metabolism occurs in the gut.

Treating the Spleen

In my practice, at least 30 percent of my patients experience frequent insomnia, and most of them have trouble falling asleep, which can occur both at the start of the night or when their sleep is interrupted.

In my practice, I always use formulas combining herbs to flesh out the benefits to the Spleen and to address other organs’ imbalances.

Chinese herbal medicine treats all deficient Spleen energy with formulas featuring ginseng and other Spleen tonics such as astragalus and atractylodes.

When we treat Spleen disorders such as excess dampness, we use herbs such as hawthorn to enhance lipid digestion and utilization, and alisma to promote urination.

Global Herbal Medicine and Homeopathy

I also use global herbal medicine and homeopathy to treat spleen issues. In global herbal medicine, I use Ayurvedic and Western herbs to treat spleen syndromes.

In classical homeopathy, I treat these syndromes, including physical and mental-emotional issues, with one or more of homeopathy’s hundreds of plant-based remedies.

The homeopathic remedy Lycopodium treats digestive and mental symptoms associated with Spleen imbalances. I also use the remedy Ceanothus, which dilates the splenic artery, allowing more oxygenated blood to get to the spleen, which enhances the spleen’s function as filtration.

I have found that classical homeopathy often achieves even more impressive results than traditional Chinese medicine and global herbal medicine when it comes to treating more severe psychological pathologies such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Homeopathy is also very effective in some cases of hormonal and immune disorders, including infertility and allergies.

Dr. Christopher Trahan, O.M.D., L.Ac., is the medical director of the Olympus Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine. He is nationally board-certified in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine (NCCA) and is a classically trained homeopathic physician. He has been in clinical practice for over 30 years. Complimentary consultation: Olympus-Center.com

via Treating Body and Mind Through the Spleen

Are You A Highly Sensitive Person?

22 November, 2014 at 12:06 | Posted in Body & Mind, books, Culture, health | Leave a comment
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Do you have a keen imagination and vivid dreams?  Is time alone each day as essential to you as food and water?  Are you “too shy” or “too sensitive” according to others?  Do noise and confusion quickly overwhelm you?  If your answers are yes, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

For those people who have a keen imagination, are labelled too shy or too sensitive, who perform poorly when being observed even though they are usually competent, have vivid dreams and for whom time alone each day is essential – this is the book to help them understand themselves and how best to cope in various situations. Highly sensitive people are often very bright and creative but many suffer from low self esteem. They are not neurotics as they have been labelled for so long. However, high sensitivity can lead them to cease to engage with the outside world.

In The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine N. Aron, you will discover:
* Self-assessment tests to help you identify your particular sensitivities
* Ways to reframe your past experiences in a positive light and gain greater self-esteem in the process
* Insight into how high sensitivity affects both work and personal relationships
* Tips on how to deal with overarousal
* Informations on medications and when to seek help
* Techniques to enrich the soul and spirit

What Can You Let Go Of?

21 November, 2014 at 10:19 | Posted in Body & Mind, health, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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By David Tucker, L.A.c. LMP, thezenofhealing.com/blog/

The Autumn season and Metal element in the body is governed by our Lung and Colon meridians. They have a reciprocal relationship of receiving or inhaling the very highest quality of life, of Spirit, and then a release of what is no longer useful for us. And if we are not letting go, then we are not making room for new “inspiration”. This is true on all levels – physiological, mental, emotional, spiritual.

So I’d like to focus on the letting go aspect. Much of the world’s suffering exists today because of grasping, clinging, attachment. Holding on to a particular idea, thought, emotion, experience. We say all the time, “I wish this moment could last forever”. And people try and try with all their might to create a reality in which that feeling endures. Our expectations and preconceived notions really get us into trouble – what a friend should be, a partner, a son, a teacher, what a parent SHOULD be. Why trouble?? Well, most of the times our ideas of what people SHOULD be very rarely coincides with how we they actually express themselves in the moment. Then can we watch our reaction… can we observe without judging, criticizing, blaming or labeling? This takes a lot of practice, luckily, we never seem short on opportunities!

As my Grand Zen Master used to say…”Put it all down!”. Not that its a terrible thing to have desires, opinions, preferences, etc., but we must watch how we cling to them. If we are holding on so tight, then we allow for a sort of mental constipation which is NO FUN! There is no mental constipation that won’t find its way to manifest physically. That may be in our actual Colon, but it can manifest as any sort of stuckness – bloating, pain, insomnia, depression, etc. An important thing to remember is that the Colon meridian is not only charge of disposing of its own trash but all the garbage from the other meridians as well. So if there is a back-up, we can see “symptoms” coming from any of the meridians… which is a reminder that symptoms do not always point you to the root cause.

So what we can do? Well, on a physiological level… keep your Lungs and Colon healthy. Keep your lungs filled with pure, clear air and that they get plenty opportunity to “breathe” – yoga, meditation, aerobic exercise. For the Colon, we certainly want to encourage the physiological releases! Good dietary sources of fiber, omega-3 fish oils, aloe vera juice/gel, and plenty of water to name a few. On the deeper layers, many alternative therapies are wonderful for encouraging our processes of inspiration and letting go – of course, acupuncture and massage… but how about dance, drumming, martial arts, music. Utilizing rhythm and/or the voice… really powerful! On a more quieter note… journaling or a creative art project.

What’s most important is that we are checking in with ourselves internally. It would make a wonderful daily practice, ask yourself, “What am I holding on to?” or “What can I let go of today?”. Watch how it can not only ease your suffering, but those around you as well!

Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. Adventures in Chinese Medicine is her first book. You can find her at www.tcm007.com.

via What Can You Let Go Of?

Rest Your Mind the Right Way to Boost Learning

2 November, 2014 at 07:32 | Posted in Body & Mind, Science | 1 Comment
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By University of Texas at Austin

Scientists have previously found that resting the mind, such as daydreaming, helps strengthen memories of events and retention of information.

Now, research shows that the right kind of mental rest, which strengthens and consolidates memories from recent learning, may boost later learning.

At the University of Texas at Austin, graduate student research Margaret Schlichting and associate professor of psychology and neuroscience Alison Preston gave participants in the study two learning tasks in which participants were asked to memorize different series of associated photo pairs.

Between the tasks, participants rested and could think about anything they chose, but brain scans found that the ones who used that time to reflect on what they had learned earlier in the day fared better on tests pertaining to what they learned later, especially where small threads of information between the two tasks overlapped.

Participants seemed to be making connections that helped them absorb information later on, even if it was only loosely related to something they learned before.

Read more: Rest Your Mind the Right Way to Boost Learning

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Help, Not Incarceration

31 October, 2014 at 07:31 | Posted in Body & Mind, Society | Leave a comment
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By Annie WuThe Epoch Times

NEW YORK—Anthony Cruz is a different man now that he has been locked up several times.

Before serving his 10-year sentence in New York state prisons for manslaughter in the first degree he was diagnosed with adjustment disorder and depression, among other mental health conditions. Cruz spent a total of three years in solitary confinement, but he said he was denied help from mental health staff in prison. Unless he had suicidal thoughts, he wasn’t allowed to talk to a psychiatrist. 

Since Cruz was released on parole two years ago, it’s been difficult finding a steady job with a felony conviction on his record. This summer, he received notice from the city that his family would have to relocate from their current homeless shelter location in the Bronx. Then, his wife’s temporary teaching job ended, and her weeks of job searching didn’t yield results. To cope with the stress, Cruz turned to MDMA, a drug he was addicted to before. “I was going through so much,” Cruz explained.

At a regular visit to the parole office for a drug urine test, Cruz was caught with the drug in his system.

He had a panic attack upon hearing that he’d have to go to jail at Rikers Island for his parole violation. “I was wailing and crying, telling the parole officers that I didn’t want to go back to a cell.”

Cruz suffered several more panic attacks while inside. He couldn’t sleep being around so many people. He was reliving his deepest fear.

Local jail reform advocate Five Mualimm-ak, with the Incarcerated Nation Corporation, sought to get Cruz treatment for his drug dependence and other mental health needs, but nothing came of the requests.

Across the country, people with mental illness and substance abuse are repeatedly cycled in and out of the criminal justice system. The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) estimate that more than 1.26 million mentally ill adults are detained in the country’s jails and prisons. Some cities are trying to change this statistic through programs that offer some of these nonviolent offenders a way out of incarceration, and a chance to improve their lives.

Out of Jail, Into Treatment

In the 1980s and ’90s, different communities across the country created programs to provide treatment alternatives to incarceration for people like Cruz, who would otherwise face jail time for nonviolent drug charges, or those who committed offenses during a mental health crisis.

For example, in the late ’80s, the police department in Memphis, Tenn., devised a crisis intervention team (CIT) where officers would be trained in identifying and responding appropriately to the emotionally or mentally disturbed. Police are taught de-escalation techniques to calm down individuals who may be agitated or aggressive. And instead of arresting them, police would bring them to a mental health treatment center.

The Memphis model has been adopted by other cities, including in San Antonio, Texas, where police officers bring people to The Restoration Center. There, they can get medical and mental health treatment, as well as social services such as housing and job training.

San Antonio also has a detox center and a 90-day residential program for those in need of substance abuse treatment. For those in need of more intensive care, they get transferred to state hospitals or private institutions if the individual has private health insurance.

Leon Evans, the director of San Antonio’s mental health care system who developed the center, said he got the idea after he saw the county jail overcrowded with people in need of mental health treatment.

Police would bring the mentally distressed to the emergency room or jail, but without treatment or housing, they get released back to the streets and may turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with their illnesses. “They would get arrested the same day and go right back into jail,” Evans said.

“Texas is a pretty conservative place,” said Evans. “[W]e realized that putting them in jail was the last thing we should be doing.”

Evans said the center has been proven effective: about 70 percent of those who graduate from the center’s treatment programs are living and working independently a year later. Since the center was built five years ago, the county has also saved $10 million per year.

Dangerous for the Mentally Ill

The country’s jails and prisons are toxic environments for those with a mental illness.

In August, a DOJ investigation of jail conditions at the city’s main jail Rikers Island found that adolescent mentally ill inmates were routinely abused by corrections officers and placed into solitary confinement for extended periods of time—as punishment for breaking rules, or getting into verbal disputes with the officers. Several high-profile cases of mentally ill inmates dying under questionable circumstances while detained at Rikers have been reported in the last year.

DOJ data shows that across the country, mentally ill jail inmates are twice as likely to be charged with a rule violation and three times as likely to be injured in a fight. Studies have also shown that mentally ill inmates are detained longer on average than those without a mental illness.

Incarceration also has heavy financial costs. A recent analysis by the city comptroller’s office revealed that in fiscal year 2014, it cost city taxpayers more than $96,000 a year to house an inmate in jail.

Treatment is more cost-effective than jail, said Jim Parsons, research director at the Vera Institute, a criminal justice policy research organization based in New York. The organization found that alternative-to-incarceration programs in New York City save an average of $7,038 per person.

Read more: Help, Not Incarceration

Having a Bad Day? A Positive Mindset Starts With These 4 Simple Steps

24 October, 2014 at 13:54 | Posted in Body & Mind | Leave a comment
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by Tatiana Tobar-Darzi

There have been times when I was unhappy with my life for no certain reason. I looked to external factors to fill the void, only to realize that no other person or thing could fill that gap. So I started thinking, ‘What can I do to maintain happiness throughout my daily living?’ I came up with a practical solution: positive thinking.

But it’s easier said than done, because positive thinking requires practice and a balance of emotions.

Negative thoughts will affect our actions and perspective.

For example: at work, your colleague gets noticed and praised, meanwhile you get overlooked. As a result, you feel resentment and anger toward your colleague, thinking he or she isn’t worthy and you deserve to be rewarded for your work as well. You try to make yourself feel better by focusing on the other person’s weaknesses. But how does this really help you improve your mood? It doesn’t. So what can you do to change the way you feel about a situation that is bothering you and attain a positive state of mind?

Here are some steps you can take to improve your outlook and emotions:

1. EMOTIONAL THINKING

Let’s say you’re driving, and someone cuts you off, you come home angry, slam the door, scoff at your spouse or pet, because you’re now in a bad mood. Think about it, you’re basically letting this negative state of mind control the outcome of the rest of your day.

Don’t do it! Don’t dwell on it. Take a step back, breathe, forgive, and let that moment go. Negative things happen to us all the time.

2. INJURED PRIDE

If at work someone gives you constructive criticism but you are too stubborn to see past your pride, then you will never allow your mind to be open to the suggestions of others. Especially when you view the other person in a lesser light. Maybe they’re your subordinate, maybe they haven’t performed that well, but try to push your pride aside and re-analyze things. Is there indeed something you can improve on and therefore benefit the greater cause? By setting aside your pride, you will allow yourself to see things more clearly. Pride is a negative emotion and it won’t get you far in life.

Read more: Having a Bad Day? A Positive Mindset Starts With These 4 Simple Steps

Knowing Your Own Mind

12 October, 2014 at 07:14 | Posted in Body & Mind, health | Leave a comment
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By Wayne Dean Doyle
Epoch Times Contributor

Upon trawling my mind as to how to define what this article is trying to convey, I decided to visit the World Health Organization’s website to define the area of Mental Health and its many different forms.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health (and mental health) as: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Mental health is an integral part of this definition.”

How many of us can actually admit that we can know what our Mental Health is? Yes, that’s correct. There is simply not one single answer because Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and insomnia to name but a few are extremely complex and in many cases an intellectual minefield.

I did something on the way to work a couple of days ago partially out of disbelief but mostly out of frustration. I stopped trying to board a rush hour train and simply slumped my body onto the bench nearest to me. I refrained from being part of this scurry and began being consumed by the panic, havoc, and the general disarray of the many bodies thrusting and cramming relentlessly onto a Path train in order to get into work on time.

The constant rushing from one place to the next, the anxious glances at your wrist watch, the uneasy shuffling on the subway during rush hour, your heart beats faster and becomes more anxious, the perspiration builds on the palm of your hands, another quick glance. Damn, it’s almost 9:00 am and you are not going to make it to work on time.

Now stop for just a moment, if this is you and this happens five times a week on top of handling the heavy workload, on top of raising a family—you really need to be privy to the inner sanctums of your Mental Health.

Some individuals are fully aware and actively promoting a positive mind set within their lives, which is a smart and intelligent move.

But for those that don’t, your ability to handle stressful situations may well dictate the structure and successfulness of your life.

Mental health and anxiety issues can be just as detrimental to one’s well being as any other physical illness, yet we as individuals continuously fail to acknowledge these underlying and very prevalent issues.

When the topic of Mental Health is mentioned the concomitance ensues, which unfortunately is usually one of negativity. The whole spectrum of Mental Health is vast, complex and extremely multidimensional topic.

Not only do many individuals refuse to discuss their Mental Health openly, but in some cases remain in denial that their Mental Health maybe in actual fact be experiencing an overload.

One of the first steps to promoting a positive Mental Health within one’s life starts with actively acknowledging your Mental Health. Equipped with this knowledge one should then be talking steps to ensure your mental attitude is residing within a controlled environment.

Denial is a major component of depression and anxiety with prevents many individuals from taking the first positive steps.

According to Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, ”If you’re in denial, you’re not being realistic about something that’s happening in your life—something that might be obvious to those around you.

Sadly this in turn can lead to a multitude of issues and bottomless pits. These signposts include loneliness, depression, and isolation. They also include loss of self esteem through loss of a job or person through death.

All of the above scenarios are an attack on ones Mental Health and general well being causing individuals to become mentally ill, they feel as if they have nobody to turn to.

The current economic climate is having disastrous effects on individuals and their families, marriages have failed because of arguments about incomes, job losses and pressure to keep the family together in these turbulent times.

Although there are many contributing factors related to Mental Health issues many experts have cited poverty and economical factors as a major contributor including socio economic status. A culmination of the above leaves an individual with not only a feeling of vulnerability and disadvantage but is also seriously damaging to self confidence and belief.

Those who love and support you can see if you look tired, if your humor is mellow, and if you are generally just not being yourself.

These issues combined have a ripple affect essentially undermining ones confidence; this in turn reduces their productivity within their communities.

via Knowing Your Own Mind

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How Lucid Dreaming Could Help PTSD and Give Psychological Insights

2 October, 2014 at 07:29 | Posted in beyond science, Body & Mind, Science | Leave a comment
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By Tara MacIsaac
Epoch Times

The universe is full of mysteries that challenge our current knowledge. In “Beyond Science” Epoch Times collects stories about these strange phenomena to stimulate the imagination and open up previously undreamed of possibilities. Are they true? You decide.

A lucid dream is a dream in which a person realizes he or she is dreaming and is able to consciously interact with the dream. People can learn to dream lucidly through various techniques (discussed later). Some psychologists use lucid dreaming to treat trauma victims, including veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Psychophysiologist Stephen LaBerge, who received his Ph.D. from Stanford University, has also said that studying lucid dreams may greatly help us better understand the phenomenon of dreaming; unclear dreamer-recall has always been a great hindrance to studying dreams, but lucid dreamers are able to remember their dreams with greater clarity. They are also able to perform actions in dreams following the instructions of researchers.

Treating Trauma

Psychologist J. Timothy Green treated a Vietnam War veteran who had recurrent nightmares about the time he saw his best friend killed in battle.

It was the same every time. His friend would fall, and blood would flow from his neck until he finally died.

“Because his dream was always the same, I suggested he pick one particular moment in the dream and each night as he fell asleep to mentally and emotionally visualize himself back in that particular moment and remind himself that he was dreaming. He decided to use the moment when he found that his buddy had died as the signal he was dreaming,” Green wrote in an article on Therapist-Psychologist.com.

The veteran followed Green’s advice and was able to realize he was dreaming when he saw his friend. He was then able to redirect the dream, telling his friend the war was over and they were going home. The friend didn’t die this time, but instead got up smiling and walked away.

The nightmare that had haunted this man for three decades did not return.

Green hypothesizes that nightmares are either subconscious attempts to make the individual aware of something, or they are “a psychological attempt to end a difficult, even terrifying event, in a less traumatic manner.”

“During lucid dreams, the individual is able to face the frightening images in his or her dreams and have the dream end in a more favorable and less traumatic manner,” Green wrote.

Neuroscientist and science writer Bill Skaggs noted that people who dream more often are also likely to be depressed.

“People who are very severely depressed often show an excess of REM sleep—the type of sleep in which dreams occur,” he wrote in a post on Quora.com. “Reducing the amount of REM sleep is an effective way of reducing the level of depression, at least temporarily.” Whereas eliminating REM sleep—eliminating dreams—is a temporary solution, Green helps patients change the dreams for more lasting results.

ALSO SEE: Talking About Near-Death Experiences Could Help Soldiers Heal, Says Retired Colonel

 …
The Place of Lucid Dreaming in Dream Studies

Hobson-quote

LaBerge began studying lucid dreaming more than 40 years ago for his Ph.D. at Stanford. At the time, many dismissed the phenomenon of lucid dreaming as temporary arousals from sleep. The experiments of LaBerge and others, however, showed the physical effects of lucid dreaming on the brain, eye movement, and muscle movement.

The effects on the brain set lucid dreaming apart from waking life, but also from imagining. A lucid dreamer performing a certain action, such as singing, in a dream produced different brain activity than the same person singing in waking life or imagining singing while awake.

Such experimentation was only possible with lucid dreamers. LaBerge directed a test subject to signal to him while in the dream using pre-determined eye-movement patterns. Once the dreamer realized he was dreaming, he would make the eye-movements, which would also cause the eyes of his physical body to move. Then he would sing. When he was finished singing, he would make the eye movements again.

This way, LaBerge could see where the singing began and where it ended and could examine the brain activity data for that exact time period to see how it correlated to the action.

“The fact that recall for lucid dreams is more complete than for non-lucid dreams … presents another argument in favor of using lucid dreamers as subjects,” LaBerge wrote in “Lucid Dreaming: Evidence and Methodology.” “Not only can they carry out specific experiments in their dreams, but they are also more likely to be able to report them accurately. That our knowledge of the phenomenology of dreaming is severely limited by recall is not always sufficiently appreciated.”

How to Realize You’re Dreaming

Green had directed his patient to picture a scene as he was falling asleep and to also be aware that that scene is within a dream. This is one method of training yourself to dream lucidly.

Others have suggested would-be lucid dreamers get in the habit of asking themselves in waking life, “Am I dreaming?” If it’s a habit, you’re more like to ask yourself this question in a dream and realize it is indeed a dream.

Having a predetermined signal in mind can also help. For example, in the film “Waking Life,” which is themed around lucid dreaming, the main character knows that if he flips a light switch and it doesn’t change the lighting level, he’s in a dream. Many lucid dreamers have reported that establishing similar signals for themselves is helpful.

WikiHow gives several other techniques, including marking an “A” on your palm. Whenever you see the “A,” it can remind you to ask yourself whether you’re awake.

LaBerge wrote: “As long as we continue to consider wakefulness and sleep as a simple dichotomy, we will lie in a Procrustean bed that is bound at times to be most uncomfortable. There must be degrees of being awake just as there are degrees of being asleep (i.e. the conventional sleep stages). Before finding our way out of this muddle, we will probably need to characterize a wider variety of states of consciousness than those few currently distinguished (e.g. ‘dreaming,’ ‘sleeping,’ ‘waking,’ and so on).”

Follow @TaraMacIsaac on Twitter, visit the Epoch Times Beyond Science page on Facebook, and subscribe to the Beyond Science newsletter to continue exploring the new frontiers of science!

via How Lucid Dreaming Could Help PTSD and Give Psychological Insights – The Epoch Times

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Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPhones or iPads: Why Not?

27 September, 2014 at 07:44 | Posted in Body & Mind, Children, health, IT and Media, Technology | Leave a comment
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By Zachary Stieber
Epoch Times

Steve Jobs, the Apple visionary, didn’t let his children use iPhones or iPads when he was alive.

Jobs, who helped create many of Apple’s most famous products, was the father of two teenage girls and a son before he passed away in 2011.

New York Times reporter Nick Bilton recently revealed a portion of an interview he once had with Jobs.

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” Bilton asked.

“They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs responded.

“‘m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow,” Bilton added. “Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.”

Jobs didn’t elaborate in the interview, but Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, confirmed that Jobs valued time with his family away from screens.

“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” Isaacson wrote.

“No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

The NYT article includes quotes from a number of those involved in the tech world who also strictly limit their children’s screen time, including banning all gadgets on school nights.

“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” Chris Anderson, CEO of 3d Robotics, said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

Bilton says that the dangers he refers to include harmful content such as pornography, cyber bullying, and becoming addicted to devices.

via Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPhones or iPads: Why Not?

How to be a Good Man During Confrontations

25 September, 2014 at 09:35 | Posted in Body & Mind | Leave a comment
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By Derek Markham, naturalpapa.com

It sometimes feels as if we’re caught between the old model of aggressive and combative manhood, where everything is a battle, and the new, kinder, gentler man, for whom everything is a compromise. And we don’t have a whole lot of examples of men walking the middle path in our modern culture.

It’s either Die Hard or the Simpsons.

So in real life, where confrontations are everywhere, from our kids to our spouse to our boss to a nosy neighbor, how does a good man stay rooted during heated conversations? And does it matter what the age or gender of the other party is?

I’ve also been wondering the same thing…

Anyone else tired of being a yes-man to their boss, their wife, their peers? Are you equally tired of backing down or avoiding confrontations with the know-it-alls, the bad-mouthing gossipers, and the self-righteous proselytizers? Or maybe you’re the one always getting in someone’s face?

Sometimes we don’t even know when we’re being too easy or too domineering in a situation, and in the course of trying to figure some of this out for myself, I came up with some guidelines that have helped me.

A Good Man’s Guide to Dealing with Confrontations:

Know your values. If you focus on what you stand for, instead of on what you’re against, just about any confrontation becomes quite a bit easier. We’re not as concerned with what others think is true for themselves if we’re well grounded in our own values.

Lead, don’t follow. Letting the other person lead you in a conversation or argument is giving away your half of the confrontation. You don’t have to follow. Instead, lead from your values.

Speak softly. Leave the big stick at home. This can be a very hard lesson to learn, and sometimes a painful one. Usually it’s because the other party has a bigger stick. Our deeper voices and tendency to ratchet up the volume when we get angry can also backfire on us by escalating a situation that could best be served by a calm, soft voice.

Toe the line. How would you act if you were in the presence of someone older and wiser than you? If our actions are out of line with our words and our relations, they would call us on it, and we probably need to seriously re-think things.

Keep your cool. Letting anger speak for you will just about always end up with your foot in your mouth (or worse). Cultivate and maintain your own internal reservoir of calm for times when you start to see red, and focus on that instead. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a couple of deep breaths, and other times, it takes all your effort. But it really, really helps.

Know when to fold or go all in. It seems obvious to say that there are more broke gamblers than rich ones, but I’m still surprised how many of us make bad bets every single day. For me, the difference has been in knowing when to cut my losses and just fold. Not too many times will we come across a situation where we know we need to bet the farm, and getting the guts to do that comes from acknowledging how many times we don’t have to. We can walk away.

Think of the children. Even if our kids aren’t around us at the time, they might be the best guides for us. How would they react to our posture and tone of voice? And is that what we want to embody?

Life is full of confrontations. How we deal with them helps to define who we are. Let’s be good men.

Originally published on NaturalPapa

via How to be a Good Man During Confrontations

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Scientific Proof for Karma? York U Study Finds Small Acts of Kindness Have Big Impact on Emotional Well-Being

16 September, 2014 at 10:04 | Posted in Body & Mind, Science, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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York University

TORONTO, May 17, 2011 – Practicing small acts of kindness will make you a happier person, and the boost in mood stays with you for months, according to research out of York University.

More than 700 people took part in a study which charted the effects of being nice to others, in small doses, over the course of a week. Researchers asked participants to act compassionately towards someone for 5-15 minutes a day, by actively helping or interacting with them in a supportive and considerate manner. Six months later, participants reported increased happiness and self-esteem.

“The concept of compassion and kindness resonates with so many religious traditions, yet it has received little empirical evidence until recently,” says lead author Myriam Mongrain, associate professor of psychology in York’s Faculty of Health. “What’s amazing is that the time investment required for these changes to occur is so small. We’re talking about mere minutes a day,” she says.

Participants’ levels of depression, happiness, and self-esteem were assessed at the study’s onset, and at four subsequent points over the following six months; those in the compassionate condition reported significantly greater increases in self-esteem and happiness at six months compared to those in the control group.

So why does doing good for others make us feel good about ourselves?

Read more: Scientific proof for karma? York U study finds small acts of kindness have big impact on emotional well-being | York Media Relations

Meditation a Path of Freedom in Swedish Prisons

9 September, 2014 at 11:12 | Posted in Body & Mind, Society, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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Meditation a Path of Freedom in Swedish Prisons

By Susanne W. Lamm
Epoch Times Staff

GOTHENBURG, Sweden—A Swedish prison, specialized in treating drug offenders, offered the inmates meditation – under the label of “mindfulness” – as an addition to their regular treatment program. The idea was that prisoners would be able to cope better with everyday life after their release. The method is called “The Path of Freedom”, and has received high praise from inmates and prison staff alike.

Ulrika Lilljegren, former manager of the Högsbo prison facility, says that inmates seem to be more responsive to the other treatment programs if they are combined with yoga or meditation, for instance.

According to Lilljegren, many inmates most likely suffer from neuropsychiatric disorders, like ADHD, or are damaged from long-term drug abuse. They often find it difficult to focus and concentrate.

“We had a guy like that [in the “Path of Freedom”-project],” she says. “Watching him sit still for half an hour, was a completely new experience. He was always very active, just bouncing around the ward, but he had found something in this meditation practice that allowed him to sit still.

Meditation provides new tools for the participants, helping them to perhaps stop and think before they act. They discover ways to adjust their behavior in a way that helps them not get into trouble all the time.

“Of course, different people had different reactions, but for a couple of them, it had a huge impact, and a great influence,” Lilljegren says.

Pake Hall from the Gothenburg Zen Center led the classes. He thinks the prison is a great environment for meditation.

“It’s such a difficult environment,” he mentions. “But you become aware of the fact that you need to face your own dark sides. They emerge when you’re locked up like that, and have nowhere to go. There is also plenty of time for practice. In many ways, it’s like a monastery.”

Hall feels a connection to society’s less fortunate. He often ended up with people that have social problems, with individuals whose behavior is on the borderline between what is and isn’t functional in society. He worked at treatment centers, and also with children with different kinds of difficulties.

When he began to meditate earnestly, he felt there was something in it he wanted to pass on to others. He thought about all the people who were locked up, who might be interested in meditation, but who don’t have a chance to learn it.

He joined an American network called Prison Dharma Network.  Here he became the mentor of a young American man, serving a double-life sentence for gang-related murders, and who had become interested in practising Buddhism. Their exchange was limited to letters, but the Prison Dharma Network later held a class that would allow Hall to hold Path of Freedom-classes at Swedish criminal facilities.

“The Path of Freedom is based on a very simple idea,” he says. “It’s all about helping people who are locked up.

“It’s about questioning whether these walls really are what’s keeping us from being free, or if there is something else standing in our way,” Hall explains. “Maybe we’re stuck in our own prisons, no matter if we’re sitting in our home in Gothenburg, with unlimited freedom, or locked up in a high-security prison? Maybe we’re all trapped by desire and aversion? This is a way to work with these issues, regardless of your surroundings.”

But shouldn’t society’s resources be used for helping people who fall prey to criminals and their actions, rather than the criminals themselves? Hall has a different perspective.

“I see nothing but victims here,” he says. “As soon as we commit an act that leads to another person’s suffering, that person suffers, but we suffer too, because we have to live with the consequences of that action. There are two victims, not one.”

He adds that the prison is in fact a great place for breaking the patterns of human existence. Many people in prison have deeply rooted patterns of hurting themselves and others. If you can somehow help them get out of these ruts, suffering may be reduced, both for them and for those around them.

The class consisted of 12 sessions. In order to motivate the inmates, they were scheduled in the middle of the week, which meant they could attend mindfulness classes instead of working. Each session lasted between 1 and 1,5 hours, and consisted of both theory and practice, one-on-one talks, and sharing experiences with the group.

Subjects like compassion, love, forgiveness, acceptance, and conflict resolution were at the center of the curriculum. Between the sessions, inmates would have “cell practice”, where they put into practice what they had learned.

“You don’t know how these people are going to take what you’re teaching them,” Hall says. “You sow little seeds during these short sessions. It’s a very, very dull environment. We’re in a locked room, with guards present at all times, for security reasons. New people join all the time, and many participants are having major problems with restlessness and anxiety.”

The “us and them”-culture of the prison was also an obstacle. To inmates, it’s important to not appear vulnerable, to be tough and to maintain their status.

“A mindfulness class is very much about just letting go and opening up,” Hall explains. “It’s about looking at what you’ve got, so of course the group can get sensitive at times. Once you’ve done a few sessions, though, something happens. It becomes a safe place, a ‘container’ for sharing things, or just listening to the teacher without making smart remarks to your neighbor. But as soon as new people enter the group, their masks are put on again, more or less.”

Being a neutral, third party in between prisoners, management and staff was also tricky, according to Hall.

“Everyone wants you to be their ally,” he explains. “The guards want to influence the inmates in a certain direction. Some thoughts and ideas are supposed to be ‘wrong’ from their perspective. And during the sharing with the inmates after the meditation, they would vent their anger with the guards. Not agreeing with them, yet not contradicting them, being there with them and not making them feel like you’re distancing yourself or disrespecting how they feel… It was very interesting, the way that game was always on.”

Overall, the project was a success. The response from the participants was positive. One of them wrote:

“My head is like a (…) ping pong game all the time, with balls flying all over the place, and now I’ve realized I don’t need to return all those balls.”

Another participant described how, when another inmate was “eyeballing him” in the cafeteria line, he remembered what he had learned in class, and just moved his attention down to his feet, instead of resorting to violence.

“That’s great, of course,” Hall says. “Those little seeds you sow, and when they tell you that they really liked it, and wanted more of it. It was worth the time I spent there.”

Read the original Swedish article here

via Meditation a Path of Freedom in Swedish Prisons

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